First Do No Harm

One of our mountain bike rides takes us through an open space conservancy that has been generously left open to the public to enjoy sans motorized vehicles. A few years ago some of the hillsides were seeded with gazania seeds (a particularly hardy type of daisy) so, when we get winter showers, at the perfect time of year, the bloom is breathtaking.

The sanctuary is bisected by a busy road and the flower display is visible to passing motorists. Lovely! But no, viewing them from the road, or walking up the dirt path that allows a closer look, doesn’t satisfy the narcissists who are compelled to tramp with the entire family to the middle of the slope, to take images of themselves. By the end of this three-day weekend, the hillside will be a mess of trampled flowers, never to go to seed, never to bloom again.

I try ever so hard to keep my mouth shut, knowing that the type of person who so cluelessly and selfishly despoils such a wonder doesn’t want to hear my opinion. But…yesterday, with Sally egging me on, I approached a family who was wading through the blooms. I gently suggested that their foray into the field made it less likely there would be subsequent mass blooms next year and other visitors would not enjoy the trampled flowers.

The man of the family took umbrage at my intrusion into his rightful enjoyment. His initial retort was that I didn’t own the hillside and I couldn’t tell him what to do. I agreed that I did not. He followed with the argument that the flowers had been here for thousands of years with no help from me. When I pointed out that this was conservancy property and that the flowers had been seeded, he countered with his erudite opinion that he paid more taxes than I did. It was obvious that reason was not his strong suit, so I bid him farewell and pedaled away.

I returned that way again today, and again found hoards of people following the paths made by their predecessors, looking for an undisturbed area where they could pose for their own selfie. Undaunted, I reminded several groups that the flowers were fragile and wouldn’t return if they were trampled. To my pleasure, most of the people acted truly grateful to have been enlightened. Being an eternal optimist, I take hope. We friends of the earth must speak up, even if we are not always heard.

Both of the above images were taken from the dirt road. No flowers were injured in the making of this post.

It’s the Least I Could Do

With natural gas prices being what they are, I’ve taken to doing household chores in the morning to warm up. I can keep the thermostat set at 64 degrees if I remain active, dressed in layers.

Photo by Hannah Gullixson on Unsplash

So, this morning I was cleaning the blinds. I started out just dusting them with a microfiber cloth and they looked pretty good. But then, I rinsed the cloth and tried a little detergent and found they fairly glowed after being washed. I mentioned to Mike that while it was more work, the soap and water WAS far more effective.

He replied, “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about doing that for a while.”

I said, “I appreciate the thought.”

“It’s the least I could do,” he answered.

Home Is Where Your Peeps Are

iampeacenow’s post about her mom’s passing and her brother’s disposal of her worldly possessions got me thinking about my own dad’s death. I used to go back to Michigan every July to visit my dad, cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces, and great niece & nephew. But now I don’t. Admittedly, Covid got me out of the habit, but when I look at why I haven’t resumed the annual pilgrimage, I have to wonder if unbeknownst to my conscious mind, the pull to return “home” was my dad.

Babs paddles by De Zwaan, imported piece by piece from the Netherlands in 1964

With so many family activities, it was sometimes hard to carve out a lot of time to visit with my dad. Kayaking with cousins, hiking with nieces, biking to the beach and the culmination of the week with a huge family reunion, all served to push quality time with Dad to the fringes. And as he grew more infirm, I wasn’t eager to take him out for the long, shore-line drives and beach-side lunches he so enjoyed when he could no longer drive. He had to pee often and just getting in and out of the car was fraught with the danger of him falling. He was a big man, over 200 lbs. and I feared that I wouldn’t be able to right him if he ever toppled over on my watch. So, our visits consisted of me visiting him in the depressing assisted-living facility where he spent his last few years.

My Favorite Aunt Mary Jane, me, Dad, and sister Babs July, 2008

Thankfully, his memory remained as sharp as his ever-ready sense of humor so our visits were interesting and funny. He was a great story teller and could always surprise me with a tale I hadn’t heard before. I always parted from him with a vague sense of guilt that I didn’t spend more time with him, and as he grew more enfeebled, I feared that each good-bye might be the last.

His failing health gave us ample warning of his imminent demise and I was lucky to be able to make one final visit, a month ahead of my regular, annual journey, to say our final good-byes. Weak but still of sound mind, he entertained me with more stories of my grandparents and great-grandfather. He told how in The Great War (WWI) his dad’s commanding officer advised him to take good care of the mules because they were more valuable than the poor soldier who tended them. The admonition was not necessary, dad said, as my grandpa loved those beasts like his own children. What a poignant illustration of the connection of family! I had come by my passion for horses through my dad’s genes.

So, Dad’s been gone a couple of years now and for a variety of reasons, I have stopped returning to the place of my birth on an annual basis. Though the cousins and nieces are still there, and the places of childhood memories remain, there’s one missing piece. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the one missing piece spoils the picture. is right, you probably can’t ever go home again once the people who made it home are gone.

Kitchen Help?

Recently, my one and only, decided that our expensive, non-stick Scan Pans were poisoning our food with plastic chemicals and that we would return to using only my lovely set of aluminum-clad, stainless pans. When I complained that my clean-up time would be quadrupled, he agreed to be my pan washer. Fair enough.

Now I have to bite my tongue to keep from suggesting that his pan-washing methods don’t meet my standards, mostly because of his profligate use of paper towels. I recognize that my feeble efforts to minimize my footprint on this earth don’t make even a wee bit of difference, but yet I try to be conservative in the use of resources if only to make myself feel holier-than-thou.

Acres of Astral Coffee granite with white, porcelain sink

Also, as you who cook know, washing the pans is only small part of the kitchen clean-up job. I have acres of granite counter tops that camouflage every thing, of every color, including cat food, screws, rubber bands, even phones (placed screen side up), that need to be wiped down to prevent runaway science project growth and large scale ant farms. Couple those discreet counter tops with a gas range, diabolically designed by someone who has never in his life cleaned a stove top, that cradles every speck of oil, oatmeal, and pasta sauce in its maze of ridges and cracks, and you have an idea of the scope of routine “pan washing”. Then add to all of that, my white porcelain sink is anal retentive about hanging on to each bit of cat food and vegetable matter, making every effort to incorporate their myriad colors into its pristine, white finish.

My American-made, Blue Star range, designed by Bubba in …. insert the pejorative state name of your choice.

So, yesterday, he was facing the job of cleaning a pan in which he had cooked eggs at too high a temperature and made the oil and egg residue a permanent part of the pan. He suggested taking it out to his workshop to clean it with a wire brush attachment on his drill and asked my thoughts about it. I offered the idea of using the Kleen King Stainless Steel and Copper Cleaner that I keep under the sink for such emergencies.

“Where do you keep that? he asked and I pointed under the sink.

“Oh, it does require some elbow grease as it’s a very fine abrasive.”, I warned, knowing his attention deficit when it comes to cleaning.

After a couple of minutes he asked, “Where do you keep the elbow grease?”