Thursday, December 30, 2004

Travel Guides

Today's newspaper had an item about a pseudo-travel guide called Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry, that is either very funny or not depending who's reviewing it. I have been doing my own on-line travel investigation of beautiful Rochester, Minnesota. My parents arrived there today by transport ambulance to spend time touring the hallways of the St. Mary's Hospital part of Mayo Clinic. This is not funny, by any review, but it is a relief that the Mayo staff is on the case trying to find the answers to her persistent intestinal questions. As a long-time Prairie Home Companion listener, I can't help imagining her Minnesota gastroenterologist as Dr. Noir, G-I Guy.

As a library junkie, I couldn't help clicking on the library link of the St. Mary's website. I will ask my dad to stroll to the library sometime to see the stained glass window. While Dr. Noir is performing tests of a gastroish sort on my mom, my dad is going to need some stress relief and exercise.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Night Driving

One of the photos in the Mayo Clinic history site set me off on a night drive in memory country with my dad in the '54 pea green Chevy. The photo shows some of the Sisters of St. Francis who started St. Mary's hospital in Rochester. The photo dates back many decades before my memory, but steam heat and nun garb didn't change that much. My memory is in black and white, which is somewhat strange anyway. It's probably a composite memory of several trips with my dad in the Chevy, just as Peter Coy's picture book is a composite trip. The story doesn't connect with children, but the illustrations connect with former children of a certain vintage.

I was probably four years old when we went "night driving" from Lincoln to Norfolk. I was riding shotgun to keep my dad awake on the 120 mile drive. We were going up to the hospital so Dad could see his grandmother or one of his aunts. He taught me to whistle on the trip. We stopped for gas. Dad let me choose a treat from the vending machine. I picked the Hostess Sno-balls because of the soft fuzzy pink appearance. About one bite into the dyed coconut and I swore I'd never eat coconut again! It's not cotton candy or Barbie's feather boa! It's almost as nasty as black jelly beans and goldfish crackers, but those are different stories for another time. It was nastier than the smell of dead skunk for miles and miles.

When we got to the hospital it was very late, well past visiting hours, and besides I was a little kid. Back then you had to be at least twelve to visit a patient. While Dad went upstairs, the nuns took me down to the kitchen and fed me some chicken noodle soup. Did any of this really happen? I'm not sure, but the pea green 1954 Chevy and the Hostess Sno-ball were definitely real.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Filling the fridge and freezer

Labels for the Tupperware.

Spent last weekend cooking to help both Mom and Dad put on some weight!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

CR Best Buy Rating

Once again I am thankful for my Consumer Reports online subscription. I just researched best buys for single handset cordless phones for my dad. I got an easily-understandable explanation of all the gigawhoozies and other excess techno lingo that cuts to the chase. It's nine degrees in Lincoln, Nebraska this morning. I've saved my dad a trip to the library and leaving my mom home alone while he locates this information himself. Now he will just whip over to Shopko and pick up one of the recommended models comfortable in his choice. One small step for man, one giant technological leap forward!

Flight Attention

One thing I've discovered this year is that I really enjoy flying now that I am not responsible for anybody but myself. All the stress of maneuvering little boys through concourses, keeping track of "The Special Bunny", keeping them from disturbing other people was so draining, that the fun of a trip was rarely worth the ordeal. Now it doesn't much matter if the plane leaves on time, if the plans change, if silly people with oversize carry-on bags block the aisle. I don't much care if the TSA folks go through my purse three times looking for a non-existent pocket knife. The only thing that bugs me is that some airlines only serve Pepsi instead of Coke.It's time for me to beam up. Fritzi and I say teary good-byes. Howie drives me to the airport in the cool sunshine. He lets me out to check in with Northwest and confirm that my flight is on time. He parks and comes into the terminal for more good-byes and hugs. Standing still while he walks out the door is one of the most difficult things I've ever done.By the time I ride the escalator upstairs and take off my shoes for security, the weather has changed. Low snow clouds have blocked out all the sun. Drizzle is hitting the windows. Passengers for the 1:05 flight to Minneapolis are grimly determined. They have no plane. They are making friends with strangers. I think of "The Outcasts of Poker Flats". Their plane might arrive eventually. Some have created a card party, others a pity party.The 4:05 flight is still allegedly on time. Minutes tick by. I finish my wonderful library book by Stephanie Kallos. No announcements are made, but it becomes clear that flying in and out of Minneapolis isn't going to happen in a timely fashion. A worn-out farmgirl changes my ticket. She's been doing this for hours. I will fly a United link into O'Hare, my old nemesis. Then I will find an American flight to DFW. Fine. I can handle it. Time's not a factor. I've spent three and a half days in a different galaxy. My priorities have been rearranged. Sitting in an airport wrapped in a parka and reading a paperback seems like the only thing out there. Breathe in. Breathe out.The descent into Chicago is pretty trippy. We fly over residential areas with outside Christmas lights and displays. I consider waving back to waving Santas on rooftops!Let it go. Let it snow. Let it go.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A beautiful sunset from the backyard in Lincoln.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

It's not beans

The magical fruit is the one that can help get my mom back on track, or tract. I have great faith in bananas even though I am personally allergic to them. They are the very best things for babies and grownups with upset innards. They are also the thing to eat if you want to weigh enough to get into the Army. My dad ate a bunch of them before he went for his Army physical. He was very cute and skinny in those days. He was the age my own sons are now, so I worry a lot about our Rummy's No Exit adventure in Iraq. This is how to make gluten-free smoothies:Place one peeled banana in the blender. Add 4 oz. or more of plain yogurt. Add 1 T powdered milk for extra protein. Add 4+ oz. milk or juice. Throw in frozen fruit--5 strawberries or 8 peach slices or 20 raspberries (any combo). You can also throw in one peeled kiwi, or 1/2 peeled orange, 1 ring of pineapple, 1 fresh mango, or just about anything fruititious. Make sure you added the milk or juice.Start with the low speeds on the blender, then slowly accelerate through all the speeds. Baby, you were born to be wild! Eat it with a spoon or sip through a straw. Freeze the extra for a home-style sherbet.