Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Never Underestimate the Power of a Few

They miss my friend Nancy on her home planet.  I say that only affectionately, because I treasure her and value her intellect.  But she is different.  She calls God “the Matrix.” Nancy dyes her hair with black walnuts.  Nicknamed Tink, for Tinkerbelle, she is an animated under five feet tall dynamo who looks at least 15 years younger than she is.  If you have an ailment, Nancy has the natural remedy and it works. 

When I first moved here, we had a blighted block of Section-8 housing at the entrance to the neighborhood that looked horrendous.  Nancy vowed that a linear park could go there, after we took that block down through the civic league.  People looked at her like she had two heads.  Look at that block twelve years later.  We call it Scotts Creek Park.

I don’t talk much about my civic involvement in Portsmouth here on the blog.  I’m blessed to live in a neighborhood where a few can make a difference.  So when Nancy called me and said that we had to do something about a proposal to build a sulfur processing plant with two 150 foot smokestacks on the Elizabeth River near my house, I listened. 

Not to get into a big discussion, but sulfur goes on fire very easily, so companies dampen it when processing to reduce the risk.  Mr. Paquette told me that some day I'd need the periodic table, so I should pay attention in chemistry class.  He was right.  I had to look up the process, but sulfur+water=sulfuric acid, right on a river.  Not good.   However, never underestimate the power of stealthy, middle-aged co-conspirators.

We even surprised even ourselves as other civic leaders from several communities came on board.  In three weeks, the following headline appeared in the local paper:

Company Drops Portsmouth in Plans for Sulfur Plant
Do you ever feel like you are one person and you can’t do too much?  It isn’t true.  As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekly Menu Plan

I cook almost everything we eat, whether it is consumed on the road to work, at work, or at home.  I'm getting on the bandwagon and posting my menus along with Frugal Girl and a lot of others.  Pic courtesy of Cooking in the country.

Menu Plan Monday
B – steel cut oatmeal, cranberries
L – eggs, turkey sausage, potatoes
D – chicken stir fry, brown rice, cucumber salad
B - steel cut oatmeal, apples
L – turkey soup, cucumber salad, fruit
D – chili, cabbage winter salad, cornbread
B - steel cut oatmeal, frozen fruit
L – chili, cabbage winter salad
D – Impossible broccoli pie, peas, baked yams
B – egg sandwich, sliced oranges
L–  impossible broccoli pie, peas
D – split pea soup,  Texas toast, deviled eggs.
B -  steel cut oatmeal, frozen fruit
L – deviled eggs, split pea soup
D – baked potatoes stuffed with turkey and gravy, spinach, cabbage salad
B -  egg sandwiches, sliced oranges
L – baked potatoes stuffed with turkey and gravy, sliced apples
D – chicken parmesan, spinach, pasta
B -  oatmeal, frozen fruit
L –  chicken parmesan, peas
D – homemade pizza with caramelized onions and two cheeses, sautéed cabbage

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How My Mammogram Turned into Flat Stanley

Okay, you know who Flat Stanley is, yes?  Flat Stanley is an idea to help children understand travel and to feel closer to those who are away.  FS, as his hip close friends like me call him, started out as a children’s book in the 1960’s.  In this charming book, a kid helps his father create a bulletin board full of pics and then dreams about the activity later.  As FS, instead of the real child, he had all kind of adventures in his dreams. 

Sometimes a kindergarten class creates an FS and sees how far he can travel with relatives of class members or with the kids themselves.  My brother-in-law took FS to Kiev in the former Soviet Union when he was on a mission trip.  FS can also travel with Mommy while she deploys to the Middle East.

Here’s FS with his good friend the former President of the United States:

What does this have to do with a breast cancer scare?  When the Naval Hospital called me in December to advise that I had an abnormal mammogram, I was not scheduled for a follow up until after Christmas.  Happy holidays to me.

What’s a girl to do?  She calls her father.  My father is the former Connecticut Commissioner of Public Health, an Ivy League graduate and physician who now works in Hartford Hospital’s clinic for lower-income people.  Dad says that’s where God wants him.  He could be golfing and sitting on the boat, but I digress.   Dad said, “send the film up by Federal Express.  I’ll have a radiologist look at it.  It is probably nothing.”  For long-term blog readers, the father who died back a year and a half ago, Papa, was my stepfather.

UPS was closer and I sent the CD off.  I double-checked the address.  Both the lady who provided me with the CD (they call it film, though) and the sweet UPS employee who wrapped and addressed it, prayed with me.  And if you don’t think it is a miracle to have a Navy employee pray with you unbidden in a military facility, you don’t know much about God working incognito.  

And that’s when the adventure of FS aka the mammogram CD began.  My mammogram traveled all over the Greater Hartford area.  They tried to deliver it to an office which my father had ten years ago in another town.  They tried to deliver it to the State Health Department.  They tried to deliver it to my uncle.  He’s a dentist, so he was confused.    I tried to have them deliver it to my father’s house, but they insisted that his address was the police department.  It wasn’t.   My father suggested that it might turn up at Shady Glen, where we used to go for mocha chip ice cream, or Sunset Ridge Elementary School where I enjoyed my grammar school days.

The problem?  There is no suite number at the clinic where my father works.  The facility takes up the entire second floor.   Apparently UPS needs a suite number or maybe a busy driver didn’t want to walk up the stairs. Did you know that when you sign the UPS form to send a package, you also sign off on their policy that if they think that they can deliver your package to a better address to reach your addressee, they will!  How do I know this?  They told me at the legal department at UPS corporate headquarters in Atlanta. 

I talked to everyone at UPS in late December.  Seriously, I think I did.  The crew over there in India who handle incoming calls.  Namaste, guys!  The group at the Hartford office.  One woman there was especially delightful when she told me that it was the busiest day of the year for her and she needed to get off the phone.  

It is nearly impossible for me to understand how we can have such a high unemployment rate in this country and have folks who have jobs act like this. Had another interesting call with Mike, her supervisor, who fixed the problem and told me what a pill she is. 

Bottom line?  Five days after I mailed it express, the CD arrived at the Hartford Hospital clinic.  Diagnosis?  It was nothing. 

I enjoyed my holiday knowing that I was cancer free.  I had a follow up at the Naval Hospital which confirmed my Flat Stanley diagnosis.  The roses and lilies from UPS Corporate that lasted into the New Year were gorgeous. UPS is really sorry for my inconvenience.

Thank you, God.