In which I choose to believe in good.

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St. Rufus of Metzwpid-cam00498.jpgOver two years ago, I wrote a post about how I destroyed a Moka coffee pot by leaving it on the burner while I went to help my neighbor jump his car.  This is only one of a series of Moka pots I’ve destroyed in various ways, which is why I think maybe I shouldn’t use complicated machines (does a Moka pot really qualify as a machine?) when I’m caffeine deprived.  The neighbor and the neighbor’s car survived the experience just fine.  I would see him and his family every once in a while, and we’d say hi.  When the windows were open in the summer, sometimes I could hear his wife trying to get the kids out the door in the morning.  The guy gave me a nameless bad feeling, so I didn’t go out of my way to be any more friendly than politeness demanded.  But we were neighbors.

Wednesday morning when AP and I were leaving for work, we noticed that there were several news vans from the major local tv stations parked around our corner.  We couldn’t see anything much going on, so I assumed that something must have happened at the hospital on the corner.  It made me curious, so on my lunch break I checked out their website.  What I found out was horrible.

Apparently my neighbor had been abusive towards his girlfriend (I guess they weren’t married after all) for some time.  Very late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, things came to a head.  He shot her in their bed, killing her, and then tried to kill himself.  All of their kids were in the home at the time.  It was one of the children who called 911.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of situations like this on the news, in books, on tv shows.  I’ve even had to call the police myself when a man who lived next door to me decided to start beating on his girlfriend.  I’ve helped employees who were victims of abuse find help to recover.  I know the signs of abusive relationships.  But none of that struck home as hard as watching the news segment, and seeing the back of my own home behind the police cruisers.

Lately it seems like there has been a lot of bad news.  The woman who usually sits next to me in choir has missed a couple of weeks because her son in law just died after a long, excruciating illness.  Someone I care about found out that the cancer they beat a few years ago is back for Round 2.  None of it is really my bad news, but still.  My usual autumn asthma has been especially brutal this year, which wears me out, makes me worry and grieve for these things more.

wpid-cam00514.jpgBut there are good things too.  Flo just got engaged.  Next April The Duchess will be giving us another niece or nephew to dote on.  Pippi is back in Dayton, and little by little moving in to our place.  After months of no news, there has been a spate of articles about the kidnapped Nigerian girls I’ve been praying for, some tragic & awful, but some cautiously hopeful.  At the least it gives me hope that these girls have not been forgotten, which means they still have a chance.  So I’m choosing to remember those things, and I’ll keep praying.

Today I am praying for Patiant Dzakwa.

In which you should not interrupt the chocolate.

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St. Edward the Confessor

I have exactly ten minutes to blog before I have to go get changed for my after-work yoga class (Related: I do not understand how my body can hurt like I just spent a whole weekend dancing after only one hour of yoga), so I thought I’d share a little niece-cute with you.

wpid-cam00497.jpgThis is Little Bug, completely flummoxed by me trying to get her to smile for the camera when she is clearly engaged in far more important things, namely eating chocolate dirt cake.  Seriously, who interrupts chocolate eating just because they want you to smile?  Who does that?

Um, well, apparently I do.  But I won’t do it ever again, Little Bug, I swear!

In which I join the choir.

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The Holy Archangels

One of my favorite things about the parish I attend is their choir.  They sing both enthusiastically and well (two things that do not always go together).  Plus, they sing really good music, throwing in pieces from The Messiah, or a little something by Bach, you know, just for kicks and giggles.  I inquired about joining the choir back when I first started going to St. Anthony’s, but gave it up when I found out they rehearsed on Wednesday nights.  At the time Wednesday nights were sacred to swing dancing, and doing anything else was unthinkable.  But things change.  The unthinkable happened, and I found myself staying home on Wednesday nights more than I went dancing.  Still for a long time I wasn’t willing to completely give up the idea of going dancing, which would be implied if I actually signed up for another commitment on the same night.

Then last October I suddenly found myself in a hospital bed getting a blood transfusion and contemplating what was to be the first of two surgeries.  I decided then that when (not if) I got better, I was going to join the choir.  It took me a little longer to get there than I had hoped, but one Sunday in August after 10am Mass, I made my way up the windy stairs to the choir loft, and informed the choir director that I wanted to be one of them.  She told me that was lovely, rehearsals started the first Wednesday after Labor Day, and she would see me then. She did see me then, and every Wednesday since.

I’ve been singing with the choir for three Sundays now, and I absolutely love it.  Everyone else has been in the choir for approximately forever.  The lady I sat next to my first day told me she had been in the choir for 34 years, and had been in the youth choir before that.  She moved to another city about half an hour away, but she’s still in choir.  Because everyone has been there for so long, the issue of where you sit and what hymnal you use is a Very Big Deal.  Right now I am allowed to sit in the front row because the lady who usually occupies that seat is out sick for a while.  She’s expected back any Sunday now, and then I will have to move to a seat in the 2nd row, which is open because its previous occupant is now dead (this or extreme ill health seem to be the only way that anyone ever leaves the choir).  The hymnal I use has the initials MAI on it.  I was given to understand that it was ok for me to use that book on a regular basis, since MAI has retired from the choir.  However, if she ever comes back to sing with the choir for a special occasion, it’s her hymnal, and she gets it back.  I find all of this rather hilarious, and I kinda hope she does come back, just so I can meet the woman who really owns my hymnal.  I wonder where she sits?

Since the choir has been singing together for so long, they have a huge repertoire of songs under their belt.  So rehearsal for them is usually not so much about learning the songs as refreshing everyone’s memory.  At our first rehearsal, they passed out a piece by Bach.  We breezed through it a couple of times, the choir director corrected a couple of little things, and then announced that we would be performing that one on Sunday.  We did, handed the sheet music back in, and haven’t seen it since.  There are a few things we see more than once, usually the pieces by modern composers who are overly enamored of throwing extra sharps in every once in a while just to make sure the choir is still awake (we give their names on the cover narrow-eyed looks, like a sort of choir loft voodoo).  All this means is that I’m sight-reading about 90% of the time, especially on the basic hymns, which we usually don’t rehearse at all.  After all, we’ve all sung them 1000 times, right?  Except this is the choir version, which has parts you’ve never seen before, and you’re expected to sing that, not the melody you could sing in your sleep.  This is when belonging to a family who thinks Happy Birthday should be sung in 10 or 11 part harmony comes in really, really handy.  So I do apologize for butchering the alto part the first time through I Am The Bread Of Life last Sunday – it took me a run through or two to get it down.

So, you know, I’m having the time of my life.  And it’s going to get better.  Last week I got an email from the choir director asking me if I might perhaps have any interest in cantoring.  And, well, yeah!  The schedule is already set between now and December, so it won’t be for a while.  But when it comes, it will be awesome.

Today I am praying for Lydia Simon.

In which there are 7 Fun Things for Friday

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Sts. Cosmas & Damian

— 1 —

V8930What I’m Working On This Week

Remember how last year I was all, “I need a new coat!  Let’s go fabric shopping!”  Then I saw the design above, fleece fabric went on sale at Fabric Mart, and suddenly I was the proud owner of lots of fleece and a new pattern.  A weekend or so later I cut out lots of patterns at once, hoping to shove them through in the manner of a high-efficiency sewer or similar.  (I know.  You can stop laughing now.) The pieces were folded on one of my dining room chairs for a while, then tied into a bundle and shoved into a corner of the sewing room.  After a while the bundle got taken upstairs to my bedroom (I think I thought I would work on it while I was sick), and tossed from place to place whenever it was getting in the way.  Every once in a while a sleeve or coat front would try to make its escape, and I would shove it ruthlessly back into the bundle.  And that’s how it stayed for quite a while.

However, cold weather can be quite motivating.  Last week I untied the bundle for the first time in a year, and looked over the directions.  That was when I realized how truly criminally easy this would be to put together.  Sunday evening I sat down with my sewing machine, sewed the thing up, and tried it on. Lo and behold, it is really excessively cute.  I should have taken a picture (because you need more badly lit pictures of me in my dining room).  It still needs pockets, a little seam finishing, and a way to keep it closed (I’m thinking a couple of really big snaps), and then I will have a new light winter coat.  Hurrah!

— 2 —

Something Useful: Confidence Builder

Turns out that if you pose as if you are super confident, you will feel more confident.  Which is pretty cool.

— 3 —

The Breakfast AutocratI Am My Own Boswell

The other day, I saw this really cute vintage kitchen print titled The Breakfast Autocrat, which led me to looking up the essay by Oliver Wendell Holmes that it’s referencing.  The subtitle of the piece is “Every Man His Own Boswell,” and Holmes quotes himself as saying, “It is a capital plan to carry a tablet with you, and, when you find yourself felicitous, take notes of your own conversation.”  I kinda love that.  It makes me want to start another blog called I Am My Own Boswell, or maybe just My Own Boswell.  Maybe one day….

— 4 —

Food Inspiration

52 Foods posted a list 15 Hors D’oeuvres For Fall, and now I’m thinking about how fun it would be to throw a Dinner Party again.  The Crispy Spice Brined Pecans look especially good. (Also brining nuts?  Who knew!)  So do the Chevre Devils, though God knows I’m a sucker for anything with goat cheese.  I might have to dust off the good china and start writing a guest list.

— 5 —

I’m Too Pretty To Work Today

So the other day I was chatting with a friend, and we agreed that the weather was way too gorgeous outside to be inside working.  We decided that there should be an official It’s Too Pretty Outside To Work Day, a discretionary holiday where you could call in one day a year, no questions asked.  Justification would be a print out of the weather report.

Then we decided that the companion holiday should be the I’m Too Pretty To Work Day, for those really, really good hair days when you know your gorgeousness would be wasted at the office.  It would also be a discretionary holiday, maybe only one every two years.  The only requirement would be that you have to come in and take a new badge picture that day.  So if your hair really wasn’t all that good, you just have to live with the consequences.

— 6 —

Reading List

One of my favorite books in the world is Bellwether by Connie Willis.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  Just this last week I found myself describing it to a friend like this:

It’s like this cross between sci-fi that’s actually about science and mad cap screwball comedy, with a shot of romance.  It’s all about trends and chaos theory and how fashions get started and how to survive acronym ridden corporate culture. It also features the worst administrative assistant in the world named Flip.

This is why I was super excited when I saw that Happy Catholic had reviewed it.  Go read the review, and then go read the book.  You won’t be sorry!

— 7 —

What, My Eyes Are Sweating

Now that’s a good dad.

Today I am praying for Yana Bukar.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

In which there are the prettiest radishes you ever did see.

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Sts. Zachary & Elizabeth

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Every Saturday morning I go down to the Farmers Market that’s taken over what used to be the Dayton train station. This is not the train station for people (which is now an expanse of crumbling asphalt under a highway overpass), but the one where freight came and went. It’s a long, narrow building with market stalls tucked into what used to be cargo bays.  It has one long aisle down the center where shoppers duck and squeeze their way through, trying to avoid getting clobbered by one person’s massive arm load of flowers while dodging the wide eyed newbies who have decided that right in the middle of the aisle is a fantastic place to contemplate the breakfast menu at the South American/ Lebanese stall, sliding past the suburban family with their double wide stroller, and if they’re lucky, still arriving at the dairy stall before they sell out of Greek yogurt. It’s a great way to start off a weekend, especially since,  though the dairy man may sell out of his rich, non-homogenized milk awfully fast, Caffeine Carl never runs out of coffee.

And then sometimes you find ridiculously beautiful things, like this little bunch of radishes I picked up from Mile Creek Farms, one of my favorite vendors. They were on top of a whole pile of radishes that were just the same, all gleaming in the morning sun as if such pink and white prettiness was just the way radishes always look. (What, this old thing? I only wear it when I don’t care how I look!)

So of course I had to bring a bunch home with me, and take some pictures. Then I ate them for lunch, with Amish butter on rye pumpkin seed bread and a scatter of kosher salt. It was all from the Farmers Market, and all of it was good.

Today I am praying for Deborah Amos.

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