Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summertime Then and Now

Kids are out of school and thinking about summer vacation and as they mull through their choices, it makes me think of summertime in the Ozarks when I was growing up. In the sixties there weren’t a lot of choices to think about. Summer would be three months of playing outside with no idea of pollen count, swimming in the Lake of the Ozarks (without considering e-coli contamination), drinking fresh squeezed lemonade, or cooling down in front of the box fan while I read True Confession magazines.

We grew up without air conditioning so summertime in my memories is intertwined with heat, sunbathing, and the smell of Coppertone suntan lotion. Yes, the idea was to soak up the sun to have a “healthy” tan, not to be a paleface sickly looking person.

We listened to music on a transistor radio, not an iPod. Sometimes I wonder what I would have thought if I could have seen a glimpse of the future and the conveniences I take for granted now. I would have thought I’d been dropped into the middle of a science fiction movie.

The TV in our house was a black and white set with three channels. Now, people feel underprivileged if they have less than a hundred channels. They would never understand my dad’s logic that you could only watch one channel at a time—oh, that isn’t necessarily true now anyway. We had one TV and my dad decided which of the three channels we watched. That means we watched a lot of westerns and war shows. I suppose we should have been scarred for life by the violence, but none of us grew up to be gun-toting criminals.

We were raised to assume that any gun in the house was loaded, and you don’t point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger even if you were positive the gun was empty. My brothers hunted and fished with the understanding that any game they shot or caught was to be cleaned and eaten. Wastefulness of any kind was not tolerated. If you took food out on your plate, you darn well better eat it.

My parents ruled the house, not us kids. We didn’t backtalk or argue. Sometimes we could sway mom if we presented our case nicely. But with my dad “No” meant no, and “I don’t think so” meant no. “I guess” meant yes. We kids never tattled on each other.

Times have certainly changed and not just for kids. “Good old days” make better memories than a current way of life.

No matter how hot it is outside, I’m comfortable in my air-conditioned home. Let’s just hope that someday I’m not sweltering in the heat while I watch a black and white TV reminiscing about 2010 as the good old days when I lived in comfort.

Copyright (c) May 2010 L.S. Fisher

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tornado on the Ground

I’ve seen a few tornados in my lifetime. The whole system of tornado watches and warnings has certainly evolved since I was a kid. We didn’t have the capability of pulling up Dopler radar on a PC or have a weather radio. We usually knew a storm was coming when the sky turned black and the dog started howling.

The first time I saw a tornado, I was about eight years old and visiting my aunt and uncle in northern Missouri. We were returning from a picnic in a park and stayed ahead of the storm until we made it back to their house. Just as we headed to the cellar, we could hear the roaring of the tornado.

Those of us who live in the Midwest (and aren’t storm chasers) hate to hear the words “Tornado on the ground.” Sedalia has been hard hit by tornados before, and those of us who saw the destruction aren’t exactly wishing to see that again.

I was at the Memory Walk Meeting last Thursday night when my phone rang. It was my oldest son checking to see where I was and to tell me part of the county was under a tornado warning.

“I think it’s going to miss Sedalia,” he said.

“I’m here at the church,” I said. “I guess that’s as good a place as any to ride out a storm.”

I turned my Dell Netbook on and pulled up the radar to have a look at the storm. The chairwoman’s daughter, Theila, watched over my shoulder as the red box representing the tornado warning moved closer to Sedalia.

“It’s moving to the north of us,” I assured her.

That’s when we heard the sirens. I gathered up my items, and our group headed toward the bride’s room, which is the church’s designated safe room. We were joined by an older couple and a young man. Of course, we all started dialing our cell phones. All I got was a “network busy” message. The young man reached a friend who said the tornado was on the ground by the new high school. Well, tornadically speaking, that wasn’t far from where we were.

Having lived in Missouri my entire life, I know rumors of tornado touchdowns may be exaggerated, but this time it really did happen—and, of course, it was caught on video. That video and other pictures have made the rounds on Facebook.

Damage was slight because the new rating system deemed it a weak tornado or an EF0. It’s probably a good thing it was weak because about half the people in town were standing in front of windows or outside to get a good look at the tornado and snap a few pictures.

Yes, I prefer being in a safe room to gawking at a storm headed toward me. Personally, I don’t want to be sucked up to OZ because I just had to shoot a video or snap a picture.

copyright (c) May 2010 L. S. Fisher

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Baby, the Rain Must Fall

The lyrics to Glenn Yarbrough’s song, "Baby, the Rain Must Fall," have been on my mind for the first two days of my three day weekend. I had my heart set on Silver Dollar City and even drove out there Friday. Just as I saw the “Free Parking on the Right” sign, the sky opened up and small rivers flowed freely on the highway as the windshield wipers frantically tried to wipe away the torrential rain.

Well, somehow I wasn’t convinced that my travel size umbrella and small plastic poncho would keep very much of my body dry so the Ozark adventure was postponed for a day. Saturday, I had a writers meeting to attend, but the rain was back with a few rumbles of thunder thrown in for good measure.

Sunday is the day of last chance—at least for this weekend. I’ve planned to log a few miles of walking for the fitness challenge at work. It takes five miles to earn a railcar and my train is really short—two cars to be exact.

All week, I was so busy, I skipped the gym, but was confident that Friday, I’d walk five miles at Silver Dollar City. Now, I don’t see any railcars in my immediate future.

Who knows, my schedule for the upcoming week might allow me to go to the gym or the walking track a few nights. Well, I do have two meetings scheduled and there is American Idol to vie for my time.

On workdays, it seems that beautiful spring weather sends out a siren call beckoning me to be outdoors. Yet on the weekend, my lone anticipated outside activity is rained out. It may not rain more on the weekend—but it sure seems that way. And, baby, if the rain must fall, why can’t it just darn well fall on a workday and leave my weekend alone?

copyright (c) May 2010 L. S. Fisher

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Functional Dysfunctional Family

How many times have you heard an excuse for bad behavior: I came from a dysfunctional family? As a person who grew up in the fifties and sixties, I want to know what planet those people came from that didn’t grow up in a dysfunctional family.

Isn’t every family dysfunctional? What the heck is dysfunctional anyway? According to my trusty Oxford American Dictionary dysfunctional means a failure to function normally. Following that train of thought further, I checked out the definition of normal. Now there’s a word that reeks of impossible for a boomer. Normal means conforming to what is standard or usual.

Weren’t we baby boomers proud of being nonconformists? Didn’t we strive to be free-thinking unique individuals? So why would we have a problem with a dysfunctional family? How can a group of individuals from different generations mold into a completely normal functional unit?

If you came from a functional/normal family, how would you ever deal with the dysfunctional world? There just aren’t that many completely “normal” people around—besides what is normal for one person isn’t normal for everyone.

I’m pretty sure my cat and I make up a dysfunctional family. If you still insist you don’t come from a dysfunctional family—take a good look around at your next family get-together. Would you consider all of them to be normal?

Just be thankful that growing up in your dysfunctional family gave you the skills you needed to function in the dysfunctional world.

copyright (c) May 2010 L. S. Fisher
Alzheimer's Blog:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Retirement Car—Red Jewel Malibu

Sometimes it’s hard to give up a car you love to shop for a new one. My 2002 Oldsmobile Alero has been a good, faithful car for the past eight years. Now that I’m getting closer to retirement age, I wanted to have time to pay off a new vehicle before living on a reduced income.

Several months ago, I saw a red jewel 2010 Chevrolet Malibu on a showroom floor, and it was love at first sight. Was I really close enough to giving up my day job to purchase my retirement car? Besides, selling my Oldsmobile has the feel of divorce—leaving the tried and true for a flashier, younger model. Maybe that idea stemmed from reading The Cougar Club.

A few weeks ago, my oldest son and I went to our local Chevrolet dealer, W-K, and test drove a Malibu. After negotiating the price and all the rebates and discounts, we priced the car on the lot and my dream car that would need to be ordered. Of course, I went with the one that had to be ordered.

The Malibu has all the bells and whistles—Onstar navigation, Bluetooth, heated seats, remote start, power everything, even a manual shift option. It will take me two years to just learn what I have, and longer to know how to use it.

I notice many admiring glances as I tool around town in my red Malibu. One complete stranger even said to me, “What a beautiful car! And a red hot mama driving it!” Okay, so I made up the part about “hot mama” but it that’s how it makes me feel when I drive it.

I sold my Oldsmobile to my sister-in-law who lives next door. I feel a little pang when I see her drive it. I’ve become a car cougar—in love with the hot, new model, but with a sentimental attachment to the car I cast aside.

copyright (c) May 2010 L. S. Fisher