Thanks for the Memories


This is just a short little homage to my grandmother, since this photo popped up in my memories. Here’s a photo of my Grammy giving me a bottle. She died 5 years ago yesterday. I like to send out special vibes in her memory at Thanksgiving, and this year I need to remind myself that there is good in the world. She loved her family and always hosted lavish holiday meals to show it. (Of course, my favorite thing was the gelatinous canned cranberry stuff, but I digress.) Her Thanksgiving table had something for everyone. She made sure the appetizers included huge pitted black olives so I could eat them off my fingers, and baby corn because I obviously loved eating it like corn on the cob. Turkey AND ham because not everyone liked turkey. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. Shoo-fly pie for God knows who, and grasshopper pie for my uncle. Then she’d regale us with the same stable of stories she liked to tell at family meals, like how Grampy saw Pete Fountain live while he was traveling with the Army and called her from the show to tell her. And as you can tell from the photo, she was always meticulously put together. I’m grateful for the Memories of her and for being able to spend quality time with family this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sharing the Road

It’s not easy for cyclists or drivers to navigate sharing the road. The law states that cyclists are equal to cars but a lot of  drivers don’t know this, and some who do know it don’t care. There are also cyclists who do it wrong, too, by not signaling, not wearing lights, running stop signs. There’s a lot of confusion on both sides.

But does that mean it’s OK to be a moron? NO. Unfortunately you can be a moron and drive a car or ride a bike. My 2 Team in Training teammates and I had maybe the closest call any of us has had with a car on Saturday. All 3 of us felt the heat of this van’s engine and were all pulled in momentarily toward it by the air flow around it. It just makes me wonder how many more times I can tempt fate before I am hit by someone texting and driving. Another friend was hit last year on her bike by someone who ran a red light, and she is still recovering. It’s terrifying to be on the road, and it shouldn’t be. I know there are more and more bike lanes being installed, but that still doesn’t teach drivers to drive in the presence of bikes. Bike lanes appear and disappear, and drivers pay no attention to them anyway. Can we improve driver and cyclist education? I know my teammates try to. A woman came up to us as we were stopped at a Wawa recently, and said, “I don’t want to be insulting, but WHY do you people have to go on the roads? It makes me so nervous! They make bike trails for a reason!” We tried to explain the law and how many miles and the kind of training we were doing, but in the end her question was rhetorical. She walked away before we could finish.

At least that was a little better than the “GET OFF THE ROAD!” and aggressive honking we get at least once on every ride.

I’m probably preaching to the choir to most of the people who will read this, but I’d like to ask all drivers to remember and help spread the word that cyclists are legally considered cars. If you come to a cyclist, you can pass her, but if you don’t have a clear view to pass with 4 feet between you, just hang back for a minute. Don’t zoom around a blind corner past her while leaning on the horn. Don’t yell obscenities at her. Don’t throw things at her. Cyclists are people, too.

 

Use of French Major for Work Purpose

I finally did it! I used my French major for work.

The ice storm of 2014 has really put a hurting on the Philly suburbs – power outages still a problem almost a week later. After 4 days of being shut in my house I was ready to get back in to the office this morning. I figured the downed trees from yesterday would have been cleared. I drove around town for an hour, running into deadlocked traffic here, accidents  there, closed roads everywhere I turned. I gave up and went back home after an hour. I thought I’d give the one road I hadn’t tried a shot at lunchtime.

So in my last ditch effort to drive to the office, I ran into yet another road blocked by cones – the road was clear and beyond the cones there was a cherry picker parked to the side. I decided to get out of my car and find someone to beg to let me drive by.

I walked up to the cab and found two guys inside, asleep. One of them woke up and opened the door. I asked if I could get by. He shrugged and said, “I speak French.”

Oh!

I speak French! Je parle Francais!” He was of course shocked, as was the other guy who I guess also only spoke French. And then I am sure I spoke like a two-year-old as I tried to recall the words I needed to say, I need to get by. He said, don’t worry, take this little road here – it’ll turn to the left and meet up again.

So, I used my French to get to work, even though it was just to help me get there. I wonder if this is as close as I’ll ever get to making professional use of my degree.

All the Single Ladies

So I live by myself in my new place and my next door neighbor is a little old Italian lady named Antoinette.  She considers herself the matriarch of the street and has told me she’s lived there 51 years. Every time I run into her I am given some kind of life lesson, because she knows I’m on my own and so is she, and she wants to impart her wisdom to me. The first time we met I was moving in to the house. I saw her and went right over to introduce myself. She didn’t let go of my hand after I shook hers, so I knew I was in trouble. She told me, while the movers waited in the street, to marry a rich man and not to talk to anyone on the street if I didn’t want to go to jail. And when I see her when we’re getting in and out of cars she has more life advice for me, like “Make sure you eat at the right time and sleep at the right time.” I helped her bring her groceries in once, and she had a speech prepared about how people used to help each other in her country.

Yesterday topped it all. It’s been snowing here, with some melting and refreezing making parking a challenge because my street is inclined a bit. I did not have the forethought to buy a shovel, so yesterday when I saw some other neighbors outside with Antoinette working on clearing snow away from her car, I thought, perfect – I will help shovel her car out and maybe she’ll lend me her shovel. Well, there is a price to pay for using Antoinette’s shovel. It involved her calling me over and pointing out what areas to shovel and in what order and where to put the snow. “You go do it and I’ll watch you. You don’t have a mother.” I’m not sure what she meant by this, but I went ahead and shoveled and took orders from Antoinette all the way.

And THEN! Eventually she went inside and told me to knock when I was done. So when I did, she asked me to come in and told me she had a question for me. [Oh no.] She told me that she had met “the man staying with you, who said he was your father.” I said yes, my parents were staying with me over Thanksgiving. She told me that she had spoken to my dad on one occasion and he seemed very nice, and then on another occasion my father had turned his head away and ignored her when she said hello. She told me she “felt bad for three, four, five days” because of this.

“I ask, what did I do?” she said. “I am just trying to say hello.” I was caught like a deer in headlights, having no idea how to smooth over the unnecessarily hurt feelings of my little old next-door-neighbor.

So, Dad: I totally bailed you out by telling Antoinette that you were hard of hearing and had no intention of hurting her feelings. This seemed to work. We definitely don’t want to be on her bad side, because she also told me her next door neighbors on the other side are actually related to her deceased husband and, she said, “I call the cops on them all the time because they are good for nothing and don’t believe in anything or even go to church or nothing.”

I think I am still in Antoinette’s good graces… as long as I shovel her parking spot if she’s not home and it snows, like she told me to when I was leaving!

We’re Getting a Dog!

With all the insanity we have been enduring with home renovations, I have had one positive goal always in the back of my mind: to finally get the English bulldog I have wanted for so long.

This morning, I couldn’t stop myself. I went to Petfinder.com, and found myself a 7-year-old male bulldog whose owner had gotten sick and couldn’t take care of him anymore. He is adorable! And then there I was, filling out an application for adoption. And then there I was, on the phone finalizing adoption details.

At least, that’s what I told Sherpa when I sent him a link to the dog on Facebook.

“Are you serious? Isn’t getting a dog something we should talk about before we do it?”

I got you! April Fool’s! I’m in trouble now. I know I’m in for something.

And it is really, truly not the time for me to be getting a dog. Mister Sensible is right – as much as we both love dogs, we are strapped for cash until my condo sells, and bulldogs are prone to health problems. Not to mention we’re spoiled by how easy Shug is to care for, even with her diabolical food adventures. And I haven’t even talked to Sugar about whether she would be OK with it.

Now, that’s not to say that that dog isn’t real. He is real, and I wish I could adopt him, along with every bulldog I ogle from time to time. I also urge you to adopt if you’re thinking about getting a pet. I plan to, when the time is right for another dog. (Like tomorrow. I mean, next week. I mean, WHEN WE INSTALL A FENCE.)

Raisins de Seeded: Why We Need Humans

For those of you who think you’re learning french by reading the back of your shampoo bottle, think again.

I know a little bit about french – it was one of my majors in college, and I spent one semester living there when I was 20 (WOE IS ME, that was TEN years ago). Back then, I was fluent. Yet contrary to what they told Steve Carell in “40-Year-Old Virgin,” YES: If you don’t use it, you lose it.

Regardless, I like to think that I retain enough of the language to be able to get by if the gods were to smile upon me and I found myself back in France.

Anyway, I still get a good chuckle out of reading product labels translated – or half translated – into french. Like this bag of grapes I bought this week:

Now, “grape,” in french, is “raisin.” So that’s confusing to folks who don’t know french, but there you go. And “rouges” is right, too, so we’re good there. But “seeds” are “pépins” and whoever translated this into French I suppose used Google Translate, or something like that, and the software just didn’t know how to translate “seeded.” You’d say “grapes with seeds,” not “seeded grapes.” For the record, it should be “raisins rouges au pépins.”

Anyway, we got “Raisins Rouges de Seeded” on this packaging, and it ticks me off. I mean, at least have someone check it before you have however many of these things printed. Why even put it on there? Because of our weird American obsession with the French being somehow more sophisticated?

This all supports my defense for keeping humans around (especially the ones who are skilled writers and editors).