Friday, June 27, 2014

A Scarlet Letter

I’m not a fan of The Scarlet Letter. It’s just one of those books that I thought everybody reads – like the Bible. It’s one of our common stories, with one of our common and therefore short-hand images.  Kind of like Juliet talking to Romeo from her balcony.

Recently, I watched the movie Burning Bridges with a group who were for the most part younger than I am.  This movie features a community discussion with  6 young men in their twenties who burned a historic covered bridge in Bucks County about ten years ago. These young men were middle class educated youths from respected families. They said they didn’t know what that bridge meant to people. And they didn’t know why they decided to destroy it. But they were sorry to have upset and disappointed so many people. They were especially upset to see their parents cry.

These young men were sentenced to 18 days in jail, 1000 hours of community service and each was fined $66,000, their share of the $400,000 it cost to replace the bridge.  One woman in the group watching this movie said she didn’t think the punishment was appropriate.  (I did think it was appropriate.) 

Partly in jest, I asked her, “Do you think they should be made to wear Scarlet A’s for Arsonist?”

Nobody laughed.  People in the room looked at me as if I was making an absurd suggestion with no basis.  Have people stopped reading The Scarlet Letter?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Memorial for a Stranger

I’m a chronic volunteer.  Last week, I volunteered to clean up the food service at a memorial for a woman I’d never met.

I decided to go to the memorial and listen to the stories.

A woman who was in the church choir with her spoke fondly of how the dearly departed sang off key and was tone deaf, but probably didn’t know it.

A man talked about how he worked the night shift and liked to sleep late, but when the dearly departed was visiting at his home, she walked into his bedroom and woke him up early in the morning, saying “You’ve had enough sleep. It’s time to get up and fix me breakfast.”

Others talked about how she could eat 4th servings of food she enjoyed.

From the photo of her on the table, she was a woman of normal proportions. The extra food didn’t make her gain weight.

But most of all, they talked about her Faith.  She never doubted that people would be there for her.  At the end of her life, she was in a wheelchair.  But when she wanted to go to the beach, people were there to lift her and her chair into a van, drive her out onto the beach and stay there with her until she was ready to go home.

People were there to wait on her and bring her those extra servings she craved.  People seemed to enjoy helping her with whatever she desired.

She’d already recovered from brain cancer once, so her friends thought she’d survive this final illness, too.

I found it endearing that people loved telling and hearing these stories about their friend, whose company they had clearly enjoyed.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Charlatan or Fool

How do you tell the difference between a charlatan and a fool?

A charlatan knows s/he is selling nonsense.  A fool thinks the stuff might actually work.

My mother is seeing a chiropractor who does not limit himself to adjusting her spine.  He has her on a diet that by all accounts is either worthless or harmful.

My mother is 91 years old and when she started going to this man, she weighed 100 lbs.  She now weighs 91 lbs.  The food she is allowed seems to be a variation of the Paleo Diet. But then there are the supplements.  She had me look up two of them.  Solutions4 and ClubReduce are weight loss products. He also has her drinking Kangen water which Dr. Weil (who loves all things alternative) says is worthless.

My mother has neuropathy as a result of lumbar laminectomy surgery 10 years ago. She has tried many treatments without success.  She says this treatment makes her feet hurt worse, but that the chiropractor tells her this means her nerves are growing back.

Obviously, the man is selling hope.  Hope is a good product.  I want her to know that the food supplements she is taking are junk.  But I don’t want to take away her hope.  I have jumped all over her about the weight loss. She can see that she doesn’t need to lose weight. She knows she wants to attend the family get-together next September, a month before her 92nd birthday. She says she’ll gain the weight back, but if she keeps taking these supplement and eating this diet, I don’t know how that will happen.

My grand daughters made her some dairy-free cookies.  She does have a sweet tooth, so maybe that will help.  My husband called her chiropractor, and told him that he’s concerned about her weight loss.  The chiropractor says she can have organic ice cream twice a week now.  He’s afraid of toxins.

From what I’ve read, the toxin level is the same in organic and commercial foods. The main difference is that the organic farms aren’t adding to our planetary burden of insecticides and herbicides.

But right now, my concern is my mother’s health.  Both emotional and physical.  I could try to get this chiropractor’s license pulled, but he’s giving my mom hope.  So, how do I convince him to stop selling her weight loss products? And get him to encourage her to eat a higher calorie diet.? My mom is an authority follower.  I am not an authority.  Her chiropractor is.  So, I suppose charlatan or fool, I’m stuck with him, and the difference doesn’t really matter.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Value of Bag Refunds

The cashier at Trader Joe’s asked if I wanted a ticket to enter the drawing for people who bring their own bags.  I said, “I’d rather have a nickel.”

The cashier looked confused.  “But you might win $25.”

I thought I might have been exaggerating, but I said, “I’ve been shopping here for 12 years and I’ve never won. If I got a nickel for each bag, I’d have over $100 by now.”

The cashier clearly didn’t believe me.

So, I went home and did the math.  12 years times 52 weeks is 624 weeks.
I shop on my bike, which limits my carrying capacity, so I go to the store 3 times a week.  That’s 1872 trips to the store. I often use two bags, but if I only used one bag per visit,  at 5 cents each, that’s $93.60. I was not exaggerating. As the inventor of the bag refund, I have a stake in this.

Obviously, I don’t choose my grocery store based on bag refunds.  And I don’t bring my own bags to get a rebate. My bags hook onto my bike rack, and enable me to get my groceries home without wearing them on my back.

I took the little rebate ticket. I filled it out, and put it into the raffle box. And then I thought, as a true eco-freak, maybe I should stop taking the tickets. Saving that little bit of paper might eventually save a tree.  That’s what the bag recycling is all about anyway.