A flood of thoughts
Thursday June 26th 2008, 9:36 am
Filed under: Life

It sits there, looking so innocent. Like a kid going who, me?

Awhile back, my phone rang in the middle of the night. Not, with my ears out and on the headboard, that I noticed. And my husband can snooze through anything. We were pretty horrified at the message we discovered on our answering machine in the morning: “Is there something really wrong over there, or can you shut that thing off? My son’s family and I are leaving for Thailand at 3:30 am, and we really want to get some sleep first if possible.”

Which was far nicer than what I would have wanted to say had I been them. Sometimes we don’t deserve our good neighbors.

Our ’00 Chrysler minivan, or, for those teens-learning-to-drive years, the dentmobile, has a psychotic alarm system that maybe four times in its life now has randomly gone off of its own accord, honking and braying and kicking up its lights. How To Win Friends And Influence People. Not. Overcast, drizzly days have seemed more likely to set it off, but with the rarity of the event that might be just random attribution, akin to what Californians call “earthquake weather” (ie unseasonable warmth at a cool time of year, based on which past earthquake I have yet to figure out, but the Oct ’89 7.1 Loma Prieta got lots of comments of, well, it WAS earthquake weather…) Ie, it could be that drizzly overcast was simply what the weather was, the days that that van did its Heavy Metal act.

That story wasn’t finished, though; our neighbor kept not coming home from that trip, and we around her started calling each other: have you heard? No, you? It was a month after that call that I happened to step outside to see if the mail had come yet, just at the moment S stepped out of a car dropping her off at home. She saw me, I walked over to ask how the visit with the grandkids had gone, and she threw her arms around me and bawled.

They had been going to take the grandkids to the beach that one day. In Phuket. Somehow things fell apart and they just didn’t get there–which meant, when the tsunami hit, they were safe. They spent the next month visiting survivors they knew in the hospital, one of whom had seen her sweetheart pulled away from her, running relief supplies, driving the trucks, being keenly needed every single moment.

And now she was coming home to a quiet house in a quiet neighborhood where nobody knew. And I happened to step into sight at exactly the moment she most needed, offering her a transition to home and a shoulder to cry on.

Last night, I was making some of what is basically strawberry pie filling, for spooning onto all kinds of things to make them taste good. Strawberries pureed with a little sugar and a little cornstarch. Amount of cornstarch depends on number and runniness of the berries, and sometimes I get the equation right for it to set, but if I don’t, well, hey. Nuke for long enough to boil one minute or maybe more, but not less. Add juice of one Meyer lemon if you happen to have a tree handy.

Someone was asking me about new Crohn’s meds. That’s mine. It does seem to help.

I needed a lemon. I walked outside, thinking, man is it dark out here! All the ash in the sky from all the fires–842 in California at last count I heard–and all our usual city-lights-nightsky was smudged out. It looked very overcast. It was a bit strange out there.

The puree took all of two minutes to prepare, and into the microwave you go. As it cooked, it hit me:

Go disable the alarm on that car tonight.

I hadn’t thought of that thing in months. How do you even do that, given that it sets automatically? None of us remembered. I was going to have to look it up in the owner’s manual. A bit of a pain.

Compared to what it did that one time?! Go disable that alarm. Remember how S’s whole trip started off.

I’m going! And I did.

Hopefully, my neighbors will never know what didn’t hit them. But it stopped me and made me realize, you know? It’s been awhile since I made a contribution to Doctors Without Borders. I need to fix that.

We could use a little of the drizzly to go with our smoke about now. Nothing I can do about that. But there is something major I CAN do some small thing about. And I lay in bed last night, marveling at how the connections came to be for me. A nudge to go make sure my beeping car stays quiet.

A nudge to make the world a more gentle place.

(With thanks to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee for her Knitters Without Borders work for Doctors Without Borders.)


10 Comments so far
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What a great story. And remember, there are no coincidences. šŸ˜‰

Comment by Channon 06.26.08 @ 10:51 am

OH, sometimes that forethought makes all the difference…the simple act of caring for someone/something before a disaster strikes…whether it’s a car alarm or something far far worse. I’m so glad you were there for your neighbor…I once raced out of my house to see my neighbor’s dog hit by a car. A terrible loss, but still, I was the only one there for her until her husband came home. I wish we could all be there for neighbors in that way…I wish neighbors all cared for one another like that. Good to know kind people like you are out there!

Comment by Joanne 06.26.08 @ 11:40 am

I would happily and with glee send you some of our drizzly. With delight, even.

Robb keeps talking about this great big ball of fire in the sky that we used to see, once upon, in the beforetimes.

I think he’s making it up.

Comment by Kristine 06.26.08 @ 12:40 pm

as always your posts are magnificant, could you email me with an email address I can reach you at, I want to share something you inspired in me. Thanks Grace

Comment by grace 06.26.08 @ 1:16 pm

God often puts us where He needs us – right place, right time. Grace is being willing to act on that moment.

God bless you.

Comment by Barbara-Kay 06.27.08 @ 6:09 am

I’ll see what I can do to influence the weather here so that it heads west for you guys šŸ™‚ You def need it far more than we do here in MO

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 06.27.08 @ 6:43 am

Wow. One of your most fabulous stories. And that’s saying something. šŸ™‚

Comment by Romi 06.27.08 @ 9:23 am

Whoa. How things change in the blink of an eye.

Comment by Lynn 06.27.08 @ 10:07 am

Does the car have power sliding doors? If so the sensor may be going on the doors. They would be able to hook it up and tell right away.

This happened on my minivan. It was an easy fix, but then I thought the transmission was starting to go – appears there is another sensor in the transmission area that would be $$$ to fix, so I traded it in for a more fuel efficient car anyway.

Comment by Madame Purl 06.28.08 @ 7:24 am

How lucky your wonderful neighbor was to have you step outside….and how lucky were the people who had her in their lives as well!
Life sends us on our missions whether we know it or not….
Blessings all around šŸ˜‰

Comment by Sheila E 06.29.08 @ 7:24 am



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