Ruptured Life Prespective

Although a new or altered perspective on life can come from small experiences—like turning on a light switch after a multiday power outage, the lasting changes tend to come from larger life events. For my dad, it came from a close call with the school of hard knocks. Continue reading

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Really Really Bad Salesman

Bad salesman in Garmisch

Image Credit Wikipedia Commons

When husband and I decided to buy a piece of furniture painted in the traditional Bavarian folk-art style, or biggest obstacle was a bad salesperson.

Living in southern Germany, my husband and I came to love the Bauernmalerei folk-art furniture style. We traveled to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, situated at the foot of the Zugspitze Alp, where we hoped to select and order a hand-made Bavarian keepsake.

This was in the late 1980’s when a strong US-Dollar motivated hordes of American tourists to visit picturesque Germany. Beautiful Garmisch, with its painted buildings and cobblestones streets, was a popular destination.

We found a small store that had beautiful hand-painted armoires that we immediately fell in love with. Since the shop owner was studiously ignoring us, we sought him out and asked him, in our fluent German, what the price ranges.

“Teuer [Expensive],” he responded.

Matt and I looked at each other. Ok, so he didn’t particularly like Americans. He probably had tons come into his shop and leave again without purchasing anything. We got it. As ex-pats, we sometimes cringed at the behavior of busloads of US-tourists. Un-offended (or not very offended), we persevered.

“How expensive?” I asked.

“Sehr [Very].”

At this point, I was torn between wanting to giggle and wanting to stomp out. Luckily, Matt remained calm.

Bad salesman very Expensive Armoire “Could you be more exact?” he asked, pointing at an exemplar that we had particularly admired. “How much would one like this cost?”

“It depends.”

Yep. He hated American tourists, or possibly any tourist, or possibly anyone.

“Depends on what?” I asked testily, fully expecting him to tell me it depended on how much he hated the individual wanting a quote.

He grumpily pointed out features of carving and painting that influenced pricing. Finally, after pointing out the features we liked, we got a price out of the man.

Despite his misogynist temperament, we loved his work and decided to order an armoire from him. We still love it, twenty-plus years later. When visitors admire it, we enjoy telling them how it was “very expensive.”

© Laura Hedgecock 2013
Interested in sharing your memories? My website, Treasure Chest of Memories, has tips, resources, and a blog about memory sharing.

Letter to a Mystery Man

Mystery Man Dear Sir:

You probably don’t remember our brief meeting that snowy night in February 1994. Dressed in overlapping hospital gowns, I was walking the back halls of Detroit’s Sinai hospital with my husband to “regulate” my labor. You were dressed in a black coat and brimmed hat, walking towards us with purpose, when the pain from a contraction took me to my knees. You stopped and waited until I could stand, made eye contact, and said, “I’ll pray the best for you.”

You said it with such authority. It wasn’t a platitude.

Often I think back on that chance meeting, wondering. Who were (are) you? A clergyman on a mission of mercy? Caregiver for a loved one?

I picture you in my thoughts—a tall statue of ebony skin and clothes. I wish I could tell you how comforting your words to a stranger were.

I wish I could tell you how often I pray the best for you.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013

Want to write about your memories? Check out my memory-sharing website Treasure Chest of Memories.

Romantic Doggie Bag

chocolate pie

Image credit: Thekitchn.com

My husband’s work  travel has always taken place in spurts and life is definitely less fun when he’s away.

I remember one particularly hard week, stuck at home alone, feeling like crap, with two very-active-is-a-gross-understatement young boys. Matt’s week ended with a return to the area to wine and dine customers.

Around 11 pm, he called to say that he was not only finally on his way home, but he had a nice treat for me. Knowing me to be his “Forget chicken soup! I want chocolate!” girl, he knew the way to my heart. To cheer me up, he said, he was bringing me a doggie bag (Styrofoam box) with a luscious piece of French silk pie.

Since he was 45 minutes away when he called, I passed the time salivating like Pavlov’s dog and making decaf coffee to have with my romantic gift. By the time he arrived, I had a plate with two forks and hot coffee at the ready.

With anticipatory pomp and circumstance, we opened the box to a horrific sight.

Steak T Bone

Not what I wanted to see

The restaurant staff had mixed up their to-go boxes. Instead of pie, I was looking down at a gnawed on T-bone from some stranger’s steak.

Disappointed German Shepherd

Disappointed

After ranting that Matt call the restaurant and insist they deliver me some pie, pulling my hair out, etc., I realized it could have been worse.

I could be some German shepherd, salivating in anticipation of a juicy bone that his master called to tell him to expect, only to find one of the few things dogs aren’t allowed to eat in the box—chocolate.

At this years’ company party, we won a gift card to that swanky restaurant. I’m finally going to get that piece of pie.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013
Interested in sharing your memories? My website, Treasure Chest of Memories, has tips, resources, and a blog about memory sharing.

Interspecies Attractions and My Failure to Read Social Cues

Take me to a cocktail party and I’m hyper alert to social cues. Eyes wandering? I assume you’d rather be talking to someone else. Lack of enthusiastic nodding? Your interest has waned; time to shut-up, Laura. I won’t even go into the looking at my chest, or worse—your focus is slightly off my eyes. Did I grow a zit on my forehead?

Obsess much? Oh yeah!

However, when it comes to the animal kingdom, I forget all that self-consciousness in my desire to connect interspecially. (No, that’s not a spelling error. It’s a made up word.)

Just this week I had two significant reptilian contacts.

Monday evening, my husband reported a turtle crossing the driveway. I grabbed the camera and took off to find an attractive red slider moving at break-neck (turtle) speed. My hands-off policy failed when I saw something attached to her (or his, I really don’t know how to tell with turtles. You know, the shell and all that…) back.

Gently stopping her resulted in her peeing her body weight, which was a pretty significant social cue that my affection for her wasn’t going to be returned. On closer inspection, the “something” turned out to be a leech. With hubby’s “help” (If you consider standing to the side saying “Ewww,” “Maybe you should put salt on it,” and “be sure to wash your hands, honey”), I removed the leech by rubbing it off with a small twig.

Neither the turtle nor the leech was appreciative.

Red Slider Turtle

Not BFF’s. Not even close!

Later that evening, while I was attempting to dig a cattail out of the pond, a frog jumped out and landed in the grass a foot away from me. I should have been content to simply admire him. (Again, I really don’t know how to tell frogs’ gender either, unless they’re actively mating, in which case I assume the one on top is the male.) He made the mistake of making eye contact.

In my defense, there was a slight gloat to his demeanor. “Lucky mah dirty ass is camouflaged. Stupid human eyes can’t peep me up in tha grass!” (Credit: Pond lingo courtesy of Gizoogle.net) I replied—yes out loud, but don’t tell anyone, “I can see you, you know.”

His little froggy smirk continued. “No, you can’t. No, you can’t. I’m just one foot away, and you can’t peep me.” After I gave him the gentlest of touches on his little froggy head, he sprung away.

Pond Frog

Not interested in human contact…

Spurned again.

I’m pretty certain I heard a “biotch!” as he left.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013

Kindness not Forgotten

forget me nots A year after both my parents were killed in a car accident in Alaska, I traveled there with my husband and kids to see the accident site and visit a newfound friend, the state trooper who was in charge of their case.

The accident took place within a National Forest, but the forest rangers agreed that I could plant flowers by the road as long as they were native Alaskan flowers.

The grief counselor at Life Alaska helped me locate a native plant nursery. Like every other Alaskan we encountered, the nursery owner was a kind person. Not only did he help me find two large forget-me-not plants, he also found native blue poppies to compliment them. Then he refused to take my money.

That was in 1999. Years later, my aunt and uncle visited the site on Hope Highway and noted that the forget-me-nots had spread quite nicely.

I’ve never forgotten the kindness of the nursery owner. I think of the owner every year when our Michigan forget-me-nots turn my garden and pond’s edges blue.

Today, out of curiosity, I looked to see if they are still in business. They are and I am surprised that I never noticed their name before. Here’s to Forget-Me-Not Nursery in Indian Alaska.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013
Want to write about your memories? Check out my memory-sharing website Treasure Chest of Memories.

Honest Friend versus Supportive Friend

Honest friend versus supportive friendWhat is a “good” friend? Honest friend? Supportive friend? Loyal friend?

Can you be them all? It’s a question I’ve struggled with for quite a while.

Perhaps my wondering started when a drunken Romanian woman, free of polite inhibitions, declared that the reason American women need more psychologists is because their American friendships are too superficial. According to her, we restrict ourselves to niceties, avoiding blunt or painful truths. As a result, we need outside help to deal with our problems.

In her home village, friends were resigned to each other. Friendships endured over generations, through rifts and spats. Good advice was always given, even when it made the giver massively unpopular.

She might have a point. When a friend asked me if she was right to get a divorce, I demurred. I wasn’t at all sure she was right. I told her that it was too big of a personal decision for me to weigh in with my opinion. I would (and did) support her, whatever she decided.

In that case, I was perhaps a supportive friend, a loyal friend. I wasn’t a totally honest friend. In the end, I’m not sure where that leaves me on the “good friend” scale.

Supportive hands

Photo credit Johan Van Den Berg

We often don’t “speak our truths,” to our friends. Sometimes we are simply chicken. Many times, it’s because we are sure that they don’t want to hear it. Honesty, even tactful, loving honesty, can cut and hurt. It can feel judgmental. It can end relationships. If we’re the “honest” one, chances are we’re not going to be around (or welcome) to be the supportive one.

My truths: I want everyone to like me—all the time. I’m slow on the uptake. I miss opportunities to say something meaningful. Instead of “Are you sure that’s how you want to handle the situation?” I say, “uh-huh….” I want to do it all—be honest, loving, supportive, forgiving, and good.

My bigger truth: I don’t know where  or when to draw the line when honest and supportive are mutually exclusive.

What do you think? Please comment, I’d love to cogitate on others’ points of view.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013

Want to write about your memories and reflections? Check out my memory-sharing website Treasure Chest of Memories.