Random thoughts for a new year


The thoughts spinning in this old head as another year gets under way are like chop suey, a variety with little connection.

It's no surprise that the program on TV as I begin this column is about exercise and diet, a popular subject after the holiday binge. We know when we reach for one more cookie or spread cheese on a buttery cracker that we will have to work it off if we care about appearance and health. I just took two bites of a dreadful sweet roll that was doled out in the name of a continental breakfast in the hotel where I am staying in Toledo, and I could kick myself for letting such bad food into my body. A good cookie or cheese ball is one thing, but when we eat substandard fare we are truly lacking will-power.

The subject prior to the fitness program was the proper care and training of a pet for those who received one for Christmas. Let's hope people realize the innocence of animals when they are new in a home. What we do with the furry newcomers in the first weeks sets the rules for the future. They like routine. They are smarter than we give them credit for and they have feelings. Only last week the vet told me Digby is a worrier. It took me 10 years to find that out.

The morning of the big snow I learned first-hand what front-wheel drive means. My car, Henry Maxwell, is not blessed with the engineering design that makes driving in snow and ice easier. Henry didn't get stuck in the driveway because Mr. Ed came over with a snow blower to dredge a path from the house to the road. That was the first lesson in the good-neighbor policy. The second lesson was at the corner of Beecher Road and M-127 when Henry did get stuck in the lane the county plows ignored. I rocked and rolled the big Mercury and had given up and was ready to call for help when a man in a pickup truck stopped.

He got in the driver's side and rocked and rolled a few minutes without luck. Another truck stopped and a guy got out to begin pushing the car out of the snow, but Henry was stubborn. The kindness continued when a third car stopped and two strapping young men jumped out to help push. Henry finally gave up and willingly was driven across the road. Then, believe it or not, one of those nice guys shook hands, said, "God bless you, ma'am," and held up traffic so that I could cross safely and resume driving.

In my heart I know the help was not just in the spirit of the holidays.

There's one more thing on my mind this morning, and it relates to traveling and to the tsunami. People who travel should leave an itinerary of their trip to include hotels and telephone numbers. Too often we are busy in the throes of travel plans and neglect the family and friends at home, except with a postcard and maybe a telephone call. But as the unexpected, unannounced tsunami proved, we never know what might happen.

I knew that my good friend, Bob Fondessy of Oregon was going to southern India for Christmas and New Year's but I didn't know the exact locations and dates. When news of the lives lost and devastation came, my heart sank in worry about Bob's safety until he telephoned, saying he and Carlos Rendon, with whom he is traveling, were safe. Then I passed the word to mutual friends who also were worried. He returned home Tuesday, and it was wonderful to welcome him back.

Those of us who travel owe it to the folks back home to leave an itinerary of our whereabouts.