Cardella: Let there be light

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I will not deceive you. It was a difficult week for me. There are times when the column writes itself. This week was not one. It’s strange that there can be a week where so much is happening in the world, and yet I have nothing to say. This week was one.

My wife Fran keeps throwing questions at me. Nothing ignites except a spark of creativity. She takes advantage of one of the rare times when I don’t monopolize the computer. She takes care of what I call “the situation”. My food situation.

I am at the stage in life where many joys of food have been taken away from me. The portions I get are a joke. Everything is measured. Even my fluid intake is limited to 1500ml per day, barely enough to swallow my multitude of pills. My wife tries to make my meals interesting. A Herculean task. The situation, as I call it. She spends a good deal of her waking time trying to figure out what she can do for me. So she searches the Internet for creative diet dishes. Good luck with that.

This time, as she searches for recipes and life solutions for me, she screams. An alert sounded. She came across a site infected with a virus. Who would have thought that the recipe for chicken marsala would be trapped? We are doing what we have always done in times of crisis. We shout at each other.

For some reason the way our desktop computer is set up, it takes a fearless person with a sharp eye and unusually flexible to squeeze through the small area with tangled wires to be able to find the power switch. shutdown to turn off the computer. She’s my wife. Eventually, after many swear words in two-part harmony by both of us, the computer shut down. It’s already getting late. And, anyway, there’s not enough light left in the room to check the computer. We call it a night. That’s how most of our fights end these days. With a moan, not a bang. There’s something about a dimly lit room that puts an end to arguments.

It’s the next day. Lunch time. My wife is at the computer. I still haven’t written my column. Sound is off. Am I interested in lunch? She wants to know. We have some salmon left. Sounds like a good lunch, I notice. But you don’t like or can’t have most of the ingredients that make up a salad. Try me, I said smugly. Do you want feta cheese? With salmon? I wrinkle my nose. I take that as a negative, she said. Mushrooms? Negative. And you can’t have tomatoes because of your diet, she says. Looks like we’re down to fish and a few lettuce leaves. This seems to be the case. Fran refuses to accept the limits imposed on her. “I’m going to find an interesting recipe,” she said defiantly.

Bound and determined, Fran pushes in front of our computer. She swears by the pop-up recipes that appear. “I can’t get rid of these pop-up recipes,” she cries. “How do you think Hemingway felt when he wrote A FAREWELL TO ARMS and a pop-up eggplant recipe suddenly popped up,” I wonder. “You’re not Hemingway,” Fran said, I thought a bit wickedly. “And on top of that, he used a manual typewriter.” Before I can think of a sarcastic comeback, Fran has a tasty salad on the table, courtesy of the internet recipe.

At this point, you might be wondering if this story makes sense, especially if you don’t care about salad recipes. Well, there are. But first you have to imagine my dimly lit office. We have a small lamp on the desk which is our only source of light. An unplugged floor lamp sits in the corner of the room with no outlet available. We tried periodically for three years to find an electrician to provide a plan for better lighting. Without success. Fran thinks I could solve the problem by learning braille.

We seek telephone assistance from our friend Ed later in the day. (Ed also edits my columns, along with Allan.) Ed electronically enters our computer and does a thorough search. Everything is fine. He tells us that the problem is simple. Our speakers are off. (We have a speaker.) Once again, we go through the torturous process of crawling under the desk. I try to do it myself, but my knee completely collapses, forcing Fran to not only turn on the speakerphone, but also help me up.

Who turned off that damn loudspeaker, I’m screaming. Always patient, Ed warns me not to question the big questions of the universe. I mention to Ed that we’re working on lighting a bat cave, but I’m not Batman. Ever obliging, Ed says he’ll send us a cheap lamppost. Like the one he has.

Just then, my wife spots our very own UNPLUGGED floor lamp. He’s been sitting in the corner of the office for three years. Not illuminated. The lamp no doubt marveling at our stupidity. She grabs the lamp and plugs it into the same outlet as the printer. She turns on the light.

We have the light, I cry. As if electricity had just been discovered. My wife blesses Ed like he just invented electricity. He might as well have been, for us.

Then I get rid of the pop-ups. Rather, Ed gets rid of the pop-ups for me. Hi Ed!!!

And that’s how this column was written.

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