For crying out loud in a bucket!

Frances and Bernie Underwood 1923, according to the note on the back of the photo. My mom at five years old with her first brother.

I woke up with a compelling need to find this photo and connect with the power and hope in those two round faces shining out from ninety-five years ago somewhere in Philadelphia.

I also woke up with Mom’s voice in my head: For crying out loud in a bucket! She did not swear, but this phrase fit the bill for her when a little something else was called for.

Sunday’s reading, Isaiah’s voice crying out in the desert, has also come to mind.

I like to think that Mom and Bernie reconnected happily in heaven after years of estrangement. I like to think Mom and I will reconnect some day on a better note. I hope for healing of the many disconnects and distances that have happened in our family, anybody else’s family, and the larger family of the world.

I’m not doing a good job of finding a way to express how this is all impacting me this morning, but I think Isaiah has it covered (40,6-8)

A voice says, “Cry out!”
I answer, “what shall I cry out?”
“All mankind is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
The word of our God stands forever.”

Sharing a Meal

Living alone, it is easy to fall into a habit of grabbing the nearest, quickest food item in the kitchen, maybe eat it over the stove or on the way out to the car. I find myself guilty of this habit more often than I like to admit. I tell myself its just fuel and that is what is important.

But food and meals offer more than fuel, and this morning I took the time to remember that.

A quick browse through a cookbook reminded me of the simplicity of baking an egg in a ramekin. I didn’t have the ingredients in the recipe on the page but checked the fridge for possibilities.

A few single pieces of leftover produce presented themselves, and soon I was slicing off a bit of zucchini, onion, bell pepper, and tomato. A quick sauté in a bit of olive oil and into the ramekin.

breakfast1

The act of chopping vegetables always takes me to warm places in my memory of certain occasions of preparing meals for or with friends or family. The colors on the cutting board mingle and make me smile. The sizzle and aroma in the frying pan build the anticipation of a good meal.

I broke an egg over the prepared veggies, dolloped a spoonful of half-and-half over that and sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top,

It took ten minutes to bake in the oven. In barely more time than it would take to toast a piece of bread and slap some peanut butter on it, I sat down to an inviting feast.

Good morning!

I just ran a marathon through an obstacle course, and I’m still in my pajamas.

Noon will arrive in five minutes, and as I have mentioned in the title, I am still in my pajamas.

I did not plan it this way.

In the first place, I didn’t wake up until eight thirty, which is late for me. I have a list of things I wanted to accomplish today. Still want to. But I was trying to find my way to my blog page to accomplish my first desired task of the day

Instead, I got caught up in a crazed mob of news items, emails, emails about Facebook postings, videos that I tried to pass by but actually caught my interest, Instagrams I actually wanted to see from my out-of-state daughter. I had an email with a grammar test I had to stop and take and then had to get involved with commenting in the ensuing virtual conversation.

In short, I am exhausted before even getting started.

It didn’t help that a thunderstorm was in progress when I awoke, making it difficult for me to extract myself from my pillows and blankets. It has tapered off now, and I have opened the back door to allow some of the fresh air in. Hopefully, this will help me relax and focus.

So now I had to stop in order to take a picture through my back door. I want to share my view of the beckoning day. The stained glass monk hanging on the glass portion of my door is an unplanned but serendipitous expression of the peace I would like to experience at this moment in place of the frustration and exhaustion.

Just taking the photo and getting it where I wanted it was a time-consuming challenge for me. I have to face the fact that some of this is not the fault of the technology I try to manage in my life. There is also the aging factor as well as a lifelong battle with procrastination.

Be that as it may, it is now past one o’clock. Whatever it was that I originally planned to write about has flown from my thoughts. I am going to get dressed now. And take a few deep breaths. And re-start my day.

pink as my rosiest dreams

Opening up the blinds to find even a small and fleeting streak of pink in the sky stops me in my tracks every single time. This morning I stepped out into the chilly autumn morning in my robe and slippers to take a picture–try to hold onto it. I have opened the back door, which is glass on the top pane and screen on the bottom, to let some more of that morning in. Already, the  palette has given way mostly to lavender and periwinkle since I snapped the picture, but the quivering morning stillness is still there.

It speaks to me. Tells me I am not alone. Tells me this is a new beginning, the gift of a morning. The evening sky stops me, too, with a feeling of comfort. Somehow the glow of pastels settling back on top of whatever kind of day I have had offers a –

promise that all will be well

See, the home of God is among mortals. Revelation 21:3b (cited on today’s page of Forward Day by Day)

 

Honestly, a Talking Llama?

Yes, I was confronted by a talking, smart-ass llama when I logged onto my bank this morning. Who are these people in marketing these days?

What demographic survey told those marketers that a photo-shopped llama dressed in a pseudo-suit and made to appear as if it is speaking sarcastic one-liners was just the right representative to sell bank products?

There does seem to be a current trend toward using an annoying,  slightly high-pitched, cloyingly ironic male voice in commercial ads. Did llamas test positive with baby boomers, so therefore mixing a dromedary with that wise-guy was just the right touch?

Llamas did figure in the prediction under my senior picture in our 1965 high school yearbook, now that I think about it.  Something like “At the last minute she abandoned her convent plans and is now happily raising llamas in the Andes.”

Not a bad guess, all things considered. Look at me now, writing about llamas in Arkansas, of all places.

The world gets stranger all the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party Like It’s 1957

The New Year 1957 was the first year I took note of what seemed to be an impossibly futuristic age.  Maybe it was  seeing those space-age looking fins that the latest automobile models were sprouting above their taillights.  Maybe it was my coming to the realization, at the wise age of nine, that the life I had known in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, up until a few months previous, was a thing of the past.

I was not only having my first taste of California in our new ranch style home in Woodland Hills, but was also attending public school for the first time.  I was experiencing my first holiday season away from the extended family I had grown up with.  Whatever 1957 was to be, it definitely was not going to look like the past.

Sixty years later, the New Year 2017 greets me with the same pause in the face of the future.  By now I have certainly figured out that nothing ever stays the same, but this year is different.  The shift in direction is palpable.

The political world has exploded, and my own little corner of the world has radically changed as well.  My personal choice to move forward and free myself of some unhealthy dynamics  within my family has placed me in an island of exile while it sorts itself out.  I was outside the local branch of the family circle for this entire  holiday season.   It is heartbreaking to wrench yourself away from harmful patterns with those you love; but sad as it is, I am growing to enjoy my freedom to grow.

Back in 1957 we had just finished another national election, and the “I like Ike” crowd had prevailed.  As kids, we did not know much about what all of that political hoopla meant, but we did catch on to the idea of campaigning.

I don’t remember whose idea it was, but my ten-year-old brother and I organized a parade with our two little sisters.  While our parents drank their after-dinner tea at the dining room table,  we marched in with signs, balloons,  clicking sticks and beating tamborines.  We circled the table chanting “We want a dog! We want a dog!” as Dad and Mom looked on in astonishment.

It turns out, our effort worked.  Mom had been adamantly against getting a dog, but she came around and one day shortly after our campaign, Dad came home with a little fox terrier we named Duchess..

I learned something about the power of making an effort for change that year. Maybe the lesson was altered by the fact that we ultimately had to give the dog away because Mom really could not tolerate her. This tells me that just because you achieve a moment’s success does not mean you are done fighting.

I have applied that lesson  in fits and starts up until now.  There has been an enormous amount of falling down and getting back up coloring my life; but right now I am on a “getting back up” swing, and it feels different. This New Year’s morning 2017  I remembered 1957 and saw something I important about the power of small but concentrated effort.  I can hardly wait to see how I play out this coming year!

“…and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves.”

I have been intending to write since Thanksgiving evening but it has been a lot of false starts and deletions. The only thing that has remained in place is the title with John Donne’s words.

Thanksgiving was out of sorts, the local branch of my family is askew, and my children and grandchildren live too far away.

It is Sunday evening.  Before I sat down to write, I lit a candle, did a 20 minute sit of Centering Prayer, brewed a cup of Sleepytime tea, and unpacked a certain piece of holiday nostalgia which I will get to later.

I am physically tired from work, but I think I will hold up to write for a bit tonight.  This is one of those times when I keep dragging out an introduction.  Stalling, for some reason.  Under normal circumstances, I would get rid of all this extra chatter in my finished manuscript; but tonight I will most likely just let it go on as it will.  I am not sure where I am going, but expect to publish it before I go to bed.

I used to call this a candlelight write–something I have not indulged in for a few years . There is some kind of ache in my heart and soul I need to work out.  Maybe just a lot of transition in a short amount of time.

I liked the feel of the Mass this morning. I guess Episcopalians–among whom I am now included–call the service Mass. I still have my Catholic vernacular embedded in my brain.   At any rate, the change  to purple in vestments, the lighting of the Advent Wreath, my truly beloved O Come, O Come Emanuel–it seemed timely. My holiday mood needed an adjustment.

As usual, I could only hear about every tenth word that wasn’t written down in front of me.  I hope Roger’s sermon is on Facebook by now.  I will have to take a look at it when I am done writing.  I heard enough to think I know what he was talking about.  The same with the young woman who was speaking,  I think about tithing; and also the prayer or blessing  for adoption.

Still, I scooted out of church quickly, giving myself the excuse that I needed to make a quick stop at the grocery store before heading for work.  The gnawing ache or whatever.

I miss my parents.  Mom has been gone about 15 years and Dad almost 6.  I really feel like I “missed ” them, as well.  It’s as if they passed by while I was on a different track and I didn’t catch on to them in time.

One of my favorite Thanksgivings was Mom’s last one before she was too sick to care.  After dinner, she gathered us women and girls around her big craft table and organized a project decorating stacked flower pots to look like Christmas trees.  Of course, I took one look at my three tapering clay pots and saw a snowman instead of a Christmas tree, and asked Mom if she minded if I followed my instinct.  She said go with it, and I did.

That snowman is the object I unpacked this evening.  As far as I know, it is the only surviving souvenir of that Thanksgiving, and I can’t describe the mixture of feelings I experience every year when I take him out of storage.

Okay, I feel lighter, already.  I have a lot to talk about and think about, but I believe my candlelight write is complete.

Protect us Lord, while we are awake and safeguard us while we sleep, that we may keep watch with Christ and rest in peace.

(from Compline in the Benedictine Daily Prayer)

 

Goodnight