Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's A Process

You hear this phrase all the time in Ethiopia. "It's a process." In English. Just like that.

Someone will be speaking Amharic, a local dialect, and then say in English, "It's a process."

It's a very popular phrase in say customs or immigrations as you might imagine. But it's something that pervades or permeates the Ethiopian culture.

It's a giving in to or relinquishing of power to the idea that forces are in play beyond our control. It's something that in a developing country is ever present. It's something ever present in a developed country too. The difference lies in our perception.

In Ethiopia, water and power are commodities that can come and go. In the US, transportation is a given, but we are unable to control say the number of accidents on I-95 or a downed train on Metro-North. We think we can. But we can't.

In Ethiopia, the thinking is this too shall pass.

Here in Connecticut the thinking is I can drive illegally on the shoulder or honk loudly enough to change my outcome. The truth is we are the victims of time. Time is killing us. Literally.

"It's a process." It's said with resignation. It's not that people in Ethiopia are giving up. It's that they have enough experience with delays in customs or downed Internet or traffic accidents to know that they may very well end up spending hours in a day not doing anything productive.

For an American, this would be painful. This would require Tums or Prevacid. Americans can't wait.

One lesson I am beginning to learn as I get older, is to look at the continuum. Things take time, even though time is what we lack.

Really we have the time, if we think of life as a process. We don't have forever. But we have years. Years to change our health. Years to work on our marriage. Years to become whatever we dream.

It's a process. Maybe the most valuable lesson I've learned lately.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Goodbye to the Fighting Finn

ARLINGTON, TX - Inez Risher, a long-time Arlington resident and business owner, died Monday, September 13, 2010. She was 95.

Mrs. Risher was a force to be reckoned with and her legacy lives on with the family members she leaves behind. She and her husband of 62 years, Jim Risher owned Risher's Furniture at 108 N. Collins Street. For nearly 50 years, she sold furniture to generations of loyal customers who often came by just to chat.

Although many people would consider it unusual for a woman to start a business in the 1950's, Mrs. Risher never gave it a second thought. She worked seven days a week, wheeling and dealing, from behind her rickety desk that sat on an unforgiving concrete floor. She did her hair, got dressed up and wore pretty, not sensible shoes. And she always drove a Cadillac.

Mrs. Risher was born to Lempe and Arthur Lindquist on October 9, 1914, in Monessen, Pennsylvania. Her parents were both from Finland and Mrs. Risher only spoke Finnish until she began attending school. Later in life, she still used Finnish phrases particularly when trying to discipline her unruly grandchildren. She met and married her husband Jim while living in Canton, Ohio.

The couple moved to Texas from Ohio when their young son and only child developed asthma. The plan was to continue on to California but they made a pit stop in Arlington and never left. Her son, Jimmy as she called him, grew out of his asthma and went on to become a star athlete at Arlington High School.

Unwilling to bend to tradition, Mrs. Risher was at her core a businesswoman. She kept a tidy house, she made a mean pigs in the blanket but her stove was broken for the last 20 years of her life. In a 2001 interview, she said, "I like to work, and I'm very happy that I can work. I guess I've never had a job that I actually disliked." She did love to garden and maintained a beautiful home on nearby Meadow Oaks. She had many beloved pets that she spoiled to distraction.

Mrs. Risher followed local and national politics and was an outspoken Texas Democrat. Heaven forbid someone mention FOX News or the Republican party at the dinner table.

She had a tendency to give people too much credit, literally at her store, also in her life. Her husband played the heavy. At 6' 6" nobody dared mess with Grandpa Jim. Except his wife. He did whatever she asked, in part because he knew there was no sense arguing with her. And, because as time wore on, he seemed more in love with her every day.

Her wicked sense of humor and infectious laugh will be missed.