Turning the Tide

Yesterday around lunch time I drove to our nearby Good Times hamburger joint, where I went through the drive-thru. I had a difficult time understanding what the cashier was saying as he took my order and I kept having to ask him to repeat himself. However, we got it figured out, and I drove up to the window to collect my food. The person who had taken my order, and to whom I was going to give my money, and who then was going to hand me my two hamburgers was African American.

“That’ll be $11.98,” he said to me.

“Here you go,” I said in a cheerful voice while handing him my credit card. “I am really sorry I had such a difficult time understanding you. I’m just old and hard of hearing.”

Which wasn’t true at all. Well, the part about me being old and hard of hearing is true. But that wasn’t the reason I couldn’t understand him. The real reason was that the intercom system was crappy, and his voice was cutting in and out.

But in the 90 seconds that it took him to sack up and hand me my food (I know the exact time because he warned me that he would return with my food in 90 seconds), I thought to myself You are being unnaturally nice to this fellow. If he was a white cashier, you wouldn’t have apologized and you would have been crabbier. 

I realized that I was reacting to everything that’s been happening in the recent past. I was demonstrating to this young man who I will likely never see again in my life that I am a good person who isn’t bothered by the fact that his skin color was different than mine. Which, of course, was (and is) true. I really couldn’t care less. But I began to wonder if this was the new way I was going to react to people of a different color than me.

I will admit that I am a bit taken aback by everything that I see happening around me. It almost feels like everybody is trying too hard, maybe making up for lost time. I know that what happened to George Floyd was desperately wrong. I believe that these types of things happen more often to black people than it does to white people. I think it is justifiable to express concern about all of this via peaceful protest.

Maybe these types of protests (and I’m talking the peaceful protests and not the ridiculous looting and property damage which is all the media can talk about) will wake up the police forces that still allow choke holds and they will make it against the rules. Perhaps the negative publicity will result in some training for rookies that will explain that blacks and whites should be regarded and treated the same (amazing that this would have to be taught).

But I’m afraid that none of this will have much impact on the actual problem of racism. The reality is that there are people who don’t like those who are a different race or color than they are. Nobody is going to change their minds. People who believe that white people are superior are not going to watch a protest or look at a black screen on social media or observe a sign in their neighbors’ yards and change their minds.

Here’s what I think we need to do. We need to teach our kids and grandkids that all people are the same, no matter how they look on the outside. And we need to do it in the way we live our lives, not in the form of lessons, but by modeling. We need to demonstrate our belief that God loves us all the same by treating everyone with respect. Not by being nicer to black or brown or yellow or red people than white people. Not by being nicer to white people than black or brown or yellow or red people. Just by recognizing with our very being that people matter. God made all people and all people matter.

A Bad Bissell

I will be completely honest with you all. I hate cleaning. I hate it, and I’m not good at it, and I mostly don’t do it. When the dust gets thick enough to write my name, I write “Clean Me” in the dust with my finger just for fun, and then I wipe it away. My Roomba vacuum cleaner named Rosie does my floor sweeping. My husband named Bill does the mopping.

He, on the other hand, does like to clean. I always laugh when I open up our laundry room cupboards and see the plethora of cleaning supplies they hold……

For someone who hates cleaning as much as me, those cupboards contain a lot of cleaning supplies. None — not a single one — purchased by moi. All purchased at various and sundry times by Bill. Well, I may have purchased the disinfectant wipes in a time when you could actually find them. Back when we were all concerned about bird flu.

My sister Jen knows about Bill’s propensity to clean, especially floors. So when we visited her a week or so ago, she said to him (with a decided gleam in her eye), “Sit right there, Bill, I have something to show you that is going to make your day.” Oh boy, I thought. What does she have up her sleeve?

She appeared with a Bissell Spinwave Cordless Floor Cleaner. She flipped the switch to on and began demonstrating how she could clean her wood floor with only one hand and without breaking into a sweat. It was miraculous to behold. Before I could say Mr. Clean, he had one ordered from Amazon.

Like the little boy in The Music Man who was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Wells Fargo Wagon, Bill daily checked our front porch for the delivery of our Bissell Spinwave Cordless Floor Cleaner. Finally, it arrived on Sunday.

Bill read the instructions, and explained to me that it had to charge for four hours before it could be used. As if he actually thought I was going to eagerly grab the Bissell to begin a floor cleanathon. I don’t even know where we keep our broom.

Sunday evening when I went upstairs to take my shower and get ready for bed, Bill had begun floor cleaning. I could hear the whirring as I prepared to hit the sack. Before turning off my light, I went downstairs to say goodnight to Bill. I couldn’t help but notice that the whirring sound was gone, and he was looking perplexed. I asked him what was going on, and he explained that the battery had died.

“What?” I exclaimed. “I can’t believe it’s already dead.”

“Well, I did most of the first floor before it died,” he said weakly.

Now, we don’t live in a Tiny House, but we also don’t live in the White House. He had cleaned the kitchen, the dining room, his office, and the hallways, none of which are massive. It made no sense that it had already run out of power.

He plugged it in, and sadly said he would wait until the next day to finish. Except the next day (which was yesterday), it still wasn’t fully charged. We waited a few more hours to no avail. Our Bissell Spinwave Cordless Floor Cleaner was a bust.

After trying all of the troubleshooting ideas, he began making motions about calling Bissell to find out what was wrong. Knowing full well what a phone call to a huge company would entail (just how many times would he have to holler REP-RE-SEN-TA-TIVE?), I stepped in.

“Here’s what we do,” I said. “I go on Amazon and return the item. I tell them I will return it at a Kohl’s. They will send me a skew. We will drive to Kohl’s, hand them the Bissell Spinwave Cordless Floor Cleaner, get our receipt and wait for Amazon to send us a replacement.”

And that’s exactly what we did. Our new and hopefully working Bissell Spinwave Cordless Floor Cleaner will arrive June 8.

God bless Amazon. God bless Kohl’s. God bless Bill for enjoying cleaning the floor…..

Bill, during happier times when he thought our Bissell wasn’t a bust.

Plagues

There is not a single person who will deny that 2020 deserves a hard restart. For all intents and purposes, this year has been a bust. There, of course, has been the most obvious challenge — COVID 19, and all the related economic, social, and medical concerns around it. Then along came the so-called Murder Hornets (which have seemingly become lost in the news cycle, a good thing because I really didn’t need to see another picture of this particular critter). Basketball icon Kobe Bryant (who also seemed to be a pretty good guy, not altogether common among professional athletes) was killed in a helicopter crash. We are once again hearing nearly unbelievable news about another African American man dying from undue police force, and subsequent protests and riots.  There have been what seems like an abnormally high number of weather and environmental catastrophes — brush fires, flooding, tornadoes, etc., and we haven’t even hit hurricane season yet. And, of course, Harry and Meghan left the royal circles. (Can it get any worse than that?)

So when I read that the 17-year cicada cycle will take place this year, it really came as no surprise. I grew up in Nebraska, where there are plenty of ugly bugs to brag about, but is spared the cicadas that come out of the ground (or out of wherever they have been hanging out for the past 17 years) to do whatever it is they do every 17 years. This year I think they just want to see if all of the rumors of global catastrophes are true.

I, frankly, had never heard of the 17-year cicadas until the late ’80s. The first time I met Bill’s parents at their home in Chicago, as I got out of the car, I couldn’t help but notice that there were literally hundreds of really ugly-looking insects crawling out of their grass.

“You didn’t tell me your parents lived in the Twilight Zone,” I said to Bill with terror in my voice. “I thought they were WASPs, not victims of the Plague of Locusts.”

“Watch where you walk,” Bill told me. “Every 17 years, it sounds like Chicagoans are walking on seashells.”

Well, yuck. Just yuck.

With thanks to God that Colorado is also spared the 17-year-locust cycle, I have turned instead to our own plague of Miller Moths. Not surprisingly, entomologists are predicting that 2020 will be a record-breaking year when it comes to numbers of Miller Moths. No reasons were cited in the article I read. Quite possibly the only reason is that its 2020.

I simply can’t describe how many Miller Moths we have at our house. So many, in fact, that the young man from our pest control company who sprayed last week actually commented on the numbers. And he looks at bugs every day. Thankfully, I have found very few in our house. They could be hiding from me so that they can fly into my face each night when I’m sleeping and unaware.

Before beginning to write this post, I looked up to see if Miller Moths posed any danger. Most websites insisted that Miller Moths are annoying but pose no threat. One website, however, says Moths are considered dangerous to humans and also for pets because they contaminate food and certain types of pet food (such as dry pellets) with their feces…..Contact with food and textiles that has been infested by the moths can lead to allergic reactions and mucosal irritations for humans and pets. Consuming of moth infested food can also lead to intestinal diseases.

It’s a German website, however, so I’m not taking it seriously. Germans are just a bunch of worry warts. Anyway, apparently the moths will be gone sometime in the next couple of weeks, hopefully giving us time to prepare for the next crisis. Maybe it will include aliens.

Saturday Smile: The Race is On (Again)

When I was in the hospital in 2011 — the hospital stay that concluded with me having the surgery from which all of my subsequent problems have stemmed — I had many visitors. I was in the hospital for a full month, so it’s not surprising that lots of people came to see me. Three of my most faithful visitors were my nephew Erik and his two kids Mackenzie and Carter. Carter wasn’t more than 2 or 3 years old. But my main memory of him is that he would bring along his Matchbox cars and race them on my bed. Even as a little kid of 2 or so, he knew all about the NASCAR drivers and cars. He had a favorite. Hmmm. Was it Tony Stewart in the M&M car? Doesn’t matter.

Anyway, yesterday when I was FTing with my sister Bec, she told me a story about Carter, who is now 10 years older. She walked into their house the other day, and Carter greeted her with, “Nana, I have to show you what I’m doing now.”

He commenced to showing her an app that he has on his fairly new phone. I don’t know the name of the app, but you line up Matchbox cars, take a picture, move them a fraction of an inch, take a picture, and so on. You then plug it into the app, and the app creates a car race. Voila! A new use for those same cars.

I’m not sure why, but Bec’s story made me so happy that he found something he loves during this difficult time…..

Have a great weekend.

 

Friday Book Whimsy: Mistress of the Ritz

If I had a bucket list (which I decidedly don’t), one of the things on the list would be to spend a week at the Paris Ritz Hotel. The trickiest part of achieving that goal would be that I would want to visit the Ritz during the period of time that Claude Auzello was the director of the famous hotel, and his wife Blanche was its mistress.

Mixing fiction with interesting fact is the bedrock of a good historical novel. Melanie Benjamin’s novel Mistress of the Ritz focuses on the period of time during World War II, specifically when the Nazis had taken over Paris, and subsequently made the Ritz Hotel their headquarters.

Claude Auzello fell immediately in love with Blanche, an independent American who now lived in Paris. She soon loved him back, and they married shortly after they first met. Much to his surprise, Blanche wasn’t interested in allowing Claude to have a mistress in the way French men do, at least according to Claude. Still, the two made a good and loving partnership as Claude worked his way up to director of the renowned hotel, stomping grounds of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Coco Chanel during World War II.

Mistress of the Ritz tells the love story of Claude and Blanche Auzello, but also the love story of Blanche and Claude with the Ritz Hotel. As the world was going crazy around them, the Ritz provided a solid foundation.

With Claude unaware, Blanche becomes associated with the French resistance movement, and eventually is discovered. But Claude has secrets of his own. No secret, however, is greater than the fact that Blanche came from a Jewish family in New York City and had changed her name to protect herself.

I loved this book, both for the history and for the romance. I give Mistress of the Ritz a big thumbs up.

Here is a link to the book.

 

Thursday Thoughts

Took the Plunge
We went to Costco for the first time since this whole coronavirus saga began. We actually tried to go once in Mesa during the seniors’ hour, but there were so many people that we bailed and went to Basha’s instead for a donut. Yesterday, we had to stand in line for a very short while until enough people came out of the store to accommodate us, but  then it was a pleasant experience. There were no over-eager people slamming into our cart or running over our feet in an effort to get past us. It was pretty quiet, and we found exactly what we wanted: toilet tissue and paper towels. Oh, and a couple vitamin supplements. Overall, a positive experience.

The Arches
A week or so ago, Bill got the idea to remove one or two of our iris patches that weren’t really blooming (due to inadequate care, shame on me), and put in a garden arch leading to the back of our yard. The arch arrived from Wayfair day before yesterday, and he spent yesterday assembling it and putting it into our yard. I love the way it looks. I’m just trying to decide whether or not to put some sort of vine to climb up the wrought iron. Will I be sorry to have an out-of-control vine in my back yard?…..

Thanks Uncle Sam
We got our stimulus check this week. Yay! But it was in the form of a debit card, which was quite unexpected. After much checking to make sure it wasn’t some kind of scam, we finally registered the card, and then promptly went to our bank to put it into our checking account before we lost the card and were very sad. Overall, it was a positive experience. Thank you United States Government.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow
After a perfectly sunny day, about 7 o’clock in the evening, it started to rain. It was a lovely rain with no thunder or lightning. Since we had just finished dinner with Dave and Jll and the kids (who are leaving Friday for Montana), we decided to move out to their front porch and watch the rain. It wasn’t long before the sun was trying to come out, despite the rain. I knew if we looked hard enough, we would find a rainbow. We did, indeed find it. Unfortunately, my iPhone 7’s camera isn’t awesome, so you will have to imagine that you can see the rainbow in the distance behind Maggie Faith. You can see it if you move it further from your face……

Ciao!