Friday, June 26, 2009

A week ago, I picked up a life-long friend and her five-year-old son from the Princeton Junction train station. They had come from Wis., by way of Albany and Newark. I really appreciate their coming, going the final, short distance to visit.

I can't really say the "guest room" was ready until their arrival. We'd hardly been in there for two and a half years, about the time the construction ended and the three boys left it. Her visit was the kick in the pants we needed to clean it out and fix it up. Jeff wants it to become Kenny's bedroom because a dedicated guest room makes no sense. True. And with the queen-sized bed that's in there, it could serve an occasional guest if needed.

I just think Kenny's too young, going on nine, to have his own bedroom. With the queen-sized bed in there, I see all three boys ending up in there each night. Not really what I want. But that's another story.

I am stalling as best as I can ...

I suppose I should have taken before and after pictures. Jeff took down all four of those IKEA Billy bookcases. I had begun to unpack textbooks from storage cases in the basement and re-shelve in recent months. My collection was nearly reestablished after a few years of unavailability. I was feeling normal again. But it was short-lived and I almost had tears in my eyes, packing them back up again. Jeff was proud of my complicity and rewarded me by stashing the containers in our bedroom closet ... not back to the basement again.

We thought about paint colors for the walls. It was unanimous on "Venezuelan Sea", even Ella picked it! But it is too dark. So we're going with "Blue Lake". It actually isn't green enough for me but since Jeff refuses to sample it on the wall, I can't be sure.

And we ordered the wood flooring, the same as we have in the other bedrooms - yes, in honey - from the place in East Windsor. They said two weeks to install and they would have come today but Jeff wants to paint first. So they'll come next week. I'm just glad Jeff didn't rip up the rug before my friend visited.

After a brunch, I took her and the kids to Belmar. The weather held on pretty good. The kids played on the Tenth Ave. playground, on the sand, just down from the boardwalk. She wanted to take us out to lunch but after a decent brunch and not wanting to spoil dinner, we agreed to Italian ice at Strollo's. Besides, the only place I would want to eat is closed down.

We got home mid-afternoon, early enough to have a relaxed, early dinner. I think Jeff got home around 9, well after the kids were in bed. She and I were up talking about how the recession has affected orphan sponsorships. Come to think of it, she's probably on her way to India right now.

On Saturday, the boys had their final tennis lesson and since we were down the shore already, we went to Pt. Pleasant. We ate lunch at Jenkinson's Pavilion; she treated, but I chose to just eat whatever my kids didn't. Then we went to the aquarium. It was quite a hit, even with my kids who have been there many times. They enjoyed showing it off to someone who had never been there. "Hosting," in a way. It was moderately busy, not packed. But I still lost track of my kids at certain times. Fortunately, they were always recoverable; let's hope those days of Timmy wandering off are over (here and here)

Again, we returned by mid-afternoon and I asked Jeff to make dinner. Then I practically dragged my friend to a Saturday evening church service. She was saying things like, "I won't feel like a heathen if I don't attend this weekend." I'm sure, no. But I really like the Saturday service at the UMC parish in Hamilton ... and she was my excuse to get there! Even if I could have located a Saturday eve A of G service, the Full Gospel churches in NJ wouldn't thrill her; she cut her Pentecostal & Charismatic teeth in Tulsa. I stuffed a New King James Bible into her hands and it was set.

But, it was creepy strange how we came to be late to the service. Her son got hurt riding one of our bikes and needed about five Band-Aids on his ankle. She got him calm enough so we could leave him with Jeff and the other boys. Then there was what looked like emergency utility work on Nottingham Way so we detoured around to Rt. 33. We passed St. Greg's which was gearing up for their 5pm service. She asked whether we were going there and, tempted as I was, I said no. I have always met with opposition from her on attending a Catholic mass.

The pastor was announcing the next hymn when we entered and before taking a seat, I grabbed the thick red and thin black books from the back of the pew and quickly found the correct hymn in the right book. It was a song familiar from visits at the PCA parish. The next one was unfamiliar but my friend said her son knew it in three languages; I think she was including ASL in that number, naturally. She remarked later that older people tend to resist The Faith We Sing hymnal. As I had spotted a Marty Haugen hit at the bottom of a page, I countered that the weekly communion service attracts the traditional, older set.

The scripture was Micah 6:1-8. The sermon did an excellent job of describing the metaphor: a heavenly courtroom with God as the plaintiff against his people. It is pre-exilic imagery that is also found in Jeremiah, he said. I recognized Micah 6:3ff from the Good Friday Reproaches, (begin reading at 4. - if I don't already have this commentary, I must have seriously considered it!) by way of Stations. And Wesley's General Rules were said to be drawn from the passage. While the first rule seems more attributable to Hippocrates, no matter who coined it, I gotta keep first things first: don't make things worse. Good intentions and all that.

As usual, felt very welcomed to receive communion and also very tempted. But the method was intinction, so that let me off the hook as I can't fake such an unfamiliar move. And I figured a gesture for a blessing would be misunderstood by this inclusive minister. I'm sure my friend was thinking, "Well, I'm not Methodist either anymore." But I think she is ... still ... a bit.

And dinner was a marvel: Jeff's delicious baked chicken. He broke open a bottle of Riesling and she was gracious enough of our hospitality to enjoy a glass of wine (1 Cor. 10:27).

Early the next morning, I took them back to the train station and waited on the quay. When I could see her train coming down the line, we embraced. But the train zoomed by - it was the express. So I hugged her again when her train pulled into the station.
Flickr photo set of Hersheypark from a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Three Buffalo men arraigned in Elba bank robbery - Daily News Online, 6/18/09:
Three Buffalo men were arraigned tonight in Elba Town Court and charged with robbing M & T Bank in Elba, a robbery that set in motion a chaotic and tense manhunt that unfolded across three towns this morning.

“He was hiding in the bushes near Galloway Road,” Maha said.
Is that "Galloway Road" or "Gallaway Road?"

In an interview, a reporter speculated he might have been trying to get to the Thruway. And probably if he'd gotten to Slusser Rd., he would have found a way.

So, who knows, a little more time and it would be a different story.

Someone claimed to see Brian on the news but I haven't found any video.

Oh, yeah, and the school was on lockdown. Will this story make the weekly alumni newsletter?!

tags technorati :

Monday, June 08, 2009

Field Day 2009

Because of vision therapy this morning, I missed two and a half hours of this year's field day. But I saw the ruins remains of it: dozens of cracked eggs on the tennis court, buckets of shaving cream near the gardening shed.

Lunch was winding down when Ella and I arrived. But there was plenty of hot food left and I grabbed two delicious hot dogs, one for me and one for Ella. She wanted only Sun Chips until the kids got into dessert, then she put down the chips and asked for ice cream. I heard her asking the kids around her, "Ca I ha'some?" naively expecting Kenny's classmates to (1) understand her and (2) serve her. I sent Tim, who wasn't having any, to get her something. He brought back an ice cream sandwich.

The stormy weather was rolling in so the kids were quickly split across the two huge inflatables. At some point the groups switched. The younger kids went in as it began sprinkling. When everyone had had a chance, everyone went in.

Then they did the Muscular Dystrophy Hop-A-Thon in the gym. A kindergartner was overheard saying, "This is the BEST Field Day ever!" Since it's only his second one ever, it's likely a fair statement!
The route that we took to shuffle belongings from the TF TH to here took us by the corner house ... at Scooter's Corner. The house's exterior had always captivated me so, when I saw the Sotheby signs go up on each street, I tried to find the listing.

Which I did. The asking price doesn't surprise me. And I'm sure I would love it if I actually visited in person.

But the pictures ... don't look like much. It's probably a matter of scale: rooms are much larger grander than they appear.

There are seven homes listed at the moment.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Not a good time to be entering into public schools ...

Calling all residents to do the best for public-school children - Examiner, Letter to the Editor, 6/4/09:
I truly believe that children should have extracurricular activities — art, dance, music or sports.

The Township Committee shaved over $1 million off the budget, which will result in the loss of teachers.

it's time for the residents and the Board of Education to challenge the state for more funding. I remember everyone was so excited when we became an "I" district. ... It means less funding from the state ...

It's not fair that we pay 87 percent of school budget from our taxes when another district pays 18 percent of their school budget or when we pay approximately $11,400 per pupil and they are paying over $22,000 per pupil. ... I'm talking about Asbury Park folks. Don't you think we deserve more?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

I know that the door to the men's restroom in Tennis Center 3 is difficult to open. It's just that I forgot. We haven't been in that new field house for two months because, with enrollment way down, the club consolidated programs this session in Tennis 2.

Except this morning, the older kids were in Tennis 3.

After Chris's class, which runs half as long as Tim's, we went to Tennis 3 to watch Tim. Kenny was at home recovering from yesterday's illness. At some point, Chris got up to use the restroom. Unlike the ladies' room, it is limited to one customer at a time, so the boys are in the habit of locking the main door. As they should.

However, when Chris didn't come back right away, I got curious. I had my nose in a book, so I can't say how much time had passed exactly. He is typically very quick, 'though. So I walked the full length of the field house and as I approached the utility closet near the front entrance, I clearly heard sobs and a voice stressing, "I just want to get out."

The field house is normally very active, very busy. Clearly school is out because, oftentimes, nearby colleges send teams for matches. For that reason, if the boys have trouble exiting the men's room, there's usually someone standing nearby waiting to go next. That wasn't the case and, trying the handle, I found it locked from the inside. I had nothing to rotate the slit lock so I told Chris that I would return quickly with a key.

I ran to my seat, grabbed my car key and ran back to the door. My key was too wide to fit the slit. A nickel would do it, I thought, but then Chris pulled the door open and back and I stepped into the restroom. I saw what looked like water on the floor next to his feet. He was sobbing pretty intensely and, since I know he only washes his hands at school, I imagine the "water" was his tears.

He brightened up immediately and I hugged him and said I was sorry that he got stuck in there. And he danced off to play with some stray tennis balls while I lingered behind to figure out what exactly went wrong. Not that I'll remember from one week to the next.

And the door sticks in the frame at the lock plate. The hinges aren't loose. Maybe the metal has swelled in the spring heat? I would have liked to report it to someone because it's been a chronic problem but there was no one. Budget cuts, I'm sure. I know Tim's coach well enough to know that she has little to do with club operations: mentioning it to her wouldn't matter.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I mention that here because, in my personal observation, issues of law and order, and the legitimate role of the state to use force, either in enforcing just laws or in defending the nation against an unjust agressor nation, are often a “blind spot” among progressives / liberals.

As several commentators have been pointing out here during the last few days, there is a stream of the Catholic spiritual tradition that is non-violent even to the point of pacifism, and that stream is often located today among progressive Catholics.

I think they have a more difficult time than many other folks in agreeing that there could be just reasons to execute a convicted killer, or for police to use force, or to drop bombs on Kosovo, or to accept the Bush Doctrine. They tend to cite Biblical slogans like “turn the other cheek” and “blessed are the peacemakers.”
- Jim Pauwels's comment on Commonweal article, "Tiller's killing: Necessary ... but unlawful?"

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Memorial Day Parade in Clarksburg.

Yesterday, as the boys got haircuts, I read in a stray, Trenton paper laying about the barber shop this advice column. I laughed nervously because I became aware about ten days ago that the editor of my diocese's newspaper made a radical change:
When I landed in the Kansas City airport last month, I nearly walked up to the first cowboy I saw and said, "Do you know how good it is to see a cowboy hat?"
Not to sound New Jersey's horn too loudly ... as I'm a reluctant transplant myself, making the best of it ... cowboy hats may be found here ... at least on all-American holidays!

Missing your column in the paper each week but wishing you all God's best. Praying for you.
Sergeant York.
Primary results.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

As we both walked late into church Sunday morning, my neighbor told me about her daughter's upcoming confirmation. I took the opportunity to attend this evening; Msgr. Tofani presided. The church was nearly full with candidates, sponsors and guests but I found a seat by myself in the back. The readings, plus a responsorial psalm. I had only a New Testament with me and followed along with those texts.

Msgr. Tofani spoke at length about a kid at Anchor House in Trenton that he'd seen transformed by love before his eyes. The kid sounded very like Timmy, all except the part about living on the street. I could have listened to Msgr. Tofani's voice for hours.

And so, as he conferred the sacrament individually upon candidates, the mike picked up the dialogue, both liturgical (i.e., of the rite proper) and interpersonal (i.e., he said, "Congratulations."). His sincerity and simplicity struck me as sweetness. I struggled to find the right word to describe it and that's what came to mind: sweetness.

Last week, you see, I attended the conferring of graduate degrees and, while a seminary commencement isn't a religious rite, per se,1 many of those involved are ordained. I felt a lightness of spirit, yes, but nothing of the sweetness I observed tonight.

I am biased.

His advice to the confirmandi, as he took the altar by a corner, was to always seek out "one of these" (an altar) every Sunday for the rest of their life. Yeah.

1 We prayed a ton, read Scripture, sang hymns.