Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pen pals and sewers

When it rains, it pours. Of course, it hasn't been raining much here, or pouring, on the outside; inside is another story altogether. I had a new friend from Iowa come to visit this past week (coaches convention) and I not only misplaced his phone number in the stack of books I had to get through but completely forgot to call him because I was so busy with work and writing reviews. Unlike the rain, which kept rumbling and grumbling but never falling for more than a few minutes, I was deluged with work and responsibilities. It's been that way for weeks. I even sent out a call for pan pals when I had some time to spend getting to know a little about people in other cultures and they responded en masse. Like I said, when it rains, it pours. Weatherwise? No. Personal life? Yes.

People from Ghana have learned how to use web crawlers (not Spiderman) to scope out potential targets, like pen pal and singles sites, to further their need for infusions of cash, most with an introductory letter that seems personal (mostly misspelled with lots of netspeak and no punctuation or capitalizations), that explain they know most people are racists in America but they want to learn more about the people. Uh, no you don't. What you want is to tweak the American nipple to see if it will payoff like a loose slot machine in a Vegas bus station. Not going to happen. After thanking the first person (wearing a tailored Armani suit that costs about $2000) for his response and answering his questions, I was immediately inundated with ten more young men from Ghana, all who believe Americans hate black people. Uh, no, I don't. I have a black ancestor in my family tree and I'm quite proud of him (runaway slave adopted by Cherokee). I figured out the scam pretty quickly and and now I just delete anyone from Ghana. This may seem like I'm prejudiced or not willing to check each and every one out, but I don't have the time or inclination to ferret out the few sincere writers from the scam artists. I wanted a couple of pen pals, not to be mother to Ghana's poor, tired and hungry masses yearning to live for free in America.

I have, however, picked up a few pan pals: from Sri Lanka, India, Israel, Iowa and Pennsylvania and they are turning out to be very interesting and colorful. I wish I could visit them all or at least get them all together for dinner or a weekend and not have to worry about time or work or anything but getting to know one another. However, I have to live in the real world -- at least for now.

The weather hasn't cooperated with my plans, but at least it has been cooler over the past couple of days, despite the noise and heat and stench of diesel fuel from the city workers tearing up the alley three feet behind my office window. With all the jackhammers and backhoes and shouting and clashing metal, it has been difficult to sleep in the morning or get much work done while they're out there. One small pleasant note (actually, a few pleasant notes) come from one of the worker who has a habit of singing first thing in the morning when he gets on the job. He has a pleasant voice and it soothes my jangled nerves as I am throttled awake by the roar and belching clouds of diesel fuel when the backhoes and heavy machinery are started up first thing in the morning. It's the reverse of what I'm used to, the slap in the face and then the pat on the back. In this case, the pat on the back is literally music to my ears.

I like to work with the window open so the breeze can circulate through the house, but since the workers are digging up the alley to put in a new sewer system, leaving the window open is not an option. It's not as if the window keeps out much of the noise when the pavement is being battered and pulverized, but it does keep out most of the stench and the dust. It also makes the room warmer and stuffier, but that is to be expected in the summertime. They won't be out there forever, but if last year is any indication, they will be here for at least a month or so, or until the weather gets cold and the snow starts falling, which I pray may be very soon indeed.

As I unpack more books and boxes of things, the cardboard pile is getting higher and I am determined to finish breaking all the boxes down and taking them to the recycling bin, along with all the magazines I've read and no longer need and the waste paper and plastic from all the air-filled pillows needed to protect a book or magazine from being jolted too much.

Suddenly, it occurs to me that if there was a shortage of air, those bags might come in handy -- for a while. There's a story there. I can feel it.

At any rate, I have laundry to do (yippee for washer and dryer), a load of dishes to wash (yippee for dishwasher) and a piece of homemade oatmeal cake from my Gram's recipe to eat before I shower, dress and chain myself to my chair to get some operative reports done before the jackhammering and backhoeing starting again tomorrow. I also have a book to finish reading so I can review it and move onto the next box of books. And life continues here at the cottage while the sun shines in a brilliant blue sky and cool breezes drift through the open windows.

That is all. Disperse.

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