Monday, October 18, 2010

Fear & Adernaline Poisoning

On Saturday night, I had a harrowing experience that sent adrenaline coursing through my bloodstream with toxic effects. Here's what happened:

The day involved meeting Cindy's family in Fresno to see the movie Secretariat followed by dinner at the Chuckchansi Casino in Coarsegold. Sure, this was a lot of driving but also great catchup time for Cindy and me. After dinner at the buffet (a delicious stir fry for me), I left Cindy gambling with some of her family while I headed out to trek the curving foothill roads of Highway 41 and 49 to her parent's home in Mariposa.

As I approached the truck in the parking lot, I noticed that the left front tire was low, so I drove to a nearby gas station to air up. However, the air dispenser was out of order. The next station was 5 miles away, so I headed down the road to get the air I needed. Shortly after I left that station, a red light came on: "Check Gauges." I couldn't see that anything was off (though later learned I was misreading the battery charge gauge), so I kept going but pulled into a shopping center in Oakhurst after I turned onto Highway 49 and called Cindy. After a brief discussion, we decided I should drive on to Mariposa as we could not discern what was wrong.

I drove another 5 miles and another light came on. This one said "Air Bag." I could not figure out what was going on until I was heading down a steep, curving incline, a 2-mile drop into the river canyon, and noticed that the headlights were incredibly dim and then non-existent. I was driving in the dark with a car fast approaching behind me. I hit the brakes again and again, hoping the brake lights were working. The lights in the car behind cast an eeire shadow of my truck on the road ahead making it difficult to see. I barrelled downhill, headed for a narrow bridge that crossed the river. CLUNK--a noise reverberated through the car, and the power steering was gone. I sailed across the bridge in a frightening float-coast. Spotting a driveway just past the end of the bridge, I managed to maneuver into its entrance and stopped barely off the road. Five or six cars zipped past me at breakneck speed.

Coursing with adrenalin, my hands shaking badly, I tried to make the flashers come on without success. I reached behind the seat looking for a flashlight that I knew was stored there. In the dark of the cab, I frantically pulled stuff forward, dumping a mess all over the front seat. The truck was still running and cars were speeding past. I was shaking uncontrollably and felt like I was going to throw up that delicious stir fry. When there was a break in the traffic, I backed up by moonlight into the driveway, skimming by a row of mail boxes. Then I turned the car off and reached for my cell phone. No coverage in that canyon. Every nerve ending was alive in my body, twitching and shuddering.

I was eventually rescued with the help of a good samaritan and coordination by Cindy from a far, but the lesson about the effects of fear and adrenaline will stay with me. I didn't stop shaking until 30 minutes after I was in a safe place, and I was sick for hours from the adernaline rush, nauseated, head aching, and unable to sleep. I kept feeling myself rushing down that hill with no lights or steering and a weird shadow out in front of me. Adrenaline poisoning is surely a factor in post traumatic stress syndrome.

This tap on the shoulder by fear fills me with compassion for those who live in terror or are momentarily brushed by horror. My harrowing experience was brief with a very positive outcome, but it gave me a vivid taste of what fear does to one's body and spirit.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bottled Water Withdrawal

Today is Blog Action Day. Bloggers around the world are writing about water as a global issue.

I'm taking the stance: think globally, act locally.

By local, I mean right here in my own sweet home, or rather by my personal action. You see, I've been working not too successfully for two years to STOP using bottled water. I wrote the following statement on my annual goals for 2009 and 2010. "I will consistently use my Kleen Kanteen to carry water with me."

Notice that I had to write it two years in a row. That's because I did not manage to do this in 2009, and it now that it is October 2010, I can say that I'm not faring much better this year. But with this post and this day-- Blog Action Day-- I'm recommitting myself.


FACT 1: In the US, we buy an average of 200 bottles of water per person per year.
FACT 2: 17 million gallons of oil a year are needed to produce these plastic bottles.
FACT 3: More than 86% of those bottles are not recycled.

Here's the thing. Somehowm my taste buds tell me that the bottled water tastes better than our tap water. However, according to Annie Leonard who wrote the book The Story of Bottled Water, "Companies like PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Nestle, the big three water bottlers, are actually sucking municipal water systems for the product they bottle and sell back to us for hundreds and even thousands of times the cost."

So I've been duped. The solution? I simply need to train my mouth to enjoy the water from the tap that I put into my Kleen Kanteen. And I can do that by consistently drinking from my Kleen Kanteen.

By so doing, I subtract my infinitesimal numbers from those in FACTS 1, 2, & 3.

I offer this tiny sacrifice to :
3.6 million people who die each year because they don't have clean water to drink and 4,000 children younger than 5 who die every day from preventable, water-borne diseases.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


This post heralds one of those milestone moments. My eldest grandchild got his driver's license today.

Three of his siblings, his mother, and I waited inside the DMV office while he was taking the test. When I spotted him through a window on the other side of the office returning with the examiner, the HUGE grin on his face told me he had PASSED!

An obvious milestone for August, one of those markers on the way to adulthood, it is also one those countable moments for his mother and grandmother. As I get older, the notable events in this family pile up-- graduations, performances, sporting events, and all manner of firsts: first day of school, high school, the first lost tooth, first bike ride without training wheels. And now this: first solo drive. I count every event as remarkable as in worthy of notice and attention. Each milestone, each first, gives me a thrill. . .

. . . and also new possibilities. August will be driving to my place tomorrow to help me clean the rain gutters.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This morning was the first in several months that I did not have hustle to get to a job, a task, a project, or some assignment. I took my cup of tea to my desk and checked my email where I found a message that I'd been saving for weeks about the end of Bloglines. So I decided to important all of my RSS feeds to Google Reader, not that I'd been doing much blog reading lately. The import led to seeing a list of unread posts, and so feeling like I had all the time in the world, I clicked in and started reading.

I read post after post at Zen Habits about simplifying one's life, and one about unscheduling one's life. WOW! This message could not have been more apropos. My life is totally over-scheduled.

Then I clicked into "The Race" and read a post about my daughter-in-law losing a friend to sudden death that was incredibly poignant and tapped into a recurrent worry I've been having about not making the best use of my time.

As I moved back to much earlier posts at "The Race," I found one written way back in January called "Memories." It's a slide show that I'd seen before but relished visiting again. At first, I was smiling but ultimately the show had me weeping with love.

Can I just say that having a free moment this morning, totally unscheduled so that I could just wander at will, led me down a very clear path to the truth about doing less and getting more.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fig Jam

Last weekend, five-year-old Nell labeled 3 dozen jars of newly made fig jam. While that's the remarkable fact, here's the delicious fact.

I was the recipient of one of those jars, and I've been indulging every since: fig jam on biscuits; fig jam on peanut butter sandwiches; fig jam on pancakes. And I confess to a simply eating a few spoonfuls of fig jam right out of the jar.

Fig jam is my favorite and has been since back in 1974 in South Carolina when Mrs. Suggs, Grandma Harrelson's neighbor, supplied our family with a year's supply of fig jam. I think I was the only one to get addicted. The problem is fig jam is not something you can buy in the store, at least not a variety that calls to my taste buds. So I am happy indeed that there is now a fig tree and jam maker in the family. The supply of fig jam will no doubt be endless.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Jenny's Triathlon-Inspiring

Inspiring is the only word that works to describe Jenny's triathlon. She smiled her way through the entire event and took 3rd in her age group. That smile was possible because she knew she was fit! She'd trained all summer and had the muscles to prove it. Watching Jenny had Raleigh, Cody, Kyle, and even me dreaming about doing it next year. It was really AWESOME! Here are some pictures including one with friends Tamra and Diana who also participated.