Friday, February 19, 2010

Seven Quick Takes -- First Friday of Lent -- Updated

Seven Quick Takes are hosted here.

1. We have ants in our house. I'm not sure where they are coming from, and they are few -- maybe two or three a day. My first impulse when I see one is to grab a Kleenex and smash. But ... Lucas, our cat, takes a great deal of joy in playing with them. He stalks them on the rug, he bats them around the hardwood, he licks his paw so that they stick to it and then shakes them off. So if I see an ant and Lucas is around, I mostly do nothing. It doesn't matter very much to me if an ant dies smashed in a tissue or batted to death on the rug. Therefore, I let Lucas have his fun. But tell me -- am I kind or cruel to animals?

2. Our friend Fr. Paul is dying. He turned 90 last spring, and we teased him then that he had missed his chance to die young. This is not unexpected, as he's been moving slowly downhill for a couple of years. But there never seems to be a right time for somebody to die. I was going to say "I wish I had God's perspective on this." But I think, actually, that I do. There wasn't supposed to be death in this world, until Adam and Eve chose to disobey, so all times for dying are wrong, a sign that our redemption is not complete.
Updated: Fr. Paul died about 5PM Saturday. He was under hospice care and in no pain, and both his niece and
Roger were with him. He will be very much missed. Fr. Paul Higdon, R.I.P.
3. Chili beans and rice for dinner tonight. Over the last couple of years I have realized that I really like most of the dinners that have become part of my Lenten Friday routine, to the point where I actually look forward to Lent so that I can serve them. I decided that this missed the point of "abstinence from meat equals self denial", so I'm serving my favorites some other day of the week and having canned beans and rice on Fridays. Of course, this is a meal that Kelson looks forward to.....

4. It is getting lighter out in the evenings. When we moved in here I was barely done with my day before I had to close the blinds. Right now dinner is cooking and outside my window there is blue sky and sun on snow, with a birch tree and some pines for contrast. And in three weeks Daylight Saving Time begins, so we will always be able to eat dinner with the blinds open. It also means that it will once again be pitch dark when I have to get up. Win some, lose some.

5. if I haven't mentioned it before, I now have my computer in the kitchen. This has proved to be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I can write a blog post and keep an eye on dinner at the same time. On the other hand, I can get sucked into checking my email five or ten times a day instead of the two or three I used to allow myself. And let's not talk about the games on Facebook (though I have managed to avoid Farmville and that ilk.) If I still think my real-to-virtual-life balance is off in a year, I may have to give up the internet for Lent. This is a very good incentive to shape up soon!

6. Lucas the cat apparently likes the smell of warming chili beans. I just had to chase him off the stove! As far as I know this is the first time EVER he's gotten up there. Maybe for the rest of Lent I'll have to heat them in the microwave.

7. Why do Girl Scout cookies always arrive just in time for Lent? Inquiring minds want to know!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Seven Quick Takes -- Why Does Vaction Make Me So Tired??!

Seven Quick Takes are hosted at Conversion Diary.

1) We got back from Stratford about noon on Tuesday. We had a wonderful, restful time, but I got up at 6:30 AM so that I could pack. This is actually a good thing for me; for the first several years I insisted on packing the night before, thereby effectively cutting our stay short by 12 hours or more. How can you play Trivial Pursuit or read a novel by candlelight if games, candles, and books are all packed up?

2) Unfortunately, when I got home there was immediately a LOT to do. Some of it was the "whipping the house back into Mom-acceptable shape" that happens every time I leave, but a lot of it was the seven loads of laundry we brought home with us. Yes, we wear a lot of clothes in Stratford. Actually, I wear a lot of clothes. I have quite a bit of lounge wear I've accumulated over the years, and in a house with a teen-aged boy it rarely gets an outing. So I take a couple of outfits per day to Stratford and wear it all there. (Have I mentioned that the appeal of Stratford is doing NOTHING?!! We sit in the room, read and play board games, watch a movie, rinse in the Jacuzzi, and repeat. We go out for breakfast and dinner, and sometimes sit in a coffee shop while they are "doing" the room. Ahhhhh...)

3) I wouldn't, I suppose, really have needed to do all the laundry immediately (especially the stuff I won't wear again for a year..) But one of the things that makes our household work is assigned laundry days. Back when our six kids were all under 16, I was getting buried in the mountains of laundry. So we instituted "girls' laundry day", "boys' laundry day", and so on. They learned the job, I wasn't so stressed, and it was all good! But "my" laundry days are Tuesday and Friday, and even with only Kelson at home, woe to the person who does laundry on the "wrong" day. So I got it done on Tuesday.

4) Aside from getting up at 6:30 -- which I NEVER do on vacation, and as rarely as possible otherwise -- another reason I was tired by the time we left Stratford was the stairs. Bentley's Annex, where we stay, is an old, elevator-free building. Mostly we stay on the lower floor, but this year we had to change our reservation, and our favorite room wasn't free. I was reminded again why stair-climbing is considered such good exercise. And climbing down laden with too-many clothes and books; whew!

5) The week since then hasn't been normal, either. On Wednesday this part of Michigan got its small share of the Snowpocaylpse/Snowmageddon going on elsewhere. (A shout out to Tracy with three inches in a Gulf Coast state, and to Miriel and our friends David and Lauren who are awaiting another 10 inches outside D.C.) By Michigan standards this wasn't much of a blizzard, but the timing was such that schools were closed. Kelson went back yesterday, and today is the first day of mid-winter break. So I am seeking in vain for a nice, routine, day. The choir even has this weekend off, so Sunday will also be different! And did I mention that break includes Monday?

6) Tuesday, of course, is Shrove Tuesday. In some places that means "Carnevale"! Here in the Detroit area people celebrate with paczki, overgrown Polish jelly doughnuts. (In a sad misunderstanding of the point, they've been on the shelves for more than a week...) I will be making the more restrained German faschnachts I grew up with.

7) And Wednesday, of course, is the beginning of Lent. This year I am not giving up chocolate, or fiction, or lunch on weekdays. I am giving up the mess in my house, and the boxes that all our books reside in. Even before we moved, I knew that my "Lenten discipline" would be making my new house fully home -- and clean and organized to boot. I wish that didn't make me tired thinking about it... But tomorrow is a sleep-in Saturday, so my hope is to begin the week with more energy, and Lent with a heart open to more grace. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Gone, and Back, and Gone Again (No Aliens Involved)

So I last posted on a Tuesday, and on the Thursday afternoon I drove to a town about an hour south and got on a bus. 51 other people and I then rode all night to get to Washington D.C. early in the morning so that we could participate in the March for Life.

Of course, many other people were also doing this. Our bus stopped in Breezewood PA about 2 AM, and there was literally a bus arriving and leaving about every minute. Our stopover lasted about 15 minutes longer than planned because there were so many buses needing to refuel. As an avid reader of British novels, I was reminded of the phrase that for certain events "there were special trains 'laid on'." I had thought before about the logistics of hiring buses, but never about having so many of them converging on the same place at the same time. There was a behind-the-scenes "cast of thousands".

If you got your information about the March from a standard media source, you may have thought that the entire march was merely thousands. According to an experienced police officer that one of the people on our bus talked to -- yeah, about 450 of those thousands. The thing was MASSIVE. Certainly bigger than I imagined, and I have been relying on alternative media for years. (Click here to see a short film about the media response to the March.)

And then, after standing for a couple of hours listening to the pre-march rally speakers, and spending TWO hours walking the mile-and-a half from the Mall to the Supreme Court building --because it was shoulder-to-shoulder and nose-to-back --, we got back on the bus and rode all night back to Michigan. I wasn't the oldest person on the bus (he had me beaten by almost 15 years), but I have decided that when I do this again, I am going to take several days and stay with family or friends in the D.C. area. But worth it?? Absolutely! It was beyond encouraging for someone who has been involved in this movement for 25 years to see the enormous numbers of kids who weren't even born then who turn out for this march. (Fifteen or so of them were on our bus.) A friend who also went wants to take the youth group she leads next year.

I was (not surprisingly) pretty tired for the next few days. And then our son-in-law Larry had to travel on business, so Branwen came to stay, with Daniel and Matthew. I am not at all repentant for not posting during that time -- reading Madeline and the Gypsies over and over was far more important! I could have posted in the last day or two, but I didn't. And tomorrow Roger and I leave for our winter week in Stratford. So I'll be scarce again, but I promise you, aliens have nothing to do with it! (Unless you count Canadians... but then we'll be in Canada, so I guess we'll be the aliens..... oh, never mind....)