Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Twisted Plots and the Wrinkles in Life's Fabric

I keep reminding myself that if a person is "Van Winkled" to what's happening elsewhere on the planet, then the only news that remains available is "local" and "personal."

Specifically, "news" becomes whatever seems of import that happens directly to him or her. It's the solipsist's news beat.

Or Welcome to Me-World...

Of course, the blogosphere is replete with this sort of daily diary stuff.

Most of the time, I find myself unwilling to risk a Twitter-style yawn by sharing nuggets of the monstrously mundane aspects of my life (e.g., I had a BLT for lunch, yum! e.g., Just took a Gas-X tablet, ugh!). There's nothing in my daily routine worth reporting on this blog.

Every day is average. Every day goes much as expected. So I write about other matters.

But the last couple of days! Whew! I won't claim it was as if we were on board the Titanic, but our metaphorical ship of life sure wasn't reaching its ports of call in an expected fashion.

All Is Well (Or Is It?)
It began with a planned Easter holiday junket to the nearest major metropolitan area to seek some cultural nourishment not available in our little burg of 110,000 people. We set out on our adventure on Saturday afternoon by getting in the car and driving two hours east of here.

There have been rampant wildfires in this part of the state. For weeks now the daily temperature has approached the summer heat levels of July and the wind has ripped across the arid plains and there has been no rain and no rain. It's a recipe for out of control flames to sweep unimpeded across the landscape.

For weeks, the weather app on my computer desktop
has delivered the same "alert" nearly every day...

Pastures have blackened. Houses have burned. Cattle have been barbecued alive in the field.

Many days I'd stepped outside the house and smelled the smoke in the air. One night my wife drove home with the car's sun roof open. Mistake. She found ash drifting down onto the seats and into her hair.

During our drive on Saturday we checked for places where the fires had burned. We saw one small charcoaled patch alongside the road. Not too impressive. I think it was at this point we began to relax.

The Nonexistent Noodles
So for our Saturday night dinner we selected a Vietnamese restaurant we  had discovered on our last trip to the big city. They featured the kind of delectable, well presented food we can't obtain back home. But wait. Something was wrong. Yes, I mean wait. Really wait. Our appetizers arrived and the server said that our orders were coming. But you know where this is headed.

So March was "National Noodle Month" (seriously) and we
missed it, so we thought we'd atone by ordering up some serious
platefuls of Asian noodle dishes...

We waited. We waited. Our glasses of ice water ran dry. Outside we could see through the tall windows the sky was being illuminated by giant scribbles and lassos of lightning.

Mother Nature was having a blast. Not us.

When the food finally came it was with apologies. At least it was delicious. The manager knocked a few dollars off the bill and gave our son a free cup of chocolate ice cream.

To conclude the evening we headed over to the used bookstore. The night sky still appeared apocalyptic. But the Four Horsemen remained at bay and only scattered drops of rain fell on us. We went back to our hotel with a bag of books and used LPs. We were feeling pretty good about life...

The Empty Church
The main reason we had journeyed all the way to this lovely large metropolis was that I'd picked out an  elegant, Spanish-styled church associated with a major university at which we would attend Easter services. It was near our hotel, but we still had to hustle to pull our best clothes out of bags, dress, and get ready to go.

We arrived on time. Hurray! But another twist, another wrinkle awaited us...

A man accosted us in the parking lot and told us that the service had been moved from the church. "There's been a power outage," he explained. We were redirected to the nearby campus. Church would be held in the student center where they still had power.

Such disappointment! We had wanted to hear the bells toll in the tower. See the robed choir process down the stone tiled aisle. Watch the morning light pouring through stained glass. Feast our eyes on the vaulted ceiling.

The church we hoped to attend...

It was too late to amend our plans. So we joined a line of Easter church goers who, like us, had found that the grand old church on this morning was only an empty, non-electrified, darkened tomb. Plan B was to gather in what resembled a hotel banquet room. Industrial carpet, rows of banquet chairs, cheesy chandeliers. Everyone made the best of it.

Sometimes life doesn't go according to plan. This isn't necessarily bad. Isn't that the message of Easter?

Ah, the MOMA, the perfect venue for our Easter brunch...
Spill the Wine
We were really looking forward to our Easter brunch.

We had reservations in the cafe at the Museum of Modern Art.

Soon as we arrived we knew: this was it! The architecture was wonderful, the food the other diners were tucking into looked aesthetic and palate pleasing.

Indeed once our food arrived my son and I whipped out our cameras and started acting like tourists and taking pictures of it. That's where I became incautious. My blazer sleeve snagged my champagne glass.

A glimpse in the foreground of the glass of sparkling wine moments
before the tragic (and messy!) fall...

The glass tumbled. It shattered with a LOUD  pop!! on the table. I was splashed with golden wine and, with my synapses firing like military grade ordinance, I leaped up by reflex before I even realized what had just happened. Behind me my chair fell over. The nearby diners went "oh!" just like they do when a waiter drops a plate.

"Are you all right?" the waitress asked, hurrying to my assistance.

Some part of me was. All right. The rest of me? Not so much.

I tossed a wadded napkin in the direction of the puddled wine. I excused myself to head in the direction of the bathroom.

The Seventh Plague
It was almost time to go home, but what else could go wrong? Hadn't we had our quota already?

In fact, I refuse to count as an adversity that we had planned to finish our visit with a visit to a large super market that features gourmet and natural foods that we can't buy back home. We had even brought a cooler that we planned to fill with ice and then pack with organic meats and vegetables.We arrived and found the parking lot empty.

Closed for the Easter holiday.

So we began the two-hour drive back. Again, we relaxed. Then, only half an hour from home, the sky began looking gray and grim. It appeared to be storming off in the distance. We were within fifteen minutes of home when the rain began to fall. Heavily.

Photo by Greg Kendall-Ball (who V.W. personally knows!)

The windshield wipers had to be put on full speed and visibility was only as far as tail lights of the vehicle ahead of us. Still, we could proceed, albeit at a slightly reduced speed.

Then hail began falling.

Not good. We sought shelter under a highway underpass with a crowd of cars, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks. We were now on the outskirts of town, only five minutes from our driveway. Soon the rain slackened .

We and the other highway travelers took shelter, huddling beneath the underpass. while rain and hail poured down

I started up again. Only a mile from our house the hail started falling again. Big hail. Verging on golf ball size. I screeched to a halt beneath the gas pump awning of a car wash. The entire town appeared be swamped with water. This came after months and months of drought.

Eventually the hail relented and sun began to poke through and I got the three of us home. Hail stones still littered the front yard. Our roof might have to be replaced. But that was it, right? Nothing else untoward would happen to us on this day? There as to be a time limit on such things?

Apparently so. Which makes me happy. You see, it may have been a lot of trouble, but at least I derived a blog post out of the weekend. What I don't want, though, is an entire series. - V.W.

Home again.

No comments:

Post a Comment