Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy's Messing with Halloween

Mike has the news anchored to Hurricane Sandy coverage.  We still have friends along the Eastern seaboard, in Boston, in New Jersey, in Maryland, in North Carolina, though most of them are high enough not to be dealing with flooding.  So far they've lost power, but are still posting on Facebook.  We've been sending our support and hope they're all okay. 

We've been watching for a couple of hours now.  It's strange how media can affect your perception.  I let the dog out a bit ago and expected it to be blustering outside.  Then, I turned on the computer and before I sat down, I walked away to make some tea.  Blustery weather goes well with tea.  In my defense, it is cold and wet out here in the Pacific Northwest.  When I came back to the computer, there was a picture of my niece in waist-deep water on the screen-saver.  Okay, it had been summer when I took the photo and she was in her bathing suit with Nick and her other siblings just outside the shot, but she was in high water, much like the poor weather guys in Atlantic City.  Then, I helped Nick with his homework a bit and when I turned back to the computer again, there was a photo of a guy leaning into a high wind, something we'd encountered on the deck of a ferry traversing the Puget Sound last June.  It was definitely blustery in June.  Even my computer is affecting my perception of the weather outside in the night.

Then I remembered that one of my favorite blogs, Nat the Fat Rat, is set in Manhattan.  So, I got online to check it out.   She posted a bunch of photos of her afternoon out on the street with her boy Huck. That kid is so adorable, totally worth a look, in addition to the fact that Natalie is chatty and fun and tosses out thoughtful commentary on motherhood. One of her photos today, a plaza in New York City is completely vacant even though it's the middle of the day.  Is that crazy or what?  Back in the 80s, I went into NYC almost once a week for eight years.  I had never seen anything like that. It takes a lot to keep those stock market guys from their jobs too.  Not to mention the diners.  Those places never close.  Some day, I'll tell you about feta cheese omelets after dancing until dawn.

So you have to know that they're losing gobs of money on the far coast right now and for at least the next twenty-four hours.  The flooded subways might suffer some long-lasting damage too.  Maybe it'll wash out some of the smell of urine that I remember so well, but I'm hoping they aren't out of service for long.  The subway is a critical part of the way NYC operates, though I never did learn where I was going when my clan used them back then.  It seems that I have a pretty good idea which way I'm going when I'm outside, but it all goes to hell when you put me underground. Maybe Manhattan will be lucky and the damage will be minimal, my wish for all of the East Coast, in fact.

And what about the casinos in Atlantic City?  Are they closed too?  They must be.  I hope my favorite black jack dealer stays safe.  Remember when I told you about him?  He was a good guy, though he didn't say more than ten words the whole time I was winning all that money that night.  I could tell he was a good guy.  It was in his eyes.  But if the casinos aren't running, what will all those little old ladies from New Jersey do with their social security checks?  What will happen to all that shrimp on the buffets? 

It begs the question, how much money will be lost?  Conversely, how much will be saved by all the people who aren't driving, who aren't eating out or buying stuff, who aren't even heating their homes?  I've never heard any statistics about that.  It's always about what is lost by businesses. 

If enough money is lost, will someone start demanding that we have another look at climate change?  I'm just saying.

On a less critical note, I feel bad for all those people who had great Halloween decorations set up on their houses.  Taking them down before the trick or treats must have been depressing.  Still, boarded up townhouses would make a pretty cool backdrop for those same decorations if they get a chance to put them back up. 

Here, we're all set to have a rainy and cold Halloween, so I'm hoping we have enough light sticks, cocoa, cider, and candy.  People always love the cocoa.  We'll be in town where the atmosphere is of a festival.  People escort their children with wine glasses in their hands.  You can walk down the middle of the streets.  You hear familiar voices, though you can't see much, and when you call out a hello, you usually recognize who it is.  Some families set up tiny haunted houses in their garages.  Once, a man had disguised himself as a stuffed straw man and sat on his porch with a bowl of candy in his lap.  It was scary and fun to watch him leap forward at the other kids.  Nick was young then, but eventually he got brave enough after watching for a while, as long as his dad held his hand.  It's sweet that he still wants us to go with him.  Mike will walk the street with a clump of other kids and parents while I help at the table in front of the church. 

You know, it is a pagan celebration, but more than once, people have said it was nice to see the church lit up and cheerful.  I like handing out drinks to warm cold hands, light sticks to protect the kids from the occasional car, and the sweetness of candy, though they'll get enough of that.  Pagan or not, we'll be there. 

I'm not sure how pure my roots are anyway.  The date of Christmas along with the tradition of putting up a tree are pagan.  Easter eggs are pagan.  What the heck is pagan anyway?  Why is it always a bad thing?  There were too many strange responses on Google to get a good answer to that, but Wikipedia had some words.  Wikipedia always has words. 

Apparently, 'pagan' is the word for any historic or traditional faith, more succintly referred to as shamanism, polytheism, pantheism, or animism.  As I read details about all of these -isms, I continue to wonder if I'm not a cruddy Christian.  What's wrong with being a pagan, anyway?  These old and alternate religions are based out of a spiritual desire to do good works, aren't they?  I once read that 93% of all religions hold the same basic tenets, the golden rule and all that.  My ideas wouldn't pass muster if I were to have to describe my beliefs with one hand on the Bible, so I'm glad no one asks me when I'm at church.  Once, a woman had the audacity to tell me I wasn't a Christian at all.  Thankfully, she wasn't someone from my church.  Maybe I'm not, but there's that purity of religion thing again.  What religion is pure?  I like that more than one car on the street by my church on Sunday has that 'coexist' bumper sticker.  I believe in that.  So what do you call me then? 

I must be a pagan. 

So then, I'm a pagan who's sending good thoughts toward the East Coast, hoping her friends there are warm and cozy and can make popcorn in their fireplaces or on camp stoves.  Just remember, you folks who don't have power but can still read stuff on the Internet, don't run your camp stoves inside your houses.  You need more ventilation than that.  Okay? 

Thank you for listening, jb


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