Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Some random summer thoughts

More vacation photos. This time from the Clarke family who headed down to Tampa/St. Pete. They also included photos from Lowry Park Zoo, a favorite spot of my own Little Man. They even had a photo of the very manatee who made me realize that manatees create a LOT of poop. Thanks for the memories!
Little Man, Baby Dent (the two year old's new name for herself), and I are headed to Florida tomorrow for the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. My husband looked over the program and laughed in glee that he is not going. I gotta' say that the forecast is gloomy. I can only take so many conventions of any variety, and when the program looks a little dull, I wonder why I am spending the money. I always get something positive out of the experience. But on packing day, that's hard to remember. I will probably have to go next year, too, but for good reasons.
I have gotten a great company to help make some much needed UU items. They are going into production shortly and I will have them by SUUSI. I'll let you know more about them once everything is done. Next year I am encouraging the company to set up a booth at GA. That would mean I would need to go to facilitate that process. 3 GA's in a row is a bit much for me and Salt Lake???
Or maybe I am just fussy. Last night may have been my last opportunity to drink alcohol for several years (or forever, but I don't feel the need to think THAT far ahead.) I see the doc today to pick up my big gun meds. One of the choices is a med which insists that you partake of ZERO alcohol because of the liver risks. I'll know in a few hours. Just in case, I drank my favorite champagne with my mom, and a sampler of delicious beers. Some of my buds accompanied me and told me their favorite dirty jokes because they said I won't find them funny in the future. Bad news, boys. They weren't funny with alcohol either.
In my blog-o-stream of consciousness, let's raise a toast to George Carlin who died too young. One of my buddies sent me this quintessential Carlin quote:
"The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What's that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you're too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating…and you finish off as an orgasm!"
Godspeed, George!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Travel Season

I like other people's vacation pictures. It's a weird affinity. I have a few rules - you have to be a decent photographer; you have to be a friend willing to tell me the stories of your trip; you gotta' stop when I cry "uncle." Otherwise, it's all good.
Tim is in China. See below. He promises that he is not eating snake gallbladder, chicken foot, or stir-fried bullfrog. But, doesn't knowing that make the Great Wall look even cooler?

Eli and Simon went on a roadtrip across the US. We met them on the Mississippi leg of the trip. This is from Big Sur. Eli is a Buddhist who makes cool computer presentations that combine movies and a non-dualistic philosophy of peace. His subconscious melded with my subconscious in Mississippi at the work camp. His subconscious told me to buy a Mac.

John and Vicky are in Yellowstone. She's sending sweet emails to let us know they haven't been eaten by bears and that the vacation is truly THAT GREAT. The stinker hasn't sent a photo yet.
My other photo-related quirk is that I take pictures of food. I have decades of Thanksgiving pictures that are of my plate. Not only do I enjoy food, but I remember my travels through food. Here is one of my favorite Mississippi treats - a snowball. This one's flavor was called Frog in a Blender. Like all snowballs, it tasted like sugar. But a snowball is all about the texture, and wooooooweeeee this was a great snowball. That's Robert pouring it. We picked on Robert for being 9 and working at the snowball stand. He was a good sport.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Funeral Convention Juxtapositions

As if going to a ski resort in the middle of June did not already take some adjusting, here are some mismatched couples from this week's convention...

A hearse in the ski lodge parking lot
Hearses on the bunny slope
An open burial vault at the chair lift

Embalming fluid displays and free candy
Burial vaults with free "Vault" soda (I liked that one.)

On People
The "Got HCHO?" t-shirts (embalming fluid)
Every gathering sounded like the beginning of a joke, "3 Undertakers, a Minister, and an organ procurement specialist are at cocktail hour..."

Most difficult moment
Our 12 year old friend trying to explain to my 5 year old why one display casket was really really small.

Best moment
The 5 year old taught himself how to dive. The vacation part was a lovely change for me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hijacked Ceremony

I am at the Virginia Funeral Directors' Association annual meeting right now. This is my sixth in a row. I'm not on duty at this one, but doing child care and seeing old friends. I also wanted to be sure to attend the memorial service they have annually that recognizes funeral directors and their close relatives who have died in the past year. In spite of the fact that this event garnered public snickering last week in Style Weekly's The Score, I wanted to be present.

I knew six people who would be remembered this year. I had been to some of their funerals but not all, so I wanted a chance to remember them and honor their lives. I also assumed the best about a service organized by the pros. So this afternoon I got my son dressed up, explained what the service would be like, and off we went.

And then, after less than thirty minutes, as the sermon began, we stood up, and left. That's a first for me. Rather than enumerate the choices made in this service that I found to be heartless and narrow-minded, I will speak in the positive and the general.

When doing public worship for a SECULAR professional organization with over fifty mourning family members of different religions (not to mention the dozens of friends and colleagues)...

1) Refrain from making those gathered affirm a particular denomination's beliefs through words or actions. (Gathered at the throne? One true word? Stand in affirmation of God's word? - oh wait. Not enumerating. Not enumerating.) Instead use language that connects people who have all come together for a common reason - loss of a loved one.

2) Close your prayers with inviting spiritual words that could be appreciated by people of a variety of religious backgrounds. Not everyone prays in Jesus' name. Not everyone believes in the holy spirit. Not everyone... oops, let me move on.

3) Offer variety in the service in music, readings, speakers that speaks to different ages, beliefs, genders.

4) Don't you ever dare call the god-as-you-know-it "Daddy" on behalf of all gathered and not expect to be openly ridiculed on the internet.

Oh, wait. That wasn't positive. So true, but not positive.

Preachers, at a public gathering - we aren't your church. We are not gathered for you. We aren't interested in how YOUR people do it. It is safer to assume that no one agrees with you and speak the truth as you know it carefully, with an open and humble heart. Those who confuse public ritual with a specific religion's worship alienate the very people for whom they were supposed to hold up meaning. This isn't your prophetic moment. When you get confused about this, you fail to do what you were called to do in the first place.

And leaders of secular organizations who let this sort of thing happen, appear to not care about their membership at large. As I was walking out I thought: I guess this organization is only for conservative American Christians of one denomination. That's ok. Just advertise the fact. Don't ambush people in pain at a service of remembrance.

Oh, and as for the guy in the exhibit hall using racial slurs in hearing range of everyone... yes, we all did hear you. Your advertising was in clear and garish neon.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Side Effects?

I am born again. Thanks to the bright and helpful rheumatologist we will call Dr. Superstar, I have less pain than I have had in years. Possibly 15 years. The sky is bluer. The jokes are funnier. Everyone is good-looking.

No. Dr. Superstar did not send me to Canada for r & r. He put me on steroids for a brief time until I start the big gun meds. Steroids rock!

The deep lines in my brow from pain have virtually disappeared. My fussiness in the AM is gone. I had to run 20 feet to grab something quickly and... I could.

Why am I telling you this? Many of my readers already figured it out by the times my blog entries were posting. Others saw it in the time stamp of my emails... Mama hasn't slept much this week. I've been working every night until 2:30 or so. Happily. In the comfort of my own body.

Side effect. Superstar warned me and said with a smile, "You'll have enough energy to clean your neighbor's house, too."

I know that steroids are a dangerous drug. I know that I only get to feel the fantabulous, beautiful, amazing relief of them for two weeks. But I also know that I haven't felt like this in years. I feel my age for a change. Who knew I am so young?

Male secondary sexual side effects? So what? Might go blind? Who cares? Can't participate in the Beijing Olympics? Well, that one is kind of a bummer. But instead I will write the next Rocky screenplay, put in my two cents in California government, and meet lots of baseball players.

Hey, let's go outside and lift my neighbor's Mini Cooper!

The Spouse's Surprise

Came home tonight to find my husband watching The Incredibles. That's odd. He has seen that movie 20 times with the kids and begs them to watch ANYTHING else.

I walk in the door and he's grinning in front of The Incredibles. Turns out that through hard work, coupon acquisition, internet research, and good luck we have TV again. Hi-def even. We have 12 channels or something. He was doing channel inventory, not watching.

I tried to be supportive and enthusiastic. We were just hours away from Father's Day, after all. But since we de-cabled, I've moved beyond TV. I've developed other interests. I have become immune to the lure of the idiot box.

Wait. Wait! Go back. Was that EastEnders? SWEET! No. Don't turn it off. Let me just see a second... minute... episode or two.

For those of you who are not British or have cable: EastEnders is a long running Brit soap opera about a working class neighborhood. It shows up on PBS late night. I love it. I watched a bunch when I was pregnant.

I don't know who anyone is. I can't understand half the accents. The episodes run in willy nilly order so I can't keep up with it. The clothes and hair are anti-glam and garish. And the credit music is ridiculous.

Love it.
Quote of the night, "Why down't you goin geyt yo glad rags on, shweetie. Show day boys whot's whot."
What the?
Oddly, the spouse was not as enchanted. He did however approve when the glad rags outfit entered the scene.

Father's Day

Twenty years and I have not cleaned one single toilet.

It would have been enough.

In the past months when I have been sick, I am granted a nap pass at dinner time.

It would have been enough.

All the years of leaving my shoes in the living room and my tissues in the bed.

It would have been enough.

Constant interaction with my HUGE family.

It would have been enough.

Creating our babies and being attentive, loving and patient with us all.
Enough already!
Happy Father's Day to my husband, also known as the man behind the curtain.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Equal Parts

Being sick is BORING. Tonight I am finally blogging again because the latest latest meds have given me insomnia. I can't find the book I've been reading. And because there has been subtle but insistent harumphing among the blog fans. Also, I have gathered enough amusing things so as to not be BORING. I hope.

The 5 year old Little Man has been equal parts antagonist, stone-cold liar, and charming comforter. Recent quotes include: "Don't be sad, mama. If you have to be in a wheelchair, we can watch TV whenever we want! Dada will have to turn the cable back on then." And "When I die and they burn me into ashes, if you sift through the ashes there will be a little clump of gum."

In brighter Little Man events, he helped lead Vespers this week. I choked up a little as he sang along to "Come Sing a Song With Me" and when he wrote his gift of advice on a card to share: Be Cind to Uthr Peepul. On the flip side of his personality, he fessed up to the sabotage of my brand new med pack. "Those pills shouldn't pop out so easily." And he has offered his hand in marriage to another school chum. This one is a girl. The last one was a boy. Both have cable and dads who are professional musicians. At least he knows his type.

The 2 year old is equal parts attitude, charm, and surprise. In the past week she has gone to school in full firefighting gear, cowboy boots and bicycle helmet, and covered in stickers and homemade tattoos. The church crew has started calling her mini-me.

Tonight in the car she requested our favorite, Billy Ray Hatley and the Showdogs, on the hi-fi. I blasted several of her beloved Billy songs and left one on after we pulled up to the house. She climbed onto the console between the front seats, thrashed her curls, sashayed her teeny butt, and hollered, "Sing it, Bill-ay!!!"

Them apples. They don't fall far, do they?

The crew at physical therapy have been starting new things on me since I don't seem to be kicking this flare-up. They seem to be trying equal parts ingenuity and agony. I've had 8 perfectly symmetrical bruises down one shin for a week. They are the prints of my therapist's bony but magic fingers. I have laughed about this only because both the bruises and the procedure that caused them hurt way less than the underlying condition. And they make me look like I was attacked by a far-sighted, snub-nosed woodpecker.

Today the therapist gave me a new gizmo to try. I've been wearing a back brace for about a month now, just for an hour or two a day, or when I remember (ahem). It is an elastic and velcro engineering wonder. Now I have a sacral brace to match. It's mostly elastic except for the thing that looks like a giant clothing security tag that presses my spine down at the sacrum. I wore them both for a walk this evening. I moved with the upper body grace of the Tin Man mixed with equal parts Mummy and safety harnessed Trapeze Artist.

If I gotta' wear crap like this, somebody had better start prescribing narcotics. In equal parts.

They don't prepare you for this in seminary, folks. Maybe when I'm feeling better I'll share some of the fascinating Frank O'Hara and Wislawa Szymborska stuff I've been reading. Maybe when I'm feeling better, I'll give a hoot again about some of the larger issues within religion, the world, and cleaning our house. (Okay, let's be honest - maybe when I'm feeling better but AFTER I've gone to hear some live music.)

I do have one spiritual thing to say. I was greatly comforted and moved by last Sunday's service when the pianist played Kermit the Frog's "Over the Rainbow" and the guest musician did "Hambone." Inspiration comes in a lot of shapes, doesn't it?

Come out for our evening service this weekend. 6PM Sunday and it will be about a sense of home. It was inspired by our trip to Mississippi. No. I will not be wearing the velcro. My physical therapist might be there, though. Watch out for her fingers.