where lies your dependency?

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.

Psalm 144:3-4


(Atlanta’s interstate fire and collapse courtesy CBS46 Atlanta)

There were so many titles for today’s post….
“Atlanta is burning…again”
“The domino effect”
“Catastrophe under, or is it of, the road”
“S’mores anyone
as the camera would then pan to a sea of stopped cars stranded for hours as
they waited to be literally turned around and rerouted from one of the nation’s busiest
interstates.

If you haven’t yet heard, Atlanta was on fire, again, Thursday.

I say again because if your history lessons have failed you,
you may recall that a certain General T. Sherman burnt Atlanta to the ground
as a Christmas gift for President Lincoln during the Civil War.
And that is now the reason as to why the mythical creature the Phoenix is Georgia’s
sacred state bird…that is, besides the brown thrasher.
For the Phoenix is a symbol of how a smoldering Southern city rose up from the ashes
to become a major US metropolitan megatropolis…
along with the world’s busiest airport,
and a horrific gridlock of interstates….
but I digress….

Our son called late yesterday afternoon asking if we knew Atlanta was on fire.
He had seen this during his commute home from work.
We flipped on the television, and sure enough, Atlanta was on fire…
or more exactly a large swarth of area underneath a section of I-85 near Piedmont Rd,
what is known to locals as the Mid town area….
If you’ve ever driven north or south through Atlanta, you’ve driven over this stretch
of road.

This was a Thursday evening, at rush hour.
The interstate in both the south and north bound lanes were shut down as the fire
raged.
The heat so intense, a large section of the interstate buckled under the strain and collapsed–
which may have been a good thing as it helped to snuff out much of the inferno.

And miraculously, no one was hurt.

Still not certain as to the actual cause….
But what is certain, a major US artery is now shut down for travel for who knows how long.

Listening to the various news stations and the reporters who,
as everyone watched in real time, first the fire then the collapse,
gasped in obvious overwhelmed amazement.

What would happen with all those cars now stuck?
What would happen in the days to come?
Where would all the traffic be rerouted?
What about Atlanta’s notorious Rush hours?
How much longer would it now take to get to and from work?
What about all the soon to be Spring Break travelers headed south to Florida?

On and on the mounting panic became palpable as a million questions flooded
the thoughts of everyone….

I had to drive over to Dad’s today to meet with the funeral home in order to gather up
some needed papers and documents.
It was not a pretty picture as traffic was rerouted over to my usual route….
bypassing around the city.

There had also been an early morning crash just this side of the Georgia / Alabama state lines
shutting down all of I-20 east bound. That swarth of interstate closed until late afternoon.
Meaning more rerouting, with all that traffic, with an endless line of tractor trailer trucks,
being rerouted again, to my particular route of travel….
and I have to go back today….
sigh….

And with all this burning, collapsing and rerouting nightmare…it’s all gotten me thinking.
Thinking of our dependance upon our own limited abilities and vision…

Our world, the world in which we, man, has created is so tenuous and superficial.
Yet we assume and even take for granted that it is invincible.
Our massive buildings, our sprawling shopping meccas, our spaghetti maze of roadways,
our expanding bridges, even our modes of travel…
all seemingly built to last…
That is…until there is a bizarre or freakish event of catastrophic proportions…
which in turn sends us, much like ants, scurrying in an endless state of pandemonium.

There are no guarantees.

I can vividly recall watching the aftermath of the 1989 earthquake out in San Francisco…
the quake which collapsed and sandwiched the 880 interstate,
crushing and trapping both cars and people.

It was a horrific reminder of our fragility.
Just as each catastrophic earthquake has been in recent months in central Italy.
Centuries old buildings reduced to instant rubble in the blink of an eye.

It matters not the disaster…
It matters not if the victim be historic, modern, structurally sound or state of the art..
Nothing that we put our hands to, which we arrogantly assume is built to stand the test time,
will in turn do just that…last to kingdom come…
All will eventually give way to ruin…

For all of our ingenuity, our hutzpah, our try, try again mentality and and our plain
ol good intentions..
none of it will last….
for it will all pass away, just as we shall pass away to the very dust
from which we were formed in the hands of the Creator…

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

The brine, the rug(s), getting lost and a grateful heart

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
― Oscar Wilde

DSCN2663
(the blasted turkey sitting in it’s brining bag in the basement refrigerator)

Last Sunday afternoon I accompanied my husband to Lowes as he was in need of some bolts and caulking. I love going to Home Depot and/ or Lowes as there is always something that catches my eye..a new plant, some bird seed, new rugs. . .and that’s exactly what I had in mind—some new throw rugs for the kitchen as the existing rugs are in a word–nasty. They were cheap and have not withstood life in the kitchen of a cookie.

As my husband headed off to the nuts and bolts aisle, I casually mention I’ll be heading over to look at the rugs, catching up to him in a minute. “What?” he irritatingly asks / states— as in ‘oh no, we don’t need rugs, we’re not here to spend a bunch of money, no, no, no. . .’ —Of which I reply “don’t get bent out of shape, I’m just looking” (please note the inflection that is used by a wife who say’s she’s “just looking”)

I cruise the carpet aisle spying the giant rugs hanging vertically from the massive warehouse ceiling. Hummm. . . I pull a couple of the throw rugs and runners out of the their cubbies, laying them out on the slick concrete floor. . . Hummmm. . . I read a couple of descriptions, pull my phone out for a picture or two. I roll everything back up, putting the little rugs back in their appropriate bins before heading off to nuts and blots where I find my husband studying the various sizes of cement bolts.

As he finds what he came for and we begin heading back the direction of which we had actually entered this massive warehouse store, making our way to where the check out counters are located, I causally state that “I need to run back and check the prices of those throw rugs again”–I can actually feel his eyes rolling back in his head as I cut off for the rug section again.

We meet up at the check out. As we are leaving, pushing out his buggy that now has a
2 x 4 dangling precariously out the front, I causally throw out that “I just may come back tomorrow and get those little rugs for the kitchen.” Note the use of the word “little” strategically placed in the sentence. Silence in the resignation of new rugs.

Monday afternoon I happily return home from Lowes with 3 new throw rugs and one runner as I’m more than ready to move out the stained existing rugs. I sweep, mop, and sweep some more before laying out the new rug pads. Next I gingerly roll out the the new runner, smoothing it in to place then I lay out the 3 smaller rugs strategically placing each in its distinct place–one by the cooktop, the refrigerator,and the dishwasher—the three places I spend the majority of my life.

I step back admiring the colors. “Oh dear! Are they too busy?” I ask the cats. Percy immediately goes over to the runner and lays down. I take that as a sign of approval. Once my husband get home from work I clock him to see how long it takes him to notice, that is, if he notices at all. 2 minutes. Not bad, I’m thinking. And even better, he’s complimentary, he actually likes them. Relief.

Fast forward to Tuesday. I think I’m going to be really smart, I’m going to spread out this Thanksgiving cooking business over the course of two days verses making myself crazy by doing it all on Wednesday. Piece of cake, I’ve got this! Dad and Gloria have agreed to come for Lunch with our son and his fiancé coming in that evening— I’ll be cooking and serving in shifts, but at least, everyone will be here, albeit in intervals.

Last year I thought I’d mix things up a little by brining my turkey. I’ve never had a problem with my turkeys being too dry, I just thought I’d do something a little different, as brining does seem to be the vogue thing to do. Impart a little flavor and try my hand at something new and different.

I prepared the solution–a couple of gallons of water, ice, salt, spices, salt, apple cider, and did I mention salt? I get the 5 gallon brining bag in the sink, place my 20lb bird in the bag and gingerly pour the giant black kettle of solution into the bag. I seal the bag, heaving the now massively heavy bag into a roasting pan to help balance it as I prepare to carry it to the refrigerator in the basement.

I take maybe 5 steps from the sink when suddenly there’s a snap then a sickeningly slurping sound erupts, followed by the glug, glug, glug of 3 gallons of liquid cascading out all over my wooden kitchen floor, the new runner and 2 of the smaller new rugs. “NOOOOOOO!!!!!!” I scream for no one but me and the cats to hear, sending them running. I’m paralyzed for if I move, more liquid will flow. “NOOOOOOOOOO” “AGGGGHHHHHHHH” Surprisingly I don’t cry. I’m in a panic!!

The wooden floors, the rug!! AAAGGGHHHHH!!! Towels, I need towels! I run to get every bath towel we own. I proceed to sop up all the liquid before it destroys the floor. I pick up my new, now saturated rugs” – — did I mention that it was 34 degrees outside and pouring down rain. I run outside in the cold rain, throw the rugs down on the oh so wet driveway, pulling out the garden hose to wash off the salty solution now soaking into my new rugs. Any one driving by most likely thought I’d totally lost any brain I had.

DSCN2667
(waiting for the runner to dry out)

I lay the remaining towels, now down to beach towels, in the garage, dragging my now heavy soaked rugs in from the rain, laying them on the towels, layering other towels on top and proceed jumping up and down attempting to “blot” them dry as best as I can on a pouring down rainy day. Did I mention it was 34 degress?

Back inside I continue sopping up the salty solution, mopping the kitchen floor, more towels. Not to mention how many times I now had to run the washing machine. The damn turkey (please forgive my language, it just seems appropriate at this moment in time) is still sitting in the brining bag waiting for transport to the basement sans the brine. I pull out another jug of apple cider, pouring it over the turkey, reseal the bag and drag it to the basement. I eventually bring the rugs inside to the laundry room where I drape them over the dryer and washing machine and the heat vent hoping they will dry out by Thursday.

Fast Forward to today, Thanksgiving. The rugs are back in place, a little wavy and a bit shimmery, even after vacuuming, as the salt seems to now be ingrained. The oven is full of delightful dishes offering up heavenly aromas. The stove has simmering and bubbly pots of savory goodness. The table is set, Round I may begin.

The phone rings.
“JULIE?”
Hey dad are y’all almost here? Dad yells into his cell phone as if I’m on another continent and the connection is poor.
“NO, WE’RE LOST AGAIN”
Ugh, are you kidding me? They got lost last time. They’ve only been coming here to this house for the past 14 years several times a year. Gloria is not one for the interstate–an hour’s drive takes her 3 hours as she likes to go by way of Tennessee to get to our house.
“Where are you Dad?”
“THE SAME BAKERY WE STOPPED AT LAST TIME”
“Tell Gloria to stay were y’all are and I’ll be there in just a bit”
I cut off the oven and everything on the stove, grab my keys and off I go. I find them sitting in the parking lot of an empty bakery and just like the commercial, I roll down my window and holler, “FOLLOW ME”. . .

We won’t talk about Dad sneaking a drink of his favorite libation, of which he’s not supposed to have, and then of him practically falling asleep in his plate, but at 86 I can’t scold him too badly. Or of him biting into a chocolate turkey and breaking his partial. Or of the hour drive here which takes them 3 hours and yet they refuse for us to come pick them up.

We won’t talk about round 2 when our son and fiancé came for dinner and of how he and his dad got into a fuss over money and school at the table. We won’t talk about my husband dreading opening his business tomorrow as the madness known as “black Friday” brings him such discontent. Or of how hard it is to run a business and not conform to being open on holidays and on Sundays as nothing remains sacred in this country. We won’t talk about the things that worry us as parents for our children or as grown children for our aging parents or of how we will manage to make ends meet for them as well as for us and of what the new year will bring to the business.

There’s so much not to talk about and yet there is so much that needs talking about. . as in my being so so grateful. . .grateful for the fact that I still have my dad, that he and Gloria still manage to visit despite getting lost; that my husband who has worked so very hard to make his business survive given our country’s economy, keeps tirelessly working to make it a go; that I was able to retire after 31 years of teaching to “tend” to this family of mine; grateful that our son can attend college and that he will be taking the LSAT next weekend; grateful that I can have food on the table which is lovingly prepared to share despite brining disasters; grateful that there could be new rugs; grateful that I have a family, for good or bad, who loves and supports one another the best way it knows how.

So on this day of reflection and of Thanksgiving, with the clear knowledge that God has blessed me and that He has blessed all of us beyond measure, it is with a grateful heart, I say AMEN!!