Saturday, May 21, 2011

Don't Call Australia in the Morning

As I am writing this, it is May 20, 2011. According to some people who have been getting a lot of press lately, the end of the world is supposed to occur tomorrow, May 21. If that is the case, it won't matter that I didn't get my column in before deadline today.
That's what I was thinking, and then I thought, wait. Do they mean May 21 American time, or May 21 Sydney, Australia, time?
We have friends who live on the east coast of Australia north of Sydney, and when ever I try to figure out what time it is there, I use the simple rule that they are eighteen hours ahead of us, or, as I sometimes like to think of it, six hours behind us, tomorrow. So if it's seven twenty-five in the evening on Vashon Island (and it is right now), then it's – um – wait – one twenty-five Saturday afternoon in Sydney. So it's already more than halfway through May 21 there. Maybe I should give them a call and see how they're doing. What if they don't answer?
That simple rule is simple because it's not accurate, by the way. Sometimes we're on Daylight Savings Time, sometimes we're off, and the same is true for Sydney, Australia. So sometimes we're seventeen hours behind them and sometimes we're nineteen hours behind them. Occasionally eighteen hours is correct, but I get confused trying to figure it out.
I made a chart after our friends moved to Australia. I listed all the hours of the day in the first column to show what time it was on Vashon Island. Then I did comparative columns of what time it was in Sydney on Daylight Savings Time (nineteen hours ahead), what time it was there off Daylight Savings Time (seventeen hours ahead), and what time it was there if Daylight Savings Time didn't matter, when we're both on it or off it, during overlapping weeks that sometimes occur (eighteen hours ahead). This chart was meant to keep me from making a friendly telephone call that woke them up at four in the morning, which I did once, and I could tell it was not appreciated. Friendship is all well and good, and a great thing, but there are boundaries.
I can tell you as a general rule that it is not a good idea to call Australia from the West Coast of the United States between our three in the morning and let's say our one or two in the afternoon. Observing these guidelines respects the sleep schedule of people living on Sydney time. If you live in some other time zone but the West Coast of the United States, you're on your own. It was hard enough to figure out this much.
Oops – just looked on Facebook, and our god daughter who lives in Cairo, Egypt, has observed that if the end of the world was occurring on Greenwich Mean Time, it's late. Maybe not May 21, after all.
I tend to think that when Jesus said, “no one shall know the hour or the day,” he knew what he was talking about. No one will see it coming. So straighten up and fly right, pal. You never know.
And don't call Australia in the morning.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Libbie!

Our friend Libbie Anthony (that's her on the left in the picture) turns 70 today, May 10, 2011. She sent an email to many people reminding them of this fact and asking them to send her birthday greetings to make it a heck of a day.
She also mentioned that she had recently had a toe amputated. She ignored her diabetes for a few years, and regrets that now.
Lib & I used to sing together with Velvet Neifert as the trio Women, Women & Song. We sang our way up and down the West Coast all through the 1980s. It was a great ride, mostly, like all of life.
Two things I ask of my friends who read this: First, don't get all bent out of shape because I wrote a poem for Libbie's birthday and not for yours. If you want a poem, ask me, and I'll write one. Second, don't go chopping off any body parts in hopes that you'll inspire me. I mean, eew. Just email me or call and tell me what's been going on and I'll see what I can cook up for you. And remember, it takes time and effort to write even bad poetry.
Let's get to it. Here is Libbie's 70th Birthday poem:

In Memory of a Missing Toe
On the Occasion of the 70th Birthday
of Elizabeth Whitman Anthony

Oh late lamented toe!
That once with me did caper
With nail painted red
With graceful girlish taper

I took you as my due
The docs took you, you're gone
You've hit the finish line while all
The rest of me goes on

Ne'er again the other nine
To march with their comrade true
Ne'er again when I'm alert
Shall I be on my you

So thank you for the many years
The many miles you granted
I'll face the future without you
Albeit somewhat slanted.

Happy Birthday & Many Happy Returns
from Yr. Friend
Mary Litchfield Tuel

Monday, May 9, 2011

Grandma's Diary: Nine

Dear Allysan,
When I started writing a column for the Vashon Loop nine years ago I wrote about you and titled the column, “Grandma's Diary.” You were my newborn grand daughter then, and the apple of my eye.
You gave me a lot of material to write about when you were small.
There was the time you threw the package of ramen noodles into the dishwasher when I wasn't looking and I didn't find out until after the load was done washing. Man, those noodles were clean.
Then there was the time I went to the bathroom, leaving my laptop computer out, and when I came back not three minutes later, you were busy writing on the computer screen with a black marker. When you saw me, you dropped the marker, said, “I done,” and ran away. I went to look at the computer and found you had colored almost the entire screen black.
Handy tip: acetone will remove black marker from a computer screen, but try not to inhale the fumes.
We had a lot of fun together back in the day. Once you and I traveled to California to visit my cousin Nancy, and coming home Nancy rode up the coast with us. The three of us went swimming in a motel pool in Crescent City. Like your dad and your uncle when they were little, you enjoyed riding on my back like a cow girl as I plunged through the water.
After a few years I decided not to write stories about you for the paper any more. I figured it was hard enough growing up in a small town, without having people know stories about you and come up to you in the store or at school and say, “You're the girl who...” whatever the story was. I made this decision after a woman came up to us at the supermarket one day, looked at you, and said, “Oh, you're that naughty little girl!” She was kidding around, but I figured you didn't need anyone saying anything like that to you, even kidding.
Now you are about to turn nine. You are half-way to eighteen, which is considered adult in many ways. I thought I was adult when I was eighteen. Now in my 60s I think people in their 40s are kids, so an eighteen-year-old is practically a baby. When you are eighteen, you will not think you are a baby.
When your father turned nine I remember the shock of realizing that he was halfway to adulthood and I hadn't done a fraction of the things I'd wanted to do with him. We never drove a van across the country to visit all the parks and monuments and historical sites I wanted to see and show to him. We didn't go live on the beach in Mexico for six months so we could all learn to speak Spanish. Stuff like that. We did once take a train trip across the country and back, visiting family in Ohio and New Mexico, and we drove to California to visit the grand parents several times, so we did some traveling. It's just that I had these ideas about what I wanted to do with my kids, that's all, and when your dad turned nine I realized that there was so much I'd never get done.
Now we're sitting here on the couch together and you're watching me write this letter about your turning nine, which you're going to do any minute now, and I find myself thinking of the things I wish I could do with you – train trips, road trips. I wish I could be like Auntie Mame (I'll explain who Auntie Mame was later) and take you to see the wonderful things this world has to offer, the places and people. But instead you have to stay here and finish second grade.
That's life. We dream about flying to Maui, but we have to stay home to finish second grade, and turn nine with our mom and dad and grandmas and grand dads and our friends around us to eat cake and give us presents and wish us well and try as much as possible to make right where we are the best place for a beloved child to grow up.
We grandparents know that at nine you will not be a child much longer. Adolescence will soon begin creeping in, and then you'll be a teenager, and the beautiful talented brilliant child you are will be gone forever. Instead you'll be a beautiful talented brilliant young woman, but you know what? I can wait for that. I can wait, and I can savor this brief time before you emerge from childhood.
In closing, I want to say: you rock, grand daughter, you rock now and you always will, and I am so blessed, so fortunate, so lucky that I get to know you. Happy Birthday. Love, Grandma