Saturday, June 9, 2012

Magic Carpet - Day Nine

Persia, 1892, Handmade 100% Silk

While in Saudi Arabia the first time, Alex got to experience cultural tours of the area where he was stationed.

He was wandering down an alley in the old section of the Kingdom when he saw oriental rugs piled in the doorway.  He peeked in and saw a man who called out to him in Arabic.  Alex answered in English "Good morning!".  The man came forward out of the shadows to see Alex more clearly.

He asked Alex in good English where he was from and when Alex replied California, the man was thrilled.  "But no! I went to school at the University of California at Berkeley!"   The Arab put out his right hand and introduced himself "Sayid Ali" and Alex shook the proffered hand and gave his own name.  Sayid invited Alex into the shop.

There were two rooms, the front room was full of modern oriental  rugs, and the smaller room in back was where the antique rugs were kept.  Sayid offered Alex tea and began to talk about the wonderful rugs hung on the walls and scattered on the floor and on the tables all over the room.  Some of the rugs were over 1,000 years old and in remarkable shape.  Alex was taken with the gorgeous colors and the intricate designs of the rugs. More out of curiosity than desire to buy he asked the price of one particularly beautiful rug and Sayid converted the money into US dollars and told him "$73,000.00".  Gulp!

They sat and drank tea and talked for a while about life in California, about the heat in Saudi Arabia, and about the beautiful architecture in the old quarter of the ancient Saudi Kingdom.   Sayid was married and had 5 children.  His two eldest sons were currently attending University in England.

Finally, Alex said that although he would love to purchase an antique Persian rug, Sayid's merchandise was really out of his price range.  Sayid inclined his head and said "I have something I'd like to show you.  It's small, handmade of silk, and it dates back to 1892.  It's quite a special piece."

Sayid opened a drawer and pulled out a small rug, about 24 inches square wrapped in a soft muslin material.  Alex said it was very beautiful and Sayid laughed.  "That's not the half of it my friend", Sayid commented.  "This rug has some properties that are not readily apparent."  Alex asked "Oh, is it a magic carpet?"  They both laughed .  Sayid said "No, friend, there are no magic carpets, but this rug has an interesting pedigree.  It was originally a gift for a small child born of important ancestry and woven into the silk there are threads for beautiful dreams."  Alex looked slightly dubious.  "I don't understand." Alex said.  "But it is a beautiful piece.  I think my wife would love it."  He asked Sayid the price and Sayid again converted the amount into dollars.  "It is $2,500."  Alex said that might be too much but it was something quite appealing.

Sayid said "I'll tell you what, Alex, you buy the rug and take it with you.  Tonight you place the rug on your pillow when you go to sleep.  If you do not have the most beautiful dreams of your life, bring the rug back to me tomorrow and I'll give you back $2,500 and another $200 for your trouble."

Alex never saw Sayid again.  But he brought home the rug.  I had it framed and it hangs on the parlor wall of our house.

One day when I'm in real need of a beautiful dream, I'm sleeping with it on my pillow.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Best Friend - Day 8

These guys are best friends.

Harry, the orange guy, is so glad to have Zoe, the black and white girl, to hang out with.

It's good to watch television in Harry's apartment on cool afternoons.  It's good to have someone to chase squirrels with.  It's good to have somebody to cuddle with when you are scared.

Harry had Honey as his best friend before Zoe, but Honey died.  Harry was very sad for a long time.

Zoe seems to know how to make Harry laugh again.  Besides, Harry's not afraid of Zoe.  Honey was very strict about manners.  Zoe is too young to have that many manners.  Honey would growl and bite Harry  if he looked her in the eyes.  That's rude in dog life.  Zoe stares right in his eyes and jumps on him until he chases her.

Sometimes Harry mounts Zoe.  She doesn't mind at all.  Sometimes Zoe mounts Harry and he thinks that's funny.  Nobody in their right mind would have ever tried to mount Honey.  If they did try, they would be dead dogs.  Honey was a little grumpy and she didn't want anyone messing with her.

Zoe is still a puppy and a bit naughty.  Harry knows she's naughty but he likes her anyway.  He never gets in trouble for something bad that Zoe does.  (Zoe really never gets in trouble either because she's too smart to let us catch her doing naughty things.)

I love that they are so happy with each others company!  I love that they are best friends and there for each other all the time.  I love how they smile when they are together.

I'm sorry I lost Honey because she was my best friend.  She was my "forever girl".

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What Is Wrong With Excess?

I have 30 pairs of black shoes.

I know some people think I have too many shoes.  I'm here to tell you, there's no such thing.

At last count, I think I had about 120 pairs, but then I gave away some of them to Goodwill.  (Yes, women who shop at Goodwill like stilettos too.)  (Sometimes the men like stilettos as well, don't they Michael?)

In any case, I've always said if a little bit is good, more's better.  I think I have curbed some of my natural impulses toward surplus.  I don't pile on the jewelry any more.  I still wear earrings, bracelets, my watch, my two rings and my ankle bracelet every day.  But I stopped wearing toe rings, 4 or five rings on both hands, 10 gold chains at the same time and so on.  It's not that I don't like those excessive things.  I do.  But they tend to look a little tacky on me now.

When I was young and Mexican, I wore it all.  Now that I am older and Mexican.  I tone it down.  No more rhinestones for this girl!  Not even on my bras!  Okay, I still have that one pair of black panties with the rhinestones, but hardly anyone ever sees those.  Okay, maybe just a few people see those.

Way I figure it, if you have on something really cool, make sure somebody (a few people) gets to see it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pressure - Day 6

At noon on Saturday, she listened to the voice mail message on her cell phone .

"Room 204", the caller said before hanging up.

She got up from the sofa, stretched, and looked out the window.  Her husband was outside working on the car.  She wondered why she just felt tired of it all.

It had been such fun at first.  It had been exciting and even thrilling, but the thrill was gone.  Now she just felt empty.

She freshened up her make up and thought about excuses.  Should she say she was going shopping?  Maybe she would say she was meeting a friend for lunch.  Oh hell, it really didn't matter what she said.

She grabbed the car keys and with a last look in the mirror, she walked outside.  She called out to her husband, "I'm going out to the beach for a while."  He waved at her rolling out from under the car  and said "Have fun!"  She drove down to the beach and turned onto the Great Highway going South along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean.  A few miles from the City, she turned off and pulled into the motel parking lot.  She parked, checked her lipstick and walked in.  Room 204 would be on the 2nd  floor.   Good!  It would have a view.

She knocked quietly and the door was thrown open immediately.  He pulled her into the room and pushed on the safety lock.  She looked at him and saw his hazel green eyes and his dark brown wavy hair.  He was smiling at her like she was his Christmas present.  He was dressed as usual in his jeans and a flannel shirt and she thought how young and handsome he looked.  "I've opened some wine, Honey.  Should I pour you a glass?"  She nodded her assent and walked to the window.

He walked over to her as she was gazing out at the ocean and put the two glasses of Cabernet on the table.  He tried to pull her close for a kiss and she slightly turned her head to avoid his lips.  "We have to talk", she murmured.  He looked confused for a moment and then with an artificial little laugh, he said,  "Do I need to sit down for this."  She gave him a small weary smile.  They sat down in front of the picture window and picked up their wine glasses.  They clinked glasses and took a sip.

"What's the matter, Honey?", he asked.  Without looking at him, she said "This has got to stop."  He got up from his chair and walked over to her.  "Why?" he asked.  "I love you.".  She shook her head and said "No you don't.  You love the excitement and the danger of what we are doing.  You don't even know me."  He sat back down in his chair, looking at her without saying a word.  "I do care about you," she said gently.  "But it's over now."  He asked her, "Can you tell me why?" and she responded, "Because it is."

She picked up her bag and walked out of the room, walked down the stairs, and through the lobby.  She went out to her car and put the key in the ignition.  For just a moment, she put her head down on her arms and felt sadness.  He was a lovely man and he had been very kind to her.  It had been fun for a while.  She had felt very alive for a while.

But now,  mainly, she felt a great relief from the pressure.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I was traumatized by a spider when I was about eight years old.

My mother left me home alone for about ten minutes while she picked my little sister up from school.  I spent over a year in bed after I was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever when I that age.  I was not supposed to walk and I very seldom left my bed. 

Before you think "oh that was so sad", it really wasn't.  I got to read to my heart's content.  I had a home teacher.  And I was seriously catered to because I was sick.  My parents carried me to the bathroom, gave me bed baths and brought all my meals to me on trays.  It was not a bad way to spend a year and a half.  It even gave me an idea that I might like to become an invalid wife one day, but that's another story.

My mother had no sooner left the house until I put down my book and thought about taking a little nap.  I closed my eyes and fell asleep for about 5 minutes and I felt something on my face.  I opened my eyes and there was a spider hanging from a long skinny thread of silk almost touching my nose.  I screamed bloody murder and covered my head with the sheet.  By the time my mom got back with my sister, I was in hysterics.  To make matters worse, the big black spider had completely disappeared.  I knew he or she was someplace hiding and would come out after the lights were off and "get" me. 

Mom letting me read "Charlottes's Web" did nothing to reduce my horror of those eight-legged freaks.  In fact, over the years, my phobia increased.  Numerous times I telephoned my husband at work and told him he had to come home because there was a spider in the bedroom.  I could not walk into a room with a spider no matter what.  I would have left my baby in his crib crying hour after hour if I had seen a spider in the room.  If my husband was not able to come home, I would call a neighbor to come and help me.  (Help me?  No, actually, I just wanted that spider dead but I could not get close enough to one to kill it.)  When nobody was available at all, I would resort to hair spray, perfume, spray starch, furniture polish and anything else I could spray across the room at the damn thing.   I found that none of those things actually killed spiders, but they did smell pretty good after being sprayed and they even looked shiny.  You see,while couldn't walk into a room with a spider, I couldn't walk away from a room with a spider either.  (I knew they would just hide and then bite me later.)  (Thank God for long telephone cords.)

This irrational terror of mine continued until after my marriage to Alex.  We were in Arizona visiting his parents when I saw a huge "wolf spider" on the wall in the hallway outside of the guest bedroom.  I shrieked bloody murder and Alex came running to see if I was hurt.  I pointed to the spider and he said "Oh.  What do you want me to do?".  I replied through clenched teeth that I wanted that spider dead.  He left me while he went to look for execution materials.  He was gone about a half an hour.  When he came back with a magazine, a sponge, a bottle of cleanser, he asked me if I was sure I wanted it dead.  Of course I was sure..  With a loud slam, the spider was smeared all over the hallway wall.  Alex shook his head as he sadly cleaned up the spider's remains.

Alex's parents were horrified when I told them what had happened.  That spider (name of Humphrey) had been with them for about 15 years.  It even moved with them when they bought a new house.  All three sets (Alex, his mom, and his dad) of black eyes gazed mournfully at me as they asked for a description of the spider.  We had indeed killed their spider friend Humphrey.  I felt terrible.

Native Americans don't kill spiders.  But I learned something that day.  I had forced Alex to take a life and he was very upset over it.  Hell, by this time, I was upset over it and feeling really bad about poor Humphrey.  Shoot, he may have even had a family.  And he did have kind of nice gentle eyes actually.

That was the last spider that ever died because of me.  Now I use a clear plastic cup, slide a postcard across to trap the critter and escort it gently out into the garden.  Spiders love it there.  Lots of food, water, and a safe haven to live out their little spider lives.  I even got to see a spider "hatch" when about 300 gorgeous little golden babies tossed out their silk ropes and  flew off to do whatever it is that spiders do.  They were about the size the head of a pin.

It's good to not be terrified of them any more.  But I'm still not inviting them in for a sleep over even if it's raining.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Behind The Wheel

This is my husband Alex.

Before we go someplace, there are a lot of things that have to be done.  Alex has his walkie talkies, his GPS, his Blue Tooth, his compass, his cell phone, and his emergency medical kit.  We also carry blankets, detailed maps of Northern California and Southern California, 2 gallons of water, a knife, road flares, his clean underwear, a flashlight, power bars, batteries, water-proof matches, a solar powered radio, and a small propane stove with a pan.  This is for a trip to go five blocks to the market.

The GPS tells us where to turn.  It's five blocks away, Alex.  We could have walked it very safely and easily.  The only reason we are taking the car is so we don't have to carry 10 bags of groceries home from the store. 

I know how to go five blocks and not get lost, not get cold enough to need a blanket, and not to die of thirst.  It's not likely Alex is going to change underwear either.    We carry this junk in all three cars so that we are always prepared.

Alex does not like to leave things to chance.  One wrong turn can really be a problem.  Perhaps we'll get lost somewhere and have to kill a bear and cook it in that little pan on the propane stove.  Alameda has no bears.  We do have raccoons, turtles, rats, wild turkeys, and squirrels though.  I guess Alex could kill one of those little animals with his knife and then we could cook that.  (Actually, I'd rather just nibble on the fruit hanging from the trees, but that's me.)

It seems like this would be a very safe way to travel.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  Alex perhaps has the worst sense of direction of anyone I know.  Or, he's just so caught up in the gadgetry that he gets lost all the time.  He frequently tells me we are taking a "Navajo shortcut".  These Navajo shortcuts without fail tack on an extra 90 minutes to any trip we take.

People give Alex detailed directions to places and he acts like he's paying attention, but he's not.  He just makes the appropriate noises and tunes the people out.

I sometimes suggest that pulling in at a service station and asking directions might be a grand idea.  Alex treats this suggestion with exasperation.  It's not going to happen.  We are going to use the GPS, the maps, the compass, and drink some of that damn water until we figure it out.  We will park and take deep breaths to get our bearings before continuing on.

I never get lost.  I hate gadgets. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"The Message" - They Played My Song

Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head

It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder  
How I keep from going under  
It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder  
How I keep from going under

Grandmaster Flash
Courtesy: Getty Images

(That's how I feel most days.  Just don't push me and I'll be fine.  And so will you.)