Photo-induced memories

The top left photo shows Doug Chase (and the program director) at the soup kitchen in 1999, our first year volunteering with Grant Avenue StreetReach.

I’m taking a break from writing after writing 50,000 words last month. I intended to do nothing but read and then remembered the enormous stash of photos I swore I’d organize so my sons wouldn’t have to deal with them.

So I started scrapbooking and quickly felt a sense of overwhelm. My family has SO many photos. Then I asked for/demanded help. As a result, Zippy and Zebu have stepped up and helped round photo corners and put sticky tape on their backs while I crop and organize the next pages. It feels a lot better to share the load. And it’s good for me to let go of my perfectionist tendencies.

The page I’ve highlighted here shows Wildebeest playing chess with a man named Steve who taught both sons to play. This page is also bittersweet because it contains the only photo I have of our friend Doug who died in 2009. He was a lovely man and today I miss him all over again.

I frequently curse the number of photos needing our attention, but finding Doug in the stacks was like striking gold.

Let’s hear it for volunteers

This weekend many, many people are volunteering their time and energy and money to political candidates and causes. I am grateful for the collective passion and commitment aimed at turning this ship around.

This cotoneaster was a volunteer in my yard. I didn’t plant it, one day it just showed up. And now it’s among the most beautiful and vibrant bushes in the garden.

Volunteers are the very best, whether flora or fauna. Thank you all.

Anguish and Outrage

This morning I did my twice-monthly volunteer stint with the Denver VOICE. As the non-profit’s Twitter bio states: “The Denver VOICE is a monthly newspaper that provides entrepreneurial opportunities to people who are homeless or impoverished.” It’s a wonderful organization that can help people earn enough money to get off the streets.

Denver VOICE vendor John Alexander

During today’s session at the distribution desk (where I sold papers for 50 cents to the vendors who will vend them for a suggested $2 each), I shared many smiles and laughs. It was a good morning. And then, near closing time, one more vendor came in the office. It was a man who struggles with mental health issues, and today was particularly difficult for him. He became agitated and then emotional. It was heartbreaking to witness someone in such a vulnerable condition.

As I drove home, I cried. For the umpteenth time I thought, “Life is a hard row to hoe.” But then I remembered the GOP greedheads who are rushing through tax legislation that will decimate the safety net that’s supposed to support the nation’s most vulnerable, and my anguish turned to outrage.

How dare they turn their backs on people struggling to keep their heads above water?How dare those politicians enrich themselves and the already uber-wealthy at the expense of the rest of us? And, perhaps most importantly, why aren’t we taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks?

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I’ve started a new volunteer gig and yesterday was my second day helping out. The man who’s training me noted that there was just one week until Christmas. My back was to him and without the benefit of body language, I assumed (I know, I know), he was launching into the typical stressed-out “I haven’t started my shopping yet and there’s so much I need to do” conversation so I figured I’d put us both out of our misery and/or guilt by announcing that all I cared about was the Winter Solstice and increased daylight. I capped it off with “Christmas Smishtmas.”

Turns out he wanted to talk about the over-sized tree he’d gotten this year and how it’s too big for his tiny apartment, but that it’s so nice to go home after a long day and turn on those pretty colored lights. Oh, yeah, and beneath that beautiful tree? Wrapped gifts for his girlfriend.

The poor guy sounded apologetic.

The thing is, I totally understand those sentiments and if I wasn’t so lazy, I would have put up some pretty colored lights of my own. I tried to convey that, but he was clearly ready to move on to a non-Scrooge-related topic.

MorgueFile photo courtesy of Cohdra

MorgueFile photo courtesy of Cohdra

“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol