I’m on a plane. I paid for the WiFi. I’m taking advantage of it and writing another installment. I think we left off with a priest showing up through a priest hole in my closet, like Narnia but in reverse. And without the goat-man.
We emerged into the dining room to find a folding table set up against the front window of the house. Our house faces north of that means anything. I never did tell you Fr.‘s name. And I cannot remember it now. We’ll call him Fr. Chad. Upon Fr.’s request my wife produced alter linens ala table cloths. But linens alone do not an altar make. “Fr.,” I asked, “I’m no expert but I sort of am but don’t you need like a chalice or some other things for mass?” At this moment Sister walked past me with a crate of “mass supplies”, set them down, and silently returned to a chair at the back of the room.
“I gotch-u, baby,” said Fr. with all the air and confidence of a 1970’s street pimp.
Yes, it was at this precise moment that I gave up and decided simply to go along with all that almighty God had planned for me. Clearly I have no clue.
“Introibo ad altare Dei.” *”I will go unto the altar of God.”
With these words, Fr. began the holy sacrifice of the mass. As he continued on through the Confiteor, I glanced beyond him and out the large picture window over the “altar”. The snow was now coming down heavily. It really was a beautiful sight. Reminded me so much of my childhood growing up in New Jersey. the only difference here is that elm and split leaf maples are swapped with crepe myrtles. But the fresh-fallen powder on the barren branches is still magnificent.I
I have always loved the snow. I think it has something to do with the peacefulness of it all. Even the noises of the atmosphere are dampened by a blanket of snow. Everything is almost silent when it falls. People can’t venture far past their streets. Families “huddle” together. And then there’s the child-like sense of wonder in me. As a kid, I loved seeing something fall from the sky that was so beautiful. As a man, I can’t help but think back to my boyhood and the true happiness I felt when we’d get a significant snowfall. Imagine if you will the combination of a picturesque scene out the window and the eternal, super-beautiful reality taking place just below it.
“Ite, missa est.” *”Go, the mass is over.”
We prayed the Leonine prayers, took a few moments to offer our thanks to God, and headed to the kitchen for lunch. Even Sister looked pious while kneeling to pray.
By now (after our meal) it was getting to be later in the afternoon. I stepped onto the porch to see how much had fallen. It was 12 degrees. I know this is Texas and the weather is schizophrenic but this is truly crazy. I noticed about six inches on the ground. The little kid in me got real giddy. I can’t help it. I’ve been in Texas almost a decade. We never see this. I went back inside to find that Fr. had vanished. I asked him to use the door but I think he went back through the priest hole. In fact I know he did due to the presence of a draft in my house. The re-pointing of hose bricks won’t be cheap. But Sister was at least still with us. And she had set up a board game at our kitchen counter.
We rounded out our afternoon in the typical fashion. We played Yahtzee and I shotgunned a gin and tonic. Sister played the oboe (did I neglect that detail?) and the children danced. It was “Flight of the Bumblebees”. Stupendous.
We all drifted off to sleep this peaceful night with no clue of what lie/lay/lain ahead of us. Yeah, I couldn’t figure the correct form. Whatevs, shuge.
In our next installment we enter the darkness. Hope you’re ready.
We did not stay awake for Sister. No, my own sister, my wife, and I all went to sleep around 1 AM after the following text exchange with Sister.
Sunday February 14, 2021
I rose extra early this morning. Part of me just wanted to be prepared for the snow and to assess whether or not I would actually be able to drive my sister to the airport or would have to call her an Uber. The other part of me, for there are only two parts and neither is very impressive, wanted to arrange the few Valentine’s surprises I had purchased for the family on our kitchen counter. I’ve been trying to be more attentive to little details. By this I mean I’ve been trying to shop for gifts and generally be better in the thoughtfulness department lately. Let’s face it. If anything ever happens to my wife, I’m screwed. Better get on board now with trying to copy her moves so it doesn’t resemble a complete disaster. So there was a large box of chocolates for her and smaller boxes for the kids, one for my niece who lives with us, one for my sister, one for Sister, and some Valentine’s cards I had picked up.
I had just finished placing the last of the heart-shaped cardboard containers on the counter when my sister emerged from her bedroom. “What’s the situation?” she asked. I explained that I had been listening to the weather reports and had been outside already. It was definitely going to be bad. Already the temperature was in the teens and there was a strange feeling in the air that one knows by heart if one grew up in a northern latitude. Snow was at the doorstep. I scheduled an Uber and told my sister of my regret that I couldn’t drive her personally to the airport. She understood but still it didn’t feel right. I always make it a point, ever since I could drive, to personally pick up and drop off my guests at the airport. For starters, we’ve always lived relatively close to a major airport. I joke that I like to be able to make a quick exit if the need arises. Even as a kid, though, I was always fascinated with airports. It’s the five year-old boy in me. Not to mention, this is my sister. She deserved to be seen off with a personal touch.
Just as I informed her that I had scheduled the Uber – two hours out – the familiar sound of giant, clanking, wooden beads came down the hall. “Why Sister,” I exclaimed. “Nice to see you among the land of the living.” “Coffee,” came her reply. “How was the conference?” I asked. “Stand out of my way please,” were the six words I was not expecting; yet they were said in an almost helpless way. “Long night?” I asked, forgetting for a moment that I had awoken at 2:15 AM to the sounds of a sub-woofer dropping the beat to “The Sign” by Ace of Base in my driveway. Life really is demanding without understanding. “Listen,” she said, “I just need a hit of the wakey juice and I’ll be good.” Then, turning toward my sister, “Oh hey! Glad you’re still here! We have so much to catch up on.” I explained to Sister that the other sister would be taking leave of us soon. Sister agreed that they must arrange a get-together in the near-future. “It will be so much fun,” she said as she slipped back into the sign language that had been absent from my life for the weekend. And to be honest, I’m not sure how both hands raised as if holding steins is the proper sign for any of that. “I just love the way you tell a story and I’m dying to hear more about the hoes.” In case anyone has forgotten, that’s a reference to the Irish dance moms from the previous installment. “Definitely have to meet up again and,” turning to me, “also I’ve arranged a priest to come and say mass in your house if that’s OK. He’ll be here in a couple of hours. Figured it was the least I could do since I think all the local masses are canceled due to the storm rolling in.”
Well that was a surprise indeed! I wondered who this collared man of mystery would be. Someone I know? A priest from a religious order? Maybe a Carthusian! Maybe a bishop in disguise!! My morning had just gotten very interesting. I took a shower and got changed and then stood on the front porch. In those 30 minutes I was grooming, mostly trimming my beard, the flakes had materialized. And now there was a solid half-inch of packed snow on the road. The untreated road. The road that would not reveal its pavement for another week. Good bye, road. It was nice to see you. I stood there waiting for that Uber. In fact I had the app open and watched as the clock counted down for me.
It gave me similar messages for the next four minutes. And then… Nothing. The app went blank as though I had never scheduled a thing. Well that’s not good, I thought to myself. Let’s try just ordering one and see what happens. And… Nope. There’s the problem. There were absolutely zero Ubers on the road. It’s odd because so many of my fellow Texans own four wheel drive pick up trucks. Someone ought to be making a killing in this weather. But here we were. Looks like I would have to drive my sister after all. We checked one more time that her flight hadn’t been canceled, she said goodbye to my wife and kids, did some weird “up high, down low” high five with Sister, and we took off.
The airport terminals are fifteen minutes from my front door.
The drive took us an hour. It was bad out there. Slow going doesn’t begin to describe it. White knuckle driving is a bit more accurate. “I’m gonna’ need a Xanax” driving is probably best. I walked my sister into the terminal and discovered that she would be on the last flight out of this place today (and indeed for several days). We said our good bye’s and she slipped past security. As a parting gift, when we rebooked her flight, my wife put her in first class. As I walked away from the terminal I texted her.
Another hour later and I was slowly skidding my way back into the driveway. Sister was on my front porch smoking a Camel. I know, right? She stamped it out as I approached. “I didn’t know you smoke,” I said with an impish grin. “I don’t,” said Sister as serious as a heart attack. “Fr. will be here soon. I hope you don’t mind but he only says the Traditional Latin Mass.” “Don’t mind at all, Sister. That’s what we go to,” I said. “Also there are some quirks,” replied Sister. As she said this she raised both hands in front of her face and flung out all ten fingers like they were glitter or confetti or something. As she did this, she literally said, albeit in a whisper, “Poof.”
I noticed my daughter had made biscuits and gravy and they were warming on the stove. I can’t turn down good Southern cooking so I fixed myself a plate. Sister slapped the fork out of my hand just as it was about to enter my mouth. “Fr. will be here SOON,” she said excitedly. In my hunger I had almost forgotten about the pre-Communion fast. Then again, “soon” doesn’t specify a time and since he was coming to my house to say mass I figured he might be able to delay the start of the mass until we were all good and ready. “Also, wouldn’t we need to have time to set up an altar, chairs, an entire chapel,” I wondered? Reading my thoughts, Sister said calmly, “Fr. does all that. Do not worry.” Nevertheless I felt it incumbent to get changed into my suit. It matters not whether it’s at home (which is very rare) or in a gothic cathedral. Sunday mass is a cause for dressing up for the Lord. I walked into my bedroom and toward my closet. Opening the closet door I just about had a heart attack. A slightly-built man in a long black cassock and a biretta to match was just emerging from the other side. I’ve learned not to ask anymore. About anything. Ever. And it’s also good I had already disarmed myself when I walked in the door from the airport.
“You must be Father?” I said half stating the obvious and half out of genuine curiosity. The answer, the words that came back at me… I have a beautiful voice. I’ve long been told I should do voiceover acting. I’ve done some radio spots. I love to read to people. I sang in a choir. This voice? If Barry White and Perry Como had somehow spliced their genes, they couldn’t have made a more perfect voice. Deep, relaxing to the point of inducing torpor, spellbinding. And that voice said simple, “Yes.” So the obvious next question was “Why the closet when we have a front door, Father?” To this my closet cleric said simply, “These are dangerous times. Sister gave me a coded map. I followed it. It led to that opening over there.” He said this as he pointed to the daylight pouring in from behind my linen suits (for Summer). I walked over to inspect. Sliding the suits over on the bar I could see clearly what was taking place. “Father,” I asked somewhat hesitating, “Did Sister create a medieval ‘priest hole’ on the back wall of my house?” I completely ignored the questions of how she got in there and cut through plaster and brick as quickly as she had. By the way, kudos to her. The small 3’X3′ square was cut with such precision as to be easily placed back without any notice. And this is what Father and I did promptly. You know, because it was snowing and it was also a load bearing wall.
On our way out of the bedroom (I never did get changed into my suit) Father and I talked briefly. “What are these ‘dangerous times’ of which you speak?” Father, who appeared in the light to be somewhere between 40 and 85 years-old, leaned in close. “Masks,” he whispered. “I don’t wear one and the people who seek me out don’t either.” “So let me get this straight, Father,” I asked. “You’ve made a cottage industry catering to Traditional Catholics who wish to remain maskless?” “Oh my son, it’s more than that.” He had better be closer to 85 if he’s calling me “my son”. Father paused briefly before adding, “But mostly that, yeah.”
And that seems like a good place to leave off for now. Come back for part 7 where the Hill of Calvary and Elizabethan England somehow merge in my dining room in Texas.
I received a message today from a friend who informed me that her mother was “on the edge of her seat” awaiting the next installment. I will take that as high praise from a reader and offer to you now the fourth installment. NB: These “parts” might cover more than one day at a time as we go forward.
Thursday February 11, 2021
Sister came out of her room this morning and poured her morning coffee. Mercifully for her, the convent had not taken that simple ritual away from her. She lifted the mug to her lips, took a long draw, and then slammed the coffee cup onto the counter. “Hooooly Mutha! That’s some damn good java,” she said. I believe Sister had found her voice. Sister then picked up her small, black copy of the 1962 Roman Missal and stepped out onto the front porch to pray her morning prayers. I mean, I do have heat in my house but whatever. Meanwhile I mulled over our options for the day. I needed to be back at the homestead by 9 PM to pick up my sister from the airport. “Perhaps,” I thought, “I can one day make a movie and I’ll call it When Sister Meets Sister.” I had gotten as far as making them detectives and pairing them with a quadriplegic man servant (comedy gold right there) when I remembered that Sister had wanted to travel to Waco. If you thought she had a JFK obsession, you should ask her about the Branch Davidians.
Sadly for Sister, neither a trip to the Branch nor to Magnolia nor to the Dr. Pepper Museum (a very real place in Waco) were in the cards today. You see, an ominous weather event had swept through overnight. No, it’s not the fabled blizzard you tuned in to read all about. Patience. Rather this was that blizzard’s harbinger. And what a tragedy this brought with it. I started to look at news on my phone and was stunned at what I was seeing. Apparently every school district in North Texas had closed for the day due to weather. I looked out my window assuming that Sister might have gotten buried in a drift. Instead of a blanket of white I saw a white woman in a white habit under a literal blanket of white. Sister had grabbed a fleece on her way out the door. But not a flake in sight. I went back to my phone. Turns out this system had produced patches of lethal black ice. Here I must state with love that Texas drivers are not good drivers in decent weather. Also, the local governments lack the equipment to treat the roads as they would have been treated where I grew up. Rather, towns will send out police in squad cars to park at the bottom of highway entrance ramps in a blocking fashion. This does not work, though, when someone is already on the road when it gets closed. Sadly, that morning 135 vehicles were involved in one of the worst mass accidents ever just to our west in Fort Worth. Several people died. Please say a pray for them.
Sister and I drove to mass at a local oratory that had been kind enough to host us all week. Normally we would have gone to our parish but Sister knew some of the members of this particular community. I noticed that the roads were indeed slick but I wasn’t too concerned. I wasn’t getting on any highways. We arrived and went in for mass. In the quiet of the chapel I attempted to meditate on the Passion. The door swung open. The door slammed into a crucifix on the wall. That crucifix fell and hit me on the head. Meditation complete. Our Lord ALWAYS hears our prayers. The door had been flung open by the children of a mutual friend to Sister and me. The family had come to join us for mass. Afterward we all went out to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. Sitting at the table I asked Sister if she wanted a drink. It was lunchtime and we were at a place known for their margaritas. Sister locked eyes with the waiter and spewed something at him in flawless Spanish. I picked up something about a drink, a chimichanga, the Argentine Dirty War of the 1970’s, and bull castration. My Spanish is a little non-existent. Juan, our waiter, turned pale. He fumbled with his pad and pen. In his eyes, a glaze of sheer terror. Sister lifted her head back up (for she had dipped her eyes back to the menu) and said calmly, “¡Andale!… or should I say… Raus?” Juan backed away swiftly from the table, never turning his back to Sister, and then ducked into the kitchen. I had no idea she was a polyglot! What fun! Before I could say burrito Juan had returned to our table. He was now dressed in finery. Deep red velvet bolero jacket with tassels. Golden embroidered sombrero. His hair was now white so there was that. He was attended by three similarly dressed servers carrying trays of the finest selections of chips and queso. I honestly thought it all came from a food services truck. Each of the servers had hair blonder than mine and the bluest eyes. The last of Juan’s assistants handed Sister an envelope. “Third Secret of Fatima,” she said. “Can’t reveal until the year 2000”, as she tucked the envelope into her sock clearly having buried the Millennium in her subconscious.
I think something happened to Sister when she put that new hat on yesterday. I think it unlocked something of her youth. I think it tripped something within her personality as if her brain suddenly said, “Sister, it’s OK. You don’t have to be scared anymore. You can come out and play. You do you!” Or maybe it was the Yankee Candles.
I returned home to get my daughter ready for choir practice. Sister remained with friends a while. She may have had Juan arrested for some old Nazi war crime. Perhaps she just got more queso. Some things are better left unthought. Unfortunately for my daughter, choir practice was canceled due to ice that had already melted away. She and I had our own choir practice at the piano. A few scales for warm up and then we rehearsed the song “Dance Ten, Looks Three” from A Chorus Line. I don’t know if it will ever make it into the Latin mass rotation but it sure is fun to play on the keyboard. Don’t worry, I had her hum over any “colorful” lyrics.
I looked around my house and noticed it didn’t like quite as “fresh” as it had a few days ago. Should I call Alma again? No, not enough time. Instead I went around and swept, mopped, cleaned toilets, etc. It’s kind of what I do. I gravitate to my own kind. That’s why I spend time cleaning toilets and taking out the trash. Because I am garbage. After I finished I put together another gift basket to place in one of the bedrooms. This one was very special to me. It was a basket of Texas goodies and other treats for a very special person who was coming to Texas for the first time. In fact, if it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be in Texas to make this gift basket. Truth be told, I wouldn’t be anywhere but in the ground. When I was a young boy of 4, my older sister saved my life by tossing me from the second floor of a burning building. This part is 1000% true in case you were wondering. I’ve always been close with this sister and I was so happy she could make the trip to see us. Sadly, her husband died a few short months ago. He was one of the absolute best human beings you would ever want to know and we have all been saddened by his loss. I hoped that in bringing my sister for a visit, she might be able to see that there is fun in life still and share some of that fun with us.
I headed out to the airport and waited at baggage claim with a sign that said “Welcome back from rehab!” She slapped the back of my head when we met. We drove home. Out came the cheeseboard, crackers, and bar cart. We were celebrating life. Sister asked my sister if she wanted a Yankee Candle. I explained that whole mess to her. She stuck to her rum and coke. After a while my sister began to regale us with a tale of her children who are champion Irish dancers. They frequently attend competitions that take place in hotel ballrooms and the like. “Sister,” said my sister, “You don’t know what this shitshow is like. You got these older, I don’t know what you’d call ’em, ‘dance moms’, right, Sister? These ladies use these dance things as their night out on the town, ya’ know, Sis? Know what I’m sayin’?” Sister was intrigued. I could see her attempting to formulate into hand symbols my sister’s flawless Jersey. Then came the phrase that pays. “Sister, nah, Sister… listen to me. We’re talkin’ hoes on heels here.” Sister couldn’t find the right symbols for that one.
And then we all went to bed.
In tomorrow’s installment we’ll get my sister’s take on JFK and we’ll venture into a genuine Texas bingo hall. B-I-N-G-O, friends, Bingo was his name-o.
The following story recounts the past two weeks of my life. I am a husband and father to two wonderful pre-teen children. I live in a modest house in the Dallas, TX area. I intend no politics, am not assigning blame, nor am I writing to convey anger over the blackouts. I am simply a man who lives a bizarre life and likes to write. With that being said, here now, part 1.
Monday February 8, 2021
Perhaps the first thing you should know, especially if you are new to these pages, is that I homeschool my children. For over 15 years I worked as a high school teacher and later, a school administrator. Last summer, not looking forward to masks and temperature checks for myself or my children, I decided to take a shot at something I had always wanted to do. The moment was never going to be better than it was to treat myself to a year (hopefully more) of being the principal of my own school. Also, I kind of dig walking through my kitchen to get to my classroom. Another thing you should know is that my family and I are cradle Catholics. Some would even label us “traditionalist” Catholics. The Catholic faith and culture are as much a part of our life together as oxygen. True enough, we attend a Latin mass parish but that is what works for us. A final point of which you should be aware is that between my wife and me, we know thousands of people. I come from an enormous family (14th of 16) and my wife is just phenomenal at everything and loved by all. She could legitimately spend her days literally stomping on the knuckles of hangers-on trying to come within her sphere for warmth. She doesn’t. In particular, she has many friends with whom she has remained close since college. All of these facts will play a part in what is to come.
Several weeks ago my wife received a text from one such college friend. We will simply call her “Sister”. That’s because she’s an ex-nun. You’ve probably heard divorcees lament that “I didn’t leave my spouse. My spouse left me.” Well, Sister’s order left her. In fact, it disbanded, or it was suppressed by the Vatican. We’re really not sure. The point is, she’s not an “ex”-nun by choice. It was more of an indifference sort of thing. “My spouse left me” takes on a whole new meaning when one is a bride of Christ. Having spent the past fifteen years in complete silence, using only rudimentary sign language and finger puppets to convey her thoughts, Sister’s family forced advised her to take a vacation. Owing to the fact that every time we’ve seen her in the past few years we’ve invited her to come visit us in Texas, Sister’s first thought was to take said vacation in the Lone Star State. But of course, she would be our most welcome guest! Our preparation consisted of me 1) determining to “shuffle around some school work with the kids” to accommodate her visit and all the fun day trips we would make and 2) calling Alma. Who is Alma? Well, Alma is only the best kept secret in town. That may be because she is in the country undocumentedly. In truth, I do not know. What I do know is that she can clean a house like it’s nobody’s business. The process usually involves several unaswered text messages listing multiple potential days and finally a reply that says simply: “Yes.” I think she uses a burner phone. Having secured her scrubbing skills, I woke up early on this morning – it’s still the 8th if you forgot because of my verbosity – I unlocked the door and welcomed Alma. Alma politely brushed past me while looking over her shoulder. “Close door. I clean now,” she said most politely yet with a tinge of both fear and disgust in her eyes. “Also, don’t tell no one I’m here.” Looking at her earnestly I said, “But Alma, I don’t know anyone who knows you.” To this she replied, “Keep it that way,” and then she commenced vacuuming my drapes.
While Alma dusted and shined I suddenly remembered that one of my nephews – a young man in his early 20’s – had also asked to come stay with us this week. He had time off and wanted to visit one of my nieces – a young lady in her early 20’s who happens to live with us – and particularly to visit her lady friends. Ah, the mind of a young man… Always looking for, um, platonic friendship? Yeah, he wasn’t here to see us, to be sure. Nonetheless, I did have to leave Alma while I drove out to the airport to get the lad. On the drive I used my background in logistics to figure out where he would stay. I dropped him off at home, shoved him and his baggage into my daughter’s room, paid Alma her cash (unmarked bills), and watched her instantly vaporize through the chimney. “Don’t… tell… no one…” she said as she vanished. Boy she’s something else. Also, we don’t have a chimney so it was really magical.
Next up, I rolled a die to determine which of my children would be my favorite this day. Kidding. They’re both my favorite. The girl. Using reverse psychology, I took the boy and left daughter at home while I went shopping for Sister’s impending arrival. We went to a giant warehouse store. There are five of us normally under our roof and the one added guest has lived off of rice and donated donuts for two decades so this was going to be a challenge. I stocked up on cases of soda, mini quiches, and other things to make our exclostrated guest feel at home. Then I headed to my happy place, a liquor store called Total Wine, or as I call it, Wine Totale. I like to class it up sometimes. Sister had enjoyed her cocktails while we were in school. Let’s see if she can still hold her liquor. While roaming the aisles I overheard a customer and a sales associate discussing gin. And the fourth thing you needed to know about me is that I have had a love affair with Dutch Courage since college. I know my gin. And my gin knows me. The information being given the poor shopper by the young clerk was so wrong I absolutely had to interject. I told her about the wonders of gin, its history, and then helped her pick a bottle. “What are you making with it, might I ask?” I said. She told me it was for some “ancient cocktail” her husband had heard about called a bijou. The bijou dates to the 1890’s and contains equal parts gin, chartreuse, and sweet vermouth. I was intrigued enough to stock up on all of that. Looking into my cart at the already full supply of other gin, rum, and an assortment of Texas whiskeys, she asked, “And what are you making with all that?” My son, who is undeniably my son, shot back, “We’re not making anything. Just getting ready to entertain an ex-nun.” And we walked away.
I stopped at daily mass, came home, and made some finishing touches to the house. This included assembling our traditional “Texas Welcome Gift Basket” for Sister’s room. My wife and daughter had even made Texas-shaped chocolates for her. Finally the hour approached to return to the airport and collect Sister. I entered the terminal and noticed how empty it was. Air travel has really taken a hit this past year. It was in that emptiness that I was able to hear the little things that make my life more fun.
I turned around to see a middle-aged woman lying on the ground on top of a piece of rolling luggage. In her fall she had completely bent the extended handle of her suitcase. She came to rest in front of an elevator that I think she was attempting to board. I looked around, noticed two other people. We all looked at each other and then, out of a sense of human decency, approached the woman to assist her. As I got within a few feet I smelled the familiar waft of alcohol that has traveled through the bloodstream and, finding no room at the inn, decided to exit the body via the pores. This chick was sauced. My first guess was that she had enjoyed the hell out of first class and now could not find her way outside of a paper bag, let alone an airport terminal. We got her situated with some medical assistance and a bottle of water from a vending machine and I turned around just in time to see Sister walking toward the baggage carousel.
Sister is a character of epic proportions. She loves Texas, having spent some of her youth here. She is a bigger fan of pop culture, including the TV series Dallas, than even me. She loves a good meal, perhaps almost as much as I do. We got into my car. I connected my phone and the radio blasted the theme to Dallas. “So much fun!” she said. “Why don’t you go pick up Whataburger while I get my rental car and head to your house?” And that’s just what I did.
To close out day one, I offered Sister a drink. “Sister,” I said, “Let me fix you a bijou.” She looked at me like I had just announced the death of the Roman pontiff on state-run TV. “I’m game,” she replied. Here I set to work making a cocktail I had never made, nor did I know would be potable. I did this with all the swagger of a bartender who’s served up drinks for years at the same establishment. As in, “Trust me, you’ll like it. There is no other option.” I poured two bijous and we toasted Sister’s arrival and visit. Sister took a sip. Sister put her glass on the counter. Sister said the following.
“Tastes like a Yankee Candle. From the 1890’s.”
And that was day one. “Where’s the snowstorm? What happened to the blackout?!” you ask. Patience, friends. All will be revealed.
One of the Psalms saieth something or other about how “at least the honest man can get a good night’s rest.” Well friends, I’m tired. I’m not sure that speaks much to my honesty or not but it’s been a long day. The dog (pictured above, my schizophrenic Jack Russell) and I are headed to slumber town. As I tell the kids, “Don’t forget your night prayers and for heavens’ sake, BRUSH YOUR TEETH!”
My mom is in town for a visit and to attend the upcoming wedding of my sister-in-law.
So I took her to get her nails done before the wedding. There’s a reason men shouldn’t be in these places. Mom picked out a color and then said “Maybe I’ll get one nail done up in something special,” while pointing to something with glitter. “Like a coke nail?” I asked with some incredulity. The woman has seen her share of Law & Order so I thought maybe it was a thing. “We call that an ‘accent nail’,” said the woman behind the counter.
You learn something new every day. Next it’s off to the hair place. Perhaps we’ll find some gin along the way.
Speaking of gin… In late November a big, beautiful, upscale liquor store opened nearby. Since I am a big, beautiful, upscale drunk this was a natural fit and made me very happy. Those of you who’ve ever known me know that I have a penchant for gin. Recently a friend shared an article with me that declared that those who drink gin and tonic are psychopaths. It didn’t say we were “likely to be” psychopaths. No, this hurtful group of words masquerading as a scientific journal said straight up that I’m a psycho. Sure, drinking gin has been likened to drinking a bottle of Chanel No. 5 and the British did attribute the collapse of their country’s middle class to gin a few hundred years ago. Where was I going with this? Oh yes, the liquor store…
I’ve made a resolution not to buy the same bottle twice until I’ve tried all the gins I haven’t tried. This place has a whole aisle devoted to my favorite spirit so it might take a while. Then again, I’m a psychopath so maybe not. Recently I tried Aviation which was nice but had notes of something I’m not quite sure of. In other words, it wasn’t great. Last night I picked up a bottle of Oregon Spirit. This made me think of the Oregon Trail. If I get dysentery and die from drinking this I will be quite peeved.
I came home from what is more and more the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had and got to work on a carpentry project I’m working on for Christmas. Take a gander.
I’m not great by any means but I’ve been taking stock lately of a few things. The thing I would most like to be proud of in my life is my vocation as husband and father. On that front all I can say is I am trying every day. I am a teacher and vice principal. After my family, in my adult life, few other things have brought me such joy. I am a writer who has never claimed to be much good although I do know my way around a few decent turns of phrase. I am a man who likes to challenge himself in the gym, not stopping or giving up until I’m satisfied. I will probably never be satisfied and that is just OK with me. It simply means I will always be challenging myself. And I think that goes for every aspect of my life.
On the writing front in particular, I have been reading old posts to my children. It is fun rediscovering our life together; but not nearly as much fun as seeing the joy and hearing the laughter from my children who really get a kick out of my writing. Also on that front, I have noticed that I have at seven separate times in the past few months started writing new posts only to save them as drafts. Perhaps I will one by one finish each post and publish them. I might even provide context.
Until then, the family is beautiful, school is wonderful, I am building back up in the gym and getting stronger, and Baby Jesus has a comfortable place to sleep in my garage.￼￼
Folks, I got off all that social media nonsense a while ago. Sorry but I'm not on Twitbook, Facepalm, YouHu, WingWang or any of the others. Maybe an event will happen to make me change my mind like Peter and Paul coming down with flaming swords and commanding it be so. Until then, read the blog and if you feel a comment is in order or you feel like sharing a tip or suggestion for a topic, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harvey is a funny, witty and interesting read. Want to know what's going on in the world of Harvey? Then make a point to subscribe to his blog! You just never know when those pesky Weebles will show up. Hmmm, speaking of Weebles - haven't heard from them in a while (wink). Seriously, you just never know what to expect and whatever you find, it never disappoints! -- Debbi Robertson @ Photos and Facets