Friday, May 13, 2011

The feast

I went to lunch with two older gentlemen and it was the best lunch I have ever had. Because of the two extraordinary gentlemen, an ordinary lunch was transformed into a feast before my very own eyes. At first, I was very nervous: it was an establishment that served food buffet style and I was scared once they saw the “feeding”, they would run to the Sebastian county line and never look back. Since I have embarked on my campaign to be a bold woman, I never know how people will perceive me and I wanted to make a really good impression, after all I am a lady!

You may be curious as to what the aforementioned “feeding” is, and I will gladly tell you. You see Reader; I was born with a voracious appetite that has intensified with the passing of time. I attack my food and dive into the buffet with my entire being. When I see a buffet, it’s like a lion seeing a herd of gazelles sprinkled with seasoning and tied to a tree near a big lake. For me, buffets mean all you can eat, even if you get sick later. Normally this would not be a problem as my husband and I are molded out of the same clay (I knew he was truly my soul mate after a trip to a local buffet establishment. I think the entire restaurant was scandalized at our zeal, and perhaps slightly disturbed at my excited utterances and motions every time I discovered something I thought my husband would enjoy).  In fact we encourage each other and share the same passion for food.

As the two gentlemen approached me, I experienced a wave of calmness. I felt like I was reuniting with old friends. I thought of my impending move and felt a slight pang; if only I had met them sooner. We started off with small talk and by the end of my first plate I was guffawing in between fork bites of assorted deserts. Time stood still amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I was transfixed as if spellbound by each statement the gentlemen made. At first I catalogued pieces of our conversation, eager to share it with my best friend when I got home. Finally, I gave in and immersed myself in the moment, in the words and sentences. The ordinary mixture and jumble of different foods on my plate became small portions of intensely delicious flavor pockets to my palate.

My dear reader, the two gentlemen completely differed in looks and mannerisms, but they both spoke to my heart. They were both my seniors by some years, but for that one hour and a half none of that mattered.  One was animated with slightly long salt and pepper hair. He was jovial and had a glint in his eyes that hinted at being mischievous in his younger years. He had a smile that made you forgive him before he even confessed his transgressions.  His eyes lit up every time he prepared to tell a joke, and true to its promise, I had a fit of laughter every time. He spoke with his body; making motions with his hands and his words painted a picture before my eyes. The other gentleman was exactly that, a gentle man. He was tall and thin with short salt and pepper hair. He had a gentle yet shy smile. His glasses made him seem intelligent, analytical and self assured. His eyes were friendly and revealed a kind soul with each glance. Each time he smiled, a secret was passed between us, yet his calm demeanor did not reveal it even to me. Like a flutter of a butterfly’s wing, his voice was always one octave above a whisper and if you did not pay attention an entire conversation could be missed.  Although he did not say much, his presence commanded attention. When he opened his mouth to speak, his soft voice was warm apple cobbler, tangy lemon cake and chocolate covered strawberries. He sat very still and did not move as he spoke, but he laughed with his entire body. Throughout the course of our conversation, they asked me questions and greeted my answers with nods and smiles that seemed like they already knew the answers, knew my life and knew my soul. 

Afterwards, I was giddy with excitement. With my heart beating wildly against my chest, torrents of waves and emotions going through me, I rushed home to my Love so I could gush about my wonderful experience, about my new found friends, and about my delicious midday feast. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tearing the house down....

Oh the injustice! oh the madness! Where is the compassion? Reader, as I am typing this entry, I am mad...I mean hot, fuming! Smoke and heat are coming from the keyboard as I type. Perhaps I am being over dramatic but I will let you be the judge.

On Tuesday I had the privilege of attending the Fort Smith Board of the Director's meeting. The meeting started out pretty boring, but there was one item on the agenda that left me picking my jaw off the floor. It was proposed that the Directors vote to demolish a structure. The structure was described as an eyesore and unsightly. Two of the Directors stated they received a substantial amount of complaints from concerned residents. One of the Directors actually drove to the area to get a visual of the structure. The other Director stated that he did not believe the house was salvageable and should be demolished, and this sentiment was echoed by the Director who had previously driven to the site.

As this discussion was ensuing, a timid Spanish speaking individual spoke up from the back of the room. At first her voice was so soft that the city clerk did not hear her. She stated that she did not speak English very well, but had enlisted her son to speak on her behalf because he spoke English. With all eyes in the room on him, the young man shyly walked to the podium. He looked like he had the weight of the entire world on his shoulders. He had on a plain frayed white t-shirt and jeans. He respectfully informed the assembled Directors that he was there to answer their questions.

As the rest of the story was revealed, I slowly became incensed. Apparently 6 or 7 months ago, there was a residential fire that damaged a house in Fort Smith. Since then, the owners have been trying to contact the insurance company to make a claim and repairs but they have been getting the run around. After a couple of brief questions, a motion was made to give the homeowner two weeks to rectify the situation with the insurance, fix the roof or face the demolition of their home. As more facts came out, the Director who made the motion withdrew his motion and made a new motion to give the individual thirty days. This caused a huge discussion by other Directors who felt that 15 days would suffice, while others just flat refused because they did not believe the structure to be salvageable.

It was further revealed that the homeowner and her lawyer had been in contact with a city representative. The City Representative was fully apprised and aware of what was going on with this structure and was working with the homeowner to rectify the situation. It also quickly became evident that the Directors had not gotten in touch with him to acquire additional information (one quick phone call or email would have sufficed). They were simply ready to demolish someone's house based on complaints and no additional information. In the end, at one of the Director's behest, the Directors (with the exception of one) voted to give the young man and his mother thirty days to get the situation taken care of or face the demolition of their house.

As I silently sat there, I became enraged. My dear reader, if your dwelling were to burn today and the insurance were to dig their heels in, do you have extra cash lying around that would enable you to pay for a new roof within two weeks, much less thirty days? I looked at the Directors, with their well groomed beards, nicely done hair, suits, ties and nice and expensive looking clothing. I realized that they probably had nice vehicles to transport them to their nice garages, where they could enter their nice warm houses and sleep on their nice beds covered with their nice 300 thread count sheets. I blinked back my tears as I stared at the back of the young man in his thin, frayed white cotton t-shirt and saw the disconnect. I wondered how he and his mother got to the meeting that night, and I wondered where they were staying now. More importantly, I wondered where he would lay his head that night.

Now I pose this question to you gentle reader, is it a wonder or a surprise that my head is still reeling five days later? If you were in that young man's shoes would you have wanted the Directors to make the same decisions or perhaps dig for a little more information? Where is the diligence? Where is the compassion?

"foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." - Jesus