Saturday, December 26, 2009

Makemake* - Greetings From Traffic Island

*Makemake is the Creator God of the Polynesian People, or "How I Spent Christmas Day."

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Time Is Here - Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Redefining "Going Postal"

I was out running errands today and my first stop was the post office. There was one Hispanic woman in there mopping the floor, and two workers behind the counter. I was the only customer. As I approached the counter I heard one of them commenting to the other about how they had gotten rid of a "crazy woman" by hitting her with a broom.

I said to the woman who made that comment, "And what if I was a crazy woman? Would you hit me? I was half teasing. She looked me dead in the eye and said, "I'd hit you." Then she said, "Lavita (not her real name.) Get that broom out of the closet. This woman doesn't think we wouldn't hit her for being crazy."

I knew her co-worker realized this could get them into trouble, and she was quickly back pedaling saying, "Oh. We don't really hit crazy people with a broom. She was just joking (I knew otherwise.) I shifted the topic to two little girls who had come in with elves hats on, and how the post office had closed early the day we had snow, but...that whole exhange really gave me pause about what's going on in there.

Later, I went into a Staples. There was a line. I was talking to the man behind me about calendars and other things, and I told him the above story. Somehow during the telling of the story the whole crowd went silent: the clerks, the people in line. I looked around at them and said, "Listen. You can't make this stuff up," but I could see their jaws had dropped. The man I had been talking with said, "Well, I guess this redefines "going postal." I said, "Usually don't they have a gun in the back and just go crazy themselves?"

I can't joke this off, I'm afraid. I know in my heart those women hit a person. I could hear it in their voices. It's been bothering me all day.

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Monday, December 21, 2009


I spent a lot of time outside yesterday taking snow pictures. Did you?

I opened my hall window that is over an exterior porch roof. It was a wall of snow.

What's he doing there? Childhood duck.

My neighbor's children at the end of their time sleighing down the hills. His twin was wisely in the house, cuddled up reading. I like how seasonal their jackets are. I like how he hugs his little sister and is kind to her. He had me take a lot of pictures using his camera.

A rose that doesn't know any better. I love late roses, and God bless Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville for selling such sturdy plants.

My squirrel wind chime from Harwichport, Massachusetts. He's used to snow.

.....and someone made me a snow birthday cake with pod candles made from the ornamental grasses in my yard. The bestest gift I could receive. This Winter Solstice baby, born during a blizzard and who loves snow, wishes you a good week. Enjoy the white cold. The days now grow longer.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Wonder Where All the Food Went Land

No toilet paper...

No eggs...

No milk....
Yep. It must be snowing in Washington. I told my friend Tony, "The bread selection wasn't bad, but the potato chip aisle was wiped out." Tony said, "The essentials."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Have An Ah Oooga Christmas

I spent this evening writing to two men (and I almost typed "boys,") that I have known since I was born. Yes. Born. One is five years older than me, and the other one or two. We grew up on the same street, and there are a lot of memories between us.

I was rather sad this season. Usually I am putting up three trees (one silver,) and making wreaths for myself and friends and sending out these funky cards I make using funny photographs and writing long letters and going over "Christmas Cheer" recipes (Memo to Self: Remember to ask Lee where that Christmas Cocktails Web Page is that we did.) Last weekend, with all that's going on, I spent the Saturday thinking it through and decided to put my big girl pants on and realize I couldn't "do" Christmas this year: Please...and I'm begging NOT write me and say, "But you can do something!" If I'm not doing what I normally do, I'm doing none of it.

Earlier this fall, I went through last year's Christmas and Hannukah card list and really whacked away at it. I am the type who usually gives people a few years to come round, but this time, I thought, "I'm tired of being the one always trying." For some people, it was the end of the trail. I'm pushing them off the life raft. Sink or swim. Find me or not. I don't care anymore. The list is still too big, and I know it's only going to get smaller as each year passes. I did decide the one thing I would do. If someone wrote me a Christmas or birthday card with a message, I would write them back. That, I am honoring.

I had to run an errand recently that was going to take me near my old neighborhood, and I thought, "I know I'm going to write "the guys" this year, so let me swing by and take pictures of our childhood homes." In D.C. you get an odd mix of "JesusMaryand Joseph what happened here? to "Still the same. Norman Rockwell. Let's sing a carol." As I told the guys writing them today, "Our old street is a mix of "trashed out," and "Haitian Disneyland."

I wound up writing them a 13-page Christmas letter that had me laughing. At one point I wrote, "I jut realized that deaths, muggings, robberies, bodies in the road don't exactly scream "Merry Christmas,"and I told them that I was laughing as I wrote that: but I did write them honestly about the changes and things going on lately.

I also wrote them about some shared memories. One winter the older boys got very ambitious and decided to wage a snow war. This was back when Washington still had deep snows. That morning they gathered up empty cardboard boxes and shovels and things to "level" with and actually had a little snow "brick" factory going: filling the boxes with snow and levelling them off and dumping them; using the same techniques you would use to build an igloo, only they were making snow walls. The girls and little ones, myself included, were busy making snowballs and stacking them like cannonballs at either snow fort. I told them, "Nowadays kids would just play this on Wii and that "PlayStation snowballs don't hurt." One's dumped in a bucket of water to give them an ice veneer do.

I reminded the younger of the two men, too, how one summer when I was 14 or 15 and he was 16, we spent that summer on my front porch sucking on grape Kool Aid ice cubes, playing gin rummy. We had quite an addicted group, and I told him "I still have that same deck of cards!" It wasn't until I was getting reading to sign off with a hand written closing that I remembered something else. That gin rummy summer. There was a boy in the neighborhood restoring an old Model T Ford. Their horns were a distinctive klaxon "Ah Ooh Gah" sound. He would drive from his house and pass mine. I was teased that he had a crush on me, because he'd always honk driving by. And to the man I was writing today I said, "You used to constantly tease me that summer and say, "Here comes your boyfriend.....Ah Ooooog AH!"

I went to You Tube, and sure enough. There are tons of videos of young men with these horns in their cars, including one actually punching one in an old Model T. I only remember the horn the boy used in his car had a much more drawn out oooooohga. So I got to thinking. Some of those boys on You Tube? They are popping the hoods and showing you the horn. In one, there are a group of them with their cars in a semi circle having a "honk off" contest. I'm not making this up! Then they start revving their engines in competition.

This is why I love men. Men are so simple and easy to please. One reason, anyway. Buy your honey a horn that sounds like the Queen Mary coming into dock. Or plays the theme from The Godfather. Ladies? If you want your man or boyfriend to go into orgasmic bliss this holiday? Order him a J.C. Whitney automotive parts catalog. Yes, they are online, but you've got to get them the actually catalog. This is primo toilet reading. This is where men go to get dice gear shifts and those naked lady mud flaps and chromed skull speakers for the rear windows of their cars.

I turned some men onto the Whitney catalog when I was in my teens? To this day they are still talking about it. Call me Santa Cube, and I do this in memory of my own Ah Ooga boy. I never met him, but I hope he's still out there honking somewhere.;0;0;0;100005;ProductName;0;0;0;0;2009071;0;0


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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Angels Want To Wear My Red Shoes

I hedged posting this piece after burying teeth and so many matters of loss and death. I was talking to a commenter on this blog, "Home Before Dark," and we swapped some e-mails back and forth about degree of loss to the point it seems bottomless, half joking, "When does it end? When does a period of happiness ensue?"

I have never wanted happiness more than now in my life. Mentally and physically I have had enough. So I write this next bit with tongue in cheek, since, well, "Here we go again."

Over the weekend, I had a lot of errands to run. I had switched handbags from the very chi chi Mark Jacobs to the "seen a few years" Kenneth Cole, thinking it would be fun to carry a red purse during the holidays, but it needed a bit of touching up, so I went scouting for saddlesoap and red shoe polish. Trust me. Red shoe polish? Not easy to find. I knew of a few sources: the shoe repair shop at White Flint Mall (wonder if it's still there?), Fortuna Shoe Repair in Bethesda, and a tiny hole in the wall shop run by this Greek man named Joe. I can hear Velvet saying, "Go to the Greek."

I ran my errands. It was a long day and one heading for dark, stormy thunderheads. I did go to Joe's, and that's when it hit. An older obviously Greek woman was in there. The rest of the staff, Hispanic. They had my red polish from England, and the saddlesoap. I asked the old lady if she was married to Joe and how was he? She immediately teared up and held up one finger to make me stop. She was choked with tears. My eyes welled with tears. We stood there staring at each other with tears in our eyes.

She told me he had died a year ago. She was "all alone." I know she had had two sons, at the least, but I swore she told me one died in his teens. I'm still not sure about that. She was very emotional when she was talking to me. That and a language gap and who knows. I told her that I had loved Joe: his wonderful work ethic and business, and what a great personality he had--tons of charm. I said all of the right things. I did not have enough to cover the two items I was buying; falling 35 cents short. She debated about it. Quite a while. Finally, a Hispanic woman said, "That's ok," but I could see it bothered Mrs. Joe to let it go. I know. 35 cents. Yet, I understood.

I told her I would be back tomorrow with the money, also bringing a friend so they could express their sympathy to her about Joe. As soon as I left, I drove to the bank, not only to get some money, but another roll of quarters, (God bless you D.C. parking meters,) and...the money to pay Joe's widow. I drove right back to Joe's and gave her 75 cents. At this point, she was waving it away, telling me, "That's okay," but I insisted and she took it, telling me, "You and I are the same. I cannot sleep knowing I owe someone."

I agreed I was the same and that is why I had gone to the bank and come back. Finally. She smiled at me. I again reassured her that I would be returning with someone to let them pay their respects to her, and she told me to come back at any time.

Home? Are you reading this? Are you laughing? I mean right after our discussion?

I was up and having coffee yesterday morning, purusing The Washington Post, and reading the obituaries (a habit since childhood.) You are born and grow up in Washington, you read the obits. You know people. There was a period, during my parents prime years, where someone was always showing up. Now. Not so much.

There she was. My mother's old church friend: a lady whose family I grew up with, whose daughter I played with, and a woman I had been meaning to call for the past few weeks.

About a month ago, I made a call to one of the "church ladies," the few remaining who were part of my family's social circle at church, and I had to track them down because they had shifted residence. In fact, in calling another woman who had also lost touch with "the group," I found she had moved as well. So now with two women found, I told them both I would make two more calls. I knew where woman #3 was, as well as #4, but I wanted to tell them the plan on the telephone: that I would be writing them all a group letter, and then have a separate sheet of current names and addresses. They all loved the idea. I knew Mama was smiling down, saying, "I brought you up right, and thank you for helping my friends."

There's also this whole issue of social groups. The church group had splintered when a massive, old church with history in Washington had sold the church for millions, then moved to the suburbs. Demographics changed. People weren't happy. People left. Networks were broken. People were angry, too. The church's pastor had wanted to preach to college students, somehow overrode everyone and gotten the church moved to a piece of land my father had rejected ages ago for NASA due to it's problems, and the millions went into the bad soil and were lost. Then to make it even better, the pastor sought transfer and went to a parish in Florida with five churches. Money gone, church hanging by a thread, and long gone (those with money) parishoners. So the church will die, I am sure.

In the interim during of all of this, another woman died who they all knew, from a sister church. Another one down. I scanned her obituary, in case they had missed it. This is why, when I was talking to "Home Before Dark," I meant what I said, "Where does it end?" I sat yesterday evening and wrote for hours in my private journal what this woman had meant to me, to our family; and how she was one of a very few sources I could turn to for adult sympathy and support. I called the ladies. Some knew. Some didn't. Since they were her friend, as well, I knew they had to be secretly wondering, "Which one of us is next?"

The visit with Joe's widow? The shrinking generational circle? It's all taking it's toll on me. And I have to laugh because the next piece I was going to write was about London and Highgate Cemetery. Do you think you could stand it? Even if I made it funny? Even if I told you that Karl Marx is buried there? I dunno. We'll see. After that, what a deadbeat Lord Byron was, and come to think of it, he left a messy death as well.

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