Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Change of Topic Ahead

Warning to all readers: I'm leaving for Colombia this Thursday and will be out of the neighborhood for much of July. So Marshfield Tattler may take a brief spell as a travel blog, but I won't be getting out of my hammock in Cartagena just to write a post!

So expect fewer posts and all of them on faraway topics for the next three weeks.

Mr. Worrisome Butts In

Next door, that is. Dawn's dad was out with her brothers putting in a new walk from the front steps to the sidewalk on Sunday night. Her mom was watching and so was she.

Mr. Worrisome had to butt in and be annoying. He kept asking me to translate questions and comments to Dawn's dad, like "wow, it's getting beautifuller and beautifuller." He wanted to know why they were putting sand under the bricks. He wanted to know how much the bricks cost. He wanted a drink of the juice they gave me. He thought it was mine. I wouldn't give him a drink out of my glass if he were dying of thirst--I don't know what I would catch.

He only stopped bothering me long enough to ask the time of a nice-looking younger African-American lady who had the misfortune to walk down the sidewalk in his view. She wisely said, "I don't know," and kept on going despite his next effort to engage in conversation.

He also had to bring his dad out of the house to tell them to turn their music down. The family informed me that they don't do that when Joey is playing rap--only when they are playing Mexican music. I grant it was up pretty loud next to the senior Worrisome's room, and I'm not getting into anybody's racial/ethnic music wars. I told Dawn's mom I bought earplugs last summer because it was that or call the police at 2 a.m.

But meanwhile, Dawn's family's front yard is looking nice. They took out the mulberry tree because Dawn's mom didn't like all the squashed berries lying around, and they put in a little pine tree instead. It'll get big. They planted grass seed, which is coming up fast, and they are putting in a brick walkway in the front and eventually to the side. Dawn's dad has ideas about a higher wrought-iron fence on the Worrisome side. I should have said let's go in together on a wooden privacy fence over there. I like Mr. Worrisome's sister and her daughter, and his mom and dad seem fine, but he's annoying and some other guy over there is downright creepy (that's the one I think is actually the sex offender in that house--see earlier post. Mr. Worrisome himself just wishes he were a sex offender, I suspect.)

Anyway, Mr. Worrisome became so annoying that I went in the house and got Joey to do his writing homework. So he was a force for good despite himself.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sacred Music of All Stripes

Saturday afternoon two of the workers at Su Casa got married at the little Baptist church just south of the house, on 51st St. The Lutheran wedding featured a Baptist gospel choir, a Church of the Brethren violinist (Yeah, Becky!), and plenty of Catholics in the audience. (At least one of us took Communion--don't tell the pope! Yours truly may have been the only one, but maybe not.)

Afterwards there was a reception in the Su Casa garden. The day was perfect--clear, not too hot and not too cold. Liz looked fabulous in her dress and Mark got in a beige suit for the occasion. I'm sure there's a more high-fashion word for the color of that suit but it escapes me at the moment.

Meanwhile, over on Paulina at the church next to Big Picture, they had a live, sanctified salsa band switching off with some singers from Bishop Arthur Brazier's Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn. I saw one of the Chavez ladies sitting in the sunshine. It was pretty much their block party--tables of food, a moonwalk, street blocked off and live music. I could not get over the sanctified salsa--I couldn't make out all the words but when they got into the hallelujahs with the tick-tick-tick, tick-tick-tick clave beat going, I was cracking up.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Playtime, First Aid & Errands

Busy night last night--I got off my bike and the kids next door wanted me to run races with them. First, we had ice cream.

Eddie asked me what flavor I like. Coffee, I said. "That's cool!" he said with great enthusiasm. "I like vanilla and strawberry!" We played rock/paper/scissors with our free hands while eating ice cream cones. They use a different order, though. They call "Paper! Scissors! Rock!"

Then we ran races down the sidewalk and played hide and seek. We were joined by a litte girl from across the street--that's a nice family I haven't met yet, but her dad and I smiled at each other from across the street. Her brother couldn't come because he's too small to cross the street by himself.

The oldest girl on the first floor south of me had a nasty bruise on her hand--her little brother hit her (he must have hit her with a stick or something, and I think by accident). I was worried she sprained her finger. We need a first-aid class in Spanish for the moms. Her hand was bound up in a ribbon (I think that's bad)--the second floor neighbor put a hot cream on it (something from Mexico--I don't know if it was like Ben-Gay or worse), and then she was massaging the kid's hand. The poor girl was crying in pain.

I suggested ice and her mother went in and came back out with some ice cubes in a bowl, and put her daughter's hand right in it. She started crying again, no surprise.

"No, no," I said. "Voy a volver." (I'm coming back.) I went in my house and got a clean dish towel, wet it a little and put the ice in that. Then I went back and told the girl to just rest her hand on the cloth and when it got too cold, take it away, and when her hand got too hot or too painful, put it back.

I tried to convince the other neighbor not to massage her hand but I don't know if the message got through. Fortunately I heard later they were going to take her to the doctor. I don't know if that meant they were going to go sit in the emergency room somewhere. A lot of people here can't afford doctors.

I had to excuse myself to go see if Isabel was home and make a haircut appointment. The bad news was she wasn't there, but the good news was her husband gave mer her cell number and we made an appointment for Saturday. So I'll have nice hair in time for the big Su Casa wedding on Saturday.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Last Day of School

Guess I should put up the words to "School's Out" or something like that, but in case I didn't mention sooner, Julian pulled his social studies grade from an F to a B. Whoo-hoo!

I need to find out if he's in summer school. That's for next week.

Later I'll tell y'all about watching Don Fernando (Univision talk show host) on female sexuality with Dawn and her mom. Wow.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Neighbors in the News

Dawn got the Most Improved Student award at Big Picture yesterday! Whoo-hoo! Of course, then she promptly lost the certificate. I think her mom told me she found it balled up on the floor and put it in a book to iron it out. She was annoyed--she was all set to hang it up on the wall and be proud of her daughter, but it needs a bit of repair first.

Meanwhile, Dawn's dad's company made headlines again yesterday and not for good reason. There was a fire at the factory that injured six people, including two firefighters. At least one of the six was in critical condition last night. It is possible that hazardous chemicals were involved, so I'm worried about how long it will take them to clean up and get the place working again. I don't suppose Julian, Sr. will be getting paid in the meantime.

Fr. Bruce from Holy Cross was on Channel 2 today talking about plans for the new high school in our neighborhood. The mayor has announced he's pulling money out of city TIF funds (I'll explain them another day) to build 15 new schools, including our long-awaited high school. The papers said the site will be at 35th and California, which isn't even in Back of the Yards, but apparently Fr. Bruce says the site is still not set.

Last I heard, they were talking about putting the building on the vacant lots by 51st and Ashland. Stay tuned--we may get our high school yet.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Two Storms in One House

Friends of mine called last night to inquire about the weather, since Hurricane Alberto was on its way. Of course, the latest from Reuters downgraded to a mere tropical storm:


Just like my living arrangements.

The big weather news last night was that Alberto and Camille were in my house at the same time, and so was I. I don't think all three of us have been in the house at the same time in a while, maybe not since Memorial Day weekend.

Camille made dinner last night--shrimp in garlic sauce over rice, plus a salad of greens, tomato, avocado and mozzarella. "What restaurant are you working at?" I asked. "I'll be there for dinner very soon!" She "auditioned" for a restaurant gig at a new place on North Avenue. If she gets it for sure I will send all of you there.

While we were inside, Julian and a buddy of his were playing soccer out in the yard. Camille started at the thumps and bumps. "It's just the kids," I said. "No worries." They watched my bike for me and stayed out there long enough to remember I'd forgotten to put it in the basement. That's how the last one got stolen. Glad they were there this time.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Dawn's final exhibition this year

Dawn did her final exhibition for the year on Thursday morning. I came out the door and found her dad and her uncle talking to Camille, my houseguest--they had a job tip for her. I asked Dawn's dad if he was going to the exhibition and he said yes, but he was waiting for his wife. I went over without them.

Good thing--I had lost track of time and Dawn had already started. I got there and she was already getting into her report on the light bulb. She really got into that project, without much help from me. We got together on Memorial Day when she and Gladys were revising their research papers, but that was it. Dawn did a research paper, put together a booklet of drawings she did of various stages of the light bulb's development, and did a quantitative project analyzing her family's electric bill and what the charges were for.

Her presentation had fewer bells and whistles this time--she didn't have Power Point, for example--but she really did the work on her own. Her advisor said she had noticed Dawn buckling down in class and independent work time to get projects done on time, which was a change from previous quarters. I can vouch for the fact I did not come in on a white horse this quarter to pull her grade out of the fire.

Julian's presentation is Tuesday. I wonder if I can go. I'd like to but work is kicking my butt.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Long time no post

Sorry it's been so long! And there's so much to say....

Weather Report: Tropical Storm Alberto, a/k/a my roommate, delivered a surprise last month. A friend of his is relocating here from Washington, DC. She's been staying in the house since May 19 or so. For lack of a better naming scheme, let's call her Camille, more because I think the name is pretty than because of the destruction that particular hurricane wreaked, as shown here:


In case you're wondering, Alberto and Camille are just friends, people. She's staying in the guest room. And her arrival forced Alberto to bring his girlfriend over for dinner a couple of nights. Now we know where he's been all that time!

Birthday party: Alberto and Camille were instrumental in helping me throw a birthday bash over Memorial Day weekend. Others deserving of major shout-outs for their help include Dawn's mom, dad and brother, and the LSC lady from Chavez who is also big in CAPS. She and Dawn's dad took over the grill. Dawn's mom made rice. Her big brother cut the lawn. And a big thanks to Su Casa for the loan of chairs, a table and the lawnmower!

We broke out the good tequila friends brought back for me from Guadalajara. On my weak stomach, it takes a village to drink a bottle of the stuff, so I'm glad real aficionados got to enjoy most of it. I just had a small taste.

The kids had a big water fight out front. My front lawn is still recovering.

Recent travels: I went to New Orleans for a conference last weekend. New Orleans is still in post-Katrina gridlock. It was shocking to see how little rebuilding has happened yet. The t-shirts said it all: "FEMA: Fix Everything My Ass;" "FEMA Evacuation Plan: Run M-F, Run"
"Meet the Fockers:" with pictures of Ray Nagin, Kathleen Blanco, Michael Brown (the FEMA guy). From what we heard at the conference, it sounds like they could have done that shirt with reps from the state and the New Orleans school board on them, too.

I did get Alberto a graduation present that wasn't any of those t-shirts. I went to a fun jazz benefit party last Saturday night at Donna's in the 7th Ward, and found a great t-shirt put out by a very Catholic Workerish group called Common Ground. They got their start last fall when a former Black Panther and New Orleans resident starting working to get doctors back in the city. Now they're doing all kinds of stuff, and they have really cool t-shirts, too:


Back to neighborhood news in the next post!

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