Friday, September 16, 2011

More Odds 'n' Ends

Every time I turn on the radio or read a newspaper, I quietly smolder. The inane ramblings of Ron Paul. The irresponsible, dangerous campaigning of Michele Bachmann, the timidity of the Democratic leadership, the dishonesty of the Perry campaign, the intransigence of John Boehner, the list just goes on and on. Our political leadership is off in la-la land, and trying its best to drive America over a political cliff. Just when one thinks it can't get any worse, something else goes horribly wrong. How do we get ourselves out of this mess?

On a lighter note.... I have a new pizza pan. I tried it last night. I still need to work on my technique, but I promise to bring America the best pizza that a home kitchen can deliver. Ron (my champion pizza taster) and I are constantly developing methods that we believe will deliver a breakthrough in the quest for perfect home pizza. If you would like to join this conversation, provide comments, inject hot air, add toppings, or test pizza products, please respond, and we'll add you to one of our exclusive taste panels. (Or not....) We are interested in suggestions, crust recipes, methods, and the like. Really.

Oh, I know this is now old news, but the office and the bedroom are now usable spaces in our home. I was getting depressed about them. I would walk upstairs and feel bad about the state of those rooms. It was like I didn't have control over parts of my own home, almost like (space) aliens were occupying the bedroom. The whole situation was really on my mind. Last Friday, we had lunch with Rick and Richie (try Richie's stir fry; it's really good), and I was talking about the out-of-control clutter. Richie offered to help, and showed up on my doorstep on Monday morning.

Clutter is my inner shame. I've never been able to keep a clean room. I'm horizontally organized. I've never learned how to file. I can't throw away stuff, because I might need it someday. I really couldn't ask Ron to help, because he and I are so close to each other that I didn't want him to draw conclusions about my character based on the mess. It doesn't matter that he doesn't make those judgments; I just didn't want to hear and see him there, and react to an unintentional comment or gesture. I guess I didn't want to feel stupid for keeping a receipt from 1989 (yep, I found one). I needed someone to help who had no stake in me or my mess, and Richie filled the bill.

Richie just basically asked me, repeatedly, "What do you want to do with this? Do you want to keep this? Donate this or trash?" He never questioned my decisions, but immediately executed them. Wow. We took on clothes closets, drawers, horizontal surfaces, under the bed, and bookshelves. The work went pretty fast, too. We took fifteen boxes of books to the Friends of the Library bookstore. Before we got all the boxes in the door, the store manager was already unloading them onto the shelves. An equal number of boxes went to a thrift store in Richie's neighborhood. The second day we delivered more boxes, we walked through the store and saw remnants of my closets hanging on racks, and perched (jauntily) on store shelves. I was very happy to see my stuff being recycled to other people who might appreciate it. We also set out eight or ten bags of trash, and several sacks of recycled paper.

I feel such a great relief to have all that stuff out of the house. I feel freed up from a burden. I donated about two-thirds of the clothes in my closets and drawers. Somebody out there will soon be wearing my old 70s shirts. I still have some things to sort through - family pictures, and some papers, but it's all contained in a single shoebox, which is a far cry from what I started with.

I couldn't have done this without Ron's support and Richie's help. Thank you both. It means a lot to me.

Keshawn and his Aunt Lyn

And finally, I went to visit my sister in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. She and I usually get together once or twice a year, and the visits are always wonderful family affairs. This year included "the Family Dinner" at Harrison's house. I helped Grace with the spaghetti (her contribution), and walked into the kitchen that was full of older Black women. None of them knew me, and I didn't know any of them. But I had food, and that was enough. Harrison's soon-to-be mother-in-law offered, "the menfolk are all downstairs." But I told her that I was scoping out the food. Another woman said, "You men!" and she and I became buds. She offered me a taste of her brownies and asked me what I thought. I said that I need two or three more brownies before I could decide. I tell ya, White people don't know how to cook! These family dinners are in a culinary experience all of their own. I did not recognize my grandnephew Keshawn. He's grown up so much (he's fifteen). I talked some with Joshua, Joe, Karen Ann, and Lyn. I said hi to a lot of people who I didn't know at all. I reconnected with Harrison's sister, whom I hadn't seen since 1976. She was three back then. It was all grand!

My Grandniece, Jasmine

Of course, the most wonderful time was spent with the new lady in my life, Jasmine. She's a cutie-pie. She's Grace's former husband's granddaughter. Grace is her foster parent, and she really knows her grandma. She coos, squirms, and giggles all at the same time. She warmed up to her Uncle John, as well. I loved being around her. She's a very good and beautiful baby, so much joy.

Grace and I did two things other than baby. We worked on some genealogy that she has been working on, and we square danced at the Chicago Crossfire weekend. We also cooked and ate a lot. Grace is a wonderful sister, and I'm really happy that she and I could spend a long weekend together.

Oh, and the ride back home.... I'm really going to have to get passed the lowest price ticket. It took me eleven hours to fly from Chicago to Washington, DC. I could have almost driven it in that time. I flew from Chicago to Detroit, and had a flight delay there; from Detroit do JFK, and had a major delay there, then from JFK to DCA. I was not a happy camper. But, I got home okay, and Ron gave me a big hug when I got in the door.