Saturday, November 22, 2008

Overheard around town

No pictures today. My camera is dead. My camera phone is also dead. So let's do this old school.

I have been practicing the lost art of eavesdropping.

At Fuel coffee shop this morning, a young guy, unshaven, in jeans with a very strategic hole on one rear pocket (and proof he was going commando), flirted with the baristas, a pair of twenty-something women. How much did they weigh? 95, one said. 130, the other one said. Everyone registered shock. 130? No frickin' way. Way. I chanced a look at Ms. 130. Skinny. Tall. You make a cute fat chick, Commando Boy said.

Later, walking down 45th, I passed a clump of five or six people, brunch-bound, I'd guess. They kept bumping up behind a blond guy, then sorted themselves back into rank and file. The guy in front said, as though defending himself, I'm walking as fast as I think anyone should want to walk. A masterfully circuitous piece of dialogue.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vive la femme


I love this picture of my great-grandmother Jessie, smiling and barefoot in her bloomers. I only knew her as Nannie, my grandmother's mother, a rather stern presence in her horn-rimmed glasses, and a determined genealogist whose idea of a family vacation was tramping around old cemeteries looking for Kerr family headstones.
As I think about her, I'm struck by what she accomplished. She raised a child alone in a day when being a single parent was looked upon with raised eyebrows at best. She worked a paid professional job, wrote novels in longhand in Steno pads, and labored over the aforementioned genealogy for well over a decade. We still have many of the letters she wrote to fellow investigators in Ohio and North Carolina and Iowa, looking for a great uncle who fought in the Revolutionary War, or somebody's second wife's birthdate.
Nannie would be proud of the women in this family, I think. Her own daughter achieved her master's degree in her 40's and went on to teach learning disabled kids, retired in her 70's, and then took up a third career which is still thriving. My mom recovered nimbly from a bad divorce to find a new career, to remarry and live happily and fully.
My sisters and cousins and nieces can take lessons from these women. To work hard. To follow our hearts, and our passions, regardless of what society might have to say about it.
Sometimes, when I get discouraged, I think about Nanny and Gram and Mom. They inspire me. They keep me going.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank you, Dusty


Today is Veteran's Day. In Canada, it's Rememberance Day (and was observed yesterday).

My grandpa Dusty served in the Second World War. He never liked talking about it, although in his later years he told us a few stories, about a near miss in north Africa, and guarding Nazi prisoners after the war was over.

He was a brave man, capable, outgoing but never flashy, and I miss him a lot.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I'm only happy when it...



You'd think Seattleites would be good at driving in the rain. We're not. Traffic snarls up like knotty thread every time the drops start falling.

I don't mind the rain though. In fact, I like it. If it's warm rain, the air takes on a certain earthy heaviness. When it's cold, the mist hits your face like a spritzer. It's refreshing. It's enervating.

Seattle partied like I have never seen Tuesday night.
After the news that Obama had won, people ran and yelled and danced in the streets. It felt genuine and spontaneous.
On the bus, in coffee shops (btw, sayonara Stickman), people are still talking excitedly about Obama. There's this collective feeling of relief. As though we'd been carrying around this shoulder pack of worry, and now, for the first time in awhile, we've set it down.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a pessimist, that backpack of worry is still handily nearby and I'm sure I'll be picking it up again at some point, but for today, I'm breathing in the sodden air and I feel good.

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