Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Preparedness, parades, and the sacred axe.

My brother suggested that the axe that chopped my head may turn out to be extraordinary. His email to me:

It has all the trappings of a sacred object. It belonged to a deceased and legendary figure. It traveled a great distance. It had a period of obscurity (blanket wrapped, in the car). Its discovery had dramatic consequences. If the same series of events occurred in a Sicilian village, they'd be on the next boat to Rome.
We're glad you are ok. Please understand that blood HAD to be spilled. That's the way these things work. It's nothing personal.

Seamus and I were in the Dogwood Parade, a big annual event here in C'ville. I have to wonder about parades. All in the name of "fun" we and thousands of other people endured almost unendurable inconvenience. First there was the traffic jam. We were in the left lane because a left turn was necessary, and I knew that and had taken my place at the end of the line in the left lane and patiently crawled forward. Meanwhile, loads of cars whizzed past us on the right and then cut into the left lane near the top of the line. This type of behavior is infuriating. And I'm not talking about a few cars here and there. I'm talking about two huge tour buses, a host of vans from a local military academy, and just about every other car in the right lane as well. Almost no one wanted to go straight, but they all wanted to cut in front of me. All this frustration because a parade is supposed to be "fun." How is this fun? Eventually, I gave up on ever getting anywhere near the point where I could turn, got into the right lane, zoomed away and, miraculously, found city street parking only a few blocks from the parade staging area.

Then there was the long, hot wait for it to be our turn to march. MrMcP and his group would be riding bikes and when the parade started, a woman who was sort of in charge of us shrilled, "Get your bikes ready! Everybody get on your bikes and be ready!" All the kids stood straddling their bikes and it was more than an hour before it was our turn to march. And it was so hot. Here's Mr. McP and me, waiting.

I told him he'd always remember the day he was in the Dogwood Parade and he said, "I'll remember the pain." I amused myself by thinking snarky thoughts about some of the parade groups that passed us, and longed for a laptop, so I could have done bitchy commentary in real time.

How 'bout that swine flu? Here in Charlottesville, there's a pandemic flu preparedness committee that for two years has been sending out notices with our water bills or our kids' report cards, to stock up on food and water in case of a flu pandemic.

Yesterday evening, I was out grocery shopping and I noticed that the shelves were eerily bare of the sorts of foods that people might think it sensible to stock up on in case of a pandemic. There wasn't a single box of Cheerios left on the shelf. I thought maybe I should buy a few things to augment the secret food stash I keep under my bed. I started that stash last summer when food prices were really high and I thought I would soon need a wheelbarrow of cash to buy my kids breakfast. I bought a large can of yams (for vitamin A) and an extra jar of spaghetti sauce (for vitamin C). At home, I rooted under the bed and found a single grocery bag which contained one jar of peanut butter and three cans of salmon. That's it? I could have sworn I'd hidden some crackers to spread the peanut butter on. Mr. McP commented that he thought there'd been some beans under the bed, but then I remembered that I'd taken the beans for some reason. What can I say. It must have been an emergency.

Jon is in Santa Fe on a work-related outing. I sure wish I could escape to a fabulous mountaintop retreat in beautiful Santa Fe and get paid for it, so I was a bit cross when Jon called home and sounded miserable and complained of feeling tired. I told him that if he couldn't handle the jet lag between Virginia and Santa Fe, what was he going to do when we went to Rome? Later, he called me back to say that his problem is altitude sickness.
Me: Oh, so it's a good thing you aren't smoking while you're on this retreat.
Jon: I'm smoking right now.
Me: But you said you wouldn't and you need the oxygen!
Jon: I'm just smoking three cigarettes a day.
Me: Your sats are probably in the 80s right now.
Jon: Three-four cigarettes a day. Five, max. It doesn't matter. They gave me chlorophyll.
Me: So your body is able to make energy from the sun now?
Jon: I think I'm losing the connection.

Later, he texted me: "POOH POOH ON YOUR ALTITUDE SICKNESS. I'M GOING TO JUMP THE WALL AND GET SOME MEAT AND BEER." The Zen Buddhist retreat center that is housing him serves only vegetarian meals and there is no alcohol. I'm astonished that the kale-eating crowd he's hanging with hasn't shunned him for smoking. He must be sneaking out to the woods to do it.

This is what I want: I want Isaac Mizrahi to come to my house and help me get dressed.


  1. We talked about stocking up on foods, but then realized that we have pretty much all we need, since Ro-Tel was on sale a couple weeks ago and Pete saw fit to buy 10 cans. Then, I came across our favorite tostadas on sale and bought a great quantity. Priorities. :-)

  2. First, your brother is awesome. Second, people who drive past and then cut in at the last minute are the lowest form of scum. Third, I am so very sad that you did not have a laptop for the live commentary.

    As to the rest (this counting thing is getting tiresome), your emergency food stores are impressive, and I think you look pretty darn cute in the parade shot---like Isaac dressed you even.

  3. I'll forage for roots and early berries if it comes to it before I start stockpiling canned food from Walmart.

    Ah, parades. Fun to watch. Not fun to be in, IMHO.

  4. I was so busy stocking up on antibacterial gel that I never considered stocking up on food.

    They say there could be many
    potential cases of the flu here in Orlando, because we have so many international tourists.

    I probably have enough eggs, cheese and veggies to make omelets for a few days.

  5. I love that conversation with Jon.