Sunday, February 28, 2016


The t-shirt is mine.  Hard won.  And at the acceptance of my shallow, jaded viewpoint in the midst of beauty.  After six years of whole hearted support for our beloved symphony orchestra, Burt and I strayed.  He slept and I wandered.

Two and a half hours of musical rhapsody.  Big. Triumphant.  Grand.  Two hundred voice choir and full orchestra.  I recognized only four words all evening.  Lord, Amen, Christ.  Jerusalem.  I do not know Hebrew or German.  I couldn't read the translations in the dim light.

The music was movingly beautiful.  The combined choirs were pitch perfect and full-voiced.  The orchestra was unfailing in devotion and deliberation.  Our maestro was full of controlled emotion and precise character.  I was the one failing.  I tried desperately to be swept away by the experience.

Did I mention the last performance was the Brahms Requiem?  Lullaby man.  Even with grandiose flair.  Two rows in front of our seats, a man's head went from right to left all night long.  I'm sure he was miserable wondering when his nightmare would end.  Really, it was not a nightmare.  I feel horrible even mentioning it but I hope our experience was atypical.  

My mind wandered all over the concert hall, wondering how many other minds were wandering.  Did I turn the iron off?  Did I pay the gas bill?  I can't remember if I stewed the prunes yesterday or Friday.  She said she would call but now I think it is too late to accept the invitation.  Are those daffodils ever going to come up?  What I'm I going to wear Easter?  I will try shrimp again this year at the beach.  What is the Pantone color this year?  I don't think the back of my hair looks good.  These shoes are pinching me.  How did I let her drag me here?  I think I want scrambled eggs for dinner.  Antiques Roadshow said it was the best example ever.  I should have gone at intermission.  Mmm, that violinist is having trouble with her bow.  The soloist foot is almost hanging off the stage.  I think Revenant will win Best Movie.  The report is due Monday.  I forgot to call my sister.  The paint will be dry by tomorrow.

I once read that Prince Charles had just the cure for the sessions he must sit through.  He began memorizing as a young man and falls back on that technique for keeping alert while sitting on a podium.  Thank goodness we were not sitting front and center.  We wondered how the soloists sat ramrod straight while waiting for their solos.  Their heads did not bobble and they didn't yawn or close their eyes.

In the meantime, I was saying "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson in my head and thinking about the days of yore when I still remembered "If" by  Rudyard Kipling.  Memorization is a tricky thing.  It requires regular use.

I was sandwiched between two men.  One was sitting ramrod straight but pushing the sleep odds which left him in physical tatters after the show when his body finally wanted to give into sleep but had to drive home.  The other gentleman was my seat neighbor and towards the end, his man spreading was beginning to encroach on my propriety.  I was not in danger of going to sleep between worrying about the Leaning Tower of Pisa on one side and the spreading situation on the other side.  

This is really not a fair synopsis of the experience.  For the time, the music hall was filled with rich and intricate tapestries of golden notes.  I feel horrible for not fully appreciating the time and energy invested by so many.   The official review was glorious.  My little review is just one little experience.  If you know me, you know I love my symphony and have all my life.  But now I have survived.  No dispersion being cast against the talent and drive offered up to these two wretched representatives of the human experience.  I think we will stick to English.        

Friday, February 12, 2016


Automobile.  Air conditioning.  Indoor plumbing.  Just a few of my favorite things.

But my new favorite thing is the washing machine.  I just don't have the arms for all of that lifting and toting and wringing out soap and water.

At nine o'clock last night, I realized how much I had taken this lovely machine for granted.  Suddenly I was reduced to thinking about pounding rocks or making a washboard from all of the good wood we have stashed in the garage.

The fully loaded machine made terrible sounds like giving up the ghost.  And then everything stopped.  The fancy dashboard was still lit up.  But no more wash cycle or the all important - spin cycle.  Full of jeans and socks.  Just about the heaviest load one can imagine.  Clothing items that do not give up the water easily.  I know.  I twisted and wrung out water on two pair of good jeans.  The ones you will wear out of the house to be styling.  These were toted back to the guest bath and stretched out in the tub where, hopefully, some of the water would drain over night.  Another pair was twisted and plied until slightly acceptable for tossing in the dryer.  That pair is now hanging in my closet, dried but soapy.  But not too much to keep me from wearing them.

Of course, Burt had to come assess the situation.  No progress was made in that department.

After talking to the repair service, Tuesday is my earliest date.  I spent a little bit of time hoisting out water - seven gallons worth.  Dealt with wet socks and the last pair of jeans.  Thankfully, this was the last big load.  Other necessary loads had been done on Wednesday.  Of course, a big load of towels would have been the worse.

So that part of living has come to a halt.  But I still have other spin cycles in motion.  My office is in a state of re-do.  No new paint but still activity on the magnitude of the machine in full spin.  Changing things out.  First, it was the long goodbye to a nice piece of furniture which had served its purpose but seemed to loom over my desk and the rest of the room.   Then the two new lateral cabinets arrived, empty but soon to be filled.  This may be the age of data and sticks and clouds floating around, but not for me.  This writer likes to keep all of her unpublished precious papers filed somewhat neatly.  If you grow up writing since you were twelve, thinking you will be the next Faulkner, Eudora Welty or Emily Dickinson, and then you aren't, it is pretty hard to part with the volume which has been produced.  No more need to save it for the museum.  But I have it in a file.

We have looked at new shelves at Home Depot but not purchased yet.  Once the shelves are up, more writer stuff like books will have a place.  I have set up all four lateral files and re-filed every piece of paper in our lives which survived the great purge and shred of 2016.  I'm telling you this for sympathy because it is a thankless job when you are the one starring in the one woman show.

The spin cycle won't be complete until more boxes are unpacked.   This can only be accomplished when more stuff is disposed of.  But I'm holding out high hopes.  Looking to the direction of the office dream being completed,  I offer up my office today, this morning, in the midst of the spin cycle.  Please judge kindly.  Remember I'm stilling bailing water out.  As a good friend said, which is the only kind who can tell you these things, "It didn't get this way overnight."  Ain't it the truth!

Alas, I can't offer a picture because my picture library is acting up.  Some days...or as Rosanna Rosanna Danna would say "It's always something."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


This afternoon reminds me of another bright, blue February day, years ago.  I knew gunshots.  We lived on the fringe of the fringe of a big gang neighborhood.  Of course, it was not this way when we moved in.  But gangs were turning whole neighborhoods upside down.  We were just lucky to be far enough away.  And in a few years, we would be fortunate to be able to move.  But on the weekends we could lay in bed and hear gunfire in the distance or the occasional drive by of rapid shots fired from speeding cars.  Then the parade of ambulances on the major thoroughfare.  But not on our block.  Not quite in our neighborhood until that February afternoon.

Certainly not five houses to the north and just around the corner.  One by one, neighbors came out of their homes, gathering in the yard next door.  We didn’t know just how close.  A few minutes passed, and five houses to the north they appeared:  three uniformed police officers with their weapons drawn, going around that first house on the corner cautiously, checking bushes, then coming down the street three abreast, just like a movie.  We all ran home.  My heart pounded as I stood behind the locked front door and watched as the policemen went in and out of every yard looking.  I tried to hide my absolute fear from five year old Cate as I sent an SOS to my mother and Burt.  By the time he made it home, an army of marked and unmarked cars had seized the streets as police officers and dogs walked the alley behind my house.  An unmarked car idled in the intersection two houses down.  My usually quiet neighborhood of retired original homeowners and first-time owners led the five and six o’clock news, yet not even the super-charged “live at the scene” reporters standing in the intersection where it all began knew that the end of the story was hiding in an attic three houses away, hearing the police cars, the curious neighbors and the engines of the satellite news trucks.

I took Cate to dance but she couldn’t dance through her tears.  I thought about what it must be like for a child to grow up in constant fear.  Supper was fixed and eaten.  Rumors had circulated all afternoon.  The paroled felon was armed and dangerous.  A policeman told my husband they would get the suspect, one way or the other.  He was most probably not in the neighborhood.  He would try to run, once it got dark.  About 8 p.m. I went to bed for a short nap.  My midnight oil would burn until dawn, if necessary.  Minutes later, I heard two gunshots. It ended, just a block from where it began.

I heard all four shots fired that day.  The first two injured the muzzle of the police dog and a policeman’s finger.  My sense of security was shaken but would heal.  The last two shots haunt my memory.  They would prove to be fatal.

Yesterday morning, I came out to my car and it had been ransacked.  I'm sure the person was very disappointed that there was no money hidden in any cubby hole or under the mat.  I didn't feel as violated as I thought I would.  My initial reaction was relief that the car had not been damaged.  Maybe my sense of security,  But then I remembered Sunday.  My little brush with crime was nothing when compared to the horrific day.

Three people had been shot and murdered in twelve hours.  A 27 year old mother was shot in her front yard on a bright, blue Sunday morning standing next to her 2 year old child.  The whole community has been shocked by this.  She didn't live in my neighborhood or my part of town.  But her home was in a relatively quiet family neighborhood, during the daylight.  Or so it was thought to be.  Two teenage boys are being held without bond.    

People say it and people write it.  When will this end?  We are in the same neighborhood.  The same city and state.  There is no explanation except there is evil in this world.  It shouldn't be a privilege of fortune that makes my front yard safe and another questionable.  A wise young person recently talked to me about risk and fear after the Paris terrorists attack.  The odds are in my favor.  A life must be lived without fear.  And if something happens, it happens.  But there is no controlling the situation or the things we encounter in life.  As odd as it seems, I'm in more danger standing in the front yard twenty years ago or three days ago.  What has changed?  Nothing.  What we have to fear is not over there, migrating here.   But we can't let fear gulp us up.  I'm preaching to myself.  I wish I had answers.