Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Great Cacophony (2)

Previously: part 1

It’s a great way to travel. The seats are comfortable, the views spectacular. I may do it again, but just not right away. I need time to recover. There are too many quirks.

One unsettling quirk about traveling on a train is the extreme numbers of humans. While it wasn’t exactly the Great Unwashed, it might have been nicer had a few more people showered this morning. At each city stop there were so many passengers boarding that if you made the mistake of coming out of the loo just then, you would be caught. There was simply too much of humanity being crammed into too small a space. It made no difference what the conductors said (“Ladies and gentlemen, please board one at a time. Please do not push or shove. Ladies and gentlemen, please..”)


Do you remember all the talk about why airline companies forbid cell phone usage during flight? The reason given has been that the cell waves might interrupt the communications system and bring the plane down out of the sky. But my opinion is that the passengers themselves would be more likely to bring it down. Their sanity would be so sorely tried by all of the cell conversations that they would begin a riot. They might even attack. I almost did today. It went on for 5 hours all up and down the aisles.

A phone would ring. Just about all of the ring tones were hideous. They might have been ok out on the street or in the desert. But in a public train car? Hideous.

Then the passenger would answer, suddenly forgetting to lower his/her voice and end up practically shouting into the device. “Marge? Is that YOU? I said, IS THAT YOU?”

A small silence, and then more. “No, he’s fine. I just wanted to tell you about the HUGE KNOT ON THE SIDE OF MY NECK…..No, my NECK…It's growing, too, you should just SEE it..” 

(I personally was tempted to turn around and look, but my cervical spinal fusion surgery prevents me from turning my neck .. really. you should just SEE it).

There were a large variety of ailments discussed and re-discussed today. It made me feel terribly sorry for physicians who have to listen to this gibberish all day long. I really do not know how they tolerate it. I certainly couldn’t.

I’m sure these people were all very nice, in their way. I just wasn’t prepared to hear about all of their illnesses, conditions, medications, 'knots', pains, or relative’s diseases. I mean, I am sorry for their Aunt Gertie, but really - it was more than any trapped passenger should be required to endure.

Probably the best advise I can give you regarding train travel is to bring a pair of earplugs. I personally did not have any, but survived by wearing earphones and turning the volume all the way up on House Hunters International. It almost drowned out the health issue discussions. Almost. Once in a while I would still hear something like, “Well, it hurts whenever I cough and the Doc gave me some pills but nothing seems to work and I can’t keep from coughing because I have a cold and my son said…”

I truly felt sorry for the woman. But I felt even sorrier for the son, because -


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">colorblindPICASO</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A True Hospitality House

There is a place called Hospitality Lane, in California. It is my brother-in-law's favorite spot to cruise and to find just the right tasty place to eat. It is just chalk full of choices, and behind every entrance there are menus and smiles of welcome. Of course, the smiles could be because they want your money. But hey. Who can argue with a smile?
Hospitality. It's what I have been shown in mega-bunches since I alighted from darling Amtrak yesterday. Two cousins with a lovely house containing 'guest quarters'. For me! A puffy and adorable double bed, the most comfortable and soft and fluffy bed ever slept in. Pillows galore. A bedside lamp with stages of brightness. An en suite filled with anything a guest could possibly need or want. I didn't have to bring:

  • a blow dryer
  • a tooth brush
  • toothpaste
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • lotions
  • hair bands
It was all there, ready and waiting just for me. I was given fresh coffee each morning, coffee of the highest quality brewed to perfection. And maybe my favorite discovery was a large glass container of (are you ready for it?) M&M's!!! Plain AND Peanut, resting there on the kitchen counter, suggesting I take a handful.

And then, the food! Homemade and hot and delicious at the cousins' home, and again homemade and hot and delicious at the nephew's home. Darling small grand-nieces and grand-nephews bobbing up and down, rolling around with (huge) dogs, and an aunt, and uncle, and Mother. Everybody had huge smiles plastered on their faces. Even the dogs.

I had just read something in the book September about Hospitality, and how you recognize it. Noel Keeling was a Brit, visiting a colleague in the United States. The home was large and convenient and centrally heated (unimaginable to a Brit at that time) and should have been wonderfully comfortable. The only trouble was that the hostess "hadn't the first idea about having guests to stay. Despite the fact that she was possessed of an all-singing, all-dancing kitchen, she never cooked."

Much more was said about this distressing situation, but the moment I closed the book and walked off that train, all thoughts of Hospitality became terrifically positive. I was inundated by the stuff.

It's one of the ways we show love. Isn't it? I hope so. I hope you are shown lots of it whenever you go visiting. Wouldn't it be painful to arrive somewhere and find the door locked? the residents scowling? the dogs troublesome and disagreeable? Hm.

Such a thing hardly bears thinking about. Luckily I don't have to think about it. I can lay here in this soft, fluffy bed, luxuriate in the downy softness of the pillows, and consider at just what moment I might tip toe out to the kitchen for some - M&Ms...

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">Don McCullough</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">mary hodder</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Today was a travel day, yes. Not a long one, but maneuvers were made via car, and then by train. Amtrak, as it turns out was lovely and smooth, with free wifi, electrical outlets, and a dining car. Not exactly white table cloths and waiters, but - one could 'dine', after a fashion. If what one wants is pre cooked snack foods such as cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, burritos and the like, one could survive.

I stuck to my banana.

But as the countryside swept past, I began to remember the last time I had been on that train. It was the year 1980, just shortly after May 18. Can anyone guess what had happened on May 18, 1980? Hmmm? A wild guess?

If you named the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, well then you would be right. It was a shocking event that people had feared and dreaded for weeks, even months. There were people up on that mountain who had told media outlets that they were "NOT LEAVING." Everyone was dreadfully worried about them, and tried like anything to get them to come down. One of these was Harry R. Truman, who did not want to leave his Lodge on Spirit Lake. 

But when the eruption happened, it was too late; Truman, among others, died.

The Highway Patrol had restricted the freeways of western Washington state, and I had a singing engagement in the Tacoma area. I had to be there, it was important. So my husband said, "Well, you can always try the train."

My departure was from Albany, Oregon and for a while everything was normal. Somewhere near the Washington border, a conductor appeared and announced that we would be required to wear face masks. These masks were to alleviate the effects of volcanic ASH on the lungs. We passengers couldn't get those masks on fast enough. 

Soon, piles of fine white ash began to gather on the chair backs, the tray tables, and the windowsills. The passenger car looked like a fog had set in. I sure hoped that face mask was enough protection. It was all very eerie.

I just discovered that I am sitting up, asleep, my dear Readers. Time to get to bed! But it has been interesting to recall that train trip 34 years ago while riding it again today. Of course today, there were no piles of fine white ash anywhere. No surgical masks. No frightened people looking at what looked like a snow storm outside the train window. Nope. It was all good, all clean, all forgotten.

Someone told us there are other mountains in the Pacific Rim that could 'wake up' one of these times. Sleepers that could make themselves heard, once again. I don't doesn't sound too plausible.

But then again, neither did St. Helens.
St. Helens 2 years before eruption

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">djwudi</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">Derek K. Miller</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cute... or Not.

It's so hard to dislike a deer. That is, unless you like flowers because then, it is not at all hard to dislike a deer.

This is my sister's dilemma. I don't think she started out disliking them, because they were and are so cute. To her, and to many of us they have been uncommon creatures, rarely crossing our paths. Cute, yes - until they're not.

 A deer sniffs the SconeLady's sister's new plant

The 'not' part began when my sister and husband moved to this sweet woodland town and bought a house. The house itself was super cute, with two beds/two baths, a den, a Great Room, dazzling kitchen and double garage. Plenty of space for the humans, the cat, and the dog. Of course, the outdoor space was especially important to my sister. She is a keen gardener, and always has been. The most excruciatingly non-yardlike residence she ever had was  on Guam. There was no garden to tend; no flowers to water and to gaze at, and no yard for their boys to mow. It was grim

But now she had the chance to do all those homey things. She could find and plant pretty flowers; she could stand and water them while enjoying the crisp morning air before it became hot. She could hang baskets! Oh, the privilege.

At last, her baskets were hung overlooking the front porch. A berm was developed and planted. Bark mulch was spread. A variety of flowers were chosen, and planted nicely. Things were shaping up, and she knew the satisfying feeling one has when one has accomplished a goal. 

Still, she was a little nervous. The nursery person had advised her to purchase plants that a deer does not like. One is never completely sure about what a deer does or does not like, but everyone felt that this particular garden would thrive.

It was not long, however, before I heard the rumblings of discontent. One morning something had gone missing, from her garden. It had been eaten. Something else had been chewed. It was horrible to wake up to. From that moment, all doubt had been removed. NO DEER WERE THEN, OR EVER WOULD BE, CUTE.

But the SconeLady has no plants for deer to chew or to eat. Her deer come softly up to the porch of an evening, and gaze at the humans. We have shared this with my sister. The SconeLady's husband has even intimated that perhaps feeding that deer has presented itself as a possibility.

It would take more than a deer to cause ruffles in this relationship, but just in case? I have recommended no further discussion of deer-feeding. 

Because things could get ugly.

The SconeLady's sister loses her new plant

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bewilderment in the Digital Age

It's a dilemma. My husband and I used to take photos with a real camera. You know - a film-ish kind of camera with a roll you put into the back and a button on the top that you push down. This was all fine because you knew pretty much where your photos were. They were inside your camera until you finished the roll and then took the roll out and drove it down to the photo store. Or something. It was all very straight forward.
But it wasn't without its management problems. I kept losing rolls, or placing them somewhere I could never find anymore. Eventually we'd come upon them in drawers all throughout the house, sometimes under piles of clothing or underwear, in the coin box or piano bench. Everywhere there were rolls of undeveloped film, from a variety of years. It was sad, because I really wanted to see and to send the pictures to my mother, but could never seem to find them.

All of this changed rather abruptly when the first digital cameras came out. It took a while, but I learned how to deal with the new format. I (sort of) learned to take a picture, then pull it up, and determine whether it was good enough to keep. 

I tried to manage the number of pictures I took. But 
one day my digital camera made a sound and gave out a message that indicated there wasn't any space for more photos. I went to my husband.

"The camera won't let me take photos."

"Why not?" he said from behind the paper.

"It's full..", I ventured.

Thus began the newest management problem, one that never seems to be solved: How to keep the SconeLady's photos from overwhelming her camera/phone/USB stick/chip/other storage device. It is all so very truly confusing.

Last year my husband advised me as I bought the newest iPhone, in a desperate quest for more space. He asked me which version I wanted - such as, how many gigabytes or megabytes or whatever it was. I didn't know so I just picked the biggest number. "I want the 64 gig one," I said.

"Good idea," he replied. "Even you will never use all that space."

That was a year ago. From time to time he would suggest deleting photos I did not like and would never use. "Ok, I will..",  I would promise. But it was just too hard to get to and the number of pictures blossomed. I had the blog, I had the grandkids, I had my 'sweet woodland town' to photograph - HOW COULD I POSSIBLY DELETE?

Which brings me to today. I awoke and went to take a photo of something, I think it was a sunrise. But suddenly the phone made a noise and a message that indicated there wasn't any space for more photos. I would have to delete some. Or download some. Or worse, import them into a Cloud. 

I approached my husband. 

"The iPhone won't let me take photos."

"Why not?" he said from behind his laptop.

"It's full.." I ventured.

It is probably best to end this one right here. Maybe analog wasn't so bad after all; maybe there's an old Kodak Brownie camera out there on Craig's List.

Sometimes progress just isn't what it's cracked up to be.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">Butte-Silver Bow Public Library</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">Ian Halsey</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Somehow there are numbers of decent movies from which to choose, after it seemed there never would be again. Such a dry spell we have had! (as if it really matters). It has become fun, again, to go.

We 'went', last night. And, the night before. Practically a binge. Last night was one of the best, this year, and as it began I realized I had actually read its book. The Giver. THAT can be a discussion of another day, because I don't want to lose track of it and of its importance.
But the night before was simply fun. Guardians Of The Galaxy. I don't generally care very much about movie Galaxies, truth be told. I was sort of ho-hum about that whole thing as we walked in, mostly interested in deciding whether I should have M&Ms or not. I finally chose not. But it didn't matter once the movie began, because it was sweet enough without them! Have you seen it? You should, you really should. 

I'm trying to remember why it was rated PG-13, but it must have been language, or something. Maybe explosions. There certainly wasn't anything suggestive in it. Start to finish, it was good, and funny, and made one forget the time. I always like a movie that makes me forget the time and forget to think about texting someone. Usually if a movie is a dud, I can always remove myself to the back row and text away.

This time the phone stayed suitably silenced and absolutely forgotten. 

A nice guy named Peter Quill accidentally got himself thrown into an Intergalactic Prison, and met up with some people (creatures?) who would, for a variety of reasons, change his life for the better. I believe this was a comic book movie. I mean, a comic book was created with this story line, and it is actually quite a sweet one. The characters (creatures?) might have reminded me a bit of those in Star Wars, but since there is nothing new under the sun, I could forgive that.

The thread within the story line, Peter's mother, made us all like him very much, and feel dreadfully sorry for him right the way through. But 'sorry for him' in a nice way; an appropriate way. It would be horrible to (spoiler alert) lose one's mother when one is a small boy. It hardly bears thinking about. But the facts in the case make him more, not less, of a man in the end. Honorable, in fact. Even manly! There is a lot to be said of manliness, whatever else Hollywood might throw at us by way of ambiguity.
I just loved the outlaws Peter met in the Intergalactic prison. Hahahahaha! I am still laughing. My personal favorite has got to be Groot, about whom I will say nothing because I want YOU to see him and decide for yourself. I am sure Groot is why I am still laughing.

So if you are casting about for somewhere to go tonight, if you are feeling at a loose end, I highly recommend you go, grab some popcorn, and check it out. Sure, it's a superhero film based on a Marvel Comic book, filled with strange players (creatures?) whom one would not typically yearn to see. But I think they got it right this time. I think their concept of good vs evil, of loyalty, of innocent love might just have something for everyone.

And after all, $418,681,000 is kind of hard to argue with.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Simple, Contagious Pleasures

Coming up out of a phenomenal sleep, I heard scratchings and peepings at my sister's front door. Little voices. I wondered, was I dreaming? Have my three little blondes come from deepest California to hug me?

And then, the door opened and in popped two small and cheerful cousins of said blondes! Come to visit and hug! Joy of Joys!
The two stood smiling and jumping, and one said he needed the restroom (hence, the jumping). Off he went, and out we trooped through the door to see the tiniest of humans, resting/smiling/laughing from her stroller. Next to her was the young mother standing watch, beautiful, happy, and - well, motherly.

"But where's Grandma??" intoned the small girl, straining to look through the door. 

"We aren't sure, but she will be here soon," her mommy said.

And then as if by some miracle, Grandma's car rounded the bend, causing an increase in the jumping. Grandpa (also in the car) saw the small crowd, and waved, and laughed - as all good and loving grandpa's will do.

The baby girl in the stroller watched all this and pondered, and then her grandma brought out a surprise just for her. It was a stuffed toy, but so much more than just a stuffed toy. It was red, and white, and if you shook it it would make sounds and music. The baby's big brother (having experienced such things) held it and shook it and showed it to the baby. And then the small event happened that precipitated this post. That baby laughed. She was happy anyway, but the presence of this strange new toy made her laugh the most funny laugh the SconeLady had ever heard. And that funny laugh continued, as each glance at the toy prompted fresh outbursts. 

This was hilarious, and the SconeLady always loves things that are hilarious. We all laughed at her laugh. It was contagious! I can't really explain it. YOU HAD TO BE THERE.

And I am so glad I was. So glad to have heard the scratchings and peepings at the door today. So happy to be loved and wanted in this tumbly world we call home.

Before you get too worried that this world is going you-know-where in a hand basket, maybe you should take a quick look around. Don't look so much at the grownups (although there are many superior ones); look down a bit, perhaps around 3 feet or less. You'll find yourself assured. 

It isn't over yet.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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