Friday, December 30, 2011

Bored and Disgusted

For perhaps the first time in my life, I am totally bored with movies, and books, and feel like all of fiction and film ought to be tossed out the window and stomped to tears of paper and sherds of plastic discs, turned into mulch (of only something so useful could be made of it all) and used to manure a garden of marigolds. 

Mission Impossible 4 wasn't that bad, nor was the latest Sherlock Holmes flick, but how many explosions and perfectly-executed acts of specially effects enhanced daring-do can one stomach?  I find myself already bored to tears with my Amazon Prime membership a bare two weeks after starting it--the free offerings are mostly musty old Hollywood movies of the sing a song, do a dance, have standard love triangle and hijinx ensue sort, and the newer, screw this person, screw that person, have heart to heart with gay best friend, finally fall into bed with Mr. Right genre.  It's all thoroughly banal.

And then in print, I read into the early morning hours only to be betrayed by an author I've been broadcasting to friends and family as a new favorite: Boris Akunin, writes in Russian yet isn't depressing.  Yet his last mystery, Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel, has him trying to outmaster the Master and Margarita, with its sudden veer into the supernatural, the superstitious, the ahistorical, and the weirdly blasphemous (or is that giving him too much credit).  For volumes his "female Father Brown" has been carefully sleuthing, balancing faith and reason, finding rational explanations for seemingly irrational phenomena, leading us on a tour of 19th-century provincial Russia, presenting in a microcosm, like Miss Marple's equally removed St. Mary Mead, the types and archetypes, the villains and saints of that time and place in history, offering the author chances to examine the cultural and political developments since from the viewpoint and in the words of his bygone characters.  Now, in this last adventure he sends these characters scurrying off to St. Petersburg and the Holy Land, interacting with a neo-Sodom settlement of happy homosexuals financed by an American philanthropist and a proto-Israeli commune operating in strange accord with its Circassian warlord neighbors, following a Holy Fool who might be Jesus who's been transported to 19th-century rural Russia via a system of time-warping caves with the unwitting assistance of a red rooster.  Akunin's hitherto reasonable, if impetuous nun tracks this Emmanuel from peasant village to the Garden of Gethsemane,  all the while pursued by a rabid band of zealot assassins dispatched by a member of the Holy Synod who want to get rid of this "antiChrist" while at the same time murdering numbers of other people, mostly bystanders of mixed innocence and ignorance.  It's wacko, like Akunin must have gotten tired of the careful, beautiful research and writing that distinguished his previous work and just decided to throw everything into a huge overheated boiler and damn the torpedoes, whatever nonsense came out, just so long as everyone died or was miserable or unaccounted for at the end, and some pseudophilosophical blather was spouted, well, so be it.

Pah.  A lesson on me.  Every unhappy family or film or book is all alike, ultimately dehumanizing in some way, and to dwell on it further is useless. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Broken Grandmommy Ring/Finger

Grandmommy took a header over a couple of suitcases she'd packed and left next to her couch before departing on a multi-mile walk yesterday afternoon.  She caught herself and ended up with a bad scrape on one arm and a broken ring finger bone on her left--it was a clean break in the palm of her hand, so her left arm's swaddled up like the Baby Jesus and we're praying it knits quickly.  My aunt and uncle were actually just a few minutes away from the house when she tripped--they were on their way to pick her up so she could spend a few days with them in Macon, GA, before and after her eye injection Tuesday--so they were able to whisk her off to the emergency room promptly.  My brother and my mom and I were already scheduled to go down to visit tomorrow, but this adds an extra element of urgency to the trip.

I think it was the afternoon of my grandfather's funeral, or perhaps it was the evening of the viewing, Grandmommy gave me their wedding rings--"They are mine to give to who I want to, and I don't want arguments over them later" she said.  Granddaddy's (which I don't think I'd ever seen him wear) was bent into an odd trapezoidal shape (probably the reason he never wore it) from the battering his hands were always taking.  Grandmommy's wedding and engagement bands were soldered together--actually, I remember twenty-five or so years ago when the back of the bands had been worn through from age and friction, and she had the bands replaced and then attached to one another to keep further deterioration at bay.  As a result of this earlier band replacement and soldering, the diamond top of the wedding band was loosened, and fell off on a trip she and Granddaddy were taking, and was lost.  She got a replacement (not as pretty as the original--the diamonds weren't set the same) and then had the whole fused together again.  So, really, the only part of the set that is original is the top part of the engagement ring.  A few months after she gave the set to me (Granddaddy's battered ring went into my jewelry box, while hers immediately took up permanent residence on my right middle finger), I noticed that one of the tiny side diamonds was missing, and just this week (Granddaddy would have been 95 last Monday) I noticed that there's a crack in the gold of the engagement ring, running from the inside of the band to the bottom of the largest central diamond.  In other words, the ring has legitimately been worn out.  It survived 63 years of marriage, but it has come to the end of its useful life.

Of course, I have no intention of melting it down to sell the gold!  Instead, I would like to have the components remade into a ring that I can wear for my remaining years of life, and then pass down to my niece or some other of Grandmommy's and Granddaddy's deserving descendants.  I want to have the gold from both his and her wedding rings combined, and a short inscription carved on the inside of the new band to commemorate their faithfulness and mutual affection.  The trick will be coming up with a design that incorporates the stones and the metal without looking like a men's club ring from the 1980s.  And it's got to be comfortable, as I don't intend to take it off much, if at all.   I like the early 20th century look, with the combination of white and yellow gold, and the stones set into the band.  We'll see.  I've got to start sketching.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Chaos

Christmas chaos for me has been lasting for more than six weeks now.  I've had no time to blog, very little time to eat and less to exercise, as I juggle four jobs and the usual "special holiday" demands--parties, jewelry/craft sales, and so forth.  I wouldn't have been able to pull off my own annual Christmas party without my mother's flying up for a week and not only gamely coming along with me to work the estate sale (the last of 2011!) we were setting up in Potomac, MD, but also assembling the traditional baklava (Southern style, with pecans in addition to the almonds and walnuts) while I frantically straightened and cleaned the house.  I was debilitatingly low on my quota of sleep until this past weekend, when I had a rare night with no commitments and was able to retire early.  My maternal side of the family celebrated its Christmas today in Georgia, but I'm at work in Bethesda, and my teleportation skills are not up to par these days.  I hope to drive down at a leisurely pace tomorrow, having shrouded the computer at work with plastic, as we had a dramatic leak in the roof yesterday which set me dreaming all last night about falling ceiling plaster and damp insulation.

There is some benefit to being so busy--it leaves little time for worrying--but there is also considerable cost--I haven't communicated with many friends in months, because I simply haven't had a moment, or any available energy, to touch base.  And a few of my female acquaintances are directly in harm's way: a coworker had to fly to Teheran to be with a sick sibling, and another former classmate is in Cairo working as a democratic activist.  Other ladies are simply overcome by the stresses of work, or have encountered the sudden loss of employment over the last month.  I keep thinking that January is going to be an oasis of calm after all this manic activity and mental anxiety, but I may be deluding myself.

I was able to complete a few of the patchwork bags I've been piecing for what seems like forever, and of the six finished, one sold.  The only thing besides sleeping, reading and eating I plan to do over my Christmas break is sew.  I may leave Mums with another carpetful of threads to vacuum, but I'd like to begin 2012 with enough inventory to see me through the summer.  Anita's asked me to think about returning to the market, but I'd only do it semimonthly and with a display of bags instead of jewelry. 

Estate sale coworkers and I are chatting about creating a reality TV series based on our experiences.  One's daughter is a TV producer, so this isn't as far-fetched as it might seem.  Another is planning to collaborate with me on a novel manuscript--she's supplying the plot outline, I'm writing descriptions and we're both structuring the dialogue.  It's a murder mystery series. 

I'm still waiting to hear back from the news director of the largest local radio station (tagline: "Traffic and weather together on the eights") whom I encountered under unfortunate circumstances a couple of weeks ago: in the dark and rain, right across from the National Cathedral when my 13-year-old car's front bumper slid into the rear of his new Lexus.  The only damage (it was less than 5 mph) was that one of the screws holding on my license plate punched a small, screw-head-sized hole into his bumper.  But it's a Lexus.  He was gracious, not a jerk (thank God!), though you could tell he was not thrilled that I'd bumped him.  He took a photo with his phone and emailed it to me, and said he'd be in touch (he was on his way to dinner, and the police don't come for domestic violence on the street in Georgetown--why would they come for such a minor traffic incident?).  I wrote him a nice note back, but haven't heard anything.  The holidays being what they are, and his job being what it is, it may be weeks yet.  I hope the fix isn't expensive, and that the dealer doesn't try to convince him he needs a whole new bumper.  I did get a very generous bonus from one of my bosses, but I don't want it to vanish into some car dealer's pocket.