My Homemade Mother's Day Gift

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You see, I have to get my breakfast...

I stagger out of bed at 4:30 am each morning... well, if you don't count the 4:20 am preamble to getting up.  The one where I get out of bed, stumble over to the desk, hit the 10 minute snooze button and get back under the covers.  On rare occasions, I'll hit it a second time, but I always sorely regret having done that.

I have learned to shower in my sleep, to drive a car while in a state of insensibility and to begin my work-day while simultaneously bordering on the edge of REM until I consume enough coffee to jolt me into consciousness.

I'm uncertain as to the age of the building in which I work but they have a very unusual distribution of equipment.  There is a kitchen at the far end of the building which houses a large ice machine but their coffee maker spits out ice cold water on the grounds, making for a less than palatable cup of coffee.  At the other end of the building is another kitchen, with a working coffee maker but the ice maker doesn't make ice.  So I arrive at work a little before 6:00 am, abandon my belongings at my desk, forage around for the items I need to take with me-like my coffee cup, my insulated water glass, perishable lunch items and anything that may need to heated for breakfast, head for kitchen number one to start making the coffee.  The recipe is one packet per pot but the coffee is pretty weak so I add another  packet... I need a substantial pick me up that early.  Once the coffee is started and my lunch items are deposited in the over full refrigerator, I head for kitchen number two to get ice in my water glass.

This morning, the scoop was buried under an avalanche of ice.  Apparently the last person to use it failed to put it back in the holder.  I wash my hands and begin digging through the craggy frozen nuggets of ice trying to grasp enough of the ice scoop to pull it free from its glacial tomb.  The little lumps are adhering to each other and what is coming lose is sharp.  I finally grab the handle and pull it free striking my arm against the door which gives way and slams down on my hand.

If you yell obscenities into an empty building and no one is around to hear, does it really make a sound?

There is usually me and one or two others, IT (internet technicians) guys in the entire building that early.  I rarely make contact with them.  I know they're there because when I arrive, there are almost always 2 other cars besides my own, one on the front parking lot and one in back where I park. But being there is one watering hole with a working coffee machine, from time to time our paths will cross.

This morning, after returning back to kitchen number one, as I'm pouring my first cup of the much needed molten stamina, one of the two IT guys, saunters past me to the vending machine and deposits his coins into the coin slot to obtain a soda.  The soda clangs loudly as it crashes to the bottom.  I hear the coins tinkling yet again, this time into the snack machine to obtain one of the packaged pastries for his nutritionally challenged breakfast.  After a couple of garbled expletives, his fist makes an explosive contact with the vending machine, which, I imagine, gave back as good as it got.  More expletives, and another blow.  Having just become a victim in my own battle, man against machine, I turn to watch as he then lifts the machine off the ground and rocks it back and forth, crashing and banging until the machine agrees to yield him his pastry.

I sip my coffee and stare in wonderment.  Finally he unhands the misappropriating mechanism, reaches down, retrieves his pastry and saunters over to the coffee pot.  "Did you get it?" I say admiringly.

He nods.

I laugh.  "You know," I say still smiling, "there are statistics that somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen people a year die from vending machines falling on people."

He holds up the cellophane wrapped danish menacingly and says flatly, "You see, I had to get my breakfast."

I nodded.

It's the hunt.  Men no longer bring home the kill.  They bring home a pay check.  They drive to work, they passively sit at a desk, they quietly do their job... but all the while that cave man is in there, always there and at the most opportune rare moments, they get the opportunity to reach into the depths of their being and become the neanderthal that still lurks in the recesses of their brains.

Thirteen people a year die from taking on the vending machine and falling prey to it's retaliatory aggression.  Although, in the end, just prior to them losing balance and being crushed under the weight of the pilfering monstrosity, there was that moment of refusing to stand down and accept defeat, and their proclamation was, "You see,  I have to get my breakfast."

I gathered my mug of coffee and my water glass and grabbed a spoon for my yogurt and as I headed back to my desk, I glanced down at the roughed up skin on my arm and the bruise on my hand and thought, "I totally get that."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The last lovely day of Autumn...

Some things come about at such slow intervals you don't notice the pivotal moment of modification.  One day you look to discover the transition has already occurred in plain sight without detetection.  Your child becomes a teen... your hair turns gray... your pants don't fit.  The transitions are so gradual, when you suddenly realize that you've witnessed a huge change and you're pondering how and when it came about. 

But some things, you see them encroaching upon you in the distance, edging closer and closer. You're intently aware there are modifications looming on the horizon.  Today was that day... the last day of a beautiful Autunm. 

The summer was blisteringly hot and dry.  Dry to the point I was concerned we might even lose our trees.  The sump pump in the basement which was the replacemnt for its well worn predecessor never ran.  We went to Grant's Farm on one of the many, many 100° days we endured over the summer, and it was even more than the African Elephant was willing to tolerate.  At the end of the day, the children were wilted.

Our trees survived, as did the children and the Elephant at Grant's Farm.  Toward the end of August, the weather finally broke and the rains came.  Despite my usual angst toward the arrival of Autumn, I can honestly say that this year, I felt a strange anticipation for  Fall to arrive with cooler days and rain.  And while the stress of the heat and drought had made for a trying summer, it has certainly developed into a brilliant fall.  The trees this year were vivid reds and golds and greens and oranges and all the shades and hues between and the hills were flamboyantly ornate. 

Just at the end of June, I had made a $50 purchase of potted Gerbera Daisys & Red Geraniums on clearance at a local open air market. I couldn't get them in the ground that weekend and by the next week, the weather had dramatically deteriorated into fiery days and steamy nights with no relief.  I kept thinking it would break and tried to hold off planting them under the glowering rays but the heat intensified and the ground cracked and the flowers began dying despite my attempt at guardianship.  So I soaked the flower bed one evening for several hours so I could get the shovel into the impenetrable bed and insert the plants, hoping for the best.  I didn't expect they'd survive... and for a while it looked pretty bleak.  I lost several plants despite the late night waterings.  The sun and heat were reletntless and nothing I did could quite overcome the offense. 

But finally the rains came. The foliage turned a rich dark green.  A rainbow of color popped out in late August and the incinerating brutality of former days seemed entirely forgiven.  The weather remained pleasant and rains were more plentiful and the flowers filled their bed and at the first cold snap, the trees began to compete with the flowers as if to brandish brilliantly their ability to transcend the floral beauty by their enormity. The hills were an emblazened palate of crimsons and ambers and lemons and flaming coppers and burnished brass.  Stepping outside, driving thru the country, or just looking out the window overwhelmed the senses with the dazzling array of color everywhere. 

It was a glorious Autum.

Thursday was a record setting 85°,  and as I walked through the neighborhood, the yards were blanketed with lush green grass peeking through blankets of fallen leaves of reds and golds and the trees were vibrant and the sky was blue and the flowers still copiously flourishing their beds.  It was a lot to take in on a late October afternoon as my mp3 player pounded the piano of Yurima in my head.  I was glad we'd taken the drive up to Augusta on Sunday, despite the overcrowded state of the wineries.  The vision of the rolling hills was worth the lack of elbow room and the strenous climb to the top of the hill for lack of parking spaces.

But everything has a shelf life and while some things end without notice, this phenomenal Fall was not one of them.  Friday morning, the temperature had dropped into the low 40's and the wind was gusting up to 50 mph and the temperatures were expecting to fall at night into the 30's. And when I came home early from work, I tried to take it all in. 

The trees were already exhibiting signs of the ravages of the glacial gales.  I tried to talk Steve into covering the flower bed with a tarp to preserve the flowers a few more days and he readily agreed that he had the means but made no attempt toward accomplishing the goal.  It was merely a futile attempt to inhibit the impending winter. 

This morning the lovely flowers are crumpled and the leaves lie at the base of the naked trees in heaps and gobs of faded color... and the awesome Autumn has come to an ignominious end.  I know there's also beauty in winter but I dread the cold and the ice and the snow.  Its the kind of beauty I see from the window and wish away for more temperate days. 

143 days till spring and counting...