Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh Those Catholics And Their Uniforms

Time for a uniform change, Ben.

Before I get to the meat of the pending uniform change for Pope Ben, his shoe situation in particular, I'm wondering  whether or not the guy tapped for the pope job can turn it down.  Can he say "Hey conclave cardinals, thanks for the offer, but I need to pass on this one.  Being god on earth isn't my idea of a wise career move." 
Or, back to the topic of concern, dare he say "Hell know, I'm not wearing red shoes for the rest of my life!"
The shoes.  I've mentioned previously my shoe fetish (The Importance of Shoes, July 15, 2012).  I selected shoes for most of the characters in Hot Cross Buns. So, it should come as no surprise I've been curious about what Ben plans to wear when he leaves his little red pope shoes behind.
I wore a uniform through grade school and high school and when I hit college, I was excited, but also a bit nervous.  Uniforms eliminate a lot of hassle most people face at the dawn of every week day.  Until I was 18, the biggest conundrum I faced every morning was whether or not I'd wear blue, grey or white knee socks.
But really, now, Ben has been god on earth for the past few years.  Surely he has a game plan.  I mean, god knows everything, so Ben must know what shoes he'll kick around in during retirement. 
And he does! I read about it the other day.
Yep, Ben is going to retire to his rehabbed Vatican gardener's home wearing a pair of sandals he picked up on a trip to Mexico.
Brown shoes, to be exact. Way to shake it up, Ben!
These Huaraches immediately came to my mind.

A well-worn humble Huarache sandal?

I like these.  They're something Jesus might have worn, as did half the world population in the 70s and 80s.
Or will Ben go for  something a little sporty from the Huarache line?

These might be best for the prayerful garden walks.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pick A Seat, Any Seat

One can never be too early for a book reading, said Clay. 

Word on the street last week was Spokane author Jess Walter's book signing at Auntie's Bookstore would be standing room only.  The local alternative newspaper even said "Everyone in Spokane will be there."  or something like that.
Walters was scheduled to read from is new book of short stories.  

Everyone was pensive.

Okay, that's an exaggeration.

Clay was pensive.

Now, Walters is a very good -- and popular -- writer, but I suspected the press on this was a little over the top. Maybe a titch of Spokane going gaga over a local writer done good?  I also lean toward the idea that even god would have a hard time drawing a huge crowd if he/she were reading his/her short stories. But, the buzz was such that strategy would come into play if one wanted to secure a good seat at Walters' reading.
That we were able to park less than a block from Auntie's on a Friday night should have been the first tip that we were probably assured a seat.  Then again, one never wants to under estimate the mayhem short story fans might spark.  Surely, an hour lead time would provide an adequate cushion.  Maybe others bused it downtown so they wouldn't have to fight traffic?

Tip two: Huh people weren't covied up at the door. Just a few book shoppers leaving with purchases in hand.  Inside, a few people mozied around like people do in book stores.  No one's ever in a hurry in bookstores. Even if they are in a hurry, people in bookstores always look like they're just killing time.

Not us.

Clay and I walked purposefully toward the back of the store where Auntie's hosts its well-attended readings. (Thankfully, Auntie's held our Hot Cross Buns reading upstairs, where a small crowd of 30 can look impressive.) I suspect we looked like sprinters to the other amblers.  Out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a waiter setting up wine glasses, which should have been tip three that the surge of attendees might still be far off shore, but we pressed on.

And then we turned the corner. And there was the crowd.  Almost a hundred of them.  A hundred of empty chairs.

(See the guy on the right in the photo above? Well, he wasn't a threat. He's the guy who handles used books at Auntie's and was just trying to close up shop for the day).

So, now our worries shifted dramatically from "Will we get a seat?" to "Where do we want to sit?" which is an almost more cumbersome worry.

Like a guy trying out Lazy-Boys in a furniture store, Clay kicked the tires a bit and we settled on seats up close but not so close we'd appear overly-eager. Two friends were meeting us, so now we were forced into that awkward position of, yes, saving seats. 

I don't know about you, but I hate saving seats and I don't hold seat savers in high regard -- people who spread clothing along a line of chairs for their god knows who.  But save chairs we did.  (I was okay with it this time because one of our friends, Jerry, was still 30,000 feet midstate on his way home from Seattle.)  Between us, we had two coats and my gloves --just enough to claim four chairs so we could go have a beer at the restaurant next door.

Despite being told no fewer than 10 times by three different waiters there would be refreshments served at the reading, we planted ousrselves down for a well-deserved rest and then return to Auntie's. And what pride we felt to see our four little seats buried among the standing-room only crowd.
Score one strategy.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Who Needs A Calendar When A Small Bladder Will Suffice?

Back to Auntie's Bookstore we go, I was reminded.

At my place of employment, I freely exercise my cynical tongue about how many calendars we all have these days. Correct, too many. You got your smart phones, Outlook, day timer books, desktop blotters -- which I use for doodling -- unsightly magnetic stick-to-the-fridge things, and the list goes on.  But just this morning, I added yet another one to the list -- Mother Nature, a.k.a., my bladder.

You see, I drink copious amounts of water throughout the day, as is the habit of germ-a-phoebe's.  (And isn't it ironic how we suck down water all day in order to flush gluck from our system so we stay healthy, yet as a result, spend a lot of the day in the most germ-infested room in the building?)

I was exiting a bathroom "stall" for about the tenth time this a.m., just as a coworker was entering another stall.  Just as her stall door shut, she stuck her head out and said, "I hear you're talking at Auntie's tomorrow night."

I had no idea what she was talking about, which is a frequent occurrence for me and one for which I am normally well prepared.  Typically, in this situation, I look at the speaker with my refined I-have-no-idea-what-you-are-talking-about-but-I-am-not-going-to-let-you-know-that look, at which point the person usually says something that gives me some hint of what I should know but don't.

Not this time. Nope, all I could offer was an astute "I am?" 
"Yeah, you and Judy are on Auntie's events site -- you're talking about how you wrote Hot Cross Buns together," my work cohort explained. "I'm going with my son."

I be-lined it back to my desk, Googled Aunties' Bookstore, scrolled to Events, scrolled further to Feb. 20, and low and behold there it was at 6:30 p.m., a little ditty about us talking to the Inland Northwest Writers Guild about our "harrowing experience" getting HCB published.

Judy assured me we agreed to this engagement way back when we had our HCB reading at Aunties' in December.  Heck if I know.  I was so sick I hardly remember December.

But back to my point.  I may have no fewer than five calendars, but what kept me on course today?  Mother Nature and its timely call.  

Yes, it the mind-wandering string of thoughts that help explain why it took six years to write HCB.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Take This, Sister Lucine!

My BVM Star

I'd like to say I'm way above taking pride in winning any sort of award, but here's the deal.  In second grade, Sister Lucine and pretty much every nun I encountered during the subsequent 10 years, purposefully prayed (no pun intended) on the titch of competitiveness I might have floating about my gene pool. 

So, when Amazon announced today Hot Cross Buns made it through to the second round of its 2013 Breakthrough Novel Award competition, yes, I felt a little bit swell.

The primer to recognizing my competitive spirit went like this.  In second grade, Sister Lucene had a little cut-out of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) for each student pinned up on a board.  If you attended weekday mass, you got to put one of those little shiny paper gold stars on your little BVM's white skirt.  There was some sort of prize once your BVM's skirt was all gold covered.  The prize was probably emptying the garbage can after school because at Catholic grade schools rewards involved work. 

Weekday mass, expect during Lent -- by the way happy Ash Wednesday!-- was not a big deal in my house. (By the way,we didn't have any sort of sports or nonspiritual competition. Nope not us. I think I would have done better in nonspiritual stuff.)

Anyway, I never got to empty the garbage cans after school.  Hardly ever got to clean the chalkboard, either. But, that didn't mean I didn't notice my BVM never had to be replaced with a fresh BVM because its skirt was too star laden.  I think I might have gazed wistfully at my little BVM and it's yellowing white skirt.  I may have decided someday I'd have a star-studded BVM, damn it all! 

Thus, thank you Amazon for this little gold star.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Yes, We Know Her."


This is Josie, at least I think that's her name.  It's the best I could decipher between her bouts of tears and nonsensical, raspy-toned ramblings.

She lives about 14 blocks down the South Hill from The Manito and all the beautiful tree-shrouded streets in Hot Cross Buns. However, she is moving further up the hill, albeit foot by foot.  Last week, she trundled half a block south up under the I-90 overpass between Third and Fourth on Wall Street.  For weeks before that she was perched on a Third Avenue sidewalk closer to downtown Spokane between a pizza place and fast food market/adult video store.

At least now she has a roof over her head.

I wish she'd moved just another half block south where she'd benefit from the sun, but moving just half a block could not have been easy.  God only knows how long it took Josie to move her copious number of blankets and tarps, radio (Thank you Red Cross.), paper towels and cleaning fluids hanging from one cart handle  -- a sort of utility room -- and most important, her chair, half a block.

Anyone traveling along Third saw Josie.  I've heard a lot of "Yeah, I've seen her." Josie and her mobile ranch-style home were hard to miss. Now, I worry she's not as visible in her new location.  The "location, location, location" mantra applies to the homeless, too.

So I feel guilty for offering chocolate chip cookies when I stopped to visit the other day. Good god, why I didn't take something healthy? And what did Josie do?  She immediately offered me a pastry from a clear plastic container commonly found at supermarket bakeries -- not at all like the scones of HCB. "Only three left," she said, like she didnt' want me to miss out on a tastey treat.  I declined, but was relieved to know I wasn't the only dim-wit to present sweets rather than substance.  And then I felt guilty I probably declined the pastry offer more because of my germ-a-phobic personality than reluctance to take food away from her.

It's easy to see Josie as one of those people whose fallen off the grid. For all I know, Josie never was on the grid. I doublt the crack would have to be to large in order for Josie to fall through it. The thing is, she hasn't. Not entirely anyway.

It shook my tree a bit talking with Josie. She became very real, not just a dramatic magazine or newspaper feature story.  I left feeling pathetically helpless and righteous. Something needs to be done for Josie!

And then I spoke with a women at Transitions.  She had kindest voice in the world.  She let me speed banter about Josie's location, my concerns about edema, etc., and when I finally shut my yap, she said  "Yes, we know her."  She didn't have to say another word. Her voice said it all.  It said Josie doesn't want help.  Josie always leaves.  Josie won't stay on her meds. The woman's voice was full of concern and compassion and experience, not a lick of criticism.

And so it goes.

Maybe I'll take Josie a copy of HCB, if only for her to get her feet a few inches off the concrete