Thursday, May 31, 2012

the pom among us

Yeah, so the dog is still here.
He comes if you shout 'Bonzo' really loudly and hysterically.
He has no microchip.
He has no tags.
He isn't being sought after on Craig's List.
I'm going to see what the paper can do for me today, and the Humane Society has written my message down on a piece of paper, may they not loose it. The next step is posters put up around the neighborhood this weekend.

Meanwhile, he seems to have made friends with everyone and especially likes to sit on the feet of whoever is making dinner, which has wrought much cussing and screaming as both Matt and I end up a mass of contusions from tripping over him in the dinner rush. He's also terribly behaved. He barks at all other dogs, even dogs who could eat him, and goes on barking until you pick him up and scuttle home in shame. He sits in the living room and barks just if he feels like it. He sits in the back yard and barks at the sounds he hears over the hedge. And then he growls when you try to take him inside and he doesn't want to go. BUT all that is worth it to see Matt holding him sheepishly and also walking him round the block, stopping every few seconds a la Cesar Milan to do that SHWEUP bite thing to make him stop barking at everything.

I won't hold him or walk him because I already have a dog. As for me and my dog, we are extremely embarrassed by the behavior of that dog and we stand around and gaze up to heaven as he is forced to sit until he stops barking.

I don't know what the Almighty is thinking. In the meantime, as I move about the house in the daily pursuit of my various and sundry domestic rites, I am followed by the gentle clicking of these two psuedo dogs and a couple of babies, and, in the far off distance, one or two cats who also cannot imagine what the Almighty must be thinking.

Monday, May 28, 2012

why I'm a calvinist

My favorite part of The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, and I'm going from memory here, goes something like
Laid a fleece. If a midget in a Japanese admiral's uniform arrives at the door at 9:04 precisely, I would know that God wanted me to sing carols.
Wish I'd had the presence of mind to lay just such a fleece this evening. Something like
If, at 8:56pm on Memorial Day while I'm watering the community garden, five very tall African American young men come up to me bearing a fat white puffed Pomeranian dog then I would know that God wanted me to..........
But I'm not struggling with any big decisions lately and didn't have the foreknowledge to lay any such fleece. Drat it all.

So anyway, these nice young men unloaded this ridiculous dog on us tonight. He seems to be fairly well looked after and has a collar but no tags. If you're in Binghamton on the southside could you ask your friends and neighbors if they know anything about him? We'll be posting something on Craig's List in the morning and calling around.

On the bright side, this thing (Matt is refusing to call it a dog) makes our own dog (a Toodle? or a Perrier? Which do you think sounds more stately?) look and sound like a veritable tower of manly dog strength. Sure he twirls, but in a menacing way. And sometimes he barks, but only to protect his spot on the bed. Plus, he sure is ugly, so that must count for something.

So, for those of us foolish enough to think that we can order and arrange our own lives, God says,
Here, take care of this Pomeranian.

the gentle idiot gardens

I have acquisitioned a plot in Good Shepherd's community garden. I plunked some seeds from a trusting and knowledgeable friend who never-the-less has seriously overestimated my abilities. Things like "swiss chard" and "peppers" went from her seed packets into my plot, and a tomato plant I acquired on Amazon (did you know you can buy plants on Amazon? Weird). Even so, it looks pretty dismal.

But then yesterday someone from church, let me rephrase that, lovely people from church brought vast amounts of tomato and squash plants and set them carefully next to my dead brown smear of earth. In the evening, as an act faith (the American kind, not the biblical kind) I tossed back a glass of wine and mucked them about into the soil. So now half my plot is alive and thriving (at least for the night) and the other half still looks rather dead. I'm going to give it three more days before I plow it under and move the squashes over.

And on Saturday I dug up a very sick rose bush and moved it gently and prayerfully to a different spot. And along the side of the house sunflowers are coming up where I didn't plant them. And I took a clipping from a bush in the front and plunked it in the ground in the back in the hopes that it will not die, but will live and grow.

Matt generally watches me messing around in the dirt with a tolerantly sarcastic air. Apparently he knows how to make plants stay alive. That being the case, he doesn't understand the terror and thrill of putting something in the ground and having it come up. He is nonchalant. He is breezy. He says lightly, "it will be fine." But also he doesn't know what a miraculous and tenuous occurrence it is, to have the wretched thing actually grow.

Friday, May 25, 2012

seven boring boring quick takes

Matt and Alouicious are about to go to men's bible study. Alouicious usually calls it Man's bible study. He gets up early and drinks a cup of sugary coffee and then is allowed to have some kind of soda during the study. He goes and eats the massive breakfast over there (church) and then comes home and gets in on the breakfast everyone is having over here. He's usually able to tell me what the text was and what was discussed but mainly its about the food and sugar.
That means that I'm left here with two awake babies who look like they've slept well and would therefore like to do something interesting, like take all the spices out of the cupboard. There's also the remains of the John McArthur sermon on the text from Acts for the bible study gently wafting over me. Its always a bit of a jar, listening to McArthur preaching on Acts on Friday mornings. On the other hand, I'm probably becoming a more mature and thoughtful Christian. Or something.
I pretty well have all my curriculum chosen for the fall. Of course, every time I get another catalog in the mail I go back to my list and make a few adjustments. Unfortunately, nobody seems as excited about it as I am--certainly not the children, and surprisingly not Matt who smiles a pastoral crinkly smile at me when I ask him if he'd like to hear about it.
(several hours later)
Elphine and Gladys got to go sleep at a friend's house Wednesday and apparently Elphine stayed awake all night. I didn't really believe her when she told me this fact, but I guess she was right because she's still asleep at 9am. Far be it from me to wake her up. May she sleep and sleep and be in a good mood upon arising.
My zinnia seeds appear to actually coming up, and some of the pink English daises. And three lonely sunflowers. And a lettuce. But nothing else, blast it all.  Going to pray over all the seeds and shake my fists at some birds.
And also try to complete the Great Clothes Change Over of 2012. I have a ginormous pile of clothes to give away if anyone wants to come look through them before they disappear. But I wouldn't get excited, I'm weeding out all the ruined junky stuff.
And on that note, I guess I should stop this and do all that. Cheerio!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

that's not safe

Monday we all went together to take two of the children to their well baby appointments. In general we have tiny children and so were astonished to discover that the baby is in the 30th percentile for height. "What a giant" said the doctor sardonically. We all laughed together.

Never mind that she, the baby, had thrown up a mere half an hour earlier.
Stupidly, we thought we'd make a day of it.
Pick up the house, get in the car, go to Wegmans for a serious stocking up, buy something for lunch, go to a park and then end up at the doctor to round out the whole day.

So of course it was raining as we wended our remarkable way out of Wegmans. I say remarkable because I can tell so many people are remarking on us in their own minds. I generally plaster a smile to myself as one adjusts a mast or something, grab a couple of hands of children and talk cheerfully to Matt or Elphine as we pass in front of the checkouts, not making eye contact but noting the startled mothers with one or two children in their carts, the bemused boomers who gently lift their eyebrows to the heavens, the gentle grandmothers who usually smile and sometimes say something helpful like "you sure do have your hands full."

The rain rained long enough for us to decide to eat our lunch in the car. Matt has a rule about this. A rule that says "No Eating In the Car Ever."
"You value the cleanness of the car over the health, well being and happiness of your children" I always say, "I'll clean the car, I promise."
"No you won't. You always say that and then you never do."
"That's true" I ripost (its the same conversation every time) "but this time I will for sure clean the car."
So we ate in the car and only the baby shredded her delicious ham salad sandwich all over the seat. One out of six is very reasonable. And we drove around looking for a park. Up a hill, round a bend, up another hill, back the opposite way, round another bend and then
"What was that?" said Matt cautiously.
"The baby threw up."
Turns out ham salad and cookies don't sit well with her on a windy car ride. And I'm not the kind of mom to drag around a lot of extra clothes and diapers and stuff. I don't carry anything for children except a tiny book about a bunny and horse and a chicken who get left out of a parade and so make their own parade, a better parade. And I have a pen and a piece of paper. I don't carry bottles or sippy cups or snacks or anything. Certainly no extra clothes.
"We'll just take her to the doctor naked, "said Matt.
"Oh, that'll be good," I say, "perfect."
But the park has a lou, so we clean her up a little and remove all the offending garments and then go play at the playground.
Except that the playground is awful. Awful.

Only Marigold has a good time because she's too little to know better. There are swings and a sort of climbing thing that if you fall off the top of it, you can't possibly get hurt. And there's a thing to throw a ball through (except there's no ball), and a very very safe bouncy thing that you can sit in and sort of jiggle around, and a stupid little house. And then, as I watch my children wandering around looking at the lame lame set up, I realize, there probably are no fun play grounds left in America.

You can't have a high slide because you can try to jump off or go up the wrong way. You can't have a see-saw because its so easy to fall off at the top, or hurt the other kid by coming down yourself very sharply. You can't have a merry go round because once you get it going really fast and get ready to jump out, you can fall and scrape yourself. You can't have monkey bars because you'll definitely fall when you're in the forth grade and break your arm. And even though you and your mother didn't dream of suing, some other mother did and so there are no fun play grounds left, at least in Binghamton, at least the ones I've seen.

And so on the one hand we're kind of shocked by the whole idea of children at all, and on the other, we're terrified that anything will happen to the few that we have. We follow them around on playgrounds and everywhere saying 'do be careful dear, don't climb up there, don't do that, don't swing too high, don't do that' and then we bring them home and let them play angry birds (well me, I let my kids play angry birds but I feel really guilty about it). And so they learn not to take any risks, except maybe on the internet.

On that note, I'm going to go tell the child I hear meddling in the kitchen to Stop It, risk or no risk, naked or clothed, vomitous or not.

Monday, May 21, 2012

monday morning haze

I'm supposed to be starting the Great Summer/Winter Clothes Change Over of 2012 and rousting us all to work in the garden and do other long neglected tasks. But I'd much rather lie here and fritter away my life reading snippets of things on the internet and petting the dog.

The dog, as can be noted by just looking at him, is a poodle of some variety and wishes to be held or to sit on you all the time. If you, for some stupid reason, stand up, he looks at you with a deep sadness, his eyes speaking to your depths. "Don't get up, sit here for a few more minutes" he says. Because of this foolishness, I have recently wasted quite a lot of time. Meanwhile, the cats sit at a distance and glare with profound contempt and rage. I caught one yesterday and petted her for ten minutes while she growled and hissed at me.
"I love you" I said, "and I know in your heart you love me and some day you will thank me for bringing change and difficulty into your life so that you might grow stronger."
"To whom are you talking?" Matt inquired in the midst of this gentle speech, "Because if it's the cat you're wasting your breath."

So anyway, two children have a well baby/child-visit today, both of them to receive vaccinations. We might all go since its our day off and we like to be all together (hardy har har) and then gather in some food lest we starve to death. And then I really want to saw the legs off another table. Its become kind of a thing for me, making tables shorter. Having discovered this amazing possibility, it is tempting to do it to every table I meet. And then we should remove that poor bird I found two days ago. One of those lovely delicate little brown sparrows (I assume sparrow, but as usual, I'm not rushing to look it up) lay right at the side of the drive very peacefully dead so I thought we might give it a Christian burial. And we will fend off the child who wants to play "The XBox 360". When referring to this device, he lowers his voice and speaks worshipfully, but also, I think, with the hint of a whine.

And by the end of the day, we will be So Well Rested that we will dive joyfully into the week, ready to work hard and build up the kingdom (again, hardy har har).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


There once were six children all whining
In spite of their mother's insane crying
That they should all stop
Before she went pop
Dissolving into a vague gray shadow of herself...........

I've had this stupid non limerick stuck in my head for two years and I can't finish it or make it into anything. It just rattles around there in the back of my mind. But its a little bit better than Elphine's terrible mother's day poem.

Poppies are red.
Marigolds are orange.
Mothers are sweet.
And so are you.

"Nothing rhymes with 'orange'" I shouted, after laughing for a while. "Also, Marigolds can be yellow. Try"

Poppies are red.
Marigolds are yellow.
Mothers are sweet.
I'm wishing I had jello....
I'm feeling kind of mellow....
My voice is a kind of bellow....
I knew of a little fellow....

 Me embarrassed that I can't write a limerick. Baby Lady Elaine not surprised about it at all.

No use. I'm going to go fold laundry.
Pip Pip!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ordinary Time

We are fast approaching the green season of Ordinary Time in the church year. The garden will grow, vegetables, flowers and weeds together. I will eventually get summer clothes out of bins and sweaters put away. We will slack off school for a couple of months. The boys will wear short sleeved shirts to church. A lot of Sundays it will seem sparse because it everyone is out of town. And our days will race by so quickly by the time September rolls around we will have whiplash. And then, just when we think the liturgical season should change because the school year has, we will go on being in Ordinary Time.

But from this vantage point, ordinary is so to be desired. The long exhausting season of feasting needs to folded up and put away or we will become like Aileen in Word Girl--monstrous, green, whining 'But everyday is my Biirrffffdaaaaayyyyy!'

I think a long Ordinary Time is a pleasant rebuke to our always-on-to-the-latest-thing-culture. I don't want anything new right now. I want some things to be useful until they become threadbare. I don't want to rush out and buy a new pair of shoes just because the shape of my heel is clearly last season's...well, I shouldn't lie, it is a lot more seasons before last season. From this angle nothing is to be gained by a new pair of shoes.

But I know that come September, the endless green of Ordinary Time will cause me to bite my lip and fret that we will never get on to the next new shiny thing. And that is when the rebuke will be for me and not for the general masses out there. Then, ordinary will feel insufficient. I will rearrange the furniture and be lured by school supply displays. Who knows what time it was when all the crowds left Jesus (well, obviously, someone probably knows but not me as I'm writing this) but I always figured it was sometime like September, or a change of season time. The crowds flitted away, thinking, 'whatever, if you won't give me bread I'm going back to see what's on sale in the market'.

And on that note, I am going to pick up this ordinary fat baby and hope that she doesn't move into any new stage for at least three days.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I hope you'll are bustling about getting ready to honor your mothers in a serious and heartfelt way through the weekend. I, of course, am deeply grateful to my own mother for being willing to have me. And to Matt's for being willing to have him.

And so, to show my deep appreciation and love, here is a little weekend present. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

order and balance restored to the universe

Somehow every single one of us have contracted varying levels of a cold. Nobody wants to touch the baby because of all the snot. And I seem to have mislaid my ....what is that part of the body that you try to think about stuff with? Can't remember.

But it doesn't matter because we have a dog!--a small fairly ugly but very cute lap dog.

Basically we found him on a local ebay listing. The person who gave/sold him to us (what is a 'rehoming' fee really) was really nice and also the only person who got back to me of all the different listings I responded to. Actually, I'm pretty sure I didn't respond to his listing. I think I passed over the dog several times and then he must have dialed my number by divine accident.

So, here he is.

He's come with the name 'Panda' which doesn't suit him remarkably well. He doesn't really need a name at all because he's always right at hand, ready to sit on your lap or gaze up at you adoringly or be sat on by a tottering and badly balanced child. But Alouicious would like to call him 'Ash' and Matt would like to call him 'Ashurbanipal' and Elphine would like to call him 'AshurPandabal'. I sort of thought Goliath would be nice.

He arrived with the knowledge of sitting, staying, walking on a leash, playing fetch, and dancing in a tiny circle on his hind legs when there's the possibility of food. He doesn't seem to bark much at all and he doesn't shed and he was deeply cautious and respectful of the cats and so, as far as I can tell, is perfect.

And now I need to arise and make some breakfast because someone is coming momentairly to repair a pipe that spews water all over my laundry room every time you turn on some faucet or other.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Friday, May 04, 2012

seven quick quick reasons we need a dog

Last night a tiny baby squirrel was discovered chirping and freaking out in our back yard. There were about 10 kids back there playing and shouting and banging sticks together when they noticed him dancing along the ground under the hedge crying for help and comfort. Fortunately my friend held the hoard at bay. I wandered out to inquire about the commotion and the poor baby ran straight up to me, climbed into my hand, tucked his head into my bosom and closed his eyes. Unfortunately, Matt and my friend conspired against me, Matt getting a box together and my friend greedily making off with him at a remarkable speed.

So anyway, here are seven reasons we need a dog.
I'm really tired of sweeping the floor. With six children dropping food on the floor, all I do is sweep. I could use the help.
It took me forever as a child to aquire a dog and its ridiculous that as an adult, I'm still waiting around to have a dog. Its like there's no benefit to growing up and getting a life.
The children are old enough to assist in caring for such a creature. They clean the wretched cat boxes, feed and pet the cats, they get up early to do school work, they participate in the household work. They are old enough to care for a dog.
The cats are getting fat and need the exercise. Besides, one of them is already like a dog and would appreciate the company.
Getting a dog affirms the memory and love of all previous dogs. When a person dies, does one refuse to have anything more to do with people? I hope not. The more animals you care for in life, the better a time you will have in heaven. Those who refuse to have pets here on earth will get off the bus in heaven and will have no one to welcome them. They will be like the poor saps who get off the plane and have to walk through the crowd alone to the rental car, eveyone looking at them and saying sorrowfully, "nobody loves him".
The price of gas and the number of our family make travel prohibitive and therefore a dog will be of no inconvenience on that score.
The children and I had a lovely prayer time together and we really feel the Lord leading us, as a family, to aquire and care for a dog. We don't have any peace, right now, about not having a dog. 

Thursday, May 03, 2012

rein, rein, gueux eveille

gomme a gaine, en horreur, taie.
"Queen, Queen, arouse the rabble
Who use their girdles, horrors, as pillow slips."
It looks to be another long day of rain. The corner of that hedge cutting into the gray sky makes me think about maybe gazing at the brick wall of the church instead. But probably not. Those bricks seem to go on for miles and miles and miles. Told Matt yesterday it's what I imagine a prison wall might look like. "Not with that cross," he said. But really, doesn't that make it worse? I mean, when Paul said he was a 'prisoner for the sake of the gospel' he wasn't speaking figuratively or metaphorically, he really was one. And here I am, a free person, luxuriating in my opulent bed, merely looking at a gray sky and a rather plain hedge and wall. Were it not for the cross, looming over me, reminding me that I am suppose to be chained to the gospel, I could just mutter to myself, but now I have to feel guilty about the muttering.

Anyway, we won't be able to go out, if it rains. I don't think Paul, for all his chains, was ever cooped up in a house with six children nagging him to check their math and tell them what a meteor is. And no prospect of making them run laps around the yard, or dig for more rocks, or cut back the fading tulips.

We will just sit inside and wallow in piles of clean laundry that have been washed in our own house in a washing machine that works quietly and reliably--a free machine, I might add, an Incredible and lovely gift from incredible and lovely friends. And we will be grateful that Matt doesn't automatically have surgery coming for his hand. Hopefully it will be something like gentle therapy and anti-inflammatory somethings. And we will try to replicate the amazing miracle of yesterday wherein we finished school by noon (!!!!!) and had the rest of the day to play and scrub the kitchen floor.

For the last two weeks we have returned to our long lost custom of saying Morning Prayer over breakfast. Is it possible that that might have had some effect on our ability to get through the day in a more reasonable manner? "What! Prayer?" as some might say, "Has it come to that?" I will try to thank God, all day, and count things together for joy, especially that cross done so solidly in brick. And maybe the rain will go away, loosing us from this tiny prison of our tiny minds.