Although I followed the news reports of Obama's overseas trip I found little of interest. I got the feeling that all of the attention the media focused on the event was designed to find the slightest misstep, gaff, whatever. No substance AT ALL. At least as far as the media was concerned. Several web sites carried the text of his Berlin speech. As soon as I heard the story about Obama praying at the Wall in Jerusalem and leaving the traditional written prayer in a crack there, I wondered how long it would take for someone to snatch that paper out of that crack and reveal the contents to the world's press. I bet with myself that the time would be less than 24 hours and that a smart person like Obama would write something relatively innocuous--like 'let thy will be done.' I was right on both counts. I thought Senator Obama came through with considerable grace. I can't say as much for Senator McCain's performance during this time. He came across as a petulant child wanting attention, demanding attention but doing and saying nothing to deserve attention. He played the same note all along. Obama, he claimed, doesn't have the experience to be Commander-In-Chief, yada, yada, yada.
We finally got some fried green tomatoes over the last weekend. We had anticipated them since we put in our tomato plants in mid may. They were everything we hoped for. This morning we found a couple of tomatoes blushing with the first signs of red. By the end of the week they should be ready. In anticipation we got salad fixings when we went grocery shopping this morning.
That reminds me of a couple of other items. Last week we finally got our canvass bags washed and began to use them for our weekly shopping. Originally, we thought we would wait until our town decided to ban plastic (or insist that stores charge for it) since the bags worked well as liners for our small trash cans and it made cleaning the cat box very easy. But our town had a 'green day' where we could exchange our plastic shopping bags for a limited number of cloth bags. We decided not to wait since we already knew how we would handle the cat box and would be very glad to get rid of the mass of bags occupying space in our cabinet. We were totally bummed out when we found that the bags had all been given out before we got there--five minutes before the scheduled start time. In fact, people had been lining up one and a half hours before that time and, to prevent traffic tie ups, the people running the event simply started early. Since we were already there, with our bundled bags, we turned them in making sure our displeasure was politely but thoroughly noted. Today was the second shopping day under our new regime. We had to make two stops before the grocery store and at the second one we realized that we had forgotten the canvass bags. We remarked on how hard it is to start a new habit and break an old one. But home lay between the second stop and the grocery so we stopped to get them without having to go out of our way. We were delightedly surprised at the checkout counter when the cashier asked how many bags we had and then credited us 5 cents for each. They began doing that last month. We didn't get any credit last week. The cashier was a woman we know who didn't realize we were using our own bags. We will make sure they know from now on.
In another sign of the times, we were unpleasantly surprised when we turned into the little gas station we frequent. It is conveniently on the way to where ever we have to go and, normally, has the lowest prices in town. However, this time all of the pumps had new signs directing everyone to pre-pay. Last year they started requiring all those who pulled up at the most distant pumps to do that. Earlier this year they extended the procedure to all pumps after 2pm. Now, it seems, all customers have to pre-pay. That irritates us because we go in to fill up the tank and we never know how much the tab will be. If we underestimate the amount we have to make a second trip in to collect our change. If we overestimate the amount of gas we need we have to make a second trip to get the pump restarted to get more gas and fork over more cash. We did not fill up hoping that another nearby station would allow us to fill up the tank without paying first. No such luck. It had also switched to a pre-pay policy. We will check out some other stations in our area. Unfortunately, the number of drive offs and other scams have increased with the price of gas. I can't really blame the station owners; but it is irritating.
I did notice that the price of gas has declined by about 40 cents per gallon from its earlier high. However, it doesn't make that much difference to me. I was already feeling the pinch during the spring and summer of last year when our prices went to $2.75+. I managed to finally persuade my boss to concentrate my hours into three and a half days. I could never get more that 26 hours at that store so off two days of travel to and from work made a big difference. I noticed that the news media have been trumpeting the decline but I think it is very premature to celebrate. Besides we noticed bread at $3.50+, the canola oil at $4.00+ and cat food at 47 cents per can. I doubt that those prices will come down much either.