The Fights


I’m leaning over the toilet in the downstairs bathroom trying to hear through the two-foot square window.  The Bearded One is outside on the ladder twenty feet up adjusting the TV antennae with a long extension pole.  The wind is blowing and we are shouting.  “HOW’S THAT?” he hollers.


“HANG ON!” I say and wedge myself out from the narrow space between the commode and the cabinet, holding the remote control in my left hand.  I have been trained once again in its use, the up-and-down CH arrow buttons, and the top, far right second-row-down button called DISPLAY.  My job is to check channels 9, 4, 13, and 51.2 trying for the highest DISPLAY numbers possible, or at least 20.  We’ve been at this for 15 minutes.  As soon as one channel comes in clear, some other one quits working.  I’m now at the end, the dreaded Channel 51.2.

This distills what it is to live rural.  In a valley.  In a forest.  There is no cable, and satellite dishes don’t work in the forest.  I’m not directly affected since I don’t watch TV and haven’t watched since the 1980s.  It makes me nervous.  Hits me like a strobe light.


The Bearded One loves it, though.  At least at night.  He wears earphones and the TV is here in the den, the man’s cave.  He and Ruby lie each night before the flashing bonfire of the vanities, flipping through the stations or watching a Netflix movie.  The kids got him Netflix for Christmas.  He also reads a lot in there.  I do other things.


But not now.  Now I point the remote at the little black box which sits on top of the slightly larger little black box on the cabinet just outside the bathroom beside the TV itself.

And the remote is as sluggish and unresponsive as ever.  Even as I point it inches from its mother ship, the action is about as effective as a crosswalk button.  Everything’s on delay.


I start my re-check with Channel 9, the PBS top priority.  A Cat in the Hat cartoon.  I check the signal.

“NINE IS TWENTY-TWO!” I shout.  The ladder outside creaks, and I hear, “NOW FOUR!”

My ultimate goal is Channel 51.2.  The fights.  Which I hate.  When I happen to walk into the den when they’re on, I feel assaulted.  Men beating each other up!  Butting heads like goats!  Pecking at each other like chickens!  How can it possibly be relaxing to watch?  He loves it.


I tangle with this irritating machine out of love, which, I remind myself, is accepting if not embracing of extreme differences.

Channel 4 is Doctor Oz talking with some 20-year-old woman about an anti-aging product.  Check signal.  Then to 13, a talk show of some sort, just like so many others on this weekday afternoon.  All of this takes time, and the fix won’t last long.  Every cloud coming in off the Pacific Ocean alters the result completely.  Some channels we get only in a hail storm.

“HELLLLLLOOOOOO!” shouts the Bearded One.

“JUST A SECOND!” I shout back.  Why doesn’t he understand how slow this sucker is? Perhaps because he has been stuck up high on a ladder for 15 or 20 minutes.

Finally I arrive at 51.2, and it’s a talk show, thankfully.  Or maybe a religious show, I can’t tell.  The signal is a barely acceptable 18, but the Bearded One is finished.


“DONE!” he calls, and I whoop and cheer.

When the Bearded One comes back inside, he is tired and his feet hurt from standing on the ladder.  He starts to run through the stations to see what he’s got.

“I’ll be upstairs on the computer,” I say.

“Emails?” the Bearded One asks.

“That and the kittens.”  There’s a live-streaming video I love to watch of 5-week-old kittens and their mama.  They’re being fostered for an animal shelter by a young woman in her home in Canada.  There are almost 800 of us followers now, it’s like an in-home reality show.  I can’t get enough of it.  When I checked them an hour ago, they were all sound asleep.

I hurry back upstairs.  Surely they’ll all be fighting like crazy by now.



8 responses to “The Fights

  1. Thanks for the chuckles. Your blog is way better than watching reality Tv.

  2. “The Fights” eh? I circumvent “The Fights” about television by getting up at 3am and then being almost fast asleep on my feet by 7pm and therefore in no way threatening Steve’s late night love of television. I could live without it but like a bit of mindless vacuuous “entertainment” while I eat my soup ;). I hear you sister in Olalla, the differences in our own abode range from the disturbing (rednecks in Floriday wrestling anything that will get in range) to horror movies that would have me awake and terrified for the next 3 months and sleeping with the light on. Extreme opposites attract extremely apparently ;). I can’t even use the remote on our cable t.v. so you are ahead there Kudos on being able to assist. I get out of any television twiddling because I pointblank REFUSE to learn how to use the remote. It might displace some actual “useful” information from my aging brain and I can’t be losing “how to tie your shoes” or “how to open the fridge door” for something as useless as “how to turn on and operate the television” now can I?! 😉

    Manly impatiance accompanied by altitude sickness perchance sis? I know that we had our own version of “fight” yesterday (where I do the “fighting” and Steve does the “eh? What did I do?” 😉 ) and although it is now all over and sorted it leaves me all the more aware of the gaping chasm that stands between men and women actually understanding each other and being able to live with each other. Do you think God has a good sense of humour or just enjoys watching us slowly come to grips with the fact that we have NO IDEA what the other one is talking about, let alone how to make them happy with it! 😉

    Love the idea of the streaming kittens. Can’t say that I would watch them but autumn is our busy time so come winter you might find me watching kittens along with you :). Have a great rest of the week. Hows all that jam coming along? We are eking out our jar with great delight 🙂

    • Television twiddling — I have officially commandeered that term for future use. lol And I don’t actually LEARN how to use the remote — I put the instructions into extreme short-term memory so no real damage to capacity is done. 🙂

      I do all the fighting in our fights, too, Fran. An astute observation by you, by the way.

      I recommend kitty-watching even for short spurts. It’s centering.

      And about the jam…I plan to start accumulating the jars this month, and when I see the first beautiful bargain strawberries at the fruit stand, I’m buying the others frozen and making the first batch of roughly 25 batches! Can you imagine the maths?

      Glad you are still enjoying the jam, sis!

  3. “Men beating each other up! Butting heads like goats! Pecking at each other like chickens! How can it possibly be relaxing to watch?”

    The irony is splendid. 😉

    • Thanks, Brian. The irony was actually lost on me until I had to write the blog, and there it was, the whole time. The gods must be laughing at us 24/7!

  4. Christine Widman

    Here…I haven’t the remotest idea how to use the remote to turn on the TV. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter because I am not a TV watcher….books are my total way to relax. I listen to books on tape while I clean the B&B.
    “TV makes me nervous.” YES YES YES.
    As you know, Dennis and I are BIG movie fans. So I know how to put in a DVD.
    I think it’s interesting…so many movies in the last 3 years have “fights” – violence – as their main theme. I think it’s this decade long war. The turmoil shows up in the “arts”. This also happened during the Vietnam Era. It could be an interesting psychological study.
    Anyway, thanks for the lols this morning!

    “HELLLLLLOOOOOO!” shouts the Bearded One.
    “JUST A SECOND!” I shout back.

    Been there. Done that. lololololol


    • I think you’re onto something, Christine. It does seem like a lot of fight movies lately. “The turmoil shows up in the ‘arts.'” Interesting, and probably true, as there is so much conflict these days. I always enjoy your take on things, and know you and Denny have had your rounds, too, but peace reigns at The Azure Gate in Tucson! Love you, dear friend.

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