Posts filed under ‘Lud Eng’

All Things Olive Festival

A couple of years ago, my friend Meredith took me to a wine tasting at Villa Appalachia off the Blue Ridge Parkway. We enjoyed our wine sampling and then moved upstairs for lunch. While we waited for our food, we snacked on bread and some nearby olive oil. It was the BEST olive oil I’ve ever had in my life. It was easily the highlight of my day– Better than all the wines combined! It turns the olive oil was freshly pressed, using olives from the owners’ property in Italy.

So earlier this year when I saw an advertisement for the “All Things Olive Festival” at the same winery, featuring olives and olive oils from various regions, I was committed from the start. In fact, I made sure to work both Trail Days and All Things Olive into one weekend.

So the Sunday after Trail Days, Sean, Lud and I headed down the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. We enjoyed a series of tastings – olive oils, olives, balsamic vinegars (including one that was 25 years old) and wines. We got to enjoy the beautiful scenery and finally, we had a nice lunch provided by the folks at Zeppoli’s. I thought it was a good day and well worth the $15 dollar fee.


Beautiful Villa Appalachia in Floyd County


Olive oils waiting for me to taste


Sean tastes an olive


Lud gets a sample of balsamic vinegar


Wine tasting!!!


The aftermath – oil stained sheet and plate full of pits.


Clematis at the winery


Beautiful Rock Castle Gorge from the Blue Ridge Parkway

I thoroughly enjoyed this event and would highly recommend it to almost everyone. You probably should like olives before signing up to go. For example, based on one of his Flickr comments, I venture to say that Clint is not the optimal attendee:

I actually think they are just about the worst taste in existence (especially the green ones) — out of edible food. Obviously I’m not including feces, rotten milk, and non-edible/non-food. But I have drank egg nog so rotten that it had chewy chunks in it (And then proceeded to finish Carolyn’s) – infinitely more edible than olives. The thought of martinis with olives sickens me.

And the only way to make an olive taste even worse? Put a pimento in it! They managed to one-up themselves!

If, on the other hand, you do not think chewy, chunky, rotten egg nog tastes “infinitely” better than olives… you might want to give the festival a try in the coming years. :)

More pictures of the All Things Olive Festival are available on my Flickr site.

May 27, 2008 at 7:15 pm 9 comments

Lessons from Birthday #1

Back from our full weekend.  Saturday was Ali’s first birthday party.  We had a really good time, but the experience proved to be educational as well.  Time is scarce, so here a few of the lessons from the party.

Some Instincts Humans Are Born Without…
For example- the love of birthday cake.  My love of sweets is so ingrained, I just assumed it was innate.  Little Ali proved otherwise.  She didn’t realize what a wonderful treat cake was at first.


Ali scared of the mysterious object

Eventually Ali got the hang of it.


Eating with her mother

Before we know it, Ali will a full-blown sweet master like little Gwyn


Gwyn has long mastered the art of endulging on sweets

…But We Do Have Some Animal-Like Tendencies Afterall
When a pinata broke, the kids swarmed and looked very much like a pack of hyenas.


Children descend on the bounty

Bubbles Enchant Kids…
A bubble generating machine entertained the kids for hours.


Marissa closes in on a bubble

Gwyn enchanted by all the bubbles


Penn teaches an apprentice how to punch bubbles

…Adults Not So Much
Lud and Sean were able to carry on a seemingly somber conversation, despite being surrounded by bubbles.


Sean and Lud do not even acknowledge the magical bubbles around them.

Even Grandpas Love Turtles…
Ali’s paternal grandfather braved a sporadic stream of defensive pee for a picture of a turtle next to his turtle tattoo.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgaw/528688031/in/set-72157600305933020/
Chuck Vandervort’s turtle tattoo… and an actual turtle

…And Even Grownups Like Toys
Many of the adults could not resist playing with some of the toys set out for the kids.


Andy masters multi-tasking by bouncing a ball on a racquet and holding his beer

Being a Supervisor is Tough Work…
While Brian and Jodi struggled to move the swing for pinata play, Lud kept a watchful managerial eye.


Lud looks skeptical of Jodi and Brian’s strategy

…But Elmo Takes the Cake (Somewhat Literally)
A stuffed Elmo appeared to have the toughest job of the day.  Here he poses at the end of the event, littered with icing.


This Elmo has seen better days.

Everyone else, including Brian and Jodi, made it through the day without looking nearly as frazzled as Elmo.  It proved to be a wonderful party and quite a treat to attend. 

All my pictures from Ali’s First Birthday Party are available on my Flickr site.

June 3, 2007 at 10:41 pm 2 comments

Kelly’s Knob – View of VT From the AT

Tomorrow I fly to Kansas, but today I hiked my mountains.  Lud, Jimmie and Henry and I headed to Kelly’s Knob.  Kelly’s Knob is just 120 yards off the Appalachian Trail on John’s Creek Mountain.  It isn’t the best view on the RATC-maintained trail, but it has a special distinction — you can see the the Virginia Tech campus (and my neighborhood) from the knob.   After the tragedy this week, it seemed the most fitting destination on the entire Appalachian Trail.


Lane Stadium and Cassell Colliseum from Kelly’s Knob

Lud and I took this opportunity to hang a VT flag at the knob.  We chose to wrap it around a tree trunk to help it better survive any wind.  The tree we selected is a blazed tree right next to the connector trail back to the AT.  In a way, it is a blaze back to Blacksburg, a blaze back home.


Blaze back home

We did have one mishap.  Henry was unsupervised long enough to roll in poo.  We don’t know what kind of poo (perhaps I should have paid more attention to the scat display at the Vail Nature Center), but Lud told Sean, “It’s definitely not domestic and if it is, I don’t want to know what it’s from!”

When we arrived at the knob, Henry’s smelly presence was not embraced by the other hikers.  A few of them actually fled!  As a result, Henry was banned from the rock outcropping.  I tied him up to a tree far away from any people.  Here is a quick shot of outcast Henry.   He was so shunned, even the camera felt it unfit to focus on him (you should be thankful– now you can’t see all detailed stains on his coat).


Can you find the outcast?

On a side note, we encountered two thru-hikers who have already made it this far into Virginia!  Their trailblog is at http://twodaves.blogspot.com

We had a beautiful weather and beautiful views.  It was a great hike and I found it to be therapeutic.  Mountains are my favorite Mass. 

More pictures from our Kelly’s Knob hike are available on my Flickr site.

April 22, 2007 at 12:25 am 8 comments

Journal Excerpt: 2006 Snowshoe Ski Trip

In January 2006, I joined my sister and a number of friends for a five day ski trip at Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia.  By request, here are my journal entries from that trip.  I think they will be of little interest to the people who did not attend.

Lodging Woes 

1-22-2006
306 C The Summit
Showshoe Mountain

Greetings from Snowshoe!  Our trip is going well– which is very impressive considering all the obstacles with lodging and [the abscence of viable] cell phone signals.

Our arrivals were stratefied– as everyone had their own plans and differing departure points.  Carolyn came up with a valeuable idea — have us all meet at Foxfire Grille at 3:30 PM.

We weren’t all prompt– but we did all convene at the restaurant eventually (except Christian and Shannon).

I made it there nearly 30 minutes late.  I was certain I would have missed the rendez-vous.  We didn’t know what our address was beforehand– Carolyn only found out at check in.  So it was pretty important to meet up with everyone — so I’d know the lodging details.

As luck would have it, everyone was still at the Foxfire.  And– I wasn’t even the last to arrive!  Greg and Nicole arrived some time after me.

So the seven of us (Tony, Lud, Carolyn, Stacy, myself, Greg and Nicole) all ate an early supper.

Carolyn had already been to the check-in counter and knew we were staying at Unit 15 in Treetop.  But we couldn’t get the keys until after five.  So after supper we (Carolyn, Vicky, Stacy, Greg and Nicole) moseyed over to Top of the World to get the keys.

Well– that was easier said than done.  After a lengthy delay they said the keys were at the bottom of the mountain and on the way up.  

Meanwhile while we were on that mission, Tony and Lud were securing rentals.  The plan was to meet at 15 Treetop.

Back at Top of the World– the employee helping us mentioned a couple (supposedly Shannon and Christian) was looking for us and would be waiting at Foxfire Grille.

So Carolyn, Greg and Nicole decided to wait for the keys (which would supposedly be another 10-20 minutes) and Stacy and I went on an expedition back to Foxfire Grille to look for Shannon and Christian.

Stacy and I waited sometime at Foxfire, just in case Shannon and Christian were taking the slow shuttle.  We finally aborted and went to the Treetop lodging– thinking everyone would have keys and be good to go.

The parking lot was vastly empty.  Stacy and I parked and Tony and Lud came out of Lud’s jeep.  Turns out the keys had not been secured yet!  Tony and Lud had been waiting the entire time.  Stacy and I were the first to show up!  Needlesstosay, Tony and Lud were disappointed Stacy and I were not bearing the key.

Night Skiing 

Lud was anxious to go night skiing– Tony wanted to lay low as his knee was sore and Stacy leaned against night skiing as well.

So– I added some layers and prepared to join Lud on the slopes.  There was only one problem– I didn’t have  my lift ticket yet– it was with Carolyn!  But– Stacy had a lift ticket!

“Stacy– switch coats with me!” I demanded.  He had his lift ticket already attached.

Stacy complied and then a few minutes later I made a poor decision.  I took my shoes off and stood on the parking lot…when it had been raining all day.  I quickly realized my mistake and leapt into the dry safety of the car… only now my shoes were out of reach and I had no dry means to retrieve them.

“Stacy!” I called, “Hand me those shoes!”

Stacy chucked and said, “I always wondered what it’d be like to be Brian.”  :)

Lud and I headed out and had a good but brief night skiing adventure.

1 + 1 + 1 + 1  Does Not Equal 3

The highlight of the whole evening occurred while Lud and I were waiting in a ski lift line (an unlikely spot for a night’s highlight).  The chair lift was a triple chair lift.  In other words– it holds three people.

Well– FOUR fully grown men (who should have known better) all tried to get on at once.

It was not a successful venture– they were too wide for the chair.  It was a big commotion when the chair reached them.  One guy got reamed in the behind.  Skis fell off and lots of noise was to be heard.  It was hilarious.

More Lodging Woes

Lud and I had some adventures after skiing.  When we returned to the condo– still no familiar cars were in the parking lot.  I walked up and determined the door was locked.  I knocked but I knew there was little hope– the lights were out.

So Lud and I decided to try to track them down.  We checked all sorts of bars in the Village and the Shaver Center.

No luck– bar after bar was filled to the rim– but all with strange faces.

Finally we returned to the townhouse.  Still no cars– so I relieved Lud and told him I could hang out in my car.  He left and I made one more stab at the door.  As I walked up, I was cursing my travel companions.

“A damn note would have been helpful!” I thought.

Lo and Behold- I get up there and there was a note!  In fact– the note had been there all along– I somehow missed it the first go around.

It turned out Carolyn, Greg and Nicole waited for over an hour for those mysterious keys that were at the bottom of the mountain!  And still no keys.  So we got upgraded to a bigger townhouse at the Summit.

All in all– it was a good deal for us– no one had to sleep on the floor (Tony Airaghi opted to sleep outside on the balcony but he had a bed if he wanted it).

Still– it sure brought forth a lot of confusion and that confusion seeped into today as well.

When Lud dropped me off– he and I made plans.

“I’ll just come up here and meet you,” he said, “when I wake up.”

He had no idea we had moved.  So– I left the original note at the townhouse.

This morning time ticked by and still no Lud.  So we left two more notes.  One at the new place, one at the old.  In it– we proposed three time and places to meet up.

I used some price tags from canned goods to stick the notes to the respective doors.  Carolyn have an inventive way to post her note as well.  She ripped out a hole and attached it to the handle of the door.

Anyway– our notes were not appreciated by the intended audience.  Lud never found any of the notes!

“I’m amazed at the total ineffectiveness of notes,” Stacy commented later.

Well– just like St. Matthew writes God will take care of the little birds and like Mao writes Heaven will not delay a traveller, Lud was taken care of.

Early in the afternoon, Carolyn, Shannon and I ran into Lud!! Our group was reunited and Tony knew where his ride was!

Commercial Contradictions

Tonight we are all pooped– so we’ve laid low.  I noticed one pattern– we seem to be laughing a lot at pharmaceutical commericials.

“There are ones,” Christian said, “Where the side effects contradict each other.  It’ll say may cause insomnia and it’ll say right after that– drowsiness!”

I told them about Sean’s antibiotics for his surgery.  One said as a side effect your urine may turn dark– but it was normal behavior.

The other one said, “Call your doctor *immediately* if you experience darkening of urine!”

Luckily Sean was not put in the predictament to determine which medicine was causing dark urine– the harmless one or the troublesome one!

Best Conditions 

1-29-2006

Skiing went well.  I skied a little bit each day I was there.  The funnest day was Monday and it seemed like it would be the most miserable day.  It was rainy & foggy.  We were determined to get out on the slopes, however.  It turned out to have the best conditions of all the days!  The rain kept the top level of snow soft so it was easy to steer and stop.  And– more importantly, the rain detered the other skiers from coming out so the slopes were pretty abandoned.  No lines, no dodging fallen snowboarders and no ice.  It made for a very peaceful day on the mountain.

We also went night skiing that night– I had to meet the others as I had some contract work to do at Starbuck’s.  After my work– I drove to the Silver Creek area and walked out to the slopes.  As I skiied down to the lift from the lodge, I was literally the only person on the trail.  With the darkness all around me (except for the lit snow on the trail) and the silence (except for the whish of my skis in the snow), it was an invigorating, uplifting run.

It didn’t take long to reunite with my friends– on my second run– I eyed the passengers on the ski lift and soon enough, I spied familiar outfits!

Time Flies

Time really flew fast on our trip.  On Saturday and Sunday I was full of plans.

“Maybe I’ll take a snowboarding lesson,” I thought.

or

“Hey I think I’ll do cross country skiing one day.”

Over the weekend, it seemed I had all the time in the world.  But before I knew it, it was our last day and I had not fit in a snowboard lesson nor tried out cross country skiing.  Perhaps another trip.

I still have vivid recollections of riding a ski lift at Greek Peak on a Tuesday and thinking I had a lot of days left on the mountain.  My childhood experience was very similiar to the one this past week– before you know it– it is time to return home and resume your daily duties.

Worst Conditions 

Tuesday’s conditions were fairly rough– a lot of ice.  Then Wednesday I found the most miserable (still fun though).  Overnight we got a great deal of natural snow– plus they ran the snow machines overnight and throughout the day.  To top it off, it was dreadfully windy– it seemed no matter which way I faced, snow was pelting my face.

I took a lot of pride throughout the week of carrying my skis.  I was proud of the extra exercise I got by doing that.  Well Tuesday night my resolve weakened and I locked my skis up with Carolyn and Christian right by the slopes.  Tuesday night, of course, was the night the big storm rolled in.  So Carolyn, Christian and I learned a very important lesson:

Do Not Lock Your Skis Up Right Next to a Snow Making Machine

When we returned on Wednesday, we discovered that snow and ice were packed into the keyholes of the ski holders.  It took us *at least* a half an hour to drive our respective keys in the hole and turn them clockwise 90 degrees.  It was an amazing struggle.

Our victory was short lived, though.  Carolyn’s ski bindings were frozen shut!  Christian, Carolyn and I struggled in the wake of a running snow machine to get her skis on.  Not only were her bindings inflicted with ice– but her boots had about 3/4″ of ice caked on her heel.  We must have combatted that challenge another half an hour.  Finally, Carolyn and I went inside and manually worked the bindings to loosen them up.  At long last, her skis would click on her boots.

We went back out, Carolyn snapped her boots on.  Sweet success and THEN

MY SKIS WOULDN’T GO ON!  :)

I had similiar issues with caked on ice.  I was able to resolve it, but in order to do so, I had to bend over.  My 5 layers of shirts slid up and exposed my midriff skin.    I also had to take my gloves off to have the necessary dexterity to get everything on.

By the time we were all set to go– we were already cold and miserable.  I couldn’t feel my pinky finger!

Still our struggles weren’t over.  Due to the wind and the diligent snow making– there was a lot of very, very thick powder at the top, flat part of the mountain.  It was very difficult to get moving and with all the snow machines, our slow, struggled stride had repercussions.

Powder Power

Luckily after that first laboured run, everything picked up.  Snow machines weren’t running lower on the mountain and once we got on steeper runs it was great fun and the thick powder was an asset.

“It’s like skiing on clouds,” Christian said.

“Even if you fall,” he said, “You’re falling in a puff of powder!”

I originally found it very unnerving to be in snow so deep that I couldn’t see my skis, but after Christian’s recommendation– I gave it a try.  Sure enough– it is quite fun!

One thing that was impressive is how much difference slope conditions can affect a run and how quickly those conditions can change.

On Tuesday– runs that were okay in the morning were downright treacherous in the afternoon.

For example, in the morning, Carolyn and I rode a lift over “The Widowmaker.”  It didn’t look too bad and we considered going down it.

“We’ll be okay,” I told Carolyn, “It’s called ‘The Widowmaker’ not ‘The Widowermaker.’” She laughed.

In the end– we decided to play it safe and didn’t go on it.  In the afternoon, we rode up a lift over it again with Christian.  It was riddled with ice patches.

“This morning we could at least consider it,” Carolyn said, “Now you look at it and think, ‘No fucking way!’”

The next day it was brand new powder– it looked great!  So Christian and I went down it.

Meanwhile, Carolyn discovered another slope was greatly improved by the fresh snow.  That slope was called J-Hook.

The day before Carolyn and I skied down it.  It started out nice enough and then all of a sudden:

ICE BOULDERS!

They were huge round ice boulders all over the trail.  It wasn’t just a few here and there– they were prevalent.  It was one of the most unpleasant runs.

Fast forward a day.  I asked Carolyn how J-Hook was.

“Peaceful and powdery,” she said.

Sure enough, it was.

This was my very first ski trip without rented equipment.  Melanie had sold me her skis.  That saved me a lot of trouble and time– I will have to write her and let her know.

We ate really well.  Sunday we had vegetable chili.  Monday– Chicken caccitore.  Tuesday– pot pies.  Mmm!

March 3, 2007 at 1:01 am 16 comments

Journal Except: September 11th

With a number of the networks airing their original 9/11 coverage again tomorrow, I thought it would be a fitting year to share my 9/11 journals. 

Entry from Journal on 9/11/2001
Reactions and Church

9-11-2001

Today is September 11th, 2001.  It’s the eight year anniversary of [a negative event in my life].  It’s been so long now.  It feels like a dream.  It feels like it doesn’t matter anymore.

Especially today.

Tonight I walk my dogs and for the first time in my life I can look up and see the sky my grandparents would have seen growing up.

A sky completely absent of aircraft.

Instead I saw two shooting stars.

The first one I made a wish as custom (or hope) encourages.

I wished, “Please help those people and their families.”

The news didn’t seem all that big to me.  When I came into work, I found Jaye Snidow was in.  Two evenings ago, he had to rush his wife to the emergency room.

Chris Mullins and Jaye have adjacent desks.  Chris was perusing a news web site.

I asked, “Jaye, how’s your wife?”

He said, “She’s doing much better now.  She’s home and might be returning to work this afternoon.”

“What happened?!?” I asked in regards to Jaye’s wife.

“A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.”  Chris Mullins answered.

I didn’t know what to say to his unsolicited answer.

“Oh…” I said and then redirected my question to Jaye, “What was wrong with your wife?!?”

It just didn’t seem like a big deal.  I guess I figured it was like the plane hitting the 14th Street bridge.  The bridge is still there and heck people survived that crash.

Then Chris Martz, Larry and I went into the conference room to see Martz’s first training session.  Mid-way through we had a technical difficulty.  We took a break and when we emerged from the room practically the rest of the company sat and stood in disbelief in front of a TV set in the lunch room.

Everyone was in shock.  Andy B’s sunburned face would occassionally turn from the TV with wide eyes– almost looking to others’ reactions for approval.  Jaye Snidow stood in silence and periodically shook his head.  It was as if he wasn’t allowed to express sorrow or fear so he settled for disgust.  Marvin sometimes lowered his head and his fingers would graze over his closed eyelids underneath his glasses.  Amy just sat, silent and dumbfounded.  At one point, Shane Kennedy grabbed a nearby newspaper ad and started writing.  Chris Martz’s usually medium complexion turned pale.  He’s supposed to fly out Thursday.

Larry Bowman disappeared for sometime, he even missed lunch.  When he returned I asked, “Hey what happened to you?”

“I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to go hug my daughter,” he said.

Stacy sent an email saying he was okay after the plane hit the Pentagon.  That affected me a bit.  I didn’t even consider he would be harmed.  But now that the notion crossed my mind as a possibility (even though Stacy already declared his well being) I wanted Stacy down here.  I wanted to see him and I wanted him to get out of that target for good.  I’m glad he is okay.

I went to a church service today at St. Mary’s.

It’s funny.  I never considered myself as an especially patriotic person.  I mean, I love my country and all, but I don’t get all emotional seeing the flag, hearing our anthem, etc.

Today at church the opening hymn was America the Beautiful.  When they annonced that, I suddenly got choked up.

I never noticed before but the words to that song are excellent…and reasonable.

I’m mentally and physically and emotionally tired.  I think I will go to sleep.

Notes on a Piece of Paper I Wrote at Work on 9/11/2001
Resentment of Life Going On

9/11/2001

I am in a meeting, watching Chris Martz debut his … training.  My heart beats and my lungs breath.

Meanwhile on the streets of Manhattan, hundreds perhaps thousands, a “horrific” amount says the mayor of New York, of corpses lie buried and crushed under steel and rubble and suffocating grey dust.  Under what used to be the World Trade Center.

Here life goes on and we worry about trivial things like password prompts and the loss of love.  We have that luxury in our workplace.  The people of the Pentagon no longer have that.  Instead they have destruction and flames and evacuation to contend with.

But here, life goes on.

Entry from Journal on 9/12/2001
Envy of Dogs and Reading the Passenger List

9-12-2001

Tonight I sat on the floor of my bedroom and watched, dumbfounded still, the television reports.  Jimmie kept approaching me wanting attention and I kept denying his bid for affection.  But he was persistant.  Finally I lost my patience and I pushed him far away.  He laid down and looked sad.  I felt bad.  I started to pet him and scratch his chest as he rolled on his back and held up his legs.  I laid down next to him and kept petting him on the neck and ears.  He looked at me with beautiful brown eyes and I thought:

“How can you explain this to a dog?  How can I make him understand?”

Although I still think if they were on the streets of New York, both dogs would feel the same fear as their human counterparts, here, now in Blacksburg, they can’t comprehend the loss and the pain.  And for that, I envy them.

At 6 AM this morning, Stench woke me up.  This, unfortunately, is becoming a daily ritual.  As I stumbled up, I noted the television was silent.   I closed in on it — as I always do without vision aids and as I have been finding myself needing to do even with glasses and contacts.  The TV was scrolling the names and ages of the people who were on the planes.  The silence made it all the more eerie.  I found myself uttering, “Oh my gawd” outloud as I watched this list slowly migrate up the screen.  [My exclamation] woke Sean up.

Later at work, I read a list on CNN.COM.  One flight it looked like a family of three perished… including a 4 year old.  A lot of passengers were senior citizens.

How can you look into the eyes of a 4 year old or the precious folded skin of a 77 year old and continue with their demise?

I went to work today.  I arrived an hour late.  I just couldn’t wake up.  Reality deterred me.  I even turned off the alarm clock.

I expected the … parking lot to be sparsely populated, even at 10 o’clock– but it appeared I was one of the last to arrive.

On one hand, I think it’s good so many continued on with life.  Showing “them” that we are okay and we are going to presevere.  Much like what I tried to do eight years ago.  Show that we are survivors.

But today, I felt a bit detached.  This whole tragedy still doesn’t feel real.  I haven’t had time to let it sink in to penetrate me.  Every now and then I feel like I should cry, that it would feel better to do so.  But I never did.

Those planes crashing into the buildings, all the deaths.  It doesn’t feel real.  It feels like a dream.

Entry from Journal on 9/13/2001
Silent Lunch, Patriotism and a Free Cookie

Day 3 after the disaster.  It still doesn’t feel real.  I can close my eyes and see with crisp detail the many images of that second plane colliding into the tower.  But still… it feels fabricated.

Today was the 3rd day in a row we ate lunch in near silence.  Day 1 we ate in a mob around the small TV set up in [the] lunch room.  Yesterday, Larry Bowman, Chris Martz, Bill C and I joined Sean’s regular lunch crew (Sean, John Smith and Colin Wiseley) at Gobblertown.  Independently, Tony Airaghi and Lud and two female co-workers showed up there as well.  A number of tables were pushed together.  We had a very large lunch crowd.  So many people, but it was more quiet than a simple lunch of two.  We all gawked at the TV set even though the reports never fully satiated our need for information.

Why did this happen?  Who really did it?  How many people died?  What were they like?  What were their dreams that will now be unfulfilled?  What kind of person did they want to be?

For the 2nd day in a row, I didn’t want to wake up.  I managed to force myself and got to work only 15 minutes late…I mean later than usual.  Yesterday I was an hour late.

I think part of the problem is we sleep with the news on.  Even when we’re sleeping, we are exposed to the terror and loss.  I don’t consciously notice anything and I don’t recall any negative dreams, but it can’t be a restful sleep.  Like Grandma’s morphine dampened misery the first week in the hospital.

People are displaying American flags everywhere.  We have one outside our cubicle wall.

Never since childhood have I coveted a flag so much.  I want to purchase one promptly.

All over the news you see the best of human nature evolve from the rubble.  Strangers helping strangers, people hugging and crying, everyone wishing each other the best.  Those gestures of generosity are so touching.

Tonight I saw a simple act of kindess, hours from the tragedy, right in my own town.

Sean and I went to Sycamore Deli for supper.  The owner greeted us promptly.

“How are you?” he said.

“The best you can be under the circumstances,” Sean said and the guy agreed.

A TV perched high up played the news of course.

I’m fond of the Sycamore Deli man.  Although he is too young to be mine, he reminds me of an uncle.  With his beard and vibrant demeanor, he reminds me of the Uncle Mark’s and the Uncle Timmy’s of my youth.  This man is always friendly and upbeat to us.  I’m glad we give him our business and I trust his food.

Tonight he rang us up and he said, “I accidently grabbed 3 cookies.  You two can split the third.”  He glanced up at the TV and noted, “We can all use an extra cookie this week.”

It was such a simple gesture, but its impact on me was astounding.  It was so nice of him.  Another time I got choked up.

In fact, I was so flustered with gratitude, I said “Thank you” and started to leave.

“Wait, we need our food.” Sean reminded me.

“If you want to pay $16 for a soda and a cookie, that’s fine with me!”  the Sycamore Deli man laughed.

He’s a very good man.  His business seems frequently empty.  I hope it never goes under.  I would hate to miss out on what has become a weekly encounter with this man and his great food.  Not to mention his awesome chocolate chip (& cinnamon?) cookies.

These cookies are delicious, but I bet this man could have offered us an extra stick of gum and the action would still be as meaningful.

Last night I woke up at 4:30 AM and watched the news for a while before falling back to sleep.

This morning I woke up and the news was still on.  I stood close to the TV and squinted to see the dusty cityscape without my glasses.  The whole morning and scene was just like yesterday.

I felt like I was in the movie “Groundhog Day.”

Well time for bed.

Entry from Journal on 9/14/2001
Thunderstorm Warnings and Camping

9-14-2001

Another day and apparently no rescued survivors. 

It’s funny.  We now have an advanced weather monitoring system to warn the midwest of an approaching tornado.  We have flash flood warnings, hurricane warnings and tropical storm warnings.  Heck we even scroll messages during prime time and transmit messages on the Emergency Broadcast System for thunderstorm warnings.  Not actual thunderstorms, but the potential of one.

These are acts of nature, acts of God, acts beyond our control.  Yet we can give people advanced notice.

But we weren’t able to warn people about objects we built and man.

I’m going camping with Carolyn and Jay tomorrow night.  It’s a good weekend to get away from it all and absorb the week’s events.  It’s especially a good weekend to spend with family.  I look forward to the Sawyer siblings having another adventure… like skiing earlier this year.

Entry from Journal on 9/17/2001
Marquee Mottos and Memorial Service

9-17-2001

Tomorrow it will be a week from the attack.  It’s amazing.  I look around at America.  What I see is remarkably similiar to my life eight years ago.

Everywhere fast food marquees declare inspirational messages:

“We Will Overcome”

“Always Remember”

“Never Forget”

These are the same messages I told myself.  How frightened I was of forgetting … That notion seened like the worst thing that could ever happen.

Not it seems like nothing.  “So what?” I think.  I even venture to feel it isn’t part of my life anymore.

Another frequent marquee sign:

“God Bless America”

America has grown close to religion again as I did this time eight years ago.

America’s me.

There are some gas stations or restaurants that don’t have messages of significance.  Just annoncing the specials.  Then there is the Western Sizzler by work.  It went for a combination:

“God Bless America.

11 ounce sirloin $6.95″

On Friday Bowman and I went to the conference room to observe the moment of silence with our co-workers.  We ended up watching a service at the National Cathedral for 45 minutes.

I stood the entire time.  I really don’t see why but my legs started quivering.  I can run 2 miles, but I can’t stand for 45 minutes?

I kept thinking about sitting down, but then I remembered some wisdom from a choir director or CCD teacher.  She was responding to one of my peer’s complaints that kneeling was uncomfortable.

“Jesus died on the cross for you and you can’t even kneel for a few minutes?  Do you think hanging on a cross is comfortable?”

I think about that a lot when religion and discomfort are together.

September 10, 2006 at 8:23 pm 6 comments


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