Phone Call to Aunt Henriette

August 30, 2009

Aunt Henriette sounded alert and perky when we finally connected by phone. She told me how important it is to think positively, and to avoid the “dark side.” There is some merit to this approach to life and I chatted with her in a positive manner.

I was relieved to hear that she talks frequently with Carl, her son. Carl lives in Oregon, about as far as he can get from his mom, in New York City, so perhaps he now feels it safe to speak with her. He lives with a lady friend in Oregon.

I asked Henriette if Carl lives near Portland (where we lived for a while). I asked where he lives and if it is near Portland (where my family lived for a while). Henriette, vague on West Coast geography, thought he was nearby to Portland. She said Carl lives in a place called Wolf Creek. After the phone conversation, I looked up Wolf Creek. It’s actually close to the border with California.

Carl and his lady friend, Jennifer, operate a gift shop, out in the sticks. They apparently only make money during the Christmas season.

Thursday had been Carl’s birthday. He is now 45. Just as Henriette is vague on geography, I am vague on ages. It was just the other day I remember seeing him as a kid, only in his 30s.

Henriette only mentioned chelates once or twice, and I resolutely ignored her references. to them.

I asked about her eyes. She said she had one cataract surgery about twenty years ago. She calls that her “good” eye. It sounds as if she is almost blind in the other eye.

She is seeing an alternative care eye doctor who uses the “Bates method.” The Bates method is a method of eye exercises that are supposed to make it possible to avoid the need for glasses. My parents were big into the Bates method when I was a child. At one time, Aldus Huxley, the writer, was a big fan of the Bates method.

It’s now widely regarded by the ophthalmology profession as bunk. However, my family will continue to keep medical quacks such as the chelates people and the Bates people and so on in business for many generations to come.

Henriette enjoyed the letter I sent her, with pictures of our garden and of Random Granddaughter. Perhaps she showed the pictures to the bed bugs. The exterminators are still working on her apartment. The work has become a construction project as all the sideboards have been removed and insecticide poured on the floor. Aunt Henriette is not actually sleeping on the floor. She explained that she has a sofa bed that opens.

As my wife commented to me, probably not all the alternative health care in the world will help Henriette if she is sleeping close to a floor piled with insecticide.

I told Henriette about our organic garden and how we are growing raspberries. Henriette told me there are many farmers’ markets in New York City. “I bought some raspberries at one the other day. They were good; they did not have pips that got into my teeth.”

She was surprised to learn that my wife volunteers at one of our local farmer’s markets by serving coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. “She said, “They don’t serve hot drinks at our farmer’s market.”

I said, “Probably there is a coffee shop next door to your farmer’s market.”

Henriette probably imagines there are no hot drinks within 20 miles of our farmer’s market, but actually the nearest coffee shop is only a half mile walk away. However, I didn’t explain how civilized things actually are where we live. As I tell my wife, “We live in the sticks.” Much like Henriette’s son, Carl, I guess.

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9 Responses to “Phone Call to Aunt Henriette”

  1. woo Says:

    Perhaps Henriette could volunteer and serve drinks at her nearby farmer’s market? At least it would get her out of the insecticide fumes for a while?

    The thought of bed-bugs infesting an apartment fills me with the kind of horror that, I suspect, only David is equipped to comprehend fully. *shudder*


  2. I have erased that part of the post from my memory, as I cannot bear to contemplate it. I’m focusing on the raspberries instead.

    • modestypress Says:

      Most of the berries grow in two year cycles. The first year, the basic canes grow. The second year, they bear berries.

      Last year, my wife decided the fruiting boysenberry vines were ill. She cut them down to the ground. This year, the new boysenberry vines grew lushly, but there were vines, vines, everywhere, but not a berry to be seen. Next year there should be lots of boysenberries.

      This year the raspberries produced buckets of berries. Yesterday, my wife was out with the shears, cutting the fruiting vines down to the ground. Next year, we shall have lots of boysenberries and lots of raspberry vines, but no raspberries.

      This may be a rule of the universe my wife has discovered. I do not understand these scientific principles.

  3. modestypress Says:

    Pete sent us tayberries from Eastern Washington. About a week ago, my wife said, “I do not think the tayberries are that good. And they are draining nutrients from the currants and from the potatoes.”

    I asked Pete’s permission to cut down the tayberries, as I considered it rude to cut down a gift berry without checking with the kind giver.

    Pete said, “Go ahead. Good luck.”

    I dug up the tayberries yesterday.

    My wife said, dig deeper; get all the roots.

    Too late. During the night I heard the rustling of tayberries in the bedroom.

    Send a rescue party…

  4. Pete Says:

    OK I KNOW you are organic… But I say a good shot of “Round up” is your best bet. I see the makings of a hollywood horror flick in your future…!

  5. spectrum2 Says:

    I grew up in the sticks. We did not have a coffee shop. Upon any recent return home, there is still no local coffee shop. You may drink coffee at one of the gas stations or at the sparce amount of restaurants. I now live about 30 minutes south of where I grew up. This town has a coffee shop, but just one. We had two, one in a bookshop, but business was not enough to keep it going. The closest Starbucks is 45 minutes south of here. I like it the way it is. I never knew what it was like to grow up with cable TV or 24 hour pharmacies. It is my heritage. I embrace it. It made me who I am today.


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