August 4th, 2010

wayfaring wordhack

Unsettling numbers

Yesterday, I had to have some blood work done and was at the lab for 2.5 hours.  During that time, I saw 49 people come and go (not counting lab techs and secretaries, of course).

Amongst the 49:
- Four people flipped through magazines provided by the lab.
- One person brought her own book.
- One person brought his own newspaper.

So, 6 out of 49 people had something to occupy them. The other 43 just started blankly at the walls. The clinic was busy and the wait times long, but people preferred to sigh and stare. Many of them, I gathered from overheard conversations with the techs, were "regulars" at the clinic, and yet they had no desire (or thought?) to bring something to help them pass the time.*  I found that sad.

Then, at the grocery store, being pregnant and therefore the owner of a compressed bladder, I had to make use of the ladies room.

I saw three ladies coming out of stalls and only one washed her hands. :-/

* Personally, I took my crochet, knowing I would make good progress with so much time to kill--I did; four squares. (Six total yesty, so I'm 1/3 done with Little Bean's blanket...if you don't count the time it will take to sew the squares together. I worked on the niece's blanket, too, but it was one step back and two steps forward. I'm not going to have enough white yarn to finish, so I had to change the design a little bit, which meant ripping out a row and a half of stitches.)
wayfaring wordhack

Triggering memories

Smell is one of the most powerful memory triggers for me (and most people, I believe). For example, the fragrance of rain soaking the parched Texas soil, dripping off creosote bush and greasewood reminds of me of a magical day when a plethora of baby frogs came out to frolic in the blessed moisture; and because I smelled this same fragrance in another place, a second memory follows on the heels of the first: the time I tried to run away from home.  I must have been six at the time, and I got tired of dragging the cardboard box of my belongings so I gave up and went back to the house. 

But yesterday, it wasn't a smell that took me down memory lane as we picnicked by the Loire. It was a taste.

I've never been big on sardines, canned or otherwise, but during our last trip to Madagascar, we had to eat cans and cans of them.  A five-day canoeing/hiking/sightseeing tour we took included food, and the food of choice for our guides was sardines. I won't say I grew fond of them, but I did overcome my original skepticism concerning their edibility when that was all there was to be had.

So, yesterday, when Julien decided to eat sardines for our picnic, I grabbed a box for myself. And the taste took me right back to Madagascar and one day in particular.

We had just finished the three-day canoeing portion of our trip and, while waiting for our oxen-drawn carts to be loaded, had lunch just outside the "village" (three shacks, a boui-boui--hole-in-the-wall restaurant or street-vendor type eating establishment--and a dirt ramp leading down to the river to accommodate canoeists who can go no further due to the shallowness of the water).   

The village children gathered around us, hanging back just far enough not to incur the wrath of our guides, as they waited for us to finish our sardines.  As soon as the fish was gone, a child would run forward to accept the can still full of oil, which they would drink down with delight, then,  with grimy fingers, scoop out any remaining bits of sardines and seasonings.

It was a bittersweet thing to witness standing, as we were, at the chasm that divides those with too much from those with too little.

ETA: My love is the one who took these photos, btw, not moi. I'll try to remember to attribute next time. :P