Banks County Opinions...

JULY 16, 2003


Column

By: Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
July 16, 2003

A bad rap
Someone suggested to me recently that my columns always end up blaming all my problems on my wife and children.
That’s not true, of course. And to prove it, I’ve decided to write a column on a non-family related issue - like my lifelong annoyance with cling wrap.
Everyone has their own story about this evil invention. Well, most men anyway. Women seem to have the mysterious ability to use cling wrap without threatening the laws of physics in any significant way.
I’ve also noticed that women can cut cantaloupe into perfectly symmetrical slices without losing a finger, so it may be a gender based phenomenon.
More likely, though, it has to do with the fact that women actually watch commercials instead of incessantly flipping channels. If you watch paid professionals on TV handle cling wrap, it probably helps. And, too, they read directions incessantly.
Most men, me included, find those techniques to be time wasters. After all, it’s just cling wrap. But, as is usually the case with most kitchen related products, men remain stupidly oblivious to the true peril of cling wrap. I know firsthand.
It was a regular Saturday around the house. After lunch, the girls headed for the mall. Since it’s my sworn duty to “leave no leftover behind,” I looked around for a plastic container for the scraps. I found 56 plastic container lids but no containers. (That’s another column issue — lids that multiply in the dark.)
I looked in the pantry for some aluminum foil, but it was all gone. That’s when things got edgy and I began pacing the kitchen to get a handle on my nerves. I ended up ranting and raving like a ballplayer getting up for a game. Before I knew it, I was giving myself high fives and butting my head against the pantry door.
Even so, my legs were rubbery when I reached for the cabinet drawer where we keep the cling wrap. I hung with it as long as I could. But the stuff had a mind of its own and I was halfway through the roll before I even got a clean edge to work with.
Then I made my fatal mistake — I took it personal. You can never lose your temper with cling wrap. When I did, my finesse evaporated, and I found myself in a life or death struggle with a stupid roll of shrink wrap.
Somehow, in the midst of it all, the roll flew out of the box just as I had pulled off a perfect seven foot strip of the sticky stuff. The rest was just a blur and I came to on the floor with my hands and feet tightly bound with cling wrap.
I was chewing my way loose when the police burst through the back door with guns drawn. “Your neighbors called and reported a struggle in your house. Where’s the intruder?”
I spit out the cling wrap. “He got away,” I lied. “He got my aluminum foil.” They grimaced and radioed the EMTs to bring in the Jaws of Life to get me unwrapped.
They were just finishing their report when my wife returned. She was understandably alarmed, but managed to thank the officers for rescuing me. They told us they’d check at the pawn shops for the foil.
After they had gone, Lydia looked around at the mess in the kitchen and saw the empty box of cling wrap on the floor. “You tried to use the cling wrap again, didn’t you?” I nodded in a wounded husband kind of way.
“Why don’t you go rest in the den,” she said. “I’ll slice you some cantaloupe.”
You know, I’m not trying to blame anyone, but just for the record, my wife is the one who always buys that stuff in the first place.
Phillip Bond Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.
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Column

By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
July 16, 2003

Vacation time makes home pure paradise
There’s nothing like a week’s vacation to make home pure paradise. My small family boarded a plane Reno, Nevada-bound last Sunday where we landed without mishap and then drove onto South Lake Tahoe, which may be the most beautiful lake in the world. Freezing cold, but pretty.
The whole Lake Tahoe area is surrounded by huge mountains capped with snow nearly year-round and the water is so clear that you can see a plate placed on the bottom 60 feet down.
The weather was nippy Sunday night for a pool party hosted by our hotel with Florida people carrying their plates indoors to eat in their rooms. And then Monday it snowed. To say I was unprepared for snow would be an understatement.
I had been told the weather was cooler and that at night it would cool down to 50 degrees so I brought one pair of jeans and no long sleeve shirts. Monday around one p.m. P.S.T., the snow began to fall making the road outside our hotel icy and cresting the mountains with a snowy blanket of the white stuff.
The weatherman said we made the record low temperature for June. We went to the Ponderosa Ranch Monday night where I spent most of the night huddling by fires.
Tuesday it warmed up into the low 70s which was good since we spent the afternoon on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Many young kids brought bathing suits and jumped in, but I wasn’t in the least bit tempted. Even on the warmest day in August, the lake water is only 60 degrees and only the top four feet or so.
The rest is ice cold. Lake Tahoe is the second deepest Alpine lake in the world with enough water in the 72-mile perimeter lake to cover the entire state of California in 10 inches of water or enough water to cover the entire state of Texas in four inches of water.
Our guide told us there are points on the lake where the water is six feet deep with a sharp drop of 1,000 feet. People don’t actually know what’s on the bottom of Lake Tahoe, but our helpful guide told us it is the best place to ensure your body is found thousands of years later well preserved.
People who drown in Lake Tahoe never resurface because of the depth of the lake. Because the pressure is greater at the bottom, bodies sink down and are cryogenically frozen by the water. I don’t believe I’ll ever swim in the water (you know because of the bodies and the mastadons and whatever else may be down there), but I did drink it. (I really don’t know why drinking it is OK, but swimming is not.)
The water is 99.8 percent pure—the same purity rating as bottled spring water. It was very sweet and I brought a bottle of it home with me which I’m sure someone will one day mistakenly drink it since it is in a Canadian Spring Water bottle.
Wednesday we packed our rental car up and drove four hours to San Francisco. From that road trip I learned two things. First, most of Nevada is really big dead hills of sand.
And what trees are there are evergreens, which apparently catch fire really easy since acres of trees were merely burned sticks stuck in the ground. And secondly that Donner Pass is apparently a big tourist attraction. There’s a Donner grocery store, a Donner gas station, a Donner town, a Donner ski lodge, a Donner museum where you can buy Donner hats and Donner T-shirts.
Do people know that Donner Pass was where settlers became trapped one winter long ago and so they ate one another? It doesn’t seem like something we should name grocery stores after to say the least.
We arrived in San Francisco to 95 degree weather, 20 degrees above average. Which the newscasters were hailing as a miracle because finally kids could swim in the bay before August which is when San Francisco has its four days of summer—June and July are usually characterized by 72 degree days.
Though to us Georgians it really felt like 80 degrees, because there was no humidity and there was this wonderful cool breeze blowing off of the Pacific Ocean. Chinatown was our first stop. That was an experience. I found some tacky things that I couldn’t live without and I ate the best Chinese food ever very inexpensively.
The prices of everything outside of Chinatown were super inflated. California peaches were $2.69 a pound. A bowl of soup was $5.49. Gas was $2 if we were lucky. We paid $39 a night to park our car in the hotel garage and everywhere else in the historical section of San Francisco charged $10 an hour and they had full lots. Thursday the weatherman said we had broken the record for highest temperature in June for the second day.
We spent some time on Fisherman’s Wharf catching the sights and doing some shopping. We rode the cable cars up and down the hills which are really unbelievablely steep. Imagine the steepest portion of Stone Mountain where they have the hand rail and you walk sideways, that’s the type of hills on Powell Street.
There’s no way anyone in Georgia would have built a city on land that hilly. They’d find a better place or else level it off. But the city is charming. The homes and buildings are wonderfully historic which has always appealed to me so I really enjoyed every minute.
Friday we toured the Benziger winery in Sonoma County, California. That was a real tour—not just here’s our vats and here’s our tasting room. We went into the fields where the grapes are, learned about how taste develops in wine because of where it grows and how much sun it gets and then toured the facility where they press the wine.
And we got to go into their wine caves, which are very aromatic. The caves are naturally cold and humid so it saves the winery money since they don’t have to refridgerate a large area to cool the wine and because of the humidity, very little wine evaporates.
But it’s good to be home. I began wanting my own home mid-week and by Saturday, I was calling to find out if there were any earlier flights.
There was, but I didn’t miss home so badly that I was willing to pay $300 extra to get there 12 hours earlier. So I stuck it out and ended up having some fun Saturday with a cousin of mine that lives in Reno now. And Sunday evening we had dinner at home.
By bedtime, I had once again donned my mantle of stress. The list of things that needed to be done was running through my head once more, hunching my shoulders into tension balls. I wish I would have been able to leave that behind on the West coast with all of the rude people who live there.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist with MainStreet Newspapers


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