Hey y’all. I’m officially taking a break from the worldwide madness. I managed to refrain from jumping into a conversation over dinner last night about the element of race in the Katrina aftermath and recovery. Brian had just said something to which I could have responded in a more or less acerbic manner, and I chose to shut my mouth.
“Come on,” he said. “What’s your take on it?”
I averted my gaze to the window, looking up at the trees on the hill by our house. Love that deep late-summer green.
“I don’t have a take on it. Not today.”
And that was that. I did note that Michael Brown resigned as head of FEMA, but didn’t make any comments about it one way or the other.
It actually felt pretty good.
Not much happening at home, for which I am profoundly grateful. Happiness is a rather boring subject for a blog, it seems. Duckie’s doing well (no recent night terrors), Brian’s new job seems to be doing him a lot of good, and I’m swimming along, trying not to get too manic along the way.
Today, with the help of a friend and his functioning computer, I managed to buy tickets to this fall’s LEAF – the Lake Eden Arts Festival. I haven’t been to a LEAF in a long while – we sang there about a year and a half ago, but Duckie and I were both sick and miserable for most of it. Plus we got rained out the second day.
Brian introduced me to the LEAF the first year we were together. Pure magic. A gorgeous valley in Black Mountain, NC, amazing music (zydeco, bluegrass, jazz, African percussion, contra – pretty much anything you could want), cool nights camping with friends, and a drum circle that goes on for hours at night up in the hills, if you care to attend (I did, that first time.)
I had never done much organized dancing, but somehow I tiptoed into the Brookside Dance Hall where about six hundred contra-dancers of all ages, sizes, and experience were managing not only to perform fairly complex steps together, they were somehow avoiding each others’ feet (for the most part) and having a fantastic time doing it. I watched for a while, then got in on the action. With the exception of a few contra-nazis who felt their job was to castigate and violently correct anyone who put a toe out of line, I had a wonderful time.
I haven’t danced much over the last few years. My last real LEAF was in May of 2003, when I was about five months gone with Duckie. I tried to dance, I really did. But contra can be a fairly taxing aerobic exercise, and the oxygen in my body was being redirected to the tiny baby inside, so I cramped quickly and got uncomfortably dizzy. At other festivals since then I’ve spent a lot of time at camp (never a bad thing, really, especially with good company) and not much time in the dance halls. I’m hoping to change that this time around. (Did I mention that Duckie loves music and dancing? She’s going to have a blast.)
Duckie’s second birthday is coming up, so I suppose I need to get off my ass and send out invitations to the partay. I don’t expect it to be huge and complicated. Last year’s party was great, even though we had been without power for four days because of one hurricane or another. I think it was Ivan then, although our area had seen some flooding after Frances came through. I said to Brian that we had managed just fine without power so far – we had water, a gas grill, and I could just buy the freaking cake. So that’s what we did. Since there was no TV, I was bored out of my mind and cleaned the house three or four times over – a very clean place to play, anyway. We ran out of gas for the grill and ended up deep-frying the chicken wings over the Coleman stove. All the other snacks were non-perishables or veggies that didn’t require much refrigeration.
We had a blast. Duckie got pretty overwhelmed from all the people (not to mention all the sugar from her first cake), but she calmed down later and fell fast asleep in her grandmother’s arms.
I look back on those pictures now and can only shake my head, stunned at how fast the time has gone by. Back then she was cruising well from sofa to table and back – now she prances at top speed down the hallway, falls flat on her face, picks herself up with nary a second for crying, and keeps on going. Now she likes to launch herself off the coffee table into the lap of whomever is sitting on the sofa (if anyone). Now she’s riding a little battery-powered four-wheeler around the yard. Now she’s weaned and eating everything we eat. Now she has a thickening nest of white-blond hair – she was almost completely bald until her 1st birthday. Now she says “Hi, Daddy, hi Mommy!” and kisses us awake in the morning (if she’s in a good mood.) Unbelievable how quickly they grow. I know, it’s a cliché. But it wouldn’t be, if it weren’t true.
This year there will be more kids – and more kids her age. Brian’s sister (with her 8-month-old) and his mom are coming into town for the party, although Dad and Judy won’t be able to make it due to Dad’s recovery (which is going very well.) Yeah, I think we’re going to have to move the party outside this year. No problem. Great weather this time of year in the foothills. And I know I can plan and implement a party without power, so this ought to be… wait. I’m just gonna shut up. Let’s not ask for trouble.
Along the lines of keeping things light for a change, I have some shameless product recommendations:
** Bath & Body Works Instant Warming Amber-Myrrh body scrub. This stuff is awesome and addictive. It really does warm up when it hits water (kind of like the Biore stuff does), and the amber aroma just permeates the mist of the shower. It leaves a non-greasy amber-scented moisturizing layer on your skin – and the scent lasts overnight and well into the next day, if you use it in the evening. Yummy. Brian likes it, too. On me, that is.
** Quaker Oats Supreme, cinnamon-pecan flavor. I usually get the $1.99 generic instant oatmeal because I’m too lazy to mix up my own, so this is a nice treat. Chunks of pecan, more substantial oatmeal, and it still cooks up in the microwave in a minute and a half.
** The next book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, will be released on September 27th. Which barely gives me time to re-read the other books beforehand. I don’t think anything can stand up to Outlander and Drangonfly in Amber, but it’s worth a shot, right?
** The next book in George R. R. Martin’s Ice and Fire series, A Feast for Crows, is due out November 8th, 2005. Between the two of them, I ought to have enough to read until the next Harry Potter movie (planning a trip to Charlotte to catch it on IMAX.)
I should mention here that after having visited both Gabaldon's and Martin's sites, I noticed that they are both going to be in DC for the National Book Fair, the same weekend of the peace march. You have no idea how much it galls me that I can't find anyone else to go with me. More so now. Call me selfish and opportunistic if you will. It's only the truth. (By the way, Sam, Neil Gaiman is also going to be there.) I do wonder how the Book Fair is going to pan out with the peace march - they're both on Saturday on the Mall. Ought to be interesting. Hope Martin will report on it.** The new season of House, MD starts tonight at nine. I’m very pleased that it’s not at 8, which is right around Duckie’s bedtime. It’ll be nice to kick back with Brian and indulge in some gruesome, cynical medical mystery-solving.
Tomorrow I will likely be back in the swing of things. I’d like to put together a posting of what’s going right with Katrina – some good news, if you’ve got any, especially stories of how you or folks in your area are pitching in to help. I’m hearing a lot of reports of completely unofficial efforts that are making enormous contributions, and this is very heartening to see. So if you have some good news for me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so it can be part of the Good News posting later this week.