Thursday, March 9, 2017
The other morning, upon my arrival at the office, I was greeted by the most wonderful surprise.
No, the Prize Patrol had not festooned my area with balloons and left a big fat check with my name on it. I am beginning to think they are merely a myth, like unicorns.
No, our CEO had not welcomed me with a greatly deserved huge promotion and corresponding humongous raise.
Rather, there draped rather rakishly over the back of my chair; was a beautiful, dark brown leather aviator jacket. It was hardly worn. In fact, it could have been easily mistaken for being new. Peeking from one of the chest pockets were a matching pair of sheepskin lined leather gloves.
Some of my co-workers knew who the benefactor was, but were playing it cool. I hung my rather pedestrian blue nylon wind-breaker up, and cautiously slipped the beauty on. I was fully expecting someone to dash around the corner, demanding I put their jacket down! Now!!
The soft supple leather seemed to mold itself to my not-so-svelte form. The zipper was still a bit stiff from not too much use, the snaps closed with a…well… satisfying “Snap!”
I paraded around a bit, much like a child taking a nervous tentative test-ride on a Christmas-gift bicycle. I could only mumble a rather lame “I don’t know” response to my other co-workers questions about the source of such a jacket.
Finally, the Great Mystery was solved. A friend of mine came in while I was on the phone, poking her head around the corner of my work area. She gave a thumbs-up sign, and I pantomimed “Was this from you?” With a big smile and a nod, she affirmed my guess.
When I completed my business, I strode to her area totally flabbergasted. She told me her husband had lost weight and he was “just swimming” in it. So, rather than leave it to languish in a closet, or find an ignoble end in a thrift store; she thought it may fit me.
My thanks, while profuse, were totally inadequate. I was at a rare loss for words.
During the day, I would reach over and gently feel the sleeves. A rather insensitive co-worker accused me of “fondling” the jacket. I reminded them that such actions are strictly forbidden by our organization, and are cause for immediate termination. Rather, I was appreciating the suppleness, the quality of workmanship, the panache exuded by the garment.
Finally, the day came to an end. I slipped the jacket on, and carried my old nylon jacket out side
It was then that I discovered this is no ordinary leather jacket.
As I stepped from the office building, the flag was snapping in a brisk west wind. Low hanging clouds scuttled across the sky as they were back-lit by the setting Sun. The sound of a propeller driven plane working for altitude upon takeoff from the airport across the road filled my ears. The parking lot was fairly cleared out.
That was when I noticed the most incredible thing.
Looking about, the larger SUV s and pick-ups took on the silhouettes of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and Consolidated B-24 Liberators ( or “Constipated Lumberers”,as an uncle, a gunner on 24s referred to them). The sedans and coupes were transformed to Lockheed P-38 Lightnings and North American P-51 Mustangs. A Glenn Miller tune, (Moonlight Serenade to be exact), drifted across the wind-swept tarmac.
There, in the half-shadows my sleek shiny beauty awaited; her nose proudly pointing skyward. The rosy hues of the last sunbeams reflected off her silvery fuselage. Her sleek lines give the impression of great speed even while sitting still.
Upon settling into the worn leather seat and sliding the bubble canopy closed, I hit the start switch. The large four blade prop began to slowly turn. Suddenly, the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine (built by Packard under license to Rolls-Royce) caught and roared to life. The whole ship vibrated with eager anticipation of soon being released to soar among the clouds, and stars.
“Just a little night-time jaunt along the lake shore. Maybe fly to see Niagara Falls at night and back.” I thought. At 440 mph, it would only be about an hour or so flight.
We rolled out from the parking area, and taxied to the end of the runway. Patiently, we awaited several in-bound planes to clear the area. Then, cracking the throttle, kicking the rudder a bit, we turned to line-up on the runway. As the tower gave us the all clear, I pushed the throttle forward. Slowly she gained speed; as the wonder of lift began to take place, the tail rose from the ground. Gazing through the blur of the propeller arc, the buildings, vehicles, and people were a blur. Then, that magical moment; when the bonds of gravity are broken, and we soared skyward.
We turned north until the waters of Lake Erie replaced the land. Gently, we banked eastward. I settled in for a relaxing flight; contentedly listening to the powerful engine hum. The houses, factories, and lake slipped by silently below.
Suddenly, I heard a most unusual noise. What is that?!? There! There it is again! Anxiously I looked around, expecting to see smoke or flames coming from the Mustang's undercarriage.
Then I saw it....A somewhat irritated driver of a Smart car giving vent to their frustration. Glancing up, I saw the traffic light at the off-ramp had turned green.
With a sigh, I let out the clutch of our car, and made the turn.
Yet... faintly, very faintly; I could have sworn I heard Moonlight Serenade fading away.
Friday, November 18, 2016
The other night I overheard the most unusual conversation. I can only assume I was half-dreaming, half-awake.
From downstairs I heard a little voice;
“Wha---What is it Ike?” , came a groggy reply.
“I can't sleep.”
I was about to awaken LB, but I was uncertain what her response would be. Besides, I was absolutely mesmerized by what I was hearing.
“So I have noticed...what's up?” Mimi replied a bit cranky sounding.
“Well...I was thinking. Remember that 'lection a week or so ago?”
“Of course. How can anyone forget?”
“Yeah! I am so glad to not have to hear any more ads! But...what's next?”
I was amazed! All the while I thought these two had the attention span of a zucchini, they were actually paying attention!
“Well, hmm... this is your first Presidential election! I forgot! Being 13 in dog years and about 86 in human years plays tricks with my memory. The current President will finish his term of office, and the President-elect will take the Oath of Office on January 20 of 2017. That is called the Inauguration”
“Uh-huh...but there are so many upset people! What about the Electrician's College?”
“The what?? OH! You mean the Electoral College! Yes, that is a uniquely American institution. It is not literally a college, but rather a means to ensure citizens in less populous states have a voice in choosing the President.”
“How does it work?”
“Each State has a determined number of Electors. That number is based upon 2 Senators, and the number of Congressional Representatives that State has. For example, Ohio has 16 Congressional districts/representatives and 2 Senators. Therefore, Ohio has 18 Electoral votes.
The District of Columbia, although not a State, has 3 Electoral votes.”
“Why did they do that?”
“A concern of our Nation's Founders was the prospect of more populous areas essentially controlling the elections of President. The less populated and rural areas would not have as strong a voice in determining who their leader would be.”
“Yes, it is not perfect; but we don't live in a perfect world. Yet without this system, our elections would be controlled by only a few states.”
“Oh, so people in the smaller states get a voice.”
“But, some people want to change all this.”
“Yes, there are some. But it would not be an easy thing to to. See, the Electoral College is insulated by the Constitution. Specifically in Article II, section 1; the XII and XXIII Amendments.”
“Can it be changed?”
“It can, by a new Amendment being passed, or ratified, by two-thirds of the States.”
“Let's see... 50 States... two-thirds...”.
“Thirty-three States, Ike.”
“Wow...that's a lot!”
“Yes. That was by design, as the Founders wanted to avoid the Constitution being tinkered with willy-nilly. While many Amendments have been very, very good; they still wanted the citizens of the United States to think long and hard about how we are governed.”
“Hmm.... I know I am pretty young and haven't seen as much as you; but it seems like America is able to handle a lot.”
“Yes, she sure can Ike. This country has been through, and made stronger because of a lot.”
“What do you think the future will be?”
“This reminds me of a bit of history. In 1787. the Congressional Convention was held in Philadelphia.
It was kept in very strict secrecy. The raging debate among the citizens of the fledgling country was what would we be? Would we have a king to rule over us? Or would we be able to choose our own leaders, with power coming from the governed, not the governing. Finally, the Convention ended.
As the delegates were leaving, a Mrs. Powell of Philadelphia called out to Benjamin Franklin; 'Well, Doctor. What do we have? A monarchy or a Republic?' With no hesitation, Franklin replied 'A Republic, if you can keep it.'”
“Hmm.....'if you can keep it'. Think they will?”
“They have so far, Little Buddy. I am confident they will for some time.”
“That's good to hear. Thanks, Mimi.”
“No problem, Ike. Good night.”
Silence settled over the house. I shook my head in disbelief. Incredible! Mimi was absolutely right in her Constitutional references! Not to mention the anecdote about Franklin! She must have stumbled upon some of my History textbooks.
Then, a little, tentative voice
.”Mimi? Why is the moon so bright???”
“Oh Ike! I'm tired. We'll talk tomorrow.”
Soon, the soothing sounds of canine snores lulled me back to sleep. I sure wish LB wasn't such a heavy sleeper. She'll never believe this.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Friday July 15, found my Lovely Bride and me with our BFFs Jim and Flo (no, not the insurance lady Flo) five rows behind home plate. Being a beautiful Summer evening with mild temperatures, and gentle on-shore breezes it was a perfect night for baseball.
As we relaxed (as much as one can in hard plastic seats) heckling opposing batters and pitchers, my thoughts drifted back to exactly one year ago...
You see, it had been 5 days since LB’s heart attack. The circumstances were bleak. Since we are talkin’ baseball, one could say she was in the bottom of the 9th, down by one run, 2 outs with a 3-2 count. LB was in a very, very serious state.
The “pop” of a fastball connecting with the catcher’s mitt brought me back to the present. Apparently, the majority of fans disagreed with the ump’s call, judging from the chorus of cat-calls and boos. I glanced at my watch; 7:50 P.M.
My thoughts immediately whisked me back to a cramped “Family Consultation Room” at our local hospital which was within eyesight of the ballpark.
There, seated about the little room were our two daughters, one of our sons-in-laws, BFF Flo, and our son and daughter-in-law on speaker phone.
There, seated about the little room were our two daughters, one of our sons-in-laws, BFF Flo, and our son and daughter-in-law on speaker phone.
We were meeting “Dr. Idiot”, the half-baked (or half something else, your choice) neurologist for a “where do we go next” chat.
My recollections and notes from that day indicate that LB was wakeful and responsive in the morning. I don’t recall just how she was responding; only that she was. We anxiously awaited the report and pronouncement based upon his earlier evaluation.
This particular doctor has the warmth, charm, and charisma of a deceased carp washed up on Lake Erie’s shore. With that in mind, the reader will have a much better grasp and feel for the ensuing conversation.
I could go into details about LB’s condition at that time. I could go into minute details regarding her treatments up to this point. But, I won’t; primarily due to None-Ya Regulations and protocols. Suffice it to say she was in the bottom of the 9th, down by one run, 2 outs with a 3-2 count and needed a walk or a safe hit.
Calls of “Heads Up!” filled my ears as a foul ball caromed off the railings of a loge. Things settled down in the seats. I asked LB if she wanted anything, and we discussed the game. We were both somewhat dismayed by the opponents 2 run homer. It was painfully apparent our starting pitcher had quickly gotten into trouble. With no action in the bullpen; it was going to be a long start. In fact, the poor kid gave up 6 runs in 3 innings.
There we were, listening as this bespectacled slight man explained the extent of the neurological injury and damage she had sustained. Questions were asked, text book answers given-all to our utter dis-satisfaction. He rather rudely explained how there had been no appreciable progress and she had failed the apnea test for the second time.
Dr. Idiot discussed a “life” spend in very long-term, very intensive extended care facilities; being kept alive by machines, and fed through gastric tubes. A life with no response or very minimal interaction was facing us.
As softly as he could deliver it the message was clear- we need to strongly consider ending life support.
Fortunately, our daughter Shannon had spent a great many hours researching studies involving other patients in similar situations as LB. While the evidence was not numerically large, statistically it as very compelling. People who were given a couple more days to recover prior to any drastic measures being taken had a very high survival and recover rate.
He reinforced his position by stating there is no possibility of LB ever recovering to independent neurological function.
While we were at odds with one another, I told the man no decisions would be made until after the weekend. That was on Wednesday evening…
A commotion at the plate drew my attention. Our catcher took a foul tip to his knee, above the shin guard. All eyes were upon the young man curled in the red dirt, the trainer crouched above him as members of both teams looked on. The announcers had even stopped their constant chatter. After several minutes, he was helped to his feet, and limped toward the dugout to the applause of the crowd.
On Thursday the 16th, another apnea test was performed. I was by LB’s side coaching her to breath in, breath out, in-out; after three inhalations she was on her own. No ventilator machine! She had a man on base!
Later that evening, her very good, competent cardiologist performed a very successful heart catheterization. She had an RBI triple; the score was now tied!
Friday the 17th, after more than 24 hours without needing the ventilator, the tube was removed. After 7 days, she could open and close her mouth, speak a few words, smile and laugh. It was shortly after that when I leaned over her bed, stroked LB’s hair and said “I love you.” A whispered “I love you.” brought more joy to me than words can ever express.
The Captains dropped their 9th in a row.LB continues her winning streak.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
The other day a light bulb burned out. Oh I know this is hardly momentous or worthy of note. During the course of my life, I have had many bulbs burn out- physical, intellectual, metaphorical. The event of a bulb burning out is as exciting as…well… a light bulb burning out.
What was somewhat eye-opening, however, was the quest for a new bulb,
See, the bulb which died was an incandescent type. The type Tom Edison perfected, with a tungsten filament, a blown glass top, and threaded metal base for the appropriate socket. If I am not mistaken, the bulb was part of a four-pack, procured at the local Wally Mega-Store. The pack may have cost about 3 bucks. I can’t say definitively; it was several years ago.
Seeing the decedent was the last of the four-pack, I set off in naivety to replace the bulb with another of its kin. Surprise, surprise, surprise.
Wally didn’t have any similar bulbs on his shelves, nor did the handy (not really a) Dollar Store. Visits to the 2 home centers favored by NASCAR car drivers yielded the same empty handed results.
In a last ditch effort, I popped into the local Mom & Pop hardware store. Certain my hunt was over, I wended my way to the light bulb aisle. And, there on the shelf was a large, empty space. No where could I find a good old-fashioned light bulb! They had passed away. I had not even seen the obituary.
From what I can gather, in a well-meaning, but ham-handed attempt to save the world as we know it, our over-reaching, “the public is too dumb to manage their own lives” Government… I mean, the imminently wise, well intentioned kind folks who oversee our every move, have determined that Tom’s time-less design is evil and must go.
Rather, we must use Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, complete with little bits of ground water and soil contaminating mercury. And, we get to pay about 5 times as much.
“But they cost less to use”; I can hear the whiny little voices.
So… I can look forward to First Energy sending me a big refund check for over-payments I have made. Sure, and it will be delivered by a flying pig.
“But they last so much longer”; continues the mantra.
Well, lets look at that. One said “expected service life 22.8 years”
That is a better than even chance the danged thing will out-live me! What am I supposed to do, list the light bulbs in my will?
“To my son, I do hereby bequeath the light bulb in the TV room lamp. To my daughter, I leave the bulb in the laundry room. To the pain in the rear neighbor whose car alarm goes off at 2A.M., I leave the bulb in the upstairs hallway, which should crap out in 6 months. Let him find an EPA acceptable disposal site for the stupid thing!”
Have you tried to figure out what size bulb you need? In the old days, one simply got a bulb of the desired wattage, 25, 40, 60, 75 and so on. Now you have to determine how many “lumens” are desired.
I realize a lumen is a measure of light, but how does that correspond to watts?
If the packs were labeled as “bright room”, “sort of bright room”, “mood lighting”, and “candle in a coal mine”, you would have some idea as to what you are getting. As it stands, one is taking a stab in the dark.
I took my $7 light bulb home, and ceremoniously placed it in the eagerly awaiting lamp. With a heavy sigh, I switched it on.
With a shake of my head, I was grieved thinking of our Founding Fathers. I am quite certain they had no intentions of a government which leaned so heavily upon its citizens.
Certainly, they never envisioned a government mandating how we illuminate the dark.
I wonder… is Miss Liberty’s torch, casting the Light of Freedom to all….acceptable to the micro-managers?
I have to admit, a part of me hopes it isn’t.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
This evening, I undertook something which had been long set aside.
As my Lovely Bride lies dozing in the other room, the evening tasks have either been completed or put off until tomorrow, I unscrewed the cap of my new fountain pen and----commenced to write.
For too long I had avoided this once self imposed noble obligation. I told myself I was too busy ( I am), I was too emotionally drained (I was), and I was too exhausted ( I am). In reality, I was afraid of what I may discover about myself. And I still am---somewhat.
Which brings me to here and now, gripping a pen while my arm throbs with pain- and trying to make sense of the past eight months, as well as indeterminate future.
Wait…”arm throbs with pain”. What??
I could go on about how three weeks ago I had fallen victim to a very carefully laid canine booby trap. I could tell you how Ike had cunningly, skillfully hidden a chew-toy under the corner of his blanket at the exact time I would be passing from the kitchen to the living room. I could bring you to the edge of your seat describing the sensation of landing fully on my side; complete with swirling birdies, stars, and flashing lights in my head. I don’t want to bore you with the comical trip to urgent care and the final diagnosis of a sprained right elbow and shoulder, torn ligaments at the shoulder, and a chip off the femur where it joins with the pelvis. I could go on about the shoulder and elbow injuries causing pain when my arm in one position too long; such as when writing or using the keyboard. I could go into all that—but why bother?
Rather, I have been thinking of the great things which have happened, and continue to occur. Due to HIPPA regulations and NunYa* Rules (which trump HIPPA), I won’t go into details about LB’s sudden illness and the long road back we have traveled together.
Frequently, the word “miracle” is bandied about for all matter of things. Such as “I was hoping for a close parking spot, and a miracle occurred. There was one!” or “I didn’t study for the calculus test, and was praying for a miracle. God sent a thunder storm which caused a loss of power and the test was postponed.”
However, when LB’s cardiologist, her primary care doctor, nearly all the Cardiac ICU nurses, her physical therapists all say she is “a miracle”, who am I to argue?
Part of the on-going miracle was her returning to our home in early January. The on-going miracle is her remarkable physical progress; from being totally supine in bed, to a wheelchair, a walker, and now a cane. For the time being; she is determined to be free of this as well.
A miracle is her speech; from a very limited vocabulary in August, to being fully conversant, not being monotone or halting while speaking. The little things, such as there being no damage to her heart muscle after a very, very devastating heart attack. The fact there is no damage to her optic nerves; something our eye doctor affirmed in virtually unheard of following severe brain injuries.
Are all things fine and wonderful? She is very susceptible to viruses and bacteria until her immune system regains its former robust state. There are little things; the odd memory popping up out of context of time and place, the sometime involuntary hand movements, the (most heart breaking to me) expression in her beautiful blue eyes of puzzlement; as though she is trying to fit the pieces together but can’t quite find them all yet.
I think of all the changes I have undergone. I am probably well on my way to a degree in Pharmacology, Social Work, and Physiology. I have become the Monitor and Dispenser of All Things Prescriptive. I also take on the role of Therapy Cheerleader and Coach (as conditions warrant). I also have the title of Medical Records and Billing/Payment Administrator. When unable to find anyone else to do things, I am Dietitian, Food Service Staff, Laundry/Housekeeper, and Dog Wrangler. Come to think of it; I have yet to find anyone else to do these. Hmmmm.
Oh yeah… I still have this crazy little thing called “a job”.
Yet, I have learned that so many things once so utterly important are actually insignificant. I have learned the intangibles of Life far surpass the tangibles we focus upon. I have learned to not take too many things seriously; for it can all change in a moment.
I think of how LB and I will be seeing our 43rd Anniversary on the 10th---and how thankful I am to be coming back to our home after dinner; and not leaving her at a facility. Or worse, having to place flowers on a grave.
And I think of how 8 months is about 3% of our time together so far; a pretty puny amount. Suddenly, eight months doesn’t seem that long. As I told our Pastor the other day; “This is not permanent, it is not eternal.”
So, this is enough for now.
Besides my arm is becoming very bothersome.
P.S. Please keep LB in your prayers. Thank you very much. JEH
*NunYa---“Nun Ya” Business.
Monday, November 9, 2015
Johnny Cash had a hit single, enumerating his discoveries while walking down a Sunday morning sidewalk after a Saturday night of revelry. The juxtaposition between the wholesomeness of small town Sundays and the physical, emotional, and spiritual pangs of small town Saturday night bars are palpable.
This is not that sort of story…
Sitting in a Laundromat at a time on Sunday morning when I should have been sitting in church. I pay dis-interested attention to the parade of other patrons lugging their plastic baskets or over-sized trash bags crammed nearly to bursting through the single door.
The décor is a very accurate representation of 1960’s vintage government office building. Neutral colored walls devoid of any type of decoration to stimulate any visual or mental activity are complemented by 7 cold gray plastic chairs which have been endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association; they are guaranteed to throw out anyone’s back thus generating business for the local bone-cracker.
Oh, being in a Laundromat isn’t so odd…it was a weekly ritual my first 3 years of college. Even after marrying my Lovely Bride, we still schlepped clothes, soap, and babies off to the village’s one of 2 do-it-yourself facilities.
And, over the course of Life from time to time, when a machine would take a dive and then give up the ghost, off we would go; over loaded baskets in the trunk of the car and inevitably realizing after arriving at the Laundromat the detergent was right where we left it by the front door.
So, it is not the fact our Whirlpool has opted to not spin, nor the fact the fix-it-guy has a somewhat casual approach toward customer service which is most disconcerting- it is being a sixty-something married bachelor. Doing laundry on a Sunday morning when I should be in my regular spot in the congregation.
I can’t take credit for the phrase “married bachelor”- in fact it was uttered by the fix-it-guy during his “yup-it’s-the-clutch-I-don’t-have-the-part-have-to-wait-till-Monday”s visit yesterday. I reluctantly accepted the truth of his words.
Oh, not the Dan Akroyd/Steve Martin “Wild and Crazy Guys” type of bachelor. Nor the Lake Wobegon Norwegian bachelor farmer social misfit immortalized by Garrison Keillor either.
I ticked through the list of notable bachelors in my mind.
I am neither the Felix Unger overly OCD neat-freak, nor the Oscar Madison quintessential slob.
Definitely not the Jim Rockford, sports-car driving type. Most people are put off by Bess, my 18 year old Jeep. She is the antithesis of a four wheeled chick-magnet. She is more of a vehicular chick repellent, actually.
I am most definitely not the sophisticated man-about-town, lady on each arm type of bachelor.
No, I am nothing like any of the above.
I am…well… me. Married to LB, patiently and prayerfully awaiting her recovery and return to our home.
Tomorrow, the 10th it will be four months to the day that LB’s, my and our entire family’s lives were inexorably altered. As of yet-with dramatic physical and neurological progress on LB’s part aside-our lives are still altered; with no end-date forecast.
All of which explains why I am sitting in this particular place at this particular time. With work, caring for dogs and visiting LB, Saturday and Sunday are the only times I can cram five days of household duties into two.
So, I am up very early, cleaning, sweeping, watering plants, feeding the backyard birds, grocery shopping, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…
Usually, while I am performing the above, the washer and dryer happily chug along, performing their tasks. Alas, for the past 10 or so days now they have sat idle. Oh sure, the washer fills, agitates, drains and repeats- it simply does not spin the water out.
Opening the lid reveals a sodden intermingled mass, not the nicely damp centrifugal force arrayed items; eagerly awaiting a spin in the dryer. I am thereby faced with some options:
11) Wringing the wet items out by hand, hoping the majority of water actually makes it to the sump,
22) Loosely drape the dripping things over step ladders and odds and ends of stuff, allowing the water to run willy-nilly on the laundry room floor, in the hopes the majority actually makes it to the sump,
33) Say “forget it”, toss the drenched, dripping pile en mass inside the dryer, set that sucker on Turbo Dry, and hope for the best.
None of the above is a truly satisfactory solution. I have tried them all. All more than once. The only real solution, aside from popping for a new machine, was to call the fix-it guy.
We have used him for close to 20 years now. He used to be more responsive, willing to stop at night on his way home from his last appointment. Now… he has slowed down more than just a bit. His primary concern after his last appointment now seems to be getting home to dinner.
When once all it took was one phone message and he would be at the door, it now takes a couple messages, one or two conversations, re-hashing the ills of the World and all who are in it, and then hoping he doesn’t forget we even talked.
It is really sad to see how far down the hill the poor guy has slid. Sure glad none of that has happened to me.
So, here I am….in the Laundromat, shaking my head in amazement that it now takes as much money to start one machine as would have washed and dried 2 full loads when I was in college all the while trying to ignore the gentle guidance of a mother to her child;”What the *&^% are you doing?! You can’t fit in the washing machine!”
With a wistful smile on my face, I think:
I sure hope the fix-it guy can find the part. And he remembers to show up.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
I knew it was a question of “when”; the inevitable “if” being a foregone conclusion. Still, one is never fully prepared when the news is received.
With a series of pops, snaps, buzzes, sparks, flashes, flames and smoke; our trusty microwave announced it demise the other day. As disturbing as this was, I was most profoundly impacted with the collateral loss of my roast beef and potatoes innocently expecting a gentle thermal increase.
While scraping the ash and debris speckled dinner into the trash, I tried to recall when we obtained this particular microwave. In all honesty, it was probably during Clinton’s first term. Face it, a microwave has become a purely utilitarian device. No longer a kitchen luxury, and as awe inspiring as a bowl of instant oatmeal they are just---well--- there.
My thoughts wandered over the years, as I retrieved a pan and lid, placed a new batch of roast beef and potatoes in it to warm. A twist of a knob, a “foomp” of gas igniting; and my meal was under way. Old school, yes.
I remembered that back in the 1960’s they were called “Radar Ranges” What a wonderful name! It bespoke of the times; the Cold War was raging, the Space Race was full on. Planes were flying faster, higher, and farther. Technology was emerging, and all was good; or so we thought. It just sounded so with-it, so cool, as if the Great American Marketing Machine were proclaiming “HA! Take that, Godless Commies! We are so advanced we COOK with radar!”
So it was that one evening, my Dad came home more excited than a kid on Christmas Eve. He had heard a new restaurant was opening the next town over—AND---they cooked everything with RADAR!
The following Friday, we piled into the Pontiac, and headed west. I can’t recall the name of the place, or even the location. I was perhaps 11, and my dinner was going to be cooked by the same stuff seeking out Russian bombers trying to sneak across Canada!
I do recall waiting in line, the atmosphere fairly abuzz, no pun intended. Had we been paying attention to the countenances of the exiting diners, we may have been somewhat less enthusiastic.
Finally, we were seated. A review of the fairly simple menu, orders placed, and we eagerly waited what The Future would hold. Literally and figuratively; after all, we were sampling the New Day of cooking! A culinary revolution would soon be placed beneath our very noses!
After what seemed half an eternity, with all the fanfare usually assigned to the hanging up of a used dish-rag; dinner was served.
As it turned out, the presentation was apropos for the culinary delights. Our individual plates all held variations upon the theme of monochromatic gray. Be it beef, chicken, potato, or beans; all looked blandly, un-appetizingly, similar. On the positive side it was hot, I do remember that.
I also recall the placed folded about six months later.
The Seventies ushered in an era of God only knows what. The upstart Radar Range was now being subtly referred to as a “micro-wave”.
This was more fitting to the times; because all we were saying is give Peace a chance. Microwave was much more palatable. Rather than huge, Russkie bomber hunting radar waves cooking one’s food; the much more benign “microwave” worked all the wonders.
A little, bitty, nice friendly wave; just like the ones found on a calm, relaxing day at the beach. Only they are in your kitchen, for a mere grand.
But, like all technological wonders, the price began to drop. Do you remember when a basic desktop calculator was about a hundred bucks?
Being the practical family we are (remember, LB and I had 4 children) we didn’t jump on that bandwagon any time soon. We finally broke down and got our first one in the late seventies or early eighties. The thing broke a couple of times, and we had it repaired. The last time it quit, we discovered it was cheaper to replace it. So we did.
That one also died, and was replaced. With six people in family, that bad boy got a real work-out. It also died and was replaced by a Super-Duper sale one. It was too small, too under-powered, and in general not well received.
I don’t know what became of that one only that the lately departed had arrived. And now… it has been ceremoniously committed to the dumpster at the end of the drive.
I rather like not having the thing there. I don’t need a kitchen appliance with more complex controls and computing power than John Glenn’s spacecraft used, lurking over my shoulder. We didn’t really cook in the thing. We don’t consume micro-wave popcorn. We have a stove, we have pots and pans.
Hmm…maybe we can start a new Foodie Trend---RETRO WARMING!