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Monday, October 26, 2015

Weekend Events

I had not seen my first grade teacher in more than 30 years, and yet she looks exactly the same now as I remember her when she taught me to read at age seven. Saturday morning a reception in her honor was held at the private school I attended from first until fourth grade, a commemoration of Mrs. M's role as a founding member of the faculty. Claire, one of my primary classmates, shared the role of hostess and organizer with a girl who was a year ahead of us, who is now a physician.

The current headmaster of the school, a politically savvy shiny-smiling administrator, made repeated mention of the fact that many of Mrs. M's former students had become doctors, lawyers, and other secular successes, counting achievement in an entirely worldly context, which seemed perverse for a leader of a Christian educational institution. Not that these professions aren't worthwhile when practiced with integrity, that the number of Ivy League graduates isn't fun to calculate (one board member I chatted up spoke glowingly of so-and-so being at Harvard, and I recalled him being practically beside himself with joy when my brother was admitted to its Connecticut counterpart), but it is character and faith underpinning any intellectual achievement that counts in the end. I was quietly glad that Mrs. M pointed out that he'd omitted listing alumni who were ministers. She was most proud of the fact that all of her children had been able to recite a lengthy Scripture passage at the end of their academic tenure.

Both organizers, like the woman they were honoring, had changed little in the interim three decades, the only differences being greater height and a slight accumulation of gentle facial creases. They were sweet and kind then, and continue to be so to this day. I found that, like me, Claire returned to our hometown recently after years in the big city, and is a lifelong single. She is one of several people I had wished to know better when we were children; now there is opportunity to do so.

The estate sale this weekend was apparently a great success. However, I was not there to see it, as I left Bethesda just after noon on Friday--my dear boss and I worked until almost 2 AM Thursday night putting the finishing touches on the setup, and I had resolved to get a good night's sleep before I left for Georgia. After a brief stop at my friend DesertRose's house in Fairfax, where I had the pleasure of chatting with two of her three little boys, I continued on southward at a most inopportune time--the height of workweek-end rush hour, which left me crawling at 10 mph down I-95 in one of three lanes of bumper-to-bumper commuter traffic. After an hour and half of this, I decided to use my phone to search for the nearest franchise of my gym, and happily found it within ten minutes of my location. So I exited the interstate and worked out for an hour, which did wonders for my frame of mind and allowed some of the volume on the roads to dissipate--when I resumed my journey, the average speed had jumped to a comparatively brisk 30 mph, which after another thirty minutes or so actually edged up to the posted limit of 70. But then I was 2AM getting home. And when I got home I became preoccupied with opening the mail and packages that had arrived during my absence. And suddenly it was 7:30 AM, I hadn't slept, and the Mrs. M reception was to start at 10. Mums bailed me out, agreeing to drive me to the event, though she threatened to tell everyone I'd been too hungover to be behind the wheel.

Sunday afternoon my friend Shelly and I returned to church early to meet the members of a Belorussian choir that was singing our evening service. Our Russian was rusty, but we soldiered on, and the ladies with whom we conversed were patient and generous with our broken sentences, irregular conjugations and patchy vocabulary. It was so good getting to practice, though! The music was tremendous--beautiful in delivery and profound in lyric. The Russian style of singing thrills the listener to the core. Not only is the heart moved, the other organs vibrate like glassware in an earthquake. It made me want to run off to Eastern Europe at the earliest opportunity.

Another American, a ginger-haired kilted guy (a "one-man orchestra" as one of the Belorussians described him after hearing him play the penny whistle and take a turn on a borrowed balalaika, then reel off a chapter of other instruments he could handle), was at the practice, the pre-concert meal, in a front pew at the service, then lingering about afterwards as the singers were distributed to their host families. I see him every Sunday I'm in town, yet tonight as always couldn't bring myself to talk to him, no matter how tempted, nor actually to even meet his eyes. He possesses five damning characteristics which intimidate me to silence: he's handsome (very), tall (gack), single (oy), younger than me (probably early thirties), and, as aforementioned, absurdly musically talented (I can carry a tune...in a bucket). So although I love the kilt (and the way he looks in it!), and would like to know his story, I suppose the whole shall forever remain mysterious. Crumbs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fat Lip

My dear boss joked that she'd thought about telling the Urgent Care people that she'd punched me, but my cut and swollen lip has only a metal clothes rack to blame. I'm once again thoroughly grateful that I have a permanent retainer behind my front teeth, or otherwise I might be missing a few! I wasn't trying to put the rack together – it was already assembled– but I was pushing it out of the way, and it popped apart and walloped me in the mouth. Bled dramatically. If the injury had been to any other part of my anatomy, I wouldn't have insisted on seeing someone, but I don't want a scar on my face and getting a lip wound sealed is almost mandatory for healing.

We just started to work this morning at a house in Maryland. It's huge (8000 square feet), with a movie theater in the basement and crystal chandeliers in two bedrooms. There's a floral fresco on the ceiling of the breakfast area, and a deck with loggia looking out over a pasture and woods. There's only one thing in the whole house I really really want: an "Autumn Leaves" mirror by Hudson River Inlay. I've wanted that mirror ever since I worked at the Augusta jewelry store 15 years ago – we sold several of HRI's designs, and to me this is the loveliest. I don't doubt, however, that I won't be able to afford it even at an estate sale price!

Saturday I substituted for Anita at an annual art fair, which had been postponed from the previous weekend because of the weather. She was already committed to another this weekend, and though extraordinarily accomplished, she has yet to perfect the skill of being in two places at once. The autumn weather was perfect. But for the first six hours, despite the thousands of people walking through the fair, I had barely enough sales to cover my coffee shop donut bill. Then a lady came along and bought Anita's most expensive piece, so that made up for the wait somewhat.

Trader Joe's is temporarily out of meringues! Some supplier issue. The cashier told me I was the first adult who'd ever asked him about them. He said they were very easy to make at home, but I pointed out that that would require me to cook (really, to bake, but I don't own a mixer to whip the egg whites, so it would be impossible either way). I'd be tempted to eat a whole panful if I made them myself. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Maps, Men (Furry & Foreign) & Dependable Underwear

This blog is now eleven years and five days old!

I drove through Columbia, SC, at 2 PM Saturday, and some twelve hours later the interstate bridge I took was closed because the river was over the road. Not only that, but the news media showed video taken near (within a few minutes' walk) where I used to live when I attended grad school at USC, and the whole neighborhood was submerged. I thought 6 inches rain in Georgia was bad – poor Mount Pleasant got 24! What I found bothersome prior to my departure was that there was no overall map to be had online of areas underwater (or highly likely to be)--there are maps of roads, maps of weather, but no maps I could find of precipitation or statewide (only county-wide) maps of road closures. The foul-weather traveler is entirely dependent upon memory of low-lying locations and odd snippets of data derived from Facebook and similar social media sources. I'm a big fan of terrain maps, because a flat representation of a route doesn't describe what's really going on, why it takes the twists and turns it does, and where you might run into trouble. Looking at a normal map of North Korea, for example, a layman couldn't anticipate how the South Korean, American and allied forces could have become so vulnerable to lateral attack during the push up the peninsula in 1950; not until the character of the terrain becomes apparent do the weaknesses in their strategy begin to show.
 
Speaking of Korean geography...I had thought that the exquisitely beautiful Lee Su-hyeok looked familiar when I recently saw him in two dramas (he's not the best--nor, to be fair, entirely the worst--actor in the world, but he sure is pretty to look at!), and it wasn't until I arrived at my friend Leah's in Alexandria late Sunday evening that I realized why. LSH is the human incarnation of Clyde, Leah's handsome five year old tuxedo cat. I wonder if LSH also has a taste for electrical wires.
 
Whereas cats have 9 lives (and K-drama stars probably that many also, given their excellent plastic surgery industry and the endurance of electronic media), my friend Aaron's surgery of yesterday (he tore up his knee on the soccer field a week ago Sunday) reminded me that the rest of us aren't aging as gracefully. One of the few things that I am not dreading about my old age is wearing adult diapers. I'm certainly not looking forward to their necessity, but the diapers themselves are so dang comfortable… I know this as when I was concerned about my own stomach I decided to acquire several, and unnecessarily wore a pair for a day. I've been out of baby diapers for decades (one would hope!), but if children's are like these, I can understand why some resist potty training – I can't, of course, understand the common toddler preference to sit in one's own poop and pee, but being able to move around wearing what amounts to a cushion for one's butt is certainly nice. And the adult variety are made so form-fitting nowadays that no one can tell whether you are wearing Vicky's and Spanx or ordinary Depends...  

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Rain, Go Away!

It's rained so much in the past two (or maybe three) weeks in Georgia that everything is green--including things that are not supposed to be green, such as buildings and people (we're mildewed behind the ears). Mushrooms are appearing everywhere, even in yards where they would never previously have reared their porous heads, displaying  unprecedented fungal chutzpah at a time when one cannot step on the lawn to pluck them lest one sink to one's ankles in mire.  This morning as I drove out of my neighborhood, I saw scattered remnants of a cluster of toadstools that had been furiously battered by the pointy tip of a golf umbrella (wielded from the safety of the sidewalk by the irate homeowner), but aside from these isolated incidents, most shrooms are flourishing unmolested.

This weekend we were supposed to get 6 inches of rain. Six inches. Six more inches! The ground was and is unable to absorb any more. Where is it all going to go? To me the term "flash flooding" is a misnomer hereabouts--what we have is incremental, inexorable flooding, not a sudden rush of water surging over quickly saturated soil, but puddles and rivers and drains that have been growing for a fortnight and can't but overflow.

All Saturday morning, a fine mist fell, and the sky was a flat pale gray. My mother urged me to check the road conditions before I left for North Carolina, and I found nothing amiss, so I departed Augusta about 1 pm. There wasn't torrential rain at any point, so the trip went smoothly. As I was leaving town, my brother Bob texted me to ask if he could spend the night at my house, as downtown Charleston appears to be submerged, and he couldn't return home for the time being. One of these days, I'll be in town when he comes to visit!

I plan to continue on to DC after church tomorrow. Monday I will be with a friend who is having surgery. We start work on another estate sale this Tuesday. Saturday, I am supposed to staff a booth at a craft fair for Anita – the fair was supposed to be this weekend, but was postponed due to weather, and she's already got another fair scheduled for next weekend!