Archive | October 2014

Rector Robin Slays Sparrow

I’m having a real ball going through my old correspondence file which son Rafi brought me from L.A. A lovely former neighbor who reads this blog once suggested I had a wicked sense of humour. She must be right. And, obviously its been lurking in me for years. I can’t believe some of the letters I’m finding. I certainly must have chuckled as I wrote the one in response to this article published in the L.A. Times on Aug. 11, 1979.

The English sparrow was imported to America in 1850/51.

The English sparrow was imported to America in 1850/51.

Like many mistaken such acts, the English sparrow was a huge error, and is now considered the “flying rat”.

“HUBBUB IN ENGLAND”

“Rector Keeps Eye on Sparrow — Has it Shot”

“LONDON — The victim was only a sparrow, felled by a gun in a simple country church. But four days later, the shot was being heard ‘round England.
On Tuesday, a chirpy sparrow got itself trapped in a church’s rafters and broke into song at the wrong time — a recital that classical guitarist Konrad Ragossnig was recording for a radio broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corp.
An offended Rev. Robin Clark, the rector, asked the congregation to leave, summoned someone with an air gun, and had the bird shot.
News of the happening at St. Helen’s Parish Church

St. Helen's Parish Church

St. Helen’s Parish Church

spread quickly through the central English village, Brant Broughton, population 500.
One young woman broke into tears. Some villagers lodged a protest with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The minister responded, “It was absolutely impossible. The artist just couldn’t continue. Everyone was sorry it happened, but in my experience birds trapped in the church die anyway.”
Nevertheless, by Wednesday, one national newspaper was headlining: “Elegy in a Country Church Roof.” parodying poet Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.” and the front page of London’s Daily Telegraph declared: “Rev. Robin orders death of a sparrow.”
On Friday, the shock was still being felt. The Guardian published a letter signed Colin Cooper, which said: “Sir, one can only imagine the dilemma the promotors of the guitar recital would have been in if the bird they shot had been a nightingale instead of a humble sparrow. I can’t help feeling there would have been a temptation to reverse the procedure and direct the microphone toward the bird after first shooting the guitarist.”

St. Helen's Parish Church, built 13th century.

St. Helen’s Parish Church, built 13th century.

How could I resist????? Here’s the letter I sent to the good Reverend.

Dear Reverend Clark:

My sincere condolences on the death of your little sparrow.
What’s if — there is such a thing as reincarnation and, what’s if — that little sparrow was a former rector of St. Helen’s who came back to see how things were going at his Church, and what’s if — he’s good and angry at you now???
Surely, the noble rector would be in good standing upstairs. He may have pull and perhaps plan a vendetta against the man who did him in when he came back as a sparrow.
Should this be so, and should YOU come back as a sparrow, I suggest you stay away from St. Helen’s Parish Church. Especially since, as the L.A. Times quoted you as saying, “Birds trapped in the church die anyway.”
Best wishes to you — I would not suggest ever that you shoot the guitarist instead, but please refrain from shooting the birds.

Sincerely,

Note: Today, we are able to learn so much more through the Internet. I see that St. Helen’s is not at all a “simple country church” but a beautiful, extremely large and very old structure. Just couldn’t resist showing you some actual photos of it. Enjoy!

Interior, St. Helen's Parish Church

Interior, St. Helen’s Parish Church

This here is a rant — too many choices

This here is a rant!

This here is a rant!

Rebecca and Brian are gracious hosts. When I visit them, they have my favorite foods on hand and Rebecca prepares my breakfast every morning and serves it to me while I read the L.A. Times. (On this visit to me, Rebecca served me breakfast in my own home! Talk about spoiling someone.) Okay, they were coming here. I wanted to do as well for them as they do for me. I love them. They deserve it.
Rebecca just has coffee in the morning, but I know Brian has Cheerios, milk and bananas every day. How difficult can that be? I could do that. I know what Cheerios are. I used to buy them for my kids. Things may have changed some, so I asked my dear Brian which Cheerios he preferred.
“The plain original ones.” He responded.
No big deal. That should be easy. Full of confidence, off I went to my local supermarket, which I admit is not the biggest of supermarkets, and while looking for “plain original Cheerios” this is what I found:
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios, Whole Grain Honey Nut Cheerios, Whole Grain Cheerios, Chocolate Cheerios, and Regular Cheerios. (I dare you to go back and say all of these fast.) NACD-CheeriosBe aware we’re only talking about Cheerios, and not the myriads of other cold breakfast cereals shoppers have to dig through before they can find what they want. And, besides all these, there were large plastic packages of cereals that looked like Cheerios but may not have been.
cheerios honey nut To add confusion to the situation, Cheerios also come in different sizes like “regular”, “family” or “jumbo pack”. On that day not one “plain original” did they have in the “regular” size. I wanted the regular size! I love Brian but my cabinet would never accommodate the huge “double family” pack available, so I went home dejected, disappointed and empty-handed.
Okay, the guy is worth it, so I returned a few days later. No dice. This lady who doesn’t eat Cheerios at all was forced to purchase the “family” size or nothing at all. I hope Brian appreciates my Herculean efforts on his behalf. The guy really owes me….15454335-cow-milk
And, what kind of milk does Brian prefer? “Fat-free please.” Easy enough. I am not a milk drinker. I buy whatever milk is available in the small containers to use in my coffee when I occasionally use some at home. but I know milk. So, off I went again, this time absolutely full of confidence. After all, what can they do to milk? Did I say easy? That’s what you think. milk-glass-bottles
They have 3%, 2%, 1% and skim milk. There is cream, half & half, “coffee cream” (what’s that?), whipping cream, and can you believe, “fat free creamer”??? Just in case that doesn’t confuse the issue enough, besides Chocolate Milk and 2% Chocolate milk and buttermilk, you can also buy probiotic milk and no-lactose milk in regular, skim and 2%. If none of these suit you, you can choose from Almond milk or Soy milk, or Soy Coffee Whitener, (and pray tell what is that?) There is also a Soy “for coffee” (does that mean other soy milk isn’t good for coffee?) and Soy “light” and even Coconut milk. Whew!
silk almond, coconut, etc A friend of mine also likes to buy milk in a carton that doesn’t require refrigeration so she can have it on hand in her kitchen cabinet for when she doesn’t have any in her fridge. I didn’t look for that. However, while I was working on my extensive “milk” research project, there was another lady purchasing milk. She said they have milk with hormones and milk without hormones and they charge more for the milk without hormones.
I thought they didn’t allow hormones to be used on dairy cows in Canada, so I googled it and Google says that what I thought was true. Well, if they are selling milk with hormones here, either they are sneaking that milk in from over the border or the lady actually buying milk was wrong. I’ll never know because I never, ever want to go through checking out all the milk again. Once is enough! Did I say I know milk???????
There are just too darn many choices and it makes me crazy! Is this a rant?

P.S. Thank you Brian for the idea of writing this post. Love ya!

Oh dear! A Concussion?

Mom Scared SM I have a vestibular disorder. I have dealt with balance and dizziness issues for years. I have fallen many times. I listen to the news — I am interested in what happens when athletes suffer concussions. I know about these things. There are members of the organization I co-founded 15 years ago who deal with vestibular conditions because they’ve had concussions. You would think I’d know better….
I fell again recently. I went down like timber in the middle of the night and hit my forehead against a dresser with metal drawer pulls. Ouch! I was visiting friends. I didn’t want to disturb them so I said nothing — and did all the wrong things!

I fell down like timber in the middle of the night

I fell down like timber in the middle of the night


I dragged my aching body back into bed. The next morning, by pulling my hair down over it, I hid the large bump on my forehead which had blossomed into lovely shades of purple and blue. Clothing hid the bruises on my body and I claimed exhaustion and blamed the heat wave (it was 110 F. there) as an excuse to lay low. These are especially good friends and they let me call the shots. They spoil me and take care of all my needs/desires and I felt okay for the rest of my visit with them and noticed nothing.
After arriving back home, I felt unusually exhausted and unable to function. I’m organized — I made a list. It overwhelmed me — I’m not ordinarily easily overwhelmed. Friends called, but I was too weary to call them back (which was weird — I’m talkative) and sent out an email to a few at once saying I would call after I rested for a few days. A friend called back to ask if I had forgotten our book club meeting (at my place) the very next day. I had seen it on my calendar — it just hadn’t registered.
I had a concussion

I had a concussion

This friend knows about concussions. She recently had one herself. She suggested I see my doctor and I listened. My doctor confirmed that I did, indeed have a concussion and told me which steps to take, and especially to take it seriously.
“Muriel, I am interested in prevention,” she told me. “I want you to carefully think about it. Tell me exactly how it happened, why it happened, and what you can do to avoid it in the future.”
The brain, before and after a concussion

The brain, before and after a concussion


We discussed it together and I subsequently thought about it further after I got home and this is what I came up with.
#1 I was over-tired. I had risen at 4 a.m. the day before, then taken an all-day train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, arriving at about 9:00 p.m. Excited to see each other, my friends and I chatted awhile before I turned in. I awoke, as usual, sometime during the night to go to the bathroom, but was too tired to get up. If I ignore it, I hoped, perhaps I would fall back to sleep. It worked, but when I awoke the next time, it was a more urgent call for action. I moved too quickly.
#2 The bed I slept in is a sofa-bed. I’ve slept in it many times and it is lower than my own. Usually, I support myself with my hands when I get out of bed at home. I could not do that on the sofa bed. I needed to raise myself slowly and be sure of my footing before getting up. I was in a real hurry. I didn’t.
#3 The carpeting is plush and thick and soft — my own at home is not. I should have taken more time in turning towards where I was heading. I didn’t.
#4 In any case, I could have used my walking stick for support, no matter what. I didn’t. I jumped up, turned and keeled over.
“After the horse ran away, I locked the barn.” From that night on:
I did not put off the middle of the night trip to the washroom, so it would not feel so urgent.
I took my walking stick up to my bedroom each night and diligently used it for stability each time I got out of the low sofa bed and walked to the nearby washroom.
I turned slowly — as I should have in the first place.
It was too late to prevent the concussion this time, but I shall remember these steps in the future. And, I was extremely lucky. I’m okay now.