Sunday, June 29, 2008

Misc. thoughts on a quiet Sunday afternoon

Just like that things can change.

As of this past Wednesday, Wife and I are "childless." Older Son is off to see a buddy in PA for a few days; Daughter left for the beach; and the "baby" left for camp for 25 days.

So after writing about the chaos, now I'm writing about the quiet. And oh my, is it quiet.

Ralph the Dog loves the peace and quiet and orderliness. He keeps watch from his perch on the sofa . . . or the chair that gets direct sunlight . . . or wherever he so chooses. His mother has finally decided to quit sweating the small stuff and let him have free reign over the house. (He always has, really; it just took her a few years to accept it).

Anyway, Wife and I took in a movie Friday Night. "Get Smart" is definitely worth the price of admission (at least for the matinee) if you are old enough to remember and were a fan of the TV show -- as I am and was. The humor might pass over the heads, however, of those for whom this would be their first introduction to Agents 86 and 99. I thought Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway both did great jobs.

We spent a few hours in the basement yesterday afternoon, cleaning and straightening and asking the age-old question: how the **** did we accumulate all this stuff? Better yet, why have we held onto it all these years?! We filled up Older Son's truck with a load of throw-aways and stuff to be recycled. It was definitely a productive afternoon and here's the new rule at our house: nothing new comes in unless something old goes out! With the understanding, of course, that I can't be the thing that goes out!

Saw a great symphony performance last night with another couple. Wife and I splurged last year and bought a season ticket package and we feel so cultured. The guest performer last night was a 15-year-old violinist. She was incredible and on the way home the four of us all speculated about her life. Has she devoted it in its entirety to music? Has she had any sense of a normal childhood? Have her parents pushed her to the point of burnout? Has it all been worth it? Poor girl, little did she know she was being picked apart by four old fogies with seemingly nothing better to do.

Older Son and Wife will make a quick beach trip this week. I got over the beach in summer a long time ago (I have early onset 'curmedgeonliness') and am glad for them to be able to go without me. They'll bring Daughter back with them, and she has some college friends coming for July 4 weekend.

So what has been a quiet (and clean) house for a few days will soon become Grand Central Station once again. Ralph and I better grab that nap while we can.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

LIfe Goes On This Summer

In August of 2004 we packed up Older Son and took him to college. Wife and I took turns crying all the way home.

Last August Daughter started college. When we told her goodbye, Wife had to pull me away and drive me home.

We soon got used to life with only Younger Son at home. His needs are simple -- an occasional ride somewhere, infrequent help with homework, your basic essentials like food and shelter. Overall he is extremely low maintenance.

Just last month Older Son boomeranged back home. Daughter is home for the summer. Various boyfriends and girlfriends come to visit. There are comings and goings almost around the clock. The dog is a nervous wreck with all the activity and would, I suspect, be just as happy if things would quiet down again.

The garage, which just two months ago was neat as a pin, is filled with what Older Son and Daughter claim are valuable belongings but for which there is no room in the house.

The washer and drier are going most of the time and I fear Al Gore would not be happy with our collective carbon footrpint (but I do recycle). Someone is usually in the kitchen looking for something to eat. The driveway resembles a parking lot.

There are times these days when I become expasperated, when I long for order, when I would like to be able to complete a thought and maybe even transfer that thought into a sentence without fear of interruption or cross-examination.

Just recently when I confidentially conveyed such thinking to Wife, she, in her infinite wisdom, reminded me that these days will soon pass. Not only will the older two be gone again, she said, but the "baby," he of upwards of six feet and 200 pounds, will follow them. Things will be neat and orderly and you will sit here and count the days until you can go see them or they will come to see you, she told me. So enjoy these days.

She was right of course, as she usually is.

So we are enjoying these days at our house. Tomorrow night we're hosting a cookout for their friends who are home this summer. Typically, they have not been able to give us much definite information about the numbers but if we'll just grill a few burgers and chicken breasts, that will be great, they have told us.

Of course Wife has bought enough for a small army and is preparing all the trimmings. It will be total chaos over here tomorrow night and there will be young folks coming and going into the wee hours. We'll be exhausted by the next morning.

But most of all, it will be great fun. And we will continue to savor these great days of summer.

Friday, June 20, 2008

High Church

Wrote this last summer:

July 16, 2007

I spent an hour and a half Saturday in what had to be a preview of Heaven.

An old friend, a guy I worked with during a summer job in the mountains in 1981 and with whom I have maintained infrequent contact during the interim period, was ordained into the priesthood of the Episcopal Church. He was kind enough to invite me to attend and I really wanted to make the effort. This is, obviously, a major mid-life career adjustment for him, one that is going to constitute a lifestyle change that is only beginning.

The ordination took place in Georgia, not a short drive from home. But as the weekend neared, it looked as though the stars would align so that all family members would be otherwise occupied and I could make it.

I grew up in a mainline Christian denomination with a modest amount of liturgy. Most of my adult life, however, has been in a non-denominational megachurch. It has been a blessing to me. As with so many good things, though, there are trade-offs, one of which is a lack of tradition. The Evangelical church, in its effort to draw the nonbeliever, or “seeker,” has largely eschewed many of the practices and rubrics to which we former mainliners were once accustomed. That is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing -- it’s just a fact.

This past Saturday, however, I experienced a taste of “high church” and I am not the same. The glorious organ music, the clergy adorned in red vestments, the responsive readings and the kneeling in prayer called me to a place of worship where I sensed the Divine in a way that refreshed and blessed my soul.

My friend, the new priest, solemnly took vows to model himself after Christ and devote himself to a life of service. I believe that’s a pretty good vow for any of us who would seek to follow the One who gave up His life for us.

I went to support my friend and wish him well. I came away changed. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Bless Her Heart

OK I found a little more time. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago for Pearl Soup but never posted it. Since I've left that site I'll post it here. I promise not to make every post political.

Bless her heart.

That’s what I find myself saying as I see Hillary Clinton, finally, accepting the realization that she will not be the Democratic nominee for president.

We all know that, in the south, such a blessing is not necessarily a positive statement, as in “Bless her heart, she was just always so power hungry.”

But in this instance I am invoking the blessing because I am finding myself, of all things, feeling sorry for the lady. I keep asking myself why.

I met Hillary a couple of times in the early 1980s when I had just finished law school. I was a law clerk for a circuit judge in Little Rock and she was a litigator at the Rose Firm which, at the time, was just another stuffy prestigious law firm.

Bill Clinton had been elected governor of Arkansas in 1978. His wife’s name was not Clinton.

In 1980, a businessman named Frank White rode into the Arkansas governor’s office on the coattails of Ronald Reagan, defeating the young Clinton by not only riding those aforementioned coattails, but also by convincing Arkansas voters that Clinton had been, quite simply, too big for his britches. White never made Hillary Rodham an issue but he did not have to. There was plenty of whispering about this wife who, bless her heart, would not take her husband’s name.

Fast forward two years (at the time Arkansas had two-year gubernatorial terms) to 1982. Clinton, after licking his wounds, is back with the new version of Hillary -- Hillary Rodham Clinton -- by his side, with a new hairdo and contact lenses. He soundly defeats Governor White, he and Hillary move back into the governor’s mansion and, well, you know the rest of the story.

I was no fan of either of them when I lived in Arkansas, nor am I today. I would never, ever vote for either of them. Not in this lifetime; not on this planet.

So why on God’s green earth do I find myself feeling sorry for her?

I guess it is because, in spite of my belief that she is in fact power hungry (bless her heart), I know she has to be smarting a bit. She totally compromised when she took his name all those years ago in order to appease the people of a small southern state. She has had to explain herself over and over when I know she really did not think she should have to do so. And Lord knows she suffered more than a few indignities, bless her heart, when Bill had his little, ahem, problems of indiscretion.

Becoming a United States Senator has, I am sure, been some consolation. But for a number of years now, her eye has been on the ultimate prize, the one that would finally validate her and perhaps serve as some vindication for the things she for so long endured .

At least for now, it is not to be. From out of the blue came this young upstart, babbling on and on about change-this and change-that with about as much depth as a thimble. For whatever reason, whether they were tired of the Clinton dynasty or truly believed the upstart could deliver what he promised (whatever that may be), her party rejected her historic bid.

To be sure, we have not heard the last of her. She may well be the upstart’s running mate. She might make another run for the coveted office. But, for now, she must accept the fact that it is over. After years of compromise and pride-swallowing, that has to hurt.

And for that, all I can say is bless her heart.

First Entry

OK here goes. After becoming totally disillusioned, disappointed and angry with Pearl Soup, where a few spoiled it for the rest of us, I have given up. I am done. At the urging of a good friend, I'm starting here at blogspot. This is all I have time for today but look forward to posting some fun stuff and maybe even learning how to add photos. I'm still pretty technically challenged. Lucky for me I have three offspring who are ready to help!