Thursday, July 22, 2010

No Eye Contact Please

The other day I took a walk around the lake to get a little exercise.  It was a beautiful day,  so many people were out and about.  I did what I always do, avoid eye contact.

However, on this particular day, I began to question my behavior.  Why avoid eye contact?  I've got nothing to hide.  I don't have to engage in some long conversation.  Just have to catch someone's eye and say something like "good afternoon" or "hello" or  "great day".   I'll smile.  That person will smile.  Then he or she will see the next person and say something similar and soon everyone will be smiling and greeting each other and the world will be a better place.   After all we probably live in the same neighborhood, shop at the same stores, send our kids to the same schools.

I pondered this while several other people passed me by, all of us avoiding eye contact.   Finally, I decided that I would boldly look at the next person going by and say hi.   I could see her up ahead.  I'd already passed her once silently so it seemed rude to pass again in silence.  I looked her way.  She looked my way.  I smiled, nodded, said a brief hi, thinking that was easy.   Then, she said "Hi Jackie."    What?   Oh my.

I quickly scanned her face and slowly recognition came to me.  Yes, I did know her.   She once worked for me.  Once she threatened to quit because she wasn't getting something she wanted and I said something like "go ahead, make my day" only nicer.   She lost her job by someone else's hand, but I didn't lift mine to save it.     I did my best to make pleasant chit chat.

So much for spreading good cheer around the world.   And now that I think about it, there are times when no eye contact is critical.  Like when someone wants to squeeze their car in front of yours.  No eye contact!    Or if you are a waiter and you don't want to bring the bill.  No eye contact!  Or you know if you look at someone, you'll start to laugh or cry.  No eye contact!

So walking around the lake is just practice for those important no eye contact moments.  I therefore have gone back to admiring the sky, the clouds, the ducks on the lake, the cracks in the sidewalk or adopting that glazed look of someone listening intently to their i-pod.  

After all, no eye contact is an important life skill.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tornado Preparedness Gone High Tech

We had a huge thunderstorm on Saturday. Tornado warnings were out. One tornado had been spotted touching down fifteen miles north of us. Hail was expected. It was a test of our preparedness for inclement weather.

Over a year ago Hubby purchased an emergency, wind-up radio, with a special weather station. But it wasn't until a week ago that he figured out how to access the weather station. It has a computerized voice that sounds like it is hiccuping as it tells its grim news. It's now like a brand new toy.

So when the foul weather hit, out came the special radio. We had all the latest info like where the tornado touched down, how it was moving, what counties were in mortal danger, how long it would all last. Since our garage is being used by our kitchen contractor for his junk, our cars were in the driveway. Hubby moved them under our big elm tree to protect from hail damage. We figured if the tree fell, it would fall on our house, not the cars. We had the best spot on the block.

Then the lights went out. The whole neighborhood was dark. Even though it was only 8:00 p.m., we couldn't see much of anything. I went immediately to the candle drawer, found matches and lit a few candles. Then I went in search of flashlights. I used the candle to light my way to the flashlights which turned out was unnecessary. The super radio also had a built-in flashlight which Hubby failed to mention to me since he was so busy listening to the dire warnings of the hiccup voice. Only one flashlight had working batteries so my preparedness was clearly lacking on that point. In the end I managed to get batteries into two additional flashlights so each of us had our own. It was past midnight before the lights came back on, so they came in handy.

There's a certain excitement about dangerous weather that I enjoy. Obviously, I don't want anyone or anything to be hurt, but standing on the front porch watching the sky for suspicious shapes and seeing the trees sway in the wind is fun for me. As I stood there I was reminded of the tornado warnings of my youth.


I grew up in Kentucky where tornadoes were pretty common. When the warnings came out my mother and I would go to Mrs. K's house down the block. So did Mrs. K's daughter and kids who lived across the street. I don't remember any men at these events which tells me we only went during daytime when the men were at work. (This was the 50's before mom's went to work.) I think we went to Mrs. K's house because she was the only one on the block who could attest to seeing the devil on her garage roof. That made her pretty spiritually powerful in our neighborhood.

Someone would crack a window and then we would all say the rosary. I don't know if the rosary worked, but I do know that a tornado never touched down in our neighborhood. One did touch down just a few miles down the road though so who knows.

Weather radio and flashlights or open window and rosary. I suppose tornado protection has moved up the technology ladder.

Monday, July 5, 2010

To Tan or Not to Tan

When I was a teen, I would have paid for a tan.  A real honest-to-goodness tan.  But instead I was blessed with the skin of an Irishman, freckles and pale.   I can still hear my friend's mother commenting about how white my legs were while piling into her car.     That was 1972.

But I kept denying my fate.  I sat out in the sun with my face turned directly into the sun's rays.  I lathered on the baby oil just like everyone else.  Then I turned deep red, blistered and peeled.  And then... I did it again.    You can look at my arms for proof that I have not ever shied away from the sun.  I'd win a freckle contest if it only included arms.    I used to think that if I got enough freckles, they would join together and then I'd look like I had a tan.  

When I was pregnant with my Darling Daughter I wished for a happy, healthy baby.  But I also wished she would NOT have freckles.   All my wishes came true.  She is blessed with tannable skin.

Fast forward to Year 2010.  We are smarter now.  We know the sun will damage your skin.  As I type this I know that an old high school mate is dying of melanoma.  I know this is serious stuff.

My D.D. just returned from a two-week camp of fun in the sun, snorkeling and diving.  She was tan and thrilled to be so.  I know I should have cautioned her about not using her sun screen, but instead I was excited for her.      A tan!  How glorious!  

I admit it, I am a bad mother in the tan department.  I even at one point suggested she go to a tanning booth and get a base.  She even chastised me for that one.  Sorry it was a 70's moment.  I take it back.

Fortunately, she has a great dad who keeps an eye on both of us.  Hubby lathers us down in #30 whenever he can get his hands on it and us.  If we survive our time in the sun, it will be because of him.  

And that fake tan stuff helps too, even if I do turn a little orange.