What Drives You Crazy?

Well, packaging is high on my list.

And that hard-formed plastic that encapsulates everything from toothbrushes to pliers is a health hazard. I’ve heard that hospitals have a name for hard plastic injuries, but I don’t know what it’s called.

Scissors are now the most important tool in my kitchen, and all of mine are dull, so I’m hacking my way into packaging. Just serving a meal of cheese, salami, crackers, and olives can—with the ripping, cutting, unwrapping, opening—takes more time than cooking steak and veggies. And I was trying to have an easy meal.

In 1995 two friends and I visited Germany and I came home championing the cause of no grocery bags. Now Eugene has established a no bag policy, but they do sell paper bags for 5 cents, but where we live, right outside Eugene, the shops use plastic bags, so I’m spoiled again.

I debated the paper vs plastic bags for a time, until my grandson said, “Throw that paper bag on the ground and it will be gone in a few days. That plastic bag will hang around for eons.” 

Folks who found a dead whale washed up on the beach with 40 kg of plastic in his belly convinced me.

Before I sound too high and mighty, I am the worst for remembering to take my reusable bags into the grocery store or other shops in Eugene, so I spend a lot of 5 cents.

Europe is way ahead of us. Even back in 1995, when we went into a German grocery, we found that they charged 25 cents to use a shopping cart, but had no bags. You placed your items in the cart. You weighed the produce, printed a price sticker and plastered it to your lettuce, apples or such. You checked out, reloaded everything into the cart and wheeled it out to your car. If you had the foresight to put a box in the car, you put your groceries in it, and when you get home you carried the box into the house. Simple. 

If you walked to the store, you carried a bag.

I think Europeans are more trusting than Americans so they don’t have to tie everything up because they are afraid someone is going to steal it, contaminate it, or do some dire something. 

I got a kick out of hearing that the Euro Rail used an honor system. However, if on a random check, a person was found with no ticket, they put that person off the train at that place—wherever it was. How about that to keep people honest?

Bathrooms in Germany had on-demand water heaters in the Zimmer Free homes. where we spent our nights. (Zimmer Free means, “Room available.” When you see such a sign, you can go up to the door and ask if they have a room. We followed Rick Steves’ travel guide for good places to stay, and to our surprise, we ran into Rick at a café where he sat upgrading his book. And most every place had goose-down comforters. It spoiled me and I’ve slept under one ever since.

Oh, and their pretzels, about a foot across, chewy on the bottom twist, crispy on the top curve, and sprinkled with coarse salt were spectacular. I believe I had one daily. Now wheat flour has been demonized, but not then. 

What set me off on this topic was an article I found online about shops in the UK that have minimal packaging and no plastic. 

They use bins to hold their merchandise and there are many glass containers. They have pumps for filling their customer’s own bottles with liquids such as shampoo, and soaps. Their shops are quite upscale and beautiful, and even people who hate shopping love to go there.

According to Steven Moss, who wrote the article, walking into one shop named Natural Weigh, smelled heavenly. Natural Weigh is a zero-waste shop that opened a year ago in Crickhowell, Mid-Wales, and is part of a quiet revolution. 

Over the past two years, well over 100 of these stores have sprung up across the UK. Natural Weigh doesn’t sell produce because they don’t want to interfere with the local markets. 

Regarding produce: Have you ever been to an open air market such as they have in Mexico? You walk through aisles of fruits and vegetables, with various items hanging overhead, and the sight, colors, and fragrances are a feast before you buy anything.

I suppose Farmers Markets and Saturday Markets in the US serve that purpose. They are second to harvesting your own produce. 

When I was a kid, we wrapped our sandwiches in waxed paper, and it worked. The sandwich was fresh come lunchtime. It might have a crater in the middle though, from the apple packed beside it.

I use plastic wrap, and plastic bags, I’m no saint, why, though, I wonder, must I search to find bags without a Ziploc? Oh, that reminds me, I have a perfect solution to oil spills, sinking ships, and capturing an ice burg for fresh water. We just need a company that can make a zip-lock bag huge enough so we can slip a ship or an iceberg inside, or pull it around an oil slick.  One more thing needed though–a device to hold the bag open for filling.

Consumers can reduce the use of plastic, but it is minuscule compared to what companies could do.  Yes, use plastic for cars Televisions, refrigerators, etc. etc, but if engineers can build the bay bridge across from San Francisco to Oakland to withstand the strongest earthquake they can think of, some genius could come up with a product we can use in place of plastic garbage bags, kitchen bags, plastic wrap, grocery bags, and those absolutely ridiculous rings that hold a six-pack of just about anything that comes in bottles or cans. 

We’re tired of needing a hacksaw to get newly purchased products out of their packaging. And think about those cups that look like plastic, but are made from corn. Hey, corn has been demonized too, let’s use it to wrap our food. 

What? Both wheat and corn are demonized? 

Wheat and corn built civilizations. I don’t believe it is the wheat and corn specifically— without maze where would South America be?  And we love our corn chips and corn on the cob. And popcorn. I used to say that if I was stranded on a desert island, I would want popcorn along.

I don’t believe it is the grains that are causing the trouble,  I think it is what has been done to the wheat and corn.

With the extensive use of genetic engineering and insecticides, what can we trust? I’ve heard that they spray Roundup on wheat.   No wonder people have problems. 

Why do we stand for all the dinking with our food, so that they can be shipped without damage, and grown in abundance, prettier, and bigger, but without the taste of a lovely vine-ripened fruit? And I wonder if those GMO dinked foods are nutritious.

So we start eliminating foods from our diets because they don’t settle well with us. 

Well duh.

I’m not going to show you pictures of beautiful sea creatures strangled by plastic, it will spoil your entire day.

You know about it. What can we do about it?

Indigenous peoples revered the earth, and they knew to walk gently on her back.  They knew that respecting all the forces of nature, as well as all the living things was essential in maintaining harmony on the planet.  Corn was a precious gift, a plant that would not grow without the aid of a human hand.  Giving that ear of corn to a newborn child was a symbol of nurturing; it would provide sustenance in her life. 

Walking gently applies to everything. Sunday we had such an experience on my Daughter and son-in-law’s gorgeous 100-acre wood.

Pics taken last Sunday May 19, 2019

Muffins baked by Grandson, the one walking with Sweetpea. Upper right is poison oak, it’s healthy too. The white flower is wild strawberry. Upper left is the lovely forest floor.

Beyond the Horizon

We had an SUV large enough to hold all of us, the four people, the four animals, plus suitcases and a dog kennel large enough to hold Bear, Daughter Dear’s 150 pound Newfoundland dog.

 Our car and pickup were at the dock awaiting their turn to travel across the great blue ocean to land in Los Angeles, California.

I looked out over the emerald green that had been our property for the past year.  There was a great expanse of grass that lay between our house and the small axillary building that looked so Island daughter named it the Tiki Room. Most every morning I watched from my computer window as the morning light spread across the green as though the Goddess was turning up her rheostat.

That last day, I walked through every room telling it goodbye.

We loaded ourselves looking like the Beverly Hillbillies into the van and inched down “The Green Trail of Bliss,” that was our driveway, so named by our neighbors.

We were making our way to the airport.

We passed the Y in the road, where daily Hot Dog Guy sets up his hot dog stand. He hadn’t arrived yet with his best in the world hot dogs. We will miss him, his daily chat in the woods, and his hot dogs that fed us on many occasions on our trip to or from town.

Alongside the road, deep canyons carry water out to sea, and from the bridges over those ravines, we looked out over that incredible green dotted with red flowers that sit atop 100-foot trees like parrots.

I was struck again by the enormity of the ocean when viewed from the height of the highway.  I realized once again how many miles of water separated me from my first-born child and that without planes or boats to rescue us, we would be stuck.

That day, though, we had tickets in hand. We were packed. Husband Dear was driving. I sat in the passenger seat with my little dog Peaches on my lap. Daughter was jammed in the backseat beside her year-old son, a laptop computer, a diaper bag, and a purse while trying to avoid being sat upon by a 150-pound dog.

Behind her, the dog carrier with its top nested inside the bottom held cat carriers holding Hope and Zoom Zoom. We were aiming for the airport on the other side of the island

About 50 miles away from home, a flagger stopped us. “A tanker rolled over,” he said. “It will take half a day to clean up the spill.” He waved us away with no suggestion of an alternative route.

We sat dumbfounded.

Our belongings were gone, the car and truck were gone, and that poor truck driver probably got the bejeesus scared out of him.

Bear, needed to be deposited with United Cargo by 9 a.m. as United Airlines demanded he go cargo, and we had arranged connections in L.A.

We were in shock.

A roadblock.

A scream came from the backseat, “Get Me off this Damn Island!”

Husband and I stared at each other as angry purple ooze spread through the vehicle. “Take Saddle Road!” We say in unison. So we backtrack the 40-miles back toward Hilo to where Saddle Road exited the highway. We took Saddle Road up and over the mountain, down the ravines, over single lane bridges, and across the Texas look-alike countryside—with other cars that morning, since many had the same idea we had. We made it to United Cargo before the nine o’clock deadline.

However, at United Cargo, I had a sinking feeling as I watched through the windshield as Daughter spoke to a forklift driver who was shaking his head.

The dog kennel had been modified. He would not take it. Husband had modified it into a stretch limo for Bear. Continental Airlines carried Bear from the mainland in it. Aloha Airlines Cargo shipped him on the last leg of our journey, from Honolulu to Kona in it.

 The fellow at United Airlines would not budge.

Okay, we careened over to Pet Co, as fast as allowable, where—miracle of miracles—they had the largest airline approved kennel available. The last time we visited that store they had none

Nina bought the new, expensive, airline-approved kennel. It would be a tight fit for Bear, but we figured he would have to manage.

We raced back to Cargo. We fit the top and bottom of the carrier together, tightened the wingnuts, and asked Bear to try it. He did compliant dog that he was. You couldn’t ask for a better dog.

They would not load him on the noon flight and told us that we had to go that night at eight o’clock.

We raced to the airport ticketing window where a nice man changed all our tickets to the 8 p.m. flight. Ah. We go back and rescue Bear from the confinement and the heat.

“Be back at 2 p.m.,” they say.

Two o’clock for an eight o’clock flight?

Okay, we were back at 2 p.m. We deposited Bear at cargo and went into town for a bite to eat with the other animals in tow. In route, we got a phone call.

They canceled our flight.

They scheduled us to leave the next morning at ten o’clock. I envisioned a hot night in the car, as the hotels on the island are not pet-friendly. And there was Bear confined in a kennel that fit him like a wet-suit.

We go back to the airport. Daughter reminded us that the Cargo hold closes at 3 p.m., which means Bear was locked in—oh, that was the reason we had to be deposited at two o’clock. We must wait until 6 p.m. as no person occupies the ticketing booth until then. There we encounter other passengers who received the same phone call we did. “What happened?” asks one. “The plane didn’t leave San Francisco,” says another. Bottom line: no plane.

Nina and I shake our heads at the irony of it, how the island called us, how it got us there, and how we thought it was pushing us off.

I would have laughed except as I sat there on the bench at the airport I felt like the little anole I accidentally painted into the porch steps. I didn’t mean to do it, dusk was settling in, and I didn’t see that a little lizard was in my paint path. The following morning I found his flat little body, a lizard relief in the gray-blue porch paint.

 I felt like that little lizard—stuck. (But alive.)

So we sat in a hot, humid, airport waiting in Island time for a ticket booth to open. Six o’clock they said. No one occupied the booth until six. Okay. We waited.

I sat and calmed myself by watching Daughter and her son entertain themselves with the travel brochures—a fiery volcano, horseback rides, helicopter rides, zip lines, orchid farms. Husband was reading a book. Peaches lie on her stomach on the cool cement, her hind legs straight back as Poodles can do. The cats were quiet in their carriers. And Bear? You know where he was, in lock up.

Did we get our reason for moving to the island?  We were so sure the Island called us, and maybe she did, yet why were we still there? 

My mind wandered back to the house we left behind only a few hours earlier. It is vacant, alone. But it isn’t alone, the neighbor’s horses will be right outside. They are using our property for pasture. The neighbors will water the horses from our new water tank, and in return for free pasture, the neighbors will mow the property.  Jeff, the carpenter we hired to help bring the Tiki Room up to building permit standards and will live in the Tiki Room. He will watch out for the house and property, and keep the property looking lived-in until it sells.

 I called our neighbor and told her she could have our modified dog carrier if she would drive to the airport and get it.

I thought about my horses and how we wanted those ten acres because we planned to bring them, and ended up not shipping them. I thought about the sad day I gave them away, and Daughter gave away her two as well.

. I hope they are happy and well cared for.

I think about Orville and Wilber, those sweet goats. They have a good life, we know, for they were living at a Sanctuary. I don’t know about the horses.

 I think of Daughter re-homing her ferrets. She had ferrets for 22 years, that’s how dedicated she was to our move to the Island.

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining,” said Zig Zigler, “it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.”

 “You can hold me,” I told the Universe, “you can rain on me, mosquitoes can chew on me, but you can’t keep me here. You can give Husband heart trouble to make him leave—he was happy here, he would have stayed, but I am not having him die here.  None of us are dying here. We want to live, and it will be beyond the horizon that we do it!”

What?

I felt a jiggle as my little grandson crawled up beside me on the bench. My telephone/clock whispered to me that it was 6 o’clock.

 In-mass we go to the ticketing counter.

Whatever caused the log-jam of this day’s events was about to burst. I could feel it. It was not without fear, however, that we approached the desk.

Karen, the ticketing person, a take-command lady, changed our tickets to another plane scheduled to leave that evening at 8:55 p.m.

That night.

After a stop-over in San Francisco, we were scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles around nine in the morning. I was stunned. HAPPY DAY!

Lovely Karen called Cargo to have Bear shuttled over to our plane. She checked in all four animals, had them taken aboard, checked our carry-on’s—didn’t charge us for that service—bumped us up to first class, and we were off—just like that.

In First Class, there was food for the family and a glass of wine for me. I settled down with the prayer, “Get us to the mainland,” and lay my head against the seat’s headrest.

We taxied down the runway.

Wait?

What was that I heard?

It was Peaches, our poodle dog.  I didn’t know the animals were right beneath us. She could hear us, and every passenger in the plane could hear her. And so embarrassed, not claiming we knew who belonged to that dog, we sailed out over the ocean to the tune of, “Yap, Yap, Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap…”

__________________________________________________________________

The year before this leaving day is chronicled in my book The Frog’s Song, released today. Whoo ho.

The publisher’s agreement is that to sell my books, I must be physically present, so I cannot sell from my site. I can provide a link though.

Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+Frog%3Bs+Song+by+Joyce+Davis&ref=nb_sb_noss

Use The Frog’s Song by Joyce Davis, otherwise, you will get many books on Frog Songs, one sells for $135.00, so I guess mine is resonablely priced. You know a Kindle version is cheaper. I suggest the physical book because I love the feel of the cover so much I want people to run their fingers over it.

The best price I’ve found so far is with eBay, free shipping, a $12.95 book for only $13.06

Do, Ra, Jo with Bear in the background, on our “Green Trail of Bliss.”