Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Okay, is this a good sign or a bad one? I went into work today--I'm always there first--and the only lights on in the place were these on a string next to the door toward my office. I Laughed Out Loud.
It's just so half-hearted! Kind of expresses the atmosphere around work this year. We're still basically upbeat people making the best of a situation, but it's becoming hard to maintain the big grins.
Tomorrow we have a meeting and the Christmas/Momalisa's birthday celebratory lunch, this time at a tea room a few cities away. We often go to the festive Smoke House at this time of year because it's within walking distance and it's wonderfully old school. George Clooney named his production house after it (it's across from Warner Brothers.) But it'll be fun to do something different since we have the time to go further this year.
I know, I know. You've seen enough sunset from behind my house to last you a lifetime. But I haven't. Not quite yet.
Oh my gosh! I had to crop this image out of a larger one because I spent a good part of the day working on Christmas gifts and some of the recipients read this blog from time to time!
You'll have to wait till after Christmas to see what I did with these colors.
I also baked a bunch of Scotch shortbread today. The house smells so good.
There were a lot of clouds over the mountains across the valley. I made myself a one-egg omelet with avocado and cheddar cheese with sun-dried tomatoes and took it out to the deck and watched the sky move overhead while I ate. With my hood up. It was like 50 degrees out.
But it was sooo wonderful to be home to witness the storm moving in.
Yeah, I'm wandering around Toluca Lake feeling all nostalgic because I'm going to be basically laid off after Thursday the 20th.
I do very much enjoy my morning routine, saying hi to the Three Musketeers, etc. I ended up sitting here transcribing an entire conversation between a man in his late forties and a World War Two vet. Practicing my Truman Capote skills.
For me, it's an interesting mix of what I can actually get down and what I have to go back and reconstruct. What the heck. Here's the whole thing.
You are not obligated to read the whole thing. But if you do, let me know that you did, huh? If it's interesting to you as a bare bones conversation. These guys were sitting behind me and I couldn't see their interaction.
I’m the first one at Bob’s this morning, minutes before five. I couldn’t sleep so I drove on down. I’m not ready to order breakfast.
A guy takes a booth in front of me. When his food is delivered I can smell ham and Tapatio sauce. Usually there are too many intermingled scents for me to discern what’s going on around me.
The next guy sits two booths away. All of us face the front of the restaurant like we’re on a train. Like we’re going somewhere. Two booths away, but I can smell the syrup when he pours it over his pancakes. I’m starting to get hungry.
Lovely old white haired man walks into Bob’s Big Boy at 5:22 in the morning with a man in his late-forties.
Lovely white haired old man returns my welcoming smile and says, “Good morning, young lady” with great warmth.
He and I are both happy with the lie.
They take the booth behind me. The younger man encourages the older to order whatever he wants.
“You don’t have your glasses?” he asks. “Okay.” And he proceeds to very deftly read most of the menu aloud as if he’s just auditioning things for himself.
“Oh, a waffle with fruit, wow. That sounds good. Or the bacon and eggs, I think I might get that. Maybe. Oh, how about the Big Boy Scramble? That looks good.”
“Eggs, ham, onions, peppers, all together, with hash browns and toast, English muffin or biscuit. That sounds good.”
They order. The older man orders the scramble. The younger man orders egg whites, bacon, cottage cheese instead of hash browns, dry toast.
“You want egg whites?” the waitress asks the older man.
“Oh, no. Give me the whole egg-- cholesterol and everything.” He chuckles.
The younger man gets a cell phone call. The person on the other end isn’t feeling well. Isn’t going to work today. But will pick him up at the airport. He asks about the weather.
“Clear but windy,” he says, “At least we’ll be low on fuel by the time we crash. Right?”
The older man laughs.
“Most of the fuel is in the wings, you know.”
“You knew that? About the fuel in the wings?”
“Oh yeah,” and the older man tells him about old war planes, how the early ones in had their machine guns synchronized to shoot between the propeller blades.”
“That doesn’t even seem possible does it? How’d they do that?”
“I don’t know,” the older man says. I wonder if he used to. I know about the synchronization because Hydra told me. The engine and the gun are linked.
“How long has this place been here, you think?” the younger man asks, “Over fifty years you think?”
“Oh, easily. It was here when I first got here.”
“When was that?”
“Forty-eight, so that’s more than fifty—that’s like sixty years.”
“Yup. Right after the war.”
“My grandfather was born in 1895. He was in World War I.”
“Oh, he would have been.”
“He would have, been what? Like twenty when it started.”
“And it lasted how long?”
“He was there the whole time I guess. Where you in the Second World War?”
“Did you ever have bullets whizzing past your head?”
“Oh yeah, oh yeah. Many times. I was in a house and the V2 bombs came in and leveled the house over us. We were in the basement.”
“Where there people upstairs?”
“So—People died up there? In the house?”
“Oh yeah. I was knocked out. I must have passed out and when I woke up the house was down around me. When I woke up there was a guy there—I’ll never forget it–he was completely under the house—the boards and everything--just his leg sticking out from under. I’ll never forget that.”
“Was he dead?”
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah.”
“Because sometimes a guy can have his legs crushed, I’ve heard about this, and they’re still alive but as soon as you relieve the pressure it causes blood clots and stuff and you die instantly.” I saw that same episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets. They did it again years later on Grey's Anatomy. Based on a true story from the New York subway system.
Their food is delivered.
“How was the food over there?”
“It was okay.” Takes a bite. “When we were in towns, it was okay. Otherwise, it was K Rations.”
“What country were you in over there? Where you in Germany?”
“Did you meet any women over there?”
“No, not in Germany.”
“They were hiding, huh?” Laughs. “Did you get to France or anywhere? Did you meet any girls?”
“Yeah, in France.”
“Did they like American men?”
“Oh yeah. Yeah.”
“How’s your food? Is that good?”
“A lot of people who went over there became heavy drinkers. Because of the trauma, the mental trauma. But you never drank. Why is that?”
“I never tried it. I never wanted it.”
“You never even had a glass of wine?”
“Well, yeah, I tried it, but I never tried to get drunk.”
“You’ve never been drunk?”
“Never. I didn’t like it. Didn’t like the taste.” Pauses to eat. “Never had a cigarette. Never even tried it. Just never wanted it.”
“This movie’s supposed to be about vampires.” The younger guy laughs.
“This movie I’m going to Florida to work on. Vampires. Flying vampires.” Laughs. “When I get back to New York, I’m going to shoot a wild turkey. Have some wild turkey breast for Christmas.”
“Oh yeah? Where are you going to shoot it?”
“From my backyard. Right in my back yard. They travel around in groups of twenty. I see deer, all kinds of wildlife in my backyard. I’ve caught more than 20 raccoons in my Hav-A-Heart trap. I shot a beaver with my pellet gun.”
“A pellet gun wouldn’t kill a beaver would it?”
“If you shoot it about fifty times, it will. The first time I shot it I got it in the head and it jumped in the water and swam around in circles. I shot it again and again for twenty minutes. Had to kill it and get it out of there. That’d mess up the whole pond, a dead body in there. I’d just planted a willow and the damn thing ate it. That’s why I shot it.”
“Oh, I wondered.”
“Yeah, I planted another willow, but I had to get rid of the beaver or it would have eaten that one too.”
“Usually they dam up streams, you know. I don’t know why it came to my pond.
"Can we get the check?” He asks the waitress. “Twenty-five dollars for gas this morning. There was a time when I wasn’t counting my money. I’d carry five hundred dollars in cash.”
He gets the bill, looks at it. “Guess what they’re getting for a cup of coffee these days?”
“Huh. You been to that place downtown, on Alameda? The sandwich with gravy on it. Not gravy, that sauce. Old place, been around for a hundred years. French Dip.” He’s talking about Pierre’s. I’ve eaten there. Sawdust on the floor. Good mustard.
“Oh, that famous place? I’ve heard of that, but I’ve never been there.”
“They have breakfast for two fifty. Cup of coffee is ten cents.”
“Still? Two fifty?”
“And ten cents for coffee.”
“Well they’re losing money on that. How do they make their money?”
“On lunch, maybe on lunch. They could add a dollar to that price and make a killing.”
The younger guy goes up to the register to pay. Comes back.
“So that writer’s strike. A lot of money is being lost all over because of that.”
“Yeah, I don’t know much about it. Seems like the writers don’t want that much.”
“Residuals. The Internet, it’s getting to be more and more important. When you get a computer, you should get a laptop. Take it with you wherever you go. You don’t need one of those big ones.”
“You have one?”
“Yeah, in my briefcase. You don’t need a big one, just a laptop. There’s no point in getting a big one, you don’t need that kind of power. Just to get on the Internet.”
This is the opposite information I would give. Desktops are cheaper, more powerful for the money and can be more easily upgraded.
“When you want one, let me know, I’ll go with you. Actually, I have a friend works in computers, he can get you one. Maybe I can get you one for free.”
“Yeah, maybe. Anyway, thanks for the ride.”
They get up and head for the Burbank Airport. I stay behind and type.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
As I hoofed it up the hill toward the house at the end of my hike/walk this evening, I heard these kids walking up the street talking, gearing themselves up to sing, but I thought they were just goofing around.
They knocked on the door as I was walking into the bedroom in my sweats to change into p.j.s.
"Oh, no," I heard, "That's the second one!" I hadn't clearly heard their knock and I wasn't sure they were on the front porch.
"She's coming back!" I heard as I popped back into the library. I guess you can see right through those sheers when you're outside in the dark.
This excited bunch from the Vasquez High School Service club also left me a candy cane with a note of cheer and a couple of little pom pons attached... and no strings! They didn't ask me to contribute to anything.
[EDIT: Oops! Forgot to mention that they sang a cheery "Jingle Bells" while they were here. Thanks, Raul V!]
Very cool. I'll write a note of thanks and send it over to the high school. And to think only yesterday I was dissing their namesake!
Have I mentioned recently how much I love my little town?