Sunday, January 25, 2009

I never told you about my favorite Christmas present this year. Of course, it is from my brother who is well known for his distinctive gifts. This year he gave me a couple of books and a personal keepsake that I'm surprised he could part with.

The books? The 2000 US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense's Handbook on the Medical Management of Chemical Casualties and the 2001 US Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases' Handbook on the Medical Management of Biological Casualties. Have you read them? I think I'll keep them in the box with the duct tape, sheets of plastic, and face masks.

And you can see from the picture what else came with the books: his dental molds from high school. Hopefully I won't need them for identification purposes.

So can anyone top that in gifts received recently - for any occasion?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I am sipping my glass of champagne that I toasted with my daughter to President Barack Obama, the skin on my cheeks tight from the salt of my tears.

I have always been moved to tears by the song "My Country Tis of Thee" since I saw and heard the song sung in the movie "Glory" by a chorus of black children. That context changes the meaning of "Land where our fathers died." So when Aretha Franklin sang those words, my tears began to flow. My daughter said she expected her to sing "Respect." That might have been good too.

And when the final benediction began with the last verse of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the words fresh in my mind from church two days ago, the import of the moment drew my tears again.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on our way; Thou who hast by thy might led us into the light; keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Obama said
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
I feel sad for those who didn't celebrate this moment, who harbor fear, discord, resentment and apathy.

I am filled with hope, bordered by worry.

I thought poet laureate Elizabeth Alexander spoke my feelings with grace:

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Last week in the freezing weather I accompanied my daughter's 5th grade class to the Hard Bargain Farm on the eastern shores of the Potomac, right across the river from Mt. Vernon. This actual working farm is on property donated long ago by a couple who wanted the property to be used for education. These kids got just that.
We collected eggs from chickens, milked a cow, slopped pigs, fed calves, collected litter, practiced using binoculars, observed herons and woodpeckers and chickadees. The kids covered themselves with the cattails gone to seed on our river walk and the rest of the day we trailed little wispy seeds like magical fairies.

At the highest point of the property, where their old house is, you can see the Woodrow Wilson bridge, the Capitol, and the Washington Monument. Our guide showed us the best way off that hill was to roll down. What fun! I did it, choosing not to let fear of injury stop me from all the fun. Wow was I dizzy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Last night my sweetheart took me to meet some friends at the Livingston Taylor concert in Annapolis. What a great entertainer! Have you had the pleasure?

Liv is in his late fifties now and looked professorial in his sweater vest and bow tie. He walked right in the front door of the Ram's Head and said hello to us while we were waiting to go to our table. When we sat down, an hour before the show, he was up on the stage, polishing the fingerprints off the black grand piano that has had so many talented hands on it.

When he started the show, he said he was in no rush. He loved this and he wanted it to last as long as possible. The blonde curls of his early career have been slowly replaced with a free-ranging forehead that bares expressive folds which exaggerate his animated face like extra parentheses. He told stories between the songs he performed that were sometimes heartbreaking, like the one about the Civil War soldier, and hilarious, like "I'm not as herbal as I ought to be."

If you get a chance to go, don't miss it.

We had so much fun that we didn't want to go home right away. We strolled a few doors down to 49 West Cafe and had some baklava and a flaming glass of Sambuca with coffee beans. You should always drink with new friends so you get introduced to different drinks. Our friend was an Italian gentleman, originally from the Bronx. He has introduced me to the drink that will be my winter drink special. Yum!

Monday, January 05, 2009

So I ended up getting two kittens "for my daughter" for a Christmas present. On the way to pick up our kitten from the litter, I announced, "Don't even think of getting two kittens!" But, when I saw we'd be leaving one little girl all by herself, I couldn't leave her behind. It seems so sad to separate them all. I know. I'm a sucker. I'm also bordering on Crazy Cat Lady now with three cats.

(Some of the laughter I'm hearing is from those of you who remember that moment of weakness when you are cleaning up the mess your pet made, or writing that check to the vet.)

The gray is Bindi, a girl with a tan dot on her forehead. The pale orange is her brother named Mittens. He has a lot to say and meows a lot. Mittens also likes to be held and the center of attention, wants to see what's on tables and counters. His favorite perch is my shoulder so he has a better view of the house. I'll be walking around, straightening up the house with a purring kitten on my shoulder like a defective pirate.

The integration with the Mike, our five year old cat, has been interesting. I think he's afraid of these little invaders, not realizing he's five times their size. He has not taken a swat at them, but just growls and, very slowly, creeps away.

These are doing pretty good with the litter training compared with our other failed feline experiences. I figure the carpet was already ruined. I may as well do it now. How often in your life can you give kittens to your daughter? Besides, we are so isolated from nature in our plastic house that it is nice to have affection for an animal.

Who am I trying to convince here?

Friday, January 02, 2009

I hope everyone has had a great holiday. We've had a houseful and it had been fun, with more fun to come. There's a mess to clean up. It took me half an hour to sort and haul my trash to the curb this morning, but well worth it.
I'll have to tell you about our adorable new kittens (I know, I know - what was I thinking?)
my annoying basement flood (water line from the refrigerator kinked and leaked)
my mini-DC getaway with Mark (Brazilian restaurant, Library of Congress, Slumdog Millionaire & Doubt)
and Christmas and New Year's

But I'll stop now with, I wish you happiness and peace in the year to come.