Saturday, February 28, 2009

Grow Your Own

Lately the news is full of heartrending stories of people fallen on hard times as well as inspiring tales of resourcefulness that would do veterans of 1930 proud.  There are articles telling us 10 Ways to Trim Your Budget! and How to Grow Your Own Vegetables!

I grew up in a thrifty family and am pleased to have produced two exceptionally thrifty children. We were cheap, and proud of it, before the current economy forced everyone to be cheap(er). This was brought home to me today as I wandered through Macy's with a $20 gift certificate in hand. First, I was in the Oregon Macy's to save sales tax. Second, I decided to spend my certificate after I saw the huge ad in the paper - 50% Off Already Reduced Prices! Third, I have three birthdays coming up in the next month and thought, "Whoa! I can buy someone a present without spending very much money." Alas, not even free money is easy for a truly cheap person to spend. I made my way from Jewelry, through Men's, Juniors, Shoes, Handbags and Kitchenware, and didn't find a single thing I thought was worth what Macy's thought it was worth.

So, still burdened with my dog eared $20 certificate, I went home and turned over my compost heaps. And in a couple of months I will Grow My Own Vegetables! like I always do.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Would you like some rubber bands with that?

Every so often I toy briefly with vegetarianism, such as when I hear the chef on the cable tv cooking show describing the short, tragic life of the veal calf or when undercooked burgers kill a few people with e coli. Laziness always wins and I keep on eating whatever is easiest.

However, if you have the intestinal fortitude to be a vegetarian, I say embrace it whole hog. Tofurkey, Chik'n®, Gardenburgers®, and smoked-flavored textured vegetable protein corned beef are just sops to those who can't entirely divorce themselves from their carnivorous pasts, and I'm here to tell you at least one of those tastes really really really bad. That would be, sorry, Grandma Rose, the corned beef.

Portland Adventist Hospital, where I recently took my friend for knee surgery, is, as the name implies, run by vegetarians. You can't get a tuna sandwich in the cafeteria, yet they do have a "grill". It's the first thing you come to inside the cafeteria door, and if there is any pattern to my eating, it usually fits the first-thing-you-see method of menu choice. They were out of Chik'n® so I opted for a Reuben sandwich, not giving any real thought to what might constitute corned beef in a vegetarian restaurant. Now I know what happens to old surgical gloves. They steep them for three weeks in smoke flavoring and make sandwiches out of them.

Which brings me to my second, obliquely hospital-related, subject: Cable rates are going up! Six percent! Bring on the television interviews, the opinion polls, stories of hardship and woe. Now pan over to my health insurance bill, the one from Regence Blue Cross that raised the premium on my individual health plan with the gargantuan deductible by over 33% in a single jump (and, no, I didn't change age groups). Now pan over to the masses of people with no bill to complain about because they don't have any insurance. Cable rates. Pffft. Big deal.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Making the World a Better Place. In One Act.

Some things are particularly wonderful because they're rare - things like enormous diamonds and four leaf clovers. Some things are rare, yet not wonderful, like two-headed calves and tsunamis. And then there are the rare things that are wonderful, but would be even more wonderful even if they were commonplace. And those things, if they were commonplace, would have a hand in ending war, bigotry, and hip fractures, not necessarily in that order.

Yesterday I was eating lunch with a kind man when I noticed that his focus had moved from our conversation to the sidewalk outside the restaurant where an exceptionally frail and ancient woman was inching her way into a huge SUV, having been relieved of her walker by her briskly efficient middle-aged (grand?)daughter. With the walker folded and stowed, said daughter skipped into the driver's seat leaving grandma, barely perched in the passenger seat, waving ineffectually at the car door in a vain attempt to close it behind her. The next thing I knew, my lunch companion had beamed himself up, reappeared on the sidewalk, and was unfurling the seatbelt for said old lady and closing her door. Everyone else, myself included, just sat and watched because, after all, she wasn't OUR old lady. Right? And that's too bad.

What ever happened to those "Practice Random Kindness" bumper stickers? (My theory is, because they actually read, "Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty", they were just too saccharin to survive.) Nonetheless people, get out there and Practice some gol dern Random Kindness. Your waitress will say nice things about you. Ours did. And so will I.