Sunday, March 27, 2016

Peak Chocolate

My parents are visiting us here in Santiago and today we reached peak chocolate.  The two are not unconnected.
            The Chilean Easter bunny over-calculated how much chocolate four people could eat. The Australian Easter bunny wasn't interested in how much four people could eat - she knew how much chocolate she wanted to bring, and that was took up most of a suitcase.  A friend gave us a reasonably large chocolate chicken that turned out to be brooding a reasonably large clutch of chocolate eggs, and what with one thing or another (and most of a chicken) I am not feeling entirely my best.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Finding the Light

Today a friend of mine is having surgery.  She has  cervical cancer.  It was treated, it went away and at the end of last year it came back. Today she will undergo a rather radical procedure - quite a lot of her insides will be removed.
            It is difficult for her and for her family - her husband and two beautiful children - a boy proud of his missing front teeth, and a girl with an urchin grin and the largest curls a small child can reasonably carry on her head.
            It is difficult, and she finds consolation in what she phrases as "finding the light" - the light of a dinner with friends, a helicopter trip over Niagara, a son in second grade and a daughter old enough to imitate grownups and be useful - even if that useful is scrubbing down the bathroom when she can't reach the taps on the sink. The water in the toilet solves that problem, and the hysterical laughter that goes along with a hasty shower for a kid and a Clorox scrub for all bathroom surfaces under 4 feet high is about as much light as a human body can stand

Today she reckons she can use all the light she can get.
            I find my lights in the endlessly variable dimensions of human imagination. Like your daughter, we dream,  and then - we simply can't help ourselves. We tinker and fix and because we did this one thing, we make the dreams bigger and bigger until - to take an example that is not mine - we find ourselves playing complicated instruments while marching in complicated patterns in lockstep with half a hundred other humans, all of us wearing funny hats and the result of what is, considered soberly, a rather odd collaboration, sets a million watchers on fire, screaming for joy.
            Sometimes those million people, building and tinkering, iteration by iteration, adjusting and learning and loving and dreaming, find themselves coming together in a dance - all of their labors condensed into a dozen people with dozen complicated tools each, dressed in masks and silly gowns, moving in unison beneath a circle of lights and making life.
            And it is exhilarating. For this to happen, someone dreamed.

You got this, my friend.  You're gonna come out flying.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Among Friends.

Daniela and Mike have a deep-pile shag rug on their living room floor.
            I was sitting on the rug.
            My earring fell off.
            My big, bright, sparkly, knuckle-dusting Christmas Eve earring - as hard to miss as a Christmas cracker.
            We found two almonds, three crackers, half a walnut and a raisin before we found that earring.

Mike reckoned that if we expanded the search beyond the immediate area where I was sitting, we might have enough to serve up to his sister's new boyfriend when he came for Christmas day lunch.

(Mike is a composer and a singer. A very good singer. The boyfriend came into money five years ago, bought a guitar and collected a band of like-minded two-chord enthusiasts. As he layered raisins and cracker crumbs on a plate, Mike played us a recording of the boyfriend's latest, and it was a very special recording- like the last Karaoke song of the night before the bar closes and the microphone is pried away from the leftover lush.  We felt for him, and suggested a vacuum cleaner with a stocking tied over the hose. To dig up the good stuff.)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Carols

It is three o'clock in the morning. For five hours now, a bird has been sitting in a tree and singing. Since he began he has not stopped, or barely even paused for breath.  He is singing his little heart out - he chirps, he chirrups, he warbles, hopping up and down his branch and working up the most fantastic runs, tweeting and chortling and whistling, harder and louder and faster until he chokes on his own whistle, and with only the slightest of pauses to clear his windpipe, he starts again -
            And the sound of this one small bird echoes off of the building to our left, and echoes off of the building to our right, and bounces up  and down the parking alley between the two buildings across the street, and on its way back to us, meets the birds next terpsichorian assault, and it grows and it grows and it grows-
            We are afflicted with a lover.  You know the guy - the one crouched below the window of his beloved, strumming furiously on his guitar - his fingers have seized up, the guitar strings are smoking, his shoulders are on fire and the stem of the rose between his teeth has been crushed to a bloody pulp, but he will show her -
            He'll show everyone - 
            The world will give way -
            Ooooh, you just watch and see how deep is his love.

Right above him, his senorita's daddy is out on the balcony, ready to pitch a bucket of cold water over the edge.
            Or if we're back to birdies, possibly a cat.
            It might have been amusing, but an hour ago the lover from hell was joined by a second bird. They are not friends. It is deadly serious out there. Feather to feather, they are trilling their little beaks off. No quarter given - it is war. If one pauses for breath the other finds it in his little diaphragm to double his volume and show just what sort of deathless devotion he is made of  -
            The Don is still upstairs on the balcony, but this time, sleepless and grim, the full complement of family retainers are lined up on either side.
They've got buckets, ready to go.  He's got a shotgun.
            And the seƱorita is inside lying on a sofa with an ice-pack on her head.

Merry chirping Christmas.