Archive for the ‘Neighborhood’ Category


Last week I ventured into the Halloween aisle of the local five and dime–if we still call them that?–and found myself unable to resist a miniature ghost who shook his wee manacled hands and MOANED: “AAAIIIIII Let me FREEEE AIIIIOOOOooo”–only $24.99! A bargain! Also his little eyes flashed red, on and off! But unfortunately, such adorable objets have a verra short life, and thanks to my neighbor having the plumbers over yesterday to dig out his front yard, the passionate ghost expended all his ghastly vituperation on them, and had none left for the tiny tots who visited me this evening. However, they were pleased by his red eyes and ghostly garments, and even more pleased by the FULL SIZE CANDY BARS I offered them. Very gratifying responses, especially from the lads. It was my grown up son–still remembering his youthful rejoicing at such treats provided by one house in our old neighborhood–who persuaded me to offer this bounty. Very pleasing, to see the reaction of all the kids–though I also provided smaller treats for the tinier children, who are so amazed by the whole experience that the large candy bars are overwhelming.
And as always, I am cheered and heartened by the happy confidence of these little ones. To them, the world is a wonderful place, filled with sweetness and KitKats.


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Yesterday was grocery day, plodding through the aisles in search of coffee, cat food….when suddenly the ever present soundtrack of music–carefully chosen to offend NO ONE (not always successful even in that small ambition) rang out with a song of my youth: “Raindrops keep falling on my HEAD, But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning RED, Crying’s not for ME…” Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! There I was, unable to stop myself from singing along–and as I wheeled my cart onwards, I passed first one and then another shopper also quietly, secretly, singing along. I had a sudden idiotic vision, seeing all the customers forming a line, dancing behind their carts, singing gaily down the aisles (grabbing a bag of rice off the shelf without losing a beat)–“BECAUSE I’M FREE, NOTHING’S BOTHERING ME!”

Then the song ended,and everyone glumly continued on with the shopping.

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Memory Lane

This morning I was patiently waiting for the bus, sitting on the bench, reading the paper–when I looked up AND THE DAMN BUS WAS FLYING BY WITHOUT STOPPING. I leaped up,frantically waved the paper–but all in vain. The bus driver purposefully avoided my gaze, disappearing down Massachusetts Avenue. I blinked back tears of vexation–and then resolutely crossed the street to take the other bus, the old fashioned bus that goes all the way downtown, driving on the actual streets of the city.
It is slower, much slower than going to the subway and taking the train. But up in the world of light! And we were passing through the dear city, in which, after all, I have been living for most of my life.
It is a lovely place, you know–and all of it, so deeply familiar.
We made our way along MacArthur Boulevard, past the turn off to my first house, there on Reservoir Road–past the reservoir itself, along which I used to walk with my angel dog Gabriel–dead these 30 years– and into Georgetown, where I lived once, where I worked once, where we used to go for breakfast after partying all night back in the 60’s, at a place–what was it called?–long gone now. And then across the bridge over Rock Creek parkway-lined with crape myrtle trees, blooming all pink and white–into town, around Washington Circle, past George Washington U, where I went to school. Past the hospital where my children were born–though, not in the elegant glass palace fronting the circle now, it was a much more modest place in those days.
And after all, I was only 15 minutes late to work.

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Noise of hammers

Every morning I walk by a lot that once held a modest bungalow. It was smashed to bits sometime in the fall and a parade of trucks hauled away the debris, followed by machines burrowing in the earth, and cement poured into the gaping hole–and then a hugeous wooden structure rising from the ashes of what was once someone’s family home. This procedure was slow and deliberate, taking months. Then all of a sudden, it grew into a mighty structure, looming tall–today the roof was on, carpenters swarming over it, their hammers blatting away, drowning out the morning birds. Another giant mansion is born in the neighborhood. As I passed by–nodding good morning to the busy workers at their toil–a poem suddenly came to my mind, an old favorite:

Noise of hammers once I heard
Many hammers, busy hammers,
Beating, shaping, night and day,
Shaping, beating dust and clay
To a palace; saw it reared;
Saw the hammers laid away.

And I listened, and I heard
Hammers beating, night and day,
In the palace newly reared,
Beating it to dust and clay:
Other hammers, muffled hammers,
Silent hammers of decay.

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This morning I stepped outside and suddenly a flock of geese swept past, calling and clamoring high up in the bright blue sky, an arrow of birds pointing north. Though I felt none of that land-girt longing to travel with them, my heart lifted at their joy and exhilaration. A fine beginning to the day!

PS In researching geese formations I came across the following:
I grew up in Virginia, and I remember asking my father why the geese flew in a “V”. He told me they only do that over Virginia and would switch to an “N” over North Carolina on their way south…

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Comrades, we are in TOTAL PANIC MODE here in Bethesda! Is BIG SNOW STORM coming! Some of us are just on floor lying, making small moans of terror! Others are making haste to the grocery store ! For milk and toilet paper of course! Which was me, actually, and OH MY LORD, what a sad sight was there! EMPTY SHELVES I was seeing! My fellow storm associates had bled the store dry and what was left was a sad and desperate sight. However, there were coffee beans, which was my main goal, so all is not lost.
Though the sudden ghastly thought pierces my soul–what if the electricity fails? How then shall I grind the heavenly beans of goodness?
Never mind. All shall be well.
I shall go watch movies with the cats. And a small glass of wine.

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Today AND tomorrow many people are “working from home” as we call it in the trade, due to the Pope being in town. Render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar’s and render unto the Pope the WHOLE OF DOWNTOWN DC, as the Good Book says. I am pleased to render my share of downtown DC to Pope Francis–and did in fact do some actual work from home, though not so much as to expose myself to any dangerous overload of the brain of course.One needs to protect this precious resource against strain, for the company as much as for oneself.
With this virtuous aim in view, I shut down my connection to the office files around 3, and made my way to Friendship Heights to do my bit for the local economy. First to Talbots, the Old-Ladies-R-Us store where I often find garments suitable for my advanced age and general dowdiness requirements. The scent of desperation was keen in that store, and no less than 3 salespeople drew close with ghastly grimaces of frantic good will. I tried on a few items but was unconvinced, and had to leave quickly before the tears began. Then, a quick turn through Anthropologie, reeking with incense but piled high with amusing if useless items, and, surprisingly, playing music less offensive than what had assaulted mine ears in Talbots (for an old lady store, they certainly chose an odd playlist). Banana Republic had nothing for me, and the music brayed on charmlesssly while I listlessly pawed through uninteresting merchandise. Eventually I bought some curtains at World Market (playlist: innocuous World music ), so at least I didn’t go home empty handed.
And in any case, the day was so fine–sunny and breezy, sky bright blue, flower boxes brimming with chrysanthemums. The Fedex man trotted by, his trolley heaped high with boxes, and people rallied round, window shopping, pushing baby carriages, walking dogs. Not THAT many people–perhaps everyone else was downtown with the Pope. But enough people to give one other the pleasant feel of being out in the world on the beautiful first day of autumn.

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