A bright and noisy Wednesday morning, rap music coming from the apartment building to the east, hammering and drilling from the back of our lot, more hammering and power saws from the apartment building to the west. A fire caused by accumulated lint in a dryer displaced a large family some months ago, and the building owner is finally renovating. I’ve no idea what happened to the family. I last saw them huddled on the sidewalk watching large men wrestle giant hoses toward what used to be their home.
How life can change in an instant–a fire, a diagnosis, a death. Even if we learn to be wary, tread cautiously, watch where we put our feet, some things just fall out of the sky.
The news is full of Crimea (“If Not a New Cold War, a Distinct Chill in the Air”) and the missing Malaysian plane, an increasingly bizarre story. Oh, and let’s not forget the latest from the Edward Snowden leaks, that the NSA has now built a surveillance system “capable of recording ‘100 percent’ of a foreign country’s telephone calls…” and storing them for 30 days. “A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine–one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.” (Washington Post, “NSA surveillance program reaches ‘into the past’ to retrieve, replay phone calls,” March 18, 2014)
Honestly, isn’t it kind of crazy that they can lose an entire plane with 239 people aboard, but can listen in on Maud discussing laundry detergent with her niece Sally? Will our children and grandchildren grow up just assuming the police can listen in to every phone call, monitor every text and email, locate them in time and space wherever they are? It’s the Stasi on steroids.
I think about these things when I spend time with grandchildren, as I did yesterday. My daughter’s childcare arrangements for her six-year-old have fallen through, so I am contributing to the patchwork of substitutes by picking up my granddaughter at noon every Tuesday at her kindergarten. The first time was yesterday. The teacher holds the children in the classroom until she can identify who’s picking them up, so there was a crowd at the door, at the back of which was my granddaughter, jumping up and down and waving madly. My daughter told me she was terribly excited that I’d be picking her up, and last night I got a text from her saying, “I love my mom’s mom.” How irresistible is that?
First we went to a hofbrau for lunch–chicken nuggets for her, a burger for me–then to the ice cream store, where she insisted on a sugar cone for her strawberry ice cream with carnival sprinkles. First the sprinkles fell off, then the ice cream. Happily, we were sitting at a table outside, so she could pick it up and plop it back on the cone. Then we walked to a wonderful park with huge green lawns, two playgrounds, benches and picnic tables. Within minutes, my granddaughter found a friend from preschool, and off they went to do whatever six-year-old girls do when an adult isn’t within earshot. When it was time to go, I walked across the lawn and found them in an amphitheater, prying up pieces of cracked earth and heaving them onto the benches. My granddaughter said she couldn’t leave because she was having too much fun.
And now, all the workers have gone to lunch, the rap music has disappeared, and I’m hearing twittering birds and cawing crows. The orange cat is asleep in the sunshine, the gray cat stretched out on the brown fuzzy blanket, and I am contemplating going out to buy fresh ginger for the chicken and cauliflower curry I’m cooking for dinner tonight. But no rush. It’s not even noon yet
What a lucky life.