Archive for March, 2008

I hope Jerry and I are good grandparents. It surely didn’t start out that way. stjohns3-2-8-032-1.jpgThe first time her parents trusted us alone with our year-old granddaughter we took her to Birds of Prey. It sounded like a good idea at the time. Audubon Birds of Prey in Maitland, FL rescues injured birds and releases them back into the wild when possible.

Haley smiled at the white-faced, barn owl as we entered. That may have been her last smile. We pushed the stroller to the bald eagle cage. There poor, injured, no-longer-majestic eagles loped around an enclosure, some dragging a wing. Haley’s face began to screw into a tortured mask. We quickly turned the stroller toward the cage behind her. On every crooked limb sat an injured vulture. Their bald, blood-red heads popped from fluffy white feathers above their scruffy black bodies. Wings drooped on some, claws or feet were missing on others. The scene we had always looked on with pity we now saw with a toddler’s eyes. Before Haley lay a Tim Burton horror scene of deformed, hissing, grunting vultures. She screamed to the top of her lungs. We calmed her down and cut our trip short, feeling like failures as grandparents. We thought we would be better at it.

Haley is ten years old now and thankfully doesn’t remember our first little foray. Perhaps it had no lasting impact on her little psyche. When we are out in nature now my camera cannot rest in my lap. She shouts incessantly “Ahmaw, take a picture! An anhinga! A gator! An eagle! An osprey!” Is it just possible that we didn’t scar her permanently?

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Blue doesn’t care that my favorite color is yellow. It boldly elbows into memorable moments in my life. Sometimes like ectoplasm it appears and makes something seemingly unimportant become memorable; other times the moment is inherently important and the color is blue. No other hue is so brash.

Blue is there in things I can’t forget:

—the Carolina blue of the football jersey my husband wore at John Marshall High School. As long as I’ve known him he’s pointed out “almost Carolina blue“—always “almost.”

— the brilliant near-turquoise blue of St. George and the Dragon at the National Museum of Art in Washington, D.C. We visited there in 1957 and though I’ll never forget the detail of Salvador Dali’s Last Supper on loan in the main gallery, it was the blue in that painting that comes first to mind when recalling that day. Things are perpetually “almost St. George Dragon blue,” too.

— the blue my husband painted the interior car lights when we were dating and car radio playing “Blue Moon”, “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Blue Velvet.”

— the blue outfit our first son was wearing the day we picked him up from the adoption agency, a perfect match for his eyes.

— Easter Sunday just passed I accidentally turned a stovetop burner on under my daughter’s casserole dish waiting to go in the oven. I quickly moved the bubbling dish to a cold burner. That is when it exploded sending cobalt blue, glass shrapnel all over the kitchen. What do you think we will all remember about Easter 2008? BLUE.

When color pops from my black and white world of memory why is it blue, inexplicably blue?

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If you have a sense of humor and curiosity you might enjoy the new site added to my blogroll, Stuff White People Like. It alternates between being humorous, educational and a bit ridiculous. Apparently the author is a black blogger looking at white society and our traditions and peculiarities. Us, peculiar you say? This is like looking in a mirror only with another’s eyes. It is a pop anthropological study of whites, or more precisely yuppie whites. If you identify with the audience addressed in the Blue Collar Tour, much of this will not describe you. It might, however, describe people you know. You’ll see them, or yourself, as another cultural group sees you. I dare you not to laugh at yourself (or co-worker or prissy aunt).

Online for less than three months, this blogger has over 14 million hits, so he certainly doesn’t need my help in getting attention. With just less than 5,000 hits on Anhinga in about a year and a half, I am in awe. Just thought you might want to check out what everyone is reading.

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The Tomorrow Diet

Sorry I’ve been away, but my wonderful Texas niece paid us a visit and we have been showing her our real Florida. What do you do after entertaining? Diet, of course. My husband and I are on what we call “The Tomorrow Diet.” No, it’s not like the “I’m Starting Monday Diet.” We always eat according to South Beach rules, but last weeks paper touted a new method. You eat only 30% of your normal intake one day and anything you want the next. So tomorrow is always only a day away. The psychology of it is simple and brilliant. Who can’t wait one day to pig out? Who can’t get through ONE day of deprivation? I lost between 1 and 1 1/2 lbs. in a couple of days and my husband gained. This is starting to grow on me already. How many diets favor the female of the species? Today was deprivation day so I’m ready to chew the legs off the table, but tomorrow we can have roast lamb sandwiches left over from pig out day.

I’ll keep you posted if anyone is interested.

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70sdress-001.jpg70sdress-0061.jpg(Click to enlarge)

Have you ever got that woozy feeling like Whoa! I’ve done this before, said the same thing before, and he’s going to say “———-” next,  and he does?  Then you know the feeling when I bumped into this dress in today’s paper. I carried the paper to a 70’s family collage hanging in the den and held them side by side. No sleeves in the ad dress, but otherwise the feel is exactly the same. I could wear that old dress out on the street tomorrow. Well, if I still had it and if it still fit. Save anything long enough it will come by again on the carousel of fashion — whether you want it to or not.

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Now I Lay Me Down

I like my sleep. I really do, so anything that interferes with it does not sit well. A lot of things didn’t sit well last night. Our weather radio went off three times. The first two in the middle of the night warned of a possible tornado in the next county. Fine, that was useful. The third time at 6:22 a.m. the radio droned a dire weather report for this AFTERNOON. Once I closed my eyes again, an alarm that should not have been set went off. Hubby turned it off and got up. Ten minutes later it went off again—I thought—but after tearing it from the wall socket and strangling every button on it, I continued to hear ringing. I realized it was his backup alarm. I pushed every button on that one until the noise stopped. Now it was past 7:00 a.m., not my usual awaking hour, so I hit the pillow again—just as a truck somewhere began to back up. Beep, beep.

I do not plan to be in a good mood today.

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I can almost smell the stinkbugs. Election night beside the Mercantile Store in Karnes City, Texas comes wafting back when votes are being counted anywhere. The cool night air, crickets and stinkbugs, of course, were all part of the atmosphere. Instead of a chalkboard against the brick wall we now have the TV  screen, but the feeling is the same. In that crowded street decades ago the chalk paused under a candidate’s name and we held our breaths. On TV tonight a digital graphic pops on the screen and commentators begin dissecting its meaning almost before we can think.

Behind the political scene it is no doubt brutal, but I feel as General Patton did looking down in the valley where a battle scene smoldered. “War,” he said, “God help me. I do love it so.”

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Multi-generational epics bore me. Just give me a good read about an important slice in someone’s life and I can be swept away. So I find myself verging on vertigo in my real life. Epics are difficult to avoid when you have lived through a few decades. You can’t say, “No, just highlight this part or that.” The parts string along like toilet paper on your shoe until you find yourself tangled in a true-life multi-generational epic. Well, if not epic then situation.

This is what brought that on. We are planning a few upgrades on the home we have lived in for almost thirty-two years. One son re-roofed for us a few years ago, his friend installed new windows, and another re-habbed the master bath. Our son-in-law (an electrician) upgraded the power box. Strangers installed carpet. How did that happen? Now for a second stage the same friend will tile the other bath, the neighbor kid, now all grown up, will do the plumbing. The son of our son’s best man will do exterior painting.

In that mix of characters are a father fighting for custody of a child, another denying his child until DNA evidence turned him into a real father. That son is being a real father to his new child. A couple of young fathers being fathers with or without marriage, a worker with great promise ending back in jail.

Do you need a scorecard? The point is almost all these very competent workers we knew as children or knew their parents before they were born (except the jailed one). We are aware of many of their most private struggles and successes, many poignant slices of their lives. Those slices now strung together form the ingredients of an epic.

Okay, it’s just a house that needs work and has no other significance. I’ll just curl up with a book of short stories until it is finished. Sometimes I think too much.

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