Saturday, May 27, 2006

My idea of fun

One of my favorite things to do is clean. One requirement, though, is a nice rainy day to keep me inside. That’s what we had on Friday. I took the day off to make a four day weekend, and it showered off and on all day. Perfect.

The kitchen cabinet over the stove was the first target. Here could be found all manner of age old spices from the mysterious East, misshapen candles that we keep “just in case”, the first cell phone we ever had, everything you need for a birthday celebration (candles for the cake, rolls of stained old crepe paper streamers, and those banners of connected letters spelling out ‘H-A-P-P-Y-B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y’. You would also see a collection of University phone directories for each of the twenty years I’ve worked at the school. To be fair, though, half of them were in the basement (my second target of the day).

The spices went in to a box for Kathy to sort through. I only kept the cinnamon. I knew what that was for, and since I’m the only one that eats it, I instinctively knew it had to be saved. I pitched the directories, keeping only the current one. The cell phone, some really sad candles and one of the two Clabber Girl baking powder cans went into the trash. It was hard, though. I really like the labels on those cans.

Later, when Kathy got home from work, she looked in the spice box, plucked a few out to look at them and said, “It can all go.” We don’t really use seasoning salt or bay leaves or parsley or sage or rosemary or thyme, for that matter.

Next, the basement. Every time I walk down there I wonder why we keep all this stuff. I filled three garbage bags with all sorts of knick knacks, papers and unidentified flotsam. Yes, jetsam too. One of the kids had already gone through his own stuff and cleared out a lot, so I didn’t touch that. He has no where to keep it except here, so that’s OK.

I’d love to have a normal basement and get rid of some of the old furniture down there, but the darn thing is liable to flood in a heavy downpour, and you just never know when it might happen. The old furniture just serves as a place to keep the things we want to stay dry off the floor. I cleared a place for all of Max’s toys. I think the high chair, the old car seat and some of the toys could go to Birthright or someplace.

Mostly I amused myself by wandering from room to room, rearranging things in my mind, opening boxes and gleefully tossing things into garbage bags, listening to suitably subdued music from Joni Mitchell and Carrie Newcomer.

Kathy was pleased with my work in the kitchen, though she had a strange smile on her face when she saw what I had done. Finally she asked me if that cleaning that one cabinet was the sum total of my work all day. She never goes into the basement and doesn’t really care what’s down there, so she wasn’t all that impressed with my three bags full.

Then today was outside day, bright and sunny, great for trimming bushes, cutting the grass and then plopping down on the deck to continue reading Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Mermaid Chair.”

Yup. It’s shaping up to be a perfect weekend.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A spot of rain

My dad had a wall hanging or some such thing in his old darkroom, a "letter from an Irish mother." It was kind of funny, talking about mundane things like the weather, saying: "It only rained twice this week. Once for three days and once for four." We had the same situation here. The weather cleared briefly on Wednesday afternoon, and all you could hear in the neighborhood was the sound of a hundred lawnmowers roaring up and down front yards, mine included. Then the skies closed in again, and it’s been coming down ever since. Even this morning Kodiak and I were drenched during our morning constitutional. And him fresh from the groomers yesterday, too. Nothing like the smell of wet dog to invigorate a person.

The other day Kathy looked at me and said in such a way that it seemed she could hardly believe it herself, “I’ve been a nurse for forty years.” No wonder she wants to retire. We didn’t feel like going out to celebrate, so I picked up takeout at Mavis Winkles, and bought a card on the way to the restaurant and placed it in the bag to present to her. This morning we’ll go out to breakfast. As you can see, food figures prominently in celebration here.

Max's dad has been taking him out to the national park by the old canal to walk in the woods there. They did see Bambi’s mom one day, but Max wasn’t that impressed. I think maybe the whole world is a zoo to him. It might serve him well to maintain that perspective as he grows up.

I went to a meeting at church this past week for our Vibrant Parish Life committee. I used to belong to the committee for a while, but when Kathy’s mom was getting worse, I quit. Also, I was annoyed when I figured out that “vibrant parish life” really meant “do more with less”. There really is a shortage of priests that is already impacting the church, in fact, our new bishop came from Boston where he closed 70 parishes. I’m sure he’s been brought in to do the same thing here. There are lots of old ethnic parishes, some with only 250 families in them, and those sorts of places will be closed and merged. There are already parishes that have administrators, not pastors, and there are parishes who only have a priest on the weekends. Those parishes with fewer than 2800 families won’t even have a second priest working in them.

We have about 2800 families in our parish, so we warrant having two priests, but we will be “clustering” with other parishes for certain activities. For instance, for years kids from a neighboring parish have been playing on our elementary school football team. We no longer have a pre-Cana program for engaged couples—that is done somewhere else.

Anyway, the upshot of the meeting was that they wanted—you guessed it—volunteers to do two things: study which parishes we might cluster with, and educate our parishioners about the problem and our future. Of course, I went to the education group, since the politics of the other group did not appeal to me. Two degrees in political science, but I stay away from politics on that level. So, we will be going forth to talk to people about ideas for the future, preparing them for who knows what.

Hope you have a good week!

Saturday, May 13, 2006


It’s not that we’re short handed or anything, but tonight at Mass I lit the candles, did the readings, helped with the collection, was a Eucharistic minister and handed out bulletins at the church door as people left.

One of my friends came up and said, “Do you do windows?”

Yesterday a woman from church called and left a message asking me to come to a meeting on Monday night to talk about ideas about the liturgy we might try over the rest of the year. I would be happy to do so, but I have to run a meeting of our Social Justice group at the same time.

At Social Justice, we don’t really have officers, but four years ago, the woman running the group decided to step down after many years. Since I seemed to keep showing up at the meetings, a group of members asked me to take over. The group was established about thirty years ago, and a few of the original members are still active. They are in their eighties now, though, and are not up to some of the physical work we do. Another one of those long time members died recently. It’s hard to get people to come to meetings and do some of the less glamorous work between our monthly gatherings.

Now I’m not complaining about what I do—I think it’s fun, but does anyone else have trouble getting people to step up and volunteer to do things at church?

Friday, May 12, 2006

What is it out? Part Two

What is it out? 42 degrees. Ask me how I know. Go ahead, ask me. My new thermometer arrived. Woo-hoo! Twenty-two days after I ordered it. Think I'll ever order anything from again? I think not.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Jump the Broom

We tried to go to a wedding today. The sister of one of Kathy’s co-workers was getting married, and we were invited. So we got all dressed up and drove downtown to the African American Baptist church where the ceremony was to be held, arriving at ten minutes to two, just before the festivities were scheduled to get underway.

There were no pews, but rather row upon row of plush, cushioned individual chairs. Kathy picked out a seat in the back row and we parked ourselves to watch everyone walk in. The rows started to fill, and one older lady sat down in front of me. I was surprised because everyone else was going up front where they would be able to see all the action. It got to be 2:20 or so, and no one else we knew had arrived, so I struck up a conversation with her.

Her name was Mrs. Jeffrey. I learned a little bit about her, as it was apparent that the wedding party was no where near being ready, and we had lots of time to talk. She had had a stroke a year ago and had been paralyzed on her right side, but had recovered very well. It was amazing how well she looked after all that,though she tires easily and that was why she had plopped down in the back with us. She and her husband had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last fall. He had just retired after forty years with UPS. Her mother-in-law had had Alzheimer’s for ten years and died last year. It was Mrs. Jeffery who largely cared for her at home all that time. A brother and sister of hers died in the past year, too. Her son, in his fifties, has cancer, and a second surgery is looming. She blames her stroke on the fact that she is always taking care of someone else, and that she needed to slow down. Did it work? It seemed to me that she was starting to pick up steam again, and she described how she was cooking meals and going around town doing for others once again.

Oh. The wedding. Well, you see, there was some sort of delay. The production didn’t get underway until we had been there for an hour and a half. We practically memorized the program and couldn’t believe what we saw listed in that little booklet. There were no fewer than twenty groomsmen and bridesmaids, plus four flower girls, the miniature bride and groom, a ring bearer, and two “bell ringers”. The boy and girl who were handling the bells walked down the aisle and self consciously repeated the phrase, “The bride is coming…the bride is coming…” It took the whole assembly twenty minutes just to come down the aisle and get into place. Mrs. Jeffrey and I guessed that the bride and groom couldn’t bear to deny anyone the honor of being in the bridal party.

Kathy had formulated a plan. When everyone’s attention was focused on the bride going down the aisle, we would make our escape. We couldn’t stay for the ceremony, since we were scheduled somewhere else for dinner. They finally started the wedding, but it was at the time when we thought we would be leaving the church, not just getting started.

We slipped out the back and drove off, having done our social duty, but feeling deprived of a wonderful, joyful event. Funny, but Mrs. Jeffrey was right on our heels. They had just worn her out with the waiting. We’ll get the inside story on the wedding party’s dawdling once Kathy returns to work on Monday.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

It's still 100 degrees

My thermometer from still has not arrived. I ordered it on April 17. I've sent two emails so far with no response. When I check my order on their site, it still says "open". I can't tell what the temperature is outside. My old thermometer still says "100 degrees". I am so disheartened by it all.