Friday, December 30, 2011

Car Trouble

In a society that thrives on "out with the old, in with the new", often the older ones among us get left behind in the dust of technology as it roars past them at the speed of light. It's true: technology is changing at an exponentially rapid pace. The technology available today was merely a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye ten years ago. Never mind that, the "cutting edge" tablet computer you got for Christmas will be obsolete in a matter of weeks when version 3.0 comes out.

I feel sorry for the older generations. Not in a patronizing, "I'm better than you" kind of way, but in a "come over for a cup of tea and let's commiserate" kind of way. Because truthfully, I'm just like them.
While I know what "cookies" are (not the tasty kind), and can whip out some html code quicker than Billy the Kid could raise his Winchester 73' rifle (yep, Googled that), I am lost when it comes to automotive technology.

Now before you get all sexist on me, it's not a "woman" thing (despite what the picture may suggest). I know the basic mechanics of a car. I know what antifreeze does, where the oil goes, and how to change a tire. I can tell you which vehicles have spark plugs and which do not and can at least fake being suitably impressed when you tell me how many cylinders your engine has.

But why on earth do all the interiors have to be so different? I've driven a few cars and from what I can tell, no two dashboards are alike. Some have floor shift, some have it behind the steering wheel, and some have it mounted front and center at eye level, in case your other vehicle is a space ship or something. Some have headlights that automatically turn on and some don't. Some have enough climate control dials to individually adjust the ambient temperature for each passenger's left earlobe and some have one dial that seems to only function between "colder than an Eskimo in underpants" and "a sunny afternoon in the Sahara".

It is so frustrating. I've had my current car for almost 5 years and we're only just now friendly acquaintances with one another. To this day, there is a button on my dash marked "AVF" whose purpose still remains a mystery. What does it do? A few things I've considered:

  • "All Vehicles Freeze"
  • "Automatic Violin Function"
  • "Awful Violent Fire"

Aside from that, we're ok, me and the car. It may have taken me six months to learn how to make the high beams stay on and another seven to figure out how to change the clock, but I've made do.

The point of all this brings me to today. This evening I needed to go to the store for a few ingredients for some Chai Tea Latte Cupcakes (don't worry, that will have its own post), but having flown here I had to borrow my mother's car.

Now for some perspective, she has a Prius. I love Mother Earth and all that, but would it be possible to make a car that saves the environment AND functions like a normal vehicle? Even from the first moment we used a Prius, we had trouble operating it. Yes, Mom and Dad, I'm referring to that embarrassing time in a parking garage in Switzerland where we couldn't figure out that the car does not actually turn "on" unless you press the power button with your foot on the brake. (Takeaway lesson from this: once again, proof that shouting at modern technology does not make it acquiesce to your demands).

She clearly struggles with this issue too. For one thing, she won't be able to reach the pedals sitting like that.

Anyway, I hopped in the car and away I went, proud of myself for getting the car out of the garage without accidentally putting it in reverse first (another common Prius issue). I was almost out of the neighborhood when I realized my headlights weren't on.

I pulled over and pressed my foot on the brake, forgetting you have to press a special "Park" button on the dash before the car stays put. Problem number one. The car is rolling and the gear shift isn't helping me.
After avoiding a minor collision with a mailbox, I searched vainly in the dark for the headlight dial. No luck. Perhaps I should find the cabin lights first. Still no luck. What does this do? Oh, I'm washing the rear windshield, how nice.
Suddenly Adele is wailing at me at the top of her lungs..."I SET FIIIIIREE TO THE RAAAAIN..." Seems I've found the steering wheel volume buttons. This only adds to my distress.
I fiddle with some more buttons and get the volume back down to a more reasonable level, but not before accidentally adjusting the bass to where poor Adele sounds like she's warbling from the inside of a Boeing 737 engine.
It is not until the GPS Navigation screen informs me in a sternly worded message that I've failed to make a Bluetooth connection that I throw my hands up in disgust and decide to fall back on the age old method of calling for help.

So yes, Mother, I did call you less than a quarter of a mile from the house. I'm sorry for shouting. But thank you for helping me locate all the necessary buttons and dials. I may or may not have driven all the way to the store with the high beams and the interior lights on, but I got there safely. And that's what is most important.

At least I don't have THAT kind of trouble.

So don't make fun of older people for getting confused by "email" and "text messaging". Everyone has something out there that gives them trouble.
Just hopefully not bears....

Thursday, December 29, 2011

French Songbirds

I found myself with a few days off and a plane ticket (thanks Dad) so I'm in Indiana for a last minute trip home. The weather is much more like winter here, with 30 degree temps and actual snow on the ground. On  days like these when the wind is cold and the sun refuses to leave its shroud of clouds, I find my heart is lightened by the sweet voices of French songstresses. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Emily Loizeau - "L'autre Bout Du Monde" ("The Other Side of the World")

This song is a beautiful poem of longing to see again someone who is gone forever.:

Sur la rivière il pleut de l'orOn the river it rains gold
Entre mes bras je serre ton corpsIn my arms I hold your body
Tu es làYou are there
À l'autre bout du mondeOn the other side of the world
Je te rejoins quand je m'endorsI rejoin you when I fall asleep
Mais je veux te revoir encoreBut I want to see you again
Où est ilWhere is it
L'autre bout du monde ?The other side of the world?

and of course, the famous & beautiful Carla Bruni -"Le toi du moi" ("The you of me") of my favorite's a sweet little ditty of comparisons:

"Toi le citron et moi le zeste 
Je suis le thé, tu es la tasse 
Toi la guitare et moi la basse 

Je suis la pluie et tu es mes gouttes 
Tu es le oui et moi le doute 
T'es le bouquet je suis les fleurs 
Tu es l'aorte et moi le coeur "

"You the lemon and me the zest
I am the tea, you are the cup
You the guitar and me the bass

I am the rain and you are my drops
You are the 'yes' and me the doubt
You are the bouquet, I am the flours
You are the aorta and me the heart"

For other lovely voices, check out the stylings of Coralie Clément, Zazie, and Élodie Frégé.

Bisous, mes chères! ;)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bright Spots

Last week was really hard. Hard to say goodbye, hard to go back to work, hard to do all the normal mundane things of existence. I've never felt less inclined to celebrate the holidays.
But we must keep moving forward.
And fortunately, my sister stayed in Boston for a few extra days to keep me company. 
So in what was otherwise a rather dark week, there were bright spots.
Like a trip to Rocky Woods on a sunny and strangely warm day for a walk, some photos, and a long chat about the future.

You can totally guess what she's thinking..." weird..whaaaat is happening..."

We are mutually adept at not being serious for photos....

we can bring it out when we need to

.....buuut then it's back to silliness.

And then I went back to work and Eva went into the city for a day and brought my camera along. As much as she disagrees, I think she got some excellent photos out of the trip.

Very nice. Good visit, Eebs. 

And a belated Merry Christmas to you, readers. Hope it's a time of joy and hope for you. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 17, 2011

 May I present to you, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Bishop!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Grammie

Hello friends. I apologize for the blog silence, but I have being going through a difficult time. My dear grandmother passed away last week and my family and I are still grappling with the pain. It has been an emotional few days...on Saturday I watched two of my best friends get married and by Sunday night was in the funeral home for a private viewing. We had a lovely funeral yesterday, every room in the home brimming with friends and family. This morning we said goodbye in a beautiful graveside service, with the sun on our faces and a hymn in our hearts, just the family gathered close on the hillside. It was only then a little bit of peace crept into my soul. I know everything will be ok, but for awhile I will be keeping a low profile.

In the meantime, I thought I would share the letter I wrote to my grandmother the day I found out she was not going to make it. As usual, I wonder if perhaps I'm opening up a little too far in sharing this but it brought me comfort in writing and I really want to let my readers in to knowing a bit of just who Grammie was to my family. And so here it is.


Dear Grammie,

Maybe days.
Maybe hours.
Maybe minutes.
It won't be long now.

Just a few more breaths until the last one. So many breaths unheeded in moments passed, breaths that are preciously counted now.

My dear sweet Grammie. So funny, bright, and spirited.  So stubborn, so fiercely loyal to your family. But so frail, so small. Grampie said when you fell after getting up in the night that he picked you up and carried you back to bed. I picture him cradling you to his chest, not having to exert much strength but being so careful.  A tiny bird with broken wings, featherlight and fragile.

I know you want to go. I heard it in your voice when I last talked to you. So tired. As if sleep for a thousand years would still not give you strength enough to lift your head off the pillow. The daily battle, even to breathe, has worn you so paper thin that even the slightest of breezes is too much.

For months you've talked of the end, frankly in phone conversations and giving away your possessions at every turn. But we chuckled. "Oh Gram," we teased. "You're only giving me these Limoges figurines from your dresser because you forgot it was my birthday didn't you?" It was only because we didn't want to think of it, the inevitable. We squirm at Death, uncomfortable at the thought he takes from us what we care most about and can never have back.

But you made peace with him. Talked of Death as though he was merely that annoying old acquaintance who would show up uninvited for tea one day. "I have lived such a good life," you said, "all I want is to see my children and my grandchildren happy."
What we never realized is that Death had already stopped by, many months ago. He hovered around the threshold, stealing your strength in the quiet moments. And you knew he was there.

Sometimes Death shows up completely out of the blue and with a flash and a bang snatches someone we love in the blink of an eye. Sometimes he takes the young, the healthy, the strong, and we scream in fury. We rage at the sky, we sob into the abyss. "How dare you!?!" we shout. "How dare you rob us of future time spent with that person?"

But he didn't come that way this time. He was already here. And you knew it. And now you've invited him in. "I'm ready," you said. "I've had my bags packed for awhile now."
What hurts us is to see you take his hand so willingly. To see you remove your oxygen tube and rip out the IVs in defiance. To see you unwittingly make yourself more uncomfortable in the process. You're telling us to let you go but we can't. We don't know how to live after you've gone.

And so we fight and we struggle because we know you don't want to any more. And we cry. We cry in the car, in the bathroom at work, in the middle of the night, and sitting at the computer typing these words. We cry so hard, as if we think an ocean of tears will flood the pain right out of our hearts. And we come together, people flying, driving, walking, running to your side. To hold each other close and hover over you as though we could make you stronger by the physical presence of how much we love you. To selfishly hold on to you, against your wishes. Because we know once Death takes you, he will leave nothing behind to comfort us.

But you are not ours to keep. It was merely our privilege to borrow your presence from God for a time. Thankfully it is not Death who will walk you out of life. He is not a person, not even an entity. It is the absence of life, the state of un-being, the void left after the last breath. It is God who gave you and it is He that will take you. We rage against death because we do not understand it, because we cannot go there with you and bring you back. But death is merely the doorway through which you enter God's Heavenly kingdom. We're thankful that we, and you, have faith enough to believe that.

I love you so much Grammie. I'm sorry for all the unreturned phone calls, for all the times I never went to visit you, for all the times I thought of you but didn't let you know it. I love your sense of humor. I love the way you always used to put too much butter on the popcorn. I love the sound of your voice. I love that small rocking chair you painted for me when I was little. I love how much you care about each and every one of your family members. I love that without you, my mom wouldn't be who she is today. I love your relationship with Grampie. I love your relationship with God.

How can we fear the future, 
When love has planned the way
Which leads o'er hills and valleys
 To one eternal day?
E'en death at last is conquered, 
The grave has lost its fear,
And all faith sees is heaven 
Throw wide its portals here.

I don't know how many more breaths you have. But I know it's not really important now.
I wish we knew how to say goodbye in a way that didn't hurt this much.
I wish you peace. I wish you comfort. I wish you rest.
I love you.

I love you.

It has been my immense privilege to be your granddaughter.

All my heart,


Grammie never got to hear the letter but I know how much she loved me, loved us all, and that comforts me beyond words.

A huge thank you to every one who has reached out to my family during this time. Your thoughts and support have been an immeasurable encouragement. It makes me so thankful that we don't have to walk through this life alone.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nice Monday

Nice Monday is

::waking up with the sun
::socks with squirrels on them
::new flannel sheets
::a phone call from each of my family members
::mint chocolate chip brownies
::photos from the weekend

& this:

I Follow Rivers by LykkeLi

but mostly this:

  Adele - Promise This (Cheryl Cole Cover)

::bisous, mes chères

design + development by kiki and co. creative