Friday, June 3, 2011

Plastic Yarn?

Ok, I admit it: I am not an enthusiastic recycler.  Sometimes plastic items and cans just get tossed into the "general garbage" along with table scraps and fruit parts I'm not going to eat.  Where, you say, is my commitment to composting and reducing my carbon footprint?  Well, folks, it's been looped into plastic yarn!

I was leafing through knitting books at the Half Price Book store and saw a pattern for a shopping bag/tote bag zip by.  It looked interesting, and after a second perusal, I bought the book. Just for that one pattern, you say? Hey, it was half price. And a RECYCLING project, so it would cost nothing to make!  All I had to do was use the plastic shopping bags I already had accumulating in my kitchen closet and in a "few simple steps," recycle them to make another, larger, stronger shopping bag.  A nifty one.  Color didn't matter. Wait, yes it did.  The picture in the book looked kind of drab---mostly white with little bits of color from the writing on the bags. I decided to search my house for plastic bags of color, and found quite a few.  Some were kind of heavyweight, but that shouldn't make any difference.... 

So what was my first step?  Smooth each bag out and cut off the top, right below the handles, and then the bottom, releasing the folds on the sides to be smoothed out as well.  Fold in half, and then half again.  Cut into strips, which will fold out into loops.  Into "oops" was more like it, until I got the folding part conquered. I spent an hour or so doing the cut, cut, strip, strip, strip... Good thing I was watching tv or my mind would soon  have been snoring.

When I HAD to rest my achy breaky right hand, I realized that it was going to take a LOT of  bags, and a LOT of cutting before I was ready for the next step:  looping the loops together. And until I had enough colors to alternate the whites and browns with, it wasn't going to happen.  Enough for today.  A few days later....back I went  to the cutting and stripping. Who knew that stripping could be so boring?

When my piles of  multi-colored strips began to  reach couch height, I decided it was time to start looping. Yippee! Lovely hours of  loop de loop, alternating colors... until I had enough plastic yarn to wind into a ball!  I had arrived, after several sessions of stripping over 50 bags and ( how many?) hours of work, I was ready to begin to make a ball of the stuff that I ordinarily just pick off a shelf and start knitting. Can you sense my excitement?

Finally! The best part and the easiest part in this production line:  knitting!  Yes!  No!  The heavier bags cut into loops and then into stitches seemed  incapable of moving along the knitting needles without superhuman strength---what was this plastic made of, super glue?  Took me a few tries, but eventually I got the hang of making the stitches looser and easier to move.  Then it  took a few weeks of on and off knitting, but a flat piece of plastic knitting emerged.  It was folded in half, sewn into purse shape, tabs knitted and rolled over some recycled wooden handles and sewn to the inside and Voila!!  I had in my hands a PURSE!  A recycled  plastic purse! I was ecstatic, especially since everyone I had showed the "creation in progress" to had a hard time working up any enthusiasm or vision of  a final product that anyone could or would want to use. And yet, catching sight of  the final product hanging from a door knob evoked this comment from my husband:  "It looks MUCH better than I ever thought it would!"  Thanks, honey.

So the moral of the story is:  there are easier ways of recycling, of reducing the carbon footprint we leave behind and of enjoying the time we have left of life, and they have their places in the lives of the ordinary. But plastic yarn will proudly stand as the recycling choice of  the stout-hearted  and courageous.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Christmas in May

What do you say about a person who, when she finally gets someone to move her ficus tree outside for the coming summer, later looks out the window to see a tail of Christmas lights drooping from its spindly limbs? She has spent years of walking with her husband through the neighborhood griping about people who wait a month or more to take down their outdoor lights. So how did this come about? Does it mean that she can't see well enough to notice that the cord with the plug on the end of it is being watered every day along with the tree? Does she not realize that time is quickly passing by, and May flowers have already blossomed from April showers? Or is she a lazy good for nothin' who should be shot?

Somehow, I don't think any of the above apply: I happen to know that she's reached the dreaded season of life when her brain is operating the best it can with non-snapping neurons(no synapse) and a definite lack of serotonin(happy happy happy, we're so happy). You know what I mean, don't you? The shades are moving up and down but nobody's home? It doesn't surprise ME, because I've observed her neurons losing their zip for years now....haven't you noticed that when she attempts a witty comeback, it ends up being a combination of something that doesn't apply and something that might but the beginning belongs to some other ending? SHE knows what she's talking about (she claims) and it makes perfect sense to HER; she reasons that it must be that everyone else has a HEARING problem---probably deaf in one ear so they can't make much sense of ANY conversation that involves more than one person...

So, activated and motivated by the little serotonin her brain has left, she moves on to some other arena of give and take talk and she's feeling great! She fits right in with this younger crowd and it seems to her like she's flowing with the go, so she's ready to be brilliant and surprise all these interesting people who are so well informed. Her mouth opens, her eyes widen as she anticipates sharing her clever comment, but one neuron tries to snap and fails and then another; her serotonin is pouring down the drain, and she is left to dazzle her audience with: "Mardon me, Padam, is this pie occupewed?" Oh no, her recently stored cutting-edge facts about both political and technical fields(acquired, of course from her children and the Internet---did you know she INVENTED the Internet?) has disappeared down the drain along with her serotonin, leaving her with nothing but a file of sayings from her childhood days: "Good thing it wasn't a clean tablecloth," she offers that week to the waiter as he brings her meal. "At least we know you're not two-faced, or you wouldn't be wearing that one!" she whispers to her best friend. "Tomorrow's another day..." is her answer to her husband's query about the current date. She greets the postman with: "Many hands make light work" and her neighbor, who has been laid off hears her call across the street, "See a penny, pick it up and all day you'll have good luck!" "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," she chirps to the checkout clerk at Kroger's. Her cat is served her Science Diet along with with the admonition: "De gustibus non disputandem est!" And when her husband announces he is going upstairs to change for his bike ride, she has the perfect quip: "What are you going to change into, a fairy godmother?"

So it should be no surprise that this woman who has adapted so well to her synapse impairment, HAS noticed those droopy lights; in fact, she has noticed them every day since Christmas, and each day she tells herself she must take them down. One neuron gives a half-hearted try at retaining this bit of vital info, but instead misses and fizzles. By the time she walks out of the room she doesn't recall ever having that conversation with herself. Until the next day, when she notices those droopy lights....

Merry Christmas, everybody, it's May! "Mayday, Mayday...."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Adventure, Verbally Speaking

Adventure comes in all sizes and packages. An optimist can make an ATTITUDE ADVENTURE out of anything, including what seems like a disaster to us normal people. The optimist can arrive at a reserved(for a week) accommodation that has just lost its power due to wind shears (what ARE wind shears anyway---giant scissors of wind?)and has no water(electric pump) and in a minute, turn the whole thing into an Adventure just by proclaiming it to be so: It'll be an ADVENTURE, guys----just think, we'll actually get to use those FLASHLIGHTS we always bring and instead of formal meals we can have PICNICS with sandwiches and potato chips; no showers? We'll SWIM in the lake! This proclamation exclamation goes viral: instead of the rest of us jumping into our vehicles and driving the 10 hours back home or stomping over to the office to demand a refund, we decide to stay. And so, thanks to our resident optimist, we remember the year of our ATTITUDE ADVENTURE with great fondness...

Another kind of Adventure creeps up on us, beginning with a startling realization, then an adjustment of perspective, and gradually our eyes and head end up so clouded we can't see or think right. And finally, we have to accept that our usual calm voice of sanity has been attacked by fear and morphed into a mental scream of UN-sanity! Melodramatic, you say? You don't believe it could happen to you? Then join me in a little walk through YOUR TWILIGHT ADVENTURE: you get off the metro at dusk(twilight) only to find that the car you left there earlier in the day has disappeared ( startling realization). You walk around all the buildings, looking for a place it could be hidden, then the perimeter of the lot; everything looks familiar, and yet not(adjustment of perspective). You KNOW you parked your car right there and yet it ISN'T there (clouded thought process)! Are you crazy? Maybe so! Aaaaaaaaaah! (un-sanity). By now the only one way to make it through your TWILIGHT ADVENTURE and back to the world of sanity is to use your secret weapon: tell yourself the TRUTH: there is a logical explanation for what you are experiencing. Your car did not fly away by itself. It could have been stolen, but one car, surrounded by so many others? What you need to do is find someone to help, but you're the only one here! Truth: prayer can link you up with Someone else. You pray. A lone runner appears in the distance, jogging toward you on the trail right outside the lot. You jog, too, up to the fence and the runner recognizes desperation when she sees it pressed up against the wire and fear, when she hears the voice of un-sanity... She COULD run away, thinking SHE is having a TWILIGHT ADVENTURE, but thankfully she stops, and listens to your story. She asks a question or two, and then, oh frabjous joy, she tells you the truth: you need to get back on the train and go one more stop. You get back on and debark 10 minutes later to the sight of an identical parking lot---and there in front of you is your car, right where you left it!
Note: TWILIGHT ADVENTURES are only pleasurable in the re-telling, not the re-living...

What kind of Adventure experience have you had lately? I'm hoping for more ATTITUDE ADVENTURES and no more TWILIGHT ones....

Monday, April 27, 2009

Meeting of Minds

There are a myriad of ways one can have a meeting of minds. The first that comes to my mind (sorry) is something I cannot explain. My sister and I are separated in age by 9 years and for most of our lives have lived apart, although the time sprinkled with visiting and long-distance communication. Several years ago, she and her husband came to live in Columbus. During that time, she and I worked together in caring for our parents and were in daily contact with each other, either in person or by phone. I cannot tell you HOW many times we would start to speak at the same time, saying the exact same words, with the same inflection and hand gestures. This is something you expect to happen when you've lived together for 20 plus years and can finish the others' sentences, give the punchline to the same old jokes, and sing the songs you've sung together forever. Not the case here. Since a lot of our time was spent in a nursing home, where many of the folks' minds were diminished or changed or uncomprehending, ours was the only illuminated shared laughter that resulted at these moments. But the others would often laugh along with us, thinking we fit right in with everyone there. So here's the question: was this meeting of minds with my sister, or with THEM?

Processing issues can also lead to a meeting of minds. For instance, suppose I think we need a new car. My husband may not agree, so we start processing. Me: Are you kidding? I got stuck in traffic last month when the car overheated, don't you remember? It could have caused an accident and on top of that you had to come rescue me. Don't you want to keep me safe? Him: Of course I I will give you clear and concise directions for keeping the car from overheating again. Before you start it, you must open the hood, find the radiator cap---no, not the oil stick---and use this special measure stick that I have spent countless man hours crafting for you, my love. You insert it into the opening of the radiator--after removing the cap, of course (handing me a set of pliers). Pull the stick back out and match the level of water with the labels I have placed on it: 1. OK (you can go ahead and drive 2. WAIT ( 3 minutes and measure again) 3. ADD 1 pint (not 2, just 1) 4. ADD 4 pints 5. ADD 1 gallon 6. CALL (your husband) Me: And exactly how does this help me when I'm running late, as usual? Him: Well, I'm glad you asked that; I've just made up a schedule for you, which, if you follow daily and use the appointment calendar included, you will never again have that problem. Me: What about all the other things that don't work on the car? I feel like I am cranking open a giant water valve to Hoover Dam when I am turning the steering wheel!! Him: Didn't you say that you were needing some strengthening exercises for your arms? Me: (Trying another tactic) Honestly now, wouldn't we save money by upgrading to a vehicle that uses less gas and works more efficiently? Him: (patiently) Yes, this is true, but the BEST thing you can do for us financially right now is to drive less and walk more. Me: (exasperated) And just WHAT will happen to all the money I'll be saving us? Him: Maybe we'll go on a cruise.... Mirabile dictu...a meeting of minds!

My most recent experience of a spontaneous meeting of minds occurred this weekend. A friend and I were walking in the Arena District of Columbus. There were lots of people walking by us in the opposite direction and we were enjoying people-watching. One group had within it a young woman, smiling, talking and holding onto the arm of a good-looking guy. Nothing special, until the young woman took a little skip instead of a step, and her face lit up with joy and excitement about who-knows-what.... My friend and I looked at each other and what fell out of my mouth turned out to be EXACTLY what she was thinking, too: Remember those days when WE were young and full of fun and energy and excitement, out on the town with our hubbies? Ahhh, yes a true meeting of minds...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Your Vanity Plate ACTUALLY Says.......

I drive around town a lot, and that means I sit for a bit at plenty of lights, which gives great opportunity to notice people's Vanity plates. I guess they are called that because you get to pay money for them, which makes them more valuable and thus feel more important than the kind that are randomly allotted. More likely,the Vanity is embedded in the message you have crafted for all the world to see. Seems to me the majority of V-plates radar something about character, passions, beliefs, character, and of course, names (people, places, things). What I wonder is this: is the message I receive about you the one you actually want me to get?

I try to remember the funny, clever or cute V-plates I see, but I never do. So I decided to keep an eye out for two weeks, making a list (yes, sometimes while I was driving) and now I'm going to share it with you. You can either read the plates and do your own interpretation, conjecture or puzzle-solving or you can read on and perhaps be enlightened by my musings about what the rest of us actually "get" about who's driving.

Let's start with a relatively easy read, one I spotted at the Worthington Public Library parking lot: I LV ASPEN. My first response: well, isn't that nice...this driver spends every vacation in Colorado, skiing. Then I thought, couldn't it also mean that the driver LIVES in Aspen, but then, why would the v-plate be from Ohio? Maybe he/she is the owner of two homes, one here and one in Aspen... As I neared the vehicle, the puzzle solved itself: above and to the right of the V-plate was the SUV model---yup, you guessed it, it was an Aspen.

OK, let's try again: ASL USER. This time I wasn't stopped in traffic and I had to speed up and slow down to read it again, because the only message I got was USER. Wonder why someone would advertise THAT? Of course, once I added the first three letters I had it---this person has that awful syndrome called ASL! No, I think that's ALS.... It took only a millisecond more to get to the root of this one: American Sign Language USER. Good for me and good for you!

Sometimes the size, shape and color of a car is a pretty blatant hint. This one was attached to a small, sporty red car, music blaring and head bobbing: YOBAYBE. No explanation necessary. And then there was one my passenger noted: MY KIWI---on a lime green SuperBug.

This next V-plate had me using my vocal as well as mental skills: MA CAR. It could mean that the vehicle that is NOT owned and driven by PA...but the most likely story is that the driver is someone of the Southern persuasion that wants you to know that YOU are not the owner/driver---- HE/SHE is. Got that?

Sometimes a V-plate can be deliciously mysterious: WKD WCH. This conjured up visions of some middle-aged female whose friends decided to celebrate her 50th by giving her her very own v-plate! (Hey, it's just a joke...who cares what the other drivers think?? ) Or maybe an actor/singer whose favorite role was in the musical "Wicked." Probably not. I guess it could also be a literal label: someone belonging to Wikken... I would never have known for sure, except that in the middle of my musings, the driver and passenger came out of a store, hopped in and drove away: a middle-aged woman (yes!!) and her teen-aged son(oh...).

Not to beat a dead horse (or a horse to death?) but again, the car can be the clue. In this instance I sort of "get it" but not completely (and maybe I don't really need that closure). Here goes: SPNKEE. Yes, I think the driver likes to be called "Spanky" and also likes the karma of the car--small, modern, "green(isn't today earth day?)" and oh so cute.... You put it together. I'm just going to respond by quoting this unique V-plate message: WOO YAY! Then I'm going to get a good night's sleep, and in the morning take the advice of this car owner: RYZNDYNE.

How do you feel about V-plates?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mind Control

I read an article today about a study of the effect of today's fast-paced communication media on the development of a moral conscience. If I read it correctly, the premise was that in conversations that take place in short spurts and require some sort of immediate comment or reply, the mind does not have the time to properly register a complete response: one that combines the intellectual understanding of the words with an emotional and moral conscience. According to the study, it takes time for that emotional response to kick in and the moral conscience to awaken. Therefore, the quick intellectual-only response may completely miss the underlying need for connection and understanding and not only mess up the rest of the day's twits and tweeters, but result in side effects that have bigger consequences than ever imagined.

If the premise of the study is indeed fact, then many people are daily experiencing something like the following: It's a typical workday and you tweet me (in x characters or less) that your spouse deeply wounded your sense of self that morning by not making you coffee. Without adding the words that would take you over the x number of characters, I am supposed to get the unstated meaning(.. and he KNOWS how important it is to the start of your day and how there is just not TIME for you to make coffee and get out of the house ready for work, and it's HIS job, just like it says on the chart of equally divided chores and besides, you KNOW it's really his way of saying, I love you, babe....) Really? All that in a nano-second? It would be so easy to just squawk out a response like: Get a grip! Stop whining and get yourself a Starbuck's!

A second or so later, the tiniest bit of Moral Conscience may seep into my response mechanism, especially when YOUR reply to MY reply features the word "friend," in reference to me, but definitely NOT in a friendly way. A little more MC begins to flow into my emotional arena and they travel together down my intelligence highway sending me a MESSAGE: I have NOT listened to the underlying implication in your obvious hysterical and illogical response to your spouse's apparent lack of respect and love toward you by leaving java out of your morning equation. Thus, my immediate and, I admit it, unempathetic, response to you, most likely added another gouge in your already damaged self-worth and caused you to assume I valued you as little as your spouse apparently did this am. Without taking the time to allow YOUR MC to kick in, you fired back an angry statement about my inability to BE a friend and who needs me anyway?

Because my MC was now really firing up, I did not stomp on that keyboard, but took time to evaluate and allow my inner being to be fully engaged in your emotional crisis. In doing so, I believe that I disproved that scientific premise that seems to precludes our ability to control our minds when we receive an x amount of characters that DEMAND we give immediate evidence of our presence and engaged intellect. We CAN control our minds with an override that tells our fingers to disregard the beeping message board. We can then take time to look within, to meditate instead on the messages our MC is sending us. THEN, and only then, can we get back with the Appropriate Response: "Girl, I'm running out RIGHT NOW to pick you up a latte...."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is The Circle of Life Just ....Too Round?

Recently I had a facebook conversation (if you call commenting on someone's comment a conversation) about how convenient it would be if what dogs deposit on the lawn would just turn into lawn fertilizer instead of having to be pooper-scooped and re-deposited in a garbage can. That got me started thinking---why does horse or cow manure make great fertilizer? All the farmers I know( my Dad and his Dad) clean it out of the barn, put it in a spreader and hit the fields. Then the grassy grains grow, the cows/horses eat them again, get it. Why does this not work with dogs, cats, parrots or snakes? We of the recycling mind could put the "green lawn" chemical companies out of business and never have to pooper- scoop again!

Well folks, read on, the answer has arrived. Maybe our favorite pets are out of the running for naturally producing fertilizer, but WE aren't! No joke. "Columbus uses sewage-treatment leftovers and yard waste to create a nutritious mulch, on sale to gardeners." pg. 16 of this week's The Booster. Would you like to know what makes up this "nutritious mulch"? Biosolids (what do you think THAT could be) from waste water treatment plants, along with yard waste and wood chips are combined to make a final product called Com-Til, on sale now at your friendly sewage treatment plant!

The article goes on to say that after these two "nutritious" ingredients are aerated, cured and screened, they become "a product that does not belie its origin." Does that mean that although we tell ourselves it is "nutritious" fertilizer, it still looks like sewage, smells like sewage, and, in fact, IS sewage? Hmmm.....I can smell an opportunity for investment in little white nose covers with rubber bands attached---we canl join the Chinese outdoor use of them by donning them every time we step out our front door. But hey, we will be part of the recycling cutting edge. And isn't that every good citizen's dream?

Ok, I am getting the picture that there IS a difference in using cow manure, which I contend, has an unpleasant odor (my husband, who did NOT grow up on a farm, disagrees), but that smell is pleasantly associated with a four-footed creature that gives us milk, butter and cheese; THAT I can live with. Just what do you think the odor ofCom-Til will conjure up in your mind? No, thanks!

So, folks,I may lose my status as recycler of the month (we DO have a compost pile, after all), but I draw the line here: sometimes the circle of life is just...too round.