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Consider thy servant Job

One doesn’t want to COMPLAIN of course–how lucky we are, to be alive, to be well, to be part of this world.
BUT.
Sometimes it seems as if my saintly patience is being tested almost to the breaking point.

For example, my commute has taken a lurch from peaceful to very NOT peaceful.
In a laudable impulse towards improvement, Metro has decided to remold the Friendship Heights bus station nearer to the heart’s desire. So, it is closed and the sad commuters must stand out in the rain for 2 months. One recent evening, the closer subway exit/entrance was closed and we all had to exit on the end without stairs, lining up to use a small overworked elevator–which deposited us quite a distance from the temporary bus stop–and yes, it was raining. Jogging through the rain with my fellow commuters!

Missed the bus, of course. But there is always another one.

This insult was swiftly followed by a FRESH computer bedevilment: after the successful reinstall of the operating system, I was no longer allowed to listen to my books. I did not have PERMISSION. With grinding teeth, I reminded the machine that I was in fact the SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR! HAHa it jeered, tell it to the marines. So, I spent time with the Audible help desk –I am loyal Audible customer, subscribed for years, downloading their books every month. The problem was eventually solved. In a way. Now I can listen to books, but only on my phone, not on my iPod. WHY WHY?

Still, it works, and I am no longer bereft.

The third blow came when my magical bluetooth Turning-On-the-Outdoor-Lights app first failed to work, and then put me through a frantic dance to log in–wrong password you IDIOT! Well, OK, right password but wrong email! IDIOT! Well OK, you can log in. But you cannot change the settings! HAHAHahaha!
The lights eventually went on, so I guess the settings are JUST FINE. Once it gets dark earlier, I shall confront it again.

At least we haven’t had any earthquakes lately.

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We are an ingenious species and every day there is a little story on the WSJ front page, taking note of our fascinating ways.
For instance, some extremely rich people are enhancing their home lives with a so very chic pet SHARK. The tanks are enormous, and other fish in the aquariums have a difficult time of it–like fleeting shadows, they do not endure. Neither, always, do the sharks–they are finicky about water temperature and space. And the experienced shark handler recommends using TONGS to feed them, and thus averting any disagreeable loss of fingers or hands.
I am quite content with my cats, actually.

This morning I bravely went out to garden. My plan: to labor for a couple hours and then escape inside as the temperature and humidity achieved the summer norm, i.e., unbearable.
Step one in this endeavour is of course to drench all exposed flesh with Deet, a singularly smelly chemical which repels most insects. They just can’t stand that stench. Neither can I, but I persevere. And shower afterwards.
Then, onto clipping, raking…toting dat barge, lifting dat bale, etc. I proudly brandished my new Black and Decker electric clippers, and the shrubs fell back, abashed. I was the mighty battle horse, saying among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. Though there were no captains about except Bertie and he was mostly asleep on the patio. Still, I set to with a will, and soon the garden was SHOWERED with debris and I was dripping with sweat. Luckily it was not until I was at the very last shrub that I clipped through the extension cord. BANG! Stepping into the garage to toss out the now useless cord I noted that all the basement lights were out. SIGH. I found a flashlight–of such superior dimness, a sort of Darkness Visible device–and entered the Stygian gloom of the basement to confront the circuit box. One day I will–I SWEAR IT– organize and remake the many ancient bits of paper that mark which breaker controls which bit of the house–one chart to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
Ah. The basement lights and garage were not represented on any of the lists. And then I remembered–there is ANOTHER CIRCUIT BOX! Why it has been placed over by the basement stairs is a mystery, but there it is, and when I flicked the switch, the miracle of light happened.
Then I went back out, filled the bags with biomass, swept up, put away the tools and came inside for a shower and a little lunch.
Weekends, so tiring.

Interesting News Item

For those of you planning weddings (a vanishingly small group, I fear), the paper had a fascinating account of an enterprising movement to supplant the traditional bridal entourage with…Star Wars Characters.
See, you have CHEWBACCA ambling down the aisle scattering flower petals in the path of the bride–who is being led to her groom by DARTH VADER!!!
And the Storm Troopers are meanwhile making sure that the guests are seated properly.
This does not, I must own, appeal to me. But there are people prepared to spend the big bucks to make it happen.

Cats and hats

I spent my time last week in tending to my angel grandson, who is a completely charming fellow, ready to sing or dance or listen to stories or do whatever seems the best way to enjoy life. It’s true there were some rather nasty diapers to deal with, and I must admit that one begins to tire of the Cat in the Hat after the 5th iteration or so–though, I LOVE that book, it always makes me smile: I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny–but we can have lots of good fun that is funny!

Dino simply adores that Cat and his Hat.
Once Dino was abed, I watched movies on my computer–Amazon offered me Black Panther for a trifling wee sum, and I gladly concurred.
Well, well–another cat in a hat!

Though this one is very handsome, not to mention noble and inspiring and all. He is KING! Of Wakanda, a splendid country filled with grand technology based on some very powerful, uh, mineral or something, called….VIBRANIUM. This very important substance is very valuable indeed, and makes all Wakandans very wealthy and strong. Also, they have blissful African ways and beat drums and dress magnificently.

Things happen, large men fight by beautiful waterfalls, smart ladies engage in fancy feats of skill.
What can I say–it was very entertaining.
Also— there were rhinoceroses IN ARMOR! Really, quite irresistible.

North Platte

A couple days ago I came across a story about a little town in Nebraska, nothing dramatic, but just so very sweet that it brought tears to my eyes–I had to close the paper and put it away in order to maintain the correct commuter aspect of blank impassivity.
And then, I forgot about it, and then I couldn’t remember the name of the town–but today I remembered, and found the piece.
North Platte, a little town in Nebraska, had a grand tradition of welcoming and providing good cheer to the vast groups of soldiers who passed through on the way to the front during the second world war. It was a simply astonishing display of loving kindness, all privately donated, no government funding accepted–except, as the article notes, the $5 sent by President Franklin Roosevelt. Then, the war ended, and the tradition ended.
Except, this month, a brigade of the Arkansas National Guard had been on a deployment exercise, and all 700 of them were to be be bused back to Arkansas–and they needed to stop in North Platte for snacks, a quick rest. And the whole town rushed into action! Baking cakes and pies, making sandwiches, grilling steaks, painting welcome signs–each bus was so warmly greeted, each young soldier made to feel so loved.

“When it became time to settle up—the Army, after all, had that money budgeted for snacks—the 142nd Field Artillery was told: Nope. You’re not spending a penny here. This is on us.
This is on North Platte.”

I find it so moving, this simple openhanded human goodness. Yes, there is evil in the world; probably even North Platte residents are not all angelically good–and yes, the world continues in wickedness. But blessings on kindly North Platte for its joyful welcome to the weary soldiers!

WSJ story is here

Haircuts, Value of

There was an article in the Journal this weekend, about how much men choose to pay for their haircuts. I was entertained–the Journal employs fine writers–and as always, charmed to be reminded that men are as vain as women. We are such frail creatures, and there is something so lovable in our anxious concern with appearances, with how other people perceive us.
Some men pay $12, some pay $100–said one, “I pay $25, but I tip $10. I’m willing to tip a barber more because they have life-changing power.”
Once upon a time, I was in Brooklyn, and a friend of my daughter’s had arrived from Brussels to join her and other friends for an occasion. He was wearing a knit cap. Why?
He is an elegant man, always looking just so. He had gone to a fashionable salon in Brussels right before his departure, and he described the astonishing chic of this hairdresser, so beautiful, so modish. HOWEVER, the modish hands were not entirely STEADY, and as time went by, the subject of the extremely modish cut began to have doubts. An HOUR passed by. Eventually, the modiste declared that he was done, a TRIUMPH of modern hair art had been achieved. The top of the coiffure tilted slightly, so that had, say, a tea cup been placed on the summit, it would have slid to the floor. Many people are LOVING this look! Not so my daughter’s friend, hence the knit cap. As we chatted in the bar, he disappeared to command the talent in a local barber shop.

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