Monday, December 03, 2007

Holidays 12/3-12/10

Sorry I haven't posted in so long. Feels like all I do this semester is study, write papers and drive! I'll be done for a month and a half next week & hope to have more time for writing and socializing, maybe even some exercise. Since I am procrastinating on finishing my Ethics paper, I thought I'd post the coming holidays. ;^)

12/3: Party Day, a good time to plan some holiday parties, accept that invitation to exchange cookies, or (as we are, due to travel) celebrate Hanukkah a couple days early! We'll be having brisket, latkes and homemade applesauce tonight, reading "Herschel & the Hanukkah Goblins" and playing dreidel.

12/4: Latina Writers Day-snug in with some Julia Alvarez (, Isabel Allende ( or Lucrecia Guerrero (whose book of short stories, Chasing Shadows, is available on Amazon).

12/5: Luxury Day-Whether it's a full day of spa treatments or simply the luxury of sitting in a quiet, pre-dawn kitchen watching the world wake up and sipping a mug of coffee, allow yourself some kind of luxury today.

12/6: St. Nicholas Day-Tradition tells us that St. Nicholas comes during the night on December 5, the eve of his feast day, and leaves small gifts and candy in the shoes people leave outside their doors. So, put those shoes out! (we just put ours outside the bedroom door so we don't have shoes full of snow in the morning)

12/7: Fun Bath Day-Forget the fancy-schmancy Crabtree & Evelyn bubble bath today. Get out the soap crayons & toy boats instead! World Market has a nice array of fun bath stuff, from cowboy rubber ducks to soap confetti. Who says you have to be a kid to play in the tub?

12/8: Winter Walk Day-Yes, even if it's cold, you can see marvelous things on a walk. Bundle up and stroll by the lake...or take an evening walk to see all the holiday lights! Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere can stop and smell the flowers!

12/9: Favorite Movie Day-My wife and I differ greatly on what kind of movie is great. I tend toward chick flicks like Practical Magic and Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, while she is an aficionada of sci fi and action, much preferring movies like Blade and Omega Man. This is a good excuse to make her watch something I like!

12/10: Cereal Day-Whether you're into Kashi, Cream of Wheat or Cap'n Crunch, have a nice bowl of cereal today!

If you celebrate any of these holidays, I'd love to hear about your good times! Please comment!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Holidays, October 3-9

3: Hooky-Playing Day-If at all feasible, take the day off and catch up on your sleep, take in a matinee or spend the afternoon playing bunco with some hooky-playing girlfriends!

4: Flannel Day-Whether it's sheets or a plaid shirt, snuggle into some flannel today.

5: Coloring Day-I really like the Dover coloring books ( and those put out by artist Sudie Rakusin (

6: Early To Bed Day-Crawl between those flannel sheets you just put on!

7: Wood Day-Appreciate wooden objects of beauty from trees to spoons...and maybe make something of your own! I have some absolutely wonderful wooden kitchen utensils made by Stan & Sue Jennings of Allegheny Treenware (

8: Drive in the Country Day-I love to ramble on back country roads. The last ramble I went on took me past farm stands bursting with pumpkins & squash, a sweet little town with a row of interesting-looking shops and several very handsome dogs.

9: Hero Day-Think about your heroes and consider how best to emulate them. Make a list of 3 small emulations you can pick up and make it your goal over the next couple of months to do them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Holidays 9/25-10/2

9/25: Madame Moon Day, a wonderful opportunity to go outside and bask in the light of the first full moon of Autumn! Take a thermos of tea (I like Harney and Smith's Blue & Yellow right now) and a blanket and enjoy!

9/26: Honor the Elders Day-tell stories about your ancestors, bake a pie to take to your elder neighbors, have lunch with an older member of your spiritual community and soak up the knowledge!

9/27: Kids' Book Day-Some of my favorites are Maurice Sendak's In The Night Kitchen, Dav Pilkey's God Bless the Gargoyles and the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

9/28: Wisdom Day-Spend the day exploring the library for books to expand your wisdom!

9/29: Hobby Day, a great excuse to spend some time doing your favorite much-neglected hobby, be it parasailing, altered art or collecting vintage Halloween decorations.

9/30: Jewelry Day-Wear your favorite earrings, get out the beads and make a bracelet for your best friend, go to the most eclectic jewelry store in town and pick up a Frida Kahlo brooch or amber ring! One of my favorite jewelry stores is Ohio Silver in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

10/1: Sweater Day: Whether you're knitting a new one or pulling on a soft old blue cardigan, snuggle in!

10/2: Bonfire Day: If you can, head down to the beach or out to the fields for a bonfire, complete with hot dogs, marshmallows and spooky stories. Ladle up some apple cider for your friends and enjoy the dance of the fire! Even better if you can ride a hay wagon to get there!

Friday, August 31, 2007

No Tie Dye For You!

Last Friday, Boot had football practice until 6, so his dad brought him late. We just had a quiet evening in. I had a horrible time cooking, just wasn't at all on my game. The weird thing is that I made 2 beautiful loaves of Cuban bread and a gorgeous quartet of chocolate espresso soufflés with no problem whatsoever. But, when it came to the no-brainer things, foods I either make all the time or should be able to make with ease, it was a complete disaster! Thank goodness I bought pre-seasoned Cuban-style black beans from Trader Joe's because I probably would have screwed those up, too. I make them all the time, but I know I would have blown it. The dinner I attempted to make was bistec empanizado (but I bought the steak too thick and couldn't pound it as thin as it needed to be...we ended up with this mutant breaded sirloin that was revoltingly chewy), black beans (yay for cans), rice (which I never, ever screw up but I managed to space out & put equal parts rice and water the first time and burned it all to shit, then made it all soupy and half-done the second time...yuck!) and maduros (the plantains weren't as ripe as I like them, so I skipped that).

Saturday morning, J had to get up & go to work. When she got home around noon, we headed out for a tie dye party, our first outing with the couples' group we've joined. We drove up & down the street 4 times & never found the correct address, so we scrapped that plan and took Boot to the mall instead. It was new to us & we had a good time exploring all the stores, especially guy stores like Hollister and FootLocker. I ended up getting a new pair of running shoes for $30. They're nice and light and easy to slip into. They're also really pretty, light blue with yellow-green accents. We'd stopped on the way for lunch at Longhorn. I made the mistake of trying to order soup in a steak joint. J & Boot were very happy with their choices, boneless wings for him, steak salad (with watermelon in it!) for her. My salad was terrific, but the chili I was really looking forward to turned out to be super sweet, almost a dessert chili. Gross! So, I tried the loaded baked potato soup, which tasted of flour through and through. No way would I eat it. So, I was happy to stop at Johnny Rockets in the mall for malts. Boot chose a strawberry shake and an orange soda with lemon flavoring added, J had a peanut butter shake and I had a hot fudge malt. Not as good as Dick & Tom's, whose passing I still mourn, and not as good as Foy's Grill in Fairborn, but a damn sight better than Steak & Shake or McDonald's. After our shopping trip was complete, we went home and Boot & J watched t.v. for awhile while I read. Then, we had tacos and Pie actually emerged from his room. He'd slept the day away and then immersed himself in X-Box, sucking the last few days of summer for all they were worth. I remember when I was a little kid, summer meant long days at the pool followed by chasing fireflies, playing tunnel tag and hanging out downtown with my friends. To my kids, summer means the freedom to sleep and watch t.v. or play video games for hours. It makes me really sad.

Sunday morning, J gamely got up & went to church with me, even though I know she wanted some extra sleep since it was her first full day off since the 12th. I was really sorry, then, when they made the announcement that the ONA committee (which is supposed to be educating people on what declaring themselves an "Open and Affirming" church would mean...publicly declaring that the church is welcoming of people of all sexual orientations into the full life & ministry of the church) will be hosting a speaker on mental illness & the church. Now, I know that the ONA committee has been under pressure from people in the congregation to broaden the scope of its inquiry. That's the reason they chose to do this. They will also be hosting speakers on alcoholism and Alzheimer's. Perhaps you see the problem? I can only assume that they didn't. J was infuriated and her feelings were hurt badly. If you look carefully, you will see that one of these things is not like the others. Generally speaking, people suffering from mental illness would choose not to, if they could. It is largely considered a medical issue. Again generally speaking, people suffering from alcoholism would choose not to, if they could. It is largely considered a medical issue. Further, people suffering from Alzheimer's would choose not to, given the choice. It is definitely regarded as a medical issue. Treatments are prescribed for all three issues, we hope to find cures. Now, take homosexuality. Would I choose to be in love with a man, if I could? Well, no. Being in love with J was brought me more joy than any other love relationship I've been in, with men or women. Being gay does not cause suffering in my life, although prejudice against it certainly has. For someone suffering from mental illness, alcoholism or Alzheimer's, the condition itself causes suffering. It is not the prejudice in society (although that certainly doesn't help at all) that makes mental illness, alcoholism or Alzheimer's painful. Putting homosexuality in the same category as these is a major problem and the ONA committee just cannot see it. So, I am going to be forced to write a letter. Ugh.

After church, J was in a very down mood. We took Boot to Crocker Park and had coneys for lunch, then shopped around with him some more. I tell you, I will be thrilled when the day comes when I never have to step foot into any kind of sports store again. At least Dick's has kayaks and tents and other cool stuff like that to look at. Still, it gets tiresome to stand around in athletic shoe stores and jersey stores while Boot ogles every shoe and shirt for at least 10 minutes. I am not cut out for parenting a jock enthusiastically. I love him dearly, I want him to be who he is and I am waiting anxiously for the day that he no longer wants us to shop with him! J says it ain't gonna happen. Ai yi yi. After our long shopping trip, I was ready for a nap. I tried valiantly to watch t.v. with them, but ended up having to grab a nap. When I woke up, Boot had gone back to his dad's and it was time to go to the grocery. While we were there, we decided Marie Callender's pot pies sounded better than the ham & cheese stuffed French toast I had planned, so that's what we had.

I spent Monday shopping for back to school clothes and supplies for Pie. He started Tuesday and really likes it so far. It helps that his homework load is still light, which means plenty of play time. When the homework gets hot & heavy, I imagine his outlook may change. He seems to be doing really well without his meds, which just thrills me. I think he is still fidgety, but not to the extent that he can't function. Hurrah! May it continue. He likes all but one of his teachers, a long-term sub who is apparently very strict. Smart survival technique on her part! His other teachers, especially Mr. S, his Social Studies teacher, he says are funny. This is very good. Usually when Pie really likes someone, he tries to do well for them. I was impressed with the longitude and latitude homework he brought home yesterday. It is so much neater and more complete than his work last year. Not only that, but it was already done when he got home! I peeked at his spelling sentences, too. For "haughty," he had 2 sentences. One was something about the haughty kid who beat him on XBox Live. The second one was so cool. "The haughty chef stormed into the dining room to talk to the customer who complained about his world-famous Coquilles St. Jacques," he wrote. How the heck does my 12 year old know about Coquilles St. Jacques? In this sentence, he has really captured the essence of haughty. I love it!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Chaotic and Lazy

Our weekend turned out to be quite odd. We took Pie to his father's for a weekend visit. He was sweet and petty (not only wanting to be petted, but petting J, too) all the way. After we dropped him off, we made the huge mistake of stopping in Geneva-on-the-Lake for dinner. We both found it to be über-creepy and will never, ever return. I don't even plan to get off at the exit ever again. I don't want to go into detail ever. Suffice it to say that we felt the need to leave town before the sun set and we had a salt and lavender scrub when we got home. Sounds crazy, but it was very, very bad. After we'd showered, we went to the Cheesecake Factory and had comfort food (shepherd's pie for her, sautéed pork chops with mac & cheese for me) for dinner, having stopped after appetizers before. I don't know why I ate in that town. They always say not to eat or drink in places like that. I know this sounds all superstitious and weird, but I was really sorry I ate there & not just because the food sucked.

Then, Saturday morning about 3:30, J got a call from the security company saying there was a fire in the plant. She threw on some clothes & met the fire department there. The fire was miniscule, but it damaged the coolers and J consequently spent 12 hours dealing with the aftermath. I read and slept, mostly, but also took her glasses to her about 4:30 a.m. and lunch about 1. When she got home, we spent the afternoon in bed. I read and talked to my mom on the phone, she mostly slept. About 9:30, I ventured out for dinner from Max & Erma's (lemon herb halibut for her, ribs for me, banana cream pie to split) and we ate it in bed.

In the morning, she had to go in to the plant early. Since she wasn't back yet when I went to church, I went alone. There was lovely violin music and the announcement that I have completed the first step toward ordination. I haven't gotten the official word yet, but am told that the entire committee thought I did a great job at my interview. Woohoo! Once home, I snugged back into bed with J for about 45 minutes. Then, we went back to the plant, checking to make sure the coolers were still cooling. They were. J worked for a few more hours, while I read and did a writing exercise. We had some ice cream (silly with as chilly as all the rain has made it) at the Ben & Jerry's scoop shop, then went back to our bedroom haven again. We spent the afternoon immersed in our books. When Pie came home, he had eyes only for his 360, so we let him play after he'd eaten and again had our dinner in bed. I made pimiento cheese sandwiches (homemade p. cheese from Tillamook extra-sharp cheddar) and added chips and pickles to our plates. J went to sleep around 9:30 while I didn't hit the hay until 2 this morning. I was reading and filling in my new planner. Now, I must take her some lunch, then clean house. We have a cleaning lady coming tomorrow, so I have to make sure it's clean enough for her to clean. LOL! This really just entails doing some laundry and tidying our vanity, so it shouldn't take long. If not, I will hit the grocery, too.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Birthday Revelry

Since J had to work on my birthday, I was on my own until evening. As she was leaving for work, J pulled the big black Audrey Hepburn hat I'd been ogling at Steinmart from the back of her car, my first gift for my 37th birthday. Before 8:30, I had gotten calls from the Miami Contingent, my uncle calling first, then my dad. I called my mom, too. So, it was off to a good start right away. Thinking I really deserved to have good fruit and cheese I love for my birthday breakfast, I took a detour by the lake to get to the grocery. As I walked into the grocery, I smelled heavenly fresh-baked bread. I realized that plain old English muffins would not do for the birthday girl and headed for the bakery. They had some beautiful mini ciabattas and I bought those, along with a gorgeous peach and some dill havarti. Ensconced in bed with a book, I enjoyed my breakfast of toasted ciabatta with plenty of butter, that perfect peach and several slices of cheese.

I took myself to the movies later. I'd hoped to go see "Shrek 3" or, preferably, the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. My cousin Leah went to see that on her 18th birthday & it sounded like the perfect celebratory movie. But, no, our local cinema won't keep movies around long enough to actually see them (phooey on Regal!) so I ended up settling for "Ratatouille," which was cute, but nothing spectacular. Still, just being at the movies was a wonderful time. After the movie, I went out into the sunlight, blinking and astonished not to be in an animated version of Paris. I picked up lunch at Bob Evans, chicken salad for me and a pot roast sandwich for J. We ate in her office, then I headed out to get my brows waxed. A facial would have been better, I suppose, but I wasn't in the mood to be at Aveda that long.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on my life list, a list of things I want to do at some point in my life. It ranges from the large (build our dream house) to the small (color in coloring books), the adventurous (go kayaking) to the fairly mundane (make pie crust from scratch). I try to update it every year on my birthday. When J got home, she had a large Hello Kitty bag full of gifts for me. There were fun hair scrunchies that looked Tinkerbell-ish, a CD walkman & audio book called "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" (I have the idea that if I have books I can only listen to when I'm walking, I will get out and do it more...except it's been hellishly hot here lately...I did get one great walk by the lake in, so far, though), a SARK book, a book of kiss coupons, a book of love quotes and a stack of my favorite magazines. It was a delightful surprise, as I had assumed the hat was my only gift. It would have done just fine, too. I also got a sandalwood mala from my mom & Graham. I've been wanting one for a long time, but have never broken down and gotten one for myself.

We changed clothes and headed out to dinner at The Melting Pot. I'd had a terrific birthday dinner at the one in Nashville a few years before and I had every reason to expect the same this time. I wasn't disappointed. Well, maybe a teensy bit because there was no candle on the cheesecake slice, but I got birthday cards from them, so that was nice. I feel a little birthday cake deprived, though...or wish-deprived, perhaps. Our waiter wasn't that great. Luckily, the manager was mostly the one who waited on us and he was fabulous. We tried a slightly different cheese fondue for our first course, one with an Asian flavor imparted by sake in place of kirsch. It was delicious. Then, we had Asian-themed salads with Mandarin oranges and almonds. For our main course, we chose the coq au vin broth. J added a lobster tail and we were both very happy. My favorite part of the main course was chicken with a curry dipping sauce. Dessert was dark chocolate fondue with a little Chambord added for a raspberry splash. We were fat as piggies when we left, with big grins on our faces. It was a delightful day to turn 37!

Indians of All Sorts

Haven't been very good about keeping up, so I'll go back to the weekend before my birthday, July 13-15. J's plant decided that, for their summer picnic, they'd like to go see the Cleveland Indians play. We all got tickets to the game and also for a BBQ chicken and hot dog dinner beforehand. It was fun to attend the game, even for non-sports fans like me. I was very excited about the fireworks afterward, but then realized I needed to register for a church event before midnight! So, we watched the fireworks over the top of the stadium as we walked toward the Rapid. We'd chosen to ride public transportation in rather than hassling with parking and traffic after the game. I think it was a smart idea, but it really stressed J out, so we probably won't be doing that again. We made it home with 13 minutes to spare, thank goodness!

We lazed in bed quite late Saturday, watching movies, reading, dozing. When we finally roused ourselves, we made our way across town to Whole Foods, our first visit to an Ohio location. Why, oh, why can't it be on our side of town? We had a blast. As we began to head for home, we saw a bunch of Orthodox Jews walking to temple, a group of young African-American women hanging out together, a WASP-y older guy on his bike. It was really nice to see such diversity. We don't see nearly enough of it, although there are a lot of Indian and Muslim folks on our side of town, which is nice diversity, too.

We stopped in Lakewood on the way home, hoping to finally have some good Indian food. It wasn't as good as Ajanta India, but it was very good and the atmosphere was pleasant. It was also crawling with folks from the LGBT community, a group of lesbian feminists discussing politics, a group of gay men discussing real estate. It was fun.

In the morning, we went to church and then had a wonderful brunch on the patio at the Cheesecake Factory. After brunch, I went with J to the plant so she could do a little extra work. I took paper and pen and began to work on a novel. I've never thought I would write a novel, but this trio of sisters started rattling around in my head a couple of years ago, along with the bed & breakfast 2 of them run. So, I decided to let them out to play, not really trying to write a novel, just writing little vignettes. I've been having a grand time getting to know them & their town. After J was finished with her work, we went to a big juried craft show. It was really great! I ran into some blacksmiths who know my mom and bought a gorgeous silver clay pendant that says "Play" on it & has a picture of trees. I've worn it nearly every day since. Once home, we grilled our dinner, a couple of espresso-rubbed steaks (that weren't very good), at the pool.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pre-Court Stress

The weekend after the 4th wasn't much fun at all. Since J's oh-so-delightful ex is again (for the third time) suing for custody of the boys and court was Monday, that was the main focus of the weekend. Friday afternoon, I did get to relax a bit, though. Pie and I baked a cocoa cake from Gourmet magazine, his first from scratch. He was delighted with it and with the "gorilla casserole" I made for dinner. He just had time to eat before Dark Man picked him up for summer visitation. J let him go a day early, for some reason. It turned out to be a good thing, though, because we wouldn't have had much time to enjoy him Saturday anyway. Knowing we'd be worn out before the court thing was over, we hit the sack a little after 7 Friday night. Wow, we are such wild and out-of-control lesbians! It almost hurts my feelings to go to bed so early since I am a night owl, but we knew we'd need the extra sleep.

We worked on court crap all day Saturday, organizing our paperwork into foldersd & tabbing it for easy reference in court. Ugh! I made some cranberry orange scones to get us through and J heated up gorilla casserole for our lunch. Finally, we took a break to go shopping for court clothes and grab some dinner. Of course, we have perfectly fine clothes we could wear in court, but new clothes made it more appealing. Bearable? I found this stunning black and white halter dress that looks like something Grace Kelly would have worn. J found me a classic black and white cardigan to go with it. I wanted to find some cute sandals with kitten heels, but no luck in a size 11. She found a pink watch she loves. There's this fabulous black big-brimmed hat that I am dying to go back and get. I couldn't wear it in court, but it looks damn fine on me and is perfect for the outfit. I may get it yet.

We were the last patrons at Bovalino's that night, enjoying gnocchi and spaghetti with meatballs on the patio. It's very soothing to me to be outside at night and if I'm also eating good pasta and salad with amazing garlic dressing, so much the better. Then, we headed home and pored over court materials until 3 a.m. Ugh! We took a brief sleep and church break, then looked over the papers more. Finally, we headed for the Dayton area, stopping for a mediocre dinner at Logan's Roadhouse. J loved her steak, but my open-face roast beef was not very good and I am terribly disappointed that they no longer serve fried green tomatoes. They do have awfully good sweet tea, though, and I am always happy when I can get good sweet tea without having to make room in my fridge for the pitcher.

We got a too-brief visit in with my grandies before having to go to bed and look over the court crap one last time. I will be so glad to have this ridiculousness over with for good. That I don't expect until Pie is 18. 5 and a half years. Not that I'm counting. We had to leave by 7 in order to meet with our attorney before court. He seemed utterly confident. Once J saw him in action in the courtroom, she felt more confident than she had. I never made it into the courtroom. The judge had interviewed the kids again in his chambers & had also talked to the ad litem. J's ex-MIL testified & our dear pastor did, too. I was so glad to have him there, if only for moral support. Once they'd been called, we were done. They had only allotted us a half day & the hearing was yet again continued. Thank goodness not until October or something like that and especially thank goodness not for my birthday!!! I was positive that would be the day, but it's actually Thursday & not tomorrow.

J's ex-MIL's whole case was that her ex is supposedly a good father & the kids love him. J said, "Well, they love candy, too, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let them eat it all the time!" She also lied on the stand, saying that J flipped her ex off when he came to get the kids and that we never gave him any info about the kids' counselor. She couldn't talk smack about me at all because it was all classified as hearsay since she has never met me. One of her big charges is that there's nowhere here for the kids to throw a ball or ride their bikes & that they're "trapped in an upstairs apartment all day long." Bull. For one thing, there is a really cool mall within half a mile to which they can ride their bikes to play giant chess, go to the movies, shop and hang out with other kids. For another, we have a sand volleyball court, a racquetball court, a basketball court, tennis courts and a pool for ball-playing, not to mention the big grassy areas throughout the complex. Not only that, but we are 10 minutes from the lake and there are scads of parks in town. Harrumph.

The weirdest thing we found out wasn't that J's ex's family had been the ones to pay all the child support he's come up with in the last 4 years (less than $5,000 for both boys) because we kind of suspected that. Can you imagine paying your 45 year old son's child support for him because he isn't working & lives in your basement??? It wasn't even the fact that he couldn't even be bothered to register Boot for school when he moved there in February and had her do it. She is 80 & should be through her child-rearing obligations, but nope. Not for her because her son is a lazy loser who's never taken responsibility for a damn thing in his life as far as I can tell. No, the weirdest thing is that the boys' great-grandma, who had lived with her ex & his mom, has been dead for three years! This is weird because the boys have been telling us up until July 4th not only that Grandma Lyon is alive & well & eating celery, but they've been telling us details of visits to her nursing home. I'm sorry, there is just something very sick about lying consistently for 3 years about your dead great-grandmother. Why lie, anyway? I feel quite sure that I will never be able to trust either boy again. Very disconcerting & creepy to know that they are so comfortable with and acclimated to lying. This is what he's done to them.

After court, we tried to have dinner at Mela in Springfield. Unfortunately, the food and service were both so abysmal that we couldn't eat it. At all. So, we gave up on that and decided to get on the road before trying to have lunch again. We did find a decent place, an Amish restaurant close to Mansfield. It was good to get home that night. I am not looking forward to court on Thursday, but I have my birthday to look forward to before that and a weekend in Columbus after.

A Splashy 4th

We had visitation with Boot on the 4th from 9 to 9, so we decided to make the most of it by visiting with him there. When J got off work Tuesday night, we packed up the car (primarily with swimsuits & towels) and headed to Erie. We checked into our hotel & took the shuttle to Splash Lagoon, where we played until closing time. Then, we had dinner & played NTN trivia at Damon's before heading back to the hotel to rest up for Wednesday.

J picked Boot up from his dad's and they joined me in the breakfast room of the hotel. We got Pie moving pretty easily and were at the waterpark just after opening. It wasn't very crowded. I took two books with me, one for dry reading and one for in the water. I keep a stash of pool books, paperbacks I pick up at thrift stores & yard sales & save for reading at/in pools. James Patterson's Cross was my dry book. It's great fun. My pool book was a Carolyn Hart mystery, Southern Ghost. I spent most of the day in one or another of the three "hot tubs"...really a range from cool to lukewarm to warm. J joined me much of the time and we did the lazy river, too. Of course, she did some slides with the boys, too. No wonder her suits are always wearing out so quickly!

We left the water park and headed for a Jelly Belly/fireworks/weapons store. I kid you not. While it may seem improbable that a weapons store would also sell chocolates and Jelly Belly jellybeans, this one does. J & I both got sweets, Boot got some firecrackers and Pie chose 2 display Ninja stars...the kind that look cool but aren't sharp. Then, we had dinner at Eat 'N' Park before we had to take Boot home. We got to see some fireworks on the way home, but it just isn't the same as going to a display at Gaunt Park. Oh well, we did see some good ones at John & Nola's.

Aunties & Uncles & Cousins, Oh My!

The last weekend of June/first weekend of July was a family-filled one! Friday night was pretty quiet, with a trip to Trader Joe's for the grown folks and walking around Crocker Park for the boys. Saturday morning, J & Boot went shopping so Boot could find his usual shirt to purchase while here for the weekend. I spent the morning reading & whipping up some bagel chip dip to take to John & Nola's annual Canada Day/4th of July bash. It takes us a good 3 hours to get to their place, so we set out a little after noon, playing the radio game much of the way down. Boot was a delight and Pie was fine, too, until he found out it was a 3-hour drive and thought we were only going to stay 45 minutes. Not sure why he thought that, but he howled, "We're going six hours for a 45-minute party???" He felt better when assured we would stay much longer than that & that there would be cheeseburgers and fireworks.

Both boys seemed to have a really good time at the party, although they were mightily cranky with one another! At one point, J made Boot go to the car with her to calm down because he was so furious with Pie & was threatening to hit him. Pie kept on playing with the other kids, in the creek, with the dogs and so forth. Boot and J both dozed off in the car and Boot couldn't be woken until after the fireworks! He slept right through 'em! I woke J up for the pony trick show.

J & I spent our time (when she wasn't napping) visiting with relatives and with Nola's best friend, who was heavily pregnant, much to our surprise! Last time we'd seen her, she was in the throes of wedding prep and apparently, she got pregnant on their wedding night. They are very excited & I can't wait to see the bambino next time we go down. John was the grillmaster, decked out in a straw cowboy hat & Canadian flag muscle shirt showing off his latest tattoos. We found Nola in the kitchen mixing up sangria. She asked if we were going to have sangria & said she couldn't have any. She is pregnant again, expecting #2 in the next generation sometime in February! Yippee!!! I love NG #1 and hope maybe we'll get a girl to complement him this time.

Cousin #2 & his wife were there, just back from an R&R trip to Jamaica with 8 of their buddies. Our favorite barista wasn't there because his wife had to have surgery, so we bid them hello through cousin #2. My uncle Vic was there, with guitar & harmonica, although we had to miss the music in order to get home at a reasonable hour to allow for church in the morning. Drat! I always like to hear Vic sing the blues. We need to get over to Ann Arbor to visit them & check out their new restaurant. Nyoko was back home, working her usual 22-hour day getting the restaurant on its feet. I hear from my mom that the food & presentation are stellar. My auntie Jeanie was down from Vermont. She'd been visiting my grandies. Boot was waiting on her, taking her cake and Cokes throughout the early part of the party. He is so considerate, when he's being considerate, which is most of the time these days. For example, I was headed toward the trash can with full hands the other weekend. Boot noticed and opened the trash can for me without a word. That is so nice. It shows he is paying attention to the needs of other people.

Jazzbo & Ann were there with both Goldens in tow. Of course, Starr immediately headed for the creek and was soaking wet & filthy within 20 minutes of their arrival. Jazzbo & Ann were both pretty aggravated, but she cleaned up nicely even without benefit of a hose. I wish we'd been able to pitch our tent overnight with them. Maybe next year. Last year, the skies opened up and thunder rolled and we all slept inside! Good thing John & Nova have plenty of space. Their place is perfect for family get-togethers. I hope we'll be able to go there for Thanksgiving this year. They have taken over the mantle since our "second grandma" moved. J & I had planned to, but with this little apartment, that sure won't work.

Poor Xavier, my sweet wolfie, was not allowed out because he'd been bullying the other dogs at the start of the party. His handsome head was to be seen in the windows, looking out with a left-out look on his face. He looked great with his summer haircut.

We had a delightful visit, if not long enough, and the fireworks were very cool. We hit the road about 10, J's allergies in full swing. She and Pie were covered in chigger bites, too, poor things.

Sunday morning, J & I went to church. Finally, we got to join. They'd been waiting until they had more than just a couple new members. A couple about our age joined, with their son and daughter. I think their daughter's in high school & their son in 8th grade. Also, an older woman and the church organist and her son. We were invited out to lunch by 2 different people, but declined because we had plans already.

What fun we had, too! We went home, packed up some burgers & dogs and headed for the pool with the boys. We spent the afternoon swimming, munching lunch and enjoying the sun. Too soon, it was time for Boot to be picked up and us to get presentable for Jeanie's arrival. Once she arrived, we took her out to dinner at Aladdin's. Pie wanted nothing to do with it, so he got a cheeseburger instead. Jeanie loved Crocker Park and our complex, saying it's like we live at Disney.

In the morning, J had to go to work, but Jeanie and I were free to go for beignets & coffee at Petite de Vie. We sat outside with our breakfast & made plans to take my mommy to Disney one of these days. We went shopping & Jeanie bought me & J some monkey head key covers, very cute & very Jeanie. We each got a pair of Crocs, too. They are so comfortable! We made some paper cranes once we got back to the apartment. I don't think I could do it again, but at least I got to make Boot the one I'd promised him. Jeanie helped me get the slipcover on the loveseat and then we had lunch. We spent the afternoon lounging with our books at the pool while Pie & his friend played in the water. Since J had to go out to Blake's with one of the VPs who was in town, I took Jeanie to The Winking Lizard for dinner. She requested American food & that's a great place to get it. We sat on the patio & enjoyed each other's company. I sure am lucky to have the relatives I have. Leah & Jeanie are coming back at the end of August, which will be really cool. It's been 2 years since I've seen my youngest (and only girl) cousin! Too long! She's 18 now & I can hardly believe it! Although Jeanie had to leave for home Tuesday morning, I can look forward to seeing her often since she's moving back to Ohio. I expect I'll get to see more of the kids, too. One of these days, I want to get down to Savannah to visit them at school.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kalahari Weekend

What a dumb name for a water park. Kalahari. Does that make any sense at all? No, it does not! Anyway, we spent the weekend there. It's an African-themed (in a Disney sort of way) hotel with an indoor-outdoor water park. Since we're not doing a big family vacation this year, we thought a fun waterpark weekend was certainly in order!

Friday night after Boot arrived, we hit the road for Sandusky. Pie was only interested in the water, so we checked into our room and he ate the caramel apple and popcorn we got him then shimmied into his suit right away. We let him go to the water park while we had dinner with Boot in the Kahunaville restaurant that overlooks the indoor part of the park. Boot was charming & amusing at dinner. We had a lovely time with him. We split some loaded fries for our appetizer. Then, J had a big chicken salad, Boot had a Philly cheesesteak and I had a fabulous burger that had chorizo folded in. After dinner, we collected Pie and went back to the room. He ate the food we'd brought him and the boys commenced to watch cartoons while we read our books. Pie was pretty rowdy the first night, probably from the excitement of the park, but he was much calmer Saturday, to everyone's relief.

In the morning, J & Boot popped up about 7:30, while Pie & I wanted to sleep longer. Since the damn t.v. went on immediately, going back to sleep wasn't an option for me. So, J brought me a latté and the paper. I read that and then woke Pie to hit the water. Boot and J had gone down as soon as the park opened at 9 & rode all the slides. We didn't get down there until 10, but it still wasn't at all crowded. I found J and we rode the lazy river. Boot & Pie found one another, too, and played together until Boot got a tummy ache. Then, they went for a nap in the room while we sunned and swam and relaxed in the hot tub. Refreshed, they joined us again after lunch in the room. We stayed until the sun set and it started getting to be twilight.

Pie was tired and just wanted to flop in front of cartoons, so we made him a sandwich for dinner. He was thrilled to be allowed to just relax while we had dinner with Boot. I had a pretty decent stir-fry while Boot had cheesy fries and J a steak for dinner. The steak and her mashed potatoes were both great and I kind of wished I'd ordered them! I'd had a not-very-good steak at Applebee's earlier in the week (I have found, lately, that their steaks are way too salty and generally tough) and a good one would have been nice.

After dinner, Boot joined his brother for cartoons. Neither one of them was interested in a carriage ride. I thought at least Pie would want to come, if only to visit with the horse. But, they were tuckered out. So, my sunburnt honey and I went alone. It was nice & relaxing. Once back from the ride, we stopped by the Candy Hut and got caramel apples and candy. Boot didn't want his, but Pie happily ate a huge chunk of krispie-enhanced chocolate. He has a definite sweet tooth despite his propensity to request things like asparagus and broccoli with his dinner. We watched "America's Got Talent" (why would anyone think breaking things with his butt on national television is a good idea???) and a couple of Disney shows before hitting the sack.

Sunday morning, everyone was happy to sleep in and just go ahead and check out without any more water time. We did stop in the lobby to see a baby tiger, though. It was only 5 weeks old and was adorable. I love tigers...and am glad I don't live where they prowl in the wild. That would be scary. We made a jukebox and ginger ale stop at Cheers in the Sandusky mall, then had lunch at Ruby Tuesday. The salad bar there was terrific, with all the veggies crisp and cold. Pie and I had big burgers, Boot went for the minis and J had a gorgeous crab cake with her salad. With all the salad I ate, I didn't want my fries & I would cheerfully get just the salad bar there next time! We hung out at the mall for awhile. J ordered some cool Chuck Taylor low-tops, we both found clothes at C.J. Banks (2 pairs of pants for her, 2 whole dressy outfits for me...all for under $70!), Boot picked up some pants and a shirt at American Eagle and Pie joyfully picked 2 new video games. The boys were snipping at each other much of the time, as they are wont to do lately. Boot's tolerance for his brother seems to be remarkably low while Pie is unwilling to do Boot's bidding any longer. Oy vey! However, the strong bond of love remains between them, too.

Once home, we watched "Shrek" with Boot while Pie learned his way around his new games. After Boot had been picked up, I went to the grocery. Then, I made dinner (beef-veggie ragout, noodles, salad, chive popovers) while J kept me company and Pie showed his new games to his friend, Austin. After dinner, I made some chocolate crescents & then J and I watched a little t.v. before going to bed.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Santa Fe, Days 1-4

I just got back from a long two weeks in New Mexico, doing a cross-cultural ministries class. It was a hectic final week of school leading up to my trip. I got back from school Thursday night & had a nice farewell lunch at Red Robin with J Friday. Pie had his very first dance Friday night. He persuaded us to rent him a set of tails, white with a black vest and white patent shoes. He had a red rose boutonniere, too. I thought he looked splendid, but his brother was horrified with his outfit. Of course, he was the only 6th grader who was dressed like that, but he didn't care. He walked up to the other kids with complete aplomb and the girls shrieked and swarmed around him while the boys gave him high fives. Boot's irritation with him continued throughout the night, but Pie had a ball. He came home tired out and toting a bouquet of balloons, his stylish suit a big hit. While Pie was at the dance, we took Boot out for Bubba's Q. It wasn't the most delightful evening, between Boot being surly about his brother and J being weepy about my leaving and the upcoming hearing about custody. What a last night!

J took me to the airport Saturday early and I had no flight delays or problems of any kind. Randy, one of my seminary classmates, was waiting for me at the airport in Albuquerque. What a nice guy he is! We rode the shuttle to Santa Fe together, fascinated by the very different landscape. Neither of us had spent much time in the Southwest at all. When we arrived at the retreat center, there was a little bit of time to get settled in, so we headed to our rooms. My roommate, Beth, was napping when I arrived. She had taken the full-size bed, so it was twin for me. Oh, well. It seems to me that having one full and one twin bed doesn't make a lot of sense at a place like that.

Beth turned out to be very nice & fairly progressive. At least, having a gay roommate didn't scare her & she thinks I should have equal rights in terms of ordination & marriage. That's a nice change from some of my fellow students at school. She was the youngest of the group, at only 24. I sat with her and Randy at dinner, then we went to our classroom for orientation. The leader, a seminary VP, turned out to be a newlywed & her husband, David, was along to drive and take pictures. They were both very cool and Maria was so wonderful at remaining calm in stressful situations. We did a couple of exercises, one of which included drawing pictures and another in which we chose photographs to represent feelings. They were both good exercises & drew people who may not have spoken into the group.

The other participants included 2 more from my seminary (Al & Richard, along with Al's wife, Melinda), 3 from Austin Theological Seminary (my roomie, Don & Karen) and two from Wesley in D.C. (Amelia and Dwayne) as well as Ruth, a local resident considering returning to seminary. After our orientation activities, I was invited to go along with Beth, Karen & Amelia to poke around the Plaza. We ended up at Atomic Café for nachos and beers after discovering that most of the other places were about to close down or required I.D. just to get in (I hadn't thought to bring mine). We had a great time getting to know one another a little.

In the morning, we were free to attend the worship service of our choice. All of us but Karen went to Ruth's Presbyterian Church. Karen went to a Unitarian service. Directly after the Presbyterian service, Randy, Amelia and I went with Ruth to the Greek Orthodox Church. That was a really interesting experience. It really felt like we were on holy ground, in a place apart, with all the chanting, incense and icons. Amelia and I, the only UCC folks in the class, both really enjoyed the Orthodox service. We were invited to coffee hour and made to feel very welcome. We had class in the afternoon, an introduction presented by Maria. Then, we had dinner and group reflections, after which Beth and I hung out in Karen & Amelia's room. I missed J fiercely, so it was nice to at least have people to hang out with.

In the morning, we went to help distribute water and fruit to immigrants looking for day work. There was a wonderful gazebo with a roof that revealed the Virgin of Guadalupe when looked at in sunglass reflection or in shadow. Karen, Beth and I struck up a conversation with one of the guys sitting over there. His name was Narciso and he lived in the mountains, with the bears. Karen and I worked together to make our limited Spanish into a decent conversation. Narciso invited us to visit him in the mountains where, we learned, he had no house, just his blanket and pack. Despite that, he was very upbeat and friendly. He did not seem to feel at all sorry for himself. In fact, he even offered me a pair of socks when he noticed that I wasn't wearing any! I declined, with thanks, and he told me, "They're clean! They're brand-new!" I had to explain that I just don't like socks very much. Narciso, who had so little, was going to give me his brand-new socks! It reminded me of the story our AP told about being in Africa & trying to give a suitcase of clothes to the women in the village there. The women thanked them and assured them that the clothes would be given to people "who really need them." It was really something to think of all those guys go through in order to maybe have the chance to be picked up by a pickup-driving boss for a day's low-paid work. The police showed up at one point & I expected them to really harass the guys, but they just wanted a truck moved.

Back at the retreat center, we met with a Methodist couple who have been involved in ministry in the area for a long time. They gave us some of the history of the pueblos and answered questions for us. She also went around the room giving everyone back rubs, which I thought was really nice. After chile burgers, we went on a walking tour of the city. I made note of a number of places I wanted to return. Our tour ended at the state legislature building, which is also an art gallery. I think it's very cool that the arts are that important to the state. There was a book art show, so I was thrilled to get to see that!

We had free time until dinner, so Beth and I checked out some of the stores and had nachos at La Fonda. I found myself wondering how much it had changed (or had not changed) from the days when Lenore was at Los Alamos and would stay at La Fonda when she was in Santa Fe for a weekend. Karen joined us after our nibble and we all strolled along the portal at the Palace of the Governors looking at jewelry. I bought a pair of turquoise earrings for my mom and a small bear sand painting for us.

Tuesday morning, we piled into the van & rode to Taos. When we pulled into the parking lot of the Methodist church, I was cheered to see a car bestickered with messages like "Impeach Bush". I was pleased, too, to see an HRC sticker on the church's bulletin board. Best of all, though, was arriving in the sanctuary to see a plywood "No War" sign on a stick. I felt very much at home and very impressed with this Methodist pastor willing to make such bold statements. I knew that some of my classmates would be less than thrilled, but it was very encouraging to me. The pastor talked to us some about his anti-war and equal rights activism, but largely about his church's food bank program. I think Karen, Amelia and I were the most favorably impressed. Beth thought he was too militant in his presentation and the right-wingers were very upset. I could tell trouble was brewing as soon as we got in the van. Thankfully, everyone was polite to his face, although Melinda did not get into the picture with him because she was so offended by his anti-war stance. I don't understand how a Christian can be offended by an anti-war stance. Of course, a lot of it was pure emotion, since her son is in the military. Still...

We had sack lunches, which Ruth took to calling our "tacky sandwiches" before long at all, at the Rio Grande Canyon overlook point. It was some amazing scenery, but I was too worried about snakes (I was wearing flip-flops) and being pushed over the edge to get too wrapped up in it. I had asked Don if he was going to walk over to the canyon & he said, "I'm feeling a little too unChristian right now" which worried me. I thought about the news reporting that a leftist lesbian seminary student had been pushed into the gorge by a classmate who felt he was doing God's will & kept my distance from the edge.

Back at the retreat center, I walked into the room to Beth exclaiming, "look!" I did and saw a beautiful bouquet of flowers that my beloved wife had sent. It made me miss and appreciate her even more. They sure were a nice reminder of her all week! She is utterly sweet. We met back in the classroom for reflections & Don ended up storming out. What an uncomfortable situation! Maria didn't bother trying to make him stay, but did go and talk with him afterward. I don't know how she did it, but she managed to get him not only willing to stick it out (he'd been packing) but even showed up at dinner. I cannot imagine walking out on a class like that. Over the top!

After dinner, we had a mini-photography seminar by David, whose photos are fabulous before walking up to the Cross of the Martyrs on top of a nearby hill. I was really disappointed by it because of two things. One is that it looked like it was made out of I-beams, no grace or charm to be found. Very industrial and stark. The other was the graffiti tagging on the cross. How rude! The notations spray painted below declaring that "God forgives graffiti" and "Jesus loves artists" in no way excused it. But, the view of the city was great from there, at least.

When we got back, I ran to CVS with Karen in her pretty little silver Miata. Having picked up some Riesling, we headed back to play hearts with Amelia, Don, Ruth and Dwayne. Beth sat in, teaching me how to play. It was fairly fun, but I still like Rummy best.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Clearing Out The Old House

I thought we'd be gone all weekend, down in Xenia getting the last of our stuff out of the garage at the old house. However, J had other plans. I am glad we did it the way we did, after all. Friday night, we tried to go walk around Crocker Park with the eldest one. However, he quickly found his buddies and ditched us, so we were free to go home. I'd had some flank steak in a soy-wine marinade (see for recipe) since 3:30, so we had that for dinner with rice and salad. Then, Pie went back to playing Oblivion and we watched Children of Men, which both of us found horribly depressing. Boot was home only 4 minutes past curfew, a landmark for him! As soon as he was home, we went to bed in order to arise early and drive down to Xenia.

In the morning, we stopped for coffee then hit the road, happily munching Trader Joe's scones & chatting in the early morning light. We saw a lovely deer on our way down, one who was considering going out on the highway. With a great deal of horn persuasion, I was able to get it headed in the opposite direction, back into the woods. I hate to see deer killed on the road.

We hit Fairborn just a few minutes after 10 and picked up our 10' rental truck. J bravely drove it. We did a walk-through of the house, then loaded everything in the garage into the truck. I'll have to go back this week and get the dehumidifier for my grandies and bulletin board stuff for the old church, but other than that, we are finished with that place! I pray the deal goes through and closing is held as scheduled on Friday. With all inspections & appraisals out of the way, it should go smoothly. I will be beyond thrilled to get that house out of our lives, regardless of how much lower the selling price is than what we originally asked. It was a wonderful shelter while it was time for us to live there, but we need to pass it on and move forward with our lives. I felt no longing for the house as I walked through, no sadness at leaving it altogether. I have a lot of good memories from there, but I've said my farewell. I do look forward to someday having another wonderful house, with plenty of room for entertaining and books, but that one is not it any longer.

We arrived back home shortly after 4 and hung out with the boys. We had scrambled eggs with spinach and cheddar along with fry bread for dinner. In the evening, the boys hung out together and J napped in my lap while I watched Volver, which was a terrific film! I like Penelope Cruz anyway, but the film just had a great storyline and was wonderfully done. I can't wait for my mom to see it so we can talk about it.

Sunday morning, I led the adult Sunday school group in a discussion of the "dying well" chapter of the Bass book. I wanted to stay for the confirmation service, but I had one more worship service to attend for my paper that's due next week. I thought Friends Meeting would be a nice complement to the Assembly of God and Catholic services I'd already attended, so I Mapquested the directions and set out. It turned out that the route for a run was right where I needed to go. Luckily, with some detouring and the help of a policeman, I was able to get to meeting in plenty of time.

The Cleveland Friends Meeting is in a lovely old University Circle mansion. I was greeted warmly as soon as I entered. I chatted with a couple of Friends about the UCC, seminary, the death penalty and inter-faith organizations. I felt very much at home. Meeting for worship was held in a large parlor filled with folding chairs. I spent about a third of the time wrestling with monkey mind, a third breathing and smiling and listening to the sounds in the room and a third out of the room altogether, visiting with God. I found it very restful and think it might be a good supplement to UCC worship fo me. J would have been bored out of her skull. I did find myself wishing to be seated on the floor rather than in the chair, but the silence and stillness was very peaceful. I think it helped that I have been to Friends Meeting in Yellow Springs and St. Pete before, so the practice wasn't totally foreign to me. Having read some Buddhist literature helped, too. There was only one message spoken during the hour, a woman speaking of Julian of Norwich's "All shall be well" and how we need to experience sitting at the feet of Christ and being totally cared for every so often. Meeting is a good way to get "plugged in" as she put it. I really like the idea of regularly taking time to be still and listen to God (that word is so loaded), whether it is with Friends or during daily meditation time at home or sitting zazen in a sangha. UCC (and most) worship is so much doing, with very little room for just listening.

After meeting, I was urged to join the group for delicious lentil soup and conversation. I did that, but knew I needed to get home to be with the family, so did not stay for the business meeting I was invited to sit in on. I think that would be really interesting sometime, but yesterday was not the day. On the way home, I drove through the cultural gardens. I would like to take J and a picnic back there someday to walk around and see them all.

J and Boot had spent the morning at the mall and managed to get very lost on the way home, but they arrived shortly after I did. Boot helped us unload all the excess moving boxes and paper into the dumpster. Then, we all went down to the pool for lunch. Pie went in the water very briefly, but we mostly just hung out around and not in the pool. It is a chilly May. Maybe not so chilly for this area, but certainly chillier than I am used to. We grilled dogs and had lunch there, but did not stay for a very long time. Boot wanted us to go to Crocker Park with him, so we poked around his favorite stores there. I think it's funny and sweet that he's 14 and still wants us to hang out with him. He found a couple of hoodies he liked and J got me a bracelet made of worn wooden beads that reminds me of Buddhist prayer beads. When we got home about 20 after 5, Boot's dad was impatiently waiting for him. He forgets, apparently, that we officially have Boot until 6. So, when he arrives early and has to wait, he gets out of sorts. Pobrecito!

After they left, we took the truck over to our storage unit and unloaded it, just barely fitting everything in! I am so glad to have done with that. We ate dinner at Key West Grill, a never-to-be-repeated experience. Our waitress was simply horrible, the food mediocre (and J is sick from it today) and the whole experience just lacking in charm. Damn, I hate that. They are lucky I wasn't doing a review because it wouldn't have been good. At all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Moms at the Grill

Well, only one of us was actually at the grill this past weekend, but that was our special Mother's Day celebration. Since we and the kids love to hang out at the pool & grill out, we decided this weekend would be as good as any to inaugurate the grilling season. So, we skipped the fancy brunch out in favor of burgers and brats Saturday night and bbq pork chops Sunday noon. It was a blast, as was the rest of the weekend.

Friday night, the boys went over to Crocker Park to hook up with one of Boot's buddies for subs and strolling. I suspect there is a decent amount of girl-watching that goes on, too! J and I went to the grocery, stopping to lie in the grass on the way out. It smelled so fresh and green. It was fun looking at the world from that vantage point & we had fun giggling over how astonished the boys would be if they spotted us. We admired an aqua Thunderbird and decided we're going to get one that color and a pink one when we win the lottery. Those cars have class.

Once home, J flopped on the couch while I cooked up a Chilean-style pork dish, which we had over rice while we watched a t.v. special about faith. When the boys got home, an hour before curfew, Pie joined us for a few minutes. He is drawn to issues of faith, but does not want his brother to know he is thinking so deeply. Poor little guy.

We slept in Saturday, then went with the bitties over to Crocker Park to prowl the farmer's market. We were deeply tempted by eggs and jewelry, pastries and cheeses but only took a sack of cranberry almond granola home. If the lilac lady had not already been sold out, I would definitely have indulged in an armload of those! I have been very tempted to cut some of the blooms from the apartment complex bushes, but I assume that is not the kind of behavior they encourage. While we did the farmer's market, the kids took off in pursuit of shoes and shirts and all the fun to be had away from the parental unit. Boot has developed a tradition of spending some of his odd job money on a new shirt every time he comes to visit. That child simply loves clothes! We grown folks continued on to Trader Joe's and then lunch at Aladdin's, where J had the baba ganoush plate and I had fattoush with grilled chicken on top. Such perfect food!

After our outing, we enjoyed the hot tub while the boys had some downtime at home. Then, it was time to take them shopping for our Mother's Day gifts. Pie had already brought home from school a beautiful African violet for J. Then, we rounded up food, toys and kids for our evening grill-out. Those silly, silly boys actually went in the pool! It was in the 50s and I was freezing, perfectly dry, on a lounge chair in capris, a polo shirt and a hooded sweatshirt! The sun had gone down. I was wishing I had worn my swimsuit just to get in the hot tub and warm up and those sillies were swimming. Well, Boot didn't last long in the water, but Pie sure did. He loved it and says he is a polar bear. I said, "Well, I guess we know what he'll be doing every New Year's Day when he's grown!" He was thrilled to have found something he can beat his brother at.

Boot had given J her gift early so that we could use it right away. He got her a little green cooler for hauling our food back and forth to the pool & grill area, along with a set of green plastic plates. When we got home, the rest of the gifts were exchanged. Boot got me a lavender-scented candle. Pie gave J her violet, which she loved, and presented me with chocolates from a local shop. Flowers & little boy! J and I exchanged our gifts when we went to bed. She got me some lovely lingerie, a jar of lemon drops I'd been eyeing at Borders and a butterly-shaped rice krispie treat. I gave her a relaxation kit, with banana smoothie bubble bath & the two latest Artemis Fowl books. But, really, the greatest gift we got was a weekend with no blow-ups or tantrums, aside from a brief skirmish between the boys at the pool.

Sunday morning, we let the boys sleep in while we went to church. Then, we ran a few errands. By the time we returned home, both boys were awake and raring to hit the pool again. We spent a longer time down there Sunday, with the air warmed & the sun out. J even got in the pool, but only under duress and with much regret about caving to it. Brr! I hung out in the hot tub and on a lounge chair in the sun, reading "Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral" by Kris Radish. What a great book! I had started it over the winter, then gotten busy and set it aside. I'm so glad I have it to read now. It makes me want to have a traveling funeral, too. We hung out at the pool until it was time for Boot to get ready for his dad to pick him up.

Pie exhausted himself with all the swimming and fresh air. He was asleep within 5 minutes of his brother's departure. We had a quiet evening, with a simple pasta dish for dinner. I made Maytag blue cheese dressing for the, is that good! I talked on the phone for an hour with my Cuban uncle. His partner got on the phone for a minute or two. He tried to speak to me in English and I to him in Spanish. He did much better than I did! I also phoned my mom & grandies. It's so funny to be able to call my mom on Mother's Day now. I am so glad they finally got a cell phone!

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Few Good Crafters

I love to use hand-crafted items in cooking and around the house. I wanted to share a few websites of crafters whose wares I particularly like to use.

Stan & Sue Jennings, of Allegheny Treenware, produce wooden cooking implements that are just delicious to use. In addition to things like wooden spoons & spreaders, I have a wonderful cherry measuring spoon & cup set that is not only useful, but a great addition to kitchen decor, as well. Check out for more info on how to get some for your own self!

The folks at Horton Brasses have a wide selection of simply gorgeous reproduction hardware for cabinets, doors and the like. The hand-forged ironwork is especially lovely. They can be found at for more info.

Some of my very favorite pottery has come from the kiln of Riffle Pottery. When I talk about drinking a mug of tea, it is likely from the green-glazed mugs I have picked up from them. See for your new favorite mug or serving piece.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Finally, a Weekend at Home!

I had been feeling quite stretched thin with multiple weekends away, so it was nice just to get to relax here at home. We had spent a long weekend in Niagara Falls, a weekend at my grandparents' house so we could visit J's folks and a weekend in Pittsburgh for the wedding. While we had great fun, it is tiring to travel like that three weekends in a row. I am about to embark on another travel stretch, too, with trips to get the rest of our things from the old house (we may be holding the closing this month, if all goes well), visiting my ma in West Virginia (woohoo!) and then 2 weekends in Santa Fe for me. Whew! All this while looking down the barrel of just 3 weeks left in the semester!

So, Friday night as soon as Pie hit the door, we took off to get a patio table at Blake's Seafood. We had appetizers there (really good crab cakes and marginal chicken "spring rolls"), then moved on to Hyde Park next door for great steaks. We did a drive-by of a house that looked promising for rental, then made an ice cream stop before going home to watch t.v. and look at cookbooks. J had gotten me some new Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and we had fun poring over those.

Saturday morning, we popped over to the beignet place and sat at an outdoor table enjoying those with coffee. We noticed that the farmer's market was open, so we had to go browse that. Then, we put in some time at Trader Joe's before going home to watch "Happily Never After" which I do not recommend. Way too facile, with nothing interesting or charming to redeem it. I had to attend mass at 5 for a class, so J had me drop her off at work to do some things while I attended mass. I had never been to a Catholic service before, aside from the wedding the previous weekend. I was glad I had been to that because it meant that I knew to find the order of worship in the missal! The inside of the church was beautiful and the service was nice, although I was disappointed at the lack of incense & high ceremony. I much preferred it to the Assembly of God hootenanny a couple of weeks ago! After I collected J, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with dinner at El Rodeo. After a swing by the grocery, J fell asleep on the couch while I worked on discussion questions for Sunday school. When we went to bed, I said, "Hoo, boy! We are some wild lesbians, going to bed at 9 o'clock on a Saturday night!" Of course, I stayed up reading far past that.

Sunday morning, I led the discussion on forgiveness in our Sunday school class, then we attended the later church service and helped host coffee hour. We had planned to make that veggie cream cheese "pizza" on a crescent roll base but were afraid it would get soggy overnight. So, we punked out & took store-bought hummus, pita wedges, baby carrots and tomato basil pesto from J's plant. After church, we picked up a few groceries we'd forgotten and then headed over to see the inside of the cottage we thought might be a rental possibility. It was not. At all. While we could see the lake from the yard (a definite plus), the inside was ratty and cramped. The much-talked-about "large deck!" was a high concrete slab with a chintzy metal railing. Damn. Oh, well, that just means we don't have to figure out how to come up with $1400 a month and we don't have to move in the midst of me finishing the semester & going out to Santa Fe! I cannot believe the owner thinks the place is "enormous" and I really can't believe they want $1400 a month! That's double what we were charging for the place we rented out that was somewhat similar, although in much better shape and bigger. No way. If I am paying that kind of money, the place had better be really nice. Both of us were terribly afraid while we were being taken through the place that the other would fall madly in love with it. Thankfully, we were of one accord. After that, we had appetizers at Champps (an appalling "Mongolian egg roll" and mediocre pot stickers...why I thought it would be a good idea to order Asian at a burger & beer joint is beyond me. The good news is that J loved the food) and ran errands. We got home and did some cleaning, then I made chicken with morel Madeira sauce for dinner.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Jess & Jon's Wedding

Well, we've had many fabulous weekends (including a long one in Niagara Falls to celebrate our 6th anniversary of dating) since I last posted, but I never seem to have any spare time. But, here I am today. Funny what sermon procrastination can make you do!

This weekend, we went to Pittsburgh for my dear friend Jess' wedding. Jess and I met when she applied for a job at the bookstore where I worked back in 1994. I thought she seemed cool, so I put a note with her application telling our HR manager that I thought she'd be a great part of our bookselling team. I was thrilled when she turned up for our morning meeting a few weeks later. She turned out to be every bit as cool as I'd suspected and we became great friends. We have remained so, even separated by varying states over the years. She met Jon in the first year J and I were dating, but I had never met him until this weekend. I knew, though, that if Jess was willing to marry him, he must be a truly good guy.

So, we dropped off Pie at his father's Friday evening, made a stop at our favorite lushly-scented bakery for cream puffs and then drove down to the designated Pittsburgh suburb. After checking into our hotel, we grabbed dinner at Lone Star, where I had a terrific filet and J had a steak salad. Then, we headed back to the room and relaxed.

In the morning, we had the hotel's complimentary continental breakfast (served up with a crappy attitude) and people-watched in the lobby. Then, we went shopping for shoes to match J's outfit. She hasn't worn a skirt in ages, so I'd been really surprised when she bought one for the wedding. When we got back from shopping, we had fun painting finger & toe nails and primping for the wedding. J's shoes were really cute, little straw flip-flops with straw flowers adorning the thong.

When we arrived for the 3 p.m. wedding, we found nearly everyone else clad in chic black, while we were dressed as though for a garden party. I figured an afternoon wedding in spring called for spring-y clothes. I also didn't figure we'd be fed dinner, though, so I was mistaken on two counts. The wedding was lovely. Jess looked beautiful in an elegant white gown with filigree and a long veil. Jon seemed very nice and very sincere and both of them smiled throughout. I had never been to a Catholic wedding or even a Catholic mass, so that was fun for me, too. I much preferred it to the Assembly of God hootenanny I went to last weekend!

As we stood in the receiving line, Jess said to Jon, "Hurry up & say hi to Daria, so I can!" We hadn't seen each other since my birthday tea party a few years back, so it was great to see each other again! She looks as beautiful as ever & her eyes were shining with happiness. I am thrilled that she finally seems to have found someone worthy of her. Her sister told me he writes her love letters and is very sentimental & romantic. Fabulous!

The reception was nearby and we found it easily. We carried in our gift, a picnic basket filled with scone mix, clotted cream, lemon curd, Passion tea, beignet mix and chicory coffee. The hall was so pretty, with low lights and garlands of flowers along the tables. The centerpieces were simple and gorgeous, wide ribbons that matched the bridesmaids' light green dresses, with a row of votives interspersed with delicate flowers. We found our seats and got settled in with drinks and munchies. Each place setting had a cookie decorated to look like the stunning cake, 3 layers of white fondant iced white cake with layers of fruit inside, bedecked with icing filigree, to mirror Jess' dress, and the monograms of the bridal pair. Very classy. The cake was topped with a layer of hot pink roses, too. Just lush and gorgeous!

We had a wonderful time at the reception. Our table mates were the dates of the bridesmaids, along with the darling 6-year-old daughter of one of the bridesmaids. She looked like a fairy child and was utterly charming. She spent much of the night playing with a gaggle of other girls, spinning on the dance floor and hiding under tables. One of her companions, the toddler flower girl, spent ages just spinning in circles, stopping only long enough to center herself before resuming her twirls and playing with her dress and the flashing dance floor lights.

After dinner, we spent a decent chunk of time on the dance floor, too, both slow dancing & bopping around to the Violent Femmes and Van Morrison. It was a little intimidating because Jon is a dance instructor and all his friends are, too. It was wonderful to watch them dance, though. It was just like being in a movie, with all these amazing dancers gliding around the floor so artfully. Jess & Jon looked like movie stars, too. We had a delightful time & even got in a brief visit with the bride, during which we got some very exciting news! They might be moving here! That would be so very much fun! We've decided we will take dance lessons from him if they do end up here.

The reception wound down at 9 o'clock, with the bride and groom needing some rest before a 7 a.m. flight to a Mexico honeymoon. We went straight back to the hotel & I was in my nightgown by 9:30. We laughed about what wild lesbians we are and J promptly fell asleep, leaving me to my book.

In the morning, we checked out fairly early, with the best intentions of attending mass so I could report on it for one of my classes. However, when we got to the church, the parking lot was full and there was no parking on the street, either. Figuring it must be First Communion weekend, we decided to catch a Saturday evening mass here next weekend instead.

We stopped at First Watch for a fabulous brunch. J had the bacado omelet (bacon & avocado) with a banana granola pancake (adding chocolate chips at the suggestion of our waitress) & I had a Monterey Club sandwich. We both love avocado. After brunch, we decided we should head Erie way. J drove while I read Dante's Paradiso aloud to her. She says she finds Inferno, with the demons blowing trumpet blasts out their asses, much more interesting.

We stopped at a huge outlet mall, with J looking for more professional clothes for work and me not planning to buy anything. However, I found a black skirt, just like the grey one I favor, for only $19. I also picked up another pair of cropped jeans and another pair of flip flops, this pair teal blue and sequined. J found a top to go with some of her dress pants. I also got 4 new crème brûlée dishes, shallow like I prefer them to be, and we found some peach lotion and shower gel to send her mom for Mother's Day. We arrived early in Erie, so we stopped at the bookstore for coffee and browsing. J left with a new werewolf novel and I with a couple of magazines, as well as a Mom's Day gift for my mom.

After we picked up Pie and he had conked out, J was browsing through my Girlfriend Getaways magazine. We were both drooling over beach vacations, spa vacations, all kinds of vacations. I need to win the lottery soon! LOL. She read one story about a group of women who have "cruise names" and as soon as they board the ship, they start using those names. J and I had a great time giggling over our plans for vacation names.

We tried to talk Pie into going with us to dinner, but he just wanted to be home. We dropped him off and had dinner on the patio at Blake's. It is wonderful to be able to eat outdoors again! We had been to Blake's with the kids on one of my weekend visits up here before the kids and I could move. I had been unimpressed with the food, annoyed by the service and horrified at the prices. This time, though, the prices seemed lower (maybe because we just got our tax return, perhaps because there were only two of us dining), the service was charming and the food was delicious. But, sitting outside was the best part of it all. I love to be in the evening breezes and love to people-watch. Their location is perfect for both. We got to watch the first evening star come out and the sky deepen to inky blue. We also got to watch the valets dash by and people embrace upon parting after dinner at the various restaurants. We split the fried calamari with hot & sweet Thai sauce for our appetizer. J ordered me a Flirtini. I rarely order drinks out, for a couple of reasons. I'm just not much of a drinker for one. The prices always seem like highway robbery, too. For our main courses, J had grilled salmon with tomato, garlic & herb sauce, accompanied by steamed veggies and grilled asparagus. I had grilled blue marlin with lemon-lime butter, accompanied by the veggies and "island" rice. No dessert necessary.

Once home, we fed Pie his cheeseburger and then all tumbled into our respective beds. Pie had testing today, J a big run of one of her products and I have that pesky sermon to write, so early to bed seemed wise. I ended up staying up far too late, though, working on dinner menus for May. Oh, well.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Last Week of Winter

I spent the last week of Winter enjoying spring-like temperatures and being hyper-social. I've had a tendency to just hang out with my grandparents when I am down there for school. Sure, I talk to friends at school, but after hours I have just been sticking close to the homestead. I adore my grandies and have so much fun talking to them that it just doesn't even occur to me to make other plans. However, I had run into some friends from my last church. Mike and Tammy are really cool and I realized it had been forever since I'd had any catch-up conversations with them. So, we met for dinner at Meadowlark in Centerville. The food (garlic chicken served with rice, limas and goat cheese) was terrific and the conversation even better. Afterward, I couldn't resist going into Half-Price Books to look for the Analytical Concordance of the New Testament. Not only did I find it for a third of the usual cost, but I ran into Evvi and Keith, too! What a great surprise! We had a wonderful visit over books and agreed to stay in better touch. I miss them and I missed getting to see Garnet. It breaks my heart that we aren't near enough for me to see her growing up, up-close and personal. She is the dearest little girl, smart & creative like her mama & dad.

Thursday after class, I killed some time running errands, then went to Laurel's house. I like being there because it is always so full of life and feels so real, just like Laurel does. She says what she is thinking, which is refreshing and a good example. We are so often encouraged, especially women, to be polite and "nice" and behave ourselves. Sometimes we are so busy behaving ourselves that we start to lose track of who we really are. Laurel and I were both hungry, so we popped over to Jeet India for a great dinner and lots of talk about theology and inner work. It's always so good to talk to her. She started out as almost a mother figure for me, the mother of friends & leader of the Quaker youth group I attended. Now, she is a very good friend to me and to my Beloved, too.

I had to stay in town for a Friday/Saturday class, so I booked a facial for Friday morning, taking advantage of a long-unused gift certificate. I was going to get a manicure, too, but then I saw that the manicurist was the same one who had hurt my toenail another time, so I backed out. I spent the manicure money on some really good Aveda tea instead. After my facial, I took myself to The Winds for mushroom soup and Tuscan bread salad. Then, I picked up some of Current Cuisine's hummus & sundried tomato dip to take home to my sweet girl. I was almost late to class due to that stop, but it was well worth it to see the delight on J's face when I presented her with them.

The class was in preparation for our transcultural trips coming up this summer. At seminary, we are required to spend 2 weeks doing immersion in another culture. We got to hear presentations by students who had just returned from Appalachia (North Carolina & Kentucky...the Kentucky group had spent time visiting J's dad's home stomping grounds of Harlan's coal mines & the Pine Mountain Settlement School), Chicago (SCUPE's urban ministry program), Cambodia, Bolivia (where the group's bus was stoned in riots...very scary) and the Bahamas (no, she was not lounging on the beach the whole time...we asked). This summer, students will be going to Chicago, Kentucky, Costa Rica, New Mexico and South Africa. There is a Holy Land trip planned for January, too. I will be spending 2 weeks in June at Ghost Ranch in Santa Fe. I wish J could go along, but Pie has school one of the weeks. I hope to take the train down. I have never taken any train trips beyond an hour ride on a tourist steam train and various subway trips.

After class on Saturday, I had to go check on the house (I am ready to quit praying to St. Joseph & start praying to St. Jude on that one), then I got to go home to my sweetie's corned beef & cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. She was ever so glad to see me, after the extended time away, and has been mopey about my commute ever since. I am not real thrilled with being away from her, either, let me tell you! I love her so much and could cheerfully spend every waking moment with her...every sleeping one, too.

Sunday, we had Sunday school & church. In Sunday school, we talked about the spiritual practice of care of the body. It was interesting to see how much the other class members discounted body care like bathing and adornment, which the chapter advocated, in favor of things like healthy eating and exercise. Those things are also important, but it is good to be gentle with ourselves and treat ourselves to long, lush baths and fun clothing, too. The church service didn't sit right with my liturgically conservative nature. My wife & mom, as well as some of my classmates, think I was being a bit uptight. However, my liturgy professor is right there with me, as are a couple of other profs and my grandparents. When we walked into the sanctuary, the communion table had been cleared of the candles, Bible and flowers. In their place were things like a child's tent (pitched), a teddy bear wearing camp clothes and other camp paraphernalia. It was Camp Sunday & I guess these were set decoration. I found it wildly inappropriate to use the communion table for these things, but other folks have said that it's not a big deal, it's just a table, camp can be lifted up to God, too. I just think the tent should have been pitched on the floor in front rather than on the communion table. The other thing that disturbed me was that the sermon had been ditched altogether in favor of a skit, jokes by the "Hee Haw" clad pastors, a camp song singalong (including purely secular, just for fun songs) and a talk by one of the youth about how much fun camp is. I think these kinds of things have an important place in the church, even in the service. However, to replace the sermon with them seems unconscionable. Maybe I am just too rigid, but I was amazed by the whole thing.

After church was an Open and Affirming gathering, with a pizza lunch, a video called "When a Kid is Gay" and a discussion of the video. We had some very good discussion at our table. Every single person at the table seems to be for going ONA and has personal experience with a gay loved one. One couple has a gay nephew, another man had a gay brother who died of AIDS before he ever came out to his brother, the AP has had kids in the youth group come out to her, J & I talked about our own experiences. I felt awful for one of the kids in the video, who is a fundamentalist Christian and is convinced he will go to hell for being gay. It was very sad. Another boy seriously considered suicide because his dad was very emotionally and verbally abusive to him because of his orientation. I am so blessed to have had the kind of upbringing and to have the kind of family I have.

After the gathering, we went home and picked up Boot for some Crocker Park prowling. The boys had been fighting all weekend, so Pie did not want to come along. Boot was perfectly pleasant, though, toward us. I understand that they really got into it Friday night and Pie ended up saying to J, enraged with his brother, "There is no room for diversity in this world!!! I am just trying to make some space for myself!!! I don't want to be like him!!!" So, I suspect that Boot was coming down on Pie for not being into boxing and other such manly, American pursuits. He needs to learn to be himself and let Pie be his own self. I'm glad I missed that part of the weekend and was simply able to enjoy Boot shopping for clothes at places like Hollister and for weight lifting equipment at Dick's. He is such a guy. Not at all a little boy anymore. I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the seasons swap tip-in pages that were due the following weekend, while the rest of the family vegged out in front of various screens. After Boot left, we tucked in to split pea soup and good bread and got ready to start a new week.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sermon-We Are Creating Tomorrow's Heritage

We Are Creating Tomorrow’s Heritage: A Sermon on John 17:17-21

The greatest amount of moaning and wailing that I’ve heard from my fellow students at seminary is over church history courses. The amounts of reading are prodigious, the time periods seem distant, the information irrelevant to a modern audience geared toward moving forward and most of all, they exclaim, it’s so boring! Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I have had, on occasion, to resort to reading my Calvin out loud so I wouldn’t fall asleep and that Karl Barth’s writing style always gives me fits! I am in agreement with historian David McCollough when he says, “No harm’s done to history by making it something someone would want to read.” No harm is done, either, by making it something someone would want to hear. Most people who claim not to like history just didn’t have a good history teacher. I say this as a deep lover of historical study, with a B.A. in History and a seminary specialization in Church History.

I am one of the lucky ones. Oh, I’ve always had an interest in history, the great goings-on of times long ago, the everyday lives of people from ages past. But, when I say I am lucky, I am referring to my middle school history teacher. Mr. G had a true passion for the past, along with a knack for relaying his love of history to 7th and 8th graders. He made it relevant. That is, he figured out how to convey its relevance to us. Part of his method was to appeal to the scatological bent of kids that age by telling us tidbits about the prevalence and common treatment of dysentery during the Civil War and what, exactly, goes into hot dogs, as part of a discussion of the Industrial Revolution and the growth of factories. Mostly, though, he simply told us the truth. Instead of relying on a never-ending column of dry names and dates, we were told juicy stories about a fascinating array of real people and occurrences that just happen to have been in the past.

When my class moved to the high school, so did Mr. G. He was determined that his students know things that are still seldom taught in our schools, things that don’t always speak well of our American heritage. For while it is true that our forefathers (Mr. G included the foremothers, too) gave us things like the Constitution and fairer labor practices, they also bestowed on us a terrible heritage of broken treaties with the natives of this land and internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. We like to gloss over ugly truths like this, but it is imperative that we speak these truths as loudly as we proclaim our pride in the accomplishments of our nation. As Goethe put it, “patriotism ruins history” and when we don’t have the whole story, we miss valuable lessons.

The same kind of veneer is often put on church history. As Christians, we are proud of our faith’s message of love to the world. We are hasty to skip over atrocities done in the name of Christ, atrocities such as the Crusades, the Inquisition and exclusionist tactics practiced by Christians today. As Protestant Christians, we are proud of our heritage as a denomination that grew out of the Reformation. We speak of Christians such as Martin Luther, who, in fighting the corruption of the Church, helped to create a whole new way of being Christian. Yet, we avoid talking about other Protestants such as Thomas Müntzer, who led 8,000 peasants in the bloody Battle of Frankenhausen, a battle fought over varying interpretations of Christ’s message. As American Protestants, we are proud of our roots that stretch back to the Mayflower Pilgrims. We neglect to include things like the hanging of Quakers like Mary Dyer or the banishment of those, like Anne Hutchinson, who spoke out against Puritan sermons.

The good news in the dark parts of our heritage is that we can study what happened and make sure it never happens again. We can make sure we follow the example of people in history who got it right and guard against slipping into the ways of those who did not. It is all too easy to say that we would never allow something like the Holocaust to happen. Yet, how many of us, with our parish, our job or our family at risk would genuinely have the courage to stand against the rising flood of hatred? How many of us would be a Karl Barth or a Dietrich Bonhoeffer? How easy it would be simply to go along to get along, to protect those we love through our complicity! How many American pastors over the past few years have preached against a war that meets none of the traditional criteria for just war? I know that if I was told that I had better put the American flag up instead of the cross in my church or risk my mom’s life, I would most likely fly that flag high. I wish I thought I would behave differently, but I am not so certain of my strength. In all my humanity, I very well might, like Peter denying Christ, act to save my own skin rather than to tell God’s truth. I can only try my hardest to be a truth-teller, knowing what I know of history.

So, the past is relevant, in all its evil as well as all its good. What Christians have done in the past has shaped irrevocably who Christians are today. I have found myself embraced when claiming the name “Christian” and have found myself under suspicion, challenged, as well. We must act in the present to deserve the embraces and we must act in the present to eradicate the suspicion. We are responsible for future generations being able to claim their heritage with the pride we are able to show in celebrating ours. We don’t want to live in the past, to assume that because our ancestors have accomplished much, we may rest on their laurels. We want to live our lives as Christians today in such a way that future generations will wish to live up to our example.

In the history of our church, we are provided with fine examples of how to live out the life of the church in a way that glorifies God and furthers the work of Christ. The Core Values that we claim as our top five are Acceptance, Family/Community, Mission, Heritage and Caring. At the first Visioning meeting, where we winnowed an enormous list of possible core values down to these five, there was much debate over heritage. Some people felt that including heritage would encourage living in the past, even making an idol of our history and refusing to hear any possibility of change that the Holy Spirit might be whispering into our hearts. Tradition, for all its worth, can also stifle us and put God into a box. Others felt that heritage was all well and good, but that there were other things more important. The beauty, though, of a heritage as rich as ours is that it is inclusive of most of our finer impulses.

When we speak of our church's heritage, we speak of acceptance. When we say, in our statement of faith, “You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin” we affirm that God accepts all people and imply, therefore, that so should we. When we speak of our heritage, we speak of family and community, for this church, all the way back to its inception in 1811, has had a strong tradition of being a family-oriented faith community. When we speak of our heritage, we speak of mission. Decades of work have poured forth from this church out to the larger community, work of helping to lift up the bent-over people. When we speak of our heritage, we speak of caring, for all the values I have just spoken about speak deeply of caring. In that caring is the reflection of a host of other values, values like peace, justice, faith.

Heritage is not an empty vault, filled with dust and void of nourishment. Heritage is more like a banquet table, at which we find a rich array of dishes, with God as executive chef and our spiritual ancestors as sous chefs, doing their best to replicate God’s recipes for the delight of future generations. We are invited to drink and eat the riches of God’s table. We set aside that which is not bread, our worries, cares, prejudices. We set aside all notion of tradition and heritage as prison cells. We take a seat at the table and eat what is good. We also step into the kitchen and don our aprons to prepare nourishment for the coming generations.

In so doing, we are about the work of Christ, who asked for sanctification not only for the apostles, who sent not only the apostles into the world. Christ’s interest was for our sanctification as well. Christ asks us to go into the world so that all may believe in him and so that all may be one. Jesus’ charge 2,000 years ago echoes down the ages to us. We would do well to incline our ears to what God is speaking to us today, in order that our actions may become part of the beauty of the table God is setting throughout history, and not tainted meat or molded bread to be thrown out with the garbage of the past by future generations.

Edward Gibbon said, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.” It is up to us to hold high the lamp of our heritage and use the past as a solid foundation from which to soar into the future God would have us create. Without the foundation, we have nothing to stand upon.