Monday, August 30, 2010

Falling Down

                                            Denis and our youngest granddaughter, Ava.

Two nights ago Denis fell down. I don’t remember the last time he fell down. The problem with being married to me is that it’s now public. When it happened he says he lay there a minute calling, but I didn’t hear because I was running the kitchen faucet. When he stumbled in with blood running down his face, scrapes on his palms and knees, he looked deathly. If I had ran out seen him pitched face down on the sidewalk, his computer sliding to the steps, there might have been two casualties.

My first cry, WHAT HAPPENED, followed by WHAT were you doing outside in the dark with your computer? Silence. (My first clue that he was going to stonewall, but I niggled it out.) He’d forgotten to send an email and internet was down, (Again!) but if we walk to the end of our driveway we can pick up a signal from a hotel a block away. That’s what he was doing, even tho it coulda waited until morning. On the way back to the porch he twisted his ankle when he accidentally stepped off  the sidewalk and rather than save himself he tried to protect his computer. It was mostly painful scrapes and a very bruised hand. (Didn’t prevent awesome scratches to his computer which now makes mine look nearly invisible.) But HUGE scare. Good grief. Our first thoughts were what if he couldn’t get to St. Louis where he is defending his capstone project this afternoon.

It’s happening in a few minutes because we’re here and he’s mostly okay, tho a little nervous. His computer survived the fall so powerpoint still works. His eye is swollen and his right hand is twice normal size and hurts, so he can’t shake hands. If he did he’d fall to his knees, which for some profs somewhere, might misinterpret, but not here, they're a humble bunch. So they’ll probably hug him.

His topic is ordinary Christians being faithful in an alien and increasingly pluralistic society. Grossly oversimplified, but very much his calling and emphasis since I’ve first known him. So he's here, today, being faithful himself, even though a lot of life is about falling down. I fall down enough (literally and otherwise) and why does that make me feel stupid and old? It shouldn't, but it’s kind of nice to have my spouse down here with me. I look forward to celebrating this event tonight when it’s all over.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chewed by Squirrels

Last night we slept with the window open. The unconditioned air was soft and cool, pooling and rippling across the bed. This morning’s temp was 47 degrees. Pancakes and sweater weather.

 That makes up a little - us needing to come back from a week off. The Kaufman’s cabin, so picturesque and inviting was a restful gift to us and our family. Sometimes the lake water felt warmer than the air and you could float through surface layers that made you lazily dangle your feet until you hit gasping pockets of ice way below where fish monsters dwell. We never tire of watching loons dive and call, reading in the sun, playing Snorta with the children, eating grilled slabs of meat. Favorite comment: “Could this please not be a winning game?”  Paige, 5.

This week our wireless has constantly been dropping. We’re certain squirrels have chewed through the wires out there at the utility pole. They’ve done it before, but getting Charter to actually check it is like getting Heidi Klum to be nice. The tech comes out and we learn our modem is on the fritz after all. He also discovers the old cable coming up through the floor was stapled and dry-walled into the basement ceiling, circa 1989, is completely unreachable (and WHO did THAT?) and it’s so old it’s first generation cable wire and with the wireless we are paying for, it is like attaching a garden hose to a fire hydrant. He’s been here and gone, service is still rotten.

My computer is also unhappy, spiking a temperature, rising to 99 degrees C with only a few programs running. A thermal sensor gone bad, my Mac mentor thinks. I’ll need to take it to the Apple Store, and he coaches me on how to talk to the geniuses there. They’re not likely to listen to me. And WHY is THAT? So he says call him in Tallahassee and he will pick up even if he’s teaching class. That’s love, huh?

These don’t seem like trials, not compared to what could be happening or what is happening to so many elsewhere. I know that and I apologize. So leave it here: work is a challenge to everyone. And so are other things.

But I’m listening to Paul. He says: “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope.” (I Thess. 1:3) I need all of this - the linking process laid out clearly. I want it sopped up, festooned on my dull heart and head - especially: Your endurance inspired by hope. Kiss my pathology good-bye. It is Christ I love and work for and hope in. Everything else gets chewed by the squirrels.

Monday, August 16, 2010


When it’s hot and humid I don’t willingly turn on the oven. Our kitchen is hotter these days what with the boulevard trees gone. Makes my sweat glands spurt just to walk in there. Still, friends and visitors gather – we need one another in the midst of celebrations, collapses or just in the ordinary waves of heat. So we planned a simple, cool menu. Anita helped execute – not the same as killed. This freed me up to go to my office to lick ice cubes and google the latest pandemic. Sorry no photos.

The chicken rice salad we made looks gorgeous when mounded on a platter and garnished liberally with alternating slices of tomato, avocado and lemon wedges around the edge. People love it. Nothing more needed than a nice bread. Rounded out with Margie’s pretty low-class sangria: red wine, frozen cranberry juice concentrate, sliced limes and Ginger Ale. (Amounts are dump as you go and taste liberally to adjust flavor.) Dessert: fresh blueberries and limoncello (gift from Peggy who made it) spooned over vanilla ice cream.

Dinner was ready when everyone arrived. It’s been awhile since we saw Ann, who is fond of surprise visits, dropping in from wherever the State Dept. posts her and her husband, Rusty. Latest is Amman, Jordan. She used to be on our board of directors, but we had to kick her off because she was always off to Turkey or Cuba. This time I knew she was coming.

She walked in, arms loaded, not wasting a moment, began with, “And I brought some fresh peaches picked just yesterday in Michigan. I’ll just slice some into wine glasses here and then we’ll pour this great white wine over them. And here’s some mango peach chutney I made, we can eat that now with this brie (she pulls a large round of it out of the bag, rummages in my drawers for plate and knife) and some crackers!” She quickly loads one dripping with cheese and chutney and thrusts it in my mouth. I’m laughing because WHO does that unless you’re just SO comfortable with yourself and so assured people will love what you love as much as you do? And we hadn’t seen her for two years? Her aplomb is delicious.

Chicken Rice Salad

1 c. diced or pulled chicken (if really lazy or hot buy a rotisserie chicken at market)
3 c. cooked rice
¼ c. sliced celery
¼ c. sliced stuffed olives
¼ c. chopped green pepper
¼ c. chopped pimento or red pepper
¼ minced onion
¼ t. salt, pepper.
½ c. mayonnaise
Mix. Chill. To serve mound on a platter and surround with garnish of sliced avacado, lemon wedges and tomato. Serves 3. (Easy to ramp up amounts for more servings. This is great leftover the next day, too.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Making Coffee

After I made a mess of my blog header the other day and was waiting for help (it was coming, but life can get out of hand like maybe Mathew’s kids or backed up sewers, I don’t know… - he’s our managing editor, and a good one), anyway Jeremy Huggins took pity. I didn’t even ask. Not that he doesn’t owe me a case of bottled cokes and chocolate milk. I probably have to let that go now because he tweaked until I really like it. I hope you do too, but that sort of feels like I’m asking if I look fat in this. Before he signed off tonight he asked me about fonts and I had to tell him fonts make me really nervous. I don’t know what to choose; they make me feel like I’m in Walmart wearing a pair of pajama bottoms and a tank top pulled tight over my belly, because I DON’T know it looks bad. It’s not as though I’m the new editor of W magazinewho has pulled in a new font for their cover. (New editors seem to need to do this like Tomcats mark territory, but again, I shouldn’t be saying.) He says, “…and then it is a new logo,…in a new typeface [called] Benton. It’s kind of skinny, it’s very vertical. It’s very elegant and it is italic, with a sense of movement, evolution.” Yes, well, it would be wouldn’t it? But that does leave me, oh, feeling inadequate and confused like I did about two weeks ago when I was trying to decide on a new font for Notes From Toad Hall. I finally ended up choosing a Garamond, not because Bonnie badgered me to death she didn’t, she just said, and this was after trying dozens of them: “I still stand by Garamond for you. It looks good.” I did read somewhere that it has smooth curves and simple serifs and could be said to portray an easy-going beauty. I hope for that and more. Tomorrow Jeremy will advise.

He should, I mean he could, because he’s just launched a new website. For all your editing and writing needs or just for fun check out REWORDSMITH. It’s elegant and quirky and although he is very opinionated about commas, he is kind about your abuse of them. I totally, prayerfully wish him the best.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who Did That?

Okay, if you visit here in the next day or so. You will be able to tell from the header mess up top that something is wrong. No, I haven’t been hacked. I’d like to pretend that huge cup of coffee was spilled across the top by some ruthless idiot. Let’s admit it was Haacked. By me. I suddenly became enthused by change and rather than wait for our web master to help; Look, Mommy! I did it myself. As soon as he gets a chance he’ll fix it, but meantime, I’m, well, I’m… look, we each have to live with ourselves, however embarrassing. Like you, Denis. You eat Durkee French Fried Onion Rings from the CAN. (You know the brown turdy things on top of green bean casserole, so famous in Minnesota? He sneaks them from the pantry shelf. I swear I don’t know how they get there.) There. I feel much better about that header up there.