Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Hero

In this image made from video Maria D'Antuono, is interviewed after being rescued from the upper floors of her quake damaged home in Tempera, Italy, Wednesday, April 8, 2009, by firefighters using a extended ladder. D'Antuono, who said that she had remained in bed amidst the rubble after the earthquake hit early on Monday, told journalists that she had spent the past few days knitting.

According to, a hero is a person of "distinguished courage or ability, admired for... brave deeds and noble qualities." (The definition also included hero sandwich, but that's a topic for another day.)

And so, a tip of the knitting needles to Maria for her brave and noble qualities...crafting in the face of adversity.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Close Friends and those at Arms Length

Modern technology helps keep our friends close, even when they are thousands of miles away. As the laptop brought our friends along for our Florida journey, so now texting keeps me updated on important moments in friends' lives. For instance, while Pat is states away in San Antonio, I still know she had a fried hotdog for lunch. The wonders of the 21st Century!

However, sometimes our lives become a little messy when they become entangled with people who want to be our friend, but we want to run screaming. Technology can not save us (although caller id helps). This recently happened to me as a couple wanted to take me out to dinner. While I'm flattered that they seek my company, one afternoon of dealing with them was plenty. The smell of desperation was heavy upon them.

After politely refusing one invitation by explaining I'd be going out of town, I was back no more than a few days when they called me (news travels fast in a small town). Realizing I must eventually return their call, I wondered just how I would be declining their invitation. And this time, I knew it had to be decisive and final. Hinting and politeness was not going to work.

Here are some of the lines considered: (with a little input from my fellow blogger - guess which are hers)

1) I'm reopening my business and can't commit to any more engagements
2) The medication I am taking for the Clap interferes with food digestion
3) I used up all my material on our first visit and have nothing more to say
4) I don't want to get sucked into your weird and twisted vortex
5) My energy level and monastic life doesn't permit much socializing
6) I'd like to make an appointment with Mr. Zolotas

The call was placed. The wife answered. She skillfully parried all the thrusts of reasoned arguments. But, I, and my anti-social stance, prevailed. For this round anyway.

Really, I can't say enough about email.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ode to a (non)Grecian (non)Urn

Imagine these two lamps combined in some sort of conglomeration of primary colors. Red. Yellow. Blue. Green.

But, as far as your imaginings go, you'd have to go further still to do the Lamp justice. Huh? What lamp? The Zickefoose Lamp. The Lamp, the Myth, the Legend.

And elusive, I might add. Once on a covert operation to view and document the lamp, we were disrupted by the owners and having to dash to our car. A photo was taken, but it was ill fated - only a glimpse of light among darkness (a suitable metaphor for the Lamp, by the way).

This Lamp held a place of prominence in the community for decades. And most who were raised or moved to Ada have their Lamp Stories. If you've been in Ada and no one showed you the Lamp, then you should question the company you keep.

I was first introduced to the Lamp in college. My roommates, both born and raised in Ada, drove me by the Lamp after a night at the Regal Beagle (different myth and legend). My eyes bulged at the fabulosity of the Lamp. My heart skipped many beats. Ok, maybe that was the burger at the Beagle. But still, there were no words to do the Lamp justice.

So, now that those roommates have moved on to the big city, I've maintained the legacy of the Lamp. Forming a small sisterhood of protectiveness, we drive by and admire the Lamp on many occasions - not just El Campo Fiesta Nights.

When the world has seemed undone, there's always been that Lamp on E. Lincoln.

But now, our world has become unhinged. Sadly, the owners of the Lamp are now deceased. While there is allegedly bequeathed to a neighbor who was raised across the street from the Lamp (ok, it's more than alleged), the problem is that the Lamp is GONE! It is missing! It's orbness no longer glows from its beacon of safety and consistency on E. Lincoln.

While the proper ownership of the Lamp has been hotly debated, those concerns are set aside to find the Lamp, and return it to a place of honor and prominence as it deserves.

After all, where will the good people of Ada and its surrounding communities look, if not to The Lamp?

It's All Greek To Me

What to do when there's nothing to do? Learn a foreign language, of course. This idea had been in my head for a few months, and after the Florida trip (and subsequent boredom), I decided to request materials from the library to embark on broadening my horizons of international studies. After all, I'd had a 4.0 in my minor, French. How hard could another language be?

Picking up my materials from the library, I popped the tape from "Listen and Learn Greek" into the cassette player. How serendipitous, I thought, that I should have my truck since it has a tape player and my car does not.

Heading toward the work-out facility, I had to rewind the tape to the beginning. This took so long, I arrived at my destination before I could get started. This is a frequent problem in Ada, by the way. So post-workout, I was fresh and eager to listen (and learn).

The male voice read the english, with the female voicing the Greek translation. Please use your imaginations.

"Hello" "Yah-sahs"
"Good morning" "kali-mera"

so far so good, right? It went on with such basics as:
"Good afternoon," "Good evening" and "I'll see you later."

"I wish to make an appointment with Mr. Zolotas."

What? I had no idea what that Greek woman said. I nearly drove off the road. Eight phrases in and I was floundering. Plus, I hadn't yet made it to Main Street. What should I do? What would the library women think if I returned the books (and tape) so soon? Probably not, "Wow, that girl sure is a fast learner."

And who is Mr. Zolotas? Why do newcomers to Greece need to make an appointment with him so soon upon their arrival?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Passenger Appreciation Day

Some of you may have wondered what has happened to the Bitter Train. What? Is the ride over so soon? Of course not! But, we all get the post-vacation blues. Last week, returning to the not-yet-green grass and grey skies of Ohio threw me in a horrible funk. One may even say, I was bitter. I questioned the Train Trip.

While it wasn't all about the Greek Man, it was at least a little bit about him. Ok, perhaps more than 50% in my mind. Sadly, it isn't the first time the cold winds of February winter have caused me to plan outrageous expenditures of time and money on a long shot of a guy in March. Four years ago, I shelled out big bucks to meet my favorite actor. And like that trip, this one didn't end the way I hoped.

Sure, I could have thrown another log on the fire, poured another glass of wine, and saved myself time, money, and plenty of emotional angst. "To improve, one must be content to be thought foolish."

There is a greater gift than the outcome of the trip. Not-so-ordinary friends. Friends who believe, and even encourage, pursuing the unreasonable. Friends who followed, eager and enthusiastic for our fun trip. Friends who want a happy ending - not just for me - but to hope Happy Endings are there. ( Honestly, could Greek Man even have lived up to the hype?)

So thank you, friends, for being along on this journey. There will be more.