Wednesday, November 25, 2009

And The Sky Was Black With Turkeys


With my free range, antibiotic-free, Montessori educated fresh turkey cooling its wings in our spare refrigerator, I am at peace.  And with more than 24 hours to whip up the stuffing and the cranberry sauce, I have a few moments to pause and remember Thanksgivings past.

Until I learned to make my own kick-butt turkey dinners, my favorite Thanksgivings were not held in my childhood home -- they were held in a drafty farmhouse in Fluvanna County, Virginia.  The farm and farmhouse were owned by the Alexander family.  It was the place they escaped to from the suburbs of Richmond. On weekdays, they lived in a prefab ranch house they referred to (and not fondly) as "the shoebox."  On the weekends, they stayed on the farm and pretended to raise cattle -- with varying success, but always a lot of enthusiasm.

Their youngest son and my highschool friend, David, and his two brothers and his parents all gathered at the farm every Thanksgiving, usually taking in whatever wayward kids that seemed to be kicking around.  I definitely fell in that category.  The hospitality that they showed me, this once directionless teenager --  letting me stay there when things were tough at home and allowing me to work on the farm in the summers --  is something I count among my own blessings on every Thanksgiving.  Their farmhouse was their haven, and they shared it generously.

One of their Thanksgiving traditions was that the three brothers ("the boys") would go out in the morning of the big day and shoot a wild turkey for the holiday meal.  At least, that was the theory.  Wild turkeys abounded throughout the woods in our part of Virginia and could be found pecking along the old carriage roads that criss-crossed the farm.  It wasn't unusual to see turkeys flocking by the side of lane or out in a field.  Until a human showed up with anything resembling a firearm, that is.  Then wild turkeys had a way of melting into the landscape like feathery, diabolical optical illusions.  If Langley could bottle the ability of wild turkeys to instantly disappear in the face of danger, national security might never be the same.

This is how Thanksgiving morning went:  The three brothers would set out across the south field, guns crooked in their arms, with their spirits high and absolute confidence that they would be coming back with a wild turkey for their mother (and any of us teenage kitchen help) to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner.  I would sit with David's mom at the table and eat a leisurely breakfast before we would pile into the car and go to the Piggly Wiggly in Charlottesville and buy a big store bought turkey.  Later in the day, the boys would tramp home, incredulous that they had not shot a single turkey, despite having seen an enormous flock of them in the distance a number of times.  The only wild turkeys they wanted then was the kind that poured out of a bottle.

"But, the sky was black with turkeys," David said one year, trying to explain how hopefully the hunt had started out .  We knew what he meant.  The secretive birds had done it again: One moment there was a turkey convention going on right in front of him, and the next moment there was not a single bird in sight.  "The sky was black with turkeys" was a statement of the most perplexed kind of aggravation.

Maybe it was the many beers we had drunk while roasting the store bought turkey while he was out not hunting or maybe it was just the perfect exaggeration of how he described the botched hunting scene, but we all fell over laughing -- and we never forgot his words.  Whatever it was, "the sky was black with turkeys"became our mantra for any impossible situation.  When the guy you had a crush on, and then finally went out with, turned out to be a total yawn -- the sky was black with turkeys.  When that whole aisle of air filters at the parts store doesn't have a single one in the model you needed -- the sky was black with turkeys.  When you were sure you'd pass that math test, and only got a D -- the sky was black with turkeys.

These days, the sky is black with turkeys a lot.  All that plenty of the two years ago has evaporated for so many of us.  Mortgages that people could once afford are now upside down.  Those hopeful freshmen are now college grads who carry more loan than salary.  A simple blood test isn't covered by our insurance anymore.  Even though the sky being black with turkeys can be really lousy, or it can just all be in your point of view.

The last Thanksgiving we all spent together at the farm something strange happened.  We got home from the Piggly Wiggly with the store bought turkey.  It was a damp, cold day with an icy gray sky coming on.  Up ahead, we could see the boys coming home early.  When they heard the car's tires crunching down the lane, they turned and held up two enormous wild turkeys.  It was glorious.  Later, we cleaned them and cooked them and sat for awhile at the long table just admiring them, laying there in all their turkey splendor.  Then we ate them, and they were delicious.

I was hauling stacks of dirty plates into the kitchen when I encountered David's mom.  She was wrestling the two store bought turkeys we had leftover into the spare freezer where they kept venison steaks and frozen vegetables from the garden.

"The sky sure is black with turkeys over here," she said, laughing.

I knew just what she meant.  In all things, and especially turkeys, it's the balance of it all that we really want the most, and it is almost always the hardest thing to hold on to.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thank You, Big Cancer & Insurance, For Allowing Me To Stop Worrying About My Boobs


I was driving along yesterday when I heard the news that, according to the Cancer and Insurance Powers That Be (CIPTB), I can stop worrying about my boobs so much.

Actually, what they said was that I could put off worrying about my boobs until March 2, 20010, when I turn 50.  That's because, according to CIPTB, from now on, women under 50 really shouldn't have mammograms.  The CIPTB says I shouldn't have mammograms before then, because it might result in a false positive.  According to official CIPTB research, this false positive might worry me and cause me mental anguish, or it might lead some well-meaning doctor to perform an unnecessary procedure on me that will show that I do not in fact have cancer after all.

Apparently, finding out that you really don't have cancer after all is really bad.  I am only 49, so I don't really understand this, but I am sure that the people I know who have had cancer can explain it to me.  I'm betting they would be really pissed off too if some test turned out to be wrong, and they hadn't had cancer after all.  Hey, that would make me mad...so mad I might be driven to kissing strangers in the street for, oh, about a year.

I'm relieved that the CIPTB are so worried about me and my boobs.  It's touching that they are so concerned about all of us older gals' ta ta's and emotional health that they are willing to allow thousands of other, younger women -- women who are more likely to develop an aggressive form of cancer -- to avoid the strain of a wrongly minded mammogram.

I am SO relieved.  Not.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Your Mother's Acne



During an attack of the devil-may-care two months ago, I decided to stop taking my bio-identical, locally grown, politically correct hormones. I'm feeling great, I thought. I accept myself, thick ankles, worry wrinkles, dry skin and all.  What do I need hormones for?  When the bottles ran out, I just stopped taking my morning and evening doses.  Immediately,  I experienced a feeling of peace and a sense of maturity.

Nearly just as immediately, I developed a colony of zits on my chin. No matter how much water I drank, how little fat I ate, or how much sleep I got, the zits stayed. Then, they decided in a city council vote to expand the border of their borough, and fenced off their new metropolis with -- you guessed it -- more zits. My chin is now a sad, bumpy place. I think there is a drug trade starting up in one of the newer neighborhoods.

So, no longer feeling quite so secure in my peaceful maturity, I called the nice people at the New Hampshire compounding pharmacy and refilled my prescriptions for estradiol and progesterone. I think I will kiss each one of those little pills when they arrive -- right before I tell them to go forth and kick butt.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Like Bittersweet On Halloween


Now that the kid is a teen, I can see that that sweet version of Halloween -- the trick-or-treating, pumpkin-carving, cute monster Halloween -- is about over in this family. If memory serves, it will be replaced with vixen-girlfriend, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, take-a-cab-home Halloween. That more mature Halloween is now visible on the far horizon. Before, it was some other parent's problem.

In the meantime, I will try to remember when Halloween was all about what super hero costume he would beg for and how I got to eat the candy corn. And I will still make him go out with a flashlight.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

Just heard a news report on the radio that the mayor of Baltimore will not be stepping down from her position as the trial moves forward that will determine if she did, in fact, abscond with gift cards intended for poor children. She will be in court up to 8 hours per day, but insists that she can run the city just fine.

Makes you want to start singing the Randy Newman song.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Through A Blog Vaguely



My blogly habits not having been what they should, I am writing today in the hopes that this will inspire me to post more frequently.

The big news here, from the "clubhouse", is that I now have a real live laser printer. Yes, as I near 50, I can say that I have one of my very own, thanks to the hubs who took pity on me. (Why is my wife racing back and forth between the workshop and the upstairs office over and OVER again? Why, she is attempting to print something... How sad.) The other big news is that we can have a laser printer and still afford raspberries.

That's saying something.

I've always figured that as long as one can buy a carton of raspberries every once in a while without beginning to hyperventilate, things must be pretty good. This is a credo that dates back to my waitressing days, when all things in life could be reduced to issues of tips or food.

As for the picture above, I still can't figure out what this bumper sticker is supposed to say to us. The car it was affixed to was parked outside of the offices of known liberal lefties, so it has me really scratching my head.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Whupped



Sometimes, you just can't keep your eyes open. This is a snap of the Tweenish One, sacked out in the car after a week of living in the woods with a bunch of boyscouts. Under very rustic conditions, they came, they conquered merit badges, and they showered...at least the one time.

Notice the lovely black-eyed susans looking all Martha in the back. Who could pass up that 3 for $9 deal they had at the corn stand. It's all good: boy becomes man; mom continues in her fruitless attempts at photosynthesis.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Honestly

I'm not sure what exactly to do with this blog. It's been a long time since I've updated, and I am probably writing to no no other than myself....which is okay...I guess.

I feel as though I should have more of a direct purpose for this thing. Sort of along the lines of the Julia's. Perhaps a "learn to ride a moped in 1,001 days" thing? Or a "visit my mother once this year" thing? Hard to say.

If I had my druthers, I'd make a "hiking across the Swiss Alps" blog or a "building a environmentally friendly/naturally filtrated lap pool in my backyard" blog.

Right now, it's going to have to be the "put on your sneakers and walk the dog" blog.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Butt End Of The Elephant

What with this and that, life has been on the stressful end of the scale these days. So this weekend, with all of us hanging around eating english muffins and watching youtube in bed with our tween-with-a-cold and blatantly ignoring the weeds in the yard, we were ready for a little knowledge to be laid on us. (I figure this is how Aristotle did it, even if he didn't have english muffins.)

Our big revelation came from youtube, of course: Just be happy that you don't have to clean up after elephants. There are a lot of reasons for that, but the most significant one is shown on this video. I think this is one of those guy videos, so if you are prone to wearing pink or don't appreciate fart jokes, just skip this one.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Jewish Pirates...Who Knew?


Over my years of going back and forth to St. John (where that Reef Bay resides), I've learned that if I can manage to pry myself loose from the beach, the snorkel mask, or a colada, there's some really interesting history to be had in the Caribbean. Edward Kritzler's book "Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean" confirms that point once again, and with breathless, interesting aplomb. Throw away all stereotypes of matzo balls and nervous mothers, because that guy that Johnny Depp portrayed so well on screen, well, he was very likely Jewish.

Yes, that's right, between the Spanish Inquisition and about 1670, Jews found a home in the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica. They had been banished from Spain and most of Europe, where the Spanish king and queen divested them of most of their wealth and their lives during the Inquisition. During the ensuing diaspora, the New World seemed like a possible safe place to set up, especially since it was so far from the raging religious intolerance of Europe. Although many Jews ended up being driven from Brazil and other Portuguese holdings, others found safe harbor in Jamaica and other islands. It was here that the Jewish pirates flourished, joining with the British to plunder Spanish ships. And they apparently did such a good job of this, that Spain ended up losing it stronghold in the Caribbean, allowing Britain, Holland, and the Danes put up stakes there. Those Jewish pirates succeeded in taking from Spain some of the blood and profit they had ripped so viciously from their ancestors.

If you want to read a thoroughly interesting book on a forgotten corner of history -- with a bit of justice and revenge thrown in for good measure -- try "Jewish Pirates." The beach will never look quite the same again -- or the deli.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sure Do Like The New Neighbors



If you're a Washingtonian, you look at your president a little differently. Sure, he's signing bills and his family is redecorating the White House residence and his staff can't figure out what the last occupants did to the phones -- all that usual new first family on-the-scene stuff. But there's something else intangible about having a new president move into the White House for us folks who call DC home. Every president leaves his own flavor to the place, to the city's psychological stew. You know how you cook up a batch of something and know that it needs just that one more ingredient? Well, having the Obama's added to the mix is kind of like that -- only multiplied by about a thousand. Taking that food metaphor just a step further, the Obama's represent a delicious, filling chili -- while the previous First Family was more like stone soup.

But now, what a breath of fresh air! For the first time in 8 years, we have a First Family here that actually steps foot outside the White House to do more than just catch the helicopter to get to the plane to get out of dodge. (That's right, for two terms the Bushes did not eat out, go to church, or otherwise taint themselves with Washington. It has to be one of the biggest capital city disses on record.) Our new First Lady takes the time to regularly visit our kids at schools and community centers and free pediatric clinics -- just to say "hi". She's seen out digging new garden beds and wearing clothes that don't need to be ironed. The President is hitting burger joints for lunch and sitting in a regular seat to watch the Wizards. A seat where people can walk by and dispute that foul right along side him. Rather than being treated like we were some sort of mob to be quarantined from, these folks actually seem to like us DCers. Turns out they think we are regular folks too. Who knew?

Even in a world of complex diplomacy and economic issues, it seems that being neighborly still counts for a lot.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blood Brothers



Yesterday, the Tweenish One and I went to see the new X-men movie, which I'll call "Wolverine 2." It is one of those let's clear up some things in my past life epics, showing Wolverine as a little boy, then spending decades slashing and burning with his evil brother (though Big W doesn't notice that until the guy has slaughtered a few dozen people), leaving the mercenary rat race to settle down with a Good Woman, and getting into trouble all over again. Oh, and his whole body is filled with liquid metal that makes him virtually indestructible. Kind of like Botox, but industrial strength and without the puffiness.

Personally, the best part of the movie was figuring out how Wolverine's early life influenced his later behavior. The Tweenish One and I deconstructed the plot and conjectured on Big W's various problems over chips and salsa after the movie. Over the years, we have become Marvel-based psychologists -- and there is a lot to analyze when it comes to Wolverine. The relationship with his pretend father, his real father who he accidentally kills (alert Freud), his penchant for picking the Wrong Woman, his issues with making lasting friendships. Putting Marvel characters "on the couch" makes for regular conversation fodder in my house. And not just between the grownups, either.

Conversation between two 12 year old boys overheard this weekend:

"Do you think if he and his brother had worked out that father thing earlier on, they might have gotten along better?"

"Yeah, I was wondering about that..."

Move over Tolstoy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ready, Set, Composted Cow Manure!


Sure I love that time of the year when the daffodils come up and bloom, when the first green leaves are unfurling from tree branches, and the tiny snow drops nod their heads to some secret garden agreement. I love it when the leaves turn color in the fall and there air is crisp one minute and redolent with wood smoke the next.

But nothing beats this time of year -- that point when spring is just starting to hit summer. In my yard, the echinacea is setting out leaves and the oniony allium heads have formed on their sturdy stalks, and about five other plants that I set out last year (and now have completely forgotten the names of) are crowding out the weeds. Foxglove has reseeded in strange corners of the garden and sedum volunteers have sprung up exactly where I would have put them myself -- and now don't have to. And beyond all these garden discoveries is the even better part -- the plotting and scheming for another upcoming garden.

The strategizing starts in the early morning: I head out back with my coffee, barely awake, and stare at the back garden. I'm plotting out that new bed over there in my head. And I stare, and stare some more. My husband used to think I was developing some kind of catatonia, until I explained my garden meditation thing to him. It might look like I am doing nothing, but actually I'm considering which of those rose bushes to transplant and nixing growing peppers in the herb garden this year. After a few days of this, I'll make lists of the stuff I need to pick up at the nursery, so on the weekend I can spend HOURS at the nursery looking at plants and changing my mind. Even if I only weed this year and plant a few basil seedlings in pots, I will still have enjoyed hours of imaginary tactical garden maneuvers and garden center window-shopping. For me, gardening is 75% mental calculations and 25% actually manual labor.

Some people had imaginary friends, I have an imaginary forsythia hedge...that runs along picturesque brook...beside the bank of lupines....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lo, Thru The Valley Of Confused Self-Image We Go


Lately, my son has been going through that special brand of preteen jitters called "Whose Body Is This?" In a single day, he might tell me that he is:

too tall
too fat
too freckled
too, um, too something

Boy, do I completely understand.

Most days, I can't quite figure out my own packaging. This only seems to get worse as time goes on. (Thank you, menopause.) I'm starting to wonder, though, if we are really ever meant to feel completely comfortable in our bodies. Theoretically, they are only vessels for the really good stuff -- soul, character, intention. I mean, Buddha doesn't look like he was sweating his waistline.

Still, this isn't much help to the Tweenish One. Enlightenment concepts only go so far when you are 12 and have a pimple on your nose.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Age Vampires Meet My Investment Banker

Like just about everyone with a twinset of X chromosomes, I've read a lot of vampire books this year. When I wasn't buried in Charlaine Harris' excellent series of Louisiana vampire books featuring the indomitable Sookie Stackhouse, my bodice was getting a workout by the Twilight books. In both bodies of work, there are the undead with their own beautiful bodies, walking among us -- going to highschool, running bars, worrying over their 401Ks, and draining a hitchhiker or two dry in between. And we (the definitely dead-able) can't get enough of it. Surreally powerful beings deigning to tempt us is an intoxicating thing.

What is this obsession with vampires? And why do we get such a kick out of imagining rubbing elbows -- and other body parts -- with them? That's what I keep wondering.

Being a former philosophy major and armchair anthropologist, I figure there has to be some parallels with our current culture that is expressing itself as, well, bloodsuckers. And if there is a single theme running through the past decade (greed), expressed through our economic woes (suck everyone else dry), and the reaction of our financial institutions (unconscionable lack of humanity), it makes you start to wonder just how silly all this vampire mania really is. Sookie Stackhouse might not be Faust and Bella Cullen doesn't make a convincing Gulliver, but all these stories say the same thing: If you lie down with your own devils, you had better be prepared to get up and pay a dear price.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chi-City Christmas

Thanks to my artful friend Africo Suave for turning me on to Mr. Chi-City. If you don't feel grateful for what you have today, you will after you watch this Christmas video. Robin Hood, move over for Mr. Chi-City.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Clean Coal: This Is So (Not) Funny

Did I say that we are researching how we can put a solar electric system on the house? I wish I could say we are keen on this just out of the goodness of our green hearts, but the fact that our electric bills match the average annual incomes of many 3rd world countries actually gives our going solar inspiration the big kick in the butt.

If you have every lived where people burn coal in the fireplace to heat their homes, this commercial doesn't seem very outlandish.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Getting All Figgy On It



After some headaches brought on by hopelessly twisty-turny shapes, the fig window has taken off. I'm hoping to get it wrapped up next week. And installed!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Old Bill



I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately. February 10th was his birthday; he would have been 89. We weren't exactly close -- at least for the 35 years or so before his death, which tends to make a parent-child death experience tricky, to say the least. He was a difficult man. It's cliche to say he did the best he could as a parent, but that's true in his case. You don't learn a lot about parenting when your father abandons you during the Depression, your mother dies of cancer, your sister marries a drunk, and you are supporting your family working in the steel mill at 15. That he stuck with us, his own family, despite the melancholy distance he wore around him like a cloak and his inflexible ability to hold a grudge -- was nothing short of amazing. He was imperfect, and not in an endearing way. And he loved us. It wasn't an easy combination.

As I get further away from his death three years ago, I find myself remembering the "good stuff" more and more. It's especially those years when I was a little girl, a time when his spirit seemed a little lighter and his heart hadn't started to go out -- in more ways than one -- that come back to me in little snippets. Here's my dad on a wintry Sunday, smoking his pipe while he flips a steak on the old refrigerator grate he'd set up in our living room fireplace. There he is in the car, letting out a high-pitched shriek at the lady stopped in the car next to us at a stoplight. She'd made the fatal blunder of going out in in public in her hair curlers. He detested curlers, and would shriek at the sight of them, as if a snake had slithered across his narrow Irish feet. My best friend and I, who often caught a ride with him to school, thought this was the most hilarious thing in the world.

This morning I remembered him as he was on a spring day like this one. I am riding with him across rural Virginia. We pass a shack that's covered with dozens of hubcats, gathered, no doubt, from the sharp curve up ahead in the road -- a notorious spot for accidents. My dad starts making up a song about them. I chime in. We change a few things, try them out, and there it is -- our driving song. We sang it for years, much to the dismay of my mother and brother. I remembered it today and sang it again exactly as we had back then, off-key and twangy. And I remembered probably the best thing that my dad gave me -- the give and take of making something up a with a child. A story or a song. He was aces at that, an art form only given to a few of us, and he passed it on to me. I'll always be grateful for that.

Driving Song

When it's pothole time in Pennsylvania,
That's when I'll come back to you.
I was driving along, singing a song
When suddenly my bottom fell through.
In a hospital loft, in cotton so soft,
They put me together with glue.
That's why...
When it's pothole time in Pennsylvania,
That's when I'll come back to yooooooouuuuu.

Monday, February 9, 2009

For The Love Of Michael

Hey, I don't know about you, but I credit Michael Phelps with breathing more life into the sport of swimming than, well, just about anybody else. Watching him win all those gold medals was thrilling -- especially for us moms of kids who are a little different from the cookie cutter, yuppie, perfect demographic variety.

I was irked to death when, last week, Phelps was getting dinged in the press for smoking pot -- and, as a result, lost a lucrative endorsement contract with Kellogg. Of course, I would bet Kellogg has featured more than a few steroid-lubricated baseball stars on their boxes. Okay, I'm bitter, but it looks like some other folks have a few things to say about the Phelps situation. Hey, Kellogg execs: How about you try swimming five miles a day for months on end -- without a little "relief."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Forewarned, But (Sadly) Not Forearmed

Years ago, a financial advisor friend warned me that the most dangerous economic thing to happen in years had just happened - the repeal of the Glass- Stegall Act. Huh? That's the act that was passed during the Depression to keep banks from becoming speculative entities -- a practice that got us in a bit of hot economic water way back then. (Remember last century? Those guys taking swan dives out their office windows, because all their investments had just gone down the drain? Soup lines?). At the time of the repeal, I hardly paid attention -- even though my Depression Era dad was bemoaning this repeal as loudly as my friend was. I was too busy being excited at the rate our IRAs and other investments were growing.

The GS Act was repealed in 1999, allowing a ball to start rolling that we are seeing the results of today. Banks take your money, bet it on companies who cooked their books, and voila! worldwide economic failure. Okay, so this is simplistic. But other, wiser minds thought it was dangerous to allow banks to speculate. One of them was John Dingell (D-Michigan). Here's what he said about why it was a bad idea to give banks enough rope to hang themselves with -- and why he didn't vote for the repeal:

“[W]hat we are creating now is a group of institutions which are too big to fail. Not only are they going to be big banks, but they are going to be big everything, because they are going to be in securities and insurance, in issuance of stocks and bonds and underwriting, and they are also going to be in banks. And under this legislation, the whole of the regulatory structure is so obfuscated and so confused that liability in one area is going to fall over into liability in the next. Taxpayers are going to be called upon to cure the failures we are creating tonight, and it is going to cost a lot of money, and it is coming. Just be prepared for those events.”

Talk about calling it. Maybe "someone" might listen this time?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cut Ups



Took 13 hours, but I got all the pieces for the Fig Window cut and arranged. There are going to be the odd engineering challenges with this one kind of wavy-gravy clear glass that I chose to use . (It's really thick and irregular.) This is inevitable, as I have never made a window without one outlier, frustrating kind of glass. I'd had this wavy stuff in the studio for years, so one way or another, it was time to go. And it IS beautiful.



I can be proud of my new and improved glass-sorting system. I think I could probably stop buying new glass and just work with scraps for, um, years, but what would be the fun there?

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Day We All Made



I can't make a big entry today or even upload all the pictures I would want to, but I can say "Hurray"! Our new president, Barak Obama, is sworn into office -- and we were there to witness it. Tom, Sam, and I sat in the middle of the Capital lawn, and Rashid was off with a troop of his friends, and then there were those other 2 million people, but we all stood out in the cold and one way or another celebrated.

There is a lot to say about this momentous event, and that will have to wait until I am a bit more rested. But I can say that it is really something amazing to be a part of such an enormous group of joyous people. Real, sustained, infectious happiness on such a level of magnitude is a powerful thing. I can't help but think that that energy will do something else amazing for us all.

Thank you, President Obama, for bringing us together to make that!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Long Johns, Fuzzy Hats, and Porta-Potties



These are just a few of my favorite things. The big Inaugural countdown in DC is on, and this is pretty much what you hear people asking each other all day is:

How are you getting down to the mall?
When are leaving your house?
How many miles do you think you'll walk?
How long do you think you'll be standing out in the cold?

Here are the typical answers:
Walking.
5AM.
4 or 5 miles.
Six hours -- at least.

I realized yesterday, as I was begging the phone gal at Smart Bargains to expedite shipping on the Aerobed that I was hoping my husband and I would be sleeping on Monday night, that most of the nation does not get the kooky effect the Inaugural has had on our city, Washington DC. When I explained to Aerobed gal that there would be no mail service in DC on Monday or Tuesday, that streets would start closing here on Saturday, and that I NEEDED THAT AEROBED BY SATURDAY BY THE LATEST -- because I would be sleeping Monday night in a downtown office to get a jump on walking to the Mall on Tuesday -- well, she sounded like she was backing away from the phone as quietly as she could to call security. "Thank God," I could hear in her voice, "that this nut-job lady is not in the building with me."

But the powers-that-be at Smart Bargains got the Aerobed out of their warehouse (maybe to keep me from coming over there) and a UPS truck is at this minute driving it to my house. Then, the mobilization will begin. My husband, son, and I are actually sleeping in hubbie's office Monday night (with said Aerobed, space heater, food, and cameras in tow). This means that instead of having to walk out of our house (five miles from the Mall) in the predawn hours, we can "sleep in" until 6AM and still hit the security perimeter by 7AM. We figure it will take us an hour or two to walk the mile or so to the Capitol, where we have tickets to watch the swearing in. (OMG, I will see the first African American president in the U.S. be sworn in! Take that, all you rednecks I grew up with!) Then, we think we MIGHT be able to walk seven blocks in an hour to be able to get into position to see the parade. We might. If the gods smile on us and the crowd is one everyman-lovin', brisk-walkin' mass of communal bliss.

Okay, we'll be as lucky as hell if we make it three blocks and see the parade.

But, I don't care. I really don't. And what is even more amazing is that somewhere between 2 and 4 million people are just as fine as I am to put aside our creature comforts, freeze our fannies off, and get a few blisters so we can see Obama be sworn in. Other than a small bottle of water and my phone (no backpacks or purses allowed), I'll be carrying lots and lots of Kleenex for me and whoever is around me, because I figure after the great hurrah that will rise from the mall when Obama says "I do", we will crying all over each other -- as happy as DC clams can be.

Fun Fact: If the projected 4 million people DO actually come to the swearing in, that will be the equivalent of having the population of the Republic of Ireland standing on the Mall.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This Will Actually Look Nice Someday

Now that blogger is back up and posting pictures....

From my nice studies of figs and branches and looking at dozens of fig pictures online, I designed this:



This just reinforces my appreciation for GPS devices, because if this were a street map of downtown DC, no one would ever find their way to the Inaugural.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Figs. Yeah, Right.



I'm working on a new window for my really wonderful, generous, and patient friends Hristos and Elena. It's an abstraction of fig tree branches -- in honor of their backyard full of fruit trees. Being Greek, they have a special place in their hearts for their fig tree, and so do I.

Fig trees grow fairly well here in DC in what-was-once-zone 6-but-is-now- zone 7-owing-to-global-warming. To get closer to the real thing in the design process, I took a lot of pictures of my friend Laurie's beautiful fig tree last October. Of course, I needed to eat some of that tree's figgy abundance as well, it being fig season and all. Just to get that fig thinking right.

The fig branches were so beautiful, that it wasn't hard to sketch out some nice designs. Of course, twisty-turny fig leaves don't exactly lend themselves to the smooth arcs in which glass likes to be cut, but, hey, have glass cutters/will risk cutting some extra pieces.

Blogger won't let me upload any more pictures, so I'll be back soon with the design itself which, like most stained glass designs, looks one part pretty/one part Dali representation of the shroud of Turin.