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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thanks, Ladies!

While I am still slightly sloshed, relaxed and typographically chatty, I should take the opportunity to give thanks for my dear girlfriends (sorry, guys!) who have made this past year such a pleasure...  In no particular order, they include:

S Dawg, my sister, whose politics irritate me, but who is always willing to talk...when she actually answers her phone.  She may be crusty at times, but she is and will be always my sister and for me a source of interesting stories and intellectual enrichment, besides a site of familiar mental and emotional processing--don't underestimate the importance of someone who will comprehend why you wore jeans instead of a dress to church, as you covered your legs in ink sketches on Saturday night which hosiery couldn't conceal Sunday morning.

Rachel, wife of the NPV and my dear friend, who not only redeemed my middle name for me this year (after I'd spent 37 years disliking it), but also was the first person to nod with understanding when I explained my theory of American social class (particularly with regards to romantic relationships) to her.  Such a kindred spirit is a treasure.

I am overwhelmed by valuables!  Susan (and, by happy association, Steven) continues to maintain our established friendship despite the continuation of my crazy work schedule and the onset (and near completion) of her pregnancy with another of my small honorary nephews.  I am so grateful for married friends who continue to include me in their coupled lives, and imbed me as an "aunt" in their familial worlds.

Speaking of which, Paxifist has supported me and my youngest brother in prayer this year!  She is someone whom I've telephoned at ridiculous hours, for whom I've left repeated panicked messages on the phone, and she faithfully follows up.  Bob may not know it yet, but Paxifist is a prayer warrior in his support team.

Leah, who, like Paxifist, has been a moral and emotional support despite her parenthood of a bright and active boy.  Gracemom, who adopted my honorary niece this summer, who became an estate sale coworker this year.  Debby, my sister in law, whose originality and sweetness are always a bright spot in my life.  Heidi, who gave birth who another of my honorary nephews, whose grandmother's youthful nude pop-art self-portrait always makes me smile.  Mel, my estate-sale boss, reminds me that "office jobs" are not necessarily to be preferred to our hobo existence.  My mother, my aunts, other female friends far and near and acquaintances. So many encouragers.  I am truly blessed.

Buzzed Blogging, Inebriated Kitchen Cleanup

I think old age tends to reveal a person's character.  True, geriatric problems, including hormonal and other changes, can produce emotional conditions that a person hasn't suffered before, including unreasonable fear, but as a general rule as one's physical strengths are reduced, and physical weaknesses become more pronounced (if not the major factor in day to day existence), one's true being is revealed, whether good or ill.  If you are combative, bitter, selfish, that comes to the forefront.  If you have a deep, sweet core, that leaches out as you lose the anchors that connected you to contemporary life.  For instance, as both my grandfather's sister, and then my grandfather, were suffering from Alzheimer's, they lost the ability to recognize those they'd known, but they were delighted in little things, pleased at smiles and kindnesses, whereas I have visited other people in retirement homes who were downright nasty once the pleasant veneer of health was stripped way.   To a limited extent, this may be true of what happens when someone ingests alcohol.  Barring my friend the NPV, who would die (he can't process alcohol; it immediately poisons his system and he'd be in the emergency room if someone spiked his punch, if not laid out on a slab in a morgue), for most of us the usual barriers drop when we've had a little much to drink--it lowers the social inhibitions and one's true character is revealed.

I had a large frozen margarita at lunch (the local blue laws only are in effect until noon on Sunday, then one is permitted the regular weekday debauchery) with John and my mother after church.  I've already cleaned up the kitchen and here I am blogging--two fundamental characteristics of mine thus revealed: OCD and literary loquaciousness.  The visitation and rosary for his mother are this evening in Macon, the funeral tomorrow.  He and Mums understand why I am foregoing both--it triggers too many profoundly sad memories for me to handle it.  My grandfather's 96th birthday would have been on the 19th, and his death and that of Daddy are inextricably linked in my mind.  I know it sounds weird, and odd moreover considering that I am delighted John is my stepdad, but I really missed Daddy being there at the wedding yesterday!  I know it wouldn't have taken place without his death, but he would have enjoyed it so much!  We all gathered at noon, moseyed to the pews within pulpit spitting range, and Mums told me (as I was walking down to the front of the sanctuary with the other attendees carrying the camera she gave me) that I was going to be "best woman" and stand at the front with her during the ceremony. I was motioned into the correct position by the pastor, in a sunbeam (which meant that I couldn't see the congregation of 30 or so because of the sun in my right eye--OK as I was able to concentrate on his words and the bridal couple with my left) and stood up front (hopefully not looking squinty) while my dear friend Susanna took over photography duties.

I was so glad that Susanna was able to attend!  Not only did she end up driving me, my sister in law, and the bride herself to the church, she took pictures when I was otherwise engaged, and she helped out with the organization and cleanup from the reception, which was a catered lunch, with a proper, and tasty, wedding cake, at my mom's house.  Given that both of my brothers, nor my sister (who was unable to attend, given her work schedule and finances) listen to me in any meaningful way (though they love me, and would go to the ends of the earth for me if I were ever in dire straits), it was nice to have someone around who was kindred spirit, who could take the place of Daddy for a while in terms of personal expression of joy.

It may be strange to feel so alone at such a unifying occasion as a wedding, or equal parts sad and happy on such a thoroughly good day, but I was thus affected.  Other than Susanna's much-appreciated company, I missed having someone with whom I could genuinely share the emotional profundity of the event, to whom I could pour out the simultaneous joy and misery that I was feeling, enhanced by the death of John's mom--I HATE DEATH! Anyone who treats it as "normal" ought to be briskly kicked--missing Daddy, and Granddaddy, and yet happy that John is "officially" my stepdad.  Well, as my father would say, "there it is".  Mums and John are on their way to Macon, and I'm going down for an afternoon nap.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Wedding, A Funeral, A Dog, A Cat and A Candy Coupon

My mother’s fiance’s mother died yesterday morning.  They were to have had the small wedding ceremony by her bedside at noon tomorrow (she had been bedridden at home for months, with 24-hour care, and they had wanted her to be able to see her remaining bachelor son get married), but because of this change from mortal to immortal the wedding venue has been shifted to Mums and John’s church, and the funeral mass will take place Monday morning in Macon.  Besides the huge change of losing a parent and getting married within a couple of days (and at an oh-so-low-stress time like Christmas, to boot!), Mums and John have inherited his mother’s extremely neurotic German Shepherd mix.  She was a rescue dog, and despite having been in a safe and loving environment for several years now, still spends half her days trembling in fear around most people.  My mother says she’s going to have to smear her legs with bacon grease to win her over completely, but the fact is that she has made great strides in gaining Heddy’s trust over the last few months—Heddy will actually let my mother pet her, whereas she rushes off in terror when she sees me.  But indoor dog ownership adds a whole layer of challenge to the newlywed adjustment, and I know that my father would find the whole situation hilarious, as Mums flatly refused to let him get an outdoor dog for years because she’d be the one caring for it, and now she not only has to adjust to John’s 11 bicycles in the dining room (a level of obsession which makes Daddy’s boat-mania look quite mild), she’s going to be catering to a high-strung canine who must be released and reassured multiple times a day.

Judith the cat came to my Christmas party last Saturday.  Given that people were coming in so frequently, we’d just left the front door ajar several inches, and halfway through the evening, when I was chatting in one of the back rooms, a cry went up from the front: “KYP, do you own a black cat?”  I told them she lived upstairs, and frequently dropped by to visit.  She was obviously a little nonplussed by all the people, but still accepted pats from several children before wandering into my room to investigate my unusually clean and uncluttered space.  I let her nose around for a while before letting her outside—no doubt to face her arch-enemy from next door, Mr. B’s orange and white cat, with whom she was facing off, tail puffed, when I left DC yesterday.
One staple for my annual Christmas party is Stouffer’s lasagna.  It’s really good—why make it from scratch when you can pop it, frozen, into the oven and it comes out delicious and table-ready 95 minutes later?  I was under the misapprehension that the nearby Safeway had it on sale, and so went to that store for the first time in perhaps 8 years, remembering once I walked in the door why I never frequent it—poorly maintained, poorly staffed.  Though they weren’t actually on sale, the Stouffers were a reasonable price, and the frozen food section didn’t look dirty (in ironic contrast to the fresh food area), so I went ahead and got two party-size lasagnas and one macaroni and cheese, just to mix things up a bit.  At the register (service with a snarl), I received a $10 coupon, good until Dec. 23.  No minimum purchase, just basically a credit—probably because I hadn’t been to the store in so long, they wanted to lure me back by any means necessary. So, yesterday afternoon, just before I left town, I went and spent the whole thing on candy—three packs of gum, three boxes of Nerds, and a container of Junior Mints.  I never buy candy, but since it was basically free, I went sugar-crazy!  Plus, it was basically the only thing there that wasn’t something I could get cheaper, better, and organic at Trader Joe’s.  Which is a German-owned company, one of my party guests told me.  I wish I could buy stock in it, but last I checked it was privately held.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guns & Answers

Most of the Democrats I know are extremely sweet people—they want everybody to be nice, and they think that people are good at bottom (and if only they are educated and legally restrained, all will be well).  But most are thoroughly inconsistent in their logic and limited in their information.  For example, my boss, who is rabidly anti-gun, asked me to bring my gun to the sale we had this last weekend, since we had tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry.  I looked at her like she was nuts and flatly refused: “I’m not bringing a handgun into DC!”  She thinks I have a license and that it’s somehow universally accepted, and she most assuredly doesn't know the district firearms laws.  Then, of course, everybody on both sides of the aisle was horrified by what happened in Connecticut last week—flags have flown at half-mast around the city and the Washington Monument since Friday’s massacre. 

All these well-meaning people are talking about denying folks with mental illnesses guns and limiting the ability to purchase ammunition.  My questions: since practically everybody in the US is on some form of pharmaceutical, who determines the cut-off point for crazy?  Since women are disproportionately represented in the depressed category, and yet also inversely likely to participate in violent crimes (and yet need a non-muscular means to defend themselves against those who would make them victims), how is any anti-gun legislation fueled by a backlash against the possession of weapons by those suffering from so-called mental illness going to avoid being, at its bottom, fundamentally anti-woman?  And, just because you are depressed, or even because you have a developmental disorder, does not mean you are going to go out and kill people, either individually or en masse.  Something deeper, more insidious, is at work.  Why penalize "consumers" in this way? 

Really “meaningful” firearms reform should involve social imbedding of the acquisition process!  One is known by the company one keeps, and as was amply demonstrated by this weekend’s events, people who lash out violently at others are usually estranged from family and society.  If one was required to have two witnesses support one’s application for weapon’s acquisition, with the understanding that those two people had to be felony-free, and if you committed a crime with such weapon within a five year period of its purchase, would lose their right to recommend another for ownership for a year or so, I guarantee both Democrats and Republicans should be pleased with the result.  Those who are responsible to others, whether or not they’ve had to deal with various emotional issues at different points in their lives, are less likely to betray the confidences they hold.  And just because you’re depressed doesn’t mean you should be penalized, or deprived of the right to defend yourself.  Just because government officials and celebrities enjoy the benefits of well-trained, arms-bearing protective services doesn’t mean that ordinary Americans of either sex should have to go without their individual self-protection.  Although I didn’t bring my gun to the estate sale, I did buy a small axe there, which kept behind the jewelry counter, and now carry in my car.  It’s just my size, and very sharp.  Frankly, given the miniscule caliber of my handgun (which I’ve never fired, even at a shooting range), the axe is much more deadly!

On a less combative note, my friend Susanna just emailed me a lovely long letter today regarding my posts from the beginning of this calendar year, which led her to several questions, to which I’d like to respond.  Susanna, see answer to question #7 in particular for a good time to get together!
1) Did your sister get her nursing license (In a January post, she was studying for some tests towards that)?  Yes, S Dawg has been working as a nurse since the beginning of the year, and has already paid off all her school loans.  I am constantly impressed by her abilities—her energy level and efficiency, not to mention her intellect, are way beyond mine! 

2) Are you still working on a mystery novel (ref Feb post)?  Yes, it’s about 25 single-spaced pages at this point.  I’ve taken the last two months off from writing, but will return to the project in January, after I complete my ESOL certificate (I paid for an on-line course a month ago, and need to do it!)
3) Did you make it to Colorado in Sept to visit cousins (I would assume no, but I am still curious)?  No, alas.  Plane tickets to Denver were almost $500, and that for a weekend.  I ended up spending a while on the phone, and my cousin finished the Grandmommy quilt scrapbook (two volumes, almost 90 pages) just minutes before she left for the airport to fly to Georgia.

4) Did you really go to ComicCon in San Diego (you wrote about that in February, but I didn't hear any more about it)? Sadly, I didn’t get to use the tickets, because, again, plane fare and hotels would have cost me more than $1000 for the four days, and I was really impecunious at the time.
5) Are you still writing a novel with Sheila? (Her blogynym) And is that the same book as my question 2?  Yes, and yes.

6) Are you currently roommate-less, or do you still have the temp nudist Naval Academy midshipwoman (she sounded fascinating - you could tell me more about her. Unless there's nothing to tell or it was too unpleasant)?  Roommate-less since she left!  I would rather talk about all the many other interesting ladies I’ve met this year!  I did have a full house of fascinating people for this year’s Christmas party, which took place this last Saturday.  Friends from many walks of life came, and one (with my permission) brought a guy she’d hoped to set me up with…
7) Has your mom gotten married yet [in the June posts, it sounded like it was coming shortly ("6 weeks" (or was it 8?)), but then you mention "her fiance" in a November post again, I believe]?  The wedding is slated for this very Saturday!  His elderly mother is bedridden at home, and a few of us in the immediate family plan to gather by her bedside with the couple and the minister, and have the ceremony there.  Would you like to come for cake and lunch afterwards?  I think the time is high noon.  Give me a call!

8) Are you still doing the trivia team? I'd love to hear more about that! How did you get involved with it? Who participates? Is it all kind of trivia?  My attendance with the trivia team has been spotty this year.  We all took off one quarter because we had too many commitments elsewhere, but we re-started in the fall.  I joined a couple of years ago after a girlfriend from church invited me, then she started dating and got married and moved away, but I kept on.  The other girls (we are an all-female team, after the guys who’d been a part at the beginning baled on us) are ten years younger than me, but that actually helps, because they watch TV (American TV, that is!) and I don’t.  It’s a max four-person team and the questions cover everything under the sun.  The top three teams get gift certificates to the bar, which helps cover our snacks on the odd occasions when we finish well.  It’s a nice social outlet, and I like my teammates, only one of whom is a Christian.  They are sweet to include me.
I was scheduled to go to GA today (which, incidentally, was Dex's 50th birthday--the congratulatory text I sent him didn't arrive, so I emailed), but my stomach wasn't settled, I was too tired, there were too many errands to run beforehand (including some procrastinated-on cleanup from the Christmas party!), and both my driver's side brakelight and my headlight have gone out!  So I'm planning to leave early in the morning.  Me, my axe, and my dirty laundry, flying fragrantly down the road.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Pastor/New Passage

For the first time in my life, I am older than every single member of the pastoral staff at my church.  The congregation voted by a 97% margin to accept the search committee's recommendation for senior pastor, a young man from Scotland who's been one of our assistant pastors for several years, who we were all hoping would be the pick, as his sermons are always clearly focused on Jesus.  He's in his early 30s.  The newest assistant pastor is in his mid-20s, and the older is just a year or so younger than me.  It's a whole new generation.  They are all guys I respect, to whom I've given an assumption of seniority, not only because of their office, but because they are all married with several children, and mostly taller than I am.  I've retained from childhood an assumption that when one is adult one is tall, and usually a parent.  Since I am short and childless, I am eternally youthful!

The Georgetown craft sale went pretty well, though poor Anita made only a third of what she earned last year.  She and I and another girlfriend are supposed to have a show at the latter's home tomorrow night, but thus far, out of almost 200 invitees, only three have responded affirmatively--and one of those was the hostess and another was me!  We three queens of jewelry may be sitting around eating the snacks we've assembled and emptying the bottle of wine we've opened by ourselves.

The house we are setting up for this weekend's estate sale was owned by one of the first female spies to work for the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II forerunner of the CIA.  She spied against the Germans in Egypt, and married a State Department official who later became a Middle East ambassador.  Their library of Arab-world related books is pretty impressive.  I recognized many of the authors from my Georgetown graduate days.  Next up for our company, immediately after Christmas, is the sale at the former Korean embassy.  If I had a lick of creative literary sense, I could turn this all into an espionage thriller....

Monday, December 03, 2012

Cat Tales

There were tufts of orange and white fur littering the stoop when I got home from work this afternoon.  Obviously, the ongoing cold war confrontation between Mr. B’s cat and Judith, the black cat who lives upstairs from me, had escalated sometime during the day to actual fisticuffs, and the former feline ruler of our apartment complex had come out the worse for wear.  I asked Mr. B how she was doing, and he said she’d lost fur around the neck but wasn’t really injured. Her pride is probably pretty bruised, though. 

Judith and her owner moved in this summer.  She is let outside for part of most days, and usually runs to meet me when I get out of my car, which is a real emotional boost when it’s been tough or tiring away from home, to see this dark furry creature barreling down the steps toward you, purring loudly.  She also has simply walked in to my apartment several times when I opened the door, nosing around the piles of lamp parts, fabric and jewelry components and chasing the dust bunnies out from under the furniture before I start to feel the allergies coming on and usher her out the door.  She’s a very civil cat, and running around outdoors has been good for her physique—when she moved in, she was on the tubby side, but she’s slimmed down since. Because she was overweight, though, her tummy bags several inches, and the loose part swings back and forth when she trots, which is funny to watch.  She’s delightfully furry, flexible and slightly mushy, like all good kitties.  I’ve wanted to get a picture of her with the large the orange pumpkin that someone bought months ago and left whole on the stoop, but every time she’s near it I don’t have my camera, and the one on my phone is poor.
I never feed her, because I want her to know I am good just for love, not eats, and given the level of enthusiasm she displays around me (up to meowing outside my door for attention) I think she’s fine with this.  I looked her over this evening, and her hide is also intact—looks like Mr. B’s cat didn’t land a paw.