Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sentimental Favorites

What an afternoon. Both of my sentimental favorites in the NCAA basketball tournament went down to defeat: UCONN and Villanova. I suppose there are other reasons to root for or against a particular team, but you see, my youngest brother attended UCONN and both my father and one of my sisters went to Villanova.

Barry died in 1984, on Memorial Day weekend, after a four year fight against lymphoma. He was an art major, the only art major living in the jock dorm, in fact. He ran cross country in high school and college and once ran the mile in 4:27 in high school. We have a couple of his watercolors in our house. So that’s why UCONN is special to me.

Years ago when we were in junior high, dad took us through the Villanova campus to show us where the action was back in the ‘40’s. We read comic books during the tour, sorely disappointing our parents. My sister, a year younger than I, did attend ‘Nova for her nursing degree, thus redeeming us for the time being. So, I looked forward to seeing the Wildcats in the Big Dance.

I guess if you follow a coach, or a certain player, those would be reasons to hop up and down with every shot. Maybe you just tuned in at the start of the tournament and got hooked on a certain team as a quirky upstart. It’s always fun to root for an underdog, or against a perennial dominating team. That’s all I ever do. Sometimes my favorite team is just whoever is playing Ohio State. That is unless my sentimental favorites are on the court. Then I am utterly committed to them all the way.

So tonight I’m bummed. But then, the pressure is off for the Final Four. I can say I really don’t care, but darn, that LSU looks huge.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Time Travel

Leave it to the bloggers to know just what to say. Rebecca said something simple, yet profound in her comment on my last post. She talked of loving Kathy through her journey, after all, it is her journey. Yes, it is. That helps me understand, but it’s still hard to watch someone go through that, someone you have been bound to for thirty-five years. It’s hard not to feel every bump and scrape that she experiences along the way. Rebecca is wise beyond her years. :-))

I appreciate all you others who dropped a note about our fellowship. Thanks for being there for me.

In other news, Max has been invited to a classmate’s birthday party, and everyone has to come in costume. Summer, the birthday girl, is frightened by Darth Vader, so the Star Wars character has been specifically banned from appearing at the celebration. Lately, Max has been fascinated with the movie “Back to the Future”, so once he understood that he could not dress as his first choice (Darth Vader, of course), he decided he wanted to be “Doc Brown”, the crazy scientist who invents time travel in a DeLorean. As he and Shane discussed the costume, he paused for a moment and said, “Dad, are scientists scary?” ever mindful of little Summer’s fragile emotional state. Shane assured him that posing as Doc Brown would be just fine. Driving in the car lately, Max insists on being called “Marty” after the Michael J. Fox character, and his father is “Doc”. Call him Max and he’ll correct you.

It’s so much fun to enter his world. When he comes over, we become “Buzz” and “Woody”, or whoever he wants to be that day. It doesn’t even require a psychotic break. It’s all perfectly legitimate. Just morph into whatever character catches your fancy and away you go. Try that at work sometime, and they’ll be calling security.

The draft of the second edition of Careers in Action is due on March 31, so I was working on that this weekend. I plan to leave much of it intact, since it’s all still relevant stuff and I did a pretty good job the first time out. All the resume examples will be new, though, and I am especially happy with the way that chapter turned out. There was some discussion with the publisher about what constitutes a “second” edition as opposed to a “revised” edition. Apparently they want you to change 20% of the book to qualify as a “second” edition. That would be about 60 pages for me. For the life of me, I couldn’t see how I could alter that much material without making a mess of the whole project, so I’ll change what I think really needs changing and see what happens.

I’ll do a better job of marketing it this time, too. Maybe if I become Marty, I can go back in time and tell people that there is terrific job search book coming out soon and everyone absolutely has to buy it…yeah…that would work…Now, where’s Max? We have get the DeLorean fired up!

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Chapter 18 in “A Purpose Driven Life” is about fellowship. It talks about how the word has come to mean coffee and donuts after the service, and how it really has a much deeper meaning that we have lost. In fellowship we should be able to listen to each other, support each other, pray for each other. I think I have to read that chapter again, it was so rich I couldn’t take it all in.

Last night we didn’t exactly fellowship in the true sense of the word. But we did party. Since this is the 75 anniversary of the founding of our parish, we have been doing some sort of special event each month. Last night it was the St. Patrick’s Day Potluck Dinner. We spent much of the day setting up in the church basement and when we were done, the place looked kind of nice with shamrocks and garland and tablecloths and tables full of raffle prizes.

They asked me to be the person making announcements, and it turned into a full time MC job. That was OK, since I had fun with it.

We had an older member playing his accordion, then some of the members of the Men’s Choir did “Danny Boy” and some other songs. Then the hit of the night was a group of students from a school of Irish dance who jigged and reeled their way around our little staging area. The whole show ran a bit long, so a two hour dinner on paper turned into a three hour extravaganza in reality.

Everyone had fun, though, and commented on how nice everything was. My next door neighbor was the one who really planned it all. Peggy is very good at events, and thought of everything to make this dinner turn out so well.

I found time to sit down and eat something while the dancers were doing their thing, and I just plopped down anywhere and wound up meeting some nice people. The couple I sat with had just celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary and were recounting that day in February fifty-nine years ago, when it was cold and snowy and no one came to their wedding. It was just them, the priest and one other man in the whole church. But they didn’t care. They had just come through the horrors of World War II and they were ready to get on with the rest of their lives. The husband told me how he had landed on Omaha Beach, got wounded along the way, and later went through France, Belgium and Germany all on foot. As I listened to him, I wondered who would tell his story after he is gone. How will our grandchildren know of the sacrifices people made so long ago?

At one point in the evening I was very sad because Kathy was not with me. She stayed home. She was missing something wonderful, something that could have helped rekindle her feelings for the people and the church. Please pray for her—she is going through a rough time in her faith life. She has asked me to be patient with her as she works through her feelings of bitterness and dissatisfaction. It’s hard to me to know what to say to do about it.

So there. All this to say, maybe it wasn’t biblical fellowship, but it was still pretty wonderful.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Stream by Glendalough Posted by Picasa

St. Patrick's Day Excuse

We didn't go to the parade this year, but hung out in a Mavis Winkle's restaurant for three hours. Today is an excuse to post some more photos from our trip to Ireland.

Downtown Dublin Posted by Picasa

Newgrange Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Let's see you do better-a poetry challenge

It’s been near 70 here for a couple of days.
Brought to mind a hot summer’s haze.
Now it’s plummeted down to near thirty
And feels more like fall, but not near as purty.

After a blazing July and August, coolness is welcome,
But we didn’t have summer yet, just barely a taste.
Now this crazy weather makes us feel, well, numb.
So let’s urge on the season: c’mon summer—make haste!

(So what if the meter is all wrong—
The rhyme still works in this song.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Little king

The other day Kodiak and I went walking with a purpose. There was a Max sighting at the playground a few blocks away, and we were determined to intercept him there. As we approached, he was there with his mom Jessica, standing atop a pile of construction dirt, sporting a little cowboy hat. When he saw us, he yelled hi and then said, “I’m king of the mountain!” I asked him if I could come up too, and he said sure and moved over to make space for me. Apparently he didn’t grasp the full nature of the game “King of the Mountain.” He was quite willing to share his domain. Isn’t that a great thing about kids? For the time being they are all about sharing. Competition will come later, but for now, it’s not part of their world view.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

What I Did Tonight

We went to 4:30pm Mass tonight since we were both Eucharistic Ministers on the schedule. The head usher came over and asked me to help take up the collection, so I said sure. To make it simpler, I left the pew and went to stand in the back of the church. This was a different experience for me, since we are usually way up front. There is a different culture back there. People come late, slip in, slip out. It’s hard to hear sometimes, so you can lose the thread of the sermon or miss parts of the readings.

I’ve been reading “A Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren—a wonderful life changing book. The Holy Spirit kind of taps you on the shoulder and says, “What did I tell you? Better listen up. I’ve got plans for you.” So anyway, I just started praying for all the people in the church, that the Spirit might touch them as well and fill our church with love and understanding. How exciting that would be!

So it comes time for the collection, and I get my basket and head up the aisle. I remembered as I was walking that it was almost 33 years ago to the day that I last helped with the collection. It was Easter Sunday in Illinois. I was in graduate school and had long hair and a blue suit and yellow tie on. I wondered if the people thought I was going to head out the door with the loot, but they dropped in their envelopes anyway. I would just shove the basket under peoples’ noses whether they looked like they were going to give or not. This time, though, I paid attention to who had their envelopes in their hot little hands and didn’t bother the others.

As I was sitting in the last pew with two other ushers, the guy in front of me sneezed into his right hand. Great, I thought. I have to shake hands with this germy character at the Sign of Peace. I started reminding myself not to touch my mouth after I shook hands with him so I wouldn't get sick. Then, at the critical moment, he never turned around to speak to me! Harrumph. What's with him? Oh. Wait. Germophobe--good thing he didn't try to touch me after all.

The head usher asked me to help hand out the church bulletins at the end of Mass, so I did that too, and that was OK. I wonder if I’ve picked up yet another ministry—which would be funny because I’ve been quite vocal to Kathy about how I’m already doing enough up there.

Do you have the same problem in your church/temple/mosque? The same people seem to be in leadership roles and serving on the same committees—an over committed a dedicated core of folks who always say yes? How do you get people to jump in? I got started after doing a weekend retreat at church twenty-eight years ago. We don’t do those kinds of things anymore. Sounds like we need an infusion of the Holy Spirit. I’ll have to bring it up at the next committee meeting.

Monday, March 06, 2006

It happened again

How did this happen? Another birthday. Just like that I’m 56. Seems like only a year ago I was telling you I was 55. If I live to be 110, now I’m more than halfway there. According to McDonald’s, I’m a “senior”. In other places I would be called “middle aged”. How come I don’t feel like either?

They show us pictures of us on TV to appeal to the baby boomers, but I don’t look like them, do I? Maybe I do, but I feel more like an undercover agent, pretending to fit in, while underneath it all, I am someone else entirely different than the person I appear to be. For instance, when I was in college, I would come home in the summer and have to get my hair cut short. All the while, though, I knew I really was the sort of person who had long hair, even if you couldn’t see it anymore. Now I look older than I really am. Gray hair and beard disguise the twenty-something I know I am. I like my appearance though. When I see photos of myself with brown hair, I think how dorky-looking I was. I much prefer the distinguished look.

Now see, what’s this? An envelope with my name on it. Kathy hid my card by my computer where she knew I’d find it. Usually we leave such things on the kitchen table to be discovered later, but here’s mine. Now she’s made me cry. Here is what the card said:

“We’ve come a long way
from the days we were dating,
when it took me ten hours to get ready
and when you stood
fidgeting on my doorstep.

These days, you’re more apt
To find me in a t-shirt and jeans
And you, sacked out on the couch.
Married life has rounded our edges,
Widened our perspective,
And given us the courage to be
Our honest-to-goodness real selves….

But you know what?
I love you now more than ever.
The countless thoughtful things
You do for me are like
Little love poems.
You give me such unconditional
Love and acceptance,
Even when I’m undeserving.
And what gift is better than that?

What we have is not the stuff of fairy tales,
But a lived-in love…
Tested, stretched, comfortable,
And very precious.
So thanks to you,
My wonderful husband,
My heart has found a home…

I just called Kathy at work to thank her. She said when she was reading the card in the store, big tears were rolling down her face, such that the manager (a friend of ours from church) came over to ask if she was OK! She explained that yes, she was fine, but the card had just touched her so.

It helps having someone you love with you—someone who is also frozen in time, a time when everything was possible, a time when you knew that with this person, you could weather anything. To others, we may just be two old people walking into the store holding hands, but to us, we’re nineteen forever, with that same shock of newness and a special familiarity all come together in that touch.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Where I've been.

The 27th Annual Spring Career Fair is history. It was months in the making—starting with employer invitations back in December, an intense marketing campaign to students, and now we’re done. We had 170 employers and around 1200 people through the doors. I am the manager for the event, so I am on my feet for the entire day, running from one crisis to the next. Consequently, I am tired.

Have you ever been so tired that you hallucinate? That if you sit down you know you won’t be able to get up again? That’s me. I haven’t been blogging lately because this event has consumed every minute of my time over the past week. It was all worth it, though, since everyone seemed to be happy. I got some nice compliments about how organized it all was, so my ability to turn on some obsessive compulsive traits paid off. It was probably the smoothest takeoff we ever had. Everyone was warned by email, snail mail and smoke signal to come early so they could secure a parking space. Throughout the morning there were small issues that were easily solved, praise God.

I can’t be trusted on the road tonight as in driving to get takeout, so Kathy volunteered to make matzo ball soup. Wonderful. Just right on this frigid evening. I’m almost too tired to eat, but not quite.

In other news, we started Lent this past Wednesday. Too often I’ve let it go by without really doing much in the way of spiritual growth. When we were kids, we had a spinner on a chart with various things you could do that day for Lent. The space on the chart that we all dreaded was “No T.V.” We could stand anything but that. If you hit it, you were bereft, as the other four kids watched “The Flintstones” or “The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” or whatever was on, and you had to go somewhere else in the house.

This year my pastor mentioned a book called “The Purpose Driven Life.” I’ve decided to give it a try. Forty chapters, one for each of the forty days of Lent. Just a few pages to get you going on a topic, and then a question to ponder. We’ll see how it goes.

Waiting for his hot chocolate to cool. Posted by Picasa

By popular demand (by all two of you), here's Max! (with Uncle Patrick (l) and dad Shane (r). Posted by Picasa