Sunday, May 10, 2009

Good Grief! What a Day!

Good grief indeed! I haven't had such a rollercoaster, good news/bad news day since the day I got the job at Beaudry RV in September 2007. That was also the day Tuffy had her first surgery and we first learned about her cancer, and also the day my first novel was most recently rejected. (I know, I need to stop tinkering and send it out again.) Most of today's revelations weren't quite as extreme as that, but, well, you be the judge.

It started when I got to church and was getting ready to serve at Mass. One of the other acolytes, a young girl, told me that Eva said to say she was there at church. My friend Eva will be 104 years old in a week, and doesn't normally get to church unless I take her, which she hardly ever asks me to do any more. But for Mother's Day she got her granddaughter to bring her as well as her surviving daughter, Harriett, who is in a wheelchair. The seating arrangements at coffee hour afterward were such that I hardly got a chance to say hello, but nevertheless it was a nice surprise to see them all.

As I went to get a lemonade or iced tea or combination thereof (I had to settle for the lemonade, it turned out), I was approached by a couple I know only casually at church. They relayed a greeting from a mutual friend. In the ensuing conversation it came out that this friend, who reads this blog, has lung cancer, with surgery and chemo to follow. This is terrible news, obviously, the more so because she had survived another kind of cancer years ago. Not only that, but I first met her right after losing another friend to leukemia.

My grief for my current friend's situation is compounded by guilt. I know I have unopened email from her in an email account I hardly ever look at, because the account is 99.99% spam, mostly the really vile kind involving a body part I don't have or want. I saw her email address in the stuff I didn't delete the last time I opened that account. I meant to read it the next day, but I didn't. Now I need to face up to it, and reply, and apologize. I've lost two friends to dread diseases since our old Doctor Who club started in 1990, and I was fortunate to spend quality time with one during her illness, and to speak to the other on the day of her death. I'm not going to neglect my other friend now, despite the fact that she no longer lives in Tucson. Even hermitlike, curmudgeon John talked about going to see her.

So. One friend, well past her expected lifespan, hangs in there despite candidly saying that she's not interested in doing so, while another friend not much older than I has her second bout with a deadly cancer. What a day!

But another revelation was to come before coffee hour was over. Father Smith had mentioned both to me and to Eva that he and I should visit her on her birthday next Monday and bring her Communion. When he called me over, immediately after chatting with Eva, I assumed that he wanted to discuss this arrangement. But no: it looks as though I may be hired as the church's main bookkeeper, instead of the unpaid assistant I've been since January. I had declined pay for my three hours a week preparing the deposit, but this would be a paid position for sure, albeit still part time. I estimate that it pays less than half of what I'm getting in unemployment right now, but that won't last much longer. And once I have a paid position, I'll feel less unemployable, and look better to other prospective employers. My hope is that ultimately I'll be able to either carry several part time positions or else pick up a full time one and still be able to work in my duties at church.

It's not a done deal by any means; Father Smith needs to discuss it with the vestry, and there may be a process. But for the first time in months, I feel I have a solid lead on a job.

The rest of the day? Well, I got the next issue of Doctor Who Magazine at B&N, my one bookstore indulgence since my birthday back in March. Then I went home, did stuff on the computer and took a much-needed nap. In the evening I took the dogs to Reid Park - and that's where we change gears, from big news to photographic reflections.

We parked near this Hi Corbett practice field, north of the zoo.

This evening, as sometimes happens, I was unable to find a parking space in either lot near the dog park. I surmised that there was a concert or other big event at Reid Park this evening. Rather than disappoint the dogs, I drove to the Hi Corbett Field annex area, perhaps half a mile northeast of the off-leash facility, and parked there. The dogs were perfectly willing to wander the park with me yet again, as long as Miko's Corner was on the itinerary.

As dusk begins, kids play on the swings near the concert venue.
From the Picasa album Reid at Random

I've noticed a number of times recently that I tend to get the best shots for a photo meme when it's long over with. Today brought more evidence of this. As the dogs and I approached the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, better known as the Reid Park bandshell, I heard the unmistakable sounds of a pops concert. It turns out that the Tucson Pops Orchestra has held a Mother's Day concert in Reid Park for the past 21 years. First I've heard of it, although I've been in Tucson for 23 years. This would have been arguably a better subject for last weekend's See the Music topic, except for the inconvenient fact that it hadn't happened yet!

Music under the stars - except the stars weren't out yet.

The Arizona Daily Star calls the Pops Orchestra's concert series in the park "famously popular," and it's true that I've heard of their concerts under the stars at Reid Park many times over the years. I just didn't know that they start on Mother's Day. I tried to take Mom to a concert there once circa 2000, bututterly failed to find the bandshell. It was a hot day, my Mom was not up for much walking, and so I gave up.

Sunday in the Park with László.

People were still arriving as I led the dogs to a wall at the back of the concert lawn, initending to hang out for a song or so. As I sat down, the orchestra was playing the theme from Moulin Rouge ("Where Is Your Heart"). The conductor, László Veres, introduced the next piece, My Yiddishe Mamma, as being in honor of Mother's Day. He also mentioned that his own mother had recently died, which gave the occasion a special meaning for him. Good for him. I have the opposite reaction - since my mom's death in 2002, Mother's Day makes me want to run away screaming.

"You're nothing but a pack of cards!"

The dogs and I went on to the dog park, but after the long walk over they were satisfied with just a short stay. On the way back we met some children, who wanted to pet the dogs. Pepper was pretty good about this, and Cayenne, surprisingly, responded well to one boy who sat on the ground and treated her gently and calmly. "Your dog seems a little skittish," he said.

I was surprised, because Cayenne was doing remarkably well, sitting for him and obviously appreciating his attentions. "She gets a little nervous around kids," I said.

The boy accepted this. He finished petting Cayenne, and then carefully go up to follow his friends, who were starting to wander off. "Thanks for letting us pet your dogs," he said.

A little farther one was an odd little display of plywood cartoon figures. I'd never noticed it before today. I was about to take a picture of it, probably with flash, when two girls in old fashioned dresses climbed onto the platform to play. I decided to grab a quick shot anyway, without flash, on the theory that they wouldn't notice and I wouldn't invade their privacy much, especially if you can't see the girls clearly in the photo. Even lightened considerably, the result is very odd and grainy, but I really like the effect, sort of a surreal Cabinet of Dr. Caligari look. And the old girl's expression is priceless.

Zooming in on the performance from the sidelines.

At the concert, meanwhile, they had finished with vocals by some children's chorus, and moved on to two songs performed by a former American Idol finalist, improbably named Crystal Star. Appropriately for Mother's Day, she's expecting a child, due around the birthday or her previous child. She sang Gershwin's Someone to Watch Over Me and the more contemporary My Heart Will Go On, with all the usual vocal gymnastics that came in with Whitney Houston, which John and I despise so much. I have nothing to say about the vocalist herself, but the style in which she sings is really, really not for me. This is just one reason why I never watch that tv show.

The remains of a picnic by the Rockies tower.

Eventually we got back to the car, and I snapped this rather nice shot of a little tower near the Hi Corbett annex. A few feet north of this is the backside of the main ballpark's outfield. In another ten days we'll be attending a Toros game there. And maybe I'll be employed by then. At least partially!


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