Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Worst Winter Ever

It was the worst of winters. It was the best of winters.

The worst winter I ever experienced turned out to be one I have the fondest memories of and best stories about. It was 1977 in Pennsylvania. I lived in Boston, or at least the rest of my family did, and that was the address on my driver’s license—27 Dartmouth, Boston, Mass.

I was on the road that year all but seven weeks. The blizzard hit Pennsylvania like a fast freight train roaring by in the middle of the night. Only it stopped and dropped 3 feet of snow before moving on. I was snowed in for 2 weeks in Harrisburg. I couldn’t even get a train out to be home for Christmas. My host, one of our organization’s volunteers, put 10 of us up for 2 weeks.

The most “fun” that winter was a trip I made from Pittsburgh when I thought the storm had passed. I was on I-80 on the way to Snow Shoe, PA, when I began to snow again. The borrowed Nash had windshield wipers that didn’t work. I spent the next two hours reaching out the driver’s side window to grab the wiper blade to keep the snow off. I made it to Snow Shoe to find a group of townspeople waiting for the scheduled meeting I had arranged. The mayor let me know that a little dusting of snow like this would never stop them from meeting.

But it was the Harrisburg Christmas that taught me it was possible to bond with a dozen strangers, many of whom I’ve not seen again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christmas Tradition Today

Christmas Eve is always at our house, at least for the past decade or so. We didn’t plan it so, but since no one else ever makes the offer, my wife and I have concluded that it is now a tradition, and our “gang” just assumes it as a given.

On Christmas morning we all go out for breakfast at IHOP. Or occasionally our friend Leslie T. makes sourdough waffles at his apartment. But that is only when he takes a notion, or one of us says “Why don’t we go to LT’s for waffles this year.”

ChristmasMorn2007 010

In the afternoon we always troop over to the Krikorian for a Christmas day movie. Then in the evening we may take my mother and son for a drive around Redlands to see the lights, or if we feel adventurous, the Mission Inn in Riverside.

This year we may vary the schedule slightly.  We have a flexible tradition but the essentials will hold:  Friends and family together to share the spirit of the season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our (almost) Brand New Bathroom

Our bathroom is almost brand new. You would not believe what a small, 4’ X 8’ room would take to remodel it: Contractors for tearing out shower and floor tiles right down to the 2 X 4s; a counter-top company for the 24 by 18 inch sink cabinet; a mirror company to install the big wall mirror we had to buy when the tile contractor nicked the current one; and Ric the plumber/handyman who my wife worships for correcting all the mishaps made by contractor and husband. I am no longer allowed to install towel bars, hooks, door hinges, or anything that requires drilling holes in doors or walls. “Let’s call Ric” has become an oft heard mantra of Linda’s.

New Sony Camera Photos 008

But in spite of the minor inconvenience of having to walk (or run) a quarter block to the pool bathroom and shower (we only have one bathroom) for a few days, and the few nicks and gouges in our bathtub (which Ric repaired), the tile looks beautiful, the new shower doors shine, the corean counter and sink is classy, the brown colors actually go with the light tan textured tiles, the chrome fixtures gleam, and even the new toilet stool seems proud to be in its place. I now understand why it is called the “throne.”

Bathroom finished 002

The mirror was delivered on time and Ric was there to see that it was properly installed and that the finishing touches were added. Just in time for Christmas Eve. I wonder if all of our guests can get in our 4 X 8 bathroom at the same time. It is the most elegant room in our home.

Bathroom finished 004

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Mysterious Patio Cat

It began to appear a couple of years ago. It would come two or three days a week and explore our patio. Then it began to settle on our chaise lounge. One summer evening when the patio door was open it stuck its nose in and then gingerly stepped into the living room and proceeded to explore every room in our 900 sq. ft. apartment. It disappeared for a few weeks or maybe a couple of months and then re-appeared on our patio. One thing we became aware of was that it was missing one important detail. In fact it was “de tail.” Was this the same cat? It must be, we concluded. Its actions were too much like the cat-with-tail that used to frequent the patio.

We had also been puzzled by a mysterious call from across the street that we noticed occurred each evening around 8 p.m., a high-pitched woman’s voice that sounded a little like a siren song. On one visit the cat was wearing a collar and we noticed a name engraved on it. The mystery was partially solved. Our patio cat’s name was Norma Jean and the strange sounding high-pitched call was a woman across the street calling her to come in for the night.

But we still had not solved the mystery of the missing tail. Until this week, that is. Norma Jean had been sleeping on our patio every day for several days and then going home at night. A couple of nights ago, the “Norma Jean call” came when we were watching the cat stir from her comfortable bed on the lounge. Linda called to the woman that Norma Jean was on our patio. The lady came across the street, surprised to learn what her cat had been doing every day. It was then that we learned that Norma Jean had been crossing Center Street a year ago and was hit by a car. Her injuries required the “amputation” of her tail.

I just looked out on our patio and Norma Jean is in her favorite spot on the lounge. So I took a few shots on my trusty Sony to show you Norma Jean, formerly known as the “mysterious patio cat.” We are pleased with her having adopted us because our apartment complex has a ‘no-pets’ policy.

Norma Jean