Sunday, June 27, 2010

A little bit of this an a little bit of that

Why is it that umbrellas don't last for more than a summer? I'd like to blame it on the wind, since it never seems to rain vertically in South Dakota but always with a horizontal slant.

Almost every time I dash through a rainstorm, my umbrella inverts, creating a perfectly good for nothing thing with a curled handle. Just think about it...we have sent astronauts to the moon, we have developed hybrid seeds that grow vegetables in the desert, but we haven't engineered a durable umbrella.

I have never thought of July 4 as the end of summer, but retailers do. As soon as July 5th hits, they are stocking their shelves with back-to-school supplies and clothes. And by August, they have aisles of Halloween, Thanksgiving and even Christmas merchandise. Now I know why people move to the mountains or to remote islands. It's so they can live the remainder of their lives without commercialism dictating their thoughts and actions.

Have you ever wondered why so many people get cancer? A doctor once told me it's not if we will get cancer, it's when we will get cancer. How morbid is that? I wonder if it's because of all the plastic we use or possibly the quantity of prepackaged- already-prepared-just-pop-it-in-the-microwave food we eat.

The next time you're in the grocery store, notice how much space is allotted to fresh foods compared to space dedicated to foods in boxes, cans, plastic bags and jars. If we returned to shopping only in fresh food markets, would our cancer rate decrease?

People ask me what makes my pasta sauce so delicious. I tell them it's all about how I feel when I'm cooking it. My advice? If you're having a bad day, don't cook. Plus, I have some secret pasta sauce ingredients and cooking methods, which I am more than willing to share for the asking.

When I was in the London in May, I was pleasantly shocked to see palm trees. I learned that the soil is so fertile there that you can grow anything. Who would have thought?

Why is it that so many people eat their meals in their cars? Have we become so busy that we don't have time to sit down at a table and slowly savor every bite. Or is it that we have became a fast food nation and grabbing breakfast, lunch and dinner on the run is the norm?

From listening to Science Friday on National Public Radio, I learned that if you can hear thunder there is a danger of a lightning strike. I always thought I was safe as long as the thunder sounded far away. I also learned that plumbing pipes are conductors of lightning. That's the real reason you don't want to be doing dishes or taking a shower when it's storming.

When I see the oil continuing to gush from a broken pipe at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, I am sickened by our mindless oversights and our inability to protect nature and ourselves from disasters like this one. I am saddened by our greed. I say "our" because we all play a role in this with our unquenchable desire for bigness: big vehicles, big machinery, big boats, big house and our big lives that are addicted to fossil fuels.

I will be 58 in November and for the most part I don't feel old, until I count the number of pills I take everyday: one multivitamin, two calcium pills, one vitamin C, one baby aspirin, one blood pressure pill, a capsule for acid reflex, and one for allergies. That's eight pills daily, not counting my sleep medicine at night. And then I look down at my bent arm while I'm typing this and see the wrinkled skin of an old woman.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took a total of five first-place awards. To contact Paula, email , follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.

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