Saturday, September 27, 2008

On the Dole

Mom is 99 and no longer as sharp as she used to be. Conversations meander this way and that. Her train of thought frequently jumps the track. Sometimes I can't fathom her reasoning.

A standing item on her shopping list is Dole fruit cups. Two weeks ago, on a whim, I brought home fruit cups with "gel."

"Don't get those again. They're awful, " she said.

Yesterday, we were making out her shopping list. "Get me those fruit cups, both kinds."

"What do you mean, both kinds? 'Tropical fruit' and 'fruit salad'?"

"No, I want one with the stuff in it."

"You don't mean the gel?"

"Yes, the gel."

"But you said you didn't like the kind with the gel."

"I don't, but maybe they've improved it."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

First Lesson. Jonah 3: But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, "It is better for me to die than to live." But God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?" And he said, "Yes, angry enough to die."

Psalm 145: The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and of great kindness.

Second Lesson. Philippians 1: Only live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I (Paul) come and see you (new church at Philippi) or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents (folks opposed to Paul?).

Gospel. Matthew 20: "But (the landowner) replied to (the day laborer), "Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?"

Today, the Tree Hugger made a rare appearance at church. We, along with 25 other couples married 25 years or longer, were given a special blessing by our priest, Mother Sheila. (Phil and I celebrated 46 years together on July 14th.)

Today's sermon dealt with not letting yourself be consumed by anger. I've always gotten angry because things aren't fair. Advice to self: Forget about fairness. Aint gonna happen. Move on.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Whole Damn Dessert

I visited Mom one summer when she was in her 60's, about the age I am now. Mom wanted me to go with her to visit Edna, her older sister, who lived 90 miles away.

Aunt Edna was a pill. When we told her we were coming, she said irritably, "Don't expect me to give you lunch. I have nothing in the house!"

Mom replied, "We don't expect lunch, but we'll bring you a nice dessert."

Mom made a concoction typical of the 1970's: instant pudding on a graham-cracker crust, topped with a cloud of Cool Whip.

Aunt Edna and I were chatting in the living room while Mom was in the kitchen, getting ready to serve the dessert. "You don't suppose she's going to give a piece to Helen Ferguson, do you?" Aunt Edna asked. Helen had been Edna's next door neighbor for at least 40 years. Aunt Edna was always feuding with someone. She hadn't spoken to Helen for months because of an incident involving a dog and some dug-up tulips.

Before I could answer, Mom flew into the room in righteous fury, a Cool Whip-laden spatula in hand. She shook it at her sister furiously. "If I want to give the whole damn dessert to Helen Ferguson, I will!" she raged, and flew back to the kitchen before Aunt Edna could say a word.

There was a moment of stunned silence. Aunt Edna turned to me and arched her eyebrows. "Well!" she exclaimed.

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

TAKEAWAYS" will be posts for writing down words heard on Sunday at St. Philip's Episcopal Church that struck me as profound, interesting, odd, chilling, or even funny. They will be taken from the appointed readings for the day as well as the sermon. The complete sermon can be found at You can also click on "Good News in the Wilderness" on my blogroll.

First Lesson. Exodus 14: "Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses."

Psalm 114: What ailed you, O sea, that you fled? O Jordan, that you turned back? You mountains, that you skipped like rams? you little hills like young sheep?

Second Lesson. Romans 14: "Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables."

Gospel. Matthew 18: "And in his anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

Sermon: "Forgiveness. Not a moment. A process. Of course some people reduce it to simplistic terms. 'I’m sorry.' 'That’s okay.' Liar, liar, pants on fire. How many times do we say 'I’m sorry,' but don’t really mean it. Or we respond, 'That’s okay' when it is not. And sometimes we never really get to forgiveness."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years ago today . . .

Where was I on 9/11?

I was working for an agency of the federal government in suburban Washington. Suddenly someone yelled, "Turn on the TV!" We watched in horror as the second plane crashed into the tower. By 9:15 AM, the place shut down and we were all sent home.

Because of long-standing security concerns, the facility was already walled off with cement barriers. The gates, meant to keep the bad guys out, now became frustrating bottlenecks. The exit process was grimly quiet and orderly, but we felt like sitting ducks. Getting out of that parking lot took forever.

The last person to learn of the attack was our friend and my husband's co-worker, David. He was still at home that morning, because he had to take his mother to the doctor. As usual, he had not turned on his old black-and-white TV.

The doctor's office called. "We're closing the building. You'll have to reschedule."

David assumed they must have had a water-main break. He puttered around all morning, finally leaving for work about noon. He turned on his car radio and heard ". . .worse than Pearl Harbor." That certainly sounded ominous, but he still hadn't a clue. When he reached the agency, he found all the gates closed but one.

The guard asked, "Are you essential personnel?"

"Heck, no," said David. "What's going on?"

The guard told him. David turned around and went home.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


This morning I drove our grandson to kindergarten at his new school for the first time. I was in a sea of rush-hour traffic, trying to keep the car in one piece as I weasled my way from the far left lane on Maryland 198 to the far right in order to turn onto northbound U.S. Route 1. Once on Route 1, I moved quickly, with traffic roaring up behind me, to secure a place in the left lane to make another turn.

Suddenly I was confronted with a guy traveling south in MY lane on roller skates!! He popped up out of nowhere, cruising along as casually as you please, VERY close to my left fender. This, despite the presence of a side walk to his right. He's lucky HE'S still in one piece. I honked and yelled, "Don't DO that!" In my rear-view mirror, I saw him clamber up onto the sidewalk, the turkey.

Then I muttered, "Creep-o-maniac!" I don't know where that came from, but my grandson thought it was a cool new word.