Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Fly With a Message

This morning when I got into my car in the garage, there was a fly on the dashboard.  As I pushed the button to raise the garage door and back out, he started flying frantically around the inside of the car.  I stopped in the driveway to push the button to close the garage door.  The fly settled on the dash next to the glass.  I opened the windows and shoved at him with an envelope to encourage him to fly out.  I was not successful; he moved to the passenger side of the dash and continued flying frantically up and down against the glass.  I headed down the driveway figuring that air currents would soon boost him out the open windows.  Three blocks later he was still beating himself against the windshield glass.  He never ventured away from the perceived escape exit of the front windshield.  After than initial flight around the inside of the car, he never tried to fly in any direction but into the windshield.  If he had, there were four other windows wide open that would have led him to freedom.   

I stopped at the red light at the Mormon Church and was finally successful at scooting the fly out an open window.   Notice I said "the light." There's only one light between my house and the high school. The stop at the light gave me thinking time.  Perhaps the Universe had sent the fly to remind me of another of life's lessons.  If the light had been green, that fly would probably still be trapped against the windshield of my car and I would have  missed an opportunity to ponder.

This is what I was pondering.  Like the fly against the window, it is sometimes impossible to see the options that are available to us.  Sometimes you have to look farther than just what is in front of you.  Even though it is uncomfortable to leave the safety of the dashboard, sometimes the only viable solution will be outside of the perceived safety zone. 

So, the darn fly has popped in and out of my head all I just need to figure out why the Universe thought I needed to be reminded of this lesson.  Or, it was just a fly on the windshield...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nana Googles and Cooks

Summer will officially end this week, but I’ve felt it coming.  There has been a chill in the air when I go out to the hot tub at night and last night it rained.  Every day I have been harvesting tomatoes from our tiny garden and I keep thinking that each harvest will be the last, but they keep on coming.  I had so many today I had to make another batch of tomato sauce,

I have written before about my lack of culinary skills, so making tomato sauce was a challenge for me.  I kept my laptop with me in the kitchen so I could Google for emergency directions.   I found a recipe that didn’t require exotic ingredients and collected the necessary equipment.  The first step was to peel the tomatoes.  I vaguely remembered that it involved boiling water and a slotted spoon.  Google found me explicit directions and soon tomato skins were effortlessly sliding off the fruit.

The recipe called for several cloves of garlic.  Is a clove just one of the sections of the bulb or the whole bulb?  Google once again answered my question.  One of the segments is a clove of garlic.

The preparation process probably took an hour:  Google, skin, chop and stir.  The pot of sauce has been simmering all day.  It has reduced down to half the original volume.  We had spaghetti for dinner, with what the spouse called V-5 sauce, because it has five vegetables.   

I read a blog ( The Simple Dollar) about  frugality and once a week there is a feature about frugal tactics that might not save money.  Making your own tomato sauce probably falls into the no savings category.  Even though the tomatoes were free from my garden and there was no cost for my labor, I have no idea what it cost for that giant pot of vegetables to bubble on the stove for hours.  So we had one free meal of tomato sauce tonight and as soon as the sauce cools down, I’ll put another five containers in the freezer.  All that work to save $2.50 on a bottle of spaghetti sauce?  I’ll have to be satisfied with the praise from my family….

Me:  “How is it?”

Son:  “It’s okay.”

Spouse:  “It  certainly has better  flavor than that bottled sauce.”

Such high praise.  I should cook more often!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nana Stops in Biggs Junction

Those of us who live in the eastern part of Oregon are used to driving long distances.  We have good highways and relatively little traffic.  Portland, the largest city in Oregon, is just one audio book from where I live.  I enjoy the 200 mile drive to Portland.  The highway parallels the Columbia River and the scenery can be breathtaking. 

Starting at Arlington the blue, gray and green of the Columbia River is  speckled with bright flashes of parasailers darting back and forth across the river. 

Several years ago big horn sheep were reintroduced in the Columbia Gorge.  The herd has grown quite large and as soon as we hit Phillipi Canyon I start scanning the hillside for the rams.  Quite often I have seen them right next to the freeway.

Over the years I have traveled I-84 I have stopped frequently at Biggs Junction at Jack's Mini Mart.  They had the best selection of road food...and a clean bathroom.  I could usually count on running into someone from Pendleton or Hermiston at Jack's.  It was a favorite pit stop for eastern Oregon travelers.  Now it is closed and the roadside services are just like every other freeway interchange: chain gas station mini-marts, McDonald's, off ramp just like any other.
Jack's at Biggs Junction

Last week we drove the RV down I-84 and pulled off the freeway at Biggs.  We were headed to the Deschutes River.  I had never driven into Biggs any farther than one block from the freeway.  What a difference one block makes.  Just past the Subway and McDonald's it's a different world...

It was like taking a drive back to the 50's!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Random Thoughts on 9-11

The television has been filled this week with footage of the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.   I imagine many bloggers will post some sort of memorial piece about that day.  Most of us remember where we were when we heard about the attacks.  It’s another event in my life that I remember because I vicariously participated by watching every second unfold on television.  The Kennedy assassination and funeral, the Watts riots, Bobby Kennedy’s assassination and the funeral train, the ’68 Democratic National Convention, the Challenger disaster, and the World Trade Center attack….all images seared in my brain from television.

I love history and I believe that we need to remember the events that have shaped our world and the lessons that our shared history has taught us.  I do recognize the impact of the 9-11 attacks.  Our world was changed on that day.  I have to admit, however, that I’m a little uncomfortable with some of the coverage.  On the news tonight Diane Sawyer was interviewing “the babies of 9-11.”  These are all children born after their fathers were killed in the attacks.  They  never knew their fathers and growing up without a father is difficult, but parading these kids out on television and asking them “How does it feel to not have a father?” doesn’t add much to the historical record.

The term hero is probably over-used in the context of 9-11.  One does not become a hero just by dying in a terrorist attack.   I say that with great respect and admiration of the many heroic acts that have been documented to have occurred that day. 

As time passes we may begin to put the 9-11 attacks in perspective.  It was a great tragedy but today I found myself wondering about other families who lost loved ones on 9-11: a mother whose child was stillborn, or a wife whose spouse died in a car accident, a husband who lost his wife from breast cancer.  Are these losses mourned any less?  The children who lost a parent in the terror attacks are not any more tragic than the children who have lost a parent from other causes.  Every life is precious.  I guess I’m uncomfortable with the idea that the relatives of 9-11 victims are somehow worthy of more support because their loss was 9-11 related. 

A city not far from Hermiston has built a 9-11 memorial, complete with pieces of the wreckage from the Twin Towers.  There is no direct local connection to the event, no local boy lost.  Yes, 9-11 was a great national tragedy, but so was the sinking of the Titanic and there's no local memorial to that event.

The local (Portland) news had an interview with a woman who was in labor on September 11, 2001.  Her child will celebrate his 10th birthday on the anniversary of the attacks.  There was no connection to anyone involved in the 9-11 attacks, only that they happened to go into labor while the attacks were taking place, thousands of miles from the actual event.  The reporter asked the couple what they remembered from that day and they talked about a long labor and watching the towers fall on television and then the husband complained that there was nothing on network TV that day except coverage of the 9-11 attacks…so they switched to TVLand and watched reruns of The Brady Bunch.  Yeah, that didn’t add anything to the historical record either!

Several months after the attack I was in New York.  I walked by Saint Paul's Chapel that was being used as a relief station for workers cleaning up the devastation.  The fence around the chapel was covered with posters of the missing and with memorial messages.  I walked along the fence reading note after note representing loved ones lost in the rubble.  On the other side of the sidewalk street vendors had set up shop hawking 9-11 souvenirs.  You could buy commemorative T-shirts, FDNY hats, or slick photos of the planes smashing into the Twin Towers.  So many lives lost and another opportunity to sell souvenirs...the ying and yang of 9-11.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nana Visits a Waiting Room and Writes About It

This morning I had to go to the lab to get blood tests done.  I stood behind the sign that said “For patient privacy please wait behind the sign until you are called.”   The three foot space between the sign and the receptionist window wasn’t much of a sound buffer; I listened in to every conversation between the receptionist and each patient.  I know that the woman in the clean white sneakers and navy plaid shirt last took her medication at 11:00 last night and that the small Asian man ate breakfast this morning.  I finally turned in my paperwork, quietly answered each question lest my privacy be invaded, and then took a seat to wait for the lab technician to call me.

An elderly couple entered the waiting area and took their place behind the sign.  The tiny woman was hunched over with Dowager’s Hump obvious under her Alfred Dunner shirt.  Her husband slowly made his way to the waiting room chairs using two canes.   I was far enough away that I could no longer hear the conversations with the receptionist.  The elderly man was comfortably seated by the time his wife finished with the receptionist and turned to walk the ten feet to the waiting area.  He looked up and saw her heading toward him and he struggled to pull himself up using his canes.  He remained standing until she was seated, and then he sat down again.

…and that’s something that you don’t see much anymore.  I can’t remember the last time anyone stood up when I entered a room.  It was a small gesture, but even though it was difficult for him, he struggled to his feet to show his respect to his wife. 

Today I had a glimpse of what was once commonplace…good manners.  Perhaps I’ve grown used to incivility, but that elderly couple stuck in my mind all day. 
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