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Say Cheese

My daughter Tammie and I rushed from the moment our alarm clock went off, until the moment we completed the airport’s check-in and security requirements. After collecting our freshly x-rayed purses and carry-ons, we dropped down onto a nearby bench. A young man, woman and small child who had been churned out of the bureaucratic mill right behind us, stopped to take a selfie. They crowded together as the man held the camera phone out, giving the instruction, “Say, Cheese!”

Glancing around, I noticed this part of the airport looked more like a shopping mall. The lighting was dimmer and small stores lined the halls. Scrutinizing the wares, Tammie asked, “We have plenty of time before boarding. Would you like to shop around a little?”

I said, “Sure! I’ll get a magazine to read while waiting and when we’re on the airplane.”

In the excitement of our busy morning and our perusal of all things touristy, my daughter and I entirely forgot about eating breakfast or dinner. As our boarding time approached, I complained, “We won’t be getting food on the airplane and now I feel hungry. Our airplane doesn’t arrive in North Carolina until six this evening.”

After a stop at Starbucks for tea and coffee, Tammie said, “I saw a deli shop near here. Stay with our carry-ons and I’ll go see what I can buy. Moments later she returned with a 10-ounce cup filled with cubes of cheese. I savored the dairy product’s creamy texture between sips of tea. It was just what I needed, not too heavy, but filling. Continue reading

Off the Farm

Our airplane, dropping from cruising altitude, not only made me woozy, but caused my ears to pop. Each painful altitude adjustment dramatically lowered my ability to hear. Strange, crackly static from above my seat made me aware that an announcement was imminent.

In a smooth, suave voice, a way of speaking that I am positive is practiced in flight training, our pilot silkily purred, “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. We will be landing soon, but…”

“POP!” My left ear drum changed so painfully that it felt like someone had jammed a hot needle into it. Cupping a hand over that ear and grimacing, I turned to my travel-companion-daughter and asked quietly, aware that hard-of-hearing people tend to shout, “What did he say?”

Tammie gave me a concerned look and dug around in the seat pocket. Finding a barf bag, she handed it to me and said, “There’s debris on the runway. It has to be cleaned up before we can land.”

I indistinctly heard her words in the background of the noises my ears were making, “Click! Snap, crackle!” What she said sounded like, “There’s pee on the runway and someone is throwing up.” Continue reading

All but a Yak

There weren’t even that many cars on the road, but I was hyperventilating. A quick glance at the map that my daughter had printed for me confirmed I was right where I was supposed to be.

Since I feel that my driving skills are not up to safely navigating traffic in Saint Paul, Minnesota, my daughter Tammie and I had made alternate plans to meet. A friend of hers, who lives in a suburb south of the big metropolis, said I could park my car in her yard while Tammie and I went on vacation.

Three and a half hours after leaving home, I finally pulled into the driveway with a sigh of relief. Tammie arrived several minutes later. She pulled up close so I could transfer the luggage from my car into hers. Then, content to allow my daughter to do the big city driving, I happily dropped into her passenger seat and snapped on my seatbelt. Continue reading

Terminal Woman

I once worked with a nurse who admitted, “Whenever I get a headache, I worry that I have a brain tumor.”

Knowing what it is like to worry about having an undiagnosed illness, I nodded and said, “Maybe that’s because, as a nurse, you know too much.”

The nurse laughed and said, “You’re right. In nursing school whenever we studied a new disease, I imagined that I had the same symptoms. It was horrible! I wasn’t the only one in my class with this problem. There were others who were doing the same thing.”

During my lifetime, I’ve had many occasions where I have worried that a mole was cancer or an uneven heart beat indicated heart disease or a prolonged cough after a cold meant lung cancer. Having anxieties isn’t a joke. I can hardly imagine what a basket case I would have been if I’d actually gone through a nursing program!

People who worry about their health are called hypochondriacs…or is that hyperchondriac? The other day I decided to look up the word. I discovered that a person can have either hypochondria or hypercondria. Both are illnesses of anxiety. The distinction between the two is close. Hypochondria describes a person who thinks they are always ill despite a doctor’s assurances that they are well, while someone suffering with hyperchondria fears having an illness. I think I come in strong under the hyperchondria definition. Continue reading

Chef B

My husband Arnie opened the door and I stepped into the small, old-fashioned café. Three old men leaning over steaming cups of coffee at a large table glanced casually at us before returning to their conversation. They were busily discussing how to solve major world problems, such as famine, war and snotty youngsters.

Sliding into a booth, I looked around for Arnie. I spotted him across the room at the cash register sifting through a pile of newspapers. He’d stopped to select reading material to enjoy while he ate breakfast. I hoped the paper he picked had a funnies page. I didn’t like anything too heavy with my jellied toast and coffee.

Arnie loved what he called, “Mom and Pop restaurants”. He’d say, “Those places have homemade food that’s far better than anything you can get at a franchise place.” I had to agree with him.

We were visiting a town neither of us had been to before. How he had spotted this place, I didn’t know. The street facade was unremarkable. I suspected that finding places like this was connected to his uncanny ability of seldom getting lost.

After our waitress, Alice, took our order and Arnie started reading the paper, I looked around more closely. The café looked like a stage set from Mayberry RFD. The vintage décor wasn’t just a decorator’s attempt at inducing nostalgia. I suspected that they had opened their doors four or five decades earlier. Other than keeping the kitchen and dining room clean, no one had thought to update the wallpaper, furniture or anything else. If it wasn’t broken, it clearly didn’t need to be fixed. Continue reading

Mouse, Mouse, RAT

My cousins and I stood at the backdoor of their house admiring the pristine white blanket of snow covering their back lawn. Barb said, “Let’s play duck-duck-goose.” The four of us were ages nine through eleven.

Plowing into the unsullied expanse, Donna called out, “I’ll make the circle.”

We fell in line behind her and all went around three times for good measure. Our tracks were wide and easy to see. A weak January sun cast blue shadows in the ruts we’d trampled. Alice, the youngest, complained, “When we play this game in the snow, our tracks show if we cut across the circle!”

Big sister Barb chuckled, “That’s a good thing, because cutting across the circle is cheating!” Continue reading

The Missing Glove

“Mama, when will Santa come?” I set a pan of potatoes on the stove and looked down at my six-year-old daughter. The plaintive tone of Niki’s voice made my heart ache for her. This was Christmas Eve, the day she’d looked forward to for the past month, but nothing was happening. Like every other evening, Mama was making supper with little sister Tammie sitting quietly nearby playing with a small toy. Daddy wasn’t home yet.

I hugged Niki. Her cheeks were warm and pink, flushed with anticipation and excitement. The kitchen window looked dark, as though it was midnight instead of only five o’clock. Kissing her, I said, “Do you remember what I told you this afternoon? Santa will come while we’re at church tonight. Daddy will be home any minute. After we eat supper, we’ll get ready to leave for church.” Continue reading