It's that time of year again -- spring has returned to southern Louisiana (it came a bit early this year). The Live Oak trees are dropping carpets of pollen, and the baby's breath, ligustrums, jasmine, and azaleas are blooming everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except in the front yard of Grandma's old house, where the azalea bushes and other plants that stood there since the 1960's (I have photos to prove it) have been ripped up. I live near Grandma's old house, so I get to see a huge part of my childhood being remodeled beyond recognition on a daily basis. It was depressing before Grandma died, but since then, it's been especially hard.
The other day, I was riding my bike past her old house and "Copperline," by James Taylor, came on my iPod. (I got hear Taylor sing it live when I saw him in concert last year.) In the song, the singer waxes nostalgic about his favorite childhood haunt, Copperline, but he isn't bitter when he revisits it as an adult to find it's been "torn up good." These are the last lyrics, but with Copperline replaced by Seventh Street, where my Grandma used to live.
Day breaks and the boy wakes up
The dogs bark and the birds sing
The sap rises and the angels sigh
I tried to go back, as if I could
All spec house and plywood
Torn up and torn up good, down on Seventh Street
It doesn't come as a surprise to me
It doesn't change my memories
Now I'm lifting up and rising free, down over Seventh Street
I just got home from Shabbat services with the rabbi. Everyone at temple is busy busy getting ready for Purim, Pesach, our annual corn beef sandwich sale fundraiser, the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony, and all eyes are on Washington for the upcoming AIPAC conference. In fact, our rabbi will be flying up to DC to attend.
On the way home from temple, I biked to the grocery store to rent Midnight in Paris. Spring has finally arrived, and the night was so cool, with azalea bushes blooming everywhere you look. There were so many hanging baskets of petunias and impatiens for sale outside the store that I barely had room to ride my bike. There were also some little girls selling Girl Scout cookies. I bought a box of lemon cookies, and they're so good I might eat the whole box! Sara is out buying an Icee right now (she insists she can't eat popcorn without Coke or an Icee) and when she gets back we're watching Midnight in Paris -- with the only woman who can rival Cote de Pablo in sexiness, the breathtaking, beautiful, French Marion Cotillard!
And speaking of the French, on the art calendar, I'm looking at Avignon, Pont St. Bénezet, an 1836 photograph by Edouard Baldus. But if this is the fabled "sur le pont d'Avignon," then where are the people dancing?
After work today, Sara and I went for a walk in the cemetery, then I rode my bike over to Grandma's to pick tomatoes for her. (That's what I love about summer. The days are long enough to pack a lot into them.) Grandma seems to have given up on watering and/or picking from her garden since she's about to move, so I spent about five minutes just sitting on the grass picking all the cherry tomatoes in reach. The bellpepper and cucumber plants both looked so withered and sad, and as I was watering them, it occurred to me that by this time next month, Grandma will probably be completely moved out of that house. She's lived there for 47 years! It doesn't seem possible.
I've been meaning to post these photos for a while. They're not great, because I used the GE rather than the Kodak. (The Kodak has better picture quality, but the GE has way more storage space and its batteries last longer.) I took them over the last month or so. They make me think of the June words of my Emily Dickinson calendar:
A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer's morn -
A flask of Dew - a Bee or two -
A Breeze - a caper in the trees -
And I'm a Rose!
( Louisiana Flowers and Fresh Produce of Rebecca's Neighborhood (Lots of Photos) )
I took a few good photos in the cemetery today, but I will share those later. (Update: Well, I only ever got around to posting one, but you can see it here.)
I've discovered the trick to drinking more water is to chug it out of a wine bottle. I bought a cheap bottle of wine for Passover, and after the wine was gone (I didn't drink any) I saved the bottle and have been refilling it with water. I've never been big on drinking water - because it's healthy for you and I'm a very unhealthy eater - but I love tossing back that bottle and pretending I'm a wino. It's funny, because I never drink alcohol. The French couldn't get me drunk once when I was in their country for seven months, and neither could the Jews when I attended two Passover seders.
And it's about to be very important to stay hydrated, because I broke into a sweat while walking Sable today. And it's not even May yet! To make it all worse, in just a few more weeks, Season 8 of NCIS will be over! I hate the thought of having to spend another loooong hot summer waiting for new episodes. I plan to read and write a lot of fanfiction so I don't go into withdrawal. In fact, I will be entering my first ever ficathon here: ncis_ficathon. Egads, I'm so nervous. Wish me luck!
My NCIS final episodes master list. I also made one of these last year for Season 7; it's here.
Episode 8x22: Baltimore. Airdate: May 3.
After Tony's ex-partner Danny Price appears to be the P2P Killer's latest victim, he revisits his days as a detective in Baltimore, including his first encounter with Gibbs. Promo pictures here.
Episode 8x23: Swan Song. Airdate: May 10.
After new evidence reveals that the P2P killer has infiltrated the agency, the NCIS teams chase every lead in a race to track him down. Mike Franks and Trent Kort will appear, and also look for a small cameo by Jesse Stern! Promo pictures here.
Episode 8x24: Pyramid (Season 8 Finale). Airdate: May 17.
The lives of NCIS members are in jeopardy when they come face-to-face with the infamous P2P killer. And as if this weren't enough... we will find out what Gibbs has been building in his basement! Promo pictures here.
Cast Qutoes about Swan Song. Pauley Perrette: "Easiest crying scene ever." Jesse Stern: "I've never seen an episode like swan song before." Michael Weatherly: "We've got agents getting shot, chaos, mayhem, and super intrigue."
Tracking the killer will be deadly for at least one of the people involved.
TV Guide: "A politically savvy and powerful DC administrator steps into his new job driven to get things done with little concern for the consequences. The character is scheduled to have a substantive part in the end of this season, and possibly the beginning of the next."
P.S. What's the deal with all the excitement over the Royal Wedding? For a country that went to war to gain independence from Britain, Americans sure seem to love the British Royals.
Today I called the garage in New Orleans where Muse Watson (my car) is being fixed, and they said he would be ready to go by tomorrow! I'm super relieved, because tomorrow is my day off, and thus the only day that I can go to Nola and get him. I'm catching a ride there with my Jewish grandparents.
Spring is here again, and everything in the neighborhood is in bloom: the azaleas, the baby's breath, the pear trees. (The only exception is the crepe myrtles, which don't bloom until summer.) There are also carpets of live oak tree pollen everywhere. While it's all gorgeous to look at from behind a window, and I love the cool weather, it's made my asthma a lot worse. I've been riding my bike to and from work this week since I have no car, and my wheezing is so bad that I've had to start taking Singulair again.
Grandma's house in all its springtime glory. I took this on Easter Sunday last year. Grandma's planning to move in the fall, so this year will likely be the last Easter our family spends there. I still haven't quite accepted it. Sigh...
I had a dream the other night involving Ride a Wild Pony and NCIS. The Ray that Ziva's been seeing was somehow revealed to be Tony's long-lost brother. No, this isn't what I want or suspect to happen. And I can't control what I dream, okay?
These photos were taken within a week of each other, right outside my door. I like seeing the seasons change, but geez, it's supposed to take a little while to get from one to the next. Could the weather down here by any crazier? I think not.
You can't really tell, but those are frozen raindrops on the grass in this one. It was so cold!
This one was taken yesterday. The first little white flowers of spring! And notice how the grass is in focus (although perhaps too sharp, because I had to shrink the photo) while the background is blurry? I'm in geek heaven over this!
When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring, becomes the rose
I love these two photos so much. I'm so happy that I was able to get them both, even though I wish they were more uniform. These trees are just a few blocks away, and I ride my bike past them regularly.
It's not easy to find the four seasons here in Louisiana, but you can if you look.
I took this one on a bike ride last March. The trees were in full-bloom (they're Bradford Pear Trees, I think?) and so beautiful that I almost crashed my bike staring at them. Very "White Way of Delight," even if it is a little blurry.
I took this one on Christmas Eve. We never get fall foliage down here, so I was super excited when I saw this (and almost crashed my bike again). There's a little sunflare in this one because it was so bright that day.
While walking Sable today, I discovered three mulberry trees in our neighborhood. Like, within a stone's throw of my back door. I don't know how I didn't notice them sooner. They weren't really on anybody's property, so I picked as many berries as could (which wasn't much, because the branches were so high) brought them home in my shirt, washed them off, and ate them with sugar. They taste and look almost exactly like blackberries -- yum!
I saw my old third-grade teacher yesterday at work. With a few notable exceptions (like babygoose85), I hate running into former teachers and classmates, especially at work. I don't know why. I mean, most of the kids from my high school class are perfectly nice, friendly people (by senior year, I had figured out that on rainy days, all I had to do was stand under the awning next to the parking lot, and one of my classmates would offer me a ride home). But I just don't know what to say to them. Running into this particular teacher was especially traumatic. I immediately flashed back to when our class took a field trip and I had to share my seat on the school bus with her and she very nearly sat on me. And the last time I ran into her, in a Wal-Mart shortly after I finished third grade, she tried to hug me and literally turned and ran in the other direction. (I wonder if she remembers that.) I will never forgive the teachers who made me hug them when I didn't want to. It is not touching. It's inappropriate and inexcusable.
The first CD I ever bought, around spring 2000, was the soundtrack to The Sound of Music, and I've always lamented that certain songs in the movie weren't included on it. Mainly the reprise of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" that Maria and Liesl sing, and the reprise of "Do Re Mi" that the family sings at the concert. Yesterday the idea finally came to me -- why not just burn my own newer, better, stronger, faster soundtrack to The Sound of Music? So I'm compiling it in iTunes right now, putting on every bit of music that didn't make it onto the official soundtrack, as well as audio clips of some of my favorite quotes from the movie.
- When I walk Sable around the neighborhood now, the jasmine smell is so fragrant ... which is odd, because I have yet to spot the first jasmine blossoms of the year, and I know just where to look for them.
- When I call Cici's to order pizza, they no longer ask for my phone number. It's possible that they just stopped asking for phone numbers entirely, but I like to think that it's just for me, since I call them about once a week.
- My flip-flop tan is developing nicely. I only ever go out in them when I'm walking Sable, but that makes a big difference. I will post pictures eventually. (I also have a slighter sleeve tan on my arms, but that one I'm not proud of.)
- I have found a copy of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's cover of "Noe, Noe!" on YouTube. It's an extremely beautiful but mostly unknown Christmas song that I first heard when I attended Midnight Mass on a whim on Christmas Eve 2008. When I burned my Christmas CD last December, I almost cried over not being able to find a copy of it, and wanting to hear it again was the main reason I went back to Midnight Mass that year (I'm going to hell, I know). When I found it on YouTube last week, I immediately downloaded it onto my iPod, so now I'll have a permanent copy! The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is awesome!
Shortly after I got to work this morning, Sara called the store saying that the three outlets in our kitchen had suddenly stopped working. Which meant we had no toaster, microwave, or refrigerator.(They actually went out sometime yesterday, but we didn't notice immediately.) So on my lunch break, I had to haul butt home, parallel park on the street -- because our landlord chose today to repave part of our parking lot, so I couldn't get in the driveway, and I had only parallel-parked once before, and that was years ago! -- wolf down my quarter pounder, then drive back to work with Sara and my bike. I bought an extension cord from the store and she used it to plug the refrigerator into one of our living room outlets until the electrician came out and fixed the outlets in our kitchen. I'm still not totally sure what happened there, because Sara has been asleep since I came home, understandably exhausted from spending all morning on the phone with our landlords and electricity company.
Strangely enough, when I got back to work from lunch, Gina asked me what I'd had, and when I said a quarter pounder from McDonald's, she looked incredulous and asked, "You eat quarter pounders? You seem like more of a ... salad person." So she apparently doesn't know me at all (the word vegetable isn't even in my vocabulary!) whereas Josh knows me too well. When I mentioned how important a chocolate-fix can be, he said, "More important than your NCIS-fix, Rebecca?"
Nothing soothed down all the stress of the day as well as riding my bike home from work. The clocks sprang forward last weekend, so it was still light out and wonderfully cool. I didn't have my earphones, but my iPod speaker was in my purse because I listened to it on my way to work this morning, so I jerry-rigged everything into my bike basket and rode the whole way home with my music blaring. Riding by lots of front-yard barbecues and blooming Bradford Pear trees that smelt divine.
I just moved our truck back to the parking lot from where Sara parked it on the street, and Sable came along for the ride, so we drove around the neighborhood a bit with our windows down and his nose sniffing nonstop. For years we thought Sable was terrified of riding in a car, but it turns out he was just terrified of mom's driving. When I'm taking him somewhere, he practically leaps up into the cab. When I walked him today, he hardly even noticed the crew of guys paving the parking lot; not too long ago he would've been barking for their blood.
When I was about 10, this was one of my favorite songs, and I used to hum it to myself whenever I felt stressed or upset about something (even though I didn't really understand what it was about at the time). What I had to be stressed or upset about at that age, I don't remember. But anyway, I loved it. Today, February 20th, would've been my dad's birthday.
It felt like springtime on this February morning
In a courtyard birds were singing your praise
I'm still recalling things you said to make me feel all right
I carry them with me today
It's only recently, by googling the lyrics, that I've been able to understand what she's singing in the second verse.
I wonder why I feel so high
Though I am not above the sorrow
Heavy-hearted till you call my name
And it felt like church bells
Or the whistle of a train on a summer evening
I run to meet you barefoot barely breathing
(I know, the shit we like as kids. My taste in middle school was even worse.)
The weather was so perfect today, cool and sunny, and I had one of the most glorious bike rides ever. I didn't have any specific route in mind, so I just meandered all over my neighborhood and downtown. You know you've hit your stride when you can ride your bike for a solid hour and a half (or maybe two hours, I wasn't keeping track of the time) without stopping, loving every minute of it, listening to the same song over and over on your iPod. I hit the acapella version of "Amazing Grace" a few minutes in, and although I love all the songs on my iPod, none of them sounded very good after that, so I just kept going back to it. I probably listened to it at least twenty times, but I wasn't keeping track of that, either. I didn't want that song, or that bike ride, to end, but when I finally did, I didn't feel tired at all, just energized, rejuvanated, alive.
Sara, yesterday, about me and NCIS: "It's really weird, because she's never been this obsessed with a TV show before."
P.S. My amazing new LJ profile!
Just when did MLK's birthday go from a national day of service to a day to buy office supplies? Outside of Black Friday and Back-to-School, the store on Monday afternoon was as busy as I'd ever seen it. Most businesses were closed, and you'd think people wouldn't want to go shopping for their businesses on a holiday, but apparently that's just what they want.
It was made worse by the fact that I took a singulair pill on Monday morning (because I'd run out of my allergy pills) and had a terrible pounding headache for most of the afternoon and evening. I've finally figured out what caused all those headaches I had nearly every day during middle school, high school, and the first half of college. I don't know why it took me so long, since they say in the commercials that headaches are a side effect of singulair. It does a lot for my asthma, but if those headaches are the cost, then I don't think I can take it regularly. It was so bad on Monday, I don't understand how I ever lived with headaches like that on a daily basis for years.
I suffered through the painfully awkward and unfunny Critics Choice Awards on Friday night (Kristen Chenoweth sucks! But Saoirse won! Hooray for the only highlight!), but as a reward, the Golden Globes on Sunday night were very funny and enjoyable (Ricky Gervais is awesome!), and Athena came over to watch them with me and Sara. Maybe we can do it again for the Oscars.
So the trip to Houston didn't happen. Somehow, I am more disappointed by this than expected. It's my own fault for actually believing that we would go.
I slept for so long yesterday, probably for over twelve hours. I don't even remember yesterday much. I don't know what made me so tired, but I think it might have been the nausea pills. After I threw up the first two times (this was in the early a.m. of yesterday morning), Sara gave me a nausea pill and a popsicle, because my throat burned like a bitch. Ten minutes later, I barfed up the popsicle and took another pill. Then I paced the room until my action ran down. Then I stood and thought until my thought ran down.
Spring is seeping away, and I'm not too sorry. It's a very wheezy season for me. The only thing I'm going to miss is the jasmine. It's my favorite flower, and for a few weeks we had lots of it in our neighborhood, smelling divine, but now it's wilting and turning brown around the edges. The same thing is happening to the ligustrum bushes, which makes me very happy because I can start wheezing if I get within a few feet of ligustrum blossoms. Sara now thinks she knows more about my allergies than I do, and she's been telling me I should take claritin, or some different kind of allergy pill. The other day she said this in front of Mom, who bought me a supply of claritin, and now she's nagging me to take it every time I see her.
And you know what's really crazy? I'm still tired.
The sun finally came out on Monday afternoon, after several days of freezing cold and almost non-stop rain. That's right, freezing cold. In Louisiana. In March. What is wrong with that picture? Everything. Even on the rare moments that it wasn't raining, the sky was pure cloud, washed-out and gray. It was depressing. Now spring is finally here. The only downside is that all the pollen in the air makes Rebecca wheezy. Luckily she's been working a lot, which keeps her inside with the flourescent lighting.
Sometimes, it's weird the things you miss.
I swear sometimes I think it's a plot. It seems like every day I have off from work, it decides to be cold and wet. For example, today it was sunny with not a cloud in the sky, but yesterday, when I was off, it rained almost all day and I didn't get to ride my bike. I haven't been bike riding all year! Haha. But seriously, it's been a while and the number of cans littering my neighborhood sickens me. Must go soon.
But I know the weather won't go on like this forever. When I walked outside today, I noticed a big patch of clover that had sprouted in the grass on the other side of the driveway, a sign that spring is coming. (Isn't this funny, I'm talking about the seasons as if they actually exist in Louisiana.) It was a much paler shade of green than the grass, almost shockingly so. Something else pretty I saw: I was running errands yesterday when the sun made a brief appearence. Since it had been raining, the whole world was still wet, and when the sun came out, the whole world started shining. I was driving past a used car lot at the time and the gleam off those cars could've blinded me. (I live off a busy street, and there's a stretch further down that has almost nothing but used cars dealerships on either side. Those of you who know me know exactly where I mean.)
And yesterday was a productive day off anyway. I cleaned, vacuumed, (finally) took down the Christmas stuff, and redecorated a little. I hung up the big picture frame that I made for Dad in Christmas 2001, and I created a gallery of children's literature on our kitchen wall by making copies out of our favorite kid books.
"Duck Weather," by Shirley Hughes
Splishing, splashing in the rain
Up the street and back again
Stomping, stamping through the flood
We don't mind a bit of mud
Running pavements, gutters flowing
All the cars with wipers going
We don't care about the weather
Tramping hand in hand together
We don't mind a damp wet day
Sloshing puddles all the way
Splishing, splashing in the rain
Up the street and back again
Sunday afternoon was sunny and almost hot, and Heather and I walked to the theater and saw Nim's Island. All the beautiful white-sand beach scenes made it pretty to look at, but the plot was rather thin. (Heather insisted there was no plot.) I'd like to see it again after I get back to the United States; the theater here showed it dubbed in French, obviously, so I'm sure I missed out on a lot. For some reason in this movie I thought that Abigail Breslin looked a lot like Rachel Hurd-Wood at that age, even though I'd never noticed a resemblance between them before.
Every spring my college campus becomes infested with an army of caterpillars, and this spring they’re worse than I’ve ever seen them in my three years here! They’re everywhere!
Lesson Learned: Scissors can be extremely dangerous! Point In Case: I was cutting the tag off a new pair of jeans, and I accidentally cut my left thumb. It was a small cut, but because it was deep and right along my nail, it bled profusely for over an hour. I squeezed it in my right fist until my hand got a cramp, then I tried to apply pressure by wrapping it up tightly in bandages. But no matter how many layers of bandages I wrapped around it, the blood soaked through all of them, then dried and hardened, making the bandages extremely uncomfortable, so I had to change them often. The cut didn’t clot for two days, and twice I nearly passed out from the sight of so much blood.
Today I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever heard my mother laugh. Ever. That is the most disturbing realization I’ve ever made. Ever.
List: Works of art I recognized in V’s collection in the movie V for Vendetta: 1) The Cycladic icons of Ancient Greek, studied in my Art History class; 2) "The Lady of Shalott," painting by John William Waterhouse, studied in my British Literature class when we read "The Lady of Shalott" poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson; 3) "Puberty," painting by Edvard Munch, studied in my American Literature class when we read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
Ironic Instance of April: I stopped taking my sleeping pills and discovered that I sleep better without them.
Music of the Month: "Always on Your Side," by Sheryl Crow with Sting; "Again and Again," by Jewel; "Not Ready to Make Nice," by The Dixie Chicks.
Shakespeare Quote of the Month: "April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." This line was quoted by me to family friend Bill C. on Easter Sunday: We somehow got on the subject of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which we both love, but Bill said that he does not normally like TS Eliot because he wrote a poem blasting April for being a month of Spring and rebirth (he must mean "The Burial of the Dead"). In response, I quoted this line by Shakespeare, which Bill had never heard before.
Of all the things I miss from my childhood, Catholicism is not one of them. I miss its songs and its stained-glass windows and the smell of its churches, but the religion itself I do not miss.
Today I discovered that I’m very good at imitating a horse whinny.
No words can describe the beauty of a Louisiana azalea bush in March. It’s true that they bloom for only week and look scraggly for the rest of the year, but that one week makes it so worth it. I look forward to seeing them bloom every year. I wrote in my paper journal way back on March 8, 1999: "Everything is blooming now. The baby’s breath are everywhere and they are gorgeous. And there are little wild clover flowers and azaleas in four colors – wow! The streets are so beautiful, and on some bushes you can’t even see the leaves, because they are so covered with flowers."
I cannot believe that Crash beat Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture at the Oscars! (And I saw them both, so I can say this.) I also cannot believe that Ang Lee made an "I wish I knew how to quit you" joke when he accepted for Best Director. I wish I knew how to quit the "I wish I knew how to quit you" jokes!
Lesson Learned: You can’t win them all. Case in Point: (Art Exam + 25% of final grade) + (French Project + 20% of final grade) + (Same Day) = Aced the art exam – bombed the French project.
Music of the Month: "Talk," by Coldplay; "Bad Day," by James Powter; and "Just Like Me," by DMC with Sarah McLachlan.
Shakespeare Quote of the Month: Perdita: "Daffodils, that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty." – The Winter’s Tale.