Accidental wine

I’m not much of a wine drinker, I’ve never liked it. But at Thanksgiving I was sitting at the end of the table and away from the kitchen and drinks and all that was in front of me was a bottle of red wine. I was at my cousins’ house.

Me too lazy to get up and get a drink, I didn’t want to ask anyone else to get it, I drank the wine. And you know what? I loved it.

It’s Hess Select from Napa Valley.

When I got home, I started buying bottles, for myself and to bring to holiday parties.

I still don’t drink a lot of wine, so I’ll pour a glass and drink maybe half. Rather than throw the rest out I’ll leave it on the kitchen counter, sometimes for a day or two and then I’ll get around to drinking it. You know what? Leaving it out to breathe, which has always been the thing with red wine, makes it so much smoother. I did this by accident, but now I make sure to let it breathe all the time now.

I’ll open a new bottle and let it breathe rather than leave the glass out as I had done. But now I am loving wine – the first time in my life!

In the photo above you see Yaupon tea. It’s a native American tea, used by Native Americans for over 2000 years. I heard about it recently. I started drinking it due to it’s health properties.

There are different versions – green, fire roasted, lavender-coconut and so on. I’ve been drinking a cup two or three times a day. It’s very mild, too. It’s rich in antioxidants, supports memory and brain function, good to manage blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and more.

I’ve replaced most of my coffee drinking with the Yaupon tea.

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Throwing the tree out

Got rid of the Christmas tree the other day. It’s artificial, so I didn’t throw it out of the window. But I used to! Well, sort of.

That’s how I got the idea for this cartoon. When I had a real tree, I would throw it off the balcony of my condo and then drag it to the street for recycling or pick-up. I didn’t leave the decorations on, I “undressed it” first. But throwing it off the balcony was the easiest thing to do because it avoided all those pine needles getting all over the elevator.

I would have someone wait downstairs to be sure no one was under it when I threw it down. And you’d be surprised how light the tree is after it’s all dried out! So it was easy to lift up and throw over.

After it hit the ground, I would run downstairs and drag it out to the street.

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Life in a small village

So I’m starting off 2023 in a quandary. A friend and I were headed to lunch a couple of days ago. We went to one of the most popular places in town but the wait was up to 45 minutes so we left. As we walked passed the restaurant, the restaurant owner came running after us. “Oh good,” I thought, “He’s going to get us a table, slip us in somewhere.”

No such luck. He says, “Do you want to meet the new commissioner?”

We lost a City of Miami commissioner (a city council person) for our district in the City of Miami, because the elected guy ran for another office in November, and he had to give up his seat, so now they have to replace that seat for the remaining 10 months.

I didn’t want to “meet the new commissioner,” but I followed in hopes of getting an open table.

The restaurant owner brings us to this guy sitting at an empty table. Here we go, I thought, a meeting. Not lunch. I actually knew the “new commissioner,” and I’ve known him for many years. We were just speaking the week before about a village issue. The restaurant owner asked me to sit down. I asked, “Can I order then? If I sit down can I order lunch?” He didn’t answer, so I asked a few more times and finally he said yes, half heartedly.

The restaurant owner didn’t know we knew each other and his reason for bringing us over to the table was so that we, or I, could be talked into speaking up for the “new commissioner” at the city commission meeting next week – so that the commission appoints him to the seat, rather than have an election, which is what most of the residents in the district/village want – a free and fair election. Not an appointment.

What bothers me after I thought about it all later, was that the restaurant owner didn’t know the “new commissioner” and I knew each other. So why did he grab me to speak up at a meeting for a stranger in his eyes? Why doesn’t he speak up for the guy if he is so interested in him getting the seat? Probably because he worries about getting involved in politics because it would hurt his business. But I should get involved?

When the “new commissioner’s” food arrived I could tell he didn’t want us at the table. He wasn’t rude, but when I sked him if we were going to talk politics the whole time he said, “Yes, probably,” which meant to me, “Get out now while you can.” So we didn’t stay at the table to eat, we walked down the block to another restaurant but now I am supposed to speak for this guy at next week’s commission meeting. He has already texted me a number of times regarding this. My goal now is to get out of it, especially since most of my neighbors want an election and not me to speak up for this guy’s appointment.

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Steak or eggplant parm?

I was watching something on tv about people being polite to waitstaff at restaurants. Not sure why that is even a question, shouldn’t everyone be nice to each other all the time?

I’m always polite to the staff but I do one thing that I think is annoying and I have to try to stop. I ask the waiter what is their favorite thing or what they would order out of two choices. I did it the other day. I’m sure they just say anything and who is to say their tastes are the same as mine. But I do it all the time anyway.

I was with a friend and was going to order the steak sandwich. I don’t eat much red meat, but this looked good. But my friend sort of was questioning the fact that he wanted the same thing and should we both order the same thing. It was a strange request since we don’t share food, so what’s the difference? It’s not like we were going to sample from each other’s plate and needed to order two separate things.

Anyway, I also seemed to like the eggplant parmesan , even though I don’t like eggplant, but for some reason, it seemed good.

So as not to get my friend all in a twist, I asked the waiter, which he preferred, basically, which was a better dish. He said to me, “Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not much of a . . . ” and I thought, oh, he’s not much of a meat eater. He’s vegan. But he said, “I’m not much of a vegetable eater.” Which was the strangest thing. For one thing, he was a guy in his low 20s, maybe 22 years old, don’t most 22 year olds eat healthy?

So in spite of his not eating veggies, I ordered the eggplant parmesan so as not to upset my dining companion. It ended up being good.

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Wednesday’s snowman/people cartoon really took off. It was liked and shared by thousands of people, it really went viral. You might remember a month or so ago I was having problems with social media algorithms, but it seems to have passed. Many people are back to seeing my work.

I got the idea about the snowballed kids really fast. I had a morning show on, I think the Today Show, and a guy was talking about how his social media post took off. He said it started slow and then snowballed.

And the word “snowballed’ just hit me. I heard the expression all my life, but in that moment, it struck me as something I could use for a comic. I thought of the snow people right away and I drew up the cartoon right then and there.

One of my neighbors and his wife go walking around the neighborhood daily, and I ran into them one day, we started walking together. I asked them if I was intruding and he replied with a funny quote that I think he made up himself. At that moment, I thought it would be good for a cartoon, but I just kept walking and talking and I forgot what the quote was.

A bit later, he asked where I get my cartoon ideas from. I said they just seem to pop into my head. I then mentioned the quote he had said a bit earlier and I said I thought that would make a good cartoon in some way, only I couldn’t remember it. So he repeated it and we laughed.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember it again and can’t use it. But that’s where I get my ideas – hearing things and twisting them around in my mind.

Speaking of the Today Show, Martha Stewart was on the other day, she was making her famous eggnog recipe and last week I ran that cartoon with the witches discussing Martha Stewart’s and Ina Garten’s eggnog recipes. It all comes full circle, I guess.

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I’m back home; it’s been a long year

An October day in NYC. My favorite intersection at Madison Square.

I’m home. I spent a lot of time in New York this past year, more than I usually do.

I’m glad to be home. In the past I spent a lot of time in NY and when I left, I missed it as the plane was taking off heading back to real life. I would see the “Welcome to New York” sign at La Guardia Airport, but we were headed in the opposite direct. South. Home.

I would think of all the things I did during that visit, and back then I might spend a month or two in the city. I would quit my job and just go and then crawl back to get my job when I returned.

Now I look forward to getting home. So many times I change my plane tickets and head back early. I almost did that this time, but I stuck it out and stayed until it was time to leave.

I guess you need to get away to appreciate coming home.

One strange thing these days is that the day after I return home, I hardly remember being away. It’s like just another day or week or so and it’s past and that’s that. Onward. I can think back and think of things I do and if I look at all the photos I took on my phone, I can feel like I’m back there, but in everyday life, it’s just life as usual and I don’t really feel as if I missed a beat by leaving for a bit.

That being said, I already made my reservations and plans for the coming year – NY Comic Com, pumpkin picking, July 4th,Thanksgiving, etc. etc. All on repeat for 2023.

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Informed delivery

I get this thing called “informed delivery” from the post office. Every morning, around 9 am, I get an email with photos of my mail that is being delivered that day.

I got it because I travel often, and sometimes I get important business stuff in the mail, so this way if I see anything that needs to be attended to, I can ask my neighbor, who takes my mail in for me when I’m away, if she can open it and let me know what it says.

Truth be told, that has never happened. It’s been about 10 years that I have this service and I don’t think I’ve ever had to have something opened because it was important and couldn’t wait until I get home.

I try not to look at it daily because my mail comes late – sometimes 6 pm and if I see something that I question or concerns me, I worry about it all day. Like yesterday – this happened yesterday.

I saw a notice/letter from the IRS. All day I worried about it. Do I owe them money? Are they going to audit me? What is it?

Finally, about 6 pm, I went to the mailbox, got the mail and know what it was? A pin code that I requested a week before. Apparently to get into your IRS account online, you need a pin code, which they send via snail mail.

This happened not long ago. I saw an IRS notice and freaked out and when I ended up opening it, it was a letter telling me they were adding interest to a refund they owed me. Since they were late sending out the refund, they added interest.

I’m thinking of getting rid of “informed delivery” or at least not looking at it when it arrives in my email.

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Village life

As I was leaving from getting the MRI the other day, I ran into my UPS delivery guy. I live next door to the hospital, so we share UPS, Amazon, FedEx and the US mail carrier. I’ve seen them all over at the hospital one time or other.

I walk over to the hospital often, because I’m walking around the neighborhood and I walk on their campus/grounds and I walk over to get lunch sometimes, there are a couple of restaurants there. So I get take-out.

I was telling the UPS guy about my MRI and my hernia. He wanted to know what I was lifting that gave me a hernia when I told him about it. Who knows. Something at the gym I suspect.

I’ve know the UPS guy for years, we have each other’s phone numbers, he knows my brothers. A couple of Friday’s ago, I was waiting for my new iphone to be delivered, it got to be about 6 pm and I called him and asked, “Where is my iphone?” He laughed and said he was on his way. They deliver all day to the hospital and other businesses in the village and then get to us late in the day.

In the past as I was walking around the downtown area in the village, he would see me and give me my packages right there on the spot, earlier in the day, so I wouldn’t have to wait till 6 pm and sometimes 7 pm for delivery.

When I was in NY recently, he called me from Miami, to ask me to call a neighbor because he had a delivery that need to be signed for and the neighbor wasn’t answering his door. So I called my neighbor back in Miami from NY and he got his delivery from UPS.

I was talking about the oncologist in the last post. Well, back then I was sitting in the waiting room and in walked the UPS guy and after him the FedEx guy and they both saw me sitting there and almost started crying. They asked if I was ok, how I was doing. They literally had tears in their eyes. I told them I was fine.

Recently I saw my mail carrier there when I walked over for lunch. I said, “You deliver here, too?” She said, “It’s part of my route!” I said, “No wonder we get our mail so late in the day!” And she laughed. I didn’t, I don’t like getting mail at 5 pm.

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It’s all about money

Speed Bump comic strip

I saw this “Speed Bump” comic, by Dave Coverly, the other day and it reminded me of a doctor I had.

About 10 years ago, maybe more, I had this thing removed and the doctor thought it could be melanoma – it wasn’t, but he had me go to the oncologist. And the oncologist had me get a CT scan often. She kept me going and said, “Keep going until the insurance runs out.” And that explained our U.S. medical system in a nutshell. “Keep putting yourself under that harmful radiation, until we don’t get paid anymore.”

I bring this up because yesterday I had to go to get an MRI. I have a hernia and the doc sent me to get an MRI to be sure that’s what it is before they operate or do whatever it is they do.

I worried about it all weekend because it’s so claustrophobic and sort of willed it to be where I go feet in first. I kept thing, “maybe I can go in feet first.” And know what? That’s what happened – I went in feet first! So my head was sticking out and I was totally fine with it. And good thing too, because it literally took a half hour or more in the machine! The tech said she wanted to do a “slice” or something like that, so it took long. I can’t image being confined in that tube head first for a half hour.

Anyway, I had another other doctor one time that wanted me to give myself shots for an allergy, which is gone now, because I don’t think it was an allergy at all. Anyway, he insisted and insisted, I kept telling him I didn’t need the shots. When I told him the deductible was very high, after he was trying to force me to take the shots for so long a time, he stopped on a dime and said, “Forget it, you don’t need this.” It’s all about money.

Back to the oncologist. She was fabulous and what I mean by that was she was loud and big and out there, sort of like Maude, she in fact, looked like Maude, and she was all in white, as doctor’s are, but she wore red high heels. And she would float through the complex with a big smile on her face and waved and seemed to know everyone. She was a star. I haven’t seen her for years, but I remember she liked my comics and would always ask about them and how it was going, etc.

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How I came up with them

People ask me how I come up with ideas, so I grabbed a few recently published cartoons and will show you my twisted mind works.

This one was easy. I got a new iphone and they did away with the thumb imprint for signing on, so now it’s either punch in the pin number or use face recognition. After you set up the face recognition, they ask if you would like to do it again this time wearing a mask!

At first I thought of doing a cartoon with someone wearing a Halloween mask, but then thought of other things, like what if someone was in an accident or had a facelift or some sort of procedure where the phone would not recognize them anymore. And I remembered a previous cartoon that was published, this cartoon, where Dracula takes a selfie, only his image doesn’t come up, and from there I got to this cartoon above.

This one started with pumpkin picking. Every year my cousins and I go to the Hudson Valley in New York State to pumpkin pick. And I think it’s more about the Hudson Valley, than the pumpkins. It’s a gorgeous area with spectacular mountain and river views along with the changing leaves in the fall. Only this year, we went to the north fork of Long Island instead, because we needed to be closer to the south fork, where we were going to an event after the pumpkin picking.

I got to thinking – will my pictures be as nice in the north fork as they are up in the mountains and the valley? How will it all look on Instagram? And from there, I got to the cartoon above, and changed the Hudson Valley, to Tuscany, to make it more of an extreme travel plan.

As for this one – I live in Miami – I hear the words “Gulf Stream” almost daily, and this is what I thought of when I heard it one last time.

I’m in museums a lot and I always notice that the guards are ignored by everyone. And even when I say hello they sort of keep to themselves. One time I was in a museum in NYC that was being renovated, and there were only two big rooms open. I was in there with one other person, who happened to be John Lithgow, the actor.

I didn’t speak with Mr. Lithgow, but he spoke to the security guard who was on hand in one room. I didn’t hear what they were saying, but I found it interesting that he reached out and engaged with the guard. Other than that, I often think the guards could be on the phone, eating and even sleeping as no one seems to notice them, or maybe if they did lie down on a bench, like the cartoon suggests, then people would notice them.

Recently I posted something about the Baltimore Museum of Art having an exhibit totally curated by it’s museum guards, which sounds like an excellent idea. So in that case, they were noticed by people.

This trunk one came simply from the fact that luggage was being lost all summer by the airlines.

And of course this museum window one, which I have written about a few times before – I thought it was funny to think of the guard being so blasé about the art after seeing it day after day, that it was more interesting for him to look out the window to see what was going on.

And yes – there are windows next to the art in many museums. Here’s proof taken last month at MOMA in NYC.

And there you have some of the workings of my mind – how I juggle ideas in my head to come up with Tomversation cartoons.

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