Thursday, February 22, 2007

We interrupt this program

You aren't going to believe this. We have another jar of the tainted peanut butter in the pantry. My belly rolls just thinking about it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Midwestern Sisters at Hoover Dam

My Mother and her sister (Aunt) Tolli are the epitome of Midwestern women. They are gracious to a fault. Solicitious of everyone they come in contact with. My dear John is always amused by my Midwestern traits and habits and I'm the watered down version of them. Trying to shepard these 70+ year old women into a car is fun to watch.
"You sit up front", Alice will say.
Tolli comes back with, "Oh no Alice, you should sit up there with your bad knees"
"Why Tolli your knees are worse than mine, you sit up front".
"No I can get in and out better from the back seat".
"But you need to sit up front to tell Emily where we are going".
"Emily doesn't need me to tell her where we are going, she never gets lost, she just makes new discoveries"
Eventually one of these wonderful gracious ladies will brush the other aside and climb slowly and painfully into the back seat. This routine, with very little variation will be repeated at every stop during our car trip and on the way back home.
In my hurry up and get there youth this kind of verbal condescending sparring would drive me nuts. But with age comes wisdom I suppose or my ever present search for beauty. And it is beautiful to listen to them. They love each other unreservedly. The bond between them is more beautiful than any painting or sculpture could be. Their's is a love strengthened by the test of years and the knowledge that they alone share the same memories. I see their comments as part of an intricate dance between the two of them. Being Midwestern and born to the familiar cadence of "you go first" I enjoy hearing the same phrases repeated with the same exact intonation each time. It's comforting really, to understand they can't not do it. It's engrained into them from the time they were very young.
However, there was one time when I found myself on the receiving end of their deferential vacillating. I had taken the sisters with me on a road trip to Arizona. The seating arrangements were set early in the trip by Aunt Tolli who turned the back seat into a mini nest of sorts and brooked no objections from Alice. On an aside note, this trip brought about a lot of firsts for me the most notable being that I heard my first cross word from my soft spoken Aunt. I'd forgotten to get gas at the last rest stop and when the warning bell pinged telling me I was down to 3 gallons Aunt Tolli got down right testy. I assured her we had plenty of gas and would get to a gas station in time. She snapped back "oh yeah, that's what Jay always used to say and then we'd get stuck on the side of the road for hours". I was impressed, I didn't think she had it in her. Unfortunately this was not the last time I heard angry stories about Uncle Jay stranding them on the side of the road. I, who have never ran out of gas, forgot again in the tiny town of Jerome, Arizona. We climbed through rugged mountains without even a place to pull over should we run out of gas when that darn warning bell pinged at us again. I believe had Aunt Tolli not been safely esconsed in her nest she might have gone upside of my head at that point. Despite the heat she made me turn off the a/c and refused to let us roll the windows down. She explained the aerodynamic drag of the open windows would over rule gravity of our car going down hill. But, back to my lovely Midwestern Sisters and how they got me.
One of the goals of our trip was to see Hoover Dam. It played a big role in their childhood as I suspect it did a lot of people from that era. They certainly heard stories from their Father and Uncles about the mighty dam and how it was going to change the lives of so many people. The sheer size of it captivated a nation. I've been to the dam several times and never lose my sense of awe for it's human accommplishment. Aunt Tolli had never seen it, and Alice had seen it once years ago. 9/11 changed the dam forever though so a lot of it was new to Alice as well. They've put a large parking garage on the Nevada side of the dam. I love this silly parking garage because they used a dye in the concrete and it's a lovely shade of orange. The parking garage is up the hill from the dam and the visitors center. I had taken a wheelchair with us on our journey, not anticipating neither woman would sit in it in deference to the other. I have some pictures from this trip which usually shows Alice pushing the empty chair while Tolli walks alongside of her with a cane. I couldn't begin to tell if either rode down to the visitors center in the chair, but I sure know who rode up! We toured the new center, and walked across the dam looking tenatively over the sides. They more so than I as vertigo plagues me and that darned thing always makes me a little sick. Nevada and Arizona are hot states. The dam sits in the middle of rock canyons with literally no vegatation on them. The heat is unmerciful during the summer and this was indeed August. The outside temperature that day hovered around 117 degrees. The heat baking off the concrete made your skin sort of crinkle up. You could feel the heat waves coming off it.
I knew the walk back up that huge hill was too much for either of them so I approached an officer and asked him if there was someway I could drive down and pick them up. I was pretty sure they had something in place to assist folks like us and sure enough they did. He told me to take them over to the other side of the road where the police cars were. I was to drive down to them and they would remove the red cones so I could drive right into the sidewalk area and help them load up.
Sounds simple, right? For the first and last time I heard my Mother and my Aunt working in tandem on a seating arrangement. It simply wouldn't do to inconvenience the officer or the other cars. They came up with another plan. I was to push one of them half way up the hill in the wheelchair. Take the first person out and sit her in the shade of the lone palm tree planted up there. I would then return to the bottom with the wheel chair and pick up the other one, push her halfway up the hill where she would swap places with the original sister. Then I would push that one up to the car and get her seated then return with the wheelchair for the other sister and push her the rest of the way up and into the car. You notice I say the words pushed up a lot here? Well that's because that is exactly what we did. They thanked the officer for his trouble, then proceeded to their assigned positions whilst I began my trek. I was so addled with the heat I never argued with them, I just pushed. By the time the last sister was in the parking garage and into the car I was almost dizzy with heat and dehydration. Oddly enough, neither one of them remembers this event as clearly as I do. If you ask them about visiting Hoover Dam, they'll tell you about it's size, the water levels, the heat, even going inside the dam..... but not one mention of my rather herculean efforts.
I think I'll write more about this trip soon. It's hard to forget getting Aunt Tolli safely into our room in Las Vegas when she turned to me with trembling voice and asked "What would I tell Jesus if he came back tonight?" I told her just tell him it's my fault, he's used to it. That seemed to satisfy her and she got ready for bed.
Wow, this post is getting to long. I'd best stop.

Friday, February 16, 2007

poison peanut butter & snow

Round 2 of the alien invasion blew through this afternoon. If those little white flakes are aliens I have to wonder did they arrive in winter deliberately? Of course it behooves any invading army to paralyze the infrastructure and this snow has certainly done just that. The city slows to a crawl while the snow covers everything. But enough of this. Either they take over or they don't.
Winter always forces me to redefine my idea of beauty. The amazing thing here is that it takes me by surprise each time it snows. I spend hours staring at the icicles hanging from the garage door. The light emphasizing different angles as it melts or the wind blows. I become convinced I have never seen anything quite so beautiful in my life. My rational mind tells me I am talking about an icicle hanging from the garage door and that it's common place. Yet when I stop to admire it the beauty grips me. When evening fell I watched the blue sparkles on the lawn left there by the common street light highlighting the evenings snow. In all the world, this scene is repeated over and over and everyone who see's it is awed at it's simple beauty. The woods with the snowfall drifting through and piling up on the brown branches. There is so much beauty here it defies my logical mind. I'm miserable cold and hate being out in the snow... but I love the beauty it introduces into my life.
My love, John, is blind. He has been since birth. He had a sliver of sight as a child enough to think he remembers the color yellow but not enough to understand what visual beauty is. John and I were in Florida together bobbing around in the surf and finding seashells. We joke about my prehensile toes as I can retrieve a shell from the bottom by using my feet. I don't have to dive to the bottom or get my hair wet. There once was a time when we separated in our shell search and I heard him very excitedly calling me. I swam over to him only to have him present me with this "really cool shell" he had found. He wanted to know if it was pretty. It wasn't. It was an ugly hunk of rock and shell the ocean had carved holes into. Barnacles clung to the edges of the shell leaving it with a sharp edge. Without thinking I told him no, it was a plain to ugly shell and we threw it away. After tossing it out into the deep I realized what an incredible opportunity I had missed. What is beauty anyway? I dismissed the shell because it wasn't beautiful to my standards, but it was to his. I wish I had closed my eyes and felt the shell like he did. I wish I had found out what his idea of beauty was. I know he thought it wonderful because of his excited voice when he called me. Interestingly enough John accepted my version of beauty and went on looking for a shell that "I" would deign beautiful. That is a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life. As an artistic person I eliminated a huge field of beautiful experiences based on my own prejudiced opinion. It is a mistake I won't soon make again.
Before I quit I want to talk about Panda. She is my very dear friend for many years. She currently lives in Florida where it is warm. She's flying into KC tonight to spend a couple of days with her GrandMother who is ill. It's snowing here and very cold. After years of Florida returning to Kansas is going to be very difficult on her. She's flying one of the cheap airlines, AirTran and once again they have stranded her in a different city. I think it's in their bylaws that you have to get stuck in a new city each time you fly. She's about at the end of her rope with them, and I'll wager this is her last time to fly AirTran. She has been sitting in Atlanta Georgia for the last 6 hours waiting on a flight that may or may not arrive. (It finally did, but as usual it was late). Unfortunately, it's been snowing (alien invasion) here all afternoon and will do so again this evening. It's a coin toss as to whether or not the plane can actually land in KC. While talking with her online from the airport I told her my theory on alien invasion and frozen ET's waiting to thaw and wreck havoc on planet earth. She opined as to how they could have started their invasion with tainted peanut butter. It's funny only in the context that I have been sick all week with some wierd stomach ailment. I'll not bore you with the details, suffice it to say this has not been one of my finer moments. Well on the news yesterday there is a recall on Peter Pan peanut butter! Alice, my Mother got up to check our jar and sure enough the label on top says 2111. No wonder I'm sick. I've been contaminated with Salmonella. Sheesh. I've been eating the peanut butter cause it's a good source of protein and easy to digest while my stomach is so upset. Talk about a self perpetuating cycle. 5 to 7 days of this is what the website said. Invading snow peanut butter poison. Sounds like a plan to me. I've confused myself here. I was writing about how pretty snow is and got lost in that other stuff.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Are we sure that's really snow?

I should be able to think of something profound or thought provoking for my first entry in a blog, but all I can do is worry if the stuff falling from the sky out there is really snow or some kind of alien attack gone awry. The stuff is building up on the grass to the point where it's hiding the blades. Would aliens think it necessary to hide blades? To much to think about and so little time to do it. I'm pretty sure I can change this post once I do it. I just wanted to get started and see how it works.
I am the queen of mediocrity. I am a middle aged, middle income, middle american who has led an unusual life. Everyone has a story and I hope to put mine on here. As soon as I figure out the reason behind the snow stuff falling outside my window. What if we were wrong? What if it is the first wave of an invasion that's going totally bad for the invaders?