Archive for March 2008

Easter redux

My mom wrote me last week to remind me of a couple of other Easter anecdotes emblazoned in our tribal memory:

I think that was the Easter that L____ was really crawling around pretty well.  As we were sleepimg in, he found the basket that we had hidden behind a chair.  We woke up to find him knawing away at a chocolate rabbit in front of the furnace register and half of it had melted over the Dr Dentons he had on.   He was a really happy baby.

Do you remember the time you and L____ were coloring Easter eggs with B__ and S__ and while the parents weren’t watching you grabbed more eggs out of the fridge and colored them when you ran out of the ones we had given you.  Unfortunately they had not been boiled we didn’t find that out until L____ H_____ (a friend of theirs who was visiting) cracked one on his head.

I had heard about the first incident, but it must have been the Easter of the New Orleans trip because I don’t remember seeing it and, believe me, a brother remembers stuff like that for later use.  Thanks, mom, for being my first guest-blogger!

Sorry For Being Back So Soon, But

I started reading Paul Theroux’s Hotel Honolulu over the weekend, and I just have to share this quote:

To please me, he tried to be funny, but that could be tedious, especially the formulaic jokes he told in order to define himself, or just to shock…A boss’s comedy is always an employee’s hardship.

I have a new sympathy for everyone who ever worked for me.

The Calendar Says It’s Spring…

I haven’t died, at least not in the sense where you could present a certificate and collect on my life insurance.

I’ve paid way too much attention to the NCAA basketball tournament over the last 4 days, especially for someone whose team didn’t make the cut. But, hey, we’re a high seed in the NIT!

We don’t really “do” Easter here, with no kid to bribe with candy baskets and no religious attachments to spur us to more adult observation. A festive rite for the arrival of spring might be appropriate in some years, but Easter is upon us so early this year that we’re just not feelin’ it yet, especially after the run in the icy rain today down to the gym and back.

But as we were sitting at dinner, I recollected, as much for my mother-in-law’s benefit as anything, a couple of Easters past that stood out.

The first occurred when I was probably 5 years old, spring of 1955. For reasons that, as I look back, I can’t fathom, my grandparents took me off my parents’ hands for a trip (by car, of course, in those days) from our Ohio home to Gulfport, MS and New Orleans. In retrospect, it was probably to keep me from killing my new baby brother in his crib, but no one’s ever admitted to this. Anyway, the trip lasted at least 2 weeks, and, since we knew that it would encompass Easter, there was the ticklish problem of whether the Easter bunny was sufficiently omniscient to pay a visit to an absentee. To be safe, we decided that I should color a batch of Easter eggs before I left, and leave them, along with a note as to my general travel plans, for the Easter Bunny to find.

Easter morning arrived in a motel room somewhere in Mississippi. I think my grandparents had damped down my expectations, and when I awoke, I saw no evidence anywhere in the room to disabuse me of my pessimism. When my grandparents woke up, I believe we were discussing the situation when my grandfather frowned, lifted his blanket and pulled out one of the eggs I had colored. This ignited a frenzied hunt around the room, and before we headed off for a rural church service, I had my eggs and a basket of candy. I’m sure the eggs were quietly disposed of, having traveled for three or four un-air-conditioned days down the blue highways that were the principal routes back then.

The second recollection was probably five years later. We were fairly frequent church-goers back then, but my dad only went on special days, about twice a year. When he did go, he hated for anyone to see him or engage in any chit-chat. As I remember, we would come as late as we could and exit by a side door so the minister had no chance to peer at him in puzzlement as our unaccustomed companion. (In his defense, he engaged in a lifelong battle with agoraphobia.)

On this particular Easter, we kids had been dropped off for Sunday School, and then our parents had met us and, to avoid unnecessary scrutiny, we’d scurried upstairs to the balcony, which was darker than the main chapel and had only a few rows of seats. On this particular Easter, we had received small Easter baskets during Sunday School, stocked with little eggs or jelly beans or something, and we had them with us up in the balcony, a balcony constructed of wood with a sloping floor to better accommodate sight lines. At some very quiet part of the service, probably when everyone had their eyes closed for a silent prayer or reflection, my brother’s basket disgorged its contents, and the hard little morsels rolled like holy thunder down the floor, under the seats of the rows in front of us until they were arrested either by people’s feet or by the front wall of the balcony.

Of course, every eye with an angle was fixed on us, downstairs and upstairs, and I’m not sure my dad ever recovered from the mortification. I don’t remember if we sat out the service, or left immediately, but I’m fairly sure there was the Devil to pay.

I’m about 1 1/2 here - it’s ca Easter, 1951.

Mr. Caffeine Goes To the City

I took a break from my hacking to visit a client downtown. I used to love working down there, in my 24th-floor office, and now I just don’t get down there often enough. When I do, though, I try to allow myself some time to just wander the streets a little.

My client’s office is a block or two from the Harbor Steps - what? - I guess it’s a neighborhood. I approached it walking up Post Alley, which starts just west of First Avenue by the Alexis Hotel. As I turned the corner, I saw this office or business whose windows were a sort of Matchbox car museum:

That station wagon in the picture at the far right is an Edsel Bermuda. We would never have driven a Ford in that era, as the company my dad (and 5 generations of my family, if you include my summer goofing-off there) worked for supplied GM with window glass, so the whole Edsel drama was lost on us (in the same class of philosophical questions as “why do Democrats bother to nominate candidates?”). It really doesn’t look that different from the cars we were driving. Guess it bombed in the market, though. And made some guy named Edsel Ford wish he had a more prosaic name.

Once I got to the Harbor Steps, I had some quintessential Seattle photo ops just smack me in the face:

Tully’s has tried valiantly to be a competitor to Starbuck’s, mostly by slavishly imitating them, and locating stores as close to them as possible. I think their days are numbered, though, judging from business news items over the last few months. Doesn’t really bother me one way or the other, as I have no problem with Starbucks and am sort of puzzled at the animus that people seem to have for them. To me, they (Starbucks) have made the world safe for espresso, and Howard Schultz is a prominent DNC contributor. What’s not to like?

In the background is the Seattle Art Museum, and its iconic moving sculpture, Hammering Man.

The pic on the right depicts the old-vs-new juxtaposition that characterizes Seattle as the incessant building boom, seemingly unfettered by the economic turmoil that pervades real estate elsewhere in the country, creates architectural dissonances throughout the city, from business districts to quiet neighborhoods like ours.

Head ‘em up - Move ‘em out!

Feeling a lot better today. Had my first coffee this morning since Saturday (when I fell asleep before I could start drinking it), and put in a full day’s work.

I still felt so ebullient, at 5pm, that I grabbed my bike and headed down to the gym for my first workout since last Wednesday in Milwaukee. I felt strange, and sweated inordinately, but I just decided it was time to drive all the bad shit out of my body, and bent to each machine like it was a new bride.

I’m still coughing explosively, cuz there’s still this ticklish crap that seems to want to collect right around my breastbone, and this condition does not aid me when my mother calls and I try to convince her that I’m well, now. I’m sure it sounds awful on the phone. She suggests that my throat would be soothed if I gargled with salt water, and I’ll give it a try, as I remember it being effective when we were kids, and I think I can still obtain it without a prescription.

I guess there have been cases recently of folks slipping quickly into serious pneumonia. If I’m still coughing in a day or two, I’ll a) celebrate it as a sign that I’m still breathing and b) drag myself up to the doctor so he can tell me to, probably, gargle with salt water.


Not much inspiration available in the last couple of weeks, at least in language I can parse.  Perhaps it’s just ennui, or something more pathological.  I just have found it impossible to form whole sentences.

Then, while in Milwaukee last week, I contracted some vile midwestern grippe on Thursday - some kind of upper respiratory thing that made me achy and prone to coughing fits.  I soldiered through Friday, flew home Friday night and have spent nearly the entire weekend sleeping, or lying in bed reading listlessly.  I think it’s been over 20 years since I actually allowed a sickness to keep me in bed.

Hope the extraordinary convalescence is repaid with quick recovery - like now - because I have a lot to accomplish this next week.   And that’s just about all I have the energy to type.