I am (still) a vegetarian.

Some people ask, as if they expect me to change. I suppose they might expect that considering I married a meat eater.

Three months or so ago I was quite scandalized when I was chowing down on my Thai sweet and sour tofu and realized it was chicken. I lost my appetite after that and felt a bit of revulsion. Whether the revulsion was toward the chicken or myself for having eaten it is still to be determined.

I kept quiet about it to my friends, because the embarrassment would have mortified me. I did tell my husband though, who was quick to tease me. He mentioned it to his family while we ate lunch together. His parents eat meat, his younger brother, Tim, does not. Tim looked at me with astonishment. "you did what?" Tim said. "As soon as I realized--I didn't eat anymore" I said placating him. "I felt sick to my stomach." After that, I think Nick realized it wasn't something I wanted to be teased about, and he didn't mention it again.

There is an inconvenience factor to being a vegetarian. I hate being an inconvenience to people. Folks not accustomed to people who don't eat meat, feel like they have to make special accommodations. Aunts and uncles make special visits to the grocery store when we visit. In China, our host for a special dinner, felt she was not giving us the type of meal she really wanted, because "cooking vegetables was so easy, so simple." Going to restaurants with friends revolves around "Did you see anything on the menu you can eat?"

Nick likes to tease me that I am a very picky eater. This is in spite of the fact that I eat avocado, and he does not. (They have the wrong texture.) I eat squash, and he does not. (The texture again.) I eat eggplant, and he does not. (Too slimy he says.) I eat beets and he does not. (Just plain bad.) I eat artichoke and he does not. (How can you eat something with the word "choke" in its name?) Then he pulls out his trump card, "You don't eat a whole food group. You don't eat meat. You are way more of a picky eater than I am."

I watch, fascinated by the cooks on television as they prepare their meals. Open eyed wonder at the intricacies in preparing meat. Intrigued by the taboos about what can and can't be eaten. Eating and preparing meat is another culture I don't quite understand. I wondered once to Nick what was the attraction in a disposable cutting board. He replied, "You are such a vegetarian."

I am not out to convince anyone else to be a vegetarian. I am not about to quote a list of vegetarian celebrities. (That methodology goes south when you realize that some believe Hitler was a vegetarian.) I don't pass judgment on you because you are or are not a carnivore.

I just don't eat meat. I'm not planning on changing.

Moments of Fear

I got out of the plane to check the fuel in the tanks. I had just finished my solo short cross-country. I hopped up to the wing, opened up the gas cap, and stuck my measuring stick in the tank holding a finger over the top. I heard a metallic clang. I pulled it out. Nothing. Then panic hit me. I tried the other tank. Same result. How low on my fuel reserves had I gone?

Earlier in the day I had started out on that flight. I had filed my flight plan and talked to the South Bend tower and triangulated my position. Then the tower called me up and told me I was getting very close to air space designated for model rocketry. I corrected my flight path. Then the tower contacted me again. This time sounding snippy and aggravated with me. I hadn't corrected enough. They gave me a vector to follow. I looked at my sectional. How would I ever get to Rensselaer if I didn't know where I was? It was somewhat with awe that I looked down and saw the stone quarry that was one of my visual way points. I landed in at my first stop and looked over and saw that the wind sock was pointing in the wrong direction for what I had landed. I was scared. I had to fly the plane back, but was I capable of doing it safely? And now, here I was holding an empty fuel measuring device, suddenly deeply afraid at what I had put myself through.

When I took SCUBA class there was one important task that needed to be completed in order to get certified. I had to go down, carrying my gear, to the bottom of the deep end of the pool. The instructor gave instructions of what I was to do, "find your regulator, put on your mask, clear it, put on your tanks and Buoyancy compensator." I went down with him, and tried. I couldn't clear my mask, I couldn't breathe. My chest tightened. I reached for his secondary regulator. We came back to the surface. "I panicked" I said. "I was starting to hyperventilate." "I know" he said. "Do you want to try it again?" Yes, I did. They had told us that if we didn't pass this task tonight we would fail the class. We would not get another chance. This time I went down and did the whole thing with my eyes closed. I did it perfectly, without panic.

It was an unusually warm March day. The sky was clear and the sky so very blue. It was a windy day and I was leaning my motorcycle into it. A gust of wind throttling over the open stubbled corn field pushed me into the oncoming traffic lane. Ahead the road dropped down a hill.

In front of me Nick waved his hand emphatically for me to get back to our lane. I saw the oncoming black pickup truck come up over the rise. I leaned on my right hand and willed the motorcycle to move back into the proper lane. I decided right then and there to return home. I continued to crab into the wind until we stopped at an intersection. I honked my horn to get Nick's attention. I thumped my chest and then pointed down the road the way we'd come.

It was too windy for me to handle my motorcycle that day. 'Why was I riding on a day like today?' I thought. I enjoyed warm, sunny, balmy weather rides--especially with the smell of grapes ready for harvest. That was the magic of riding. I rode scared all the way back home. Thankful, I set the kick-stand down in the garage.

A healthy dose of fear keeps you safe.

Is Your Mirror Mute or Mouthy?

Headshot of Katy looking into the distance, with a soft window light on her face.
I look in the mirror and see how young I look. The freckles, the pimples, the dimples all seem to say "she's not old enough to vote, to drive, to answer any difficult questions".

I see the spot where I shaved off part of my eyebrow. I was in the habit of watching my dad and older brothers shaving. One day, alone in the bathroom, I couldn't resist picking up one of the razors and trying it. The hair has grown back funny in that part of my eyebrow. It is longer than the rest and points in odd directions. I looked at myself in the mirror that day with horror. I couldn't undo what I just did. Why did I do it in the first place? That eyebrow is an example of my lack of thinking things through before I do them.

I look in the mirror and I am drawn to my eyes. They are an aspect of myself I truly find aesthetically pleasing. I love their quirky nature of appearing to change shades. Perhaps a grayish-blue one day and a brilliant blue the next.

If I look in the mirror long enough I start to feel disappointed in my crooked teeth. I feel my lower front teeth with my tongue and frown. My brow furrows as I remember the three years I spent wearing orthodontics. They were perfect once. Having had known the pleasure of perfectly straight teeth I want it back.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

I saw Ben Stein in Person Once . . .

I recently got an email about a commentary Ben Stein gave on CBS's Sunday Morning. Since I both like Sunday Morning and Ben Stein I read through it. Something didn't strike me quite right, so i went searching and found the original material. Here is the link:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=1134772n%3fsource=search_video

I went to California once, on Spring Break. March of 2001, I think it was. We visited Hollywood, and wondered into a theatre, and Ben Stein happened to be the host of some kids knowledge challenge sponsored by Kraft cheese. We sat in the audience a while, but it was rather boring so we left to look at the stars on the sidewalk instead.

I am known as a Troll

troll

n. A supernatural creature of Scandinavian folklore, variously
portrayed as a friendly or mischievous dwarf or as a giant, that lives
in caves, in the hills, or under bridges.
I live under this bridge:
Mackinac  Bridge http://www.flickr.com/photos/imaginary_zephyr/2886204238/in/set-72157607477105927/

Adventures in Odyssey

I can hardly believe that it has been over 20 years since I first started listening to Adventures in Odyssey. I listened to several radio programs regularly. Most of them from the radio station in Zarapath, New Jersey. What was it called? A quick google search ought to tell me.

99.1 FM in Zarephath NJ. Apparently they've rebranded themselves as STAR 99.1 FM

Anyways, I would listen to Unshackled (a radio drama out Chicago), Stories of Great Christians (from Moody Bible Institute), and Adventures in Odyssey (Focus on the Family). I would also listen to kids programing on WLIX (I think?, a kind of public radio radio station for kids based in NYC).

But I was sure to be home in time to listen to Adventures in Odyssey at 5pm.

I listen to my CDs of Adventures in Odyssey, and also an internet radio station Life Talk Radio for kids, through iTunes on my comptuer.

All these shows probably influenced my own forays into writing radio scripts. Although my most popular show "The Vegetable Exchange Show" probably shares the most similarities with CarTalk than any of the others.

Not too long ago I found a series of podcasts, a Humphrey Carmadella production (http://radiomemories.libsyn.com/ ), where I can listen to old time radio shows. I enjoy the Agatha Cristie radio mysteries quite a bit. I find them really nice on long road trips. I get car sick if I try and read in the car, but books on tape or radio dramas are a good way to pass the time.

What do you do to pass the time in the car?

Emotions Link Memory

I read in a textbook once that events connected to emtions are easier to remember. I was surprised to read that until I started reflecting on it. All these years, and a hot spot of memory when I let my temper go in front of the entire youth group at my church still really sticks out at me. The conflicting emotions still constrict my chest. I was being misunderstood and it  was making me angry. I also clearly remember the shocked look on people's faces that quite little Katy was making such a big fuss. I remember running away in embarrassment and having to endure a lecture I felt I didn't deserve.

There was a lot of build up to that point. I doubt the adult I was yelling at ever really understood what I was trying to say. A minor incident in my life, but the emotions sure were strong... Would they disappear if I forgave her?

My dad surprised me when he said he was angry with the truck driver that crashed into the car when my mom died. The police asked my dad if he wanted to press charges. And he himself said he was surprised by the anger he felt toward the truckdriver. I was never angry at the truckdriver, but rather sad. I don't think there was anything he could have done to avoid it. What I did feel was a strong sense of anxiety. My whole family's dynamics was going to change. What was my dad going to do now? Statistics of spouses dying withing a year or two of their spouses spun through my head. It wasn't until the funeral swelled with hundereds of well wishers that I really felt peace.

My dad is moving in a couple days. A chapter in my life is closing, and I'm wishing for the closure of walking through the rooms in the house and saying goodbye to memories. But I'm here in sunning, snowing, orange leaved Michigan, and he is 14 hours away.

Emotions are a necessary part of memories. I think they are what give them color.

The Strangest Game of Tag I Ever Played was TV Tag in the Parking Lot of the Village Inn

I have been tagged by repatrick to answer the following questions. I am going to willfully break the rules, however, and list more than one book in each category. (Partly because I answered these questions before on librarysmiles ' site.

1. One book that changed your life: I think every book I read changes my life in some way. These a a few books have changed the way I think about life:

Kissing Adrian by Siri L. Mitchell (It is not all like the title sounds like. It really did cause me to question my philosophy of life, something I am still mulling over.)

Walden Two by B. F. Skinner. This book shocked me when I first read it. It may have had something to do with my age at the time. (I think I was 11 or 12). I think the most shocking imagery to me at the time was when one of the characters strikes a crucifixion pose. It was all so unlike anything I had ever read before.

The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill. This was the first book my brother Joel gave me for my birthday. I think it was the start to my own original library. Being the youngest of four I had hand-me-down books and shared family books. More than an omen of filled bookshelves to come, it was a facinating book to me at the time that intrigued my imagination and set me to day dreaming about maps and pushpins and peas.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:

Pride and Prejudice (because of Mr. Darcy of course)

Around the World in 80 Days (*nod* Phileas Fogg)

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze (my first introduction to China)

Child of the Dark (the diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus). One woman and her life in the favela near Sao Paulo, Brazil. I picked it up in the bookstore while waiting for my dad. I couldn't put it down and ended up buying it.

Gone With the Wind (I got very upset at Scarlet, but not upset enough to not read it again).

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:

Coconut farming for Dummies by Ima Winner

Sand Castles for Dummies by Justin Case

This question reminds me of the Programer's Paradise computer magazine covers. The happy computer man on the desert island with his laptop.

4. One book that made you laugh:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and the rest of the increasingly missnamed Trilogy).

I Fish; Therefore, I Am (And Other Observations) by Patrick F. McManus. I was first clued to the humor of McManus by Quartho 's raptures regarding this author. I found the book on the bargain table at Barnes and Noble and have found my investment well returned.

The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze by James Thurber. Thurber is my hero. The day I discovered Thurber, I discovered true wit.

5. One book that made you cry:

A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis

Actually, I'm hard pressed to think of another book. I don't often read books that make me cry.

6. One book that you wish had been written:

My novel, then I could be sitting here editing it instead of dreaming of writing one someday.

A bunch of sequels to stories I wish hadn't ended.

7. One book that you wish had not read:

Shubumi by Trevanian

8. One book you’re currently reading:

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Sophie's World (I have read most of it by stopped near the last chapter about three months ago---I may force myself to read it one of these days just to say I finished it.)

The Brother's Karamazov (I got stuck in this book somewhat near the begining)

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen) My boss is from South Africa and she said once that this author really knew how to describe Africa.

Conversations about the End of Time by Umberto Eco

10. One book you were reminded of while reading the other nine questions:

The Wonderous O by James Thurber. I think it was the subject of one of my first book reports. I really love his style of writing. It has so much hidden humor.

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. This was a very striking book. A white reporter travels the south as a black man. Not only does it explore race relations, but brought to life the time before I was born, the 1960s.

The Mysteries of Udolpho

I came across this webpage while surfing the other day:

http://www.shibumi.org/eoti.htm

It said:

"The End of the Internet
Congratulations! This is the last page.
Thank you for visiting the End of the Internet. There are no more links.

You must now turn off your computer and go do something productive.

Go read a book, for pete's sake."

My first thought after reading it was, "is reading a book all that much better than surfing the internet?"

About the age of fifteen I started reading romance novels. The kind that go into exquisite detail about his "manhood" and her "lily white breasts". I was curious about sex and chose them as my textbook. There was a girl at church I knew who read them. Part of me wanted to different than who I was, and that meant being like her.

My consicounce got the better of me and I replace this fodder with religious romance novels. These were historical novels with bible verses and kissing but no detailed sex scenes.

Next I got hooked on Star Trek novels. For months all I read were Star Trek novels. Eventually I started feeling like they were empty. So I looked around the house. I noticed my brother had brought home "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, from one of his college classes. I had previosuly been thrown off from "classics" by a previous attempt at reading "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens. I picked "Pride and Prejudice" up and couldn't set it down until about 3 o'clock in the morning when I had finished the book. This led me on a trip to the library where I soon devoured Emma, Sense and Sensibilty, and Northanger Abby. My foray into the classics had begun.

Now years afterward, and several literature classes later, I am wondering if reading these classics is productive? I have long sense realized that I read to escape from bordem or what ever present reality I am in. It isn't often that I read to gain an insight or for some other edifiying enterprize.

Is reading anything better than reading nothing?