Wanting to Know the What and Why

Most of us, when we lose someone, want to know the what and why. What took the person from us, and why now? Why this person? Why this way? Books are even written on the topic: Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner. The questions seem pretty near universal, I suspect even in religious traditions where acceptance is a spiritual norm.

I suppose getting answers to the what and why gives some illusion of control, makes the loss seem less random. Even when a death is long anticipated and the “what” is clear, the question of “why” often remains. Why this person? Why this way? Why now?

Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared without a trace four years ago. Since then, despite a massive effort, no trace of the plane or the people aboard has been recovered. That means the what and why remain mysteries. But the burning desire to know what happened, especially on the part of the families of those lost, remains.

There is a new theory, put forth on the Australian edition of 60 minutes: the captain intentionally depressurized the plane, rendering everyone else unconscious, made a sweeping turn to say good-bye to his home city of Penang, and ditched the plane, committing suicide and killing everyone on board.

Authorities continue to insist that the loss of the plane was due to an accidental depressurization that left everyone, including the pilot, unconscious. The plane few on until it was out of fuel, and then crashed into the ocean.


We’ll likely never know which version of the loss is true, and the families of those who died will be deprived of whatever comfort knowing the truth might offer. But it doesn’t mean they’ll stop seeking answers.

We’re still trying to find the what and why of Amelia Earhart’s death; her plane was lost in 1937. Every so often a new theory pops up to explain her disappearance, lo these many years later. The longing to know is really strong and enduring.


The Black Church Bishop and the Royals

Stereotyping the British upper class really isn’t fair, but their public behavior does make them look like an uptight bunch. The Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry, who gave the impassioned sermon at the royal wedding, clearly jarred whatever expectations of a sedate service the attendees might have had. Really, the facial expressions were priceless — all except for Meghan and Harry, who appeared to have gotten just the sermon they hoped for. 🙂

More on the General Weirdness of People

Well, if we humans didn’t do odd things I’d be short of blog post topics, as these weird bits often catch my attention.

Since 2007, random feet have been washing up on Canadian shores — fourteen of them by the most recent count. Thirteen of the feet were clad in running shoes. The most recent had on a hiking boot.

It’s feet that are washing up, one at a time, on British Columbia’s southern coast. No one has any idea where the other body parts are, or how the feet come to wash up here, or why.  I think some oddball with a foot fetish is murdering people, cutting off one foot, and tossing the foot out to sea. The ocean current does the rest.

The Canadian Coroner’s service tries to damp down such ghoulish speculation, saying that there could be logical reasons why single feet wind up floating ashore after people have died at sea.

Maybe so. But my ghoulish speculation could be true, too. 🙂


After the Nuns Again

Many Roman Catholic sisters have reimagined their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and don’t look to the Vatican to tell them what they can read or say or do, on social media or anywhere else.

Strictly speaking, “sisters” in the Roman Catholic church are the women out doing ministries in the world, and “nuns” are the cloistered folk who mostly pray.

The Guardian, to which I subscribe online, has a new piece about the Vatican admonishing nuns to use social media with “discretion and sobriety”.

The admonishment apparently came in response to a group of nuns in Spain who posted a protest on Facebook after a court acquitted five men of rape, finding them guilty of a lesser offense.

Too “out there”, apparently, for the old men in the Vatican. Interesting to know that it’s actually someone’s job to monitor nuns on social media. I think they should monitor the American alt-right, and admonish Catholic Steve Bannon and his ilk instead for the ugly things they write.


Update on the Move: Plumbing in Old Houses

The Craftsman homes that make many Seattle neighborhoods so charming are old, vintage the 1920’s and 30’s. That means anyone living in one of these homes needs a good plumber, one who can cope with ancient systems, unexpected quirks and irregularities, and sometimes previous repairs by former owners who had no idea what they were doing.

I found Konrad, who is a genius plumber. If you live in Seattle, he works for Fox Plumbing and Heating. Konrad looks, he tinkers, he fiddles, he goes to get parts he didn’t expect to need, and he sets to work. When he finishes, the project does what it’s supposed to do, I’ve had a run through of what I need to know, the work area is cleaned up, and I have Konrad’s number in case I have any problems.

Voila! My new lead filtration system — more cities than Flint, Michigan, have higher concentrations of lead in their old water systems than is safe — and new whole house water shut off valve. Pretty, isn’t it? Practically a work of art.

The Move: Thinking of Each Corner as a Work of Art

As I think I wrote about some while ago, I attended a lecture at the Seattle Art Museum about how you curate a room — how the decisions are made to place various pieces from an exhibit in contiguous space, so that they can be “in dialogue” with each other. Since then, I’ve been aware of each corner in my own living space, and how I place lighting and furniture and art work in order to create an overall impression.

This is a corner of my new living room. As you can tell, I like space that is simple and with clean lines and no clutter. The corner a real mixture of things. The chair is old, although recovered. Ditto for the age of the lamp — twenty years at least. The pot to the right of the chair is a Stephen Merritt, a well known Rochester NY potter. The print on the wall to the right is a Robert Motherwell. The framed piece on the wall to the left is an old auction circular from the 1940’s, when my Iowa grandfather lost his small farm and the livestock and farm implements were sold for pennies on the dollar. My aunt found the circular in an old pie cupboard, and made a copy for each of the cousins. On the shelves are family pictures — including one of my late husband Jerry on his bike not long before he died, and one of our kids when they were about Archie and Else’s ages — and small pieces I’ve picked up here and there.

The corner is a mix of old and new, valuable and not, things I care about for different reasons. I think it works. Do  you?





Longest Running Scripted TV Show?

According to one of my news feeds, The Simpsons has just blown by Gunsmoke as the longest running scripted TV show. What show is in 3rd place? Lassie.

I was a fervent Lassie fan growing up, and I watched Gunsmoke too. I’ve seen The Simpsons occasionally and think it’s funny, but I’ve never become a regular watcher.

I was a devoted fan of TV series ER, Hill Street Blues, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order and the spinoff Law & Order Special Victims Unit, The Good Wife. Now I pay a monthly fee for CBS All Access to be able to see The Good Fight, a spinoff of the latter. I watched all of The Sopranos on HBO, and Nurse Jackie on Showtime, and the short but pithy series Getting On starring Laurie Metcalf. That one was a brutally funny take-down of life in a long term care facility. You had to have a dark sense of humor to call the half hour show comedy, and I do.

I never got into shows like Downton Abby, although I know how popular it was.

I wonder if a very long running series in this day and age, like The Simpsons, keeps the same audience, or attracts a rolling audience that keeps it high enough in the ratings to stay on the air. I have no idea.

Do you have a favorite series that you are devoted to watching? And if you are a certain age, were you a fan of Lassie? How about Gunsmoke?

Who’s At Your Front Door?

Remember when phones were to carry on conversations? Then came cell phones with cameras, and the talking function competed with snapping pics. Then came apps.

Many of have a peek-hole in the front door so we can see who is ringing the bell or knocking. Not Sara and Ben, in their new home. The door has a small touch panel with a code, which triggers an app on either of their phones to let them know someone has arrived. There’s also a camera, which shows them specifically who is at the door. I’m sure they can talk to the person, without opening the door at all.

They can also control their entire heating and cooling system from another phone app.

I think the thing they probably do least with their phones is talk on them. 🙂

Move: The Unreasonable Joy of a Toaster

We had a toaster oven, heavily used, in the kitchen on San Gabriel Drive. I seem to remember pizza muffins — sauce and mozzarella on an English muffin — being in great demand at one point. I had a toaster oven in the condo when I first moved here, which had quite a reasonable kitchen. But when I moved to the apartment, the only two small appliances to make the cut re counter space were my coffee maker and the Soda Stream, which I use a lot. There simply wasn’t room for anything else, and I decided I’d rather do without toast than have to find cupboard space — equally scarce — and drag the thing out whenever I wanted to use it.

But now, I have an abundance of space. A favorite breakfast is a toasted Lender’s bagel — they’re small in size and fewer calories than what you get at most coffee shops — with hummus, a slice of tomato, and a couple of cucumber slices. Some cantaloupe on the side. Coffee.

After reading Amazon reviews of the cheaper toasters, I opted for a mid-price one, a two-slicer. I don’t really need more than that.

I’m unreasonably joyful about having a toaster back. 🙂

Move Update: The Unexpected

Mid-day Wednesday I ran out to the car, keys in hand, to go grocery shopping before meeting Archie at school. I clicked to open the locks — nothing. I opened the door manually and tried to start the car with the key: nothing. On the chance the problem was the battery in the key fob, I ran up to the drug store in my new neighborhood and got a replacement battery. Nothing. I called the local Subaru dealer to see if the car should start manually even with a problem in the key fob, and they said yes. If not, the battery must be dead. Had I left a light on in the car by chance, draining the battery? I went out to check. Yes, the back hatch hadn’t been fully closed at some point when I was moving stuff, leaving a small light on — enough to drain the battery. Jump start needed.

I called AAA emergency number, but since I have a Rochester-area code cell phone number, I got Buffalo, NY. Useless, except the person on the phone gave me the local Washington AAA emergency number.

Dave from AAA arrived shortly in a tow truck, saying the big rig was overkill for a jump start but he’d been the closest guy to service the call. We tried to jump the battery, and got a screeching whine instead. Dave opined that the timer belt was broken — a random event that coincided with the dead battery.  We needed the tow truck after all.

Dave towed the car to Subaru, and did the most masterful job I’ve ever seen backing my car into a narrow spot in the dealer’s tow lot. Miraculously, the dealer had one loaner left, so I was on wheels although without car seats. Heidi and I worked around re the kids.

Two pieces of good news: if your car is going to randomly die, it’s best to have it happen in front of your house rather than on the road. And if you need a loaner and haven’t arranged for one ahead of time, it’s really lucky when the dealer happens to have one available.

The third piece of good news came 24 hours later. All that was wrong was the drained battery, and they simply recharged it — didn’t even need to be replaced. The whine came from the dead battery, not a broken timer belt. The cost was $17.50 all in, and I drove the car out mid-afternoon Thursday, ready for the rest of my day.