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Archive for May, 2010

I had an experience today that I can’t shake.

I was walking to the post office at a “take no prisoners” pace, and I saw an old man on the sidewalk ahead of me, shuffling along.  I hate passing slow walkers.  It always seems rude somehow, so I usually say something friendly or at least smile as I walk around them.

This particular elderly man was Japanese, and he had stopped in the middle of the sidewalk.  And when I said good afternoon and smiled as I walked past, he turned his gaze to me, looking confused and maybe even a bit hostile.  I’m not sure if it was a language barrier, hearing problem, cognition problem (he was quite old) or something else.  Then he looked away.

I followed his gaze, and he was staring at an enormous American flag hung out for Memorial Day.  I looked back at him.  There was great emotion in his face.

Given his advanced age, and given my penchant for spinning stories out of nothing, I figured he’d been around during World War II.  Many Japanese from this area were put in camps during the war.  Had he been one of those, and did he still feel angry when the country celebrated the defeat of his homeland?  Or was he feeling pride for his adopted country (I assume his adopted country, but he might have been born here).

Maybe he’d just hung the flag and had come out to see how it looked.

For several minutes afterward, as I headed for the post office, I spun stories for that man.  Comes with the territory of being a fiction writer, I guess!

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Considering I signed up at the last minute and didn’t attend the “volunteer orientation” meeting, I figured I’d be given some insignificant job.  So here’s what happened:

Rob and I got up at the crack of dawn, caught the train, planning to arrive several minutes early (we were supposed to be there by 9:15).  When we get off the train, we discover bus service has been severely curtailed because of the race.  So we walk to Exposition Park, about two miles, and arrive at the tail end of the volunteers.

They are happy to see us.  They are short on volunteers.  They hand us our bright orange T-shirts, enough water and power bars to keeps us going, and we hitch a ride to our assigned intersections in downtown L.A.  We are “course marshals.”  It was my understanding that we would help people cross the street and answer questions from the general public, and that a senior course marshal would be there to give us specific instructions once we arrived.

Well.  A few other people arrived in orange T-shirts, just as clueless as we were.  So we had two or three people per intersection (HUGE intersections) whose main job it was to keep pedestrians, skateboarders, amateur cyclists, dogs etc. from getting killed by darting in front of a cyclist hurtling down the road at 35 m.p.h.  And there were LOTS of pedestrians, most of whom did not have a clue what was going on and who were not inclined to pay the slightest bit of attention to us.

Add to that the novelty of our street barricades getting blown over by the wind (I had to pick them up about five times), cars coming out of the courthouse garage that were trapped behind barricades and their screaming mad drivers, newspapers blowing across the course, and you have one nerve-wracking day!

Highlights included a troop of about 100 Boy Scouts wanting to cross the route, and one old, old man … okay, picture this.  Remember the “dirty old man” from Laugh In?  The one who always hit on Gladys in the park?  It was him.  In every detail, including the raincoat.  He starts across the street with his cane, moving about six inches with each labored step, while another volunteer and I run out there and try to steer him toward safety, ready to pick him up and carry him to the curb if a cyclist came by.  Fortunately he made it.

I got cursed at a few times (when people want to cross the street, they sometimes don’t take kindly to, “can you wait 30 seconds until the road clears?”).  But most people were very nice.

If all that wasn’t enough, our train got stopped on the way home by a group of L.A. county sheriff’s dept. deputies toting shotguns.  Apparently a security camera had spotted a wanted, dangerous person in the car ahead of ours.  They evacuated the car, apprehended him and cuffed him, then emptied the train. We had to catch the next train that came by.  Still no idea what that was about, but I don’t think the arrestee was littering.

Okay, since this blog is really, really long, I’ll sign off.

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I love crochet.  My mother was a master at the craft–I have one of her tablecloths that is just incredible.  She taught me the basics, but I gave it up long ago.

Lately, though, I’ve been drawn to it.  I bought some artisan yarn and a couple of hooks, and the basics came back to me quickly (though it’s been a loooong time).

I wasn’t satisfied with my results, so I bought a book on basic crochet and a couple of skeins of cheap acrylic yarn from Big Lots for practice and … these are the results.

Now, I can’t blame the book.  The problem is, I don’t follow directions very long.  As soon as I learn something, I want to go off and try my own ideas.  And … well, you can see the results.  Kind of scary.  I put the best of the flowers on a headband.

But I’m getting better.  I find just the process of crocheting extremely relaxing, like meditation.  I think I’ll list my mutants for sale in my Etsy shop, just for fun.

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