Saturday, April 19, 2014


Here's another of our gifts from Israel. K, my co-worker, brought a bag full of salt crystal chunks from the Dead Sea, and invited anyone who passed through the office to take some. A day later, when most folks had already had their chance, she told me, "Take more. Take as much as you want." So I did. I even searched through the bag to find the nice pieces.

The crystals are fascinating to look at, with their jagged edges and indentations and the occasional grain of sand stowing away. (If you look carefully, you can see some sand embedded in the piece on the left.) They are also fragile. Every time I pick one up, I feel little crystals flaking off in my hand. K said they actually put a large slab of salt in the bag, but intercontinental travel took care of making it more share-able.

True confessions: My first instinct when I held this was to lick it. I mean, Salt, right? Then my second instinct quickly countered with, "You don't drink lake water, and you darn sure don't lick lake water from halfway around the world." Eventually, I did a little Googling, and found that Dead Sea salt is low in sodium and high in other minerals, making it largely not tasty. Whew! Flavor disappointment averted. Thanks, second instinct.

So the Key Points so far are, Don't put things in your mouth unless you are sure they are okay, and Google To the Rescue. On to Item 2...

I have spent years and years pestering readers and writers, trying to track down a short story I read in junior high. I think it was eighth grade, and I'm sure the story was in our lit textbook. It took place in the old West, or a frontier town, and a major plot point had to do with the difference between wood alcohol and grain alcohol. I don't want to spoil the plot too much, but suffice it to say that this story took away a lot of the allure of feel-good substances for this thirteen-year-old.

It was only today that it occurred to me that I could consult the Great and Powerful Goog for help. Frankly, I'm embarrassed that it took me this long to think of it. Anyway, I typed in "short story wood alcohol" and BAM! Wikipedia told me all about A. B. Guthrie, Jr., and just enough about his short story, Bargain. A second search for "bargain a b guthrie" hit pay dirt - a pdf document of the story, annotated and reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Item 3... There is no Item 3. It's finally spring! I'm going to see how long I can wear my sandals outdoors without craving socks. Later!