Chance Encounter

Dr. Advice and I arrived three hours early for our annual flu shot.  We were obviously not the only ones who did not read the signs posted on the entrance to the lab giving the times the shots would be given,as there were already twenty or thirty people ahead of us.  The annual flu shot has become something of a ritual.  Some  people would not have it if their life depended upon  it.  Others like us, line up like sheep, just waiting to be stabbed in the arm, and wear a sticky note on their jackets proudly announcing “I Had My Flu Shot”.  That is good medical P.R. 

A small bouncy woman who looked to be in her late forties,was in  line behind us.  It was very cold, but she had no jacket and had an out-sized fanny pack strapped securely around her middle.  She made a joke about us each taking one of the wheelchairs standing in the corner of the hospital corridor and having races up and down the hallway to take up the waiting time.  Her speech was slurred and she seemed to have trouble controllling her hands,  After apologizing for her speech, she told me her story.

She had had not one, but two brain aneurisms some years before, with resultant surgery.  One is usually enough to do you in.  Her short term memory is gone, and in her fanny pack she carried not only everything she needed for her day, but a most important pad and pencil to write down things she needed to remember.  Her sense of humor was amazing, and her self-deprecating jokes infectious.

She related a story which happened about 10 years ago in front of her local grocery store where she had gone to pick up a few things.  She had written them down, but wanted to try to remember what they were instead of  relying on her note.  An angry looking woman was pacing back and forth in front of the store.  She spoke to her and made a joke about trying to remember just what it was she had come for.  The woman seemed not to hear, so she went into the store and completed her shopping. W hen she finished and came out of the store, the woman stared straight ahead with no recognition.   The little woman thought no more about it.

A couple of years ago, when shopping at the same store, my new-found friend was approached by a woman who said “You probably don’t remember me.”  She did not remember and told her so.  It seems that on their first meeting, the woman had been listening to every word she had said.  She told her, “On that day, I was contemplating taking my life.  After hearing your story, I decided that if you could undergo all that you have, I did not have that right.  Instead, I worked to solve my problems, and I have you to thank for my life.

We are all put here for a purpose.  Most often, we don’t know what that purpose is.  I know that with her sense of humor, and her inspiring story of survival, this woman has saved at least one life.

Things Remembered and Things Lost

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I have no idea why Patrick was given this honor, as he wasn’t even born in Ireland, and everyone knows it was the Irish leopard who did in all the snakes.  We are going to celebrate the occasion at our friend Leah’s.  Her husband Paul, a large Apache with a grey ponytail will be cooking  corned beef, and the guests will bring the rest of the feast.  There is always an interesting group of people with music supplied by guitars, a fiddle and a boudron (sp.) which is a sort of drum played with a frenetic beat.  The price  of admission is a limerick to be read aloud throughout the evening.  I will wear my Irish faux leopard coat which was given to me third hand by my daughter, after the leopards finished off the snakes. I am taking my famous Irish Whiskey Soda Bread.

Mr. Advice and I traveled through Ireland for three weeks several years ago, and the first morning out, we emerged from our hotel into a heavy dripping fog, and our bus driver called out “Ah!  It’s a grand soft mornin”!  (  I think that’s what they mean by  Irish Blarney.)   Along with all the other tourists, we kissed the Blarney stone towards the end of our journey.  How anyone ever thought to climb all the way up there and lie on your back to kiss a stone, is one of Life’s great mysteries. 

My Grandpa Jim was filled with blarney.  His only claim to being Irish was from his mother, who was a Foley, but I know he never thought of himself as Irish. He came from Montreal, and short as he was, played on a hockey team.   After I learned to ice skate while we lived in Connecticut, he wrote me and said we would skate together when I came back home.  It never happened.    He wore a wool cap and large horn-rimmed glasses, and always seemed a small, grey personage who drifted in and out of my life.  He lived alone after my Grandma Nellie divorced him, which we’ll talk about later.  He played cribbage, and was an expert.  I finally beat him though, but I was nearly 40 years old before it happened, and I think he was having a bad day.  When he died in Grants Pass Oregon, while living with my parents,he was buried in the family plot, but my Grandma would not allow him to be put anywhere near her, so he is in one corner at the bottom, and she eventually was laid out in the farthest corner at the top of the plot.  I don’t think he had a very happy life, and I miss him.   Lift a passing glass.  Slange!

I’m feeling generous today, so I think I will pass along the recipe for my aforementioned Irish Soda Bread. 

   Soak 1 cup golden raisins in 1/2 cup Irish Whiskey (water if you must.)

Mis together 2 cups flour,  3 Tbs. sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp salt

Cut in 4 Tbs cold butter until it looks like coarse crumbs.  Drain and stir in the raisins.   

Stir in 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. buttermilk.  Stir just until barely together, then gently knead 5-6 times.   Try not to add additional flour.  It will be sticky. 

Put on parchment covered baking sheet.  Crisscross loaf with sharp klnife or razor .  Bake 30 min at 375.  Cool on cloth covered rack and cover with cloth to keep it soft.

Accidental Painter


        I am a sculptor/painter.  I used to simply say “artist” when asked what my interests were.  But long ago, a wise man when asked if he were an artist, replied “sometimes”.  I think now and then we are all

        artists.   I am a sculptor who paints.  I don’t want to hide behind paint.  My family history is enmeshed in clay from 200 years or so in England.  When I first smashed a wad of wet clay on a  

         potter’s wheel, I knew that was where I belonged.  Painting, on the other hand, was purely accidental.  I like people, and I like painting them, but sometimes it is frustrating when my brush refuses to

         obey what my eyes see.      I will be sharing photos from fifty years of artwork from time to time.

My other interests (not necessarily in order) are my family, dogs, cooking, nature, interesting people, classsical music, movies, the computer, and friends.  I hope you will enjoy checking in now and then to see my random life.