Monday, August 01, 2005

Counting the Hours

Another busy weekend at the Random household . . .

Saturday morning, did 50 minutes of running – it went really well except that it was pretty muggy, even at 8:30 in the morning. I just walked in, checked my name off the list and went on a nice, steady-paced run. I was done at the exact same time that the speakers for the day were finished and I was SO glad that I did not stay to listen, otherwise I wouldn’t have finished running until after 11:00 AM.

Later, Mr. Random and I had lunch with my friend, C, and her friend, P, who was visiting from Tampa. We went to the Quarterdeck restaurant in Rosslyn which is a total dive that’s been around forever – it is tucked in an out of the way corner of Rossyln that not many folks know about – but it cooks the best hard-shell crabs outside of the Eastern Shore. P grew up on the Eastern Shore and I was quite pleased when he said that they were the best crabs he ever tasted . . . and Shore natives can be quite picky about their crabs.

Then we went to get a digital camera, which I haven’t has a chance to play with yet, but Mr. Random has. While I was out yesterday, he spent this time reading the instruction book and playing with the camera . . . he took a 1 minute short film of our cat eating in the kitchen, and several pictures of his hand. Oooooo, how thrilling. We need to get a memory stick for the camera in the next couple of days or our camera’s internal memory will be filled by Friday, with my husband taking pictures of random objects and of the cat sitting in her Buddha poses, just because he can.

Sunday morning, went to church sans Mr. Random who was not into getting up so early, so I had to leave him behind. It was just me and the music director for a while, practicing the songs for the service, and I was in a panic because I did not want to be the only person singing up front. About 2 minutes before the service started, two other choir folks showed up so I wasn’t stuck doing solos.

Then I went to lunch with my friend, J, the guy who is going to house/cat-sit for us while we are away. His knee is getting better – he went to the doctor on Friday and got his knee drained, along with a cortisone shot, so he no longer needs to use crutches, but he still has a bit of a limp until it heals. He went with me to pick out the birthday present for the 2 year old’s birthday party I had to go to later. The parents gave us the parameters, “S likes stars moons, keys and alligators.” Do you know how hard it is to find stuffed alligators? Dragons, yes. Dinosaurs, yes. Frogs, yes. Alligators, . . . not one. There are not many books on stars or moons geared to two year olds, besides the ever present, Goodnight, Moon, which he already had a copy of. However, after much searching I did find a set of cards with constellations cut out of them that you can use with a flashlight to beam the constellations onto a darkened ceiling. I thought the set was so cool! Even though the age on the package said “age 6 and up,” I am sure the parents will get a hoot out of showing off the stars on the ceiling . . . I know that I would. I forgot to ask J about the blog . . . he’s the one that I hoped would post while I’m gone . . . but his schedule seems a bit hectic. We’ll see.

So after lunch, I drive like a madwoman home . . . or as best I can, going down Route 50 and Route 7 on a Sunday afternoon . . . those roads are always horrible. I pick up Mr. Random and we head to the birthday party, which at this point is almost over. This is a good thing because there were tons of little kids and their parents there, but very few people that we actually knew, besides the birthday boy and his parents and one other couple with their little1 year old boy. We caught each other up on what’s been going on in various folks lives. They did not know that our friend, L, moved to Australia and that my friend, D, was expecting a little girl next month. We did not know that our friend, S, and his wife, M, had moved to Williamsburg because M got a job at a college near there. We also didn’t know that our old friend, A, had become a stay at home mom – she had just gotten married to an older man who had a young son.

So we stay a good 45 minutes, rave over how big the birthday boy has gotten, chitchat a bit with the old friends, and then are given a piece of cake to take home. This was just enough time for us to feel like we made a presence, and not so long that we start to feel like weirdos for being the only ones there who don’t have any little kids to compare notes about.

We then went home and I promptly took an allergy pill and took an hour nap, because I was totally exhausted. Didn’t really fully wake up for the rest of the night either, but I did manage to eat a couple of bites of dinner and some peach ice cream that Mr. Random had just bought at the store.

. . . Now I’m back at work, not thinking of work, but thinking of all the packing I have to do, and all of the cleaning that needs to be done so that J doesn’t think that we live in a pig sty. The good thing about having people over often is that you have to pick up stuff around the house on a regular basis, so things don’t get too bad. Because my sister just stayed with us, the guest room is rather neat and inviting, so that’s not a worry. Just have to scrub down the bathroom and kitchen and get all of the random piles of junk mail and newspapers out of the living room and den. I also have to write down instructions for feeding the cat and changing the litter box.

How much clothing should one bring for 3 weeks? I’m not that good at planning my wardrobe ahead that far . . . I tend to think of what I’m going to wear the night before, and then change my mind again in the morning. I know that there will be washers and dryers available, so I can bring stuff for just a week and then do a major wash, but I’m not sure what I’m going to feel like wearing once I’m in CA. Skirts & Sandals? Shorts and sneakers? T-shirts? Capris? Nice shoes? Nice Pants? Arrrgh!

Well, a traveling mood needs a traveling poem, and I found one to end with for today:

Traveling Alone
Billy Collins

At the hotel coffee shop that morning,
the waitress was wearing a pink uniform
with "Florence" written in script over her heart.

And the man who checked my bag
had a badge that said "Ben."
Behind him was a long row of royal palms.

On the plane, two women poured drinks
from a cart they rolled down the narrow aisle —
"Debbie" and "Lynn" according to their winged tags.

And such was my company
as I arced from coast to coast,
and so I seldom spoke, and then only

of the coffee, the bag, the tiny bottles of vodka.
I said little more than "Thank you"
and "Can you take this from me, please?"

Yet I began to sense that all of them
were ready to open up,
to get to know me better, perhaps begin a friendship.

Florence looked irritated
as she shuffled from table to table,
but was she just hiding her need

to know about my early years —
the ball I would toss and catch in my hands
the times I hid behind my mother's dress?

And was I so wrong in catching in Ben's eyes
a glimmer of interest in my theories
and habits — my view of the Enlightenment,

my love of cards, the hours I tended to keep?
And what about Debbie and Lynn?
Did they not look eager to ask about my writing process,

my way of composing in the morning
by a window, which I would have admitted
if they had just had the courage to ask.

And strangely enough — I would have continued,
as they stopped pouring drinks
and the other passengers turned to listen —

the only emotion I ever feel, Debbie and Lynn,
is what the beaver must feel,
as he bears each stick to his hidden construction,

which creates the tranquil pond
and gives the mallards somewhere to paddle,
the pair of swans a place to conceal their young.

(BTW, Virginia Gal, the plan is to submit the passport stuff on Thursday morning, since our train doesn't leave until late afternoon.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yay - application is going on its way!!!
- Virginia Gal
ps - yes route 50 and 7 are nightmares for me also, when I'm not screaming on 95/495 - traffic in this area, even on a Sunday, makes term "going postal" not so alien to me.