Saturday, November 24, 2007

Full Moon in Gemini

Full Moon in Gemini means: letters are answered; communications come to fruition; good time for socializing; good time to plan trips or otherwise escape dull responsibilities; heightened ability to see the world from two different angles, or to make up your mind; excellent time to study languages and memorize poetry; and you can access double your normal amount of charm.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why I Hide from Salvation Army Bell-Ringers

They're out in front of the grocery store, the Wal-Mart, the K-Mart; they're on the streetcorners downtown, uptown. . . And I will turn around and abjure the groceries or whatever I need, and go home, and return at an odd hour when the Salvation Army charity-bucket bell-ringers are sure not to be there. Or I won't return at all.

I'm not the only one that cringes upon hearing the unceasing dink-dink-dink-dink that starts in November and lasts into January. At a supermarket that had two entrances rather far apart I saw most customers avoid the entrance where the bell-ringer stood, and enter and exit the other. The bell-ringer picked up his red bucket and moved to that entrance, trying to nab the sneaky shoppers -- who again escaped him, through the other door.

I suppose many of us enjoy giving to charities, especially good and noble ones such as the Salvation Army. But I am tired of being begged for money, to give more and more of it, when I have less and less of it. In fact I am falling behind, being forced to pay $3/gallon for gasoline, $365 a year to park in my own employer's lot, $700 for a tank of propane, $500 deductible when a carefree trucker let debris fly off his trailer, smashing my car's front end; $25 for a haircut so that my students won't say, "Did you know your hair is a half-inch longer on one side than the other?" (I tend not to look that closely at myself, but students see everything, including cheap clothes and assembly-line haircuts.) Our employer even volunteers to deduct from our paychecks funds for those less fortunate, via The United Way, and plants a United Way rep right in our office to guilt us into giving.

I resist where I can. Rarely, I salve my conscience by dropping into the bucket a quarter or a buck. Or if I pass the bell-ringer as I enter, I might promise, "I'll give when I come back out." And then I'll sneak back out, if possible. Either way the ringer -- poor brave shivering fellow -- says "God bless you."

I'm blessed in countless ways, including the fact that I don't have to take charity myself. But I need to be blessed with more money so I'd feel glad to give -- instead of shamed because I can't.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Set a Spell and Eat Somethin

Road maps used to call them "waysides," but now they're marked with this sign, and have no name. "Rest stops" have "facilities". This sign indicates the facilities are a shade tree and a picnic table, so there's nothing to do but park, unpack your picnic basket, sit down, and enjoy.

That is my idea of what heaven will be like: just like this life, but with infinite choices and no sickness. I fancy myself and companions on the road from Shakespeare's new play to Cab Calloway's nightclub, settin' and refreshin' ourselves with lemonade and roasted-vegetable sandwiches, or Italian-flag sandwiches with tomato, mozzarella and basil, all drizzled with olive oil, don't forget the pepper and salt and peperoncini. . . . Divine picnic baskets never run out of food, and especially never run out of desserts. Cake and ice cream? Cherry pie and hot coffee? Frozen grapes? Ask and ye shall receive.

I keep this sign, a replica of the official ones (I see very few indeed!) tacked up my porch to remind me how simple and how near is heavenly bliss.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Backwoods Beachfront

You wouldn't know by looking, but this house was once a beachfront house, and it's sitting on a fortune.

Aeons ago a shallow lake covered the Midwest, and of course it had a beach. Its sand got weathered by wind, not water. The result was a vein of 99 percent pure white St. Peters silica sandstone, five miles wide, running from Minnesota down to to Missouri. My house perches right on it.

The cliff got detonated for road widening in 2002. Where it's been in the open air for some years, oxidation and water has turned the sandstone gray or red. Not far away there's a silica mine. In 50-lb. bags the old beachfront goes to make glass, chinaware, white paint, municipal water filters, and, coarse-ground, it's sold to make sand traps on golf courses. I like it just the way millions of years have left it.