Mirror Mirror On the Wall

I’ve returned from a grand vacation with a new perspective on a variety of things: work, crowds, cabbage, tea, humor, Dylan, bisque, Crocks, gratitude, mirrors …

On this trip, I found mirrors to be as invasive as Spanish moss. I don’t think I’d ever noticed how there are mirrors stuck around just about everywhere. I live in a nearly mirror-free environment. There are two in the RV. They’re both in the bathroom. Well, technically, the closet doors in the bedroom are mirrored, but since I’ve plastered the windows with blackout paper to make it easier to sleep during the day, it’s always dark, which renders those mirrors pretty useless.

I see mirrors as having two primary purposes.

1 – I look in the mirror when I get up to remind myself that I’m me and not the entirely other person I was in my dream moments earlier. (Is it just me, or do you also sometimes dream you’re someone else altogether?)

2 – As an occasional fleeting reminder that a hairbrush might help.

I particularly like this mirror because I can mostly just see myself from my top chin up (unless I step back and then I can’t see much at all). Straight on, from the chin up – that I’m used to.  It may be a transposed reflection, but it’s a familiar one. There’s a second mirror on the medicine cabinet over the toilet. Odd placement. I never look at that one because I always have my back turned.

But while traveling, I found not just high medicine cabinet mirrors, but whole bathrooms full of mirrors, providing surround vision mirrors for that complete 3-D look.

There were rooms with entire walls of mirrors; mirrors inside the closet doors; mirrors behind the bed; mirrors beside the TV; mirrors over the desk; mirrors all over the lobbies and lounges and restaurants. Why is that, I wonder? I find all those mirrors to be disconcerting and distracting.

For example, during dinner, right in the middle of a great conversation, I would look up and see myself listening, which of course would cause me to stop listening, and lead me to ponder the fact that my face is a little lopsided or try to subtly see if I had food in my teeth.

When the Wicked Stepmother said: Mirror, mirror on the wall, she had just one mirror in mind. And in my mind, one is enough (although I’m glad mine is mute). Unlike Narcissus, I’m not enchanted by the beauty of my reflection. The more left to the imagination, the better! For example, I imagine myself with nice straight posture, an unbent nose, youthful skin, only one chin and much smaller thighs.

I’ve given up the looking glass; quicksilver has no sense of tact. ~ James Goldman

In addition to mirrors, the vacationing cousin in crime is the camera. I hate to have my picture taken. For generations, the women in my family have hated picture opps. We’ve found a work around for this problem by being the one who holds the camera whenever possible. We do the picture-taking instead of being shot. And when I say being shot, that’s just how we look when we pose for a picture. We all paste on that awkward frozen smile that makes us look like someone dropped an ice-cube down our backs and then said Say Cheese!

Mirrors and photos leave so little to the imagination, but more than that, they make me self-conscious and self-focused. Part of my challenge on this trip came from a quote I read by G. K. Chesterton:

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.

I found that it wasn’t the weather or the people or the itinerary that, at times, kept me from being a traveler and moved me into the realm of tourist. It was all those mirrors. It was my literal and the figurative focus on me that occasionally kept me from seeing the wonder of the moment.

And there was plenty of wonder all around me, every day. There still is, it just takes a little keener eye. Coming home, being back in my familiar environment in my top-secret job, there’s so much to see when my eyes aren’t on me.

If you have a good friend, you don’t need a mirror. ~Bente Borsum

Thanskgiving and Alligator Pie

Today we leave Westhoff to become Texans. Sort of. You can’t really become a Texan – at least not in the eyes of a true Texan, unless your Texas born, or so I’ve been told many times. We’ll just be pretend Texans who live here year round.

We’ll drop the RV (hopefully on purpose this time) at Hidden Valley for safe keeping with Terri and then head to Livingston. To be honest, I’m still an Oregonian in my heart, but my body is in Texas, so it’s to Texas that I owe my taxes. Hopefully we can

We’ll get on it early Tuesday and hope to leave Texas on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday it’s off to New Orleans (I’ve never been) for a four-day holiday stay, a gift from my cousin to join her and her husband for a grand celebration of Thanksgiving and birthdays past and present!

We’re staying in The Moteleone Hotel.

As far as I know, it isn’t haunted.

They say this was the favorite New Orleans Hotel of Earnest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner.

They don’t say that staying there makes you a better writer, though; that’s kind of sad.

I look forward to lots of  Blues and Jazz and swamp rides and all the new sights and sounds of New Orleans; and of course, eating an alligator (maybe just a sample). Heidi’s son volunteered in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He’s insists that we have a plate of gator or maybe a pie or a stew or some soup.

Alligator pie, alligator pie,
If I don’t get some I think I’m gonna die.
Give away the green grass, give away the sky,
But don’t give away my alligator pie.

Alligator stew, alligator stew,
If I don’t get some I don’t know what I’ll do.
Give away my furry hat, give away my shoe,
But don’t give away my alligator stew.

Alligator soup, alligator soup,
If I don’t get some I think I’m gonna droop.
Give away my hockey stick, give away my hoop,
But don’t give away my alligator soup.

~ Dennis Lee

To tell the truth, I’m not all that keen on eating reptiles. I’ve had frog legs which I liked, but I was only 5 and my sister told me it was chicken. Apparently I’d eat anything if I thought it was chicken. Maybe I’ll tell myself that the alligator is chicken and see if it helps.

Heidi’s son also warned us about driving after dark. I thought he meant we should worry about muggers.

No, he said to watch out for alligators. They aren’t like your Texas speed bumps (armadillos).

You hit one of them on the road and they can seriously mess up your alignment.

We’ll be extra careful. I’m not sure the poor truck can take a lot more messing up. (Story to follow at a  later date.)

From Louisiana, it’s back to the holding tank to wait for a new assignment.

Since I won’t have my laptop, I wanted to wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I found this short clip of gratitude quotes I thought some of you might enjoy.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~ G.K. Chesterton


A Trip to Bountiful

I saw a movie 25 years ago starring the great Geraldine Page called A Trip to Bountiful. It was about a an elderly woman, living in Houston, who wanted to make one last trip to her old home in Bountiful. I’ve often thought of the movie, about how things change and going back is never quite the way you expect it to be. I’ve also often thought of that beautiful title. Tonight it’s time to write about a trip to bountiful. I’ve written quite a bit about our minor difficulties lately. I think it’s time to balance that with a word about the blessings.

It’s chilly here! Oh my, what a blessing to this Midwestern/Oregonian heart! After 7+ months of 90’s and 100’s, I’m wearing a long sleeve t-shirt and using the fireplace for heat! It’s bliss!

The fireplace is, of course, completely fake looking, but boy, does it ever pump out the heat! Henry and I nearly froze last winter in front of our little space heaters with the cold air seeping in through invisible cracks and crevices. We’re happily toasty now. While it’s blustery outside, there are no wind whistles and unbidden drafts inside tonight. Of course, it’s only gotten down to 44.  I’m sure we’ll need to run the furnace some nights. Tonight, coffee and the pretend fire are keeping us both warm. (Of course, Henry doesn’t care for coffee, but I’m on my second pot). It’s so cozy I wadded up my napkin and started to throw it in the fireplace. 🙂

Our gate guarding job seems to be coming to an end. The word is that Lantern 17 will be pulling out as soon as this weekend. It may go back to Smiley. It may be called back to the un-gate guarded areas of Louisiana. We’re waiting to see if the repair shop bid is approved by Good Sam so we’re in a bit of limbo, but the 5 weeks we’ve been here have been good – very micey –  but good.

We’ve loved the past 10 months with Forest Oil. The guys have been both kind and gracious to work for and with. It’s been a gift. We’ll miss them. We may soon be sitting with some of you who read Fork, waiting at a new fork in the road for another assignment.

A few nights ago, one of our Company Men stopped for a chat. He’d asked us to hold sales calls for a few days. We’d been sending the presents the sales reps dropped off back to the CM with our rig guys: cases of soda, steaks, sausage, peanut brittle, notebooks etc…  The CM said: You should snag yourselves some of that stuff, we don’t need it.

We thanked him but, of course, with no intention of taking anything. Still, it was a nice gesture.

He was back, 20 minutes later, with a garbage full of coffee and steaks and shrimp and sausage and chicken breasts stuffed with Craw fish Jambalaya!

The freezer is overflowing with ribeye and prawns and peppered pork. Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude.

Red meat is not bad for you.  Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!  ~Tommy Smothers

Last week, as those of you who read my other blog know, I got a late night call saying my 3-year-old grand-daughter was being rushed to the E.R.

She had all but stopped breathing. The admitting doctor said it was a close call. She’s such a sweet, kind little one. It was a terrifying night. She’s doing OK now. That’s a gift that can’t be measured.

This is a bit of a  spoiler if you ever decide to watch the movie. The lesson learned in A Trip to Bountiful is that you can’t ever really go back, but you can count your blessings where you are today. Tonight, I’m very grateful. What are a few mice and some repairs and a bit of job uncertainty compared to the kindness of strangers and the sweet breath of a 3-year-old?

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.  ~G.K. Chesterton