Sunday, August 28, 2005

Parking Tickets

I recently got a ticket on my street -- they have street cleaning here in Denver, where they choose to give you some "3rd Thursday" or "4th Tuesday" to move your car off the street, so they can allegedly clean it -- if you don't you get a parking ticket. Well, I've been taking the bus to work, and as usual not paying attention to whether it was the 4th Tuesday Of The Month, so I didn't notice the ticket on my car. But of course I got the envelope, so now I have to pay it. I figured a letter to the City with a little humor would help, so here's what I wrote:

August 29, 2005

City & County of Denver
PO Box 46502
Denver, CO 80201-6502

Dear Sir/Madam:

I recently found this enclosed envelope in the door of my car. There is no citation inside, but given the fact that I was parked in front of my house at 123 Main Street on street cleaning day August 23, I probably deserved one, but it was lost on the street in the monsoon and wind storm that followed.

My car is a ‘97 Subaru Legacy Outback, Colorado license plate #555-XXX.

Enclosed is a check for $20. I don’t know the amount of the ticket, but I’m guessing it‘s the same as when I did a similarly stupid thing back in May. If the rate has gone up since then, please would you please call me at one of the numbers below?

Thank you for your attention to this matter. As always, your service is appreciated, as I never feel like I’m giving the city and county enough money until I’ve got a parking ticket to pay.

Sincerely,




Julie M.
123 Main Street
Denver, CO 80202
555-2933
555-1426

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Uncle Tom's Cabin

In the past two weeks while I've been riding the bus to work, I've managed to finish one book and start another. My first book, Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe was an outstanding book, easy reading, and a fun look at an aging woman who makes friend with a character from Whistle Stop, Alabama who tells her stories that change her outlook on life.

After I finished that book, I didn't intend to pick up another book about The South, but I have had a copy of the Civil War classic Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a book on a long list of classics that I've been meaning to read for years.

At first the book was a bit slow going. The way Mrs. Stowe wrote about the slaves' version of English made it difficult to figure out where they were saying, so it took some concentration.

But as I read along, like learning a new language, I got the inflections and spellings of the slave talk ("gwine" means "going"). I was soon enveloped in a great, dare I say genius piece of storytelling.

I'm halfway through the book, and I'm already worried about reading it too fast so it's over too soon, but am so compelled by the story that I want to read to find out what happens to the characters, including George & Eliza, and of course, Uncle Tom.

Never have I read a book that so richly interweaves characters from such diverse backgrounds, from the pitiable but heroic Eliza, running from slavery with her only surviving child the night before the child is to be sold "downriver" -- a fate for slaves that ranks right up there with being sent to hard labor in Siberia.

Mrs. Stowe writes about the different Southern slave owners, how some of them struggle with the question of slavery, and how many manage to legitimize their owning of slaves by using biblical references. Still others don't hide behind the Bible, but choose to be kind to their slaves, with a more humanitarian view of their Black servants.

"The Great Emancipator" -- President Abraham Lincoln -- once met Mrs. Stowe (whose book was originally published as a a serial in a magazine in 1851-1852, galvinizing sentiment among Northerners against slavery), and he said to her "So you're the little lady who started this big war."

Her rich storytelling paints such a portrait of slavery, I can certainly understand why such sentiments gelled over her book.

It also makes me reflect on why I do certain things, and whether or not I do them "because everybody else does" as the Southerners did, or if I take a moral high road over something, looking down on others who choose to do things differently, much like the Northerners did at the time in their attitudes towards slavery.

Much to think about, but I am so thankful to have this book in my hands. What a gem of American Literature, to be sure, and I'm only halfway through the book!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Work Week #1 Is Over, The Cats Wonder...


Where Have You Been? Posted by Picasa

This is Jack, my 11-month-old kitten. He's a bit put off now that I've gone to work every day this week. He's also quite the talker. Meow, Meow, meeeeow. Following me around the house as I get ready as if to say "you're going out AGAIN?" and then again when I return.

I enjoyed my first week of work. Even if the cats missed me. I had a dream last night that my cat Jack looked at me as I talked to him the way I do, and he said in a human voice, "You don't have to talk to me like I don't know. I understand every word you say."

Freaky.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ode to The End of Unemployment

Well, that was fun. Sort of. For the past 5 1/2 months, I've been without a job. I got laid off from my job in February, and at long last, I've been hired to work at a newspaper here in Denver.

Let's take stock of what I accomplished (in addition to looking for and finding work).

1) I made three baby quilts and one queen size one, all given away to friends and family.

2) I cleaned. Boy did I. I've never been much of a housekeeper, but having time on my hands allowed me to have the time to tackle those hard-to-reach areas like the back bedroom. I also cleaned out my kitchen cupboards, the fridge, and some but not all areas of the basement.

3) I painted and rehab'd my front porch. I hated the way my front entrance looked. With a tired old couch, it was time to do something. I pulled a "Trading Spaces" job on it, bought a slipcover and re-covered the cushions. I bought a couple of end tables and cleaned up the area so it looked less like a white trash front porch, and more like a place to hang out.

4) I lost my last grandmother. This wasn't necessarily a good or a bad thing. Gram was 93 and ready to go, but it was sad to lose her just weeks after my unemployment started. I was able to fly out for the funeral, help plan it, and take care of her estate.

5) I later drove to Oregon -- and picked up my grandmother's things that I wanted. I now have my grandfather's desk, Gram's dining set, and a few of her sewing things. It feels good to have those things in my house, and after re-covering the dining chair seats, it looks good too.

6) I lost 20+ pounds. I started Weight Watchers in January, and had already lost about 10 lbs. when I got laid off...I continued my diet and exercise plan, and lost an additional 20 lbs. during my unemployment. I feel lighter, and happy to be able to wear some of my "thin clothes". While I'd still like to lose a few more pounds, I'm glad to be feeling healthier.

7) I volunteered at a local homeless shelter. Just a couple of months ago, I decided that with all this free time, I could easily spend a few hours a week at a local shelter. I've learned a lot in a short period of time, and met some amazing people. I feel like I've gotten more out of it than I gave, that's for sure. I hope to continue after my job starts.

8) A little introspection. After 3 miscarriages in the past 3 years, I needed time off from all the stress and strain of trying to make a family. As much as I would like to have a child, I am coming to the point of being at peace with not having children, or possibly adopting. This is the part of my journey that is yet clear to me, but having this time to think about things and realize that my life will be complete even if we don't have kids has been invaluable.

9) Planning our trip to Europe. I've bought a few books on Paris and London, and spent a good deal of time poring over them and deciding what to see. When I was down about being unemployed, it was wonderful to have something to look forward to. Nothing eases ones heart than to know that in a matter of weeks or months, one will be in Paris.

10) Taking care of my husband. Brian works so hard, it has been fun to be able to have dinner ready for him when he got home, take care of all the housework, and allow him to relax when he got home from work. Within a few weeks of my lay-off, he said "Man, I'm getting spoiled. Can we afford this?" Of course we could for a while, but ultimately no, I'm not built to be a housewife, and we don't make enough money on a single income for us to afford it, even if I was. But it's been nice to have the time to try it out.

The only downside to being unemployed for a long time is that unemployment payments aren't enough to do all the things you want to when you have all that time on your hands. But it looks like we made it through, and next Monday will be so nice.

Back to work I go.

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