…Continued from yesterday
We started off Saturday morning with breakfast at a Bucktown French-themed restaurant called Café Crème located across the street and down the block from our hostel.
Claire and Miguel chose this restaurant, which has been open only a few months, because Claire loved the polenta breakfast dish they served as well as the breakfast tofu , which she says is the best tofu she’s ever had. Miguel likewise loves the restaurant’s Salmon Hash, so they were looking forward to taking us to this place.
Café Crème is a cute little place with a blue and pink awning and a pretty pastel-hued interior. Amazingly, there was no wait for a seat on this beautiful Saturday morning; in fact, the place was pretty empty. Subsequently the service by the friendly, abundant wait staff was fast and great.
However when we got the menus Claire and Miguel learned to their dismay that the polenta, tofu, and salmon hash had all been cut.
“I don’t know why,” the waitress confessed when we asked her why all their favorites were missing from the menu. “In fact, some people came to our restaurant just for our polenta.” Of course this is why we had come, too, as well as for the now defunct salmon hash.
But I had an idea that having an empty restaurant on a Saturday morning in Bucktown during prime breakfast-brunch time was probably what motivated the chef to change the menu. Which is a shame, because they cut the very items that kept bringing back two faithful customers.
So instead of salmon hash Miguel ordered the new menu item, pork hash, which he said was good but not as good as the salmon hash and had, he felt, too much potato filler. Claire ordered scrambled eggs with brie, mushrooms and avocado, which she also pronounced good, but not as good as the polenta or the tofu. Tom ordered a scrambled eggs crepe which he said was good but not to die for. And I felt like ordering my perennial sunny-side up eggs, hash browns and toast, but as only scrambled eggs were offered (though I guess I could have just asked for sunny-side up instead, right?) I decided to go 'way off network and order something completely different from my usual, so I ordered the Croque Monsieur with hash browns.
Now, a croque monsieur (pronounced "crokuh missyeuh" but pronounced by the waitress as "croke monsoor", which should have tipped me off), at least I always experienced its preparation when I lived in Paris, is made, to my understanding, by dipping a ham and cheese sandwich in beaten egg, as you would french toast, then cooking it on a griddle, also as you would french toast. According to the menu this croque monsieur came with bechamel, which I assumed would be the buttery white sauce that sometimes topped the croque monsieurs that I used to know, as one would top french toast with syrup.
However, the sandwich I received appeared to be a ham sandwich on toast with a little bit of something white spread on the interior of the sandwich. The sandwich was then topped with a slice of swiss cheese, then either microwaved or heated in the oven to melt the slice of cheese on the top.
Was it good anyway? Well, let's just say that I was wishing I'd ordered the scrambled eggs.
Claire, Tom and I all had hash browns on the side.
Now, I've come to believe that the expression "hash browns" must be a generic term for breakfast potatoes, since every restaurant seems to have its own interpretation of the hash brown. The Cafe Creme's hash browns were a huge pile of what appeared to be potato quarters, coated in some kind of batter and deep-fried and deliciously seasoned, kind of like deep-fried potato skins but including the potato. I can’t imagine how many calories were involved involved in this affair. I also can’t imagine how many potatoes went down to provide the portions they gave us.
See above the supposed croque monsieur with the monster hash browns, one of which I'd already scarfed down by the time I remembered to snap a photo. I could only eat one or two more of them and I didn't finish the croque whatever, either.
Anyway, Claire concluded that she is going to send an email to Café Crème imploring them to bring back the polenta and the tofu for her and the Salmon Hash for Miguel.
I think I’ll send them an email with instructions on how to make a croque monsieur.
After breakfast the plan was that we’d get away from the city and drive out into the country for the day. So we drove (Miguel drove, we passengered) 50 miiles outside Chicago to All Seasons Orchard, a former apple orchard that is now a sort of, well, I guess you’d call it a Fall farm experience…
... where everyone else in Chicago had likewise decided to come to get away from the city for a Fall farm experience:
It was fun, though. You paid an entrance fee, and after that some of the activites were free and some entailed further financial expenditure, such as picking apples at the u-pick apple orchard or picking pumpkins at the u-pick pumpkin field. There was also a u-pick-a-pumpkin-that-was-already-picked-for-u field:
There were scores of other activities for young and old, including:
Inflatables for the kids:
A tractor-pulled cow train:
An apple-gun shooting range, where you shot apples out of a cannon-like gun at big pumpkin, ghost, and bat targets. Miguel and Claire tried it and found it surprisingly engaging. After we left they rather regretted not having taken the opportunity to shoot a few more rounds of apple-cannon.
There were cute petable farm animals in their pens:
...except for this little guy who escaped, much to the delight of the children:
And there were llamas:
...and lots of other farmesque sights and activities, including a farm market and a country-kitchen restaurant:
But of all the activities, the ones we were most looking forward to were the duck and the pig races.
Alas, The duck race turned out to be a bit of a bust because the ducks turned out to be plastic:
And little kids were doing the the racing:
But the pigs were the real deal:
Those little porkers could run! Supposedly pigs can run really fast (well, these pigs could, anyway), and are capable of a 7-minute mile. We were asking one of the workers how they trained the pigs to race. He said the pigs love above all the cinnamon apple-cider doughnuts they sell at the orchard's farm market and so they’ll race for cinnamon apple-cider doughnuts.
I’d race for cinnamon apple-cider doughnuts.
In fact we all ended up racing back to the farm market for some cinnamon apple-cider doughnuts:
After a few more turns around the farm we headed back to Chicago to Claire and Miguel’s apartment, from whence, deciding we still had one more meal to go, we walked to a wonderful deli-restaurant across the street from our hostel called The Goddess And The Grocer:
It was a warm, beautiful,evening so we sat outside on the restaurant's second-story balcony:
Tom had an enormous stuffed pepper which he declared far above average but below the quality my stuffed peppers, a very diplomatic and prudent response:
While Miguel had a beautiful-looking brisket sandwich and a bowl of lemon-orzo soup. He said the brisket was good but lacked smoke. (Though not being a BBQ fan I’m not sure what that means).
Claire had a tomato, mozarella & pesto sandwich and a bowl of sweet potato-curry soup, both of which she declared to be very good, and I had a Green Goddess vegetable wrap, also very good:
So, The Goddess And The Grocer had nice food, nice ambiance, and I especially liked the sign in the ladies' room:
After dinner it was time for us to say our final good-bye for this visit as Miguel and Claire headed back to their apartment and Tom and I headed back to the IHSP Chicago.
Saturday night in Bucktown:
Tomorrow morning we’d be heading back to Columbus.
To be continued…
...Continued from Friday:
So, we arrived in Chicago last Thursday evening. (See 9/25/14 post).
On Friday morning Claire walked from her Bucktown apartment to our hostel, and from there we walked to Wicker Park, the next neighborhood over from Bucktown...
...for breakfast at a local eatery called The Bongo Room. It was 'way crowded for a Friday morning...
....which led us to wonder why weren't all these people at work instead of at this restaurant where we were trying to get a seat?
It was probably because the Bongo Room breakfast is soooo good.
Now, it's kind of unusual to find a breakfast place that does eggs, toast, and potatoes any better than any other breakfast place does eggs, toast, and potatoes.
But, believe me, the Bongo room does the very best eggs, toast and potatoes.
The fried potatoes were a hugely generous portion of big-cut, deliciously seasoned chunks that raise the art of breakfast potatoes to a new level. The multi-grain toast was also thick-cut and buttered, and everybody's eggs were just really good. Tom had his scrambled with crispy bacon on the side:
Claire had hers over medium in a croissant sandwich with sprouts, spinach, avocado, tomatoes, and pesto mayo:
Which she described as amazing.
And I had my old standard, sunny side up:
Which were likewise amazing.
After breakfast, feeling full and fine, we headed to a lovely little tea boutique nearby also in Wicker Park called David's Teas...
...where the friendly tea specialist replenished Claire and Miguel's dwindled supply of their favorite tea, Quangzhou Milk Oolong. At David's Teas one brings in the empty tea can and has it refilled with whatever tea one would like.
Claire and Miguel's "teamergency" taken care of, we then hopped the train to downtown Chicago where we spent the day walking around and seeing some sights:
My clock nightmare, exponentially expanded.
Later in the afternoon we took the train to Logan Square, an up-and-coming neighborhood a few neighborhoods over from Bucktown, to see the condo loft that Miguel and Claire have just signed a contract for. It's in an old rehabed factory built in the 1920's.
After the grand tour of their hopefully future new home we went back to Claire and Miguel's apartment to wait for MIguel to get home from work...
...and to hang with my grandkitties Cubo and Sassy.
After Miguel got home we all hopped a bus from their apartment to the Ukranian Village neighborhood for an Italian restaurant called Paisanos'...
...that serves the best pizza on the planet, which Miguel, Claire, and I ordered, not to mention fantastic ravioli, which Tom ordered:
A good meal was had by all. 8)
So sorry today's post is so late. I'm in Chicago and was having some internet problems. But now I'm all squared away, though running late.
Anyway, yesterday Tom and I took the bus to Chicago. I mean from Gahanna, Ohio to Chicago.
There hadn't been a bus route through our neighborhood in over 20 years until a few weeks ago when COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority, our bus outift) brought back the bus to its old stop on Hamilton Road, across the street and down the block from where we live.
So when we decided to go visit my daughter Claire and her husband Miguel in Chicago before they left for Haiti (but after their spontaneous "Christmas" visit to us last weekend - see the 9/22/14 post), we also decided to go by bus - all the way.
Now, we often take the Megabus from downtown Columbus to downtown Chicago, which is a great way to go. and cheap, cheap, cheap - our round-trip tickets cost $45 each...
... but does always involve the issue of getting downtown to the Megabus stop. The bus leaves at 10:40 am, and since our two all-round wing men, our son Tommy and our nephew Randy, are usually working at that hour...
....as are most people, we always find ourselves scrabbling around for a ride to the Megabus stop.
And while downtown Columbus, Ohio, isn't the worst spot on the planet to have to negotiate, still a lot of people consider it a trek to have to drop somebody off downtown.
But anyway, with our old neighborhood bus line back in business we figured we now had the problem squared away. In truth, we were feeling excited as little kids about taking the bus downtown.
So Thursday morning at 8:33 am we left the house and walked to the stop at the corner of Hamilton Road and Worman Road. We arrived at the stop at 8:40...
...And the bus arrived exactly on time at 8:45.
The bus looked brand-new and was sparkling clean, the driver was friendly, the seats were comfy, the ride was smooth, and at $2.00 from Gahanna to downtown Columbus the price was right.
There was only one problem with the ride: from the stop where we got on in Gahanna to where we changed buses in Whitehall, the next suburb over, the bus was empty except for Tom, me, and one other person. This was troubling. Residents of Gahanna, I exhort you start taking the bus! Otherwise they'll take it away from us again!
Anyway, we had to change buses at the corner of Hamilton and Broad Street to catch the bus downtown.
We arrived downtown at Broad and 4th Street with about an hour to spare, so we walked to the Short North, the hip strip of downtown Columbus, to the Convention Center where we found a a bagel shop and grabbed a quick bagel before walking back to the Megabus stop at the corner of 4th and Spring Streets.
As always, the Megabus arrived right on time and, as always, there was a crowd of people waiting.
Now, everyone knows I'm the biggest rah-rah cheerleader for Megabus, with its double deckers, comfy seats, friendly helpful bus drivers (our bus driver on this trip, Dwayne, was no exception), WIFI and electrical outlets for charging and - yay! - bathrooms on board, But I must call 'em as I see 'em, and on this trip, I regret to say, the bus bathroom smelled. Not that I can't handle a smelly bathroom. It's just not my idea of gracious traveling. Other than that it was, as always, a pleasant trip.
Around 1 pm we stopped at a truck stop about an hour outside Indianapolis for a lunch break
...where Tom and I ordered the $5.99 large pizza:
...which, though the waitress assured us would be ready in five minutes, took so long to bake that we didn't have time to eat it there and had to take it back with us and eat it on our laps on the bus.
However, we both agreed that this was some surprisingly good truck-stop pizza. Apparently Noble Roman's isn't lying when they call themselves the Better Pizza People.
After lunch I conked out for a long refreshing nap. Will someone please explain why it is that home at night in my comfortable bed in my quiet, dark room I can't sleep worth two cents, but while sitting up in a vibrating airplane or bus seat I can sleep like a baby? Maybe I should toss my bed and get myself a vibrating bus seat.
Anyway, we arrived at Union station in Chicago around 4:30 pm and from there walked 3 blocks to the train stop where we caught the train to Bucktown, Claire and Miguel's neighborhood, then walked from the train stop to the IHSP Chicago, the hostel where we're staying:
The IHSP Chicago is located on the second and third floors of an old city building. It has dorm rooms, bathroom, sinks, washers, dryers,and shelves full of clean towels located here, there, and everywhere along the hallways that seem to twist and turn at all angles:
The dorm rooms range from one to nine beds, which are the least expensive, at around $20 per person. We got a two-person at $45 each:
But there's a beautiful day room with comfy couches, computers, a TV, pool table, and a well-stocked kitchen where people can cook.
Besides us, most of the residents of the IHSP Chicago appear to be young foreigners in their early 20's (same as last time we stayed here), though we did see two foreigners who look about our age, one I think a Russian man, the other I think a German guy. But it's mostly kids. It's nice:
The lobby The check-in desk
After we settled into our room we went out to a nearby Italian restaurant called Club Lucky:
Where I ordered the Chicken Francese, which was chicken smothered in mushrooms and wine sauce with spinach and which was very good:
Tom started with a delicious salad:
Then had the spaghetti and meatballs:
Which we both agreed tasted like chef Boy-ar-dee.
After dinner we walked around Bucktown for a while then returned to the hostel where Tom turned in and I hung out in the day room for a while and chatted with some friendly young Belgians who were playing pool:
This is a nice place. 8)
Last Sunday at Peace our sermon was given by a young guest pastor, Pastor Grant Eckhart, from Jacob's Porch, the Lutheran Student Ministry Center at The Ohio State University.
His sermon was on forgiveness, a common enough theme for a Sunday sermon.
Until he defined forgiveness.
"Forgiveness," said Pastor Grant, "is choosing not to exact revenge on another for a debt they've incurred." He then went on to explain that when someone hurts you there's a debt, and so you have the option of forgiving the debt or paying back the person who hurt you.
But paying someone back for something they said or did to you won't settle the score; the person you paid back for their hurt has now been hurt by you for which they'll exact payback for which you'll exact payback, and on it escalates until someone decides to stop seeking payback. In other words, forgives.
Pastor Grant told us the story of a woman from the congregation of his previous church who came to him seeking spiritual guidance.
"The bruises on her face were still visible," he said. "But she said she was a Christian, and the bible said to forgive, so she believed that she had to forgive him and go back to him."
And it was from his encounter with this abused woman with her deep faith and sense of commitment that the true meaning of forgiveness came to Pastor Grant: here was a woman who had had a terrible wrong done to her for which she could have sought revenge. She could have found someone to do to this man what he'd done to her. But all she wanted to do was to forgive him.
Pastor Grant told the woman that she already had forgiven the man and that she should under no circumstances ever go near him again. He then directed her to a women's shelter.
Pastor Grant emphasized that forgiveness does not necessarily lead to reconciliation. It just means not exacting revenge. It means seeking healthier options.
This interpretation of the meaning of forgiveness came as an illumination to me. It brought back to me old hurts, words, stings and arrows that I thought I could never really forgive but now realize that I forgave long ago by not returning the meanness that was done to me. I realized that not returning a hurt that's been done to you isn't a sign of weakness; it's a choice to forgive.
Forgiveness isn't letting another person back into your heart, though that can certainly follow; forgiveness is just letting go.
Kevin Bacon, the leading man of the 1990 monster movie "Tremors", believed that starring in this flick was the low point in his career.
I must disagree with Kevin Bacon. I think it was his high point.
I love "Tremors." It's one of my fall-back movies to watch when I don't know what else to watch. It's just one of those movies you can watch over and over, and my family has watched it so many times that when we watch it together - it's become our family tradition to sit around and watch it every Christmas - people call out their favorite lines of dialogue.
The story of "Tremors" (for those of you who don't know it because you are among the lucky ones who've never seen it and so can still look forward to the experience of seeing it for the first time) is set in an isolated desert town of fourteen people where the already small population is being suddenly decimated in strange ways. The town's two ne'er-do-well handy men Valentine and Burt (played by Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward) and a grad student geologist named Rhonda (Finn Carter) discover giant pre-historic subterranean man-eating killer worms that race unseen under the ground towards their prey then pop up from the ground and grab their victim with snake-like tongues. And so the townspeople, surrounded by mountains, their phone lines dead, and trapped by the monsters, which they call graboids, try to evade the predators while trying to come up with a plan to destroy them.
So that's the plot. But believe me, it's much better than it sounds.
But what makes this movie with the silly plot so good?
Along with a certain indescribable je ne sais quoi that some movies just seem to have that makes them rise above their subject matter, I'd say that "Tremors" has several things going for it that make it work really well:
Great Setting: Set miles from nowhere, the mountain and desert scenery is stark, beautiful, and creepy.
Great Characters: Among the towns people are a hard-core survivalist conspiracy- theory couple named Burt and Heather who keep an arsenal in their basement and never go anywhere in their town of 14 people without their guns; a supremely annoying teen-ager named Melvin who's dying to get into trouble but can't seem to find any meaningful trouble to get into in this place; Nancy, an arty pottery-making woman who b**ches about everything; Walter Chang, who owns the general store and appears to likewise own every material good in the town; Rhonda, the young geology student, a plain, brainy girl who ends up joining forces with the two low-life hired hands Valentine and Earl to fight the graboids. The chemistry is wonderful among all the characters.
Great Dialogue: Snappy, funny, engaging. Quotable quotes abound. A few samples:
1. Earl: "Damn it Valentine, you never plan ahead, you never take the long view, I mean here it is Monday and I'm already thinking of Wednesday...It is Monday right?"
2. Valentine: "Who died and made you Einstein?"
3. Earl: "Hey, Rhonda you ever seen anything like this before?"
Valentine: "Oh, sure Earl. Everyone knows about them we just didn't tell you."
4. Rhonda: "No, you don't understand, these creatures are absolutely unprecedented!"
Nestor (a townsperson): "Yeah, but where do they come from?"
5. Earl: "Is this a job for an intelligent man?"
Valentine: "Well, show me one and I'll ask him."
6. Earl: "What kind of fuse is that?"
Burt: "Cannon fuse."
Earl: "What the hell do you use it for?"
Burt: "My cannon!"
Great Suspense: It has that sort of creepy "something is coming" pall that hangs over the beginning scenes of all good suspense movies. In the beginning we sometimes see things from the monster's view as it scopes out its prey. Plenty of near-misses with the monsters. Plenty of surprises. Keeps you comfortably close to the edge of your seat. Even if you've already seen if half-a-dozen times.
Now, if "Tremors" were meant to be a spoof or a comedy - it's neither - it wouldn't work nearly so well. But it's not campy or quirky - it's just an especially good monster movie.
I guess I could concede that there might be a few folks out there who would agree with Kevin Bacon that "Tremors" might not have been his finest hour and a half. Me, I think it was. In fact, there's one desert scene in which Kevin Bacon ends up doing a rather graceful little pas-de- deux with a graboid tentacle which involves him balancing on one leg and which probably could not have been pulled off by someone who wasn't a dancer.
Anyway, I think "Tremors" is one of the great unsung movies of our time, and for those out there who are of the same persuasion, or for those who will now take the initiative to see "Tremors" for the first time, I've listed below a few questions for discussion. Perhaps some of you out there can come up with a few more.
"Tremors" Discussion Questions:
1. Who does Melvin belong to? Claire and Miguel thought he belonged to Nancy, Theresa thought he belonged to Nestor and I thought he belonged to Walter through adoption, though I guess I could see him as a step-kid Nancy somehow got stuck with from a former marriage.
2. What is the tragic moral to be found in Burt's lament as he shakes his head and gazes upon his wrecked bomb shelter: "Food for five years, a thousand gallons of gas, air filtration, water filtration, Geiger counter, bomb shelter. Underground...God damn monsters."
3. In an existentialist sense, what do the graboids hiding beneath the surface symbolize?
4. What is the significance of the fact that of all the townspeople, it is the life-long, edge-of-society non-achievers Earl and Valentine who are called upon to save the town from the evil from below that is dragging them down?
5. Could Valentine and Rhonda be together?
This Friday night my daughter Claire and hubby Miguel drove in from Chicago for some family time before they leave for Haiti in a few weeks on a medical mission with Rush University Medical Center Global Health Initiative.
Dinner was everybody's special requests: green beans almondine and cheese-potato casserole for Claire...
...rounded out with pork roast, corn on the cob and a loaf of fresh bread still warm from the oven and finished off with Miguel's dessert request, his favorite (and mine, too!) : cherry almond streusel pie.
Theresa arrived from Cincinnati a few minutes after the above photo, well in time to dig in with the rest of us.
After dinner we were all on the verge slipping into that paralyzing state of post-pig-out soporificity, but as Claire, Miguel and Theresa still had some important business at hand to attend to - namely, deciding what to do on Saturday and how to get Tommy (who wasn't able to make Friday night dinner) in on the plan, they decided to haul themselves up from the kitchen table and go for a walk.
A couple of turns around the 'hood turned out to be the very ticket, and after communicating with Tommy they were able to quickly reach a consensus on what they all wanted to do.
Claire and Miguel were thinking that they wanted to drive down to Chillicothe, Ohio, to visit the pre-historic Hopewell Indian Mounds, which are a national historical monument. Claire and Miguel have a goal to visit every one of our country's 300 national and monuments and have a National Parks passport that they get stamped for each site that they visit.
And so they wanted to get a stamp for the Hopewell Indian Mounds.
Theresa and Tommy also liked the idea of taking a day trip to visit the mounds so it was decided that that's what they'd do. But what they all agreed that they really wanted to do was start the day with the The Feast.
Now, The Feast is a family tradition that happens only once a year on Christmas morning. It's a big breakfast that we eat in the dining room with the unchanging, never-to-be-messed-with menu of scrambled egg, sausages, tater tots, toast, fruit salad, cinnamon rolls, orange juice, coffee, and/or tea. As our family doesn't exchange Christmas gifts anymore the preparation and subsequent relishment of The Feast defines Christmas morning for us. The meal is generally served at around 10 am and after it's finished Tom takes over the clean-up, I jump right into preparation for the day-after-Christmas family reunion I host every year, and everybody else, still tired from the late-night Christmas eve celebration, either sits around the family room playing Chinese Checkers, catches a nap on the couch, or just throws in the towel and goes back to bed. Later in the afternoon when everyone is sufficiently rested and the chores are done, we all head into the family room to watch the movie that has become our traditional family Christmas movie: "Tremors".*
My favorite" Tremors" scene: Reba McEntire and Michael Gross as a pair of gun nuts who finally get to use their arsenal against the giant worm-creatures invading their rec room.
Anyway, that's pretty much Christmas Day at our house. The Feast then "Tremors".
But what the heck, I figured, Claire and Miguel won't be able to be here for Christmas this year since Claire has to work, so why not have The Feast now?
It was decided. The Feast would be served the next day, Saturday, at 10:00am.
I woke up early Saturday morning and zipped out to Krogers to buy the necessary provisions, and by 9:30 everybody was up and about their appointed tasks: Theresa making the eggs, Tom and Tommy setting the table, Claire and Miguel making the coffee, me doing everything else and overseeing the operation. As we were bustling around getting the big breakfast together, the thought struck me: it feels like Christmas.
As I stood at the head of the table while we offered a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving I again thought to myself: this feels like Christmas.
As we dug into our Feast...
...missing Justin, Maria, Makaila and Sienna:
...as well as Theresa's husband Phill who had to work. my Mom and my sister Romaine, who sometimes come for Christmas, I thought, scattered as my loved ones are, we're always missing someone at Christmas.
And after we'd eaten all we could and it was almost time for the kids to take off for the Hopewell Mounds, Tom to clean up and me to start planning the evening meal I thought, this truly feels just like Christmas. But without all the weeks of planning, work, expense, and stress.
And that's when I realized that this is what Christmas is for me: Having people I love sitting around this table sharing this meal and wishing that everyone I loved could be here.
Later that afternoon when the kids returned from their day trip, Tommy had to leave but Claire, Miguel and Theresa settled into the family room to watch "Tremors".
*For the sake of all you fellow "Tremors" afficionados, as well as for those who have not yet experienced this awesome flick, tomorrow's post will be a tribute to "Tremors".
My sister Romaine is once again guest-blogging, this time on the Portland, Oregon Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure that she participated in yesterday.
Though the photos look like Portland on pretty much any day of the week (just kidding - well, maybe just a little, right? ;]), yesterday the city was really out struttin' its stuff for the Race for the Cure, to which I'll now let Romaine testify:
Yesterday I did the Portland Race for the Cure with my friends Atsu and Jo. Here’s is a picture of the three of us right before we started the race.
There were all kinds of people at the race and many were dressed in their finest pink Race for the Cure attire.
This woman was dressed for the Race for the Cure Costume Ball:
The Good Boobie Fairies were also there:
Here was another fairy directing race traffic:
These ladies were all related. Pink mustaches must run in their family:
There was plenty of entertainment on the sidelines as we walked the 3 mile race course including a marching band, marimba players, a rock band and these hula dancers:
There were many volunteers stationed throughout the race course handing out water:
And there were plenty of cheerleaders stationed throughout the route to cheer us on:
If you are a breast cancer survivor, as I am, when you come to the end of the race you are ushered down a separate finish line where each survivor gets a big round of applause and is handed a pink flower. But really I think it should the other way around. I think we the survivors should be the ones applauding all of the people who come out and race to find the cure every year. I know that it’s because of all the research money and awareness generated by these events that my cancer was found early and my treatment was minimally invasive. Thank you to all the fairies, hula dancers, pink mustache ladies, ladies in pink masks, cheerleaders, volunteers, Jo and Atsu too! I applaud you!
And I applaud you, Romaine! You're a gift to the planet.
Here's a comment my brother Joe made on yesterday's post:
"I still have heartburn from yesterday thinking about those people eating at the same restaurant as we were. What kind of a line is that? I guess our family all thinks too much. Must be genetic."
Yes, it must be. In my family we tend to over-think things and over-feel things. Our parents were that way. I'm that way. My siblings are that way. So are my children. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Except for when our appetite for thinking leads us to over-indulge in the junk-food of thinking, ruminating. Taking the memory of some recent or distant inauspicious event and turning it over and over and over in our minds, like a load of still-dirty laundry stuck in an eternally tumbling dryer.
Or when our vast capacity for thinking leads us to the unhealthy tendency to amplify things so that a person or event that should have been an insignificant little thorn in the rose of our life gets deep under our skin then from under out skin starts traveling back and forth at will between our brain and our stomach for significant periods of time until we, thankfully, get distracted by something else or fall asleep.
Has anybody seen the movie "What The #$*! Do We Know?"? It's the story of a woman trying to cope with her life issues but it also brings up theories on how quantum physics affects our existence. Or our perception of existence. Or something like that. But anyway, there's a scene in the film that discusses how there exist in the brain neural pathways along which thoughts travel. Having a thought over and over again creates a new neural pathway for the thought to travel along and the more it travels, the more wired the pathway becomes and the harder it is to get off the pathway and off the thought. Or something like that. Anyway, the only way to get off this aggravating neural pathway we've created by our repetitive thought is to somehow interrupt the thought whenever it comes up.
At the beginning of every yoga class our instructor tells us, "for the next hour put your minds between your last thought and your next thought."
The people in class who can accomplish this say that it's great, refreshing, like a mini-vacation.
Sadly, much as I try I can never get my mind to shut off for an hour even during yoga. When I succeed in emptying my mind for a second in the next second some rogue thought always barges in and takes over. My mind abhors a vacuum.
Which I guess would be okay if I could always fill the vacuum with this:
Instead of this:
Sometimes when I'm caught in an old familiar loop of rumination I think about how the more I keep thinking this troubling thought the more I'm sentencing my self to keep thinking this troubling thought.
So what to do about all this troublesome over-thinking?
Well, I guess if I had any really good answers I'd write a book on the subject an make a million dollars.
But as it is I guess the only advice I can give to all the super-sized thinkers and deep feelers out there is to either be sure to never meet anyone who causes you any kind of inner conflict or else stay away from restaurants.
However, I've just thought of two more cosmic questions to add to my list of things to wonder about:
15. Are there people out there who don't think too much?
16. Did down-home American philosopher Will Rodgers really never meet a man he didn't like?
Here are some things I sometimes wonder about:
1. I've never used any drugs and have no desire to, but if somebody kidnapped me and shot me up with drugs every day for a month would I become addicted?
2. I don't drink but if someone kidnapped me and made me drink every day for a month would I become and alcoholic?
3. Why couldn't a person be healthy on a diet of peanut butter oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate milk and vitamins? I mean, think about it.
4. If everybody stopped believing in God what would God do? Would God be unhappy? Angry? Lonely?
5. Does God need us, too?
6. Are there any real-life Tony Sopranos out there who live a life of crime but never get caught?
7. How much money does Subway save by handing out napkins instead of letting people take them from a dispenser?
8. Could a person really hang off the ledge of a building or the edge of a cliff like they do in the movies?
9. Does everyone see colors in the same shade?
10. Does everyone give shapes to abstract things in their minds? For example, I think of numbers in a long column that starts with one at the bottom and goes upwards with dividers after each decade. I don't visualize negative numbers very clearly. Does everyone see numbers this way in their mind?
11. Does everyone have a mental shape for days of the week, too? I think of days of the week as being shaped like a kind of like a flat half-circle, with Monday through Friday running along a straight line right to left. The week-end is a curve that runs behind the weekdays with Saturday joined at Friday and Sunday joined at Monday.
12. How about the months of the year?
I see January through June in a column with January at the top and June at the bottom then July curves to the right back up to August which is a short straight line to a second column with September at the top down to December at the bottom. Then the new year begins starting at the top of a new column to the left of December.
13. What do other people's mental shapes look like?
15. Do I think too much?
Did you ever have a thorn in your rose? I'm talking about one person among all the people you know who fills you with dread or angst or aggravation or all of the above, sets your stomach churning and unmakes your day whenever you have to deal with them? Life is good, or would be, except for this thorny individual who just has to rock your boat and waste your flavor. It might be a bad neighbor or an obnoxious co-worker or a bullying classmate or jerky boss or anyone who has a hankering to throw their weight around and picks you as the target to throw it at.
Like everyone else, I've had to deal with my share of thorns in my rose. I think I might even have been one to someone else a time or two. It's possible.
Anyway, during last Sunday's sermon our pastor at Peace Lutheran, Doug Warburton, told a story about a couple of thorns he had to deal with years ago when he was a young pastor in a new church.
He had been given his first congregation here in the Columbus area and among this congregation were a couple who were unhappy to have him as their pastor and constantly let him know it. They didn't like the direction he was taking their church, they wanted things done the way they wanted them done, which was not the way Doug was doing them. He endured these people until the day he pulled up the courage to tell them that if they were unhappy with him then perhaps they should seek out another congregation that was more in line with what they wanted. It was a difficult, unpleasant confrontation for our good-natured pastor. But the people did leave his congregation.
At that time Doug was volunteering as a Big Brother, and one morning some time after his last altercation with the troublesome couple he took the boy who was his Little Brother out to breakfast at First Watch. The couple was there in the restaurant.
"Can you imagine," said Doug, "being in a restaurant with fifty people and all you can focus on is this one couple sitting across the room from you?"
I could imagine it.
Anyway, he couldn't relax, he couldn't enjoy, he couldn't listen to what his Little Brother was saying to him. The very presence of these people was draining the outing of any pleasure.
Doug decided to face down the situation. He walked over the the couple's table and said hello and introduced his Little Brother.
Now, Doug was honest enough to admit that he wanted these people to see that he was a Big Brother volunteer, as if to say to them, hey, you see what a good person I am?
The encounter ran its brief course then Doug and his Little Brother returned to their table and ate their breakfast.
When they were finished Doug went to the counter to pay the bill but was told by the cashier that his bill had been paid. By the couple.
Doug's initial reaction, as he described it, was, "Grrrrrrr!"
Now at this point in Doug's story the verse from St. Paul Romans 12:20 popped into my head:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
St, Paul obviously knew something about human psychology.
But then Doug went on to tell us that later, after some time had passed, the thought occurred to him that maybe the couple's motive in paying for his meal might have been something other than the snarky put-down it appeared to be. Maybe something else was going on that he didn't understand at the time. Maybe paying his bill was actually this couple's way of saying "Let's move on," and that it was time to let it go.
And that was the end of the story.
Now, I know the message of Doug's story was that sometimes there are things in our lives that we need to leave behind so that we can get on with our lives. But for me his story also served as a reminder that the people who are or have been the thorns in our rose don't really scratch us very deeply. They pop up on the surface of our lives, give us grief for as long as they're around, then when we're finally rid of them their memory leaves no more sting than an old mosquito bite, to the point that we can sometimes even spare a charitable thought towards them, if we ever bother to think about them at all.
It's probably better, though, if we don't run into them in a restaurant, right?
by Patti Liszkay
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by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
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The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.