Sunday, November 6, 2016

November Sunday

Sitting in the nearly empty parking lot of the Midland Library (it's a large library that sees a lot of use) before it opens, eating my weekend breakfast of an English muffin sandwich with bacon, egg and cheese, and a small carton of milk (it's funny, when I ask for milk, they nearly always respond with "white milk or chocolate milk?"  As though those were the two types of milk!) and marveling happily to myself at the nearly steady stream of cars circling through.  They are all dropping their votes in the large Ballot Box which is in the back of the parking lot.  Keep voting, people, keep voting!

The peach of the day, however, was an old Ford pickup truck, very large, which had originally been blue, but was now 90 percent rust.  At least 90 percent.  It had a two-by-four fence around the bed, rickety and broken down on one side, and was making a dreadful racket -- blap-blap-blap, very loud.  The driver was a tiny little wrinkled-up lady -- barely big enough to see over the dash, and you could see her head tipped sharply back to manage it.  She maneuvered the monstrous beast (blap-blap-blap) through the parking lot, and up to the ballot box, and her tiny hand on her scrawny arm came shakily out of the window and slowly, carefully (shakily) deposited her ballot envelope.  I wanted to stand up and cheer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Private Property



So I came out of my house Saturday morning, at about seven-thirty, and saw a grey-haired woman sitting in the gazebo, with a raincoat on, and a coffee cup from the bakery next door. She was shaking out a tiny folding umbrella and seemed cross. I called out, "Good Morning!" She looked up and gave me a decidedly dirty look, before pointedly turning her shoulder toward me.

Now, I'm a fairly shy person, at least I used to be, and it still flavors my behavior from time to time, but this was my house, my yard and my gazebo, and I was beginning to suspect that she had no right to be there. So I skipped down the steps and headed on over.

"Isn't it nice after the rain stops?' I said chattily. "You still need your umbrella for all the drips, though!"

"Mmm-hmm," she said, on a high note, and without looking at me.

"Who are you visiting?" I asked, sitting down beside her. She looked at me like I was insane.

"I'm not visiting, I live here!" she snapped. I did a double take.

"What? No -- unless you just moved in?" I asked, gesturing toward the apartment house.

"No -- I live in Alameda -- wait, is this your yard?" she asked. I nodded, with raised eyebrows.

"Well, for heaven's sake," she snapped, getting up and gathering her possessions angrily. "You shouldn't be here -- I mean -- how is anyone supposed to tell?"

"By the sign on the gate that says 'Private Property' ," I said sweetly. She stomped down the steps and headed across the grass.

"Sorry!" she called over her shoulder, not politely. I almost felt bad.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I am really not

Okay -- I find this strange -- or at least remarkable.  I had an "aha!" moment last year, when I realized -- for the first time -- that something which  had happened to me in the past put me in a well-known statistic.   

Okay. That was strange enough.  That I, who sort of pride myself on my ability to look at things and see how they are, could have skipped lightly over this event, even though I thought about it every so often, just never called it by its name.  And in fact had said aloud, several times, and to myself, several more times, that I was very lucky that I did not, in fact, belong to this statistic.  I feel weirdly ashamed, as though I did it on purpose, although I assure you I did not.

But here's the part that seems freaky to me now.  When I read articles online or in the news about these statistics, and other sufferers from it, I get very anxious and start shifting in my chair and breathing in little gasps, and want to leave the room.  That's the way that "trigger" stories make people feel who know that this happened to them.  And I didn't know, until just recently.  So I feel as though I must be making these reactions up.  But I am not.  I am really not.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hot Times, Summer in the City

Merciful Heavens, 84 degrees at 8 in the morning!  How is this possible?  How?  How, how, how?  You see, it's turned me into Rowsby Woof!

I am pretty much living in my bedroom these days, since I have a window unit air conditioner in there.  This is nice, and means I sleep through the night pretty well, but it would be better if I had a chair to sit in.  Reading in bed, or watching  a movie on one's laptop in bed is not as comfy as one might think.  And yes, there is a chair in my bedroom, but it is invisible under the pile of clean but un-put-away clothes. 

I do love the open, beckoning emptiness of the Banfield freeway on these early weekend mornings!  It is all swooping curves, and I am always called to speed.  The few cars that there are are all speeding as well, so there isn't any risk of suddenly coming upon a fifty-five-mile-an-hour-good-little-driver.  There are other risks, of course -- as witness:

This morning I was in the far left lane, doing about 75, and had no one in front of me, so I was getting ready to move back into the center lane.  There were about five cars in my current sight, before and behind, all well-spaced.  I turned on my signal, waited a few moments, and started moving right.  As I did so, I was aware of a flash of movement behind me, and then a long, loud, I'm-extremely-pissed-off car horn.  A small, shabby little sports-type car shot into the far right lane, at an angle that showed he had come from behind me in the far left, all the way across three lanes, and then without a pause, shot left again, across the middle lane and into the far right.  No signalling, or anything, since that requires a hand off the wheel.

A young girl, maybe 23-24, with floods of wild blonde hair whipping around her face, projected herself out of the open window of this car up to her waist, to turn back toward me and give me the deluxe double finger.  She held this position, shaking her hands toward me and screaming something (much too loud out there to hear, and anyway, my windows were closed) and then retracted herself, and the car shot away at a minimum of eighty-five miles an hour -- we were all doing seventy, seventy-five, and he passed us like we were going backward -- in big triangular swoops across and back across, all without benefit of signal.

I burst out laughing, it was just so ludicrous.  It also made me feel oddly nostalgic about being that young -- that moment-oriented -- that the interruption of your wildly illegal and tremendously dangerous freeway shenanigans would have been enough to infuriate you to that extent.  I was never that young, thank goodness.

Last weekend I took a day off and spent three days in Rogue River with my aunt and uncle at their gorgeous, opulent and extremely clean house on the river.  It is a large and very plush dwelling and there was not a scrap of dust anywhere in it.  The upstairs, where my cousin and I always sleep, was completely unused by the family, and still, perfectly clean.  It was a lovely visit, extremely relaxing and very enjoyable.  Spent most of our time just sitting in their luxurious living room with glasses of iced tea and talking about our lives and our shared memories and our jobs and our families.  My aunt is a very careful and excellent cook, and she and my uncle both refused any offers of help, so my cousin and I just lay back and luxuriated.  I didn't want to come home!

We took a trip up to Crater Lake, so I have now seen this Oregon landmark -- hadn't until then!  It is extremely beautiful.  Very serene, with no background noise of rivers, since it has no input and no outgo.  The water is an even, full, blue and very calm.  And it's huge.  Lots of tiny, rapidly-darting chipmunks with very bright eyes, who all flash across the paths and up over the rocks at a ridiculous rate of speed.  Very relaxing to stand and look.  And all the walls and buildings are made of stone, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the thirties, and very beautiful.  Plus, since this lake is in the top of a volcano, exploded off and crumpled in, about seven thousand (!) years ago, you have to wind your way up and up into the mountains to get a look at it, so we were high among the pine forests.  It was a gorgeous day, in spite of the heat -- 102 degrees, I believe -- and anyway, their car is very well air-conditioned.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Smile on My Face

This is perfect weather -- absolutely perfect.  The sky is thickly overcast and glowing white, the air is crisp and a tiny bit too chilly, and there were tiny raindrops in the air for a moment -- just a moment -- on my way to the bank!  When I walked out the door at about eight, the air I took in was gloriously fresh and promising, with none of the oppressive stickiness I am expecting later in the day.  It is still cool enough in my apartment to necessitate a robe upon arising, and I reveled in my new bathrobe, soft and light and dark navy-blue, and perfectly comforting.  Ahh....!

I'm currently wearing a gauze skirt, to attempt to battle the coming apocalypse of heat, which I had to mend before wearing, since last time I had it on, my key ring caught in it as I was picking it up, and tore two long straight lines through it.  It's always worse when you do it yourself -- you know, hurl a glass to the floor as you are trying to catch it, smack yourself in the face with something you are trying to heft -- it's no doubt all very salutary and lesson-teaching, but it's also very frustrating.  In any case, the two tears lent themselves very nicely to being mended and are hardly visible now. 

I've just finished a book that I truly enjoyed.  I was laughing repeatedly -- aloud! -- throughout the first two chapters, and snickering later on, and I wept very sadly all through the last chapter.  So it has the whole, "I laughed, I cried" thing going for it.  It's "A Man Called Ove" by Frederick Backman, and I put in on my library list because of another book he wrote called, "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry," which was charming although not as satisfactory as "Ove", in spite of the title.  It had some real cleverness in it, however, as well as some spots that left me feeling unfulfilled -- and it was festooned with blurbs about his best-selling book, "A Man Called Ove."  So I put it on my library list some months ago, and had completely forgotten about it when it turned up.  I advise a look!

Last night I had retired to my bedroom with the door closed and the air conditioner on, since after sundown is when it gets too hot to be comfortable in any degree of dress or undress, and iced drinks do nothing to prevent the trickles of sweat, and had just begun to feel the eyelids closing, when like a sudden Taser-blast, I remembered that my car was still parked in the library parking lot.  My eyelids shot open, and I was suddenly very wide awake.  Why do you suppose memory does that?  Why couldn't I have remembered several hours earlier, while still clothed?  There is an actual physical jolt that goes along with these falling-asleep memories, not unlike those clonic leaps your body makes -- they call them hypnagogic jerks -- just as you are nearly asleep, which always leave me gasping, heart pounding, and very WIDE AWAKE.  What's the deal there?

Well, in this case, I was just as glad to be widely awake, since I had to get up and go and rescue my car, and park it in front of the apartment, and if I had been staggering with sleep, I probably would have gone out in whatever articles of clothing met my hand, with my hair on end.  And several of my neighbors were sitting in the gazebo, where I afterwards joined them, so I was glad to be relatively appropriately clothed.  It's possible that my neighbors would not have been likely to notice my deshabille, since they had been out drinking and while none of them were intoxicated, they all were "flown with wine", which made it funny and delightful to talk with them, but also meant that they might have been just as likely to seize upon my clothing and want to discuss it in every detail.   

I went back to bed with a smile on my face! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

TBD

Today is the third time in a week that my work schedule included "TBD" which means "To Be Determined" (for those of you who don't do initialisms) although today's was the only one of the three which appeared on the schedule itself.  The first two were when clients cancelled their scheduled shifts without telling us this would be happening.  

However, in spite of three or four days to think them up, my boss had only one chore for me to do, which took a total of ten minutes, even though I checked it over and then checked it over a third time just to use up some minutes.  So I spent most of three hours reading at an empty desk.  Read the Residential Books (case histories, etc) of clients, and then read the book I always have with me (at the moment it's Barbara Vine's "The Blood Doctor" which has been unread long enough since the first time I read it, to have vanished back into the mists of time for me -- I truly cannot remember what the twist is going to be, nor a lot of details in the story itself.  Which is almost unprecedented, and also a great benefit to me, since Ruth Rendell {Barbara Vine's actual name} has recently died and will not be writing any more.  So it's almost new!  WIN!) until that shift was over.  This is the break before my afternoon shift.

One of my co-workers had made and brought in for me, two chocolate chip cookies and a slice of what she called "Zucchini Pie" and I would have called quiche if anyone had asked me.  Needless to say, I did not eat it.  The chocolate chip cookies were perfectly fine, although they included walnuts in them, which was an unexpected though not off-putting occurrence, but were fat and puffy like -- like -- can't think of any cookies which are intended to be puffy, although I know I've eaten them.  Anyway, they were quite good, and I ate them with enjoyment, although I'm a little uncertain as to the intentions of the co-worker.  At the moment, I'm just assuming that she is being friendly and making friendly overtures to me, her friend.  Right?
 
Miserable hot day, today, somewhere in the mid-eighties, I'm guessing. It's funny how quickly that sucking misery can dissipate from my mind when I am in an air-conditioned building.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Further Up and Further In!

This morning I had breakfast in the Tardis of restaurants -- the Aslan's Country of restaurants!  Definitely bigger on the inside than it was on the outside.  It was a small, brown, snub-nosed building on the corner of a busy street, with dark reflective windows, so you couldn't see in.  But once inside, it had been laid out by a master hand, with the bar fronting the kitchen in such a way as to give all the room light from the windows, the odd-shaped corners used for the poker machines, and booths around the outer walls.  Light, airy, spacious -- it was a joy to enter, and an even bigger joy to eat in! The hashed brown potatoes were crispy and yet tender, the gravy was sausagey and delicious and their bacon was a thing of beauty and a joy for the very brief time it took to eat.  Next time I'm going to try the oatmeal -- see if they can take it to the next level!

I had breakfast there with Linda, my apartment house manager, chatting about books and marriage and raising boys and baking -- Linda and I have had similar lives in certain ways!  Now that I know where it is, I invite you to come and breakfast there with me!  Tuesdays and Wednesdays -- I'm always available!