debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Late summer is a strange time. The weather is more like Los Angeles than the Mid-Atlantic. Days are warm. Nights are cool, breezy, and relatively dry. Some of the trees are just starting to change - including the very top of one maple. I'm worried about my life and the months ahead.

I just received a wonderful email full of great advice from a friend. We've worked together in the past. We have similar backgrounds. I'm amazed that people can see me in such a positive light. I'm grateful to be liked so much as well.

Last night, for reasons that I don't understand, I was overcome with terror when I got off the Metro. I could hardly stand to walk home, and walked as quickly as possible. When I told her about it, [livejournal.com profile] papertigers offered to meet me at White Flint when I get off work tonight. That wouldn't have even occurred to me.

I am lucky to be surrounded by thoughtful people.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Today, I talked to Farba Sow (my Mauritanian brother) via Skype. He found me about a week ago on facebook, and we've been writing back and forth a lot since. Apparently, Mali ("book name" Mutar) misses me, and I miss her, too. We used to sit together every evening and discuss things before dinner: cooking, TV shows, words in English and Pulaar, and we taught each other songs and folktales. Farba and Idrissa were mostly away at school (the town had no high school), but home on many weekends and for the summer. Ceerno and Bebe were younger; Bebe (book name Jeri) was one of my students. Ceerno was a little young - he was still in elementary school. Mamadou, who died two years ago, was in Nouakchott being a young rogue. Aissata, who is now an English teacher, was in Nouakchott until she got pregnant with Jellia. It's encouraging to know that she's finished her studies even though she had a husband and kid. Marieme, our aunt, was unhappy with Aissata's pregnancy because she believed it would be the end of her studies and career aspirations. Fatimata is still married to a soldier and living in heaven-knows-where.

Mali has two kids now, a remarkable feat for someone whose husband lives hundreds of miles away and gets back to visit only every couple of years. As [livejournal.com profile] papertigers pointed out, it only takes a few minutes.

Sadly, one of my favorite kids died. Little Zakaria had such personality. Fate has made a clean sweep of that family. While I was living there, his mother died, followed by his tiny, sickly baby sister (my particular pet, only about six weeks old) and his grandfather - all within a few weeks of each other. His dad was despondent, and sat around the compound like so many clothes. The dullness behind his eyes was terrible to see. Now father and son are both gone, too, giving a little more credibility to the idea (voiced by my friend Miranda) that it was AIDS that killed the mother. There's no way of knowing for sure; there was no HIV testing to be had in the village, or even in Kaedi, and in general, when people die and you ask the question "What did so-and-so die of?", people look at you blankly and respond, "They were sick." Malaria? Influenza? Dehydration? Heart disease? Who knows?

Some things have changed, but most stay the same. Jeynaba Moussa and Kadja Silley are still at their regular posts. Their kids are well. Little Aissata must be eight or nine by now, and little Jeynaba as well.

The number of names is limited - I was also Jeynaba in the village, better than my Boghe name, which was a nickname (Boobo) rather than a proper name (their daughter in Nouakchott who was called Boobo was also - surprise! - Jeynaba).

I'm rambling on, but it's been an interesting day. Tonight, I'm going to call Uncle Bobby and talk to Aunt E. a little.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I love Freecycle. I love, love, love, love Freecycle. You don't have to haul your things out to the thrift store. You get to meet the people who need and want your old things. You get, really, the double pleasure of giving things away and having fewer things. It's wonderful.

We have been using Freecycle a lot lately, as we are moving on Thursday to a much smaller place.

It's Mothers' Day. Today after church, I brought Myra an azalea (actually two azaleas, one pink and one white) for us to plant. That way, two of our earliest-blooming spring plants will be hers and we'll have a nice show on the patio. I also brought bacon and biscuits and blood orange Italian soda, so we had a nice little brunch at home. We spent a good part of Mothers' Day at the Old Country Buffet in Gaithersburg because S., C., & Z. were there, along with a moderate portion of the V. family in general. Several were out-of-towners. It was a good time. Z. learned my name; we drove them home since their hotel is near where we live, and at the end of the night, I said, "You're going to go to bed with Mummy and Daddy now," and Z. replied, "And [livejournal.com profile] papertigers!" She started to doze against my shoulder and was quite reluctant to let her mother take her. I tried to steal her, but they're going to the hospital for S.'s radiation tomorrow, and C. needs to have her baby with her, understandably enough.

I did not call my mother, but this is only unusual in the sense that I am with [livejournal.com profile] papertigers (who always made me call my mother in years past). Before that, I never called my mother. My mother vocally scorns Mothers' Day as a commercial holiday designed to force people to spend money.

Overall, a nice break from the endless round of packing stuff up. Back to the salt mines tomorrow.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Last night: Got to church just a bit late for the 10:30 blessing of baskets. Stayed in the basement for the 11:00. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers brought a double batch of her amazing mac and cheese and the church ladies were pleased. After the baskets were blessed, I hid mine above the coat rack because we didn't have time to go back to the car before the beginning of Nocturnes.

Or so we thought! Nocturnes actually ended 15 minutes late this year, and the rest of the "night" cascaded from there. When Metropolitan Jonah knocked on the door of the church and asked, "Who is the King of Glory?" three times, and each time the other clergy replied, "The Lord of Hosts!", and on the third time the lights to the church came on, [livejournal.com profile] papertigers turned to me and whispered, "Protestants don't do anything this cool." I found that sweet, somehow.

We ended Liturgy a good hour later than it ended last year, and with about twice last year's crowd (to be fair, it was a bit cold and drippy last year). The new choir director had the choir singing some of the melodies I remember so well from childhood, including the Extopostilarion that reminds me so much of K.R.'s wonderful soprano, and the Theotokion that we did together a few times, with me taking the alto part (for once, the part with all the beautiful ornamentation).

Metropolitan Jonah is interactive in ways that are unexpected if you are cradle Orthodox. For example, when we sang "Having Beheld the Resurrection of Christ," he came out and conducted the congregation - rather expertly, at that. Someone - perhaps him, perhaps the director herself - also decided that all of the most important hymns had to be done both in English and Slavonic. When we finished the Our Father in Slavonic and I was waiting for the priest to chant the ending, suddenly the choir was singing it in English. (I only know the first few words of the Slavonic, but I'd prayed along anyway). After Communion, when I gave her antidoran, [livejournal.com profile] papertigers gave up and crept downstairs for the remainder. We finished a good hour and fifteen minutes later than last year.

A few fun things happened downstairs at "breakfast." For one thing, Fr. J. came down to bless the food, and after the Our Father, he sang, "Lord have mercy Lord have mercy Lord have mercy... I guess I'll bless." (OOOPS! We were supposed to sing "Father, bless"!) A roomful of exhausted people giggling at 4 a.m. is something to experience. There were meat pies and cheese and spinach pies and lamb cooked over a spit. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers and I also had fun hanging out with a flirtatious priest and a highly competitive egg-smashing twelve-year-old, but we went home fairly early. Even so, it was 5 a.m. before we were in bed.

Today it was dinner at my unofficial family's. Four generations of women (not all of us, just a representation) and girl children sat around a table talking and laughing and telling stories. The lamb was cooked magnificently. I introduced them to cheese Pascha. A good time was had by all.

BACK.

Mar. 23rd, 2010 08:11 pm
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I am back online at home, and am finding that, as usual, the world has managed to roll along without my spending every spare minute on the internet. It's a relief!

If anything much has happened to you in the past 3 weeks that I need to know about, please post it to comments... or post the link to your LJ.

My grandmother has broken her second hip. (She broke the first one in October.) What a year for the Grandma and Grandpa Snazzy! Grandpa had a birthday this month. It's strange to think of their being in their 80s. I always had the young, vital grandparents - but I guess I'm getting older, myself. When my mother was my age, I was 13 years old.

Otherwise, things are OK. I'm enjoying the prospect of fantasy baseball and really savoring Lent as it winds to its close. I need to look out for some volunteer opportunities and things to do with friends - I need to feel productive and build some self-confidence. Any recommendations of places I could volunteer would be appreciated... especially if I could work Monday afternoons or Saturdays.

Long Day

Jan. 16th, 2010 11:49 pm
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Mr. Miles)
I went to Aunt Rochelle's* funeral today. I didn't know her well, but it was pretty heartbreaking to see my family so badly hurt. She died quite young (cancer), and she was the first of Grandma Webster's children to die. The funeral service was Cathotist (Catholic service with Baptist preacher doing the eulogy and a Baptist choir singing a couple of songs). The oddest part was when they did the sign of peace (the priest says, "Let us offer each other a sign of peace") and I heard people behind me saying, "What do we do now?" Partly in reply, I said to one, "Peace of Christ," and hugged her. She went on to say, "Peace and grace," and hug the person behind her, which works well enough. (After that, she caught that what I had initially said was "Christ," though I think grace is also an awfully nice thing to wish someone.)

[livejournal.com profile] papertigers's brother S. came quite a long way by public transportation to give her some love and a massage. She had put away most of the Christmas ornaments. We finished undressing the tree and the house; it is all put away now.

Later, [livejournal.com profile] efbq and [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird and their younger daughter came over with games and cake and other amusements for the injured party. They bought us a few groceries and amused us over dinner and dessert, and for the remainder of the evening. They have just left. I was sternly admonished to look after [livejournal.com profile] papertigers. I'm glad there are so many other people who love her.

Tired now; [livejournal.com profile] papertigers has already gone to bed. Good night, all.



*of my DC family, not my birth family
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
My original intention was to record this Christmas season in its entirety here, but that proved difficult this weekend. Yesterday, we rinsed the henna out of my hair. My hair looks amazing. It's got a rich reddish brown color instead of the dull brown that it had turned because it's been going grey for the past several years. It's also very soft. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers and A. were happy with their work.

We finished watching Swing Time, which contains a pretty horrifying blackface sequence. (A. and I fast-forwarded through the worst of it, but not all - F.A. retains the blackface after the performance sequence is over, since in the plot he rushes straight from the stage into a situation he's trying to avoid). After that, we picked S. up in Gaithersburg and went to the mall to get presents for A., her sister, [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird, and [livejournal.com profile] efbq. We waited to take A. with us because we wanted her to choose something for herself. Teenagers, after all...

I also had my first experience with Rita's, which was fantastic. A. chose my flavor - a mixture of black cherry ice and vanilla custard. Yum.

We then took S. to have linner with [livejournal.com profile] fafou and her newish girlfriend at The Cheesecake Factory. The newish girlfriend is cute and shy and has a sense of humor, and we all rather liked her. We had a relaxed and funny waitress who also made the evening fun. We took S. home after that, and [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird came to pick A. up and bring her home. We gave him his present at that point, which he liked, and we all opened Christmas crackers.

Today, after church, we set the house up for a small but lively group of children. Our guests were: [livejournal.com profile] papertigers's niece E., who is just 6; my nieces A., 12, and L., 8; my nephew D., 11; and J. (3) and H. (1), who are the daughters of some good friends of mine whom I have known for almost a decade. We gave the kids snacks - apples, carrots, spinach dip, cheese, crackers, and corn chips - and talked for a while. Then the kids got to cut out and decorate gingerbread cookies. As usual, we were left with a lot of leftover cookies; the kids always make more than they actually want to take home. They wreaked destruction in the guest room (Legos really do go everywhere) and cleaned it up very nicely. We gave them each a Christmas cracker (they swapped the toys until each kid was satisfied) and sent them home happy and tired. It was fun.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
We slept late yesterday. Then we had bread pudding, watched silly TV, and took a nap before picking up A. We let A. drive us back to Wheaton and went to Starbucks and Giant. Then we headed straight to Brookside Gardens for the Garden of Lights. It was well worth the $20 per car. We saw the model trains as well as the amazing lights display. They had a thunderstorm in lights, complete with lightning flashes and a rainbow.

We went to Silver Diner for dinner and then came home and put henna in my hair while watching The Gay Divorcee and Shall We Dance (half of it; we were tired, so we went to bed while Fred and Ginger were dancing, shortly after The Way You Look Tonight).

Today, more fun!
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Happy new year, everyone.

I worked today. There were few students, but I hope the ones who were in class got a lot out of it, for all that.

I've been thinking about 2009 as a year ever since [livejournal.com profile] melebeth mentioned something about its not being so good.

She's right. I started the year with a sprained ankle that acted like a fractured ankle. There have been health problems for me and mine - everything from cancer to bad teeth. There have been emotional upheavals. There have been family upheavals. There was even a fire.

Still, I will say that some things have gone well. I've continued to learn just how valuable my friends and (extended) family are. I've learned, too, just how strong the support of my Family-of-Choice is. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers and I have drawn closer together, and (not coincidentally) I have grown a lot less emotionally dependent on her. I have been lucky in many ways. I still have blessings to count when anxiety tries to keep me awake.

Tomorrow, we will continue our Christmas celebrations with [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird and [livejournal.com profile] efbq's oldest, redheaded child. (Though I suppose, at 16, she is almost not a child anymore!)

Tonight, we have a clean house and Christmas carols on the stereo, good food, and cute cats. We are going to have a quiet and relaxed New Year's celebration with just the five of us (two humans, three cats). That is my favorite way to mark the change of the year. I feel good about this. May 2010 be a year of blessings and favors, joy and goodness for everyone who is reading this.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
It was really nice to see [livejournal.com profile] papertigers at the end of work today. We cleaned the house - I took the wrapping paper from Christmas morning out to recycling, [livejournal.com profile] papertigers cleaned up the dining room table, and we collaborated on the kitchen and the living room.

Last night, we watched Holiday Inn while we ate our pie.

I'm still having a lot of difficulty processing Thanksgiving weekend... and the 32 years that came before it. I want to thank you all for your kindness and support. Holidays are fraught with family associations, but I can honestly say that we are having a lovely Yuletide.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
This morning, I was exhausted, but I managed to get myself out of bed and to Liturgy. I had been up late on facebook IM with my cousin L., who was wondering if I was speaking to my father. I explained the situation to her; her father is my dad's brother, and makes my dad look even-tempered, so I knew she'd understand. She both understood and approved, but in the course of the conversation, we went over some very difficult subject matter. I had another nightmare last night (they are slowing down, though!) and really needed some renewal in the morning.

When I got home, we had a nap. Then I finished making maaro e liddi, which I did a pretty good job on overall, except for forgetting the salt (it had an effect, but not a disastrous one). We ate it and went to meet [livejournal.com profile] silk1 and her husband and their daughter E. (yes, the same E. who turned six a few days ago) at the National Zoo for Zoo Lights, which was much better than it was two years ago (there were at least five times as many lights and an additional open animal exhibit). E. loved the displays and was particularly enthralled by the Reptile House.

We came home and had scrambled eggs with cheese, toast, and hot chocolate. We also opened our presents from [livejournal.com profile] silk1's family. I got two Auntie Mame books! What fun!
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
I was cooking maaro e liddi and I set the kitchen on fire (hot oil makes quite a fire). The flames licked the ceiling all through the dining room. We were very lucky; the only thing that caught fire was a potholder hanging by the stove. The ceiling is blackened in the kitchen and dining room and part of the hall. The stove hood was burned out and all the wiring melted. The cabinets above the stove are somewhat blackened, but none of the tea sets were harmed.

[livejournal.com profile] papertigers wanted me out of that kitchen. I cried out, tried to get the cats, and then rushed back in once the flames had died down, first to turn off the gas, then to extinguish the potholder using a blanket.

The fire department came; three firefighters walked through the kitchen checking for potential or actual flare-ups. They apologized for tracking oil through our house; we looked at them as though they were from Mars and told them that we had mops. Apparently, panicky people vent on them a lot. My reaction is more one of pleased relief. We are going to bake some gingerbread cookies for them, and decorate them as little firemen and fire trucks.

Now, [livejournal.com profile] scooterbird and [livejournal.com profile] efbq are bringing their family over here. We are in need of some soothing - and we were going to have to see them over the holidays, anyhow, because they are [livejournal.com profile] papertigers's Parents of Choice, as well as very cool and Christmasy people.

I am still assessing my physical and psychological state (this happened a little under an hour ago). Nikki is on my lap, trying to comfort me. [livejournal.com profile] papertigers did not lose her temper or need to be taken to the hospital for asthma. I have not yet had a panic attack. On the whole, I think we dealt with the emergency as well as most people could. We are clearly in good hands.
debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Christmas dinner. Lots of people, kids running around, far too much food, and conversation with the proverbial relatives you don't know. It reminded me a lot of the T. family (my maternal grandmother's family) Christmas Eve event - food like crazy, kids like crazy, relatives you don't know, and an off chance of getting an odd (by which I mean strange) gift or two. It was a taste of my family as it has not been since Uncle Nino and Aunt Mae were still alive... and this wasn't even my birth family (or Italian). I loved it.

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