When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, I worried greatly that he would be assassinated by some racial bigot, just as Abraham Lincoln, the other President from Illinois, was slain. Obama is known to revere Lincoln as his idol. Certainly Obama, like Lincoln, is dealing with a United States that is almost as polarized as it was during the Civil War. Now that six years have passed, I have seen a president wrestling with an economy that almost fell off the brink. I have seen him press for relief while dealing with a Republican party that votes no on matters that would benefit and help bring relief to those struggling with job losses, bankruptcies, and foreclosures. I have come to realize that though the President may not be cut down by a single bigot, he may be “slain” by John Wilkes Booth once more in the guise of the Republican party that has vowed to see him fail. If that happens, we will grieve once more for a great statesman who sacrificed his political future in order to insure that the United States of America will remain the greatest nation in the world.
I am a closet meteorologist. I have never had any formal training, but I applied, when I was in the Navy, to be just that–a weatherman. With my English teaching background and a remarkable typing ability, the Navy decided to train me as a yeoman, a clerk-typist. I have always had some kind of rain gauge in the yard, usually these little glass tubes that must be emptied after a rain. Currently, I am using an Oregon Weather Station that records the amount of rainfall as well as measures the temperature outside and inside. I check it frequently. During the summer when we in west-central Florida watch the tropics for tropical storms, I find myself sometimes pulling for a big storm–a hurricane. When I hear weather people say that the storm is going into an area favorable for development, I find myself rooting for the storm. When and if a storm does actually come close to my area, I then begin to back off and feel concern. I think my interest is something like our fascination with automobile accidents and fires. There is something in our nature that seeks excitement in weather phenomenon regardless of the risk it may cause.
Before I started traveling so much, I was staying home cultivating my garden. When I write “my garden,” I must qualify that statement as it sounds as though I had acres under cultivation. Actually, I had at most two plants: one Big Boy tomato and one cherry tomato. What a joy it was to shop for two beautiful tomato plants and then watch them grow and develop the first baby tomatoes. The last time I tried growing tomatoes, I employed the hanging upside down method. Although I had some of the greenest, healthiest leaves I had ever seen, the production of actual tomatoes was minimal. Nowadays, I don’t dare plant tomatoes as I am on the go too much. I recently returned from seven weeks in Europe and thought when I arrived at home on September 30th, now is the time to plant tomatoes in central Florida. However, with a Caribbean cruise upcoming in early December, once again the effort would end in abandonment. I surely would enjoy once again the taste of a deep red home-grown tomato. I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied with a can of Diane’s Garden tomato juice.
One of the best gifts I have ever received is my rain gauge. My second best gift was my night-lights that turn themselves on and off. The rain gauge sits on the small table beside my bed where I keep my alarm clock. I check it daily and even more so on days when we have rain. Yesterday was a banner day for rain gauges in St. Petersburg, FL. We had 2.36 inches of rainfall before the day was over, and I watched the gauge rise steadily. The gauge doesn’t change numbers one at a time but, when it is raining heavily, adjusts itself sometimes in .10’s. If it is raining more slowly, it usually adjusts when there is another .03 inches of rainfall. The best thing about yesterday’s rain was that it was a record breaker for my gauge–I had never before seen the rainfall top 1 inch in one day. I understand that that happened several times during September, but I was away from home at that time so today was my first day to celebrate seeing a rainfall of more than 1 inch on my rain gauge. I hope it’s going to be a wet winter.
If you have been following my blog, then you know that this past year I have been dealing with a melanoma skin cancer on my forehead. It was discovered by my dermatologist who had removed another melanoma from my back. This one required the help of a cosmetic surgeon. The surgery was scheduled in time for me to make my trip to Greece with my partner on August 12. After the surgery, I was told to buy a product called “Scar Away” and to use for up to ten weeks, which I did. It was flesh-colored so didn’t really call attention to the spot. Of course, the main reason for the surgery was not cosmetic but for healing. I met again with the cosmetic surgeon who looked at my scar eight weeks after the surgery was performed and suggested that I have another surgery to remove the scar tissue and replace it with a smaller, less noticeable scar. My partner and I talked about the additional surgery and decided not to have another operation. Although the scar is certainly obvious, my health has been restored, and I am grateful.
In Greece, where I spent the last seven weeks, I learned right away that anything ordered from a menu comes with French fries, including the omelet I had for breakfast this morning. Maybe the Irish who fled the potato famine arrived and convinced the Greeks to serve potatoes with everything. Fortunately, Dimitris told me that sometimes the potatoes are negotiable–rice may be substituted. How about some vegetables such as green beans or broccoli? How about preparing my steak medium rare? Sorry! Greeks serve food only their way.
I love to travel although getting there can be tedious. I know that I love to see places that I have never seen. However, I also enjoy returning to a place that I have particularly enjoyed, such as the island of Santorini. I first saw Santorini in 1994 when I took a cruise of the Greek islands with friends. Of all the places we visited on that cruise, Santorini has stood out in my mind as the most different and intriguing place I have ever been. This summer, I returned to “paradise,” taking a SuperJet boat from Athens to Santorini. When we first approached the island, I was disappointed. It didn’t appear as beautiful as I remembered. When I realized that, because we were not arriving on an ocean liner, we were approaching from a different side of the island, I calmed down. The three days and two nights were spent exploring the island. All of the grandeur was still there–the breathtaking scenes of cliffs plunging into the sea, the blue and white architecture which makes the island unique, and the awesome sunsets. Returning to Athens by plane, a twenty-five minute ride, instead of the four hours by boat was also an additional plus.