Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Update

Sorry, I haven't been around. I hate to admit this, but truthfully, I've been really down in the dumps. And now, I can't remember why. Oh well. On with life.
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Halloween came and went, and when I tried to download at least some of the entries I made on AOL, my computer froze up. The next day was the 31st. I thought possibly that the blogs would close at midnight. Yeah, they did. The night before. So I lost almost everything. Becki's art teacher told me that one of her college professors told her to break her best piece. That way she won't hold back thinking she can't do any better. Okay, so for no better reason than I can recreate entries or write better ones as time goes on, I won't despair.
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Now to update everyone on my family. As I said in my last entry, the first quarter is over. I did Parents/Teachers conferences and I got Becki's report card. She was told by the administrator at her college that if she is going to attend next year, it will be because she maintains a C average throughout the rest of her high school career. I explained that to her at the beginning of the year. She promised me she'd keep her work up. So here I am at Parent/Teachers conferences, ready to peek at her grades, and almost convinced all was for naught. I open her report card, and there it was. One A in ROTC, and solid C's. Talk about following directions. Whew.
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Becki's birthday is at the beginning of November, and so is Gloria's. In fact they share the same birthday. As odd as it seems whomever Ed or Jon date share Becki's birthday or has it within a day or two of Becki's. Anyway, last weekend, my daughter should have had a great weekend. On Friday, we all joined C&D, Becki's Godparents, at a new Italian restaurant. The food is outstanding. We shared a cake I bought at the bakery I used to work for, and the girls opened presents.
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The restaurant owner cut the cake. It's called an atomic cake, with one layer each of white, chocolate and banana cake, whipped cream frosting, and with a layer each of fresh strawberries and bananas filling. It's richer than I can stand, but that's what Becki wanted. Everyone was somewhat flabbergasted when the owner wanted to know if he could try a piece. Sure, why not? If he didn't take it, I'd have to take it home and you know Bill would get at it. After trying it, he then wanted to know where I got it. I told him, and told him also to tell them Jude sent him. He said he would and then promised to take a penny jar from me.
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Becki's friends threw her a party on Saturday, and on Sunday we were invited to Gloria's for dinner. This was the first time we met Gloria's parents. We were invited before, but when Jon said that a lot of her family would be there, we thought we would be intruding. No, this time we were more strongly invited. According to Jon, Gloria's Mom, Marie, cooks every Sunday, and usually serves a crowd. This is how she likes to spend Sunday. So when I bought the cake, I picked up 20 hand dipped chocolate covered strawberries. (I love chocolate, and hate strawberries.) I found out later that Marie does not allow those who visit for the first time to bring anything. Well we got to the door, I handed her the box. "Sorry," I said, "I bought these before I knew about your rule about newcomers not bringing anything, and I'm not taking them back." When I told her what they were I thought maybe she'd hide in the bathroom and inhale them. (Only teasing.) She loves strawberries, and apparently so did everyone else there.
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I was surprised to see Jon's friends, Eric and Arthur, as well as a couple of the girls that spent their Saturday nights in our yard. We met Gloria's grandparents and a couple of uncles.
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Now dinner at Marie's is a study in absolute organization. She could shame the Marine Corp. If she says be there at 2, don't dare be late. Marie had all the furniture in her living room removed. In place of the sofa, tables and chairs, she had long dinner tables and chairs set up. We were ordered to find our name tags and sit. Each place setting had a plate, fork and a napkin. That was all we got and all we needed. Once Marie was ready, she ordered us into the kitchen to help ourselves to snacks. I took my plate and got some for Bill and I. When we finished that, the plates were collected by Gloria's brother, we said Grace and dinner was served on the same plate. We had roasted garlic stuffed shells. (It was wonderful, but I can still taste garlic.) We ate, we were given drinks (Marie found out what we drank beforehand), plates were collected again and we were given a choice of cheese cake, red velvet cake and double chocolate cake. Before they came out, we sang happy birthday first to Gloria and then to Becki.
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The only thing I will say about this experience other than it was completely orchestrated, is that these people are louder than I am. And I am loud. I am very loud. I tried to carry on a conversation with Gloria's Grandmother and her neighbor, but we either had to wait until some of the noise passed or we shouted. Once it was all over and the cake consumed, Gloria's brother and sister cleaned the living room, striping the table and trashing the cake plates, and then stacked the chairs and took down the tables. Not ten minutes later, the dishes were done and the furniture was replaced. And suddenly all the adults went home. Bill and I were the last ones standing there. We were astounded. I mean we had a really good time, it's just I had never seen anything that organized in my life. I could only imagine what Marie would think of my mess.

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I asked Becki how her weekend was. She said, "It was the worst birthday I ever had."
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"How could you say something like that? Didn't you have fun at Gloria's? Or with your friends?
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"My cat died."
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Yes, Pizza died on Sunday. It's still hard to say and hard to think of without tearing up. I miss my baby. We all do. She was the sweetest, most loving and most even tempered cat I have ever known. Sunday morning Jon was helping at Gloria's to set everything up. When I called him to tell him about Pizza, he hurried home. The four of us, Ed, Jon, Becki and I, just clutched each other and cried.
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So we're right in the middle of Christmas season, and here it is not even Thanksgiving yet. I went before City Council a few weeks ago and spoke about our Angel group. It was crowded that night and there were TV cameras. I said that we would need help this year more than ever just because of the economy. With joblessness on the rise more families than ever would need help this year. I expected to received less this year than last, and last year was bad.
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Since then I have been receiving phone calls, both people looking for help and from people who want to help. Way back in August I went to Meet the Teachers Night at Becki's school. Her ROTC instructor, Sgt. L., cornered me. "We want to help. Write me a letter and tell me what you need." I did. I said I need food and lots of it. At Parents/Teachers Conferences, he told me that he and Sgt. K. were going to get the kids together on 2 food drives, one for Thanksgiving, and the other for Christmas. I expected a couple of cans here and there. Becki tells me that Sgt. L. has turned this into a competition between classes. Each child in the winning class will get chocolate as a reward. She tells me that the food is almost overwhelming at this point, it is climbing the walls.
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At the last City Council meeting, our Clerk told me their donations were getting out of hand. So the boys and I picked it all up today. The van is full. We had food, and outerwear. Someone left a baby layette, including a yellow and green quilt and pillow, matching crocheted sweater set and clothing. It was all in a nice plastic bag. That is until I got to the van with it in hand. The plastic bag broke and it all fell in the street. It's been drizzling for 2 days. I was heart sick.
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I passed out penny jars to local businesses today , and I stopped at the Library. The new director, who is the son of a former alderman, agreed to sponsor a food drive. My friend, Debby, is organizing it. Because of the economy, there are a lot of kids and adults alike who can't afford late fees. They've decided that for each can or boxed good, or for every 4 packs of Rahman noodles, brought in, $1 would be knocked off late fees, or a voucher would be issued for the next late fees.
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When Debby told her boss my name, he asked me if I knew Ed. Apparently he teaches at U.C.L.A. (University Closest to LaGrange Avenue) and Ed has him for College 101. I should have mentioned that Ed also attended Boy Scouts with his little brother and his cousin. Didn't think of it then. The director's father, though, has helped us out quite a bit over the years.

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Needless to say, I am in awe. There are so many reaching out to us. The only drawback so far, other than the layette, was that another friend bought me twenty pairs of stretch gloves. I put them in the van and left them there. I figured I'd lose them in the house, or forget about them altogether. Last week Becki went out to the van first thing in the morning. She found the driver's seat flat, and cigarette ashes all over the middle seat. (I refuse to lock it. It's a '94. God only knows if I can unlock it again.) She said that flumes of fresh smoke wafted out the door when she opened it. Considering none of us smoke, we decided that a homeless person must have spent the night there. And now I can't find those gloves. I wonder if he didn't take them, keep a pair or two and pass the rest out. I mentioned it to George. She said just what I expected. "Stolen or not, they got to someone who needed them." Okay, so they were meant to keep someone's hands warm who couldn't afford to buy them for themselves. How can I get angry?
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I won't be around as much as I'd like at this point just simply because of the season. I'll be working harder and longer this year. We have lots of donations now, but whether we can hang onto this level of participation is the question. So if I don't get on before the holidays, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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Pizza, July 28, 1994, to November 9, 2008
We love you, and we miss you, my beautiful lady

3 comments:

kbear's heart 2 said...

Thanks for droppin in during your busiest season. my heart goes out to you for Pizza, think i'll miss her too. all the food sounded delicious. happy to get an update on you even if it's been awhile. Happy Holidays. until i see you again..take care~kbear

Jimmy's Journal said...

Sorry to hear about Pizza. Animals are special little things and the pain runs deep. Sorry you're feeling down. I hopw you feel better.

By the way, strawberries and chocolate cures most ills.

Jimmy

Possum S. Hemmingway said...

Pizza's a cute kitty! I didn't know her, but I'll miss her. Feel better!

Possum