Attractions on the Interstate

Our usual trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming was delayed this year from December to late January. It is a long journey and each year we check out the possibilities of flying, and each year we opt to drive. The logistics of flying are horrible; the connections from one flight to another, disastrous. So we pack up our car and prepare for three and one half days on the road. We have our routine and manage to visit friends and relatives along the way and enjoy the ride.

Honestly, I look forward to stopping at the incredible rest areas on the Interstate Highways, funded by federal and state governments. The familiarity of these sites is “comforting.” These facilities have no concessions. Fresh food and fuel aren’t sold, but the areas around the buildings are landscaped and have shaded spots for picnicking. There are placards disseminating local history and geology, and travel information is available. I’ve heard it said that the most attractive room in your house should be the bathroom, where we spend more time studying detail. This applies to pubic restrooms as well.

Nebraska was one of the first states to modernize the rest areas on Interstate Highway 80. The lavatories include attractive blue and white tiles; the stalls are corrugated stainless steel, and there are built -in changing tables. unnamed-5

The windy hills on Route 26, in Wyoming are dotted with creatively designed rustic facilities. The stalls are covered with mosaics constructed from local stone and the painted trim on the stalls compliments the hues in the stonework. unnamed-6

Back on Interstate 80, in Iowa, the comfort stations are architectural achievements, more like museums, known as New Generation Rest Stops. The motorist needn’t wonder where he/she is; each unit is unique. Glass and steel are used extensively in construction. The floors inside the structures are mosaic tile maps of the locale. My favorite is a tribute to prominent writers from the state. The pillars at the entrance are designed to look like writing pens. On our recent trip, we didn’t stop at the facility with the pens. However, I did take a picture of a granite sculpture in front of the highway rest area in Council Bluffs, Iowa.P1000024-2

On the Ohio Turnpike, most of the rest sites have concessions with access to all services. Some of the facilities are large circular buildings and the concessions offer better quality food. It was at one of the stops on the Ohio Turnpike, that we discovered “The Panera Bread Company,” a chain we’ve come to like and look for in our travels. There’s comfort sometimes in knowing what we can eat.

The stop on the Garden State Parkway, near Oradell, New Jersey, and close to where the Garden State and Route 287 intersect is always bustling. Yet, I appreciate the fresh plants on display in the lavatory year round.

It’s hard to miss the palatial edifices designed like hunting lodges, invoking those of Teddy Roosevelt’s era, on the New York Thruway and on the strip of I-90 that runs through the state of New York. There are several styles of “lodges,” so the traveler has an idea which town he/she’s near on the highway.

Are you tired of the hassle of flying? My guess is that you haven’t visited such beautiful bathrooms in any of the airports like the ones on the nation’s highways.  So get the family chariot in good condition and see the U.S.A!

 

 

 

Whither I Go, My Knitting Goes

I can’t forget the photo of Eleanor Roosevelt knitting while listening to election returns on the radio. I can’t think of any activity that works as well as knitting to calm the nerves; reading requires too much concentration. Even music may not be heard. But needlework beats nibbling, smoking or nail biting, to conquer stress. I remember my sister-in- law crocheting while her husband was undergoing surgery. 6a00d83452615669e201b7c6e47bcc970b-800wi

I can bury my nose in a book while flying or traveling on a train, although I usually have my needlework on hand when I’m chatting while waiting for the plane or train. A young man I met at Gatwick Airport in the U.K., admired the baby hat that I was making for the grandson to be, and was impressed that I “always had something on the go”.

When I am a passenger in a car I find it difficult concentrating on reading but I can always take a break from knitting to look at the scenery. My husband has complained that we drove 100 miles out of the way because I wasn’t watching the road or the map. I do put my knitting down when we are at a busy intersection or if we are in unfamiliar territory. Now, I often let Samantha, our GPS guide bring us to our destinations, but even she makes mistakes, bringing us recently to the Atlantic Ocean when we requested a route from Maine to Lake Winnipesaukee, in New Hampshire.

It was never a problem getting a seat on a crowded subway train on my daily commute to school or work years ago. All I had to do was pull out my knitting needles. I found that knitting helped pass the time while waiting on line to register for college courses and during those boring orientation sessions.

I was about nine years old when I learned to knit with the help of my Aunt Rose, and family friends, but I probably was thirteen when I finished a checkered, patterned scarf for myself. It wasn’t until I was in college that I became a serious knitter and tried my hand at a sleeveless, v-necked slipover for my father. Although the v-neck was far from perfect, Dad appreciated my efforts and wore the sweater.

Argyle socks were the rage in the 1950’s and the women at Hunter College were making socks for the men in their lives. I asked a classmate what she would do if the romance ended before the socks were finished. She replied that the socks were intended for Joe and Joe would get the socks regardless. Not my style! When Marty and I were engaged, I knitted argyle socks for him. Marty has been the recipient of other knitted gifts, but his favorites are woolen mittens, for warmth. We were away from home and he needed mittens. I decided to see what I had on hand and found some nice grey yarn in my bag. Since I didn’t think there would be enough grey, I striped the cuffs and tips of the mittens with purple, green and yellow. The compliments keep coming. IMG_0060

No project was too large or too small, too intricate or too simple. In fact I prefer more challenging designs and didn’t shy away from cables, laces, entrelacs or fair isles. A friend remembers that I said that I couldn’t see any purpose in doing something that was sold in the store. Now of course you can buy all sorts of ready made knitted items. I have adjusted directions for size, weight of yarn and size of needles without compromising the fit of the garment. Wool, the yarn that I favor, has many attributes, including being warmer than cottons or synthetics and holding its shape better. It is a more giving and forgiving material to work with. I also like the feel of the yarn sliding through my fingers as I work.

My fingers cramp when I work on a section of the project with few stitches on the needle. The proprietor of the yarn shop suggested to my daughter Lisa, that she keep switching back and forth from one project to another, with different size needles, if her hands ache, to keep the fingers from being in a bind and exercise them.

Back in the 1960’s when mini -skirts were popular, I made a tweed suit for myself of wine heather and coral, worked together, with a Mandarin collar and hand -knitted frog closings. I outgrew the suit when mini-skirts gave way to the cowgirl look of the 1970’s of mid -calf flared skirts and boots. I gave the suit to my mother. The sleeves and skirt were too short for her and a friend added knitted borders to the sleeves and the hem of the skirt. The alterations weren’t exactly in keeping with the style of the suit but it looked nice and Mom wore the suit for quite a while. When Mom could no longer wear the suit and mini skirts were back in vogue, I restored the suit to its original style for Lisa.

My mother had a beautiful Italian mohair sweater with hand -embroidered flowers. Here again the sleeves were too short for her. My daughter Madeline was given a box of different colored mohair, which she passed on to me. I picked up the stitches on the bottom of the sleeves, and extended the cuffs, adding a few stripes of the colors that were used in the sweater. Mom loved the sweater.

My grandson, Jacob, told my daughter, Lisa, that she was going to be a grandmother, by asking her how long it would take her to knit a carriage blanket. She remarked that it would take her no time at all because she still had the blanket that I made for him; a beautiful bulky entrelac cover, in two shades of light green, with a hand -crocheted corded edge.

Knitting isn’t just for women. A good friend made himself a black sweater because he didn’t want charcoal grey that was available in the stores. Kaffe Fassett is an artist who paints with needlecraft. I have adapted many of his designs.unnamed-1

After 9/11, our handbags were searched scrupulously at airports for potential weapons. Embroidery scissors were amongst the contraband. Lisa learned that the cutting edge on the dental floss pack is good for cutting yarn. NOBODY is going to stop us from knitting.

 

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The Road to Recovery

Two months out of surgery and I’m reflecting on my achievements during recuperation.

First of all, I’ve contributed to the economy by providing employment for an army of health care professionals.

Since I was semi -house bound for three weeks, and didn’t do the grocery shopping, I managed to clean out the refrigerator. Marty remarked that he could actually see the back wall of the fridge.

As for personal accomplishments: I read two books. I knitted two animal hats for two of my great -grandsons, a hippopotamus for Uri and a Koala bear for Nakshone. I even wrote two blogs. IMG_2847IMG_2846

With the help and encouragement of my loving family, I am walking straighter than I did before surgery, and with little pain. I have to confess that I was beginning to enjoy being pampered and catered to. However, too much of a good thing is too much. Now I‘m happy to drive and do my own shopping and some cooking.

I’ve resumed participation in the water exercise program at the Y. It’s much better than “4 in 1 Motor Oil” for lubricating joints and strengthening muscles.

About two weeks ago I even traveled to New Jersey, as a passenger, for a holiday dinner with my great- grandchildren.

I can’t ask for much better than that, can I? As my father would say, “Every day is a bonus.”

 

 

 

 

Pets: What They do for Love

“Bear” Taylor, my daughter Madeline, and her family’s Golden Retriever puppy resembled a baby polar bear when he joined the family about two years ago.

Bear

Bear

Although Bear is the darling of the Taylor household, he’s most attached to my granddaughter Ruby, now a freshman at the University of Miami. Madeline thought it would be fun to have them visit on Skype. At first Bear was confused, but when he saw Ruby and recognized her voice he went wild. His tail wagged and his bark was ecstatic. He brought her a toy, but was frustrated when she didn’t pick up the toy or give him a hug. He tried so hard to shove the toy down the phone, with no luck.
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I’m amazed at what our animals do for our respect and love.

Of course retrievers are known for bringing wonderful presents to their families. I still have some lovely things that our old Labrador retriever, Bess, brought from the neighbors’ yards, which I had not returned because I didn’t know who the original owners were. One neighbor was distraught because he was missing his expensive hiking boots, left outside to dry. You can imagine how pleased he was when I produced the boots, given to me by Bess.

Lollipop, our gorgeous tri-color collie, was named by my oldest daughter, Lisa, then five. I can still see his bushy white tail wagging, as he boarded the school bus, in hope of attending kindergarten with Lisa. I can still hear her friends yelling “Yay, Lollipop!”

Naomi & Lisa with Lollipop

Naomi & Lisa with Lollipop

We later moved to a neighboring town, about seven miles from our old home on the chicken farm. If we were taking a trip we would bring Lollipop to the farm for our employees to look after. It was uncanny how he sensed when we were to return, and would greet us when we arrived at home, walking the entire way.

My son David’s family ‘s beautiful short -haired collie, Cody was the living plaything of his younger daughter, Darya. When she was at the magic age of two she would push Cody down the basement stairs, declaring that it was time for him to take a nap. In less than five minutes, she would open the cellar door screaming, “Come up stairs Cody, your nap time is over.”  Of course Cody would come bounding up the stairs smiling, ready for the next punishment that she would mete out to him.

Cody

Cody

Who ever had the notion that cats were interested only in themselves? Charlotte, one of our many cats, would share her dinner with us: a half of a snake or rabbit left on the door step. Do you know of any other animal that is so generous?

Yes, our pets show their affection for us in many ways.

 

My Recent Surgery

I bit the bullet and underwent an operation to correct the spinal stenosis that has been plaguing me for a year and a half. I heard mixed results about back surgery and had been weighing the options. I tried acupuncture and water therapy without relief. I wondered: Would it be foolish to expose myself to risk or more foolish not to take advantage of a procedure that would ease my pain and improve my ability to function? If I did anything it would have to be sooner than later, when my recuperative powers are greater. I couldn’t wait until I was ninety for this surgery.

Awakening from the surgery, I relished the apple juice as if it were the finest champagne. Navigating the hospital menu was a challenge. Every thing had a different name than what I am accustomed to. I will say though that there is a greater effort to serve nutritional and appetizing dishes. It was a treat to come home to my children’s scrumptious cooking. I’ve been spoiled with fish, chicken, and pasta dinners, gazpacho, and pies and crisps made with locally grown blueberries and peaches.

At my two- week post-op visit the doctor was optimistic and assured me that the surgery went well and I was on the way to recovery. The only pain that I experience now is the pain from the surgery, which is to be expected and hopefully won’t persist. My motion is good and I have every reason to anticipate a positive outcome.

Wearing my "corset"

Wearing my “corset”

Chicken Coop Epidemiology

With the exception of washing baby bottles, when I married and changed my career to poultry farming, my clinical work was mainly vaccinating chickens before they came into production, for New Castle and Pox. There are many strains of New Castle, but it is a disease that essentially affects the central nervous system.

Every year, in the late spring or early summer, we would join Marty’s parents, Rosie and Abie, at our farm and then later at their farm, for inoculating. Rosie would wear an old housedress, rubber galoshes, and a babushka. I had jeans, a painter’s hat, and sneakers. Our employees would coax or carry the chickens to one side of the room, and create a pen with screens; to keep the vaccinated birds separate from those that weren’t. We screened off a section of the room with enough chickens for us to handle easily. When the chickens in that pen were vaccinated, we moved the fencing to form a pen for the next batch. This procedure was repeated until each chicken received the vaccine.

The men would catch about three chickens at a time and spread their wings out on a table, so Rosie and I could stick each chicken with a needle and vaccine, between the wing and the web; referred to as the wing /web method. We had to work quickly; the dust was flying and the chickens were squawking. Every now and then we would stick ourselves. You couldn’t blame the hens if they gave you an occasional “k’nip.” After all, don’t you feel like “sticking” it to whomever gives you a “shot”?

Rosie would always rinse the remaining drops of ketchup from the bottle, when cooking, to use in soups and sauces. She would also add a little water to the almost empty vial, to remove all of the remaining vaccine. I too, like to salvage the last drop from jars and bottles, but ketchup isn’t exactly vaccine. When I mentioned this to Marty, he accused me of overreacting and explained the concept of “herd immunity”. Many birds “escape”, and it was of little consequence if some chickens received a diluted dose of the vaccine. If most of the flock received the vaccine, the bird that avoided inoculation was not apt to get sick, because the incidence of disease carrying organisms was low. The possibility of an outbreak, therefore, was slim.

It wasn’t long before my mother-in-law and I joined the ranks of unemployed “chicken stickers”, when we adopted more effective, and less labor intensive means of immunization. One of the preferred techniques was disseminating the vaccine in a water spray, at night, when the chickens were asleep.

We are able to maintain a higher standard for immunizing people because the person administering the vaccine has control of the procedure. However this person has no control over the population that chooses not to be vaccinated, for fear of adverse results, and is willing to benefit from the “herd immunity” supplied by those who do assume risks. Unless your doctor advises otherwise, it is everybody’s responsibility to share possible risks so infections are few or non-existent.

Vaccinating reminds me in some ways of voting. Recently, I attended a meeting of our town committee where the November elections are the main topic of business. I heard people say, ”Oh, he’s in a safe district, he won’t have trouble getting elected, and my vote won’t be missed.” We can never be sure of the dynamics of politics. Every vote is necessary. Just as we shouldn’t rely on “herd immunity” for immunization, we shouldn’t rely on “herd immunity” in elections. We have a shared responsibility to control the possibility of an epidemic through immunization. We have a shared responsibility to elect competent public officials through the ballot.

Healthy chickens mean healthy eggs.

Healthy chickens mean healthy eggs.