Notwithstanding my recent Sam Cooke addiction, it's now Otis Redding. If one Wikis Otis, one will find a statement saying he had a great ability to emote strongly in his singing. Very true. Wiki says he is the epitome of soul, that American amalgamation of gospel, rhythm and blues and more. I agree. I've written before to say that my 15th year was one that contained both joyous and torturous events. It is one of the years of life about which I have the most vivid memories. Few periods of that time from August 24th, 1967 through August 23rd, 1968 are blank. That part of my canvas is pretty fully painted. One of the headlines in that year was about Otis' plane crash and death. A month later his biggest hit, (Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay, was released. I'm always startled when someone can point only to The Dock of the Bay when Otis Redding's name is spoken. After all, that grand song was the end. There was an entire body of work that went before. And while some may call me an old fussy hen and others simply think I pay close attention to the details, I know this: had I put this tune up on YouTube, I'd sure-as-shootin' have typed his name "Otis" and not "Ortis".
On one wall of my office resides a utilitarian monthly calendar that is used to show when anyone wants a day off. In our world, days off are granted on a first come, first served basis, so this seemingly inconsequential item actually has great importance. At the beginning of each month, we renumber the blocks, change the name of the month, and we're good to go. For no particular reason, Troy re-did the calendar in January, February and March. The calendar was useful, not beautiful, during the first quarter. He never mismarked the date squares and his printing was legible. Last week when everyone was busy on the huge job at the church, I readied the calendar for April. In the header, I wrote "April, 2010" and I drew some simple vines with leaves. Then I was inspired to type, print and put up the best April quote of all, "April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain." The calendar began to be used as soon as April opened. I watched homes put their names up, notice the quote, read it, recoil as if snakebit and elbow other homes in the ribs. Not so this morning! Matt stepped closer to the calendar in order to read the quote. Then he turned to me and said, "Tell me about T. S. Eliot, please, Leslie."
Anyone care to join me for a little more Otis? Yesterday I had to pull the gray pea coat out of the closet. The wind has screamed for days, temperatures below normal, and it even rained. As I pulled the coat on, I reflected that I am damned sick and tired of the wind. It is affecting me negatively. Oh, I'd suffer being so full of antihistamines my lips and tongue stick to my teeth while my nose still runs nonstop. I'd learn to live with making Virginia Woolf a little bed tucked away in the closed bathroom so she doesn't tremble in fear. I'd shoulder the indignity of my hair looking wild for just about half of life. But it's about the miles and miles walking every day in it. Nose running, eyes streaming, chugging up to the end of Desert Inn Road into it, abs contracting with the effort, turning the corners facing into the mighty blast. I have crumpled tissues stuffed into every pocket of every jacket and pair of walking pants, making laundry day a merry hell because no one could possibly remove them all before tossing the clothing into the machine . . . Reader, I have to confess it, when the days go 115-degrees, I'll moan about that, too. But it won't grip me the way the unceasing, freakish wind has. Just one more moan and I'll stop. When the gale shrieks through the streets as it has recently, there is something that freaks me out. When stopped at a red light, one can observe the huge standards that house the traffic lights . . . bouncing in the wind. It scared me in 1976. It scares me now. The newscasters warn us to keep both hands on the steering wheel as the crosswinds can give a car a mighty jolt . . . and I am nearly maddened by it.
Monday, I carried my bags of the week's groceries to the office. I trudged up the stairs like a clumsy, overloaded pack horse, turned into the breezeway and was struck by the irony of the word "breezeway" as I was nearly sent airborne from the second floor deck. I struggled for keys from the purse, my BlackBerry already chirping as homes checked in with me to start their workday. Fumbling at the door, I spotted someone sitting at the patio table. Which one of them was sitting outside in the wind and the cold? Justin? What the hell? For Justin was put on shore leave in December and has been very quiet since. We knew he wasn't having any luck finding work, because some of the others keep in touch with him. Last week in staff meeting we talked about how we still needed more technicians, even after having hired Matt back. There is that much work. David is considering adding to the fleet of mighty war wagons. We are going into conservative growth mode. When Cesar spoke up for Justin, David asked me what I thought. Easy answer. He's experienced. He's experienced in our ways. He's not afraid to ask for the money. He doesn't get called for go-backs. He is something of a leprechaun who charms almost everyone who meets him. So the word spread in the way it spreads in our world, and now, on Monday, Justin was on my deck. He followed in Matt's footsteps, manned up, and asked David to hire him back. Done! Our little group is rejoined, with a few new personalities added. It feels good. Everyone we'd ever consider bringing back is back. Let's go make some money!
I had a wonderful weekend. I do not celebrate Passover or Easter, but I celebrate life and I celebrate Sundays and I celebrate regular old everyday days that have some warmth and friendship and love and shared laughs. I celebrate April. I like to cook a meal to be shared and I like lively conversation peppered with laughs. I like to sit and make plans for future good times. I like to revisit the past good times. I like to share dreams and my opinions and my advice and my support. I like to lull my guests into a relaxed state of bonhomie with food and liquor and then tear them up at cards. I did every bit of that, and more!
In my ears right now: There's no film footage. It's a recording of Otis live in concert in London. Try a Little Tenderness is some kind of song under any circumstances, but oh! This! He makes Three Dog Night sound like three whimpering puppies.
Something that charmed me: I plot a lot of routes throughout our valley. I see a lot of street names. Some of them are simply odd. Others are whimsical or hilarious. GPS told me that #4 was going to turn right at the intersection of Trotting Trigger and Sashaying Spirit . . . . I thought that if my spirit was out in the mean streets, I hoped she would do a little sashay so folks would remember she'd been through these parts.