Near Death Experience

This is a cautionary tale to be diligent, alert, and always pay attention when you’re doing something as simple as walking…

Since we’re between storms, this was a beautiful morning for a walk. As I headed toward the beach, there’s an intersection with a four-way stop. (For those of you who know Carlsbad, it’s Chinquapin and Adams.)

At the time I safely proceeded to cross at the crosswalk, there were no cars. As I was almost all the way across the street, three-quarters of the way to the other side, a small-ish SUV caught my eye because the car didn’t seem to be slowing down to stop at the stop sign and I was directly in the line of fire.

It seemed as if she was planning to roll through the stop sign and hit me!

I stopped, yelled “HEY!” as loud as I could, which got her attention and she screeched to a halt, inches away from me.

She looked extremely flustered, surprised and guilty; proof that she had absolutely not seen me. I know I’m small, but I’m not invisible. Sheesh.

After that, I emitted a few dozen choice words and tried to get her license number as she sped off but not before I saw that she had a photo of a baby hanging from her rear view mirror. She was a mom and might have even put her child in harm’s way.

That’s a close enough call with death for one day, or at least a close call with a potentially painful accident.

The moral of the story is to stay alert and don’t trust that a driver will pay attention or even obey simple rules of the road.

Anyway, I’d like to thank my guardian angels for protecting me one more time!

Left Behind

I don’t know if it was Freud or someone else who said that there was an underlying subliminal reason why someone leaves things behind at your home, but in the case of my Angels, I love it when they do.

I find and gather up the artifacts to either mail or bring with me on my next visit. They’re like little treasures that attach themselves to memories of a special time.

Thank goodness I didn’t step barefoot on a fierce Ninjago Lego minifigure. I had found another one and mailed it along with random socks and a forgotten light up ball that had rolled under the sofa, but this little guy was exhumed when I changed the sheets and I recalled the morning Angel Boy crawled into bed with me at about 6am.

“Grandma, are you awake? Daddy said I could come down. He’s going surfing.”
“Look at my Legos.This is one of the Ninjagos, LOOK!” “He’s one of my favorites.” “Grandma, can you make me a Ninjago cake?” “You can do it, I know you can.”

“I don’t know, T. I can do a kitty or an owl or a bunny, but a Ninjago cake seems pretty difficult for me.”

“Did you wash my favorite (Ninjago) shirt for me?”

“It’s a bit early for me to handwash your favorite shirt, T. How about breakfast first?”

“Grandma, do you always do the same things every single time you wake up?”

“What’s that, T? What do I do?”

“You put on your glasses, take off your retainers, take a vitamin, and do your inhaler. And then you make coffee.”

“You know what, Angel? That’s exactly what I do, in exactly that order. You are incredibly observant to remember each and every detail. I do those same things every single day at your house and my house. Do you think about that?”

“Yes, I do. I’m hungry. Can I have some apple pie?”

The answer to that was yes. The children know me too well. I approve of apple pie for early breakfast. I wrapped a piece for dad to eat before his dawn patrol surf sesh, too.

Those Angels leave a trail of love behind, that’s the best part.

Conversational Speed Bump

As I sit here with a sore throat, sneezing so hard I think I’ve rearranged some brain cells, I wonder how I even got sick since I still mask up in public. I’ve tested twice for Covid and it’s been negative both times, so that’s something to be grateful for. All I want to do is to curl up with a mug of spicy ginger tea and a cozy blanket.

My virus-type thing came on pretty rapidly after THIS experience. Maybe the Universe is helping me stay home and safely away from toxic people…

Photo by Michael Anthony on Pexels.com

There’s one specific car that flies down my street every morning, Monday through Friday, hurtling itself over the speed bumps/humps and barely – if at all – bothering to slow down for the stop sign before turning right and into the elementary school parking lot.

After randomly witnessing this occur over several days, I walked to the school and snapped a pic of the car in the parking lot.

I entered the Admin building and asked the school secretary to please take a look at the photo and explained that I’m sure this was an employee and it would be a good idea to caution this person that she was speeding and please slow down on our street as it’s not a freeway, even if she’s late for work.

I never imagined the vitriol I would soon receive.

First of all, the secretary curtly informed me that anything outside the parking lot wasn’t her business and I should go to the police. While she thought that statement would deter me, along with her frosty dismissive attitude, she clearly didn’t know with whom she was dealing.

I said slowly, enunciating carefully, “I came here as a courtesy, hoping that all staff would be reminded to drive carefully, legally, and responsibly around the neighborhood as it’s a known ongoing problem, and what you’re suggesting is that I should just go to the police?”

“Well, there are fifty cars out there, you can’t expect me to figure out who owns that car! How do I know if it’s even an employee! That’s not my job!”

I responded, “Oh, but yes, I surely DO expect you to do your due diligence, especially since you’re looking at a photo with the license plate. And I don’t understand why you’re not concerned or being helpful. This person is driving in a reckless manner.”

I will tell you that I spoke in a calm but firm voice, having been in that office dozens of times as a parent, which is why I know the lay of the land, so to speak.

I reiterated, “So what I hear you say is that you WANT me to go to the police and you are refusing to address this issue, simply and internally?”

She looked at me and said, “Where did you say this was? At the roundabout?”

Geez, I hate these kinds of encounters so much, but I persevered. I took a breath before continuing. “So far, I’ve explained to you three times that this car flies over the speed bumps on the street before the stop sign.” (And I actually pointed in that direction, which she could see through the doors.)

Her next words made me chuckle. So predictable for people like that.

“STOP YELLING AT ME! You’re being rude! I don’t have to be treated this way!”

I calmly informed her that I hadn’t raised my voice but that we neighbors do not appreciate staff using our street like a freeway and if she’d prefer that I give the vehicle info to the police, I’d be happy to do so as I had made the effort to come into the office as a consideration to avoid involving the police, which seemed entirely unnecessary.

In the old days, I would have been so angry that I would have met her vitriolic negative energy with a shit ton of my own. Trust me, I could raise the threat level to DEFCON 2 (next step to nuclear war) in a heartbeat.

In the OLD DAYS, smoke would have poured out of my ears and nose like a dragon, but this kinder and gentler version of me didn’t respond further. I walked home, shaking my head. Life lessons learned.

I was honestly surprised by her attitude. In my naïveté, I thought she’d thank me for bringing the matter to her attention and she’d inform the principal to review safety protocol for driving in our community, to respect the neighborhood, and to assure me that my concerns were important and would be properly addressed.

I was wrong.

So my next call will be to the police which was definitely avoidable. Once again I’m reminded of one of the reasons I HATED teaching elementary school.

(Another time I’ll recount the tale of the high school assistant principal who DARED to target my 4.8 GPA child for a crime he didn’t commit. Let’s just say that after I was done with him, he had another job. Mama bears don’t have an off switch when it comes to protecting their young, right?)

Wandering

Not like my Jewish ancestors wandering for forty days and forty nights in the desert but that’s what it feels like when I can’t find my car in the parking lot.

Photo by Kelly on Pexels.com

Others seem to be in the same predicament; we are all wanderers in the concrete jungle.

I guess my mind was on other things and I didn’t MINDFULLY pay attention to where I parked, but this time I almost thought that my car had been stolen, but it hadn’t been…it was in the stall exactIy where I had parked it and then I must have completely lost my train of thought as my brain was on to the next thing.

Part of the problem is that when I initially pulled into the spot, the lot was fairly empty, but when I came out of the store, it had gotten full and things looked a bit different and that was slightly disconcerting.

Anyway, it all turned out fine, the car was located, I laughed at myself and drove home.

Has that ever happened to you?

Lurking Lizard: Search and Rescue

I’m involved in a search, rescue, and release mission because a baby lizard somehow sneaked in the house.

Right now he’s lying low, evading my efforts to liberate him, lurking behind the sofa.

I’ve tried everything; this isn’t the first time it’s happened, but so far I’m not successful in this rescue and release.

And that means neither is that lizard because there’s nothing for him to eat here – no flies, worms, caterpillars, nada.

I’m only trying to help.

I cleaned behind the sofa and now there’s no dust, either.

WHERE ARE YOU, LIZARD?

A brief Google search let me know that lizards symbolize resurrection, rebirth, and regeneration. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the symbol of the lizard was representative of plentiful abundance. A lizard in one’s house is often seen to represent an old friend or acquaintance, reminding you of their spirit. 

The next morning…still no sign of this lizard, but I’m still looking. I haven’t given up yet.

Just after noon, I almost stepped on this little lizard as he was well camouflaged on a floral rug, but he made a wise choice to reveal his location. I grabbed a plastic container, pushed him in, and ran outside to set him free.

Enjoy your freedom, my friend!

Mission accomplished.

Waiting For The Sky to Fall

It’s HOT.

6:30 a.m. and already 85 degrees. There are some monsoonal clouds drifting by and a bit of wind, but no rain.

I don’t think the temp has ever been this high this early, not that I can remember, anyway.

We are in an extended high heat warning. It was nearly one hundred degrees yesterday. Scorching, brutally hot.

It’s not often that we have humidity but that’s what made it all so unpleasant. Several records were broken. Climate change, anyone?

It was too hot to go outside. Because of the fires around here, air quality was poor.

And then critters started invading the house.

I heard the raucous chirping of a cricket and located the sound coming from the dining room.

Then, the family room was invaded by dozens of diminutive flying insects that seemed to have materialized out of nowhere.

A lizard clung to the patio screen door. I told him it wasn’t any cooler inside–there’s no air conditioning and he’d fare better by hiding in the shade of a rock.

I filled a bowl with water for my bobcat and coyote family.

I’m now waiting for the locusts.

Musical Notes: A Composition of Crows

I’ve never played a single musical instrument — well, I took a few guitar lessons many years ago but I can’t remember a thing plus I had no talent.

We have a piano because of Angel Boy. His grandma really wanted him to learn so he could play Ode to Joy and Fur Elise for her, which he did, and it made her very happy, especially during her final illness.

I looked up on this very sunny and hot blue sky day and the first thing that popped into my head was that I was looking a musical score of some sort.

I think I’m not the only one who has observed birds on wires and took similar photos, but this is my contribution. Whatever tune they’re playing is a special sort of magic. Counting Crows?

A Fork in the Road

Literally.

On my walk home from the beach, near the train tracks, I looked down and saw this fork in the road.

A single fork with nothing else around it; not a flimsy plastic utensil from takeaway, but a silver fork with a blue handle, part of set, I’m sure.

Thank goodness it was pointing in the same direction I was heading, because if not, that would have definitely caused me to stop and ponder my next step.

I’m not sure what, if any symbolism I’m supposed to glean from this random fork in the road, but I’m relieved to have quite possibly been given a heavenly sign that I was on the right path.

Regardless, it was the route that would eventually bring me home — and for me, like Dorothy, there’s no place like home.

I left it there to help guide others on their own journey, but I did bring home a silky black raven’s feather to add to my collection.

The Kindness of Strangers

I had to go down to the airport which is about forty miles away, not because I was going anywhere or picking anybody up, but to take care of some business.

We have horrible public transportation here in Southern California but I heard there was a new free airport shuttle, so I thought I’d be an adventurer and try it out. It would save gas and save the hassle of finding a place to park.

The first step would be to take the Coaster from Carlsbad to another station where the airport shuttle would be. The problem with that is so few times on the Coaster schedule meant the entire process would take approximately six hours or more.

I decided to drive down to the Sorrento Valley train station. After I drove around for about ten minutes until I located the parking lot, I called the shuttle and asked where it stopped. I was informed that I was at the wrong station (my bad) and would either have to wait forever for the Coaster, or drive down to the Old Town station, which I did.

Upon arriving at the Old Town station, I couldn’t figure out WHERE THE EFFING parking lot was. There were no signs, no arrows, nothing that directed me to anywhere to park my car to take the free airport shuttle.

Since I was now ALMOST at the effing airport, actually only two exits away on the freeway, I got back on the road, drove to the airport, and found a place to park my car. They’ve totally torn apart Terminal One so it was a good thing I needed to be at Terminal Two or I would have ended up turning back around and heading home without accomplishing my mission.

In the parking lot, I asked a gentleman how to get to the terminal because THERE WERE NO SIGNS. He started to point in a direction, thought better of it, and kindly walked me to an unmarked spot where I could cross the street and head up a flight of UNMARKED stairs to a skybridge that eventually connected with the terminal.

It wasn’t a very busy day and there weren’t too many people, which was great because I tend to get disoriented in crowds.

After all that driving I had to use the restroom and while I was washing my hands, a nice airport employee told me I looked like I needed some help and I started laughing because I didn’t know anyone could see into my mind. I told her where I was going and she said I was in the wrong place and if I walked about ten miles and up another flight of stairs, I might locate my destination. I followed her directions and ended up walking from one end of the terminal to the next with no luck.

I was close to admitting defeat and trying to find my way back to my car when I spotted an information booth. When I asked the VERY KIND LADY how to get to where I was going, she said she’d take me so I didn’t get lost again and escorted me in an entirely different direction UP another flight of steps until we arrived at the Clear kiosk, where she handed me over to another patient and delightful person who helped me finish the eye scan and fingerprint process so that all my future travels would be expedited.

Whew! I was certainly relieved to be done with THAT, but now I had to figure out how to get back to my car. I accepted the very real possibility that I’d be wandering around the airport all day. I was all twisted around and didn’t know what level of the terminal I was on or what door I needed to exit.

I remembered that I saw a sign for the USO near where I parked so I located yet another airport employee and asked for directions to the USO where I hoped I’d find something familiar. When he showed me the proper crosswalk, all the pieces fell into place. I retraced my steps back where I had spoken to the original helpful stranger, and lo and behold, there was my car!

After driving around and around in the parking lot because I couldn’t find the POORLY marked exit, I paid $6 for the privilege of feeling incredibly dumb in my attempts to navigate the big city.

Like Blanche DuBois, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Everyone was lovely and courteous. Thank you all, and I’m even happier and more grateful to be home.

Now I need to plan some travels to make this travesty of a day worthwhile.

What I learned is that public transportation here is even more horrible than I remembered and there’s a lot of room for improvement, especially with signage.

I’m a Mutant

I may have confessed this before but I can’t remember when or even if I actually did, so apologies if you heard this story before…

The subject of body odor came up recently when my son was looking through my medicine cabinets because he forgot his deodorant and was hunting for mine. (We’re all about sharing is caring around here.)

I reminded him that I have NEVER used deodorant because I don’t need it; never did, and all that proves is that he NEVER listens to me because I know I’ve shared that with him a million times. (The absent-minded professor cliche and all that entails is a real thing.)

I have zero body odor.

I mean, I smell GOOD thanks to Chanel, but even if I’ve been working out at the gym or at the end of an all day hike, I never small bad. Most of the time I don’t even sweat, but if I do, I still don’t smell bad. It’s true.

I remember back when all the grown up changes were happening to my body and my mom gave me THE TALK and we went shopping for THE THINGS. She told me it was also time to use deodorant and we picked out a really cool one (mother-daughter fun times) along with presents for reaching a milestone (and you can see where I acquired my love for shopping!)

I dutifully added deodorant to my daily self care routine but I slowly realized that I didn’t need it. It made no difference to my body’s odors. I just didn’t have one, nor did I perspire. When I told my mom and had her SMELL me at random times, she was surprised but agreed, and as a nurse, her professional response to me was that I was a medical miracle.

I never purchased nor used another deodorant, not even when I was pregnant and my body was going through a million hormonal surges.

Since there was no Google, there was nowhere to research this unusual phenomenon. I wish my mom was here now so I could tell her what I’ve learned about the genetic factors that cause someone NOT to emanate an unpleasant body odor.

In fact, the gene wasn’t even discovered until the 2000s. It also has something to do with having dry as opposed to wet ear wax but that’s too gross for me to think about.

You were right, Mom! I really am a medical miracle!

The ABCC11 protein is important in transporting small molecules across membranes in secretory cells. Mutations in this gene will lead to dryer earwax and decreased body odor. Mutations in the ABCC11 gene may also lead to a decreased risk of breast cancer.

Two percent of people carry an unusual form of a specific gene (ABCC11) that means their armpits never smell.

What I find really interesting is that East Asian and Native American people were already known to have a form of the ABCC11 gene compared with other ethnicities, and as far as I know, I am neither of those. I haven’t done any genetic testing on myself to be sure, but I kinda doubt it.

My DNA is pretty much 100% Jewish princess.

I also know that I didn’t pass that genetic anomaly to my son because he definitely NEEDS deodorant. Most definitely, which is why he was searching in my bathroom. (Sorry, Angel Boy!)

The finding came from research involving 6,495 women who were enrolled in the Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol, England and was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

In the study, 117 (2%) of the subjects were lucky enough to carry this gene that allowed them to never have to worry about using deodorant. 

People with the ABCC11 non-functioning gene variant have dry earwax and little or no body odor. People with a functioning ABCC11 gene usually have wet earwax and body odor. I didn’t know there was a connection, did you?

ABCC11 is required for the transport of lipophilic substances, bile acids, conjugated steroids, and – most importantly – the component found in apocrine sweat and earwax, which results in odor and wet earwax. Again, gross…

The transporter doesn’t work for people who have loss-of-function genetic variants and thus doesn’t transfer the odor-causing lipids into their armpits. 

One day I might do my DNA profile to try and figure out how I acquired this genetic deviation, but for now, I will just be happy to be an enchanted mutant princess who smells really, really good, like a rose!