I will be missing your blogs during this time, and I will not be posting until we return. BUT, I have a new card for my camera that holds 4 gigs worth of photos--um, like over a thousand!--so I will have much to show and, presumably, tell when we return.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
I am light-headed and a bit achy. And I know as soon as the medical test is over, I can eat. Not so with far too many people in the world. On Friday, I read a heart rending story in the New York Times about Ali, a mother of five, who has not eaten for 7 days. SEVEN DAYS. She is weak, and likely near death. Why, you ask? She has the misfortune to live in a country that is once again dissolving into war--Somalia. One of the awful consequences of war in that war-torn country is famine. There are other factors that contribute to famine, but war exacerbates them.
I heard an NPR story the other day that used a phrase that caught my imagination--we have turned food into a commodity. In other words, instead of thinking of food as a right for all people, we have made it something to be bought and sold, to be subject to market forces, to be altered to what is more saleable.
There is huge truth in that. We all bemoan tasteless tomatoes and strawberries--why are they like that? So they ship well, and look nice so people will buy them. Produce that doesn't look nice doesn't get sold--never mind that it has no taste. Food as commodity.
The Sunday New York Times had this astonishing story: about food waste. Americans waste 27% of food available for consumption. More than one fourth of food available to eat is THROWN AWAY. How can that be? Part of it is food that didn't sell in grocery stores because it didn't "look nice."
So, I will soon be able to eat a meal. I will survive my temporary fasting. Millions around the world do not have the luxury I have.
**First part of this blog written just before noon on Monday.
POST-SCRIPT: medical test all over; all is fine. I have broken my fast, and millions around the world have not.
Friday, May 16, 2008
More inspections out and around my grounds, and I see the miniature rose is getting ready to bloom. This was a gift from my daughter several years ago, for Mother's Day. It has bloomed each year since.
Oh, the flowers at the beginning of the post? Some of my dianthus, blooming. I love the deep purple pink of the flowers.
Alex, the squirrel, has not been seen now for 3 days. I did find this. . .
Looks like a dirty window, you say? Well, yes it is, but the "dirt" is on the outside. Paw marks--streaking down the window on the sunporch. Actually, on two of the sliding glass door windows. Methinks a squirrel was trying to get in. When I saw my neighbor yesterday, she said she saw a crow (her identification) grab a squirrel and fly up to the roof. Oh, no, hope it wasn't Alex. I will keep looking, but I don't hold out too much hope.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Lately, I feel as though I am living in an "all creatures" zone. It is completely of my own doing. All except the deer, of course. They have wandered in, bashed my one spruce tree, and sheered by hostas off to the ground. The other creatures have been invited into the space around our house by my feeding them. We even had our annual visit from the ducks who think our pool, with winter cover, is in fact a pond. The local guard dog is dispatched to dissuade them.
For many years, we had bird feeders, which I gradually gave up on. The refuse on the ground of sunflower shells made me a less than enthusiastic bird feeder. Then last year, we bought a new bird feeder, then another, and began feeding birds again. Buying a sunflower mixture has attracted a different set of birds, and lessened the number of shells falling on the ground. The tree cover has helped to discourage the swoop through flying of the peregrine.
Predictably, the squirrels soon discovered the bird feeders. They regularly raid the newly filled feeders, and I have yet to buy baffles to try to keep them out. I have taken another route--buying peanuts. After seeing a peanut wreath on RuthieJ's blog, I found one and dutifully filled it with peanuts.
Enter "my" squirrel. Perhaps you remember this fellow. This squirrel (I am convinced) is the one who caught my mini-snowball. Anyway, after emptying the bird feeders, he has begun to venture up onto the small deck next to our sunporch. Maybe the strategic placement of peanuts has encouraged him. In fact, he (I know this because I have seen his. . .ahem. . .equipment) comes up on the deck, stands up, curls one paw into his chest, and looks in the window. "Is the nice lady there who puts out peanuts?"
So, when I got the peanut wreath, I placed it within easy reach. Within seconds, it seemed, Mr. Squirrel (for some reason, I call him Alex) found the peanuts and proceeded to empty the WHOLE wreath, trip after trip after trip. I even ran out of peanuts, so my husband and I went shopping on Mother's Day to buy new bags of peanuts.
Now, Mr. Squirrel is making regular trips for peanuts. Sometimes he eats them right where he stands, leaving behind quite a mess. The spent peanut shells and husks have in turn attracted rabbits and cardinals, who peck away at the detritus.
All of this activity provides much entertainment or frustration for the two cats and one dog inside the sun porch.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Recently, I had two such experiences.
Today, I attended a Mother-Daughter luncheon with my step-mother. She has invited me to these events, held at the retirement village where she and my father live. It is very sweet of her to invite me, and I accept (barring an schedule conflict). But today's event was not the usual. First, it was scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., but didn't actually get underway until 12 noon. Okay. Then each of the courses was a little slow in being served. Okay again.
However, the "what were they thinking" moment occurred when it was time for dessert. There was a scrumptuous array of petit fours, mini-cream puffs, eclairs, strawberries, marshmallows and a chocolate fountain. Again--OKAY. However, the woman in charge said--this is self-serve so we will ask each table to go one at a time, beginning with Table 13 (we were at Table 4). Normally, this is a somewhat efficient way to serve a large group of people--HOWEVER, many of these dear ladies are in their 80s or 90s and many had canes or walkers.
Have you ever watched 100 elderly women go through a dessert self-serve line--ONE SIDE of the table only (because that's how it was set?) with a chocolate fountain as the FIRST stop? It. . .was. . .so . . .painfully. . .S-L-O-W. And I wasn't the only one annoyed at this arrangement. The woman immediately behind me in line had a walker, and she kept clicking her brakes on and off. I had to laugh--and she sheepishly admitted that she does that when she is annoyed. But the good news is, there were enough goodies for all.
On a much different note, I had a good laugh and a "what were they thinking" moment when I cleaned the bathrooms this week. Normally, cleaning the bathrooms does not set me into gales of laughter. Truth is, I really hate this particular chore. See here.
I was using a new container of toilet bowl cleaner, when I saw it. The warning label on the bottle.
My reaction--honestly, why on EARTH would we need to know that the toilet cleaner can kill the flu virus. Okay, I can understand "kills 99.9% of germs" (whatever that means) but the flu virus? Please. How could ANYONE catch flu from a toilet bowl?
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Each of these young people was an example of great promise lost. They had shown abilities that foreshadowed the lives they might have lived. But, of course, now they will not.
The vicissitudes of life is one of those things I ponder. An apt metaphor used during the Middle Ages was the great wheel of fortune. I previously wrote about this concept when I considered why elections turn politicians out of office. The wheel of fortune turns. . .some days we rise with it, some days we fall.
Of course, a life lost is more than just the turn of a wheel. There is only one path to any of our lives (unless you are Shirley MacLaine). I have sometimes wondered what might have happened if just one small detail of my life had been changed.
My daugher introduced me to a movie that explores this concept--Sliding Doors. This movie explores the consequences of a split second of timing in a person's life. In one version of reality, things turn out positively for the main character; in the other version her existence is somewhat more dreary. The movie is somewhat mind-bending as it plays with reality.
It poses the question that the death of the two students poses--what if? What if either of them had been driving down the road at a moment sooner or later? What if. . .so many endless variations.
the photo is not of THE pond I fell in, but one from the Internet that I enhanced a bit.
The closest "what if" moment in my life occurred when I was a very small child. My parents were visiting some people who had a pond. I was a toddler, and wandered off from the adults. Soon after, the young daughter of the family found me face down in the pond. Obviously, I didn't drown. I don't know how precarious my situation was. All I know is that it could have been an incident with a tragic outcome. What if?
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Last night, I went with a friend to see the movie "The Counterfeiters." I highly recommend this movie, but I will caution any prospective viewer that it is not for the faint of heart. The movie reprises the story (previously unknown to me) about the Nazi efforts to destabilize the British economy during World War II by counterfeiting the British pound.
Image of forged five pound note from http://www.psywar.org/psywar/images/forgedfiver.jpg
There are two very poignant scenes in the movie. In one, one of the counterfeiters tries to assert his moral superiority because he says he was a banker before the war--not a counterfeiter. The irony is so thick in his statement.