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.

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The Virtues of Peanut Butter


A creamy smooth spoonful pressed cool against my tongue, a slightly sweet, slightly salty bite of bliss that sticks to the roof of my parched mouth, leaving me to scour frantically for a swallow of milk.  Of all of man’s culinary triumphs, I dare say that peanut butter is among the greatest of inventions and, like it’s trusted companion the banana, is quite possibly the most perfect food.  I myself am nowhere perfect, (I’m actually not so far off), but I feel that many of my most positive attributes can also be found in peanut butter. 

How can a petite eighteen year old woman resemble a greasy, nutty condiment?  In a bare pantry or a fully stocked one, I find contentment.  I accept and try my best to ameliorate trying times  or situations.  Like peanut butter, I am incredibly versatile and harmonize well with most people and environments.  What food, other than peanut butter, can taste equally delicious with every food group?  It lends a flavorful nutrient boost to crackers, celery, ice cream and raisins.  As for the sometimes dreadful, sometimes wonderful tackiness that peanut butter can create, I also tend to stick two things together.  Through my wild and carefree gallivanting, I introduce my friends and myself to people and places that we might never have seen. 

My grandmother, the wisest woman I know, once told me to be bold and courageous because I was going to screw up anyway, and I might as well do it with some enthusiasm.  The experiences and memories adhere  to me.  The peanut butter in my stomach serves as the stitching on the patchwork quilt of my life.

Attrributed to Kate Nickerson, 1982 as part of her application to the University of Washington.   She graduated five years later.

Ernie Banks


Ernie Banks was a shortstop/first baseman for nineteen years for the Chicago Cubs.  He became known for his catchphrase which he repeated even in the pouring rain, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame.  Let’s play two!”  His attitude was so sunny and infectious he was nicknamed “Mr. Sunshine”.  His own motto was “The whole theory of my life is sunshine, and today the sun is shining”. 

Attitude is a deciding factor in who we are.  Sometimes it’s difficult to dig through the daily debris to find an attitude adjustment, but it’s a necessary addition to our morning routine.

Let’s play two!

The Art of Storytelling


I am not religious, nor am I a believer.  However, I believe that children should at least be exposed to some sort of religious education, if only to sort out what they really do believe.  I was immersed in religion as a young person, but left of my own accord before I graduated.  I also believe that religion is vitally important to those who follow it, and I deeply respect their beliefs.

Many years ago, I took a small grandson to church because I love music, and in this particular church the congregation was encouraged to sing along with a folk group playing their guitars.  As I glanced down, I saw that he was standing silent though listening.  I whispered, “Sing”, and he replied in a louder whisper, “I don’t sing”.  I frowned and said “Of course you sing.  Everybody sings”.  He quite adamantly shook his head, and said “I don’t sing”.   After the service, when we were outside, I said “If you don’t sing”, why do you go to church”?  He said “because I like the stories.”

Stories, either written or oral, are the base of our civilization.  Stories are limitless, and connect people from all walks of life.  Cultures who had no written language had storytellers.  At a lecture by F. Scott Momaday, a Kiowa Indian, he stated that at some time in everyone’s life, he must know from where he came.  The Native American has no such problem, because he has been taught the legends of his people over and over his entire life.  He can recite his family tree for generations back, and can also remember and tell  stories about ancestors long dead.  Stories are painted and carved on rocks throughout the world.  Reminders to us that we are not unique, and that those who have gone before us left their legacies for us to interpret.

This wise little grandson taught a fine lesson that morning, and I’m glad I was there to hear it.

The Art of Wisdom


Should it be “The Art of Wisdom” or  perhaps “The Art of Knowing What to Overlook”?  My friend Cheri asked me this question over tea last week.

I heard an elderly woman speak to a college course my daughter was taking.   She asked the same question of the audience of 20- somethings.  Her answer may surprise you.  “I am just like you, only more so.”  Think about it.  If you are a cheerful optimistic person in your youth, you will become more so as you age.    If you were an annoying, whining hypochondriac, you will become more so.  Trust me in that.  Look at everyone  you have known for more than a few hours and you will see that it is true. 

When I told Dr. Advice what she had advised,  He said “You better begin now.”   

My vote goes to knowing what to overlook.

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.