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Archive for December, 2007

I couldn’t stand the thought of the old year passing without a bit of reflection.

After the horrors of 2006, that year closed on a hopeful note, and this year began with confirmation of that hope: Our son’s move back to his home state. We’ve seen him off and on throughout the year, but of course a good bit more of him since he’s about 700 miles closer to home. His visits fell off during the summer, when he was working six days a week, but he was in for a week just before Christmas; he spent Christmas with us; and surprise, surprise, there’s a possibility that he may spend tonight and tomorrow with us, as well. He called to say he was going to a party, but wasn’t expecting it to last “more than a few hours” (presumably, it breaks up at midnight, then he still has an hour’s drive to our place). I hope he makes it to our house, though, because tomorrow, we’re supposed to get a foot of snow (a little under a meter, for European or Canadian readers).

The snow began, I believe, around December 10, and so far, we’ve had — now, is it three or four storms of significant size? I don’t remember a winter like this since I was a girl, sixteen years old and slogging three miles on foot to school because, well, it was a school day and in our house, you didn’t stay home from school unless there was a death in the family (your own). Anyway, none of the buses were running, so I walked to school, and yes there were drifts of snow to overcome, got there around 9:45 (having left the house at 7:00), rang the doorbell with trepidation — to discover from an astonished nun that school had been cancelled for the day, and I had to walk all the way back home. I think I made it around 1:00 or so. My mother demanded to know what I was doing home, and all I said was, “School was cancelled,” and that was that.

Then there were the snows of 1967 and 1968. People who fume at Callous Business are probably unaware that even the evil minions of Wall Street and Madison Avenue actually sent employees home if a storm was threatening. One year we were dismissed at 1:00 p.m., and I made it home on the elevated train from lower Manhattan to my home in Queens; but again, no buses were running, and I had to walk the mile from the train station to my house. It was windy that day, and the very hardest part of that walk was the last two blocks, long blocks that probably came to a third of a mile and were all uphill. I remember standing next to a parked car and thinking, “I’m not going to make this,” then pulling myself together and battling that fierce wind down the last block to home, then collapsing in tears on the back steps.

At least this snow hasn’t been accompanied by such horrendous wind, nor have I been required to be out in it, other than to help shovel the driveway. But we’ve had an awful lot of snow, and dh and I aren’t as young as we were 21 years ago, when we bought the place. Today, dh was even talking about moving to a retirement community, something both of us have resisted with all our might. It’s like God’s waiting room, for crying out loud.

So we’ve been quite busy, what with snow removal and enjoying our son and our washing machine breaking down and being unrepairable because That Part Is No Longer Manufactured, and having to spend money earmarked for Christmas presents on a new washer, instead. Thankfully, we had all of ds’s presents bought already, so we just did without presents ourselves. At our age, who needs a lot, anyway. But a new washing machine is crucial. 😉

On both Christmas Eve and this past Sunday, I got to direct our choir again. The choir director was visiting family in Florida, as we’d known, and had made arrangements with a teenaged boy to direct in her absence, as we’d known; as we hadn’t known, the teenaged boy got cold feet and never showed up at all for Christmas Eve, and yesterday, I was in full swing when he did show up, saw me at the podium, and shook his head vehemently when I stood aside to let him take my place. I must admit that I enjoyed doing it again, but it would have been nice to have a little more advance notice.

And there is the ongoing and phenomenal blessing of our new priest. The newness is beginning to wear off, both for him and for the parish, but he is still unflaggingly enthusiastic, and I have yet to hear a negative word about him — in our parish, that’s something of a record for any priest. It seems he and his family are ski fanatics, having gone skiing in Vermont over the long Thanksgiving weekend and in New Hampshire for a week after Christmas; and in speaking with him today, I learned that he’s planning to make another ski trip to the same New Hampshire mountain “just for one day, on Wednesday” (his usual day off). He and his family continue to live in Massachusetts, where they’d bought a house just last year; I should mention to him that if he bought a house up here, he’d pay less money all around, because not only is it cheaper to live up here than in Massachusetts, but he’d also get to save on resort fees, since he wouldn’t have to stay overnight. On the other hand, maybe that’s the charm.

Oh, yes, he’s spiritually a great blessing, too. 😉 People were telling me yesterday about his not being too happy with the Christmas Pageant this year, because Baby Jesus was represented by a little girl baby: “Jesus was a boy Baby!” he kept insisting, but finally gave in reluctantly. They thought that was very funny. I think it just shows that he is being true to his priestly responsibility to keep to the true Tradition. (But yeah, I find the story amusing, too, and very sweet in his earnestness.)

Now, if only his Romanian accent didn’t keep reminding me of Count Dracula…

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Permit me a bit of grumbling here. Just — be here for me, OK?

I’m upset. A friend of mine knows someone who has apparently fallen on hard times, and is asking people to buy a holiday product from this person. So far so good. It’s just — I have the sense of a whole lot that has gone unsaid.

I mean, the situation that this person finds himself in, is not something that strikes out of the blue. Let’s just say that it involves a legal action, one that is so difficult to execute that there has to be a phenomenal amount of evidence, accumulated over a long period of time, for that action to be executed. (An example: Someone locally was recently evicted from a property that was not only a neighborhood eyesore, but also a health hazard, not only to the resident but to neighborhood schoolchildren (the property was across the street from an elementary school). The length of time involved in the eviction? Seven years.)

The situation that my friend’s friend finds himself in is similar. It sounds as if the person’s financial straits are dire. But — dire doesn’t just hit, it builds over a period of months. In that time, wasn’t it possible for this person to contact family members for help? I’m thinking of the many relatives who stayed with my late Aunt Mary over a period of about fifteen years. Nothing was said, none of us young folk knew that these people were homeless and would have been out on the street but for my aunt’s generosity. They stayed for an average of three years with her, finding work, then finding homes of their own; in a couple of cases, we never heard from these people after they moved on. But my point is, they called on family for help, and that help was forthcoming.

So, why is this person soliciting help on the internet?! Does he not have family to whom he could turn? Is he so on the outs with family that they wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole? Why are you bothering complete strangers for help?

As I said, I have the sense of a whole lot that has gone unsaid. And without those blanks being filled in — I feel used.

Thank you for the shoulder to cry on. We now return you to your regularly scheduled revelries.

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…as Columbo used to say.

This past Sunday, our Hierarch, Metropolitan Methodios, came to visit our parish. (Which is its own story: He called our priest on Monday and said, “Oh, by the way, I have an opening in my calendar for this Sunday, and I’d like to come visit.” Gulp.) Anyway, he came, he saw, whether or not he conquered the choir is still up for grabs 😉 — but the point is, he preached the most wonderful sermon. I’ve never heard a sermon like this.

For one thing, he cited the text of this past Sunday’s Gospel, the story of the blind man by the side of the road who asks Jesus for his sight. The Metropolitan said that the Church gives us this Gospel at this time of year because we are all in darkness, stumbling around like the blind man, and we should remember that the Light of Christ is coming to us.

But the other thing he said that really grabbed my attention was that the blind man cried out, and Christ — God — stopped walking and paid attention to him. And the Metropolitan said, When we pray, we stop God in His tracks, and He listens to us.

Think about that.

When we pray, we stop God in His tracks. And He listens to us.

Holy cow.

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Since I was out of the house at 9:30 today and didn’t get home till 4:30, there wasn’t too much I was able to do on this front. Today’s effort was getting the breakfast dishes done before I left the house, and making the beds. This is more of a triumph than ordinary tidy housewives might think: There have been days when the dishes didn’t get washed till half an hour before dh came through the door, and as for making beds…well…

I love the sight of a made-up bed, so I never thought twice about it until dh asked me not to make up his bed — “It’s easier to get into when it’s left unmade.”

This is the same person who comes from the family that never put anything away in the kitchen because, “We’ll just have to get it out again.” And I seriously wonder why my house always looks like a bomb hit it?!

So the bed stayed unmade, for a few years, actually. Once a week I’d change the sheets, but that was it.

Then we had the house blessed. Our new priest decided that a good way for him to meet the parish would be to bless everyone’s houses over the summer, and since ours hadn’t been done at Theophany (the weather was crappy), I invited him over to do that. And to have the house blessed — you have to have tidy rooms.

And dh discovered that, wonder of wonders, it’s kind of nice to sleep in a made-up bed.

So that is my contribution to making this home a haven for today. Actually, pretty much every day, since the house got blessed, but since I was out of the house all day, I decided this would have to count for half a brownie point. 🙂

(The chief reason I was out for so long is that I went to confession. My spiritual father’s parish is 40 miles away. 40 miles over roads that are not entirely clear of ice and snow is, um, interesting. But I really needed to go to confession. Now to put the results into practice — I need to go sing Vespers.)

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OK, I have to confess that I don’t know how many of my readers this will actually apply to, but the idea, which I got from Emma‘s blog, seems to be to come up with one or more things you can do every day to make your home a haven for yourself and your family, then post about it on your blog. The woman who first came up with the idea (Crystal Paine) cleaned her front entryway, made herself a cup of tea, and spent time with her Bible. Me…

Well….

I made a nice beef stew for my husband.

Hey, it’s been snowing all day, and he’s been alternately digging out the driveway and tele-working. So I just tossed some beef, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes in the crockpot and let ‘er rip. I must admit that the smell is driving me crazy! But I will be content with my crab cakes and rice.

I also worked on my cross stitch, which was very soothing and meditative, and made up (I hope) for all the ranting and raving I did when dh informed me that his father wants to come back to living with us. NO. Plain and simple. I finally told dh, “It’s him or me,” knowing that dh would know I was at least half joking (and half not!!!). There is simply no way we could maneuver a 95-year-old man, with his fragile bones, down a flight of steps to get to and from his various doctors’ appointments. To say nothing of the fact that he won’t tell us if something is bothering him — he won’t tell the people at the nursing home, either, but they know what to look for, and we don’t — and oh, yeah, I can just see me maneuvering him into and out of the shower. He certainly can’t do it on his own.

So maybe my chief contribution to Making My Home a Haven was putting my foot down about Dear Old Dad. 😉

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