Saturday, December 29, 2007

Complete Systems Check

Several days ago a message began appearing on the dashboard of my little silver Buick. "Service Engine Soon" or something of that ilk. Since I had just spent way too much money having my heater repaired and getting the oil changed and all those car juices replenished, I was a little annoyed. After all, I give the car a bit of tweaking and it starts demanding more service! What's up with that? Anyway, I took it into the shop and they checked it. They reset the button (which means they turned it off...stilled its whining mouth...pulled the plug on its audacity). However, it left me a little jealous. Why can't we have a system like that? Just stick our finger in a socket and get a computer reading?

Oh doctor, I'd like to schedule a service visit for myself. Yes, I've got a few nagging lights, and no, I'm not ready for a new model yet. Could you just hook me up to a diagnostic machine and tell me what needs tweaking. Add a few vitamins and minerals and change my transmission fluid. It seems that those messages aren't getting to the brain as fast as they used to. I think you should lubricate the joints as well. Ah yes, and check the pressure. (That easy-to-use home machine keeps giving me readings that are higher than normal, and there is a lot of difference between the left and right arm pressure which can be a scary thing if you do all that medical internet research.) My valves are sticking and I need some engine coolant for all that steam.

Then, in a few minutes they could tell me exactly what was wrong and what I should fix, or they could turn the warning off and tell me it was just a false pain and I am good for another fifty thousand miles. It would sure beat emergency room expenses, cat scans, calcium scans, all those grams and graphs and oscopies...especially the oscopies.


Today I noticed that the message on the dashboard was lit again.
"Service Engine Soon," it said smugly.

Ah well. Nobody ever said we live in a perfect world, and if they did say it, they need an oscopy of the brain.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Strange White World That Has Such People In It

Yesterday I met my new sister-in-law, fresh from the sunny Philippines with flip-flops on her feet and I'm sorry for the loud bed set I gave her--maroon with magnolias all over it. She smiled and said thank you, but I wonder if she was really thinking: "Oh my goodness. How garishly shocking! How will I ever be able to sleep in the same room with that?"

She doesn't say much and I think we overwhelmed her with all our talking and singing and laughing. Mom says she watches and learns quickly. Good thing. She had never used a washer and dryer or a dishwasher, but after seeing once how to run them, she has done the laundry every day. Mom showed her how to make the tea (in the microwave) and she now runs in and does it as if she had been an American Southerner all her life.

We brought her mittens and scarves and hats and jackets for Christmas and she asked us all to choose a gift she had brought from Davao---adorable little purses and exotic new candy made of fruits we had never seen or heard of.

Mom enlisted her help with wrapping presents and the results were such that we all took cell phone pictures of the elaborate bows and folded wrapping paper. Maybe she should work in a flower shop or a gift store...that is when she's ready to work. She is certainly creative.

Some day, I'm sure, she will tell us how she felt this first Christmas in our cold winter world.
Right now, I'm remembering her eyes when I hugged her goodbye. Big, brave eyes. I asked her if they did a lot of hugging in the Philippines. She shook her head. Maybe she misunderstood me...or maybe she was just thinking, "Why does this plump, bouncy woman keep blanketing me with hugs as overwhelming as white magnolias on a maroon field?