9/11/2013

killer old people

My head is full of church stuff, lately, so I'm going to write a few things I'm enjoying about this little church we've been attending. First up: old people.

One of the key things MM and I are looking for in a church is an age mix. We think that people are healthiest when they get to mingle with a variety of people older and younger than them. We've been to too many churches where we were the oldest people there. Someday that will be legitimately true, but for now, we want to be in the middle, where we belong.

The pastor of one of the churches we'd visited earlier in the year told us about how their church's old people were, "killer," which was great news to us. Well, They may be, but none of them ever spoke to my husband and I in the 3 months we attended. And if we tried to talk to them, we got polite, but short replies and no engagement. Meanwhile, this current church is filled with warm, friendly old people who always make a point to engage with us. We are loving it.

George and Gladys welcomed us straight off our first day, and last week, we chatted like old friends about how Gladys had the same surgery as me 3 times, and shared book recommendations, and talked about recent vacations. We're pals now. We get the two handed hand clasp during the passing of the peace.

Katherine, an arthritic cellist who always dresses in hot pink, exclaimed when she met us that with names like ours, we should be an ice skating team, or some kind of secret rock band. She then spent several Sundays introducing us as members of a secret rock band whenever she got the chance. We had great fun gifting her a copy of my husbands instrumental rock album. She reported that she liked it very much, and had written us a thank you note, but misplaced it, and didn't have our address anyway, but she did, just like it so very much.

Several of the older ladies dress so classy for church. Very put together. They nibble on their cookies and sip tea and gossip a bit and arch their eyebrows meaningfully during coffee hour. They also gather often on the side of the sanctuary with people who have gone up for prayer. I see them looking each person in the eye with concern, rub their arm or back, pray fervently, and hug them at the end. These women have been here for decades and seen each other through all kinds of trials and blessings and losses.  And still managed to keep their hair styled, lipstick fresh, and accessories coordinated.

Two weeks ago we shared a table with a darling woman named Delphinia. That's all I really have to say, isn't it? She comes from the era when girls were named for flowers and trees and virtues. She is as pretty as her name, though she prefers to be called Deedee. (I would pay cash money to see her wedding photos. I bet she was a lovely bride.)

One woman, who we sat with this last week, I can't remember her name, but oh! She's fabulous. She's tiny. And she has a fun sense of humor, sparkly eyes, and the sweetest voice. (Well, speaking voice. MM and I secretly think she is the, um, "stand out" choir member. Ahem.) She often does one of the scripture readings. Lately, we've been going through Jeremiah. Dude. So awesome. She hollers and shouts all fiery and stern, speeding through the lines without stopping for breath. I half expect her to pound the lectern. She doesn't, but man you can tell she's feelin' it. Then when she's finished, she folds up her book and sweetly murmurs, "The word of the Lord." I want to hug her. Or fist bump her. Or both.

There aren't many women of color at this church, but there are two older ladies with big laughs and even bigger hair, and I can't wait to sit with them someday. They tell stories and cut up, often with little kids fresh from Sunday School. They are on the prayer team (ministry? team seems too low church for this bunch...) too. This past week, as we tried to enter the fellowship hall for coffee, they herded us outside, "No, no. There's a picnic today. You go get your food outside, now." Cannot wait to meet them.

There are several older men too. One who wears bow ties. And not ironically, like the little Hipster kids do. His bow ties are legit.

Several old women struggle with arthritis and osteoporosis. One is bent practically in half. Each week my heart catches with a mixture of beauty and pain as I watch her walk to the rail to take communion. In this church, they let little kids go first with their Sunday School teachers and parents. Next up are a pack of old ladies who sit in the first couple rows, so they have less far to walk. This woman is bent so that her head is the same height as the children. She smiles at them and they at her as they all make their way to the front. The kids wriggle and jump up and down, excited to take communion. She kneels sooooo slowly next to them. The priests have to bend way over to warmly smile into all their eyes and offer Christ's very Self to fill them, young and old, with hope and love and life. It takes her a while to stand and get back to her seat. I'm always thankful when Bow Tie Man offers her an arm, though she often doesn't take it. She's tough. (Or maybe she has a 40-year grudge against him and refuses to bury the hatchet. Who knows?)

Yep. Killer Old People. Just one of the things I'm enjoying about this little church.

9/10/2013

tuesdaybook - Ektorp! edition

For today I am,

Seeing... A bouquet of red roses. Deep red, and turning black as they age. They look velvety and rich.... Bookshelves full to bursting in the yoga/dance/TV room that we've transformed into "The Library" and later this week will transform again into "The Guest Room" when we host some sword friends from Australia.

Hearing... The washing machine churning away at the couch slipcovers. Yay Ektorp! Just in case the sword friends prefer to sleep on the sofabed instead of the blow up mattress... The soft thrum of the overhead fan in the hallway. It has been most hot and un-fall-like here, and we would expire without our fans.

Tasting... Buffalo Trace Bourbon porkchops and onions (cooked in the crockpot - so tender and amazing. We just did salt, pepper, and a little garlic salt. They are fabulous!) And veggies.

Working... Today is a writing day. Lots and lots of writing. In journals. Blogs. A few non-blog-might-be-a-book projects... Laundry. Bathroom. Floors. Slipcovers...

Reading... I am reading Lonesome Dove. I have never read it or watched the TV series. I like cowboy stuff just fine, and have heard its good, but I was busy watching other stuff when it came out. So far, I am loving these characters. Gus! He's crusty and hilarious. The writer deftly switches POV between all the characters in a way that I've not really seen before. We get to know all the cast inside and out. Very interesting technique. MM tells me the story gets sad soon,  and since I've been in an intense emotional season lately, he worries that reading a sad book may be too much. But, man. I love these characters. Its tough to give up on them. I may keep going and see how I feel. If its too much, I will set it aside (Ah, Mad Men, someday we will meet again.)

Learning... Nothing yet, but I am going to make the most of my recuperation time this fall/winter. I'm ordering some books on Instructional/Presentation/Information Design, and will borrow MM's Edward Tufte books. I'm looking forward to shifting my career focus a bit, and these books all sound interesting.

Creating... I am binding some books this week. And doing a bit of sewing while I still can. I have figured out that during my surgery recuperation I won't be able to crochet, but I might be able to embroider, so I'm trying to figure out some projects to keep me occupied while I watch a billion episodes of Jimmy Fallon.

Dreaming... Well. I'm looking forward to our upcoming vacation. MM will be at a conference for part of it, so I will be catching up with old friends and touristing around a fun old city. I haven't traveled since before MM and I got together, so I'm pretty excited to go on a plane and lose my luggage and get lost driving around an unfamiliar city. :) I'm also looking forward to connecting with my friends and visiting museums and parks and beautiful old buildings. I think it will be more fall-like there, so I am also looking forward to long sleeves and hats. And coffee that means something.

Pondering... Old patterns at work and in relationships. What needs to change. What needs to stay the same. What is real, what is perceived, but feels real, and what is just plain false. What used to be true, but isn't true now. And what is now true that I never knew existed before, but now I have to figure out how to fit it into my worldview. Its all very upheavaly. I can feel big foundation shifts inside and I know that when the ground stops moving, I will be in a new place. Mostly, I'm just holding on for the ride.

Thankful for... Our little church that we've been visiting. Oh, it is good to be around old people again. And to be in this small group of people who seem to genuinely love each other. So much of it is weird and unfamiliar to us, but already parts of it feel like home. We participated in our first potluck last weekend. We sat at a table with awesome old ladies, joked with the rectors, and the woman who received our school supply donation was so moved she cried and hugged me. We've decided to continue on through Advent and Christmas, and go from there. I don't know how long this will last, but I do know that we look forward to going each week, and are bummed when we miss one. This is a good feeling.

9/09/2013

indian summer

The Farmers Market stalls overflow with dahlias, peaches, tomatos, and zinnias. Our own garden alternates between droopy and crispy, and at 5pm, we cannot sit in any of the front rooms of our house for fear of melting into the furniture. These days are better fit for the lake, the park, and the pool than for the office or classroom. Oh, how I wish I could make a pitcher of lemonade and spend the afternoon reading in a hammock. But I can't. There's work needs doin'.

Indian Summer. Beautiful and hot. It always makes me frustrated because the weather doesn't match the required activities. I remember coming home from school to a sweltering kitchen, my mom putting up peaches, apples, and trying to figure out what the heck to do with all the blasted zuchini. I just wanted to go swimming.

In fact, one time I did. I didn't walk to the kitchen, but instead went to the apartment pool, set my violin case and backpack on the concrete and took the Nestea Plunge, clothes and all. It was glorious. And my mom, in a flash of parental brilliance, didn't scold, but just laughed and told me to change, because she needed my help to press apples through the strainer.

~ ~ ~

My life feels like its in Indian Summer. It's almost a new season, but not quite. I'm anxious to get to the new, but the old clings to me, like a sweaty Tshirt. In addition to physical organizing and cleaning and packing, I have a lifetime of sorrow and confusion to sort through. It's slow-going.

I can see the next season. I am shaping a vision for that life. But it's just out of reach. Not yet. Just this or that barrier to overcome. Oh, hey, another layer of healing to go through. Another new system to develop. You thought you were done with this task/project/obligation, but nope. Not quite.

It's tiring and painful and lonely and sometimes boring, and it just goes on and on, like pressing a hundred bushels of apples through a tupperware strainer.

My man encourages me to keep pressing. "You are almost done. You are kicking ass. You are so close, and what comes next is gonna be awesome. Wooooo! Also, zinnias! You love those!" And most of the time I am with him, but sometimes its just, "Yeah. Zinnias are cool. But. Dude. I don't even really like applesauce. This sucks and I'm tired of suckiness. When does the suckiness stop? Wahhh wahhh wahhhh."

~ ~ ~

So, I'm here, pressing apples and sweating in my Tshirt. Just concentrating on the task in front of me, and hoping for a cool evening breeze. Trying to remember to be present in this in-between season and to appreciate the beauty it offers. Zinnias. Peaches. A few last runs through the sprinkler before settling down to the business of Autumn.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. Or, in more modern vernacular, "Just keep swimming."

9/05/2013

rushing the season

The evening breeze has picked up, and the backyard air cools at last. Autumn's coming in fits and starts. Some leaves are changing. A few geese are honking. But the peaches have not yet been replaced by apples, and its too hot to really enjoy a good meatloaf.

Still, I bought a cart-load of school supplies the day before yesterday, and now five tiny backpacks stuffed with crayons, pencils, paper, glue sticks, notebooks (and at least one Justin Bieber folder) etc. etc. sit cheerfully on our hearth waiting to be dropped off at the church. MM and I have no children, and I have a deep love for school supplies. When we heard the call for donations, I wriggled in the pew and clapped my hands and grinned. (See? This is why I can never be an actual Anglican/Episcopalian.)

It's our first actual connection to this place, other than a few coffee hours and the occasional ten spot tossed in the collection plate. We've off and on attended over the summer, but the rectors are back from sabbatical, and this weekend is the Welcome Back Picnic. We are bringing a side dish. And perhaps a gluten-free dessert. MM and I come from Baptists, so we need to hit the potluck thing strong. Wow them with our casserole and our scriptural exegesis, yo.


Today I packed up a few "Happy Fall" bundles for family and friends (bouquets of sharpened pencils, pumpkin spice candles, that sort of thing.) I'm excited for fall, though I suspect it will look quite a bit different than in years past. I have shoulder surgery early next month, and will spend several months after with my arm in a sling. No pumpkin carving for me. :( But I can't bear to not have a party. So I may just host one anyway. I can push buttons on the microwave to make kettle corn. And I can turn on the crockpot to make cider. And if I print out a template my Sweetie says he would carve my pumpkin for me. (That is love, because this whole dorky pumpkin carving thing is all me, and he is such a great sport about it - gloppy pumpkin guts and all.)

But then, I'm getting ahead of myself - "rushing the season" as my mom used to tell me. All in good time. For now, I will make a few last peach cobblers. I will sew a few projects before I lose the use of my arm. I'll order a few books and dust off my library card, so I have a nice big stack to travel and convalesce with. We've got house guests for a few days, and then we get to be house guests for a bunch of days, so there's cleaning and packing and organizing to be done. Time still to throw open the window above my desk and drink the last drops of summer.

9/03/2013

what i did on my summer vacation

Hi friends. I'm back. Finished up my summer job on Friday. After a handful of transition meetings, I turned in my Nerd Badge and my boss took me to Chinese food for lunch. Delish! I'm glad I had this job. It made a universe of difference in our finances, and I was able to observe myself at an office job (which I haven't had in a couple of years) to see what I liked/didn't like, etc. Invaluable. My next foray into the work-a-day world will be in January, so I have time to ponder what I learned.

When I wasn't working, I was playing with MM. We did right by our Summer List this year. Boy Howdy! We went camping, hiking, paddling, biking, walking, and all kinds of other ings. We went to the lake and to the ocean and Shakespeare in the park and visited four waterfalls. We saw some beautiful moons. And beautiful flowers. We went to the Farmers Market where we bought locally grown mushrooms and tried Kombucha for the first time. We saw summer movies with robots and fight scenes and explosions. We set up a canopy over our blowup mattress in the back yard and read all afternoon. Another time we hauled our books and blankets on our bikes and read at the park. We saw a ballgame and fireworks. We ate ice cream. We sipped wine. We grilled so hard, I think we broke our bbq.

A lovely, life giving summer. Happy, happy days. What about you? What did you do this summer?