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.

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