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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Driving without the radio


I am an incurable multi-tasker. One way I found to multi-task was listening to books on CD while I drove. It was very enjoyable, since listening to a book on CD is very different than reading the words on the page. The reader makes a huge difference. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a compelling novel, but SimonVances strong and distinguished voice made the story resonate within me. By listening to books on CD in my travels, I was able to absorb more books than I could by reading them. I felt I was accomplishing more than just getting from point A to point B, though my safety in driving was never affected.
You will notice as I speak about this, I am using the past tense. This is why.
A few weeks ago, I was listening to an audio CD in my car that was Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, which coincidentally is in itself multi-tasking. The book combines historical data with whimsy, sort of like 2 books for the price of one. When the CD ended, I tried to eject it, but it wouldn’t cooperate. No matter how much I pushed the eject button, the CD continued to play.
This isn’t right, I thought, as I turned off the radio.
My husband saved the day by removing the CD from the radio without damaging it. However, that was the end of the radio--it was permanently broken. This was bad news-- no longer would my travels be enhanced by listening to the latest Michael Connelly novel, not to mention now I wouldn’t know how ALVH ended.   
The next day I had to drive without the radio and I wasn’t looking forward to it. The first few minutes, the silence assaulted me.  I was positive that my travel would be endless and torturous.
After a couple of miles, I began to notice that the silence wasn’t a hindrance, but rather a nice change. I was unplugged from the constant noise of modern life. With this absence of noise distractions, I noticed that my mind felt uncluttered.   I readily spotted the same model cars on the road as I was driving, creating my own version of punchbuggy without the punching and the buggy.
I also began to enjoy the random thoughts and ideas that would pop in my head.  Being a writer, these mental morsels are essential, and I appreciated this rolling, quiet think tank.
 I know soon the radio will be replaced (my son is missing listening to the top 40 music!) but I can’t say for sure if I will go back to listening to books on CD again while I drive. Maybe I can be a reformed multi-tasker and enjoy focusing on one thing at a time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Onions on the highway


In the last days of Summer, when Autumn breezes are visiting the mornings, is when harvesting is at its peak. I love to see the fields changing from plain dirt to a lush green blanket or tall, amber stocks. This journey of harvesting is very new to me. Before moving to Middleton, I was raised in the seaside city of Santa Monica and then moved to the arid desert of Las Vegas. Neither one of these cities offer much opportunity to actually see the humble beginnings of vegetables.
My first year in Middleton during Autumn, as I drove to work with the windows down, I became aware of a piercing aroma in the morning air. I went through a mental checklist to identify this and the closest I could come up with was cooking onions in a meatless stew.
What??
I was nowhere near a restaurant and couldn't imagine someone’s private kitchen would be emitting this heavy but delicious aroma.
As I drove further down the road, I saw scattered along the side of the highway onions.  Some still were encased in their golden skins, while others were denuded and splintered.   I couldn't believe it, but there was the proof. For a split second, I thought of pulling to the side of the road and picking up the freebies. I quickly thought against it as I saw the speeding cars and semi-trucks whizzing by.  I smiled to myself as I drove past the mini harvest, watching the crackling, amber onion skins catch the breeze.