31 December 2011

An end has a start - 2011

So, a year then.

A year where paralysis physical morphed into paralysis mental. A year of pain. More pain than I've known in years.

Paralysis is painful. Who knew?

Physically, I've regained 70% of the use of my right leg. And that is that. Walking can still be difficult; standing for long periods is unwise. Climbing takes thought and is very uncomfortable. There is a limit to how long I can drive.

I don't care for limits.

This is not the year I wanted. It was a year of looking inward but not in a happy way. Probably, I learned something from it. I have yet to figure out what.

Still, there was light. Pain or no pain, I took the daughter to New York. I took the son to Chicago. I took the entire family on a crazed tour of the Northeast. I paid for it--in pain--but I'd not have missed any of it for the world.

Perhaps that is the lesson. Can't walk? So what. Show up anyway.

Which is what I did.


Well, truly, I'd like everyone to stay in nice physical shape so they never have to deal with paralysis and pain, but truth is, I was in good physical shape and it happened anyway. Hmph.

There are lots of worthy causes out there. Help someone. Even if it's yourself.


Yikes. I don't know. I read a lot of books this year, partly because I spent a lot of time not moving. I really liked Julian Barnes' Sense of an Ending. Presently, I am embedded in--trust me, the verb works--the English translation of Haruki Murakami's 1Q84, which is...bizarre. But I've found that with Murakami, the best thing to do is get in the car and let him drive, even if you have no idea where he's going. The only time he's really disappointed me was A Wild Sheep Chase, which I found pretty much unreadable. Anyway, I know I read other stuff this year. Right now, I just can't think what.


Foo Fighters, Wasting Light


The daughter and I just really enjoyed our stay at the Casablanca Hotel in New York. The rooms were tiny, but the service and amenities were impeccable and the location--literally steps away from Times Square--couldn't be beat.

Later in the summer when we were back in NYC, the whole family stayed at The Pearl. The rooms (for New York) were really spacious, and the service was friendly. It didn't quite stack up to the Casablanca in terms of amenities, though they tried, and it was well situated near Times Square. We just loved the E&E Grill next door where we had one of the best and most fun dinners ever, with really good food and wonderful service.

The son and I also stayed at Hotel Monaco in Chicago (see a theme here?), which was nice, too, and we shared the best Cuban sandwich (PORK BELLY!) and truffle fries at the South Water Kitchen.


MRI? Getting a needle rammed into my spinal column? Ergh.


There was only one (though I did see Wicked twice, once in New York and once in Los Angeles), and even though I had to sit through half of it, it still would have been the best concert I saw this year: Rush, June 20, 2011, Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles.


The daughter's acceptance to OCHSA. The son's acceptance to a really good university. I have raised these kids to be their own people, to be accountable to themselves and I am so very proud of them.

And there was that moment. It was a moment that included others but one I cherish quietly and keep to myself.

It was the moments like these that kept me from drowning this year.

We none of us know what the future might bring, and this year, nothing could have been truer. I figured out ways to maintain perspective, no matter how hard it was. And yes, my doctors did approach me like mechanics, as did a team of physical therapists, and I'm grateful to all of them for their insight, their compassion, and their on-going interest in my well-being. In 2012, I just have to put everything back together.

And I will. I am like that.

Because I am, at heart, an eternal optimist, here is to new adventures, new travels, new stuff to do and to love for us all. My wish for everyone continues to be that we come out shining on the other side. Thank you, as always, for spending time with me.

Be safe, be good, and remember to eat your black-eyed peas.

...with hope in your hands
and air to breathe

Go listen to some good music: "An End Has a Start" from the album An End Has a Start by Editors.

20 December 2011

Santa Claus is coming to town

My photo albums (non-existent, except on my computer) are surprisingly devoid of photos of the kids with Santa. The reason is simple. I did it once. The son screamed bloody hell after a few moments of looking utterly terrified.

I never really tried it again.

Red suit, big beard, or horrifying halitosis, for some reason, the son took umbrage to Santa that year. He was nearly two and two is a fairly impressionable age. And the dude, though pleasant, had the worst case of bad breath I've ever encountered, and I wasn't even that close to him. It was enough to scare me.

Naturally, the whole thing was my mother-in-law's idea, but I agreed with no hesitation. The Santa visit was one of the staples of my childhood, though without all of today's photo packages. There were no photos, in fact, unless one's parent took one, and when we went to see Santa down at local mall, the real prize was receiving a candy cane. It was just a fun and silly event, an excuse to get out of the house, and an opportunity to enjoy the decorations in the department stores.

Shortly after the son was born, my MIL instituted Wednesday lunch. She often met up with some of her friends for lunch at the Bullocks' tea room, and she wanted to show off her latest grandchild, so the son and I were invited along one afternoon.

(Okay, I'm back. I got distracted reading about department store history in Southern California. There is a building near the daughter's school that I recently realized used to be a department store; I was wandering around and I was actually looking at the buildings, and of course, the old display windows were still evident in what now houses social services offices. I've just discovered it was a Buffums, an old high-end, family-owned department store chain that I believe is now defunct. Not that this has anything to do with the post I'm writing.)

Evidently, she enjoyed the lunch--I am well-mannered and the son is entertaining--and invited us again. It became an outing that she and I would embark upon every couple of weeks. Lunch evolved into lunch and a little shopping, and naturally, when the holidays rolled around, Santa figured in.

The photo shows the son straining away from Santa. It was before he began bellowing.

"That man smells so bad!" my MIL murmured to me after I retrieved my red-faced and tucked him back into his stroller. "No wonder the boy didn't want to sit on his lap."

By the following year, I was expecting the daughter and because of complications, I was supposed to rest, so there were few lunches and no trip to see Santa. In later years around the holidays, I'd suggest that we might go and have a chat with the Man in Red, but the kids would look at me and shake their heads violently in the negative. Receiving a candy cane at brunch at the Athenaeum from Santa was about their speed--he traversed the dining rooms with a basket of candy and offered greetings to everyone--but they would decline to have a photo taken with him when he was holding court in front of the Ath's tree.

Thus, my photo albums are devoid of photos of the kids with Santa.

And through the years, when they watch A Christmas Story, and Santa pushes Ralphie down the slide with his foot yelling "HO HO HO!" the kids point to screen and say, "See, Mom? See?" as if the proof for their years of refusal is right there.

Go listen to some music: "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" was written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie and is sung by everyone.

19 December 2011

Who's that girl?

Since the school year started, we see her most mornings, the son and I. It's early, so you tend to recognize the people who are out and about: an older couple with their coffee, the woman with the young Australian shepherd, another woman who meets her daughter to go for a walk, and this girl, clearly walking to school, the high school up the street. I always notice the younger ones because it's early, and as a parent I feel protective. The son noticed her because she is cute, of middling height, slim, with long hair. She noticed the son, which I teased him about, just a little, because he is insecure about his looks, and it was important that he know he was being checked out.

I feel an odd fondness for this girl I don't know at all. She walks briskly, with purpose, sometimes eating her breakfast as she goes. She's dressed modishly, but modestly. She stands tall, but without the swagger and attitude of most teens, and she doesn't carry the snarky, mean girl attitude that I see on so many her age. She seems to be thinking about things.

I notice when I haven't seen her in the morning.

The son notices, too.

The first report was Thursday evening, and a little shiver went up my spine. I check the sheriff's department blotter in the newspaper to keep up with what's going on in the neighborhood, especially when there's been a nearby fire or we see emergency vehicles.

"Missing juvenile," it said. "Sixteen year old female. Left note that she would be home by 6pm. Hasn't returned."

Lots of kids around here, I told myself, despite the fact everything matched up too closely.

The next morning, there was a photo in the paper. It was fuzzy and the girl who was pictured had her hair pulled back, but I felt an uncomfortable certainty. Still, we weren't quite sure it was her. I chat with the woman who meets her daughter, so I'd surely recognize her, and occasionally I exchange stiff nods with the older couple, but I tend to avoid looking at the teens passing by unless they're causing trouble or are known to me. It seems a nicety.

The half-familiar, half-unfamiliar photo gave me pause. I was unpleasantly reminded of Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Missing Girl," in which no one quite remembers or quite recalls anything about the girl who has disappeared. In this day and age, could someone fall through the cracks so easily? Are too many of us averting our eyes politely?

She still was missing the following the day. A new gallery of photos showed up in the newspaper, and it was then we knew: it was without doubt the girl we see walking in the morning.

"Oh no," said the son. "Should we say something?"

"What?" I asked him. "That we see her walking in the morning? We haven't seen her since earlier in the week. We haven't any information that can help."

I understood his frustration, though. We weren't friends or family, just two random strangers who recognized someone in danger, and we were powerless to help. She was a piece of our world, just a small bit, someone who passed by in the morning, but we wanted her back, safe, where she belonged.

So often these stories don't have a happy ending. This time, at least, the missing girl was recovered, evidently safe and sound. I know more about her now because of the newspaper stories, her name and what she likes to do and that she's had a rough time recently. I know she has family and friends who care about her. It's unlikely she'll ever know that two random strangers worried over her absence.

But I know. She is a piece of my world, a tiny bit, back where she belongs.

Go listen to some music: "Who's That Girl?" from the album Greatest Hits by Eurythmics.

16 December 2011

We need a little Christmas

And by that, I mean we need a little generosity, which people sometimes remember is the hallmark of the season but mostly forget in the wave of Black Friday and gimme, gimme, gimme promotions. Two of the most offensive things that I've seen this year are ads referring to "giftmas" and the Best Buy "Game On, Santa" ads.

The winter holidays are a difficult time of year for me. My father was unemployed or underemployed for a significant part of my childhood, so we lived close to the bone. Christmas for me became more about putting up the tree, baking and enjoying the lights than about gifts. Even now, receiving gifts is a source of confusion and distress for me (though I'll take your love, affection, friendship, smiles, hugs and laughter any day of the week). I love the music, and loved caroling (you asked. My favorite is "Carol of the Bells."). We always got books through the kindness of a family friend, and clothing from a relative (usually the only new clothes I ever had), and some stuff here and there. My mother would squirrel away funds in a Christmas account to pay for presents and a dinner that was a little nicer.

It's funny how some of these options are no longer available to families trying to keep afloat. The banks discourage saving, and recently, I read that those of us who do save are responsible for the crappy economy because we are "hoarding money." How times change.

Still, I was happy to see a couple of years ago that some stores had wised up and rather than relying upon credit cards, were back to offering layaway where customers pick out merchandise and the store holds it while the customer makes payments. It was a method of purchase that was utilized a great deal when I was a kid.

And I was even more heartened to read yesterday about all of Kmart's "layaway angels," strangers who were paying off others' accounts so kids would have toys and clothing at Christmas. A woman in Indiana paid for thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, and only asked that people "remember Ben," evidently a reference to her late husband.

Generosity comes in many forms, and a lot of them are much smaller and less newsworthy but just as welcome and equally awesome. Whether you are in need or can give, you, too, can be generous. It's as simple as what should be common courtesy: holding a door for another person or letting a car merge on the freeway without making them fight for a space. Remember to say please. Remember to thank the person who held the door for you.

If you've got bigger ideas, though, the possibilities for kindness are endless. Find out what your local food bank or homeless shelter needs and provide a few items. Food banks have been emptied because of the increased need, and even if you can only give a few boxes of pasta or a couple of cans of vegetables, you'll help feed someone else. Homeless shelters are often on the look out for new underwear and warm socks for their clients, and many can also use toiletries. The daughter and I spent an afternoon assembling hygiene kits for our local rescue mission, while the son and I packed holiday meal boxes for another charity. We gave small gifts to our local children's hospital for kids who will be stuck there receiving treatment during the holidays. We also support Donors Choose, and a whole bunch of kids in high poverty schools will be returning to brand new sets of books when they go back to class in 2012. Because I believe in the power of reading and the gift of possibility.

Or you can always head out to Kmart.

Just don't forget that generosity is a gift that comes in all shapes and sizes.

Go listen to some music: "We Need a Little Christmas" from the musical Mame, book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Yes, this song does send a bit of a mixed message, but as the story goes, the protagonist has lost all her money in the Crash of 1929, and is calling for a little cheer to raise everyone's spirits. I'm calling for good works, but you know me. And if you really know me, the charities I support the most are those devoted to education and animals. Anonymously, for the most part.

15 December 2011

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

It occurred to me tonight as I wrote Christmas cards to my brother and one of my sisters that the Christmas card has become obsolete. No wonder the Postal Service is bankrupt.

Cards came pouring in every holiday season when I was a child. Many of them were from friends of my parents or more distant relatives, people they only heard from once or twice a year. Phone calls were expensive then and letters, time-consuming. So people saved up their family news for Christmas and birthday cards.

For us, some of these people were mysterious, and their cards prompted stories of high school days or adventures in the Congo. Large or small, filled with photos of other people's children, full of news or just signed with a name, the cards were always interesting.

I sent Christmas cards religiously though they weren't necessarily religious, even in the years that pregnancy crippled my hands. Finally, though, when the children were young and I was over-committed in every direction, I gave up the practice because something had to go, and I didn't want to give up baking and I couldn't give up the room-mother job.

Friends bore with us, though, and I'd dash off a quick note when I could. I always promised myself that I'd send everyone Valentine's cards or St. Patrick's cards to make up for the holiday deficit, but of course, that never happened.

(And I have to admit I abominate the holiday letter, though I do enjoy getting them from close friends. One set of friends in particular writes a pretty hilarious one. But then there is the relative--the spouse's, by marriage--who produced a five-page tome that dissected and discussed at length the many ailments and deficiencies of that family's friends and relations. It became so ghastly that it demanded a dramatic recitation every year. For better or worse, many of the ailing have since passed on, and the letter is down to two pages because the younger generations are still reasonably healthy.)

In any event, the majority of the cards we are receiving his year are from businesses. Our insurance agent has checked in, as has one of our financial people, and the electrician. A few family members have sent cards as well, mostly those we do not see frequently.

With the advent of social media, of course, everyone is now in everyone else's face all the time, so there is no need to catch up during the holidays to relate the news. Everyone knows what you had for lunch and where and probably, with whom. A few days ago, a friend texted me from a restaurant on the East Coast where we'd had lunch as kids. I was amused--and somewhat flummoxed.

For those of us who eschew Facebook (me!), there is still email, texting and yes, the now-inexpensive phone call. I keep up with most of my friends electronically, even if it isn't Twitter or Facebook (and for the record, those of you who read this? No, I don't expect a Christmas card, except maybe you with the stuff on the cats. I have posole for you, BTW.)

See what I mean?

Go listen to some music: "The Christmas Song" written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells, and sung by just about everyone.

12 December 2011

Everything's not lost

Eighteen years ago, I was pregnant. Because I'd miscarried my first pregnancy, I focused on getting through the first trimester. Three months, I thought, and then all will be well.

The danger of knowing too little.

Well, of course, that was the most naive thought in the world, but I'd never been a parent. When the son had his first birthday, all I could think about was that he'd survived his first year, safe and healthy. I hadn't dropped him on his head, or my greatest fear, missed some desperately important symptom that would tell me he had meningitis or some terrible genetic anomaly.

The danger of knowing too much.

We knew what he was from the moment of birth, one of those wide-awake children who want to know it all, do it all, see it all, be it all. He was his mother, through and through. He was also a terribly frustrated infant because he was bored. Life got a little easier when he could do some things for himself. Ah, those times when I found him back in his room, reading to his toy trains, or putting Chapstick on their faces. I remember his excited and confused face when he awoke from a vivid dream. And there was his imagination--it knew no bounds, whether he was building weaponry out of plastic vegetables or recounting stories of a world of his own making. Such a bright spark.

I've written, ad nauseum probably, about the challenges of growing up profoundly gifted and of raising a profoundly gifted kid. But there is joy in both as well, a strange joy that is as complicated as the gift itself.

I can't say how many hours of sleep I've lost over this kid. I followed my gut. I followed common sense. I followed love. I instilled discipline. I instilled responsibility. I instilled morality.

I worried.

I know what it is to grow up isolated. I know what it is to hide. I know what it is to feel like an imposter in all I do. I know what it's like to want to reach out to the rest of world and not know how to do it. I didn't want that for him.

I raged. I fought. I was sick with despair. I ignored the fashion, the herd, the conventional wisdom. I paid for it. But I ran with my heart and my head; I let him run with his.

And I worried. I feared that in my stubbornness and hubris, I would ruin him. That I was, in fact, doing it wrong.

But he's grown into this amazing person. We see it, his teachers see it, his friends see it, others see it.

None of this has ever been about me. I know too many people who want to exploit their children's status to elevate their own. I have my own gifts, my own life, my own loves. Raising him has been about him, about allowing him his gifts, about giving him the love, the understanding, the support and even the tough talk to enable him to use them well, but in a way of his choosing.

Bit by bit, especially in the last year, things are falling together. He's stubborn, too, but he'll figure it out. He's close to launch, and I think he'll be alright. I'm coming to the place where I've given him about all the guidance that I can, at least for now, but I think I'll be turning him over to those who are capable of helping him to continue his journey.

I'm not so naive anymore to think it will be all smooth sailing, but I hope the bumps are few and minor.

That's the reality of knowing enough.

Go listen to some music: "Everything's Not Lost" from the album Parachutes by Coldplay. The son received his first college acceptance today. The relief and gratitude is immense. The fun of figuring out how to pay for it is just beginning, and we await more news as the week progresses.

03 December 2011

Trace amounts

Interesting article today: Some Asians' college strategy: Don't check 'Asian'.

The line that everyone was fed when I was a child was that everyone is created equal. This came in the wake of the civil rights movement of the mid-1960s, and I was happy to believe it. I never thought any differently of the kids with whom I went to school based on their skin color, religion, whatever, and my friends were of all different colors and beliefs. People who weren't my friends were those who had personal qualities that I didn't like: the bullies, the mean, and the intentionally stupid. While my parents were largely wise enough to keep their mouths shut about how they might have felt about this, in the early 1970s, the only thing that was really a big deal was the woman who was divorced and raising her son on her own. Everyone whispered about that.

(I only met her a few times because her son was in my class for a couple of years. What struck me first was that she was tall and pretty in her blonde bouffant. The second was the air of sadness in her smile but I always put that down to the fact that her son was a creep. Other reasons didn't occur to me until I was much older.)

In any event, relations amongst the races and religions was peaceful in our neighborhood, and pretty much everyone was represented on the teams and in the classrooms. Again, while I've no idea what the adults were thinking, the kids clearly didn't think much about it. Interracial dating at my high school? You bet. Crossing religious lines? Yup. My high school boyfriend came from a conservative Jewish family, which didn't sit especially well with either set of parents, given my conservative Catholic background.

When did they start asking the race question on forms? I don't know. But I remember the first time I didn't answer the question: my PSAT test. And I remember the process by which I chose not to answer it: everyone says race doesn't matter. Well, then it doesn't matter.

It still doesn't matter. Ladies and gentleman, you can not have it both ways. Either race and ethnicity always count, if you can even accurately define either, or they never count.

(You can read here how I cheerfully made hash out of one HR manager's attempt to pigeonhole me.)

I raised my kids not to fill in those boxes either, and there was a memorable day when the daughter was in junior kindergarten when race and ethnicity happened to come up in classroom conversation. The daughter politely declined to claim any particular label and a boy (Caucasian, different ethnicity) said derisively to the daughter, "You're WHITE!" And the daughter jumped to her feet, drawing herself up to her full 4-year-old height, and yelled, "I am NOT. I am PINK!"

And I still cry with laughter when I tell this story. And pride because no one puts the daughter in a box.

So, as the son is filling out his college applications, he hums and sighs and skips the race box.

"No worries," I tell him soothingly. "They don't list Mossacubian as a choice anyway."

Go listen to some music: "Trace Amounts" from the album Halo: The Soundtrack by Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori. Consider this: most people don't know the difference between race and ethnicity anyway. Given my Heinz 57 ethnicity, racially I could be anything regardless of what I might appear to be visually. And doesn't that pretty much apply to EVERYONE? So sorry, I don't play that game.

02 December 2011

...will you read my book?

While I could write about my dislike of social media and my pleasure in beating that game rather than playing it, or why Feedburner is driving me bonkers (why would you purchase a service and then just leave it to rot? No support, and if the damn thing's broken, which it is, again, the only thing you can do is taunt Feedburner on Twitter. Yeah, guilty) or why I refuse to buy anything from Talbots anymore, all that is so negative.

So, let's talk books.

At the moment, I'm reading Haruki Murakami's 1Q84, which is very Murakami, meaning it's quite different. Then again, I read a lot of contemporary Japanese novels, so I have a pretty good idea of what I'm in for. So far, I'm engaged. (For what it's worth, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles is one of my favorite books in any language.)

Prior to taking on that tome (almost 1,000 pages), I read Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending, which is just wickedly written. And amazingly short. That isn't to say it's too short, because it's really quite perfect. But this is one of those cases where the writing and structure is all. Without the power of his words, Barnes' story would be just another mundane account of a mundane life.

Before that, it was Margaret Atwood's frighteningly gleeful romp through a horrifying dystopia, Oryx and Crake. Maybe it's because I follow Atwood on Twitter and see her often mischievous and funny commentary there, but the black humor of this story seemed much in evidence to me. ChickieNobs...for crying out loud. These days, it's rare for me to find a book that I don't want to put down, but this one was so addictive that I launched straight into its companion, The Year of the Flood, as soon as I finished. It's accurate to say that I enjoyed the second book as well, though it feels strange to use "enjoy" in the context of a story that features sweet-looking canines called wolvogs that lure you in with their excited waggy tails and then eat you. I hope the third book materializes.

(I was a bit surprised to realize that I've been reading Atwood for more than 20 years, starting with The Edible Woman when I was in college.)

And because I'm suddenly overwhelmingly tired, that's it for this edition of "What's on my Nightstand."

Good night.

Go listen to some music: "Paperback Writer" by The Beatles.

01 December 2011

Serenade for winds: I. Moderato, quasi marcia

Several days ago, the orange banner started streaming across the bottom of our TV set, warning of impending doom: a cold Santa Ana condition. According to the National Weather Service, Orange County was among the three counties expected to see the brunt of it. And they were talking winds of 50 mph with gusts up to 80 mph.

If you've had to withstand winds of 80 mph, you know it's not a lot of fun. The noise alone is enough to drive me mad. The year the daughter was born, we had to deal with a night of 120 mph winds (as measured by the Jet Propulsion Lab below our mesa), which left us without power for 4 days.

Really not fun.

So I spent the early part of the week getting stuff out of harm's way. The patio furniture, and the little lights that are around. Made sure that I had batteries for the lanterns, that necessary laundry was done, and there was food that could be easily cooked on the stove.

(Here's something to think about: if the power goes out, so does everything that runs on electricity. This is why my cooktop and water heater are both gas powered. Even if it's dark, I can cook and everyone can bathe... Trust me, this has come in handy on more than one occasion, to the envy of those in all-electric kitchens. And I'd be solar powered if it didn't cost about half of what my house is worth to install the panels.)

So, we hunkered down and waited for 7pm Wednesday night when Windmageddon was slated to begin.

But all was quiet. Around 9pm, I checked the news. To my surprise, I discovered that LAX was diverting flights because of heavy cross winds, and power was down all over LA County. I received an email from my MIL--who was sitting in the dark with her iPad--entitled "Blowing off the hill." I went to bed at 11 and peacefully slept through the night.

Upon waking, we were greeted with horrible photos out of Pasadena. Trees were down; buildings and cars were smashed.

The leaves out my window barely fluttered in the dawning light.

Around 9am, I finally raised my FIL on his cell phone. Their power was still down, so they couldn't get the cars out of the garage, but it sounded too dangerous to go out anyway. They were remarkably cheerful chatting about broken planters and another relative's market umbrellas floating about in the swimming pool.

I went out to run errands, bothered by no more than a stray breeze.

Finally, about an hour before I was due to pick up the daughter, we got some pretty substantial gusts and one of my garbage bins tipped over. By then, we'd been downgraded to a wind advisory.

I'm not disappointed that our adverse weather failed to materialize. I know there's plenty of time yet for us to see a really bad windstorm. I feel sorry for those who have to deal with the mess in LA County. I was especially unhappy to see that Altadena's Christmas Tree Lane lost trees. My friends and I used to visit every Christmas to see the lights when we were in college, and later, the spouse and I took the kids there every year. The deodars are huge, and at the holidays, resplendent in their lights.

And like the holidays, the Santa Anas are a yearly event, but definitely one I could live without.

Go listen to some music: "Serenade for Winds, Op. 44: I. Moderato, quasi marcia" by Dvorak. I guess my plotting to bring the in-laws down here paid off because their power came back on at midday so I could stop worrying.