Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gratuitous Cuteness VI

I don't know the source for this one; it came in a recent email and just touched me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Butt Out!

Gotta remember to do that more often. I've had a chronic case of foot-in-mouth for God-only-knows-how-long. When I most need to keep my feet on the ground, one inevitably and impulsively swings right up and into my mouth, jarring the few brain cells that still work. I actually slept on my latest plan for TWO whole nights. I drafted and re-drafted until I thought I had it right. An elder advised against going through with it, but did I listen -- OF COURSE NOT!! I thought I was doing a good thing. Anyway, now I have to ask myself if I will ever learn. The answer is a firm it's possible. However, history suggests otherwise. My most memorable episode of F.I.M. was at a groovin' 1969 Halloween party in Glover Park (at the time an artsy neighborhood in DC). I was nervous about fitting in with a group of architects and engineers who were, for the most part, older and more sophisticated than 20 year old me. I was also working hard at overcoming lifelong, nearly debilitating shyness. Having spent the previous two years in an Iowa college, I went as the farmer's daughter -- not the buxom beauty -- the hayseed one with a missing tooth and braids. My gallant host soon cleaned the black from my tooth, saying I was too pretty to do that -- a hint I might do OK with this bunch. Before I'd finished a beer, I was introduced to a late arrival. Trying my best to be a good partier I asked him a question. He looked stunned and then those who'd heard started laughing and cheering. I had no clue about what I'd done and was mortified! He soon slipped out the door. To my chagrin and relief, I found out that he was not well-liked and I'd made a premium put-down. To this day, I don't know what I said, but it was the beginning of an unfortunate trend for me and my feet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sunsets this time of year blow me away. In the middle of fixing supper the other night, I noticed some great colors on the living room wall and caught this view from the balcony.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why Get Married?!

I read the blog of a young D.C. woman who gave her boyfriend of 7 months an ultimatum to either marry her or get lost. He has until February 1st (that's with a one month extension) to make up his mind. Now I have to admit I don't personally know this couple and odds are I'll never meet them but I'd like to offer my perspective. I was engaged to three guys before I met and married my husband. The first was a college fling and ended painfully for both of us when he graduated before me. The second was a man who took good care of me following my college break-up. He was generous with his money and attention and, basically, I took advantage of him for 7 years. Then he finally figured out I wasn't going to marry him and broke it off. The third was a goofy, brief, long-distance thing with a world-class karate champ from the other side of the world. At that point, I decided a breather was in order. For about five years of casual dating and, more importantly, time to do what I wanted, when and how I wanted, I started to enjoy my own company. Then . . . KABOOM!!! Totally out of the blue, a man walked into my office and sparks flew. It scared the heck out of me and surprised him, too. After three dates he moved in with me. For 5 years, I'd been very content with my own, little apartment and my own stuff. Thankfully he didn't bring much with him, but sharing a tiny studio apartment with another adult nearly drove me up the wall. He was ready to commit but I didn't want to give up my freedom. At the same time, I was soooo attracted to him. Lust nearly did me in, but I resisted marriage for a year and a half. Then, the INS forced the issue. All of a sudden I was in danger of losing him -- permanently -- because he lacked paper work! That sealed the deal. We endured a court hearing, embarrassing and infuriating INS interviews and have been evolving as a married couple ever since. Now I'll answer the question I asked at the beginning. Being married is perhaps the most exhilarating, exasperating, boring, exciting, maddening and lovely thing two humans can experience together. Speaking from experience, living together and being married are NOT the same. Love is a small though crucial element in the chemistry of a good relationship. Marriage means you're committed to your spouse through bouts of projectile vomiting, rashes, enemas, arguments and jealousy and so many other obstacles to making it easy. Yet if you've entered into it with the right partner, it just keeps getting better and stronger from year to year. I've learned patience, tolerance, and that I'm not actually perfect. In return I receive unconditional love! We got a late start, but I pray that we will enjoy each other for another 25 years -- at least!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Scary Incident

We went to a well known, nice, big box store yesterday. At one point I heard the charming laughter of a young child, so I turned to find the source. He looked about two years old and was hanging off the back of a shopping cart being pushed by a man. An older boy, maybe four years old was hanging off the side, also laughing. As I visualized the likely outcome, it happened -- the cart toppled over on top of the older boy pinning him to the floor. He immediately started crying. The man either didn't care, or had other ideas about helping the little boy as I pulled the cart off of him. Just as I tried to comfort him and find out if he was OK, an angry looking woman grabbed him by both arms and tossed him into the cart. Still holding his arms and with a scary expression, she warned him to STOP. I tried to explain that the cart came down hard on him and. . . but the look she gave me shut my mouth. She ordered the man to get moving which he did sluggishly. I made brief eye contact with the child and gently touched his head. His tear-streaked cheeks and pained eyes haunt me. If anyone knows how I might have handled this better, I'd sure like to hear it. He was a boy being a boy and the adults in his life seemed intolerant of emotional displays. I can't help worrying about what kind of man he'll grow into. I also hope his heavy winter clothes protected him from injury.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I've Got a Secret!

When my feet and hands get so dry they hurt, I don't reach for an expensive salve, lotion, cream or oil. I reach for grease! (Hmm - this is beginning to sound like a commercial. No, I don't work for any manufacturers nor do I hold stock in any.)

Applying a layer of vegetable shortening works wonders on parched hands and feet and it's fragrance-free. Of course, you want to do it at night and wear gloves and socks so you don't slide out of bed or grease-up your bed linens. Uh, it's also better to do it when neither you nor your partner is in the mood.

If you already have shortening on hand, put some in a separate container designated just for your hands and feet. I wear those cheap, brown cotton gardening gloves and fluffy bed socks. It may look a little goofy, but to have hands and feet as soft as a baby's butt, it's worth it! If you try it, let me know what you think. Thanks!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Spam: My Kinda Soul Food

No, not the internet kind -- the hog-snout-and-tail kind. I grew up eating Spam and crave it every now and again. Since it keeps almost forever, I had a can in my pantry. Spam is brick-shaped, so the can is the same. I was not pleased when I inadvertently broke off the pull-tab to open it. It is no easier now than it was decades ago to open a Spam can with a standard can opener. Perseverance and an old knife got the job done. Don't know if it's the saltiness or softness that makes Spam so satisfying -- probably a combination of the two. I'm a purist when it comes to a Spam sandwich; bread and butter, maybe a slice of good ole American cheese and two slices of Spam and I'm in hog heaven! I know a couple who used to roast it like a tiny, cubic ham, covering it with brown sugar and mustard. That's overkill in my book. Hot or cold, I like my Spam unadorned. Bon appetite!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Update on the Snow

I tweaked this photo of a flag pole and snow-covered trees. Sorta looks like ice covering everything. Hope it's not prophetic. . .

Though I refuse to tune-in either a radio or TV, I can tell that people are going home early because traffic has picked-up. May not be such a bad idea since the snow has become freezing rain. Steep hills around here get treacherous when they ice-up.

Now is the time to drive calmly, politely and to make no sudden moves.

It's Snowing -- Time to Panic

Yes, it is snowing in the Nation's Capital.

-- soon stores will run out of milk, bread and toilet paper;

-- schools will cancel classes and evening activities;

-- TV and radio stations will go into weather mode trying desperately to make news out of weather;

-- workers/commuters will anxiously watch accumulations;

-- I will revel in the beauty, silence and inevitability of life going on.


After an unusually happy day I went to bed, still smiling. I decided to skip the OTC sleeping pills because I didn't think I'd need them and I was concerned about becoming dependent. I let my eyelids relax and close. Ah, sweet sleep would soon overtake me -- NOT. Out of nowhere -- thunk -- I realized that I would never see my Dad again. All these weeks I'd thought I was dealing well with my loss. Then I remembered what Mom said a couple of days ago; the shock has worn off and reality is starting to sink in. Seems like I'd convinced myself that he was simply on a long trip and would be back any day. Tears just started leaking out of my eyes -- no boo-hooing -- just warm tears flowing from the corners of my eyes, down the side of my face and into my ears triggering tormenting tickling. Not gonna get to sleep with that goin' on. So now I sit in our dark living room in front of a bright computer screen, trying to play Solitaire to numb my mind, but it's not working. Instead of the tears pooling in my ears, they're gathering in my cleavage . . .*sigh*

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More Phun with Photos

This would make a cool quilt.

Late to bed and late to rise. . .

. . . makes it impossible to get a shower. In recent days, we'd noticed a pretty substantial trickle of water flowing from underground at the corner and down our street. By this morning, it was gushing under parked cars. I pictured them locked in by frozen water around their tires. Located where we are, the city took swift action. Of course this meant that rising from bed at 8:30 a.m., I could not brush my teeth, shower away wild, bed-head hair or even wash my hands. Self-pity disappeared when I checked the weather. Those guys are working with very cold water in a 19 degree windchill! I'm not entirely unselfish, though. I hope they hurry and fix it so that I can flush the toilet!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tragedy to the 5th Power

The photos show four cute girls, ages 5 to 17. Each is described in terms apropos to any beloved child and each had her life snuffed out by the woman who gave them life. The horrific details make for a lurid tail of psychosis and unthinkable violence. Family, friends and neighbors seem unable to comprehend how this tragedy could have unfolded without their knowledge. Oh, they suspected that the young mother was not herself after the death of her partner. He had provided not only food, shelter and clothing, but stability for a very fragile woman and her children. Her semblance of a functioning life ended when he died of cancer last year. At that moment, her mind shut down and she lost her tenuous grip on reality. Rather than mourning her loss and trying to move on, she sank into the deep recesses of her frail mind. This seems to be the only way to understand how she was able to live in a house with the decomposing bodies of her children for 8 months. We may never know what triggered her actions but the outcome is unforgettable. Meetings and hearings will try to determine where the system failed. There will be plenty of finger-pointing and head-shaking, but, in the end, the girls are gone and a community questions how it could have happened. Why didn't family and friends know what was going on? How did neighbors not notice that the girls were there one day and not the next? What did people think when the woman moved all her furniture into the back yard and left an expensive toy in the front yard for anyone who wanted to take it? Have we become a society of people who just don't want to or are afraid to get involved? Thanks to some human rights groups, persons with mental diseases were de-institutionalized years ago because it was their right to live as they wished. How humane is it to allow people to live on heating grates or park benches, wandering the streets, suffering from delusions that medications used to mitigate? We Americans have become so isolated and insulated from our fellow humans for fear of intruding on their rights or having to get personally involved. We park our children in day care, our elders in senior communities, and our mentally and physically challenged folk in special programs. It's a type of segregation that is as harmful to our society as racial segregation. I hope that this tragedy will stimulate thought on what it means to be a community member, not just a resident. Our population is diverse and somewhat transient. Perhaps those factors could be catalysts to make D.C. a different kind of community: one that embraces newcomers and takes care of its own.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ah, Moonshine!

My faith in the American Way has been restored -- the moonshine business is still going strong and even growing as recently reported in my newspaper. Now, I don't claim to have tried moonshine, though concoctions we made in college may have been similar. But the fine art of turning grain into alcohol will never die. In some rural parts of this country generations of moonshiners and law officers have lived side by side knowing full well what each other did to pay the rent. I would hazard to guess that most NASCAR drivers can claim kin who were moonshiners. Those ole boys really knew how to drive! They souped-up old cars with huge trunks to carry their "produce" to market and to quickly dodge the law when it came sniffin' around. In the mid-1970s I visited a friend who taught school in rural West Virginia. Though I was there for just 3 days, I learned some important lessons: 1) do not fly over the mountains in a puddle jumper in March -- had to skip two of four scheduled stops because of the wind; 2) don't make eye contact with men walking in the road with burlap bags and rifles slung over their shoulders; 3) torrential rains totally eliminate the effectiveness of a septic field; 4) I don't ever want to live in the back woods. Now, don't take me wrong; West Virginia is a beautiful state with scenery second to none. It's just that, back then anyway, there were certain rules and customs to be observed. If you were not wearing over-alls and a flannel shirt, you did NOT want to go into the local grocery store for something to drink -- usually Dr. Pepper. Can't say these rules don't still apply, but if you're planning to go anywhere but a big city, leave the designer duds at home. As for the moonshiners, I can only hope they're not distilling their brews in old car radiators as some used to do cuz anti-freeze can kill ya! Otherwise, bottoms up!

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Invitation -- by Carole Chavanne

Don't walk blindly Around the periphery Of my life. Come in and see And be with me Or go away. Think about it -- isn't that what we do most of the time? We're so tied-up with our own agendas that we ignore many of those around us. Some of my most interesting conversations have been those struck-up with strangers.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Slingshots and Jet Planes

Living a few miles from National Airport (cannot bring myself to call it by it's new name!) we hear and see interesting things. For example: just now an inbound passenger jet caused an outbound jet to make a haul-ass-take-off. We know this because we can actually hear and feel the power of the engines as the pilot floors it to take off in time for the other plane to land on the same runway. That, in turn, reminded me of a memorable take-off from the old Charles Lindbergh Airport in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. some years ago. When I first visited the Virgin Islands in 1972 with my former college roommate, it took three, separate flights to get to our destination: Tortola, one of the gorgeous British Virgin Islands. We flew into Puerto Rico, switched to a 40-passenger prop plane to St. Thomas which still had a Quonset hut, dirt-floored terminal. Eventually, it was onto a 6-seater/single engine puddle-jumper that landed on what appeared to be a beach on Tortola. It was fun flying below and around the clouds to maintain visual contact with the ground. Years later, spouse and I spent our honeymoon in St. Thomas. Aside from snorkeling way too long and burning the backs of my legs to a crisp, it was a great trip. The runway at St. Thomas has always been short and the first time I had gone down there, we heard about an American jet that had hit the mountain at the end of the runway. This must have been the last straw for the authorities, because they dynamited most of the mountain and extended the runway into a bay at the north end. Waiting for our flight, I looked out the window of the newer terminal to see what we'd be flying. It was only when we went out to climb the very tall stairway to the plane that I realized we were getting into something way too big for this airport. As I expected, the pilot tried to make a casual joke about take-off saying it would be fast and not to worry. Uh huh. . . The normal chatter quickly dropped-off as the plane made it's way to the very end of the runway and, with brakes on, revved the engines to full power. Men and women alike screamed as we took off like a slingshot, dipping slightly, then rolling to the left to avoid what was left of the mountain. Wild cheering and tears of relief didn't phase the flight attendants as they started their routine. Amazing!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Totally Unexpected Freedom

Someone -- who shall remain nameless because I really don't know if it was me or spouse -- poked me in the eye one night this week. It had to have been early morning because I remember having an odd dream about that very thing and waking up with a sore eye. Now, I'm not new to eye trauma -- I've had torn corneas before and burned my eyes under a sunlamp during my fool-hardy teen years, so this was not at all novel. As a matter of fact, it didn't hurt as much as when spouse caught my eye while swinging into his jacket one Christmas Eve. Anyway, make-up just seemed unwise until my eye stopped tearing and the swelling went down. I had promised to take a friend grocery shopping on the same day I was afflicted. She has poor eye-sight, so I had to haul out my reading glasses to read the expiration dates for her. It became a pain in the butt to keep switching between dark to reading glasses, so I put away my shades. The point of all this is that I discovered that my appearance sans make-up doesn't horrify the public!! This is huge for someone who, previously, would not have been caught dead without war paint. As I've aged, I've lightened my look -- don't want to be one of those old crones who insists on turquoise eye shadow, globs of mascara and bright, misplaced rouge. Still, it was unthinkable to go out in public without make-up or large, dark glasses! Holy Cow!! The cashier checked us out without batting an eye. What a revelation to know going out au naturale didn't frighten people. This could start a trend for me: freedom from cosmetics. . . . well maybe not lipstick and blusher, oh, and a little eyebrow pencil just for a bit of definition . . .. ;-}