Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's Been A Scary Few Days

Spouse and I have been glued to news reports from Iran, concerned that his family members there may have been caught up in all the turmoil. It's impossible to get a phone call through, so we're sitting on pins and needles. It's incomprehensibly dreadful to see what the Iranian government is doing to it's own people!! It's even worse than when the Shah was over-thrown. If that wasn't enough, Sunday evening Mom phoned to say my youngest sister, Janet was being flown by helicopter from Calvert Memorial Hospital to Georgetown Hospital. She had been sick for a couple of days, but by Sunday morning had no strength to say "no" when her husband insisted she go to the emergency room. Her blood pressure was 83 over 47 and her temp was close to 104. At the hospital, they also discovered that her white blood cell count was off the charts. They had so much trouble trying to find a vein for an IV line that her arms are bruised from hand to elbow. Finally, they put a line into her femoral artery and started pumping in fluids to get her pressure up. An array of antibiotics and steroids seem to have done their job to fight the blood infection. It was a close call. Monday, shortly after I came home from seeing my sister at the hospital, the horrifying Metro rail crash was all over the TV. So, adding to my worrying about my sister and how her husband and two sons were coping with her situation, sadness and pain for the families and friends of the Metro crash victims took over. The human body just isn't cut out to handle all that trauma at one time! I've developed bronchitis so am pretty much useless to do anything but cough, wheeze and moan pathetically. Thankfully, Janet just phoned to say that she is being released this evening. Now that's the kind of news I want to hear!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Foto Phun

Egging-On Identical Twin Boxers

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Button Box and a Red '68 Mustang

It may seem extremely old-fashioned to have a button box, but have one I do. Both of my grandmothers and my Mom had them, too. When Dad's mother lived with us, I enjoyed spending time with her going through her button collection. Many were from clothes she had sewn for herself and her children. She even had a wad of shoe buttons! [I have saved shoe ornaments from my all-time favorite shoes: Papagallos.] Frugality and limited availability made collecting buttons important when my grandmothers and Mom were young women. In their era, if a button came off a shirt, it was quickly stitched back on. If the wearer couldn't find the button, a replacement could be found in the button box. During the Great Depression, people learned to value and care for what they had. Losing a button was no excuse to buy a new shirt. Nor was a frayed collar on a gentleman's dress shirt reason to add it to the rag bag. My late, dear friend, Thelma used to carefully remove her husband's frayed shirt collars, turn them inside out and re-attach them. A little starch and the shirt was almost as good as new! My button box holds mementos of my youth when I used to make some of my clothes. Two silver-toned dome buttons with paste diamonds remind me of a fraternity dance in college. I bought my dress: an a-line, hot pink mini with these gaudy buttons running from the neck to the waist. I had silver square-toed shoes to go with it! My date was a sweetheart whose grin when he saw me made me feel so pretty. He was shaking when he put a corsage on my wrist. That was a good night. Tiny round, black buttons conjure up memories of a date for dinner and a play at Mechanic's Theater in Baltimore during the early 70s. I sweated bullets for three days and nights sewing what I thought was a really cool black and white striped satiny dress. The dress closed with twenty buttons and fabric loops down the front. Bad choice. The cool little round buttons kept popping out of the loops all night! It's funny how little things like buttons can bring back memories! I'll admit that the older I get the more I want to remember the good ole days. As I've aged, I've lost some of the goofiness and spontaneity of my youth. Those were fun and exciting times, but I'm a different person now. I enjoy watching kids doing so many of the same things I did at their age. They, on the other hand, just see me as a plump, graying woman. It would never occur to them that: >> In a mini-dress and heels, I'd climbed over fences and walls in Georgetown during a walk to the Zoo following a beer-infused lunch with friends in the Palisades or; >> I'd driven my Dad's '68 Mustang at 60+ mph along hilly, dark and curving Persimmon Tree Road in Potomac -- high on Acapulco Gold -- before the area was developed and grew so many stop signs! Oh yeah; I did some truly dumb-ass stuff as a young adult. Thankfully I no longer need the rush from endangering my life or testing my capacity for alcohol or weed. There really isn't anything new under the sun. Binge drinking and drugging have always been around and considered a sort of "right of passage." I know how lucky I am to have survived.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How To Survive A Jerk

When a nasty person tries to make me feel insignificant or bad about myself, I don't "think about my favorite things." I mentally place that person in the following context: Picture an old, ripe, running shoe. The shoelace is dirty and frayed, the top is scuffed and misshapen from molding itself to the wearer's calloused, bunioned, gnarly-toe-nailed foot. The sole of the shoe is worn unevenly and nearly smooth. The remaining, shallow crevasses are filled with gunk and dirt from hanging out in grungy garages, dog parks and fishing boats. A piece of ABC gum is firmly entrenched in what's left of the heel. It's been there for years, gathering germs, bacteria and all sorts of dastardly debris. Embedded in that dried, hardened glob of gum is the aforementioned nasty person. This is her/his inescapable universe and she/he doesn't realize it.
Pity usually sets in at this point.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Our Balcony Garden Today

Spouse and I love the smell of marigolds, so we always plant one window box with them. The other two are usually one of my favorites: petunias. This year we spent more time than usual making our selections which may explain why a pidgeon had time to crap on my shoulder. . .*sigh* Not sure what this stuff is called, but we both liked it's fur.
Note the little blue clusters in the centers of these deep fuschia petunias.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Godspeed, Victoria

The best manager I ever had died Thursday. She was far too young to have developed Alzheimer's Disease and passed away before her 53rd birthday. Victoria Ellen Reese was as brilliant as she was beautiful. She never brought it up and seemed almost embarrassed to have been selected Miss Atlanta in the Miss America pageant circuit. She was gracious and at the same time gutsy in a way I've never seen before nor since. She was unique. Victoria -- Vicki never suited her -- was born prematurely and had to fight to survive. She grew into a tall, slender, classy woman with a perfect complexion and graceful carriage. If that makes her sound snooty -- HA! She had an earthy sense of humor to match anyone's. She also knew the appropriate time and place to let it out. She took her work as seriously as I took mine. Many evenings, after working hours, a few of us would gather informally with her to discuss what was going on at work and in our private lives. Perhaps this was due to our being women, but it was something we looked forward to. Thinking back now, I wince remembering how often she joked about having Alzheimer's which she pronounced All-himers. We never saw even a hint of what was to come. Could she have known so many years ago? It's always tragic when someone young dies. With Victoria's passing, it's doubly so because she had such a good mind before this pernicious disease stole it. She had a positive impact on many more lives than she perhaps realized. Those of us who loved and admired her are going to have a hard time trying to fill the gap her loss leaves in our lives. Life isn't fair. I believe that events like this remind us to take nothing for granted and to make the most of every day.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A new way of greeting?

I ran into an acqaintance this afternoon. We haven't seen each other in a while, so I looked forward to catching up with him. We exchanged kisses on both cheeks and then he slapped me. For a moment I was stunned then I gently slapped him back. He smiled and said he slaps everyone. My expression, by that point was a grimace trying hard to be a grin. Is this something guys now do? This kind of greeting is new to me and, frankly, I can do without it. I've never had a female friend do it. I'm really stumped. This particular gentleman is usually very gracious and is a product of good breeding. Does the fact that he's a sailor have anything to do with this behavior? Nah . . . I'm from a family of sailors and not one of them has ever greeted me in this manner. Thoughts, anyone?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Class Trip to Washington, D.C.

President Obama is not naive by any means but he was a little too P.C. in telling a story about his father. Specifically, he said that 60 years ago it might have been difficult for his father to get a meal in a D.C. restaurant. I think he was being polite in making it such a long time ago. In 1961, a sixth grade classmate of mine was humiliated and stung by segregation during our big class trip to Washington. We road a train with about 80 of our classmates from Chicago to Washington to "witness history." At the time, I was totally ignorant that history had yet to be made when it came to equal rights for African-Americans. Living in a cozy, nearly homogeneous, suburban community, it hadn't occurred to me that having a best friend who had African roots was anything extraordinary. Several generations of her family had lived in our home town, far longer than my family had lived there. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't learn about Michelle's dreadful experience until our 40th high school reunion 2 summers ago. The pain of the memory was still evident. As she cogently reminded me, race was a non-issue in our schools at the time. Problems between the races were never discussed, so it made it seem that there were no problems. Now that I think about it, discord of any sort was avoided. Reminds me of that movie, Pleasantville, about a pleasant town with pleasant people living a shades-of-gray pleasant lifestyle. They were ignorant of the outside world until a brother and sister from the future somehow were transported there and introduced them to literature, art, music and (oh my!) sex. Gradually the town and it's people then took on color and the world opened up to them. Please don't misunderstand me. I loved where I grew up, but now I realize mine was a very sheltered existence. Many of us went away to college and learned some hard, ugly lessons about real life. I now regret that I wasn't aware and mature enough in 1961 to recognize the nastiness of some people so that I might have tried to protect my friends. The resilience and resolve of African-Americans is astounding. The Black Pride Movement scared some whites, but it empowered Blacks and helped to bring about necessary change. Michelle earned a Ph.D. in religion and held high office in her denomination. Other African-Americans went on to become gifted educators, doctors, scientists, musicians, authors, athletes and more despite the undeserved stigma attached to their skin color. WE AMERICANS can be proud that we elected as our President an intelligent, motivated and honorable man -- a man of color!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Way off course

I just finished washing two romaine hearts and as I closed up the bag they came in, I saw something black on the counter. For a moment, I thought it was a clump of dirt and nearly swept it into the garbage disposal. Then it seemed to move. Curiosity made me fetch my glasses. Sure enough, it was a bug of some sort, lying on its back. When I gently turned it over, I discovered a sort of lady bug - at least that's what I think it is. And it was ALIVE! Knowing that lady bugs are good bugs, I gently urged it onto a corner of paper towel and carried it out to the table on the balcony. Now if this had been anything but a lady bug, it would quickly have been dispatched! No wait, I lie -- I once found an enormous, bright green grass hopper in a bunch of parsley and sent it on it's way through the kitchen window. Back to the LB who has just fallen or leaped off the table and is stumbling through our indoor outdoor carpet -- she must be wondering just where the hell she is. Imagine it: One minute your happily nibbling on aphids in a nice, warm California lettuce field when all of a sudden your dinner table is cut out of the ground, tossed into a truck, then washed and crammed into a plastic bag with two more romaine hearts. The bag gets packed into a case, the case onto a pallet and the pallet onto a truck then onto a train for the long ride across country to my grocery store on the opposite coast! I wonder if bugs suffer culture shock . ..