Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Cross Country Ramble
Since this is about the trip, I will tell you here that my father and I found truth and love and were very close until the day he died. And my stepmother, Mom to me since that trip, took the place in my life that was formerly held by a sociopath. As for the broken heart, as everyone knows, it takes more than a few months to recover from one of those, but I was headed in the right direction.
So, I had my car tuned up, collected maps from AAA, packed, grabbed my guitar and headed out across the land.
I headed south through Massachusetts, Connecticut and so on, visiting a sister along the way, then took my time cruising along The Skyline drive in the Blue Ridge Mt's. of Virginia. Beautiful vistas greeted me at every turn and I spotted many deer munching lush green growth as I traveled along. And there were thousands of delicate white butterflies, gathering at pools of water left by a passing storm.
Next, I rambled through the Great Smokies, magnificent, hazy, blue green mountains that seemed to go on forever. It was my first experience driving through small tunnels bored into the sides of mountains as I made my accent, and the views along the way were breathtaking. At the end of the day I headed down out of the mountains on a road that landed me on a strip of road that was wall to wall amusement parks, starting with Dollywood. I drove on to Nashville.
On through Arkansas, across Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas, which is where I saw my first cattle yards...and smelled them! Next, New Mexico where, for some of the ride, I traveled along not too far from the Rio Grande, a ribbon of water with the only green for miles, along its banks. At every place I stayed I met the most interesting people and we shared stories of life in different parts of the country. A couple of people I met had never heard of Vermont.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
My husband's family, on his mother's side, is English and came to America on the Mayflower. His mother's sister, Dorothy (Aunt Skip to us) recently completed many years of research and writing to record their fascinating history in her book "From the Mayflower to Greenbush."
Because I was so impressed with the identity of some of his distant relatives I thought I'd share the fact that Will and his family are related to John Alden and Priscilla Mullins and that he is a fourteenth cousin to Abraham Lincoln.
I am all the more impressed because my family tree is an enigma, our ancestors were never discussed or named as I was growing up. There were allusions to land barons on my grandfather's side of the family, who lost everything during the great depression and I met, a few times, my Great Aunt Mable, an extraordinary artist who, at a time when women artists were rarely recognized, had her work hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
I don't think it's imperative that we know who all our relatives are, but the gene pool runs deep and it would be interesting to know who's in our own personal soup. And there is the fact of history, the inescapable trail of events peopled by those who came before us.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Stories of the Sea,The Hopeful and The Ludicrous
I’m always captured by stories of animals in distress and the efforts made to save them, getting emotionally involved to the end which can result in cheers or tears.
“Five years ago the Coast Guard undertook a massive modernization program called 'Deepwater' and ended up way over its head. The $24 billion project has turned into a fiasco that has set new standards for incompetence, and triggered a justice department investigation.
You can begin with the fact that the Coast Guard spent nearly $100 million to ruin eight patrol boats. The plan was to take the aging workhorses of the fleet, the 110-foot Island Class patrol boats, and lengthen them by 13 feet, adding a launch ramp for small inflatable boats and expanding the superstructure. But something went drastically wrong at the Bollinger Shipyard near New Orleans, where the first eight boats were extended.
After just a few weeks on the water, all eight boats experienced severe structural problems and had to be pulled out of service. They are currently tied up at a pier at the Coast Guard’s Baltimore yard waiting to be decommissioned. Their problems, the Coast Guard says, are too serious to be fixed.”
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Do you recognize this house? Most everyone does, it's the Walton's home from the show of the same name. That's me standing on the porch.
I hear friends and acquaintances of my generation complain about "the kids today" and how times have changed for the worse. I've been thinking about this a lot since it's been the cry of every aging generation. Most of us have heard our grandparents and parents talk of the changes wrought by the young folk of their time, sometimes in anger, sometimes in confusion and sometimes in appreciation. Remember the furor brought on by Elvis? As we age and as the world around us changes, we often resist. We find new ways and technologies difficult to understand as well as the youth that embraces them.
But life IS change, sometimes for the better, at times, not. What sticks with me now and worries me is that something fundamental and important seems to be changing and this change has a dark side. Our population appears to be in a head long rush to do everything, to have everything at breakneck speed, with no time for the simple pleasures of living or regard for what's left behind. "I was going to: play with my kids, call, visit, stop and smell the roses, let the people I love know how I feel about them, help... but I've been too busy," seems to be the mantra of the day for many. In the wake of our dash forward we are leaving a legacy of lost moments behind, time that can never be made up.
I'm all for progress and change but not at the expense of our children, our families and friends or the home of beauty and wonder we all share, earth.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I have been using a lift chair for almost a year to make it possible for me to stand and move to my power chair without assistance. The chair I have been using was lent to me by the very generous mother of a friend. I am eternally grateful since working with our insurance company and the MDA/ALS association to get one of my own has been a slow and tedious process.
The problem, besides waiting, is that said chair is very old and rather uncomfortable and with the discomforts of ALS, this was becoming an issue. Then something totally unexpected happened, a chair was purchased for me by someone I hadn't had contact with for a very long time. Flabbergasted is the appropriate word for my reaction. And, of course, thankful beyond words.
I am now sitting in a top of the line lift chair that vibrates and heats, and the back rest and foot rest move independently from one another so there are infinite positions to help keep muscles from cramping and skin from getting sore.
What keeps running through my mind is this...
The first chair was tooooo hard,
the second chair was tooooo soft,
but this one is juuust right!"
Sure, I'm way too old to be Goldilocks, but if the chair fits...
Saturday, May 12, 2007
A Mixed Bag
Finally: My friend, Carol, who dislikes our Pres and the vice pres as much as I do, gave me a "Backward Bush." It is a credit card size clock with a picture of Bush, looking stupid, on it and the clock in the corner counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until we are free of them and all they stand for. I love it but worry when I see how much time they have left.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Happy Mother's Day
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Power Chair Mishaps or, Beware the Chair!
I'll start with speed. My chair has five speeds forward, one being a crawl and five powering me up to the equivalent of speed walking. Reverse is slow but relative to my forward motion. I usually power around the house on three, comfortable enough to feel safe, usually, but fast enough to make me feel like I'm getting somewhere. The problem here is judgement, which also raises another problem, spacial awareness.
Suffice it to say that all our door jambs are missing paint at the level of my bumpers, our kitchen cabinets have an artistic looking collection of long scuffs where I missed turning on that proverbial dime, and I managed to shear the knob off a drawer with the arm of the chair. In my own defence, our home is old, small, maneuvering is tricky, and most damage was incurred early on, which brings me to...
Backing up. I have backed into chairs, tables and footstools, succeeding in rearranging much of our furniture. Let me state here that I was a very good driver, really! My husband, who is also a good driver and can make driving a bulldozer look like child's play, thought I was being careless and decided to teach me a lesson. He hopped into my chair, turned, and with a look of male superiority, drove smack into the phone table. He no longer picks on me.
But the best was the day I was headed out of doors to sit in the sun and read. I had managed to get the door open and the chair aimed for the first ramp onto the porch, ready to roll. What I neglected to notice was that I had inadvertently hit the speed button which was now reading five. I grabbed the joy stick and, to my horror and surprise, my chair and I shot through the door like a rocket, down the ramp, onto the porch and on down the second ramp into the yard before I ever knew what was happening. After the wave of adrenalin and fear wore off, the full picture of what I must have looked like registered and I dissolved into fits of laughter.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Cars I Have Known and Loved
After I left and divorced the bad boy and my children and I had found a place to live, we needed a car and money was in very short supply. For some time we relied on our Radio Flyer (old post) but eventually life and work required transportation with a motor. We ended up with a beaten up, old, black, VW beetle that ran, it seemed, on two cylinders. It did pretty good for about a month but then refused to start. As anyone who has ever owned one of those old bugs knows, they are rather easy to jump start, two mph usually does it. So we resorted to parking on hills whenever possible and when we could not...well, the kids pushed and I jumped it. I know what that sounds like in toady's world, but times were different then and we had few choices. And, we thought it was a hoot.
Oddly enough, that old wreck carried us around for quite sometime. We owned another one just like it in another place and time and it ran quite well but had a faulty heater. We carried army blankets and a spatula to scrape the inside of the windows when they frosted, and on very cold days we used candles on the open glove box door to warm the interior before we embarked on the days journeys.
Then there was the old Nash Rambler wagon (remember those?) which needed a spray of ether in the carburetor to get it going...and next, the VW wagon. The VW Wagon was memorable because, as we were tooling along one day, the battery fell through a hole in the floor. Miraculously, it didn't break or disconnect (we weren't going very fast at the time) and we managed to save it by placing it on a couple of two by sixes. And on and on we went.
Never did we feel that we were missing anything, to us it was an adventure and the norm. We did the best we could with what we had and found fun at every turn. We still do.