Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Journal of the Plague Year

 

Let’s begin with some winners during this annus horribilis. The guy who repairs broken windows in Portland is making out like a bandit. The makers of plexiglass dividers, masks, and hand sanitizers are rolling in dough. And of course, those who bought stock in Zoom, Netflix, Grubhub, and Amazon are suddenly rich and looking for a second home in Florida.

So while the rest of us can’t wait for this blasted year to be over, there are those who find themselves sitting in the catbird seat and never want it to end.

In fact, I myself have achieved numerous small victories — and one terrible defeat — during this plague year. One particular victory stands out. For the past fifteen years, I’ve taken a sample of the water in my hot tub into a local whirlpool accessory store for testing. My sample inevitably is too alkaline, too short of chlorine, the pH is too acidic, and so forth. In fifteen years, I’ve never had perfect water. Until last week. My water was so healthy, in fact, that the proprietor wrote my name on a star and put it with a few others who had perfect scores. Winner!

While waiting for the virus to go back where it came from, I’ve been teaching Bob the dog some tricks. Our favorite is the rollover. First I catch him when he’s wriggling on his back. Then I give him a push. Voila! A perfect roll! I hope to wean him off my pushes in the weeks ahead. But Bob’s little rolls, assisted though they may be, are nevertheless a small victory for both of us, because he’s not a particularly smart dog (like those uppity border collies) and I’m not a very good trainer.

Alas, I’ve also suffered one soul-crushing defeat. That’s what you want to hear, isn’t it? Sure it is. Listening to someone tell you of his triumphs can be excruciating, especially if you haven’t had one in a while. But listening to a person tell of a defeat, particularly an embarrassing one, is welcome in any society. Afterward, you can hug yourself and say, “I would never have been that foolish.“

Remember the 18th-century French philosopher, Rochefoucauld, who said, “In the misfortunes of our friends, we find something that is not displeasing.” Think about that for a moment. Yes, that’s a little dark spot in your heart that Rochfoucauld exposed. So here’s one of those misfortunes of others that you might enjoy.

A few weeks ago, @Arahant, Mrs. @She, and I signed up for consecutive “Group Writing” days on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of October. We were all writing on the same topic, “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.”

As soon as I saw who surrounded me, I started work on my post. I almost felt sorry for Arahant and Mrs. She. I was going to siphon off the Likes from their posts with my finely honed short story, A Stormy Night and Dark It Was, a satire on science fiction cliches with a quiz at the end. The story was going to collect Likes by the bushelfuls.

Instead, the darned thing sank like a stone. Ricocheters avoided it like the coronavirus as it descended, barely read (or worse, read and rejected), down the list of posts until it was so far down that it fell off into the abyss of the second page. I don’t know what is the matter with you Ricochet people.

Arahant and Mrs. She wrote on, oh, I don’t know, something or another. I lost interest when I saw the Likes for their posts blow by mine. Oh yeah, both of them got their twelve Likes and were promoted to the Main Feed, then got even more Likes on the Main Feed, leaving me in a total funk on the second page of the Member Feed.

But at least I now know that the Ricochetti are total philistines in their inability to appreciate quality short stories like mine.

And you know what’s pathetic. Neither Arahant nor Mrs. She knew they were in competition with me. If they knew, they’d probably insist they’re above that sort of thing. “Art doesn’t compete,” I can hear them say. “It just is.“

Whatever.

And so it goes. Life during this plague year plods by. I read in the Oregonian yesterday that Portland’s union of the idle and witless pulled down statues of Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. After seven months of watching his city burn, Mayor Wheeler, waggling his finger in a very threatening manner, said he was going to get really stern with the arsons and vandals from now on. (I wonder what the city does with its fallen statues. I suppose they put them in a warehouse until the time of the imbeciles passes. Don’t despair. The time of the imbeciles always passes.)

In the meantime, I‘m going to try to forget my defeats during this plague year. Here are the things that I’m going to try to appreciate more: a cup of coffee on a cold morning, Bob’s tail wagging like crazy when I return home, a 19th-century wooden plane burnished by my father’s hands, Marie padding about the house in her slippers.

Three cheers for the commonplaces! They keep us sane and looking forward to the next day, despite pandemics, church on Zoom, forest fires, and harebrained Democrats.

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  1. Doug Watt Moderator

    While waiting for the virus to go back where it came from, I’ve been teaching Bob the dog some tricks. Our favorite is the rollover. First I catch him when he’s wriggling on his back. Then I give him a push. Voila! A perfect roll! I hope to wean him off my pushes in the weeks ahead. But Bob’s little rolls, assisted though they may be, are nevertheless a small victory for both of us, because he’s not a particularly smart dog (like those uppity border collies) and I’m not a very good trainer.

    You should have invited Ted Wheeler, the Mayor of Portland to train Bob. He’s been rolling over for over a hundred days in Portland.

    • #1
    • October 15, 2020, at 6:27 AM PDT
    • 16 likes
  2. OldDanRhody's speakeasy Member

    KentForrester: But at least I now know that the Ricochetti are total philistines

    Huh. I thought it was just me.

    For the rest of you philistines, here’s the link: https://ricochet.com/805580/a-stormy-night-and-dark-it-was/

    • #2
    • October 15, 2020, at 6:42 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Full Size Tabby Member

    KentForrester:

    And you know what’s pathetic. Neither Arahant nor Mrs. She knew they were in competition with me. If they knew, they’d probably insist they’re above that sort of thing. “Art doesn’t compete,” I can hear them say. “It just is.“

     

    I have heard a number of sermons on the frustrations we give ourselves by thinking we are in competition with people who don’t even realize there’s a competition going on. 

    • #3
    • October 15, 2020, at 7:10 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Mark Camp Member

    I give out Likes like a Marine gives out candy in Afghanistan. But this post receives from me an award that is rarer than a CNN reporter asking Biden an honest question.

    The prestigious Chortling Out Loud.

    No wait. That’s not enough. I’m giving it the Most Priceless Example of Self-Effacing Humor award.

    You have nothing to fear in this category from She and Arahant. They are always successful.

     

    • #4
    • October 15, 2020, at 7:25 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. Full Size Tabby Member

    Well, neither the story post nor this post has photos of Bob the dog. So why would you expect either to get lots of Likes? :-) 

    • #5
    • October 15, 2020, at 8:06 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  6. JoelB Member

    I have in mind an excellent story on the Dark and Stormy night theme. It was given by a teacher at a conference I attended years ago. I feel sure that I have the CD somewhere, but I have not been able to find it. With a little editing I feel sure it would hit the front page, so to speak, but I can’t find it. This has helped to spur me to go through my collection junk and do some much needed cleaning up. I intend to give full credit where credit is due so that even if October ends before I find it, I can still use it as a longish quote of the day. It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good as they say. (Some of our better-read members could probably quote the original of that saying verbatim and name the author and the work it was from without resorting to Duck-Duck-Go. I’m looking at you, She and Arahant.).

    I seldom post, but I do comment frequently. I find that my toss-off remarks usually get the most likes while my most thought-out observations are ignored. Please like this @kentforrester . It has gone on much too long and will probably be totally unnoticed.

    I noticed a headline somewhere that Trump is begging for votes. I say he is just asking for the sale like I’m doing.

    • #6
    • October 15, 2020, at 8:07 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    While waiting for the virus to go back where it came from, I’ve been teaching Bob the dog some tricks. Our favorite is the rollover. First I catch him when he’s wriggling on his back. Then I give him a push. Voila! A perfect roll! I hope to wean him off my pushes in the weeks ahead. But Bob’s little rolls, assisted though they may be, are nevertheless a small victory for both of us, because he’s not a particularly smart dog (like those uppity border collies) and I’m not a very good trainer.

    You should have invited Ted Wheeler, the Mayor of Portland to train Bob. He’s been rolling over for over a hundred days in Portland.

    Indeed he has, Doug. The man has no spine at all. 

    • #7
    • October 15, 2020, at 9:56 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Well, neither the story post nor this post has photos of Bob the dog. So why would you expect either to get lots of Likes? :-)

    Bob now charges me for a photo shoot. So I‘m going to have to be selective about how many photos I can include in a post.

    • #8
    • October 15, 2020, at 10:01 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Well, neither the story post nor this post has photos of Bob the dog. So why would you expect either to get lots of Likes? :-)

    Bob now charges me for a photo shoot. So I‘m going to have to be selective about how many photos I can include in a post.

    Well that certainly sounds like a smart dog to me. Maybe he is just playing dumb because he knows that once he rolls over on command, he will be gyrating ceaselessly. 

    • #9
    • October 15, 2020, at 10:32 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor

    The last few months are filled with small, sweet things; noticing them has helped me maintain my sanity. Just today I had a new hair treatment. I found African violets at Lowe’s (where they often don’t have them). And I’m having an especially special day on Ricochet. Doesn’t get any better than all those!

    • #10
    • October 15, 2020, at 10:38 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Very funny, Kent. Especially about that lucky Arahant, sitting on top of his mountain of Likes like some leering oriental despot gloating over the number of nubiles in his harem. Humpf!

    • #11
    • October 15, 2020, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. MarciN Member

    The things I’ve enjoyed about the last few months is watching the trail head for our local bike path be a traffic jam of kids and their parents every weekend. :-) I read somewhere that bikes and bike parts were unavailable for months. People were looking for good ways to spend their time outside having fun and staying healthy.

    And then there was the great flour shortage because people took up baking this past winter and spring. King Arthur Flour had a series of videos for new bakers. But my favorite part of the series was the last one in which the teacher said, “Okay, so here is a long project–making croissants–something you’ve been wanting to try for years. Now you’ve got the time to do it!” How astute and sensitive they were to how people were feeling and coping.

    My husband passed the time planning out his vegetable and fruit garden. It was a banner year for his garden. But the competition to get seeds and plants was really something. Isn’t it wonderful that people turned to gardening to get through the long spring? There’s nothing more uplifting than planting something and watching it grow and have it turn out to look like the picture! :-)

    • #12
    • October 15, 2020, at 12:35 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  13. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Daniel Defaux.

    • #13
    • October 15, 2020, at 3:15 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. JosePluma Thatcher

    Well, I enjoyed your post; Not the least because I (almost) aced the quiz at the end.

    What? The rest of you don’t like tests? What’s wrong with you?

    • #14
    • October 15, 2020, at 10:17 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. Arahant Member

    My, my, my. I’ll see what I can do to stir up some trouble.

    • #15
    • October 16, 2020, at 7:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. aardo vozz Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Well, neither the story post nor this post has photos of Bob the dog. So why would you expect either to get lots of Likes? :-)

    Bob now charges me for a photo shoot. So I‘m going to have to be selective about how many photos I can include in a post.

    It’s your own fault for not paying him enough in the first place 😛

    • #16
    • October 16, 2020, at 10:03 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Arahant Member

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Well, neither the story post nor this post has photos of Bob the dog. So why would you expect either to get lots of Likes? :-)

    Bob now charges me for a photo shoot. So I‘m going to have to be selective about how many photos I can include in a post.

    It’s your own fault for not paying him enough in the first place 😛

    Come on, man! Give him the belly rubs and get the pictures.

    • #17
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:47 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    KentForrester: Three cheers for the commonplaces! They keep us sane and looking forward to the next day, despite pandemics, church on Zoom, forest fires, and harebrained Democrats.

    Yep. 

    • #18
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:16 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Boss Mongo Member

    KentForrester: Remember the 18th-century French philosopher, Rochefoucauld, who said, “In the misfortunes of our friends, we find something that is not displeasing.”

    Oh, yeeeaaah. That guy. He’s, uh, a favorite. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    • #19
    • October 16, 2020, at 5:10 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Charlotte Member
    CharlotteJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester: A Journal of the Plague Year

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Daniel Defaux.

    Just read it (the book). Highly recommended. It proves once again that there’s nothing new under the sun.

    Am now working on The Plague by Albert Camus. I like to keep my reading topical.

    • #20
    • October 16, 2020, at 7:14 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Charlotte Member
    CharlotteJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester: Remember the 18th-century French philosopher, Rochefoucauld, who said, “In the misfortunes of our friends, we find something that is not displeasing.”

    This is one of my all-time favorite quotes, although I am partial to the Somerset Maugham version: “It is not enough that I succeed. Others must fail.”

    KentForrester: Think about that for a moment. Yes, that’s a little dark spot in your heart that Rochfoucauld exposed.

    Sadly my heart’s dark spot is fairly sizeable.

    • #21
    • October 16, 2020, at 7:17 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. JosePluma Thatcher

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    KentForrester: Remember the 18th-century French philosopher, Rochefoucauld, who said, “In the misfortunes of our friends, we find something that is not displeasing.”

    This is one of my all-time favorite quotes, although I am partial to the Somerset Maugham version: “It is not enough that I succeed. Others must fail.”

    KentForrester: Think about that for a moment. Yes, that’s a little dark spot in your heart that Rochfoucauld exposed.

    Sadly my heart’s dark spot is fairly sizeable.

    It’s not enough that dogs succeed; cats must also fail.

    • #22
    • October 16, 2020, at 7:26 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Charlotte (View Comment):
    This is one of my all-time favorite quotes, although I am partial to the Somerset Maugham version: “It is not enough that I succeed. Others must fail.”

     

    Brilliant quote by Maugham because it’s timeless and true

     

     

    • #23
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:53 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    I’m ordering a Z shield.

    I feel and look like an idiot with a mask

     

    • #24
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:54 PM PDT
    • Like
  25. Mark Camp Member

    JosePluma (View Comment):
    It’s not enough that dogs succeed; cats must also fail.

    Rochefoucauld and Maugham have nothing on Pluma (or whoever he pinched this from.)

     

     = = = = = = = =

    This was Funny of the Month, for me. Thx, Jose.

     

    • #25
    • October 17, 2020, at 9:39 AM PDT
    • 2 likes