LOOKING FOR LIFE BEYOND CABLE NEWS AND FINDING THAT RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy. But you cannot have both.
- Louis Brandeis
Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
- Chinese Proverb
Well, look who came to dinner!
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Tag Archives: Family and Friends
This is a special one for Barb and Jim who are getting married today. It’s all syrupy and corny and almost a cliché, but hey, I think it’s just right.
My first ‘dedication’ – now I feel like a DJ! (I know, this is far from Elvis at his best . . .but still . . . )
Almost forgot – today feels more like the last day of a seven day weekend than the start of a normal one.
This one is for Stewart, one of the snugglies who was here for Christmas. He’s four years old, has red hair and big doe eyes, and this is his favorite song. We sang it Wednesday night – we sang it for quite a while, over and over. And over.
Even though The Weavers recorded it earlier (in the 50’s), this 60’s version from The Tokens was the one playing whenever we took to the dance floor.
The too-big Christmas tree is no longer too big and sits in its traditional spot in my living room. It is yet buck naked but looks great (and even smells wonderful!). So my holidays may now commence thanks to good neighbor Jim, partner of good neighbor Barb. He’s my Christmas tree go-to guy. I always buy the thing and haul it home, but until Jim comes over to help make sure it goes into the stand straight, it sits outside. This year he brought the cordless saw and promptly took it down a size and made it perfect. Now, once once I get the lights on (nobody’s favorite job) I can enjoy the sweet part – unboxing the ornaments, some so old they’re from my grandmother’s trees (albeit fewer each year) – and finding the perfect spot for each.
I don’t host Thanksgiving but I am the traditional baker of the pies, a task I really enjoy. So the shopping is done, ingredients are at hand, the weather is lovely and the doors and windows are wide open. I’m ready!
There will be two pies baked today and the pumpkin gets done tomorrow morning. Today’s pies will not be refrigerated but wrapped in cloth and left on the lanai for the overnight. And tomorrow’s pie will come to the table still warm.
I’ll bring two to Thanksgiving dinner, but the third is for my neighbors across the street.
They are the future – at least I hope so! This is an interesting family who appear, on the face of it, perfectly normal. They are six, which is larger than most these days, but with school, hockey, soccer, an SUV and pickup, bikes, flower gardens, chores and electronics, they are otherwise a normal and handsome representation of a U.S. family, circa 2011.
Except for one thing . . . they are about one year away from taking their home life entirely off the grid. They’re fully integrated into the community and school activities, but at home they will be independent (Okay, they’re keeping internet and cable.)
They’ve converted the house (and pool!) to solar. Two rain barrels supply the pool and kitchen. The rest is on a well. A big wood stove heats the house in winter. They have a kitchen garden. Actually, two – one in their backyard and a much larger garden on a bare plot of land about half a mile away. Both are fenced. Both are watered from wells, and tended by Dad and the four kids. They’ve also got chickens and guinea hens out back and share the eggs. They’ve begun playing with grape vines, thinking of making their own wine.
Dad owns a small business and employs a few guys; as such his income is mostly secure. (If necessary they could probably get by on the earnings of son #1 who mows my lawn!) They fully own that business as well as the house and cars. There’s a fishing boat too, which goes to the Gulf regularly and comes back with lottsa fish on a good day.
I’m sharing this story so I can tell you what happened one night last week. At about 6pm, Dad showed up at my door – with a wide and proud smile – holding a full dinner plate. On the plate were a quarter guinea hen, red potatoes, broccoli, corn, string beans and onions. “Enjoy” he said. (UPDATE: When this post first went up, I’d failed to say that every single thing on that plate was from the garden. You probably got that, but in the interest of crossing all the ‘t’s’ . . . )
Earlier they’d had guests and fed 11 people. And they did it with the grill and the solar oven. So come the revolution, our plan is to run the fence to enclose my property inside theirs, make the gardens bigger and have the kids man the turrets.
Good thing I love brocolli.
My brain whirls, my outrage grows, my humor is dampened . . . but none of this translates into actual words. So Whatever Works shall vacation for a few more days and I can only hope Orhan feels inclined to toss something of substance up here.
In Miami, where the AC is temporarily off line at my brother’s beautiful 17th floor condo, we have open windows on three sides overlooking upper Biscayne Bay. The brisk breezes off the water cools us. Not bad.
My sister lives on the West Coast and she sent me this little story in email the other day. Warmed my heart.
Saturday night Gene and I went to the symphony . . . while I was handing our tickets to the ticket taker Martin, a woman approached . She was quite elderly and very stooped over. In her hair which was a bit wild, she had several exquisite hair combs. Her suit was totally threadbare, but was probably a real knockout a quarter of a century ago. No partner, no purse, nothing but this darling dilapidated presence.In the most beautiful diction she asked Martin if he would mind terribly if she “popped in and used the powder room.” He said, of course not, Madame, go ahead. After she left his side, I said, she’s sneaking into the symphony isn’t she? And he said, “every Saturday night.”
A theatre friend died Saturday. He was much too young and we loved him too much to have him leave us so soon.
Steve often appeared on stage with kids in the youth theatre productions – there were always adult parts; he was an audience favorite and was cast frequently. He was the first to make new kids feel welcome; he quickly put them at ease and showed them the ropes. They adored him.
He was a snarky and sarcastic fellow which of course was his charm. Steve often sat outside the stage door smoking (yes, smoking), wearing a baseball hat bearing a show logo – from which perch he could greet arrivals with ‘glad to see you decided to join us’.
Sunday night I was still feeling a bit sad when I took Logan and his mom to dinner. We talked a bit about Steve, but Logan was excited about the movie Billy Elliot which he’d just seen (he now wants to be a dancer). Later on at his house he performed his version of a number from that show and he dedicated it to Steve.
In the 1970’s I regularly rebuffed the romantic attentions of a young man who was, otherwise, a very dear friend. We’d worked together on newspapers, sharing long hours and endless deadlines always followed by the urgent and passionate talk of the young. Late into the night – or until the wine ran out – we talked of everything. A topic to which we returned over and over was the future – of newspapers, of the world, of language, of our friends and mostly of course of ourselves. (That is, after all, what narcissistic baby boomers did then.) We talked of politics, the arts, social norms, archeology, anthropology, our families, the movies – of beauty and of war.
It was not required that we be particularly knowledgeable about our subjects – the sheer fun of long conversation was sufficient.
He married and had a son. I moved on to other places. We found careers and new friends.
We’re still dear friends. And right now I’m headed off to St. Pete Beach to visit him. He’s here for four days and I get two of them. We’ll eat, we’ll report on family and work.
And of course – we’ll talk.
I’m the designated maker of pies for Thanksgiving. Ingredients are now in-house, and I shall bake the pies – two of them- tomorrow morning. There will be pumpkin of course – made with black strap molasses. And there will be an apple – made with pears and cranberries and maybe some raisins. Yummy yummy to y’all and gobble gobble too.
Some of you who visit here may also have made the acquaintance of a fellow blogger, The Hippie Professor.
Alan Scott, a frequent commenter at both places, just gave me the news in comments that hippiprof passed away over the weekend. A friend of his posted the news into this thread, where people are leaving condolences.
A Facebook friend who’s in Asia on business, just posted that “real estate in Hong Kong is off the charts high!!! a 1/2 acre lot just sold for $1.7 Billion HK dollars! that’s about $20k HK dollars per sq”
Don’t even know what to make of that. Anyone?
The continuing medical adventures of my too-old-to-be-alive father opened a new chapter Sunday night. He was rushed to the hospital, had four hours of surgery to clear a colon blockage and is now in intensive care.
He has an ‘advance directive’, has had it for many years, which one would expect to clarify decisions, but is in fact quite fluid and is subject to various opinions of different medical personnel. First, having surgery or not (in which case he would have been gone in a matter of days) was his decision which is the right thing since he has his full facilities. (Not a choice I would make, especially since life after this surgery is going to be compromised and his somewhat independent living arrangement will be over. But it’s what he wanted to do.)
At first he came out of the surgery in good shape, but complications set in pretty quickly. So it’s unknown right now how this plays out. He’s quite ill. I think any reader of this blog knows his choice is not the choice I would have made -for me or for him. But, as I said, the beat goes on.
For me, everything is on hold while this plays itself out so blogging will be very light.
I realized today that amongst my close acquaintances here in SW Florida are a Darrell, a Darren and a Duwain. I think it is now time for me to turn in my North-East credentials and forfeit my New York passport. I am truly an old belle. I say y’all too.
After channel surfing to confirm that once again the broadcast network news shows are reporting the exact same stories at the exact same time – and thus reassuring myself that their triple suicide pact is on track – I turned to the emails I get every week or so from friend Tom. He’s one of those who mass-forwards things about being old or amazing pictures! – but he does it in batches. So I look.
Today he sent this. Thanks Tom.
Friend Jim sent me a link to today’s Tom Friedman column. He often makes my teeth hurt – Friedman, not Jim! – (anyone remember the Friedman Unit?). But this installment is rich with stuff I didn’t know before. Like:
“Look, if you had told me that we had just arrested 11 Finns who were spying on our schools, then I’d really have felt good — since Finland’s public schools always score at the top of the world education tables. If you had told me that 11 Singaporeans were arrested spying on how our government works, then I’d really have felt good — since Singapore has one of the cleanest, well-run bureaucracies in the world and pays its cabinet ministers $1 million-plus a year. If you had told me that 11 Hong Kong Chinese had been arrested studying how we regulate our financial markets, then I’d really have felt good — since that is something Hong Kong excels at. And if you had told me that 11 South Koreans were arrested studying our high-speed bandwidth penetration, then I’d really have felt good — because we’ve been lagging them for a long time.”
Singapore pays its ministers a million a year? Holy Elvis!
A new slide show from niece Natanya brings me up to date on one of the ‘Grands’. This is Stewart in Washington DC., his home sweet home. Today, he has chosen to demonstrate for us the classic expression of the ‘terrible twos”. (I laughed out loud at this one). Once things calmed down, it was off to the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House. And after a long exhausting day, some pool time really helped.
This evening, within a single half hour, I confirmed as Facebook friends a local congressional candidate and a young drag queen. Both are actual friends.
Grey and rainy outside, windy enough to hear it inside. Love a day like this. Especially here in Florida, where it’s a rare treat. Just spent 45 minutes on the phone with a long lost publishing friend in New York. It’s great fun to suddenly be in touch like this – after almost 20 years, because the conversation begins with “as I was saying.”
It’s also the 114th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.