Monday, April 30, 2007


Obstacles have prevented me from composing a witty, thoughtful, and intellectual post this evening. Without shame, I publish them. They are all true.

1. I had to call around to claim our rubber ducky. He was kidnapped by Friend #7. She didn't understand why a rubber ducky was hiding in her bag, and she thought he belonged to Jameson. Even though Jameson's mom insisted that they didn't own a rubber ducky with clothes on.
2. I participated in a new family game. It involved holding a legal pad and drawing a self-portrait. We made up our own rules; one of which was that you drew blindly. The other rule was that #1 Son had to videotape the process.
3. We cheated flagrantly while playing Upwords.
4. We ate mozzarella sticks with salsa in the living room. We shared a red candied apple for dessert.
5. At some point in the evening, everyone was irritated at the behavior of everyone else.
6. I sat on #1 Son. He farted and the party was over.

Friday, April 27, 2007

stage-folk and theater bugs












(from "Kiss Me Kate"- lyrics by Cole Porter)

This evening is opening night of Christian Fellowship Academy's production of "High Button Shoes" and excitement is definitely in the air. Our cast and crew have worked hard to put on a show that will tickle our audience's fancy. In trying to describe to a friend that crazy feeling of excitement that works its way into one's bones on opening night, I found myself at a loss for words.
"You'll see," I assured her. "Even though you are backstage organizing props, the theater-bug will bite you. And then you will know what I mean." She laughed that laugh that means "You're nuts." But she'll see that I'm right.
There is really nothing else we can do to prepare -that era is behind us now. And when that overture starts, there will be no turning back. But let's keep it all in perspective: It's just a chance for stage-folks to say hello......

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

just desserts

I can walk briskly for 45 minutes daily, kayak like a maniac 5 days a week, rake the yard, till the garden, and so forth. But if I continue to crank out desserts such as this and this, regular exercise is just a stop-gap measure, doncha think?

Monday, April 23, 2007

the big project

This beguiling summer weather has lured me outside almost every day for a serious walk. I swing my arms, take deep, engaging breaths, and span my surroundings for anything alive. Yesterday, I stood roadside to watch a bluebird on a tree branch. I spotted a wild turkey skittering through the underbrush. I screamed for joy when a renegade puppy shot toward me faster than a speeding bullet to play with me. I announced to a red squirrel in my yard, "Daddy's gonna shoot you." It's what I say to all the squirrels, and it's not an empty threat. So, I'm not an across-the-board animal lover.
But I digress.
What I really want to expound upon is my trek to our new property. (Well, soon to be ours, as the closing is in less than two weeks.) As it is only a twenty minute stroll from our Friday School classes, I found myself drawn there between choir classes. I tramped down the hill toward the waterfront, sending alarmed frogs springing into the river with ridiculously frightened peeps. Oh, how I liked that waterfront view. Oh yes, yes, yesirree.
Then I cheerfully pirouetted on one sprightly toe in order to face the house and barn that we will call home, causing a paradigm shift abrupt enough to register on the Richter Scale. Looming over me, casting a sinister shadow, was a towering row of unkempt and teetering structures. A banner of clothes which hung on a droopy rope flapped in the breeze over an avalanche of garbage that spread downhill from broken slabs of cement. Slip-shod roofing and patched siding seemed to hold things together in the same way that duct tape could hold the Hoover Dam. The magnitude of this home-improvement project dizzied me and entirely knocked the wind from my sails --I really almost fell over backward. The ridiculously frightened peeps of those frogs didn't seem quite so far-fetched anymore, but perfectly appropriate, given the situation. I scrambled inwardly for a shred of hope.
The day before our upcoming closing happens to be a momentous one for this here family: Hubby's fiftieth birthday. I had politely inquired, "Are you sure you are up for this project? You know, being a member of the Half-Century Club and all?"
He never skipped a beat, but retorted, "Bring it on, Baby."
The remembrance of that statement allowed me to rally my strength and square back my shoulders. Bracing my feet in the spongy grass, I defiantly tilted my chin upwards and announced to that rickety slum:
"Daddy's gonna fix you!"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

the pianist's lament

As the only member of the "orchestra" in attendance at yesterday's rehearsal, sight-lines are of the utmost importance. I need to see the director ("The Buck Stops Here") -and by the way, she moves around a lot! I need to see both the left and right stage entrances. I need to see faces. I need to see feet (to coordinate dance steps). I have sight-cues for pirates, tango embraces, beach tents, the money bag, and keystone cop antics.
With this in mind, all will forbear my swift and firm removal of the following items from the top of the piano:
a folded curtain
a beaded purse
an authentic Model T horn
a sippy cup
a dixie cup of water
and three jars of dirt.
This kind of chore doesn't rattle me, as I realize that most people treat a piano like a piece of furniture. Which is understandable, given its size. But imagine leaving your coffee atop someone's tuba. While they are playing. Or telling the flutist,"I'll be right back for those high-button shoes..."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

2 Samuel 14:14

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. (NIV)

We all die sometime. Water spilled on the ground can't be gathered up again. But God does not take away life. He works out ways to get the exile back. (The Message)

An old woman in disguise, a toady of the manipulative Joab, presents her trumped-up case to David the King. In the course of her plea, she utters a fantastically wise statement. This lady was no theologian, folks. Rather, she likely was only a street-wise woman that needed this acting gig for the few coins it would bring her (which makes these sagatious words even more suspect...). But this post isn't about the miracle of God using an ordinary person's mouth to speak His truths.
This hidden mini-proverb set me to thinking about how much God treasures life. And how He, the Ruler of the Universe, tenaciously persists in snaring each and every one of us with His love. He surrounds us, badgers us, confronts us, reminds us, and encircles us. Note the wording: He devises and works out ways so we do not remain estranged from Him. He is tricky guy, that God. Always plotting.
The series of meetings we attended this week have left me breathless and knock-down speechless at the overcoming, ever-present love of God. If it is one message we really get, it will make every other revelation a fringe-benefit.
No wonder I see His love everywhere this week. It's been there all along; I just needed the reminder to look for it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

an apron-day

The kitchen is my domain this morning. I slid a spiraled ham into the oven, sliced up a small vat of scalloped potatoes au gratin, rolled out three pie crusts, and whisked together a double batch of vanilla pudding for pie-filling. Since Hubby is home for a few days, I decided to make a real dinner and revel in seeing his face at the head of the table.
But now that I figure in my afternoon work schedule (at Crane) and his myriad of errands, a sit-down dinner may not materialize. At least the stove-top will be laden with hot food, regardless of the fact that it may be eaten in shifts! All of us (Friend #12 included) are looking forward to tonight's special meeting at church, where people we love will share some laughs, tears, and prayer together.
(See Bubsie's blog for a few pics from last evening.)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

a whole lotta chewing goin' on

My spiritual taste buds were yearning for a meaty sermon this morning. What a thrill to find out that Dr. Eldon Wilson was our guest speaker. He is in town for a series of meetings, and was in the front row, spit-shined and ready to leap up to the pulpit with his straight-from-the-hip, no-nonsense, wit-rich and steeped-in-experience wisdom from the Word.
Dr. Wilson stated his text as beginning in Genesis chapter 37 - the epic tale of Joseph. As for me, I tucked my study-napkin under my chin and settled down for a banquet fit for a king (or queen, I suppose). Time to sit under the glory-spout, as they used to say "back in the olden days". The good doctor held us spell-bound for over an hour, and as usual it felt more like twenty minutes.
There's no use attempting to distill the message, you'll just have to get the tape. I only wish to expound briefly on a tidbit he dropped in his introduction. It explained something that had been niggling at me for awhile. You see, in February (when I had time to ponder such things), I wrote this in my blog:
"I am pondering the fact that Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt, but God forbade him to enter with them into the Promised Land."
For no extra charge, Dr. Wilson solved my quandary. Why did God forbid Moses to step foot into the Promised Land? The day Moses died, he scaled a mountain to gaze longingly over the plains toward the very land he purposed to inhabit. (Deut. 34: 1-5) But God put His heavenly foot down and would not be persuaded by Moses' pleas. The skinny? Moses was not to enter the Promised Land. Not no-way; not no-how. I thought this extremely unfair, considering what a great guy Moses was, not to mention his accomplishments. Ten Commandments and all, you know.
Galatians 3:24 states "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith". Today I was reminded by Dr. Wilson that Moses represents the Law, and the Law is our tutor, our schoolmaster, our guide to Christ. If the Law alone could bring us into salvation, then the work of Christ on the cross would be totally unnecessary! Instead, the Law (as modeled by Moses) can only lead us to the edge of the Promised Land. Come to think of it, the Law had to climb a mountain to view the promise of salvation from afar!
I'm sure Moses didn't have the full understanding of this God-prescribed limitation. Most likely, he viewed it as a punishment. Yet a few thousand years later, I stand speechless at the towering wisdom of an eternal God. Methinks it was Eldon Wilson that taught us that the whole Old Testament is about Jesus, anyway.
Y'all can get the tape. I'll be chewing on the introduction for awhile.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

ah, theater!

Sean is our set carpenter. He's all over the job.
That's a bathing beauty on someone's knee.
The infamous Harrison Floy. He even naps while on the lam.
Renee paints a realistic backdrop.
Christa details the set.

The countdown is on for our performance of "High Button Shoes": two weeks and the clock is ticking! Our energetic and multi-talented director ("The Buck Stops Here") is cranking out staging, choreography, New Jersey accents, prop ideas, and loads of encouragement to the troops. The aforesaid "troops" consist of around 45 home-schooled teens, most of which are stretching the learning-curve by
a) singing, while
b) dancing with a member of the opposite sex.
c) remembering staging and lines.
d) getting along with each other for hours and hours on end.
My job is easy: I lounge at the piano and play the music on cue. Sometimes I am on the recieving end of back rubs and cups of ice water. I get to play with the band, led by our extremely kind and competent pastor. I reap the spoils of becoming acquainted with quality kids, in addition to hanging out with my own.
May I remind all those involved that this is the proverbial "frosting on the cake"? I don't know many home-schooling communities that have the gumption to put on a show with all the trimmings! (I actually don't know of any...) Although I am certainly a part of this whole she-bang, it wouldn't happen if I were at the helm! So, thanks to all the moms & dads & administrators & crazy kids that beg every year:
"Let's put on a show!"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

a flawed hero

We have been reading through the Old Testament this year and we are in the thick of First and Second Samuel. The riveting drama of this ancient text totally captivates me: the line of judges, the establishment of Saul as king, and the the intensely personal struggles of David in his rise to power. Although the story of Joseph (in the book of Genesis) has always been a favorite of mine, the tale of David is a close second.
David, the shepherd-boy turned king, is a flawed hero. As much as I exult in his triumphs, I am deeply disappointed, close to distraught, in his failings. Perhaps it is the length of his story, or the magnetism of his character, or even the humanity revealed in the details, but the life of David leaves me breathless in its scope. It takes effort to merge the young musician that hurled stones at lions to protect his father's flocks with the warrior that ruthlessly mows down entire cities, women and children not excepted. Yet David the shepherd, the musician, the poet, the warrior, leader and king are one and the same. We can peer down the annals of time, as if from behind the lens of an omniscient movie-camera in the sky, and see his life unfold. This man that swears allegiance to Jonathan and flees from the vengeful King Saul captures my heart. I feel his grief, his fierce allegiance, his sorrow at his own sin, his passion for worship, and it moves me. It challenges me. If you haven't read his story lately, dive into the Old Testament and give it a whirl.
Thanks, God, for the amazing life of David, son of Jesse.
Thanks for a flawed hero.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

thoughts from my head

-We made home-made ice cream today to accompany our Easter dessert. Not the old-fashioned way (sorry, Paul)....but with a new-fangled electric machine. I'll bet the results are just as delectable, though.

-I have begged Zalika to entertain us this evening with some stories of her childhood in Africa. Growing up in the desert-plains of Niger seems so exotic, so other-wordly. And I'll wager that even her own kids are unfamiliar with tales of her early life. Family legend has it that when my brother first met her, she was grinding corn with a mortar and pestle. My brother paid an amount of cash and a donkey to marry her. Her father was the village imam, daily climbing the minaret to call the faithful to prayer. There's got to be a few stories in there.....

-In the midst of our Easter festivities, my thoughts keep zinging back to our upcoming purchase of the Madrid properties. Will we really pull this thing off? I think so. My husband has never failed to surpass my expectations in the remodeling department.

-I rejoiced in the price of asparagus today: $1.68/lb, and the stalks are petite and tender-looking. Zalika and Aisha love asparagus too, so we will feast on bowls full of it tonight. Isn't it great to satisfy a hankering, and a healthy one, at that?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

maundy, maundy

"My soul is often a chariot without wheels,
clogged and hindered in sin's miry clay;
Mount it on eagle's wings
and cause it to soar upward to thyself."

-excerpt from "Penitence"
"The Valley of Vision"

Today is Maundy Thursday, a day traditionally set aside for reflection of three events: The Last Supper, Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. My lazy and undisciplined heart feels wholly incapable of encompassing the sorrows of Holy Week, which made this excerpt from a Puritan's prayer particularly timely.
I can recall a poignant Holy Thursday service of my childhood. There was a table set for thirteen at the altar, and while the pipe organ intoned "Were You There?" and "O Sacred Head Now Wounded", we were led in groups to be seated for Holy Communion. We partook silently, passing the plate and the tray of tiny cups with shaky hands while reflecting on the many ways each of us have failed Him.
Penitence is not a popular word in our society. It is not a popular word in the depths of my own sin-sick soul, either. It takes work to be sorry and to grieve. I guess I'll just have to hoist these ole' chariot wheels out of the muck and get this here chassis cleaned up for a ride to heaven. Or at least a ride to church in my Easter-best.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

extreme home makeover X 5

"Phone's for you. It's dad." says #1 Son.
Hubby is out-of-town for a few days each week, remodeling a house in Albany. We usually touch base a few times daily via phone, but this time he greets me with a shocker.
"How would you like to live in Madrid?"
And I knew exactly what he was referring to. Our second offer on a piece of real estate around the corner from our church had been accepted. Some of our friends are "in the know" about our latest and craziest venture. It involves purchasing our very own slum: 5 houses, a two-story post and beam barn, and about an acre of prime waterfront property on the Grasse River. Anyone driving through the sleepy village of Madrid, NY might miss this scary row of depressing buildings. There are nicer things to look at when stopping at the four corners. The storefront of the Hometown Cafe, for example. Or the lovely Victorian brick manse across the way. Anything but the sloping porches, blue tarps, chopped up lawns, strewn junk, and crumbling siding that will shortly belong to us.
What are you thinking?
one might ask.

You just wait and see.
Anybody wanna buy a house in Knapp Station?

Monday, April 02, 2007

the New York Times and other times

There is a set of couches in the Potsdam library that I like to settle into. Within arm's reach is usually a copy of the latest New York Times. A few pounds into this fabulous paper is the Arts & Leisure section, and this afternoon I cracked it open with a luxurious 30 minutes to squander.
Exuding a very cosmopolitan yet unassuming air, I checked the roster of upcoming concerts and exhibits. Ah yes, Pirates of Penzance is still playing at Lincoln Center. Good show, that. And here is a splashy photo of an acquaintance of mine onstage, accompanying the MET Young Artist Auditions. A few articles later, I see an announcement of a Carnegie recital given by a well-known opera-star. She belted notes of a new opera while in my living room last fall. Really.
At times like these, the career-bent strings of my heart get to zinging. My imagination starts cranking like this: "If I had gone to grad school....If I had attended conservatory....If I had postponed marriage & family for a few years...." -and so on. Don't get me wrong, these waves of false regret last only a few moments, and even while they travel through my brain waves, their appeal diminishes.
The calling of a wife, mother, homemaker has proven to be the thrill of my life. Lucky for me, God has generously allowed me to taste a few other dishes over the years, and I've mostly enjoyed what I've tasted. But the best stuff?
You won't read about it in the New York Times, folks. But you are welcome to come on over to my house and share the joy anytime.
Note to Friend #32: you will be forewarned of any opera-singing.....