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A Good Day

“The man who is well wears a crown that only the sick can see.” — Sir William Osler.

“Today is a good day to have a good day.” — Joanna Gaines.

Two of my favorite sayings just came true for me, when I had to stay overnight in the hospital after what I had hoped would be an outpatient surgical procedure.  The first was said by Osler, a legendary physician from more than a century ago, widely considered to be the Father of Internal Medicine.  Actually, I don’t know who coined the second phrase, but I heard it from Joanna Gaines on the HGTV show, “Fixer Upper.”

What Osler meant was that, you don’t know how good you have it until you don’t feel well.  The most basic things that you took for granted even a few hours earlier seem like privileges, and you think, “Oh, man, I was so fortunate, and I didn’t even know it.”  Then, if some or all of those essential things are restored to you, you realize that you have the makings of a good day.  A great day, even.

For example:  If you are lying in a bed and you don’t have these gripper things Velcro’d to your legs from ankle to knee, rhythmically squeezing first the left leg and then the right so you don’t get a blood clot, that’s a pretty good day right there.  If you want to get up from bed, or even turn over, and you can move your legs and your abdominal muscles are working even though you just had surgery, way to go!  If you want to get up, and you don’t have an IV connected to your left arm and a blood pressure thing connected to your right arm, along with the Velcro leg things mentioned above, congrats!  You’re free!  You are untethered, friend!

If you get up, despite having the IV pole, and manage to walk a lap or two around the nurses’ station on your hospital floor, fist bump!  If you manage to make it to the room toilet and something — even a few drops — comes out, you are on your way to having a good day.  In my case, the anesthesiologist told my husband I was “a lightweight” — meaning, the least bit of anesthesia just knocks me out, makes itself comfortable in my body, and doesn’t want to leave.  So when I managed to eat a Popsicle and drink a styrofoam cup of iced Shasta ginger ale — and thought those were the best things I had ever had in my life — they just sat there in my stomach, not getting absorbed.  Then they came back up.  Several times.  At last, when I finally achieved urine, it was a victory.  Things were moving along!  And then, my friends, if you have not had any food for 24 hours and you have had abdominal surgery and, when you go to the bathroom, you manage to achieve a small toot, let me tell you:  Tchaikovsky himself could not have written the cannon fire in the 1812 Overture to be any more triumphant.  The system is working!  Doctors and nurses really get excited when the old digestive tract fires back up.

But this is not about what happened to me so much as what it made me realize.  Just about everything is a gift of some kind.  We don’t always see it, but it is.  Tired at work?  Hey, at least (I hope) you got to get up, dress yourself,  eat whatever you wanted to, have a big cup of something with caffeine (which also means you don’t now have a righteous caffeine-withdrawal headache), and you either drove or walked or rode a bike or some form of public transportation to get there.   If you also had to get your kids and/or spouse up, maybe chuck some laundry in the washer, maybe put something in the Crock Pot for supper, you could look at it as a burden.  But I hope you will look at it as a privilege, because nobody had to do those things for you because you weren’t able to do it yourself.

The very best part about all this, and my recovery, is, as always, my family and friends.  My kids — Blair, Andy, and Josh, plus Kevin, Andy’s best friend, who’s visiting us this summer — have been wonderful, doing anything I needed them to do, and not letting me do much at all.  I am not good at not pushing myself, but they have done (literally) the heavy lifting when I really needed it.  Blair, my daughter, has been especially incredible, driving Josh to school, cooking meals, going to the grocery store, etc.  My friend, Marion, sent me a card that said she was wearing pajamas in solidarity with me (I love that!).   Cassie, Gena, and Leigh listened to me worrying about everything that could go wrong (and nothing did, as far as I can tell!).  I didn’t really announce it at church or among my friends, but the people who knew, like Bev, sent cards and called and checked in, and I was in their prayers.  My buddies in the praise band and choir were there for me.  Catherine fixed us meals that were feasts — twice.  My dad, my brother, Bradley, and sister-in-law, Carole, and mother-in-law, Sally, keep checking in.

And, as always, Mark was there, holding my hand before surgery, just sitting by the gurney in pre-op and being with me when the case before mine was delayed and I started to fidget.  When I didn’t bounce back right away, he was with me in the hospital room, and when it became clear that I wasn’t going to get to go home, he just slept there, wearing his same clothes, with no toothbrush or pillow.  He slept on a pullout sofa in the room, helped me get up to go to the bathroom in the night, cheered with me when I managed to achieve urine, then got up at 6 a.m., went home, took a shower, and went to work, where he spent the next nine hours taking care of his own patients.

If you have people in your life who give a crap about you, who love you, who take care of you when you’re sick, who do stuff for you when you need it, then be happy.  You have won the game, buddy.  If you’re fairly healthy on top of that, then you’ve got a lot of reasons to celebrate.  You’re wearing a crown that only someone who isn’t feeling as well as you can see.  You’ve also, I hope, got a lot more to be thankful for than you know.  Many reasons why today is a good day to have a good day.

P.S.  If I ever complain or feel sorry for myself, you have my permission to give me a swift kick — but gently, please — I’ve still got stitches.

Gas Mileage and Old Hymns

I can’t stop thinking about Baltimore.  I reject the idea of thinking about black people versus white people.  That wasn’t my experience when I lived there, and I don’t believe it’s truly that way now, despite the protests, despite all the words of hate.  I remember once driving down to Hopkins Hospital, getting off the Jones Falls Expressway on Fayette Street.  I was stopped at the light, waiting to turn left, when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  Pulled up next to me in the next lane was a big  Ford Expedition.  The driver had his window down, and was waving at me to lower my window, so I did.

“What kind of mileage do you get on that thing?”  he said, indicating my Toyota Sienna minivan.

“About 22, maybe 23 miles per gallon,” I said.

“Damn!  I’m getting 8, maybe 9 miles on this thing.  It’s a gas guzzler!”

He asked me if I liked my Sienna, and I said I did, and that it could seat seven, that I’d hauled members of my daughter’s soccer team around in it to many games.  Then the light changed, and we went our separate ways.  The fact that I was white and he was black did not ever come up.  I remember the conversation to this day as yet another quirky Baltimore encounter, actually a fairly  typical Baltimore moment for me.

Another memory that comes to mind is a conversation I had prompted by a sales clerk, who was humming.  I knew the tune: “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”  I am about as dyed-in-the-wool Methodist as you can get.  I grew up singing in church, and I sing in three groups now at the Prescott United Methodist Church (two choirs and a gospel band).  Something just prompted me to ask her if she sang in the choir.  She did.  Soprano.  I sing alto, and I told her I sometimes don’t even know the actual melody, because I’m so used to singing the harmony.  She had been on a mission trip, and was thinking about becoming a minister.  We talked about that for a while, about faith, and service, and just loving the music. Again, we were black and white, but who cared — we shared the same God.  These encounters aren’t even that unique; there were many like this in my decade and a half in Baltimore.   There was so much more good than bad.

I’m not naive, and I hope I’m not stupid.  I know we have problems in our country.  I know there are terrible divisions, and tensions, and there are hurt and pain and bad memories all around.  I get that.  But I also know that as different as we are, there are points of common-ness, points where we share experiences, things we can just talk about, one person to another — as parents or drivers of large vehicles or people who love to sing old hymns.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m going to try extra hard to look past the things that are different and find the things that are the same.  How do wounds heal?  One cell at a time.  I may not heal any wounds, but by God, I’m not going to open up any new ones, either.

The Baltimore We Love

I love Baltimore.  Two of our three kids were born there.  We lived there, moved away, moved back, and have since moved across the country, but we put a total of 15 years of our lives into that city and it’s in our blood.  Mark and I moved there in 1987, our worldly goods in a U-Haul truck.  We moved into the Northway Building, in Charles Village, and thought it was the most sophisticated place we had ever seen, even in its faded Art Deco glory, with its brass mail chutes and 14-foot ceilings, elegant lobby and parquet floors.  We loved living on Charles Street, with its “glass-phalt,” one of legendary mayor William Donald Schaefer’s ideas, where glass was mixed in with the pavement so that it sparkled.  Those were the days of the dollar houses — grand old row homes in downtown Baltimore, being sold for a dollar to people who were willing to put in the sweat and money to fix them up.  Once, we walked all the way down Charles Street to the Inner Harbor.  We walked past the edge of Guilford, with its grand homes and tree-lined, twisting streets, past University. Turn left and we would have walked, as we often did, to Memorial Stadium, “The Old Grey Lady of 33rd Street,” or “The World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum,”  where the Orioles used to play, in a neighborhood with Chinese restaurants and used bookstores, and where the Baltimore Colts once played, before they left town in the middle of the night. Past the monument to the Confederate Women (Baltimore is south of the Mason-Dixon line, and used to be considered more of a Southern city than it is now), past Johns Hopkins University.  Past North Avenue, where the neighborhood was a little sketchy but there were also some great old book stores.  Past beautiful Penn Station with the mechanically moving, non-digital train arrival and departure board that I never got tired of watching.

Past Mt. Vernon, with its Washington Monument — the original one, before that copycat one in D.C. — and its exquisitely beautiful Methodist Church and the Peabody Preparatory and Conservatory, with one of the most beautiful libraries ever. Fun fact: As a Johns Hopkins employee, I got a tuition discount and was able to take jazz piano lessons with the great Charles Covington, the foremost expert on Eubie Blake’s stride piano style (Eubie Blake, another source of Baltimore pride), a world-class musician and just a decent, humble, kind gentleman.   Past the Walters Art Gallery, which later made its admission free to the public just because it could.  It has many beautiful works of art, but I remember most its suits of armor and some kind of Mediaeval skeleton boxes with a message like, “What you are, I once was, and what I am, you will be.”  Reminders of mortality.

Past great restaurants that seemed so exotic to us — The Brass Elephant, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Louie’s Bookstore Cafe´ and the Charles Theatre,  across the street, the legendary bar Club Charles, past the Helmand, where I ate my first Afghan food, past Akbar Restaurant, where I ate my first Indian food, past Tony Cheng’s, the most elegant Chinese Restaurant (although our hearts really belonged to Uncle Lee’s, near Memorial Stadium).  Past the Lyric Opera House on Mount Royal (go the other way and you could wind your way to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where Baltimore’s world-class Symphony Orchestra plays).  Eventually we made it to the Inner Harbor.  This was before Camden Yards, before the Light Rail Line, before the Ravens existed as a Baltimore football team, and still, the Inner Harbor was the crème de la crème.  Shops, restaurants like Taverna Athena, past the Lady Maryland schooner, the newly opened Renaissance Harborplace Hotel with fancy stores like Brooks Brothers.  The National Aquarium, one of our favorite places in the world, with its rescued, three-legged giant sea turtle and its beautiful rain forest.  The Science Museum.

Turn left at the Harbor, and you get to Little Italy, home of several favorite places.  Sabatino’s, of course, the amazing restaurant owned by a family who later became good friends of ours, open til the wee hours.  Once, Mark and I saw Tony Bennett singing with the Baltimore Pops, then we went to Sab’s for calamari and pasta with olive oil and garlic, and there was Tony, having his late supper, too.  Vaccaro’s, the Italian bakery, home of the best pignoli and Amaretti cookies ever.  Home of row houses with white stoops, lovingly polished every morning by ladies who had lived there all their lives.  Home of backyard bocce courts, with lawn chairs set up to watch nightly battles.  Of an artist named Tony, who sat on one of the Four Corners (intersection of four great restaurants of Little Italy) and sold pen-and-ink sketches of Little Italy and took care of his elderly mother.IMG_0376

If we kept going East, we would wind our way to Eastern Avenue and on into Highlandtown, home of Matthew’s deep-dish Pizza, home of Haussner’s, which is no more, but which had to be experienced to be believed.   It was German food, eaten amid a collection of fine art and many Rococo pieces.  Weird, and yet iconic.  So Baltimore.  And then Greektown, block after block of Greek coffee shops and restaurants.  And then, south of Eastern Ave., Fells Point, home of cobblestone streets, 400-year-old houses, tiny shops, and on South Baltimore, past the Christopher Columbus statue, past the hospital where Edgar Allan Poe died, Jimmy’s restaurant, where Mark and colleagues used to go and have a beer at 7:30 in the morning, after working all night in the ER at Johns Hopkins Hospital during his internship.

I haven’t mentioned the Baltimore Zoo, the numerous crab houses, duckpin bowling (with smaller, bocce-sized balls and tiny lanes), snowball stands (everywhere else but Baltimore, these are called snow cones), the food markets in the city where we could walk and get produce, flowers, sandwiches, kimchee, fresh fish, and fresh-butchered meat.  I didn’t talk about Roland Park, an elegant neighborhood once considered the suburbs, where most of the Queen Anne-style houses were made from kits purchased through the Sears Catalog and delivered by rail.  Or Eddie’s Supermarket, where you could sign for your groceries with your four-digit number, and where I once stood in line behind John Waters, legendary director of movies like Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and my favorite, Polyester (filmed in Odor-ama, with scratch-n-sniff cards) starring Divine and Tab Hunter.  I remember thinking, “Wow, his mustache really is pencil-thin.”

I haven’t told you how we saw Barry Levinson’s two great Baltimore movies, Diner and Tin Men, and drove around the Hampden neighborhood, block after block of row houses, looking for where they were filmed.  I haven’t talked about Mount Washington, a quirky neighborhood with a Tavern that made it into the Preppy Handbook.  The Domino Sugar sign, once the world’s largest neon sign.  Bethlehem Steel and Old Bay and Natty Boh, the hometown beer.  The Shot Tower, where they used to drop molten lead shot into vats of cooling water in the 1800s.  The Flag House on Pratt Street, where Mary Pickersgill and some other ladies sewed a giant flag that remained proudly flying during the siege of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.  Francis Scott Key was so moved by the sight of this flag that he wrote the song, to the tune of a difficult-to sing drinking song, that is now our national anthem.

I have barely scratched the surface.

Baltimore is engulfed in riots tonight.  We’re watching it on TV and following the posts of our many friends who are trying to process what is happening to the city we love.  Because although you can take the people out of Baltimore, you’ll never take the Baltimore out of the people who love it.  Tonight, we’re crying for an old and very dear friend.

Hang on, Baltimore.  There’s too much good in you to let the bad keep you down.

 

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Grumbling Good

We were already two minutes late for school, and Josh and I were two lights away from glory, or Prescott Mile High Middle School, whichever came first.  Right turn ahead: We had the green light!  Yeah, baby!  And then I put on the brakes because there was a woman in the crosswalk, crossing against the light.  Our green light!  She stopped in the middle of the street.  I stopped, too.  We made eye contact.   I made an impatient grimace and waved my hand for her to cross, about as ungraciously as I could.  I’ve been feeling guilty about it ever since.  I could have smiled and waved her across, and maybe made her whole day.  Instead, I probably messed it up.  I was George H.W. Bush in the 1992 presidential debate with Bill Clinton, impatiently checking his watch after an annoying question.   I was irritated, we were late, I took it out on her, and it felt bad even at the time.  Now it feels worse, because the whole way home, I was thinking: I have a hard little nugget of a heart.

Even when I do the right thing, it’s often not with a good heart, with joy and delight at the opportunity to help someone.  It’s with a grudging heart, like the Grinch pre-Christmas morning. There’s a lady who asks me for rides sometimes.  I always say yes, but I don’t like it.  The whole time, I’m sighing loudly in my head.  It’s not really even that inconvenient; it’s just the principle of the thing!  Let’s just stop and think about that one for a minute:  what principle?  My principal desire not to be bothered!  What the heck!  Prescott has panhandlers out the kazoo.  Just about every time I go to the grocery store, bank, or post office, there’s another one, holding a cardboard sign with the mandatory, “God bless you,” or “Anything helps.”  Yada, yada, yada.  I don’t like this.  And yet, every time I open the Bible, it’s as if God is just putting the message in my face, “Help the poor. Help the needy. Love other people.”  Aw, man!  Dang.  So, grumble, grumble, grumble, I give them a few dollars and one of the bottles of water I keep in my car.  When I do it, I am actually glad to have made the effort, but I sure didn’t want to, and I go through the exact same struggle the very next time I see one.  I’m Lionel Barrymore in It’s a Wonderful Life.  “Back in my day, we worked for a living!  We worked, I tell you!  And we walked to school, uphill both ways, in our bare feet!  On sharp rocks!  We didn’t have anything handed to us!”  Actually, I’ve had a lot handed to me, so I can’t even try to pull that one off.  I know how lucky I am, and I also know that I don’t know anything about the scruffy guy not making eye contact holding out the sign, and I don’t have the right to judge him.  But I still don’t like it.

I have given truckloads of stuff to Goodwill over the years.  But mainly I did it to get rid of my crap.  There, I’m confessing that, too.  So I have been thinking a lot, and having conversations with myself like this: “You did something that helped someone.” “Yes, but I didn’t want to do it.”  “But you did it.”  “But I didn’t like it.”  Does it count, on the big moral abacus in the sky, when you do something that’s good, but you don’t want to?  I thought of that story of  the boy who started throwing stranded starfish back into the ocean — or, like my Dad and I have done, saving stranded earthworms on the pavement by flinging them back into the grass after a rain — so they wouldn’t dry out.  A cranky old guy (cranky like me, except with testosterone) says something like, “Why bother, kid? You can’t make a difference.”  Then the kid says, “It makes a difference to this one,” and chucks it in the water.

I called my Dad and asked him what he thought.  He said, “If you do something through gritted teeth, you’ll come out stronger, because you worked through it.”  I also sought the wisdom of Claire Saunders, Associate Pastor at my church, Prescott United Methodist.  In the grand scheme, she says, “doing good, even begrudgingly, never negates the good done.  Offering someone a ride who needs it, even when the inside of your brain is beyond annoyed with it, still gets that person from Point A to Point B.  Giving someone a bottle of water might make a huge difference in someone’s life.  Who knows how far that ‘pay it forward’ type of action might travel?

“We are all a part of this big web of humanity.  We get the choice to be a positive influence or a negative influence on those we encounter on a daily basis.  That can be annoying as heck sometimes.  Which means that often, our ‘good’ is done with a grumble and an eye roll.  Doing good is good, but sometimes our own hardened hearts prevent us from feeling that same ‘good’ that we seek to offer others.”

So I guess the mission here is a two-parter.  One:  Try to do good when I can, especially when I just want to say “Bah, humbug!” and hide under a pillow, because the good deed does still count — even when the heart of the giver is a hard little nugget.    Two: Work on making my heart a little bit bigger and a little bit softer.

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I Just Want My Sudafed

It’s spring here in the mountains of Arizona, and everything is blooming. Big clouds of pollen are blowing off the trees, and apparently all that stuff is just going right up my nose. I’ve had a stuffy nose for days, and then a headache from the stuffiness. So today, in desperation, I rooted around my old purses and suitcases, looking for Sudafed — not unlike a bum searching for cigarette butts with a little bit of good left in them. It was sad. I found a lone, little red pill, and took it. (Fun fact: I also found that I have tucked away a lot of extra feminine hygiene products over the years, so if there’s ever an apocalypse, I can do a bustling business on the black market. I can barter!) As always, once I took that little red pill, my head started to open up and I feel so much better now. I don’t always need Sudafed, but nothing else works as well as it does. I don’t even take the whole dose — two pills. I just take one! I am so not a danger on any of the government lists I’m probably on for buying this semi-controlled substance.

I hate to buy it. I feel like a criminal, giving my ID and signing a little book. Stupid government. Stupid meth heads. I’m not going to make meth with it! I just want to achieve breathing in both nostrils! The lame Sudafed substitute — PE — doesn’t work nearly as well.  I tried to buy a 48-pack at Safeway, and the young pharmacy clerk looked at me like I was ready to dance with Satan.  “A 24-pack is the most you can buy,” he said reproachfully.  You moron.  I’ve bought the 48-pack at Wal-Mart before.  I know it exists.  This poor dude probably has not known a life where Sudafed could just be bought, like the beautiful nose-opener it is.  And yet, people can buy Benadryl, which makes you sleepy and you probably shouldn’t drive on it, by the truckload.  Buy it until the cows come home!  But Sudafed?  God forbid!

In tribute to Sudafed, I have written these haikus:

Precious Sudafed
You always open my head
So that I can breathe

Vasoconstrictor
Gift to nasal passages
Red pills, and red tape

I will not make meth
Can’t even do chemistry
Not that good at math

I just want to breathe
No longer to be stuffy
So here’s my I.D.

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

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Meadery Madness

Jeff and Jennifer Herbert chose Prescott because they love this small town in the Arizona mountains.  Jeff is a firefighter who works 56 hours a week in Phoenix, commuting 200 miles every three days. Jen, a talented teacher and endurance equestrian, among other pursuits, does a lot of work in Phoenix, too, but they live here, with their two young sons and two huge black Labs.  It’s a good place to call home.

Thanks to the Herberts, Prescott is on the map for another reason:  Mead.  The drink of Vikings, the nectar of ancient kings.  Jeff Herbert is an artisan mead maker.  Mead is his passion.  It doesn’t take much to get him started talking about it, because he loves it — the art of it, the history.  He loves the idea that you can take things like vanilla, berries, orange juice, mesquite, peach, coriander, Spanish saffron, galena hops, blue agave nectar, and add them to wild-yeast fermented, native Arizona honey and age them in oak barrels and test them and experiment and let nature work its magic, and add a lot of love and tending, and craft a beverage so special that the act of drinking it is an experience in itself.  Tireless and dedicated, Jeff started making hisphoto 13 Superstition Mead, named after Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.  They took their small batches of mead to dozens of tastings and wine festivals and started winning awards.  Seven of the top 50 meads in the world, as ranked on ratebeer.com, are theirs.  Jeff is the editor of the journal, American Mead Maker.  Superstition Mead was even featured on an episode of Two and a Half Men last month.

For years, they wanted to open a brewery and tasting room of their own.  They found the perfect place, right in the heart of Prescott’s lovely downtown.  It was a ruin of a building, 110 years old, in bad shape, but the Herberts had vision, and faith in the owner.  The owner took a lot longer than expected to fix up the place, but the Herberts hung in there, missing some opportunities to host special events and parties because the building wasn’t ready yet.  In the meantime, they poured their vision into creating the perfect wine cellar.   Jen found an old barn and took that gorgeous wood and sanded it for days, and it became paneling on the wall.  They refurbished tables and chairs they got from an old church and made them elegant again.  They believed, and they waited, and from the day the Meadery opened, it has been packed.  On busy weekends, when the tourists come up from Phoenix and over from California, the Meadery is hopping.  It’s the place to be.  Martha Stewart would call it one of life’s “good things.”

You would think that the Meadery’s landlord would be grateful to the Herberts for making his building a Prescott destination.   I would think that.  I would not expect, instead, that the landlord would do something that not only seems like a slap in the face, but like something that could really hurt their business.  It’s not just biting the hand that has fed you; it’s taking a dump on it, if you’ll pardon the expression.  The Meadery is in the basement of 120 W. Gurley Street.  To get to it, you have to go through an open market that sells things like gourmet sauces.   The owner has applied to get a liquor license so that he can turn the main floor and upstairs into a bar.  So to get to the Meadery, you would have to walk through another bar.  You couldn’t buy any bottles of mead — as you can now — to take home, because according to state law, you’re not allowed to “carry alcohol into another licensed premise.”  The Herberts are very worried, and rightfully so, that this will put them and their nine employees out of business.  I’m no lawyer, so it wouldn’t do me any good to bandy about phrases like “restriction of trade,” but this seems pretty crummy to me.

I’m writing about it because this is a small town, where people look out for each other.  Superstition Meadery deserves better than this, and so do the Herberts.

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

 

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Live and Let Live, It’s Prescott

photo 12 croppedIn our small Arizona mountain town of Prescott — pronounced “Preskitt,” rhymes with biscuit — there are two Fred’s grocery stores.  In our family shorthand, they are “North Fred’s” and “Rehab Fred’s,” because the latter happens to be near a lot of drug and alcohol rehab places, which we seem to have a lot of in Prescott.  The clientele at the North Fred’s is more suburban; the Rehab Fred’s is more quirky.  That’s okay.  Prescott is quirky.

At the nearby Wal-Mart, for instance, it is routine to see cowboys wearing their sidearms strapped to their belts.  I have given up being fazed by people sporting pajamas, or wild, enormous tattoos, or anything that might have turned my delicate head back east.  Live and let live, it’s Prescott.  I just push my cart.  Once, though, at Wal-Mart, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something dark and small behind me.  Very small, too short to be a person.  That’s because it was a duck.  A black duck, just standing in line.  He seemed to be hanging with two human companions, by their cart.  I sneaked a picture with my phone.  Later, I mentioned it to someone who works at Wal-Mart.  “Yeah, they come here a lot.”  What I love about my town is that nobody batted an eye.  A duck in the express checkout lane … that’s just Prescott.

Today I went to the Rehab Fred’s, trying to hurry, as always, so I could come back home and get to work.  There he was, my least favorite cashier, Mr. Grumpy.  I have written about him before.  He has a thing about scanning the Fred’s VIP card before he will scan a single grocery item.  He won’t move without that card.  I don’t like this, because if I’m behind the cart, trying to put its entire contents on the conveyor belt as quickly as possible, I don’t like having to push the cart aside, take those two extra steps — it’s the principle of the thing — and give the guy my card.  He is the sole exception in all my Fred’s shopping experiences; every other cashier will just start scanning.  The cash register doesn’t care; you still get the VIP discount.  Not Mr. Grumpy.  In the past, he has actually folded his hands and waited until I gave him the card before he would scan a single item.  Not even a bunch of grapes, or a single bottle of ketchup.  He would not scan them with a mouse, he would not scan them in a house.  He would not scan them at all, the louse.   Today, I wasn’t having it.

“Do you have your Fred’s VIP card?”  Yes, I said, “but can I give it to you in a minute?”  He sighed.  “I guess so.”  The bagger guy stepped forward and asked if he could help me unload my cart.  “Yeah, she needs it,” the cashier said.  Grr.  Still, I count it as a victory.  On the way out, in succession, I saw three things.  One was a lone piece of broccoli in the parking lot.  I took a picture of it.  As Samwise Gamgee said in Fellowship of the Ring, “I don’t know why, It makes me sad.”  Two, a bumper sticker:  “Honk if you really need to poop.”  Why would anyone have this on his or her car? To feel solidarity — no pun intended — with anyone who honks?  Seriously, I am baffled.  Then, another bumper sticker:  “Constipated people don’t give a poop.”  Except it didn’t say poop.  Again, why this needed to be said is a mystery to me.  I don’t have a bumper sticker, but if I had to choose one, it would probably have a happy dog on it or something.

But live and let live.  It’s Prescott, where life is generally pretty good.

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington. P.S. I changed the name of the grocery store.