A Day in the Life

I had an exciting and varied Sunday. First, it was my Sunday to make the coffee for after the 8 o’clock service at St. George’s, so I got there about 7:25 under a lowering sky. My partner in this endeavor was already there. She told me the weather forecast was for a very severe thunderstorm and sure enough, the sky got darker and darker with not a breath of wind. We went into church and right at the Consecration the sky blew open and thunder and lightning rattled the skies – and then the hail started, making such a racket that I was sure the roof was going to be ripped open and windows shattered. Though I sit in the second pew from the front, and our priest wears a microphone, I could barely hear the prayers over the noise. The rain came down so hard it was like a thick fog, and then the sky grew dark as night. But the congregation stayed in place and we all soldiered through the service. We adjourned then to the church hall and ate sweet rolls and drank coffee and congratulated ourselves for not abandoning the service and fleeing to the basement. But none of us dared to go out and drive home until it abated. On the drive home I noted several big branches down and one tree broken off at the base and half blocking the street.

At home the power was out in the whole building – well, sort of. As happened once before, half of the power in our apartment was out. The stove worked but not the refrigerator. My computer had power – but not my connection to the Internet. My land line phone didn’t work, though an old-style Plain Old Phone did. This was true for about half the apartments, plus the underground garage (including the door; they opened it manually and set volunteers to guard it), and the elevators – and we live on the third floor, very painful with my bad knee. I got two different reports of a nearby transformer going off with a big bang and burning briskly just before the storm broke.

For the past week or ten days, I’d been thinking of a certain shrimp dish served at a little Thai restaurant called Pattaya and getting more and more of a hankering for it. With a kitchen just half on line, I decided to eat out, and drove to Pattaya – only to find they don’t open until after three on Sundays. So I went to another, slightly more upscale Asian restaurant, recently renamed Kai and Little Crustacean (your guess is as good as mine). I was disappointed not to find that dish on their menu, and asked the waiter to recommend something approaching that mix of shrimp and fresh ginger. Instead, he went to the kitchen and brought out their head chef, and I described it to him: shrimp and slivers of fresh ginger in a brown sauce, with broccoli, pea pods, onions, carrots, and mushrooms, between two and three stars (out of five) hot. He said he’d make it for me – and my oh my, was it good! I told them that if I was ever in the unfortunate position of ordering a last meal, this would be it. You can believe I left a really good tip.

I did a little stitching and worked on a new Chapter Three of Tying the Knot until the power finally came back around six, in time for me to watch an old Columbo repeat before going to bed.

Monday I went to consult with the same surgeon who operated successfully on my MRSA-infected knee last year. He ordered up some X-rays and sure enough, that same knee hurts and makes grinding sounds because it’s gone “bone on bone” and needs to be replaced. He explained the surgery, which isn’t what I thought it was, but wants a CAT scan and extensive blood work done in advance – no need to tempt another round of that infection. And no cortisone or other treatment meanwhile for the same reason. Gah.  My advice: Never grow old.

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It’s Alive!

It’s alive! It’s alive!

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My muse is struggling to her feet. I’ve finished the re-write of Chapter One of Tying the Knot and begun Chapter Two. Exciting!

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Glory!

My muse is stirring! I have gone back to the start of Tying the Knot, and am actually working on it. Giant flaws, invisible to me in the darkness of writers’ block, are suddenly clear, and I am actually taking pleasure in writing. Glory Hallelujah!

Speaking of which: As has become my custom, I went with a friend yesterday to Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis for a Memorial Day ceremony that, as an honor and memorial to those who have died in military service to our country, is fiercely patriotic. The Colors are Presented, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, the National Anthem is sung (begun in a low-enough key that the sudden break to a higher key is reachable by ordinary voices), the extremely touching song “If You’re Reading This Letter” is sung. The remarkable baritone Robert Robinson was the featured singer. He also sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and sang the verse:

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat;
Oh, be swift my soul to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on.

It took my breath away. In the chaos and racket and horror of battle, to call on oneself to not only dash forward, but to be “jubilant” about it requires a rare nerve. But there we sat, the living, awed in the presence of row on row of markers over those kind of soldiers, breathing the free air given us by that kind of jubilant courage. Hallelujah indeed.

And that hymn was written by a woman.

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Bunny

The slow-motion demolition of The Club Room is underweigh.  (And yes, it’s “underweigh,” as in anchors aweigh!) The owner is retiring because of illness and everything in the store is half off. I picked up an adorable hand-painted canvas of a rabbit and am collaborating with my sister in Florida in choosing the colors of floss for it as a gift for her. There is a sweetly-sad expression on the rabbit’s face an incredibly hard thing to draw in any case, and particularly in this case, where the lines must match the grid of weave so it can be stitched. And all for half price.

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The weather has turned chilly and wet again – maybe those decades-back forecasters warning of a new ice age were right after all?

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Watermelon, Geraniums, and Rectors

I love watermelon – but not twenty-first-century watermelon. The current variety, the seedless – also seems to be increasingly tasteless. I bought one on my grocery shopping trip yesterday. I looked for the seeded kind but the only variety offered anywhere was the seedless. I wish I hadn’t bought it. There’s a curious taste to it, reminiscent of a noxious weed, and it was not at all sweet. I am going to see if I can find a throwback farmer somewhere who grows the old-fashioned kind. Yes, yes, I will spit slick black seeds in a steady stream, but the taste of the sweet red fruit those seeds come packed in is a hymn to summer.

The mottled-red geranium I bought last year that was advertised to tumble artlessly over the sides of the pot didn’t. Or didn’t tumble far. And in fact one main stem grew stubbornly upright. But the blooms were very pretty and it looked so healthy in the fall I brought it into the apartment and kept it over winter. In very early spring it resumed blooming – and collapsed until its stems were draped downward onto the table, leaving bare black soil on top with a couple of lines of naked stem along one edge. I brought it back outside and hung it on a pole, where it continues to reach for the floor, and I planted a deep red dianthus to cover the bare soil. And now the naked stems of the geranium are producing tiny leaves. I’m not sure if they will sprout upward or follow their older brothers in the massive green waterfall over the edge.

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Tomorrow evening the Calling Committee of my church will get its first chance at a phone interview of one of the candidates for Rector. There are so many ways this can go well and almost an equal number of ways it can go badly that I can barely wait for it to be over so we can discuss it. Our seven-member committee is a wide and marvelous mix of talents and skills, one thing it won’t be is unproductive. This is such an important task for a church to undertake that I’m surprised to find myself among the members of the Committee. I’m more known for my hats than my theology.

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Eye on the Sparrow

This coming Saturday we are holding a party in our building celebrating Hats. I have a large collection of hats and I’m bringing most of them to the party for the ladies to try on. We’re serving cucumber sandwiches, lemon bars, cookies, lemonade, hot and iced tea. I have an interesting recipe for the sandwiches: Buy a loaf of that hors d’oeuvres bread, the kind that is about two by two inches. Mix a packet of cream cheese with an envelope of Hidden Valley dry salad dressing mix (a little mayonnaise makes it creamier) and spread it thinly on a slice of bread. Top with a slice of fresh cucumber, and top that with a slice of pickled ginger. Delicious! I must remember to bring down mirrors.

I almost killed a sparrow Saturday morning. I was coming out the front door of our building and I pushed it open right into the path of a pair of squabbling sparrows. The male thumped hard into the glass and fell to the ground. He lay stunned for a few seconds, but as I reached to pick him up, he scrambled to safety under a bench. I have found that picking up a stunned bird and keeping him in a quiet dark place (a shoebox with holes punch in it is good) for a few hours frequently results in a restoration to health. This fellow was already aware enough to try to get out of my way, so I went on my errand and he was gone when I got back.

I have nothing to report on writing except that The Chronicles of Deer Abbey are available in both paperback and e-book from Amazon.

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Busy, Busy!

Things are piling up on me.   Our Calling Committee is planning to talk to the candidates for Rector of my church, by phone and face to face, and we’ve got questions to sort out and dates to meet them to decide. I’ve got a mink coat to auction off to raise money for our Capital Fund – meeting the auction company today. I’m trying hard to finish the needlepoint Christmas stocking so I can enter it in our State Fair (probably won’t make the deadline). And the desultory fiddling around with the plot of Tying the Knot, which I can’t seem to write but also can’t leave alone.

Publicity to begin for The Chronicles of Deer Abbey, which is now out on Amazon as an e-book. The paperback still needs proofreading, but should be available in less than a week. They’re at Monica Ferris Presents.

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