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October 22, 2008
What on earth...? The package from America arrived in Florence a little the worse for wear -- it had once held a case of Seagram's Extra Dry Gin, but that lettering was blacked out. All I could tell from the return address was that it was from God, and that He had mailed it from Decatur, Georgia. I don't think I knew that God lived in Decatur.

The first thing in the box was an empty Entenmann's box. Wha-at? Ah, it's packing material, I realized, when I saw an empty Keenex box further down. Then I spied a bag of marshmallows, and another one. At the bottom, a box of Rice Krispies. And, finally, a note:

...Just so nobody loses their taste for American junk
food, I'm enclosing the ingredients fro Rice Crispy Treats.
Just add butter.

Good Lord.

Rice Krispies and marshmallows weren't all we got from the States this week. A washboard also arrived from Logan, Ohio, where the only remaining manufacturer of washboards extant in the country is located. I hadn't thought of washboards in years, but a reader in Logan thought one just might be the solution to all my complaining about Italian washing machines. It arrived with some nice literature about washboards, of which there are many more types than I ever imagined. The company has sent 4,000 of them to the Middle East, where GIs use them to clean their uniforms.

And there was something else even more wonderful: they used the Sunday comics for packing material. We have missed them mightily. We have missed Jeremy, the archtypical teenager in "Zits." We have missed "Doonesbury" and "Opus" sorely in this election season. I have missed the demented cat and long-suffering dog in "Get Fuzzy."

Comics! Q cried when he spied the bright colors, Where did you get them?

Life isn't just made up of Great Moments in History, those moments you will remember for ever, those times when the word stood still for an instant and everybody paid attention. Its ephemera shape it even more: the thousand-and-one little things that make up your everyday world, those things you took completely for granted for years. You don't even notice them until they've been gone for ages, and then one day you catch a glimpse of one of them in a junk shop. And your heart gives a little lurch.

Sometimes we don't know what love is until it's gone.

Learn more than you ever knew about washboards at
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