24-7 Family Togetherness Time

For lack of a coherent entry, I thought I'd ramble a bit…

I never quite found a way to believe that my little blue planet took the opportunity of wintertime to point away from the Sun, not until I looked up one icy, sunny winter day and saw the rainbows. Every year after that, they came back, like the ice, my silent friends of wintertime afternoons. Only in midwinter was the sunlight angled correctly to stream in through the picture window, where it would be refracted through the cut-glass panes of my mother's coffee table.

If you looked up, straight ahead, toward the kitchen, you would see the horizontal rainbows splayed against the ceiling. They would show up first as white globs of light, then sharpen into rainbows, and then quietly fade over the course of the afternoon.

On the days of ice storms, they gave me something else to watch besides the glass-sculpture world outside the window.

When will the stickers come down?

Summer came and went, and autumn glided in, soft and quiet like sunset. The leaves on the oaks turned neon yellow and cherry red, and then began to float down and away. Given the timing this year, it was almost as though the trees were made of American flags instead of bare twigs and branches; the more leaves fell, the more I noticed the flags.

Everywhere. I had come to take it for granted that I only saw the flags of my country by the courthouse and the nearby middle school. Every time I ventured out this fall, there were more of them, the previously-ignored symbol suddenly a commodity.

It was the bumper sticker to have. Flag ties, tie pins, earrings, shirts. What was it about eagles and the phrase "United We Stand" that made me feel alienated instead of united?

Illinois: You'll do, miss. You'll do.

I get asked sometimes about the kind of people I meet when I travel. Mostly because I always seem to come back with stories of the people that I didn't intend to meet, but somehow managed to bump into, anyway.

When I travel alone, I ask a lot of questions. Telling perfect strangers that you're a writer is almost tantamount to asking them for the story of their life; stand there quietly, perhaps with a pen and a piece of paper, and the world opens up to you. The next thing you know, you're sitting on a park bench with someone who formerly looked like everyone else (but who now is suddenly very interesting), and they're telling you the story of their life, their loves, and why they live where they live.

It's fascinating, and it's very, very addicting.While in Illinois, I took two day trips to Springfield. The first I devoted mostly to Lincoln-related sightseeing.

The monument dwarfs individual humans.  I am at the center of the photo, and can barely be seen.Amy, Lincoln Memorial

Tally sheets: the summertime of the soul

I'll say this: I don't hate the holidays. I hate the blues that come with them, every year, like clockwork. I've struggled to write this week, and I have a feeling that it's not going to get much better between now and December 26th.

This week—and the past two days in particular—have been difficult, through a convergence of events; some expected, some not. I knew that this December would be difficult for me, and there were times this year that I said to myself, "I have to enjoy what I have now, because I know what's coming." With Jessica's leaving Huntsville this morning, the last of that 'summertime' ended. Heather is now a resident out in D.C., and Jess is now back in Mobile (temporarily, until she begins grad school next fall).

Stardust: a glorious, flaming death

Phone call: "We'd like to come over and stay. We'll get up at three and go outside to watch the meteors. Since you live so far out of town, yours is really the best place to be to watch these go by."

I wasn't hopeful. In my entire life I'd seen two meteors—at least, I thought they were meteors—but they were brief, inconsequential moments. Nothing to write home about.

But I told everyone to come over anyway. I stayed up late, talking to a friend, and then got up at the 3:30 ring of the alarm to get up, dress once again, and go outside. Heather, Jess, and Gareth joined Jeff and I a moment or two later. Tim and Kat drove over and were here shortly thereafter.My lack of excitement about the meteor shower went away from the moment I opened the back door. I saw my first meteor before I even got the door entirely open. Suddenly I felt excited, exhilarated—I realized this was going to be a bit more memorable than I'd been giving it credit for.

Don't start anything!

I miss my little, friendly, Huntsville airport. It was, once, my favorite place to fly out of, but after September 11, I think it is safe to say that the airport I once knew is gone. Perhaps forever.

Yesterday afternoon I drove to the airport to pick up John; my first visit to an airport in several months. I'd nurtured some vain and tiny hope that perhaps reasonability would have prevailed in Huntsville, and that airport security would not have shut down the metered parking.As I pulled around to the front of the airport, I realized two things: one, that metered parking was closed off by a large volume of orange cones, and two, that I'd have to circle around the airport because there was no place to turn off.

The swath of orange cones was disturbing in its own right, but even more so were the three camouflage-colored Humvees guarding them. No one sat in the vehicles, but there were numerous men dressed in camouflage and carrying weapons.