Archive for the ‘Family Matters’ Category

8 years today

Today marks the eighth anniversary of my beloved Lawrence’s death. Eight years ago today we gathered around his bed and waited with him while his life drained away, second by second. It was a terrible miserable day, which I will never forget.
And today I laid flowers on his grave, as I have each year. Military Road, the way to the cemetery (a vision of peace and prosperity despite its name) winds through pleasant neighborhoods and then through Rock Creek park–the trees so tall and proud with their brand new lime green leaves. This is the time of year when the redbud trees bless our city, clouds of tiny blooms the color of delicious raspberry mousse–you could just faint with how lovely they are.
The cemetery is quiet and green, with only the sounds of birdsong and wind.
One day I will lie there beside my darling.

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Recalled to Life!

Friends, I have received my second inoculation against horrid Covid! I am now certified PROTECTED AGAINST INFECTION!
I will own however that the day didn’t quite come up to my expectations.

For instance, were there…CHOIRS OF ANGELS?

There were not.

Was there a grand celebration with cake and champagne?

There was not.

In fact, life seems almost exactly the same.
Well, with one exception: one begins to toy with the idea of TRAVEL!

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Every Friday, I indulge in a somewhat shameful browse through a bunch of internet memes and sensations, as collected by various blogs. And today I came across a way to animate your photos–a quite astonishing AI feat being given away as a promotion for a genealogy website. I instantly uploaded some of my photos, and was quite amazed to see the faces move, smile. Not perfect, but still–made me gasp.
Below is a photo of my grandfather.

And here is the video that Deep Nostalgia made of it.
Try it!

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Yesterday I was noodling about–working on a fine animation of Il Trovatore if you must know–when suddenly a message came up from Kaiser Permanente.
YIKES–could it be???
It was!
An invitation to make an appointment for my Covid vaccination! HOT DOG!
Perhaps this world is not after all the place of endless woe I had been imagining.
I quickly logged on, made an appointment–for TODAY.
I was very cool about it, but I must admit that I didn’t sleep well last night. Excitement, fear? Both. Plus a whole nightmare about my ancient car breaking down on the way–always a dependable source of worry, my car.
However, it didn’t break down–it bravely plunged through blinding sheets of rain on terrifying super highways, while my phone soothingly spoke in my ear about turning here, turning there, and finally the words of comfort: you have arrived at your destination.
I honor Kaiser for posting signs at every possible place–I was nervous–but here was an arrow, there was another one, and another and another, and then there were signs saying Park Here Vaccine People. I parked! Then sat breathing heavily for a while, reviewing the instructions: Go to the second floor!
Friends, I went to the second floor!
And entered into a genial confusion, patiently and efficiently managed by a group of competent people–mostly young black women–who were patient and kind with the confused elders. I was told where to sit. Eventually a pleasant young woman called my name, gently pressed a sticker saying “I got my Covid 19 Vaccine today!” to my chest, and led me to the nurse who pushed the needle into my arm. After that, I was led to a room to sit for 15 minutes in case I dropped dead, but I didn’t–and another kindly nurse made me an appointment for the second shot.
And I drove home!
I shall now pour myself a healing glass of wine. Well, OK, a third healing glass.


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There and Back Again

Now that a week has passed by since my inoculations, I can say (as did the infant Macaulay when asked about a painful accident*) that the agony is somewhat abated. Though a bruise still remains where the pneumococcal vaccine was inserted. I must admit that I had been very anxious about the visit to the doctor–EVERY expedition looms large in these perilous times, but how silly to worry over such a quotidien event.
However, I did worry.
There was the weigh-in: should I wear light summer garments to lessen the load? There might be embarrassing extra poundage. But it was CHILLY out. Reason prevailed, I wore my usual costume, jeans and a top. And found that my weight was the same as ever.
And then, I had never driven to the doctor’s before–always took the subway. So what if–I COULDN’T FIND THE PARKING ENTRANCE? I asked Google which confidently gave me directions to it. But there were reviews (and for heaven’s sake, who reviews a parking garage?) completely despising the parking garage! One lady said she wandered around it lost for half an hour! I have myself had similar terrifying moments. However I managed not only to find the entrance but also to find a parking spot. Then to the lab for blood tests, then the mammogram–bravely enduring the pain without a whimper–and then to the doctor’s office, where I heroically allowed the nurse to give me both a flu AND the pneumonia shot, AGAIN without a whimper.

And then back to the parking garage–OF COURSE to the wrong floor, having forgotten in my anxiety that I was on P3 not P2–but a quick walk and there it was, my darling little yellow mini! Then, taking deep calming breaths, I made my way out of that deep place into the sunny streets above! And drove home!

Thinking, how shameful that this little trip filled me with such anxiety.

*Anecdotes about Thomas Babington Macaulay
About this period his father took him on a visit to Lady Waldegrave at Strawberry Hill, and was much pleased to exhibit to his old friend the fair bright boy, dressed in a green coat with red collar and cuffs, a frill at the throat, and white trousers. After some time had been spent among the wonders of the Orford collection, of which he ever afterwards carried a catalogue in his head, a servant who was waiting upon the company in the great gallery spilt some hot coffee over his legs. The hostess was all kindness and compassion, and when, after a while, she asked how he was feeling, the little fellow looked up in her face and replied: “Thank you madam, the agony is somewhat abated”.

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A horrid blow yesterday–the cherished prospect of a family visit was cancelled due to their state’s draconian quarantine requirements. And suddenly the bright day dulled; the prospect of many dull days loomed ahead.
I asked for bread and was given a stone.
HOWEVER, there are WAYS of dealing with melancholy. Many ways.

1. Alcohol

CaptureWhile it’s true that ardent spirits can lift the mood, too much and there you are, head down in the toilet. MODERATION! A couple glasses of wine in the evening and perhaps a wee snifter of brandy to end the day will never come amiss, and might even put a more amiable light on life.

2. Exercise

Never mind what the cats say–they have no idea about dancing, and how it cheers you up! Put on some music and go to it! Going on Brisk Walks is also prime, but unfortunately during this time of heinous heat, it feels as if you are dragging 900 pounds up the street. So walking later in evening is suggested.


3. Books, Movies

There is no frigate like a book, says Emily D, and I would amend that to add movies, theater, opera–performances. Suddenly you are in another world, with different concerns, different skies, different voices.
Yesterday I finally gave in and subscribed to Marquee Arts TV–ballet, opera, theater! A mere smear of $9 per month! And a valuable learning experience which I share with you: do NOT lazily allow Google to supply one of those 30 digit passwords for an application when you will have to laboriously enter it digit by digit using a tiresome on screen method.

I’m sure we can all think of many other comforting activities. EATING for instance–working, listening to music, gardening! But here it is the day after the terrible disappointment and I find that I am managing–am not dropping tears into my tea, nor yet lunging out into the garden to eat wooly worms. I am in fact bearing up well enough. So, will leave it at that.

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Monday Monday

Today is Veteran’s Day, and many people are staying home in honor of our soldiers. I mean no disrespect, but here I am at work, as it is not a holiday for my office. Though the place is very quiet indeed this morning–the train was sparsely populated, and the sidewalks almost empty. But here I am, trusty supporter of the academy, bent over my keyboard.
Not exactly WORKING but here.
Yesterday I was in NY, playing with my grandson, who has miraculously grown from a baby to a child–a little boy with passionate opinions about everything, who skips alongside you as you go to the park or the restaurant. He is a charming fellow! GAMMA HOPE GAMMA HOPE he would call and lead me off to watch him play his tiny piano or set puzzle pieces together or draw a whale.

My journey was on the plane rather than the train. The plane ride is FORTY MINUTES–the train ride is three and a half hours. But oh the tiresome lines and shufflings and examinings that planes demand! Once on the plane I read my book (a PAPER book, which required no batteries to run, and could be deployed at all stages of the journey) and once arrived got a cab to Brooklyn. Laguardia is a complete PALACE within–such stores, such restaurants–but a complete and horrid disaster without. We crawled through miles of construction.
Traveling is very exciting but rather demanding.

I had a lovely time, it was such fun! But now I am happy be back home with my my loving cats, my pretty house, and my peaceful office.

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The Good Book

This weekend there was a detailed article in the paper about baby strollers and the anxiety caused by the process of choosing the right one. These items are PRICEY and as are all such items, subject to the dictates of fashion.
However, that was not what caught my eye as much as the illustration–a young dad wheeling the perfect stroller down the path formed by the parting of the sea, the wrecks of failed strollers rolling in the waves behind him. A witty allusion to Moses parting the Red Sea!

Oh those clever newspaper artists!
But then I wondered–as I often do these days–if children are still taught these stories. How many people recognize the allusion? In our righteous determination to remove religion from schools we have also removed the book that undergirds so much literature. A book filled with wonderful stories, poetry, philosophy. And also of course, religious observation–and also violence, hatefulness, injustice.
But no one should be ignorant of the Bible.

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.
He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.”

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My adorable grandson turning three–how to adequately observe this important event? Well, the youthful celebrant modestly indicated that SPIDERMAN CUPCAKES might fill the bill, and his fond mama indicated that a party of possibly 30 revelers would be taking part in the festivities.

Let us say, 4 dozen confections.

Making them: not a problem.

Transporting them to Brooklyn: MAJOR PROBLEM.

But this stout-hearted granny relishes such challenges! Two weeks in advance of the day, I borrowed a 2-dozen cupcake holder to stand beside the similar device I owned. Then, I inquired of Amazon if it might have a set of wheels to move these mighty double carriers about on the earth and particularly in the train station. YES! Such an item was obtainable, and not very costly either. I ordered it, together with 4 dozen Spiderman candy decorations.

Then, my oven blew up.

Which is to say, I had put in a sheet of cookies (pecan sandies, if you must know) and the oven decided to thermoblast them so that they melted into a sort of cookie lava, coating the oven floor and running onto the kitchen floor.


Here is a bit of hard won wisdom for those of you encountering the same disaster: do NOT press the Oven Clean button. Doing so will produce an eye-watering cloud of smoke which will fill the house with a bitter long lasting stench. Sigh.

So, once the smoke had dissipated:

  • I scrubbed away the repellent muck;
  • I REBOOOTED the stove computer;
  • I bought an oven thermometer and tested the stove. Seemed fine!
  • I cautiously tested it with a pan of Magic Cookie Bars;
  • Completely fine!

So then I baked 4 dozen cupcakes, iced them, laid the little Spiderman decorations on each and prepared for my demanding journey!

All went well, though the carriers did NOT hold all the cupcakes upright and allowed some of them to tip sideways, breaking my heart. The trip was long, and the train (as usual) was FREEZING COLD; I bought a sandwich made of pressed sawdust filled with orange laminate: lunch! With a bag of Pnut M&Ms for dessert. Once in NY I took a taxi to Brooklyn–thus actually seeing the marvels of the city under which I usually pass within the roaring subway–and enjoyed the time with my charming family. The party was the next day, in a park, with hordes of exhilarated children bouncing about.

Afterwards we all went home and had a nap, and then I took the train back to Washington. With an agreeable feeling of a job well done.

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I have returned from a wonderful family wedding–2 days in New York, in the company of the people I love best.
Traveling to NY is no longer the terrifying ordeal it once was, what with doing it almost monthly, but traveling BACK had its moment of angst. Because why?Because the uptown bound subway train DOES NOT STOP at the station by my daughter’s house on the weekends. This happened the last time I visited, but I thought it was simply an accident. It wasn’t, it was the PLAN. So, no problem, you ride the downtown train past FOUR stops and then nip out at the fifth and cross over. Just in time to see the uptown train leaving! Heart beating high, you wait for the next one. LUCKY THING you allowed an hour for the half hour ride! When the train finally comes, you hop on and pray that it will get there on time. It did, but just. Luckily, my Amtrak train was running a little late. Eventually we boarded and were off to DC! By the time we reached Trenton I had calmed down.
WHEW! This kind of wild excitement is a little extreme for an old lady.
And I learned another thing this trip: a Lock Box is NOT a padlock!

This interesting fact is probably known to you, but it was news to me. I broke several fingernails attempting to unlock the lock box from its perch–until finally I was given to understand that it is a BOX with the keys INSIDE IT. It OPENS UP. And so I was able to enter my snug AirBnb.
It was a splendid visit, and a simply beautiful wedding.
Congratulations to my dear niece and her handsome husband!

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