Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Scrambles the Death Dealer

Merry Christmas. Thank God it's over. This has been one of our busiest Christmas's ever just simply because of the economy. We worked right up until Christmas Eve. For that matter, George might still be working. Bill and I both took ill Christmas Day, and still are.

Still, we had a good holiday. I hope everyone else did as well. Rather than go out on Christmas Eve like we usually do, I ordered a variety platter from Tetchnochitlan. There were 9 of us and the platter was suppose to hold enough for 20. We inhaled it along with a tray of Spanish rice and re fried beans. It seemed that as soon as people found out that's what we had, they ran in and ate and then disappeared.
I kept gifts down to a minimum just because the economy bit us in the ass, too. Even so, we are five adults here. It isn't like disappointing children. We did get two major gifts though, that has affected everyone. First off the boys got together and bought a brand spanking new tower. It has 9 gigs along with space to plug in two more 9 gig hard drives. It took me almost five years and four novels to nearly fill the memory on the other computer. I can't imagine how long it will be before this is filled or wears out.

Now, enter our other gift. Meet Scrambles the Death Dealer.
Not that long ago I mentioned that we had two secrets we were holding from Bill. Well the first one is above. (The second is a pipe dream. Which he is well aware of.) Becki came home not long ago saying that a friend of hers had kittens and we could have one if we wanted. I said no. Unequivocally, no. I have two too many cats now. No more. Just make sure it's a female so it hunts, because I hate mice. Okay, I have no back bone when it comes to pets. Jon said no. Okay, he'll even spring for shots and having it fixed. Ed said, no. No more. Okay, if he can name it. So we went from Rosey, which is what I wanted to call her to Scrambles the Death Dealer. Ed saw the name used in an Adult Swim cartoon and thought it was funny. (What scared the hell out of me was when one of Becki's acquaintances recognized the cartoon.) When Becki brought her home, she panicked when she saw Bill coming her way, and tried to pass her to me to hide. I know that won't work. Face it head on. So I dumped the cat in his lap. He said, "No. No more cats! Now what do we name it?" She's his baby. She plays all day until she wears out. Then she crawls into his lap and falls asleep. Anyway, she's about ten weeks old. The other cats started out hating her. They're both beginning to melt towards her, particularly Mike. Now that surprises the hell out of me.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Christmas Ghost

We had something of an experience that's well worth relating. When we first got our warehouse this year, we couldn't wait to explore it. It's huge, and way at the top floor of this mighty warehouse. It was a company that made spice packets to season chicken with. George told me that when they took over the space, it was incredibly filthy. We were all kind of stunned just because the company had to do with food. Anyway, George, Pat and some of the others cleaned the place from top to bottom before taking it over. She said they moved all the furniture left behind, placing all of it, except for one desk, in places where volunteers wouldn't be hampered by them. The one desk was this huge wrap around creation stuck in an office by itself. She decided in the end that we wouldn't use the office anyway, so left it be.

I avoid everyone when they clean warehouse space just because of my asthma. George told me she didn't have asthma, but understood because she was having some problems breathing.

So we made our first pick up and took it to the warehouse about a week after they cleaned. Once in and situated, we started exploring. There is a rather large factory space, and a small office with two private offices and a bank of cubicles. We wandered in and out. We checked out the refrigerator to see if Pat stocked it with anything good. Like Pepsi. Helped ourselves, and then checked out the private offices.

In one was this huge desk I referred to earlier. We were standing in the doorway oogling it. Becki got all excited. "Now I would really like a desk like that. I wonder if anyone would notice if it disappeared." She was joking. Anyway, she walked into to check it out when someone or something kicked her in the back of the leg.

I talked to George later as she wanted to know how much food we brought in. I mentioned how Becki had been kicked. She didn't say much, and I figured she probably thought I was nuts.

Tonight she told me that a week later, the psychic who checked out my house back in September was actually in the warehouse, in what they called 'Toyland', wrapping presents. 'Toyland' just happens to be the outer office. George asked her how things were going. The psychic said, "You know there's something wrong with that back office. Did someone here have an experience in there?"

Instantly George answered. "Ah, Becki said she was kicked in there."

"There's an old man in the back office. He says no one is going to take his desk."

Okay, daughter. One more time you left me with goosebumps!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's been a busy week. I want to say that we are winding down our Angel program, but we aren't. We're hot in the middle of it. Today was suppose to be our first delivery day. Funny thing happened, though. The electric was shut off at the warehouse. Now this is donated space, which we only operate for about a month or two tops, and someone usually picks up the utility bills. Well we were able to get in, but we couldn't work at night because we couldn't see what we were doing. So my friend, George, paid the bill. We missed a few days of work. So she crammed last night and today in order to catch up. (I work hard, but she works so much harder than everyone else. It's her baby, and I'm one of many, many babysitters.)

Usually what happens on delivery day is that about 80 people and about 30 cars follow one another from house to house dropping off Christmas cheer. We usually have a lot to go into each house, but as we deliver, we find there are so many people, we are tripping over each other. As Becki says, it seems that there is one group that works their tails off packing the stuff, and then one group who show up for delivery. It's like they revel in the credit for all the work we do. It was frustrating that the first in line to go into each residence were the ones that never helped out. After about 50 people piled into a house or apartment, the rest of us would be standing out in the cold. So we stopped going after a few years. George was always upset with me because of it. 'You did the work. You take the credit.' Well, we know what we did. We don't need someone to tell us 'Good job.' Okay, it's good to hear though. I've told her every year, 'We don't care. We're just happy to do what we do.'
Anyway, Gloria wanted to experience delivery this year, so planned to take the day, and she and Jon would follow the group around. Jon wasn't looking forward to it. When they got in this morning, they found that they had to help finish packing before deliveries could be attempted. George took a new approach because of the emergency. Once each family was packed, she sent it out in one car, and then began packing another family. Jon was thrilled to be on his own and not following a mob. Not only did he and Gloria get to experience the best part of delivery, but so did everyone else. Top that off with the idea that they pushed 30 families today. The way they used to do it, it took all day to get rid of 18 or 19 families. Then they picked up where they left off on Sunday. George is thrilled. She isn't working at all tomorrow. Next year, she says, this is what they're going to do. 'Fine,' I told her. 'Expect us on delivery day then.'
Of course I had families I asked to have help for. When Jon called to say they were almost done, he asked to me to please pick up for those family. Bill and I delivered to four families. Becki asked for help for 2 families. She has the first delivery in Chris's car. They will deliver it out on Wednesday. Once the other family is packed, they'll deliver that as well. It was a good day all the way around.

Ed is working his butt off on his end of the semester assignments. For his Music Appreciation class, he was expected to take in two concerts. He searched around for something that would qualify as his teacher's idea of a 'concert' and decided that maybe he'd take in an opera. So a few weeks ago, he talked Jon into going with him. It turned out that the only thing available was a Wednesday afternoon performance. So Becki volunteered to take Jon's ticket, as Jon was suppose to be in St. Louis that day. Ed met her at the train station after both finished school, and then walked from there to the Lyric Opera House. Becki goes to school on Michigan Avenue, which is like eight blocks east of the Lyric. She doesn't know that part of Downtown Chicago any better than Ed does. Somehow they found their way there, and home again.
Anyway, long story short, they sat way up in the top balcony, and they loved it. The music, they said, was exquisite, although it was hard to see. They warned me that I could never sit that high.
Ed still had to squeeze in another concert in order to finish the class. So this time he went online and ordered tickets from the Chicago Symphony at the Civic Opera House. He wanted to know if I was interested. I jumped at it. I figured no matter how high we sat, I would make myself enjoy it. After all I enjoyed my one and only time in the upper deck at the Cell. Of course after the game I swore I would never do it again.
So, we paid $22 each for what was called Gallary Seats. When Ed and Becki's friend, Richard, found out we were going, he went on line and ordered a ticket for himself. He spent $40 for a ticket on balcony below us. And better yet, he drove. We were prepared to take the train. The Civic is on Michigan, just down the street from Becki's school. It wouldn't have been a long walk at all. The way it worked out though, we actually saved money because we parked for less than 4 round trip tickets would have cost. (Barely. Parking for the afternoon was $25.)
We got there very early and rode up the elevator together. Richard got off on the fourth floor and we got off on the sixth. We found our seats immediately. It was the very last row at the top of the balcony. As we slipped into the theater, I turned to face the wall, and hugged it until we found our seats. I actually sat down. Then I kind of quietly freaked out. There was no way on God's green earth I could sit there and watch. I had to leave immediately. I very quietly asked the first usher I saw if I could hear the music if I sat in the lobby. I was really too frightened to move my lips enough to shout. I mean every move made me feel I'd fall forward. I guess I must have really paled because he understood me immediately. He promised to find me a place in the 'ballroom' where I could watch it on TV, and then he escorted me out.
Later both Becki and Ed felt guilty about me not watching the performance live. They almost went looking for the ballroom at intermission. They would never have made it back ontime to take their places if they had. I guess they thought about that and stayed put. What they didn't know is I never made it to the ballroom. Instead the house manager found me a seat on the ground floor. I couldn't freakin' believe it. I had the very last seat in the very last row, all by myself, in a small theatre. I literally traded in my $22 seat for something worth quite a bit more.
Talk about incredible. We saw 'Beyond the Score', which was a discussion about how Gustav Mahler wrote his 4th Symphony. It took him 12 years. The first half of the program had actors reading out what he did, how and why he did it. In between explanations, the orchestra played the passages the actors talked about. I hate to admit I almost fell asleep. I caught myself a few times during that first part. Even so I'm glad I didn't. I understood more about the piece than I expected I would. When they came back from intermission, the Orchestra played the entire 4th Symphony without a pause. I looked for those things they talked about. At one point, the actors described how closely together Mahler had written a passage for a low clarinet. That was followed by a louder clarinet, and by a third clarinet which was lifted into the air. All three came across differently even though they played the same notes. At another place in the first movement the actors described how this passage was to be really creepy. Believe me, it was. Anyway, we really enjoyed ourselves. And I'm glad.
I didn't really expect my kids to open themselves up to this kind of experience. Like I told Bill, I remember when at that age when the subject of classical music came up among my friends, they rejected it as something weird or odd. I've always liked classical music. No, I like all kinds of music. Unfortunately, where I enjoy almost everything, I am not educated in anything outside of classic rock. Anyway, we have promised ourselves that we will return for another concert. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.