Water bottles everywhere

Water water everywhere. We take it with us wherever we go.  First it was water bottles.  And sports drinks.  Then coffee cups.  Now all of these show up at any time. 

I’m a bit amused at all of us acting like we’ll perish from dehydration if we don’t have a water bottle to hold onto.  

I’m pretty sure that if we all worked out vigorously at the gym (who are we kidding about how often that happens?) we could drink enough water there to satisfy our thirst and make it home. 

We could probably get from home to work without liquid reinforcement. Maybe even to the grocery store. Or to pick up the kids.

A few years back, I noticed something odd in church on a Sunday in L.A. in a celebrity-strewn pew.  Several famous people who famously arrived at church in play clothes – one of the attractions of our particular congregation – brought their water bottles right inside.  At first they just held onto them, like a security blanket or some kind of talisman. 

Within a few weeks, more bottles appeared and people opened them and swilled. It was disconcerting. Picture this:

The pastor says,

“Let’s sing hymn number 47,”

and before we can turn to “How Great Thou Art,” bottle caps have to be put back on, bottles placed on the pews, while the pianist plays the introduction.

A guest singer steps up to the microphone and the congregation takes a swig. Heck we didn’t even get a chance to address whether or not we should be applauding the soloists (a big back-and-forth discussion in a congregation of performers) before the issue switched to whether liquid refreshments belong inside the sanctuary. 

Then, sure enough,  coffee cups showed up – the paper kind with the hot-holding band around.   It was a good half hour into worship before those cups were drained and put on the floor.  I saw members of the volunteer cleanup committee chasing them down the aisle later, since once emptied, they tended to roll toward the altar.

Oh yeah, I’ve got my water bottle in the car now. It’s one of the new ones that doesn’t leach harmful stuff.  I’m still congratulating myself for not buying the 24-bottle pack of disposable (except evidently not quickly biodegradable) kind.

My water bottle isn’t a necessity, so is it more of an accessory?  It may miss the mark, since a bottle attached to a hand is not as aesthetically pleasing as, say, a good pair of shoes. 

What does our water-carrying habit reveal about us?  That we’re the thirstiest people in the world?  That we are the fittest, most athletic people around?  Or that today we are super-embracing our need to be nurtured?  

I don’t have an answer. I’m just saying.

Ó Anita Garner 2009

Toddlers rewrite everything.

By Anita Garner

While I drive, the little girl in my life sings me some songs.  In the middle of lyrics about, say, the wheels on the bus going round and round, she tosses in a line or two from adult songs she’s heard.  Songs about heartache or other grown-up feelings.  It’s always a surprise to hear which phrases resonate with her.  A typical re-write goes like this:

“The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round.

And my heart misses you forever and I want you to come back right now.”

When she’s not singing, she tells me stories.  She draws in a big breath, indicating something dramatic is about to occur, and begins,

“Awe duh sodden.”

It takes a couple of seconds to figure out the words, but her emphasis helps.

Ohhh.  “All of a sudden…”

What follows are a whole bunch of sentences, spilling out in a rush, about three pigs or Belle from Beauty & The Beast, or Cinderella or Spiderman.  She starts off fairly true to the version she’s heard, then changes direction and lays down a new plot point.  Something like,

“And Cinderella stayed in the little house and the wuff couldn’t blow it down.”

Just as she’s hooked me with this twist, she announces,

“The end.”

I teach her songs from my own musical library.  She likes a song to fit into a category.  If you don’t clarify, she’ll ask what kind of song is this?  On the way to school, I say,

“Let’s sing a morning song.”

She’s fine with that.

I start with a tune from Annie Get Your Gun (not too subtly trying to teach  some Broadway tunes)

“Got no diamonds, got no pearls.

Still I think I’m a lucky girl.

I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night

And with the sun in the morning and the moon in the evening, I’m all right.”

She can only take this much before the urge to re-write hits her.  She says she will now sing that song for me. Away she goes,  with an approximation of the melody and a new version of the lyrics,

“I don’t have any jewels.  I’m not happy.”

Terse.   To the point.

Irving Berlin it’s not, but it’s not bad either.  With the pre-schooler rewriting, a Broadway show would be over in about 15 minutes.

Ó Anita Garner 2009

Taco Bell, How Do I Love Thee?

Oh Taco Bell I love you, yes I do.  I will hear nothing of the whispers against your kind.  Your bright bell sign draws me in when my day is full and my stomach is empty. 

How do I love thee? 

Let me count the ways.  This won’t take long, because a very few ingredients are responsible for fulfilling all the promises of your menu.   

Ground beef.  






Sour Cream.

Red sauce.

And now there’s chicken.

I love that so many things can be  assembled from your magic ingredients.

In different shapes.

Soft or crunchy.

Oddly comforting.

Your  drink bar returns the power to the button-pusher.  Pick the size of the drink cup.  Fill it with ice.  Push the iced tea spigot.  Move along and push for lemonade.  Mix them together.

In California we call this drink Arnold Palmer. 

I call it perfect.

With all things Taco Bell.

Ó Anita Garner 2009

Moving brings out the (fill in the blank) in me.

A person can learn a lot about herself by the way she handles moving.  Over these past few days of removing my belongings from one place and depositing them in another, several of the traits I like least about myself came marching along like those famous dwarfs carrying their going-to-work-tools. 

As I jockeyed for a parking spot and unloaded the car several times, I bumped smack into new-neighborhood patterns and when I finally sat down, exhausted, in the one chair that wasn’t piled with stuff, here they came, all the Moving Dwarfs: Impatient.  Tired.  Fussy.  Even a little bit Bossy.  Oh and turning the corner right now, here comes Whiny.  

On one my first trips from old house to new, I pulled up in front of this charming cottage in the canyon and a woman hurried toward me.  She didn’t say hello.  She said, “Are you moving in?”  (Note for later reference; at no time did her conversation include the question “Do you need any help?”)

I smiled and said yes.  She said, without a smile  (and I’m putting this at the top of my list of things never to begin a sentence with)  “Just so you know…”  She went on to tell me not to park in that spot – ever – because someone two houses down likes to use it.  Here’s another thing she said, and another way a person should never start a conversation with new neighbors:  “Around here….” 

I forget what rules of the neighborhood followed, but it doesn’t matter – the unwelcome was complete. 

What followed was the worst of me.  I responded crisply, with two words – “Duly noted”  – and trudged on past her.  Was that my grandmother’s voice I just heard coming out of my mouth?  The voice that used to say “Don’t take that tone with me little missy.” 

Now, days later, I remind myself that every neighborhood has at least one member of the greeting committee who lays down the rules.  It’s just that I don’t respond well to that kind of hello.  Instead of the me I like to think exists most of the time, the nice person who gives people the benefit of the doubt, I responded like one of the Moving Dwarfs listed above. 

After a strong cup of coffee and a glance outside through one of the many windows that add to the charm of this cottage, I am a different Dwarf:   Calm.  Even Contented.  

Outside my kitchen window, three giant redwood trees stand.  I am awed by them and filled with gratitude knowing that while I go about my everyday duties, such beauty stands sentry nearby. 

In front of the house, a pushy neighbor.  In back, the reason I moved here.

Ó Anita Garner 2009