Monday, May 24, 2010

To Whom It May Concern #8

I was in Neptune Beach a weekend ago. Stayed with Bill. Francis was visiting so we went up there and each had a room in his upstairs old place on 1st Street. (I need to write about the people I know named Bill. This was Bill from Montana--over a decade older than me--who is originally from Springfield MA and then from Columbus, OH (did a stint in Oregon) and from Medelia/Mankato, MN, then Missoula (then Lafayette IN, then Jax/Neptune Beach FL.) We had a great time . . . But what I wonder is, will I remember to write about it?
This is to all the 1/2 (one half) people who read this blog: It will be quite a while until I write about the tens (2010 and on). So I think, what will I remember from these current days? Will the trip up to Bill's be something I can recall/will recall?
Does it matter?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crying And Trying in Quebec: Quebec City 1992

After visiting Francis in Montreal, we drove over to Quebec City on our own. Sure, we were impressed. We hadn't been to Europe (well, Fru had been to Sweden in the seventies), so for us this was like being in a European City. The French was nice to hear, but we were glad we could speak all the English we wanted.
We had not picked a place to stay, so that was one of the first things we started looking into. Sure, we were impressed with the big castle-like Hotel Fontenac, but in those days we'd never think of staying there (Fru would, actually, but we were young parents of one baby, maybe fourteen months old, maybe less.) So eventually we found a little French hotel in the old city. Can't recall the name, other than it was a woman's. She showed us a room on the first floor--a nice big room with a big bed and lace curtains and a big old bathtub. It was fine.
At this time, Fru and I were trying for another baby. She was trying to get pregnant. So, we thought it would pretty cool to conceive the second child in Quebec City.
And there was that big old bathtub.
But that night--after walking the city and a bottle of wine in the room--First Daughter cried. I don't mean just cried a normal cry, no, this was a wail. Unstoppable.
We did not know what was wrong, until we changed her diaper and saw a horrendous case of rash. Oww. We did our best to calm her, to treat her, to get her to sleep. Nothing doing. Now we were worried about the other guests, about the woman owner. People had to hear it, this baby wailing. We felt bad.
Finally, we did get her to sleep. We did get that bath. But Second Daughter was not conceived in Quebec City.
Must have been all the noise.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

. . . Like It's 1999: Fort Lauderdale 1999

I'm trying to recall that year, nineteen ninety-nine. I think it must have been a good year, what with the end of the century and all that. I recall people were worked up about Y2K, where supposedly all the world's computers would crash--which of course did not happen (though considering 2000 to about 2009, maybe it would have been better if they had).
Let's see. In 1999 we were living in Fort Lauderdale. We had our house and M.R. the cat was still alive. The girls would have been 8 and 6, respectively and Fru and I were just starting our forties. We felt settled by then in South Florida, but it was still new to us just the same. I would have been finishing up my MFA and teaching, Fru still at SunTrust Bank. The girls would be at Virginia Shuman Young Elementary.
Exciting stuff.
Really, things were good, pleasant, calm. Come the next decade, a lot of bad would happen. Bad for the large sense of the world and for the USA, but also quite a bit of personal bad as well, for First Daughter and Fru and my family. Not horrible bad, but bad just the same. But all through 1999, none of that was even a hint in our minds.
I do recall the end of that year. Fru's family came down to visit for Xmas and her brother, his wife and their son stayed into New Years. We had a good time. Fru was very happy because her family had come--her father and his wife and I think maybe even her sister and niece, maybe even her aunt and uncle from Highland, IL had come down that year--and we'd had a big Xmas, the girls were happy to have family about, the weather had been good and so on. AND IT WAS 1999!
We celebrated the end of the year at our house. Fru had bought all this Year 2000 stuff: cups and plates, paper glasses, all this little plastic confetti shaped into flamingoes and 2000 and New Years and palm trees. All tacky and kitschy (which is not Fru). She wanted us to have fun. And we did. When the end of 1999 came we yelled and donned the funny cheap glasses and hats and used the noisemakers, we tossed the thin/hard plastic confetti into the air--all in our house in front of the television set--and then that was that. The 90's were over with.
I really remember that confetti. It went all over, stuck to anything remotely like fabric, fell down into any crevice or crack.
I think it was maybe 2006 when I found the last remaining flamingo/palm tree/2000 piece of confetti in our living room. That last vestige of 1999.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Scooting Across the Floor: Montreal 1992

This was when First Daughter was not even a year old. It was when Fru and I (and First Daughter) drove from Champaign to Montreal to go visit Francis. I'd met Francis in Mexico and had stayed in touch and when we moved from Montana to Champaign, right after our first child was born, he came and visited us there (we met him in Chicago). So, now it was our turn to visit him.
We'd spent the night in Huron, Michigan and I think I called Francis to let him know we were coming. But my message wasn't exact enough, because when we got to Montreal he wasn't expecting us. He lived in a three story apartment--which he owned, where his brother lived in the bottom apartment, Francis on in the second floor and they rented out the third--and it was his brother, Jude, who met us and let us in. Francis had just gotten back from a fishing trip and was not there. So, his place had not been cleaned or readied for our visit (we were staying with him). Not that it was dirty--it's a very nice place in a desirable place in the city--it's mainly that his nice wood floor had not been dusted.
I found some beer in a cooler. The cooler smelled like fish. Jude had called Francis to let him know we'd showed up. Francis--a good host and conscientious human being--was a tad distressed that we had got our trip dates wrong. (I remember now, I'd thought about calling him the night before, but just assumed we'd set the date and time of our arrival, so didn't worry about giving him a heads up on the eve of our arrival.) Anyway--not to worry. All was good and Montreal was--is--of course a fantastic city. For Fru and I it was like going to Europe, the city had that cosmopolitan and foreign feel to it, that vibe, and then there was all the French, the language and voices, the signs, etc.
But--back to the dusty floors--First daughter was not even one year old. She could not walk yet. What she did was scoot. She wore diapers and she would sit cross-legged and to get around, her brand of locomotion, was to scoot on her diapered rear using her legs to pull herself around. . . . So, there we were in Montreal, at Francis' nice place, drinking fishy beer--Fru, Francis and I--and we stood in the kitchen as we watched First Daughter scoot along in her diaper, like a dust mop, cleaning the floors and leaving a trail in the wood as she went.
Of course we laughed.