For You Know Who,

I hope you have found what you are looking for.

Just heard from my brother living down in Sydney. He was out at Maquarie Fields the other day getting photos for the paper he works for.

With all the pandemonium of the riots going on he was one of only two photographers out there, when a big local bloke came up behind him and tried to grab his work camera out of his hands. My brother tried to hold on to the strap while the bloke attempted to wrestle it out of his grip. He realised that the camera wasn't worth being beaten up over so he let it go. It was insured after all.

What annoys me is that the bloke didn't grab it to smash it on the ground, which would have somewhat justified an anti-media stance, instead he took off with a $20,000 camera to sell. Seems more like a crime of opportunity brought on by an exercise in anarchy.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and my fortunate upbringing and a relativly comfortable life (provided by parents who know what it is like to have nothing) pollutes my point of view, but actions such as these don't add any validity to the cause these people are apparently fighting for.

For a bit of background:

Back in January I reported that I had decided to participate in my church's choral society, sort of a 'plus' addition to fill out a choir that defines really, flipping good. As my singing experience consists of one open stage night and a brief stint as rhythm guitarist for the world's worst garage band. Honestly, I expected the choir director would at some point take me aside and say, ‘Well, Dave we really appreciate your participation but . . . .”

That never happened. Instead they fitted me with a robe. In the process those funny squiggles on the page they call ‘notes’ are starting to make sense. I’ve discovered I’m a baritone, maybe even a full-fledged bass. And at times I don’t sound half-bad.

What’s really scary is the program. This is not music heard every day, or possibly ever year. William Mathias has precisely one recording out, and after trying to sing his Missa Brevis I know why. It’s like he can’t decide wether he wants to do a medieval mass or a twelve tone tone row. It’s the musical equivalent of The Naked Lunch, and despite some cool moments I can’t really say I like it. The rest of the program is hardly easier, with some measures looking like Chinese characters. As our Minister of Music warned us, “Some pieces aren’t performed very often because they’re bad, others because they’re really hard. This is one the hard ones.” The truth is these pieces are rarely attempted even by professional ensembles.

Last week's practice left me wondering if we’d ever get it together. But after a really hard week, and a really long practice I’m beginning to think we amateurs can pull this off.

But the Palestrina, Faure, Kodaly and Durufle selections, those I like. Durufle’s Messe ‘Cum Jublio is absolutely gorgeous, even if it has some high notes that turn my voice into a strangled chicken. The women are singing Gabriel Faure’s Messe Basse and I"m glad I just get to sit back an listen. Zoltan Kodaly's Missa Brevis has some moments of unearthly beauty.

The musical program:

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina Missa Brevis

Kyrie Gloria Sanctus

Charles Villiers Stanford Communion Service in G major


Maurice Durufle Messe 'Cum Jublio sung by the choir's men

Gerre Hancock Music for Antiphonal Organs will premiere with Timothy Edward Smith playing our Kimball organ and G. Dene Bernard playing the von Beckerath

Ten Minute Break Take me out to the bathroom . . .

Gabriel Faure Messe basse(ladies only)

Kyrie Sanctus Benedictus Agnus Dei

Wiliam Mathias Missa Brevis

Gloria Sanctus Benedictus

Zoltan Kodaly Missa Brevis

"So much death...." King Theodin

"For in all lands love is now mingled with grief" Galadriel

Why would I open a journal with such depressing comments? If you are in constant contact with me then you already know. For those of you who aren't here’s the skinny.

Late in the evening on March 9’Th a great loss occurred for the planet earth. There was a car accident on the corner of Grand River and Burkley road in a small town nobody knows about called Williamston. In one of the cars involved there was a man, Father to my Beautiful Fiancé'. He was driving to bowling, driving down a road he'd driven at least a thousand times, and so he probably thought nothing of the oncoming traffic until she veered over the center line.

The impact was so terrible that they had to pull this gentle, kind, and loving father out of the back of his car due to the extensive damage to the front end. The impact on his body so terrible that even while wearing a Seatbelts, holes were immediately ripped in his heart, and all of the wonders of modern medicine could do nothing but prolong this great mans tragic and terrible death.

There is hope however; this great man is survived by a beautiful family. He is survived by three beautiful daughters 23, 21 and a mere 15 years of age, and one amazingly strong son a mere 13 years of age), and of course his loving and devoted wife. Small and insignificant as it may seem in the grand scheme of the world, for these five people as well as me the last 24 hours has created an entirely new universe. One filled with doubt, pain, and uncertainty.

And what you ask awaits them in this new life, a world where their father doesn’t come to plays, games, or tell them that he loves them, ever again. All (possibly) so that a well know local addict could feed her pet habit. And what penalty, should she be the one at fault, Vehicular Manslaughter carries a possible charge of up to 20 years, I believe. Will these 20 years stop the nightmares of his Children? Will it silence their screams of pain to which I have borne witness? I think not... Will any penalty that could be visited on this individual by the state or herself surpass the wrath I feel towards her if my suspicions are proven true?

COLD MURDROUS FURY...... does not begin to describe my feeling.

To look into my future wife’s eyes and see her dying a little bit at a time because "The last thing she remembers about her father is blowing him off because they were having an argument". I cannot begin to imagine her pain, and I cannot begin to explain my own, knowing that it is but a shadow of hers. Double this pain the guilt she feels due to her last moments with her father and I should be helping to rise above this for the rest of her life.

One considers the aftermath....

If we're lucky their mother will get enough from the insurance companies, if not then the benefits they have always received from the United States govt. (father was a disabled veteran), will not only cease but they will be forced to pay this months amount back. She may receive a token monthly amount referred to as 'widow benefits' (in my understanding somewhere around 700 a month) to replace his 3000 dollar monthly disability check. If the latter occurs there will be little choice. The possibly futures I foresee include the lady and I having to do our best to help make sure the rest of the family gets raised in their fathers absence.

24 hours ago the universe made sense,,,,

Can anyone tell me what to do now?

(power offline)







An excerpt from a day in the life...

The first hour goes by in a complete blur. I have a phonecall I need to make to a granite vendor -- someone the other day wanted to know something about a crack filler material -- and I get put on hold. Someone comes up, rudely interrupts me, and I hang up and it completely leaves my memory.

My first appointment comes in sometime around 1pm -- one of my better customers, a contractor who brings me all kinds of repeat work and is quite a nice guy. We're working on a new job and I've done much of the design work already, so this is a revision meeting, and he's brought his customer with him.

It turns out to be a revision from heck, as it were.

The customer, it turns out, is allegedly completely fixated about symmetry.

We start out with the range wall. They are putting in a 48" Viking range and want to do a fancy hood above it. I started out with one suggestion, but they didn't like that. They want a true "hearth" style hood. My contractor customer even has a magazine along...

I'm so sorry, I didn't see you there. Yes ma'am. I can get you some cabinetry brochures, absoutely, no problem. A wet bar? Neat. Have you done one before? No? Let me get you some countertop brochures too. I'm working with someone right now, but my co-worker here seems to be free. No? Well, here's my card; I'm off tomorrow, but I'll be here all weekend. I recommend you call ahead, though, and set up an appointment, since it can get really crazy in here on the weekends. Yep. No -- all the stones are about the same price. Sure, here's another brochure, and here's a little pamphlet that shows you how to measure. No, sorry, I'm actually working with someone right now.... yeah. Thanks. I love your baby's hat, did you make that? Cool. Great! I'll see you on Sunday at 10am, then.

...with a page flagged -- that's what they want. I take one look and feel ill. I don't know what brand of cabinetry it was, but I can tell you this: It was full custom, and that kitchen, cabinetry alone, was probably at least $100k. I'm supposed to emulate this stuff?!?! Holy Mother of Athena!

Alright. One of my vendors has come out with some cool new semi-custom options lately that might just possibly...? I bang my head (literally, actually) a few times, say odd things, and generally chomp on my tongue for a bit while I think deeply. My buddy the contractor knows I'm not usually insane, so he hangs in there with me and waits...

Another customer I've been working with shows up. Yes, I've got the printouts for you. Stainless steel appliances? Very good. Okay, and glass over there. Nuke the drawers and put in roll out trays on that one? Got it. Hey, look... can I call you later for more details? I'm sort of in the middle of something. Hey, thanks. I'll fax you the changes once I'm done with it. How's Mary, is her cold better? Oh, that's wonderful. Talk to you soon!

...while I'm birthing my ideas. (No, he didn't do the Lamaze breathing with me, but if he'd tried, I'd probably have been very weirded out.)

So. This crazy woman (my customer's customer, as it were) has drawn me a sketch. She wants vertical columns 6 inches wide, pullouts please, framing in a prominent, arched hearth-style hood. My contractor doesn't want to custom bend a bigger arch in valance than what I've got pre-made, and.... ... .... Darn it all, they're paging me again on the overhead.

I ignore it... and ignore it... finally, I sigh, excuse myself to my contractor, and answer the call. I instantly get sucked into a problem regarding an order. It's a legitimate issue. I calm them down, take down all the information necessary, and promise to follow up on it. (I might be able to handle some of it, but it'll probably take our expeditor to cope with all the details.) Seconds later, another page comes through. Then another.

After I finish ripping my hair out, I boggle a bit and try to figure where the heck I was with this kitchen I was working on. Bless my buddy, he's been patient through all this (he's seen it happen many times before). Okay. So I take these 9-inch pullout base cabinets. I rip their...

Bathroom exhaust fans? Right down that aisle, they'll be immediately on your left hand side. Ask that white-haired guy there in with the baseball cap if you need any help; he's our expert.

...bases off (void toekick option), and I stick them in as wall cabinets.... don't forget the furniture plywood ends.... and... on top? Um, well, that's a problem. The pullouts are 24" deep... they're going to have to be recessed into the wall, actually, 'cos 24" is TOO deep.... but the guys on top are too shallow, only 12" deep. (Don't ask.) So I make a note to myself to add paneling to the order to flush those....

I get paged again. No, you want building materials, sorry, let me transfer you back to the main desk.

....babies out. Somewhere along here, I actually lose my contractor (i.e. he didn't understand what I was telling him) which is unusual, so I spend a good five...


...minutes drawing things out in plan and in perspective to be sure he gets what I'm talking about. (Sorry folks, I'd draw you pics of all this, but this is waaaay beyond ASCII art!)

Then he wants the decorative stuff. That's a bit easier. It'll be a complete pain for him to...

Someone interrupts me. They want help with appliances. Yeah, I can do it, but I'm just a bit busy. I page an appliance sales associate, who soon shows up, thank goodness.

....install, but it was his suggestion (and I know he can do it) so I can live with that.

Mental note: I'm going to have to annotate the living daylights out of this design before I sell it.

Then we move to the island. The customer wants more space to the left of the main sink. Fine. I shove the dishwasher almost all the way over to the right (you still need a panel on the far...

Cabinet hardware? Yes, ma'am. Right down that aisle on your left hand side.

...side to support the countertop!), swap the 18" double-can trash cabinet out for a 15" single can one, and do other mish-mashing. After that, it develops that rather than using a half-wall for the...


...raised bar top around, ....

Sir... sir.... excuse me please... hi... yes, I know... please... yes... *SIR* Sorry, excuse me please, you see, I don't receive special orders here at my desk. To pick up special orders which have been shipped to the store, you need to go to the front desk. I don't have the computer permissions to do that here or even check on the status, you see. Present your receipt up at the front desk, and they'll send someone back to retrieve it for you. Then they'll record it as picked up, and help you get it into your vehicle. If you find any problems with it, just make a note of it, let us know promptly, and we'll take care of it for you. Thank you. You're very welcome! Have a nice day.

I look at the clock. I'm supposed to go to "lunch" (at 4pm) in about half an hour.

Bar? What bar?

A coworker approaches me holding a company cellphone with a caller on it. I somehow manage not to kill him, and take the call. I'm not even going to discuss it. It was that bad.

Bar.... right. Bar. Ummm... right. Raised bar. Around the island. Instead of a halfwall, cabinets instead. Easy enough, although she wants it to bend around to the right side, with "something decorative" there.

I hate that phrase, "something decorative". Do you have any idea of how wildly varying different peoples' concepts of "something decorative" can be? A long discussion (blissfully uninterrupted) with my buddy gets me some kind of idea of the situation at hand, so I plunk in cabinets with gleeful abandon (making a few more notes for myself which I'm not sure he's conceptualized -- he's a victim to the interruption blitzkrieg, too, but that's why I am an inveterate scribbler -- I'll remind him later) and we move on.

The window wall... there's a prep sink there. Problem is, the wall that the prep sink will be on is not sized right. I can space the cabinetry equally around the window on that wall, *OR* I can...

My expeditor swings by. She's on her way home, as she works banker's hours. We touch base on a couple of critical issues -- I need some things done, especially since I'm off tomorrow. She assures me it'll be done, and I trust her. She's leaving in a couple of weeks to transfer to another store. I am dreading the day she leaves.

...make all the cabinet sizes symmetrical, but not both. (The cure-all answer is to rip out the window and move it... but they don't want to do that.) Some cussing ensues (mostly on my buddy's part), but there's nothing for it. It's going to be what it's going to be.

Then there's... the microwave issue, on that same wall. I'm not even going to try to describe that, because it's just too confusing. But after 45 minutes, we achieve truce. I'm still not happy with it, but he thinks the customer will be okay with it. I slap some crown moulding onto the drawing,...

Page! Actually, this time it's my husband, who works in another store across town. We infrequently call each other, but this time, it's legit business: Despite the fact that he works in Millwork, not Kitchen & Bath, he's trying to help someone find a pot filler faucet. I tell him what catalog to look in, yep, UPS will ship it free, if it's in stock in our Maryland warehouse it'll probably be just a couple of days, gotta go, love you, bye!

...explain the aspects that the computer can't depict -- I sketch some in, whiteout some idiocies that the computer hiccups on, and he'll sketch in other stuff -- and do a lot of printing. I finally come up with a price -- $20,000, roughly, for the cabinetry, though that'll probably go up once I get done adding in a bit more paneling and other things. On the other hand, the software has once again freaked out on me and added in too much crown. (Before a sale, I always count it by hand and adjust it.) But that's good enough for my buddy. He takes a bunch of pretty pictures with him, plus a hunk of granite. He tells me she said the name of the granite color is "sapphire brown", and she supposedly saw it here, but I don't have anything by that name, nor have I ever heard of it. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, of course, but the closest I have, namewise, is something called "sapphire jolie". It's a mottled, cool blue and tan shade. I loan him the sample, obtaining a pinky promise for its return, and we arrange another appointment.

I wave cheerily after him, then turn, snag my appointment book, and walk not run as fast as I can to clock out for a rather late lunch. Somehow, I manage to make it from my desk to the time clock without further incident -- a minor miracle.

And that was the FIRST half of my day! At least, what I can remember fairly clearly of the first half of my day. Later, there was more. Far, far more. You don't just wanna know.

Letter from a well-meaning Captain

Dear Christine, I have devised a strategy for you.
When the South shouted "enough" and tried to leave
the union, we slaughtered them with rails and rifles.

So please drink more water and get some sleep.
Your trains should run on time and your snipers
must shoot sharp. Your doctor says secession
is best for all concerned this time around.

So give up the hill, but sell it dearly; fight
like cornered Texans. When your daughter asks,
tell her: now I have more room to hold you.
I was at lunch yesterday with my mother when a little old lady came sauntering up to our table, hugged me and started talking hurriedly in the thickest German accent I have ever heard, save that of my own Great Grandmother, who is now dead. As startled as I was to be embraced by a total stranger I did not draw back, instead I sat there, my fork frozen midway to my mouth, with what I am sure was a mildly terrified look on my face.
At first I was unable to understand what she was saying, what she was doing there, at my table. The only thing I was able to register was her scent, which was unnervingly familiar, although I could not place it. Finally, many minutes later, my mind allowed my consciousness to proceed out of its retreat to try to grasp what was happening. She was still hugging me, never taking her arm from my shoulders, her hand always teasing the hair at the nape of my neck. She was telling my mother about someone. John? Michael? Annalise? Maria Louise? She spoke so fast, I only understood the names at first, until she hugged me again, and in a tone I'm sure only I was able to hear, she called me John and stroked my head.

It was about this time that I realized we were the center of attention in a rather large restaraunt, and I could not help feel the weight of hundreds of eyes. As embarassed and uncomfortable as I was, I could not imagaine what it would feel like, for the old woman or myself, if I should turn her away at this moment. Even though I had never seen her before, I knew I had to be someone important to her, and I couldn't just push her away. She kept repeating the same names over and over, and soon I discerned that she was Annalise, I reminded her of her brother, John which reminded her of Maria Loise, Johns' wife, and Michael was her son, who was living with John and Maria Louise back in Germany. This poor woman was distraught and homesick to no end, and I happened to remind her of someone whom she loved, so I had an obligation to let her hug me all she wanted, no matter how awkward I felt about it.

After another ten or fifteen minutes worth of hugging and storytelling she simply said she had kept us long enough, hugged me again, thanking me for letting her hug me, kissed my ear, and left.

Later, even after we left the restaraunt I could not shake the incident from my mind. I began thinking of possible reasons for her appearance. She could have been a sign from God. She could have been totally crazy and amnesic and not really German at all. But more than likely she was just a sweet old lady that was homesick and missed her family. I felt weird having been a prop family member, but then she must have felt equally as strange using me as such. She seemed happier when she left us, so it couldn't have been anything bad.
Now almost twenty-four hours later, I still can't come up with the proper adjective for the feeling I still can't shake. All I know for sure is that strange things happen for strange reasons, and while the reasons may not always make themselves known to me, they do always exist.

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