Daily Archives: December 16, 2008

Marching bands and solicitors

no solicitorsI’m ashamed to say that we do not normally give to people that show up at our door. Sorry Greenpeace. Gosh, Save the Bay — not this year…

We usually give to our local rescue squad and will buy Girl Scout Cookies, but we won’t buy candy bars from random teenage boys who knock on our door.

drumBut, Internet, hear this now, it seems I will give money to people who ring out doorbell accompanied by marching bands because I did it tonight.

Here’s what happened. As I was cooking dinner I heard some banging noises that got louder and louder. After ruling out kids banging on things in the house I looked outside and saw a marching band walking up the street. At the same moment that I saw the marching band the doorbell rang. I answered the door and two young women who identified themselves as college students (and wore matching sweatshirts with initials on them) stood there with a marching band behind them. I thought they might be Christmas carolers. The introduced themselves, explained what they were ringing our doorbell for (poor children in Africa) and said they needed $21 to call it a night. All the while a marching band stood behind them.

Well, of course I gave them money (well — Andrew did — through Clare. And they said she looked like a model.). Not $21 though. Am I a fool in thinking I should give them what they wanted? Let other neighbors give them the rest. They were bound to make the money they needed for those poor children in Africa with the marching band behind them.

At dinner we looked at the pamphlet they gave us.  It had nothing to do with medical supplies for the poor children in Africa. It was called The Law of Liberty — Enduring Principles of Freedom. The front page sported a bald eagle and the ten commandments. The inner pages held nothing but religious mumbo jumbo words. A brief Internet search links this pamphlet with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

This is sad because I kind of like the Seventh-day Adventists. I didn’t know they had marching bands though.

Note: After thinking about it, I’m pretty sure that these people just picked up a bunch of these pamphlets and are distributing them as a receipt for giving them money. I hate to be so cynical, but it just was so weird. Have you heard of this?


We received word, last night, that Dean’s cousin, Nancy, died on Sunday night. We didn’t know she was ill, so it was a shock to us.

We’d not seen her in many years — perhaps as many as 16 — possibly more. The first time I met Nancy was during my first visit to San Francisco. We met her and some of her friends for sushi (I think I avoided sushi at that time) at a restaurant in Oakland. I don’t remember much except that Dean needed to eat a hamburger after the sushi dinner. That and we had a really good time. It seemed so different from the good times we had in Pittsburgh. More grown-up perhaps? More cosmopolitan?

We spent our last night in Northern California that trip at Nancy’s Oakland home before we went to the airport.I vaguely recall that the house wasn’t in the best of neighborhoods, but don’t remember being worried.

In 1993 we visited San Fransisco again, this time with children and my mom. Nancy was celebrating her birthday (maybe her 50th?) at a Middle Eastern restaurant complete with a bellydancer (who chose me to “dance” along with him).We sat at low tables, on cushions on the floor. It was an interesting evening — but our times with Nancy always were interesting — and much different from what we normally experienced.

Nancy belonged to the same spiritual group as the folks who wrote Laurel’s Kitchen, which was also the spiritual group that my teenage friend Cynthia belonged to. (And Nancy’s sister, Joanne, helped edit the cookbook).

What I remember mostly about Nancy was her smile. She always seemed to be smiling — and not just her mouth, but her whole face. And she was the first person I knew who wore lip liner — I think of her every time I apply it.