Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Leaf Season

Thus saith the Lord: Even before the twenty-first day of the ninth month, I shall cause leaves from deciduous trees to fall on the land.  During the ninth month, the leaves shall be as multi-colored as the top half of my rainbow, the ROY G half of the ROY G. BIV.  And you shall rejoice and be glad in your land full of broad-leaf trees.

Our Kwanzan Cherry Tree, mid-September

Yellow, and Green

I'm only including this pic because
I had to snap a lot of photos
before I was finally able to
 capture one falling leaf.

But lo, during the tenth month the leaves falling on your land shall become more numerous than the stars in the heavens.  On the first clear day after the first new moon of the tenth month you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  You shall call all the members of your household, your maidservants and your manservants, your teenagers, lo, even those who have just begun to walk.  You shall hand each one a rake, and on that day you shall rake leaves.  You shall rake leaves up to the high places, that is, to the edge of the street, yea, even shall you rake the leaves uphill. 

Behold, a teenager raking leaves uphill!

Behold, the other teenager chooses a more
mechanical method than the lowly rake.

The Lord commands that you wear a double layer of work gloves, lest your hands become afflicted with blisters.  The Lord is kind and compassionate, and loves not a blistered hand.

Then the trees of the field shall clap their hands, and behold, a whole truckload of leaves shall fall on your land.  Leaf shall fall upon leaf causing a slippery mess on your lawn.   You shall rake leaves for one hour before Bible study, and still there shall be leaves on the land.  You shall rake leaves for an hour after going to aerobics class, and still there shall be leaves on the land.  I shall cause a mighty wind to blow the leaves from your trees onto your neighbor’s land, and still, there shall be leaves on your own land.  There will be so many leaves that the teenagers will give up, because too much labor is required of them.

And then, on the twenty-fifth day of the tenth month, I shall cause the leaf truck to come into your neighborhood, for I, the Lord, am merciful.  And the leaf truck shall suck up all the leaves which you have placed at the edge of the street.  And you shall lift your eyes up, and see that the trees still hold in their branches as many leaves as there are stars in the sky.

                        - The Book of Exertions 2:147


Even after raking, there are still leaves.  Sigh.

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Party Time!

The time: an evening in mid-September.  We were finished with the bat mitzvah celebration, and two weeks away from the Eagle Scout celebration. 

The place:  the Common Household

The feeling: exhaustion from too many celebrations

The dialogue:
Husband:  After the Eagle Scout ceremony, we don’t have to have any more parties until Thanksgiving, right?

Me:  Thanksgiving isn’t really a party.  But you’re right.  No more special events until, until, until…

I searched around in my head for the next big event, and finally remembered one big event that was looming for me...

Me:  …. until my colonoscopy.

I hadn’t really meant to blurt this out, but this procedure had been on my mind.  I needed to make my appointment, and had put it off since June, because of all these other parties.

Husband:  You’re going to have a party for your colonoscopy?  Actually, that would be great – most of our friends are in their fifties.

(My husband had his a few years ago, but I've never had one.  He knows that he could have fun at this party without any of the 'preparation' for it.) 

Me:  Yeah – we could all schedule our colonoscopies for the same day!  The day before, we could have a party and do jello shots! 

Husband:  Jello shots, chicken broth, water….hmm.

Me:  Then the next day we would all show up at the hospital at the same time and have the procedure.

Husband:  And then afterwards you could have a really great party!

Me:  What would we serve?

Husband:  Well, it’s got to be high-fiber food.  You’d have to serve a lot of fruits and vegetables, and shredded wheat. Those doctors tell every single person coming out of a colonoscopy that they need to follow a high-fiber diet.

Me:  So when should I have my colonoscopy?

Husband:  If my mother was scheduling it for you, she would make it for the day after Thanksgiving.  She always scheduled my orthodontist appointments for right before or right after Thanksgiving, so my teeth were always hurting, and I couldn’t properly enjoy the Thanksgiving meal or the leftovers.

Me:  It’s not up to your mother.  It depends on your schedule, because you have to be there to provide transportation and to listen to the doctor’s schpiel about a high fiber diet while I am coming out of the anesthesia.

* * * * *

I now have The Procedure scheduled for a day well after Thanksgiving.  A colonoscopy is probably like painting a room:  the preparation is far worse and more tedious than the actual procedure.  There are some risks involved with the colonoscopy procedure, but I’m willing to take those risks in the hopes of avoiding colon cancer.  If you’re over 50, and you haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, I encourage you to go ahead and make a party of it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Roman Initiation Rites

Youngest Daughter has decided to join the "Junior Classical League" at school.  In reality it is the Latin Club.  We got a notice that she should show up on Tuesday at 6:45 PM for 'initiation – Roman attire required.'  Good thing I have plenty of spare old sheets.  By a miracle, we also had safety pins in the house.  The parents were not invited to the initiation ceremony.

The Junior Classical League is very popular in our school district.  I could not understand the allure – stand around dressed in a bed sheet and say "E Pluribus Unum" and "Ipso Fatso"?  So the day before the ceremony I asked my daughter, "What is going to happen at this initiation ceremony?"  She said excitedly, "Well, for one thing, there is going to be a slave auction!"  I choked on my tea as I protested.  She pulled out the latest Info Sheet, which she had not yet showed to me. 

(An aside – we are always pestering our children to give us the coveted Info Sheet, which tells us when to be available to provide transportation, and what our child is required to bring.  But it is like pulling teeth to get them to surrender these documents in a timely manner.  I am still waiting for the Info Sheet from my son on the latest band he got into, which in the past has required driving an hour each way to rehearsal every Saturday in November.  I thirst for a carpool arrangement for this.) 

Sure enough, the JCL Info Sheet said, "You could win $20 toward a personal slave at Saturnalia."  But I think the real attraction is that the old members ("old" here means the 15- to 18-year-olds) were instructed to bring 'fancy desserts – no chips or Oreos'.  The Info Sheet further promised "cake! And a super exciting surprise for you at the end!"

I am afraid to ask what happens at the Saturnalia event.  Middle school students + Roman debauchery doesn’t sound like a healthy mix.  But perhaps we won't get the info sheet in time.

When she came back from the initiation ceremony, she had a little bag around her neck. She said it has rocks in it, which symbolize her membership in JCL, or something like that.  Personally, I think a bag with garlic cloves in it would be more useful.  She said they ran out of cake before she got there, but she had pie instead. Also, they had a skit contest, which she won, and shared her prize of candy with her friends.

So, readers, have you ever been to a Saturnalia?  More importantly, do you have trouble getting the Info Sheet?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chassé! Relevé! Plié! Hut!

Probably one of the most intellectually challenging things I do during a typical week is go to exercise class.  Its difficulty far exceeds any statistical problem I have tackled, any theological issue I have wrestled with, any parenting problem I have confronted.  The challenge is this:  how to make my body move without hurting myself or others.  Some especially challenging moves are: jazz square, flea hop, and doing anything with my arms at the same time as my legs. 

Jazzercise makes this easier than other exercise programs I have tried.  I tried biking with my son, and he left me in the dust, even though I pointed out that I was his ride home (although that wasn’t quite true – he could have ridden his bike home).  I tried jumping rope, but the neighbor let on that he saw me (from 4 houses away) so that had to stop.

In Jazzercise we exercise to the latest popular music, with choreographed moves announced and shown by the instructor. All my Jazzercise instructors are great.  For starters, they face the class.  I have been to other aerobics classes where the whole class, including the instructor, faces a huge mirror.  Nothing can ruin my day faster than having to watch myself exercise and look at all the other more competent, more fit people doing it better than I.  When I move my body to music, I am an embarrassment to the human race.  This is a long-time feature of being me:  in my kindergarten dance class, despite the fact that I was one of the shortest girls in the class, I was placed in the back row for the performance.

The Jazzercise instructors sacrifice a lot by facing the class.  They have to learn the routine mirror-wise.  For instance, when they instruct the class to go to the right, they themselves are moving to the left, so that the class can mirror their movements.  If I tried to do that, I would get so tangled up I would have to sit down for a week.

My Jazzercise instructors are so talented, they can give us directions, dance opposite from those same directions, all while telling us astonishing facts about the world.  For instance, who won the latest “Dancing with the Stars” episode, who is singing the current song, and how much the football player’s fine was for butting heads with another player.  It was from my Jazzercise instructor that I learned that my own daughter’s math teacher was attacked by a deer.  We also get to hear the fascinating examples of psychology that play out while she is at her other job at a major department store.  The instructor tells us these things all without getting breathless.

The owner of my local Jazzercise class is retiring at the end of this month.  I will greatly miss her able leadership.  Her retirement might have meant the end of the class, but she has, with foresight and concern for us all, arranged for a talented and capable new person to take the helm.

The Common Household Mom thanks all her Jazzercise instructors for their high impact enthusiasm, their excellent attitudes, and uplifting relevés!  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Common Household movie references

These conversations occurred a while ago, but they both prove the same point, which is that my husband has an ability to turn every conversation into a movie reference.  I don't watch a lot of movies, but he knows a lot about good movies.

* * * * *

After I got home from church on Sunday, the Common Household Husband asked, “How was church?” 

I said, “Today we had the congregational meeting where I was elected to be on Session.  Some people came up to me and said ‘Congratulations’ but one friend sidled up to me and said, ‘So, they got you!’  She really knows how it is.”

[In the Presbyterian Church (USA) the Session is the governing board of the local congregation, and the people serving on this board are called elders.]

Then I turned to my Son and said, “This may not surprise you, but I am an elder.” 

Son:  “An elder what?”

Me:  “A ruling elder.”

Husband:  “Oooh! Are you, like, Lord Sauron?”

Son:  “Or the Supreme Commander!”

Husband:  “One Elder to Rule Them All.”

Me:   “They still have three positions to fill.”

Husband: “Which positions are still vacant?”

Me:   “Ruling elder.”

Husband: “Why don’t some of the common elders just move up to the rank of ruling elder?”

Presbyterians may be elder, but they ain’t common.  And apparently in our family, everything can be referenced back to The Lord of the Rings.

* * * * *

At dinner one night we were talking about the election, the outcome of the Citizens United case, and such.   My husband said, “Anybody can make a campaign commercial that is full of lies about one of the candidates.  Do you think that the American people would be able to tell it was lies?”

Son: I don’t have much experience with the American people.

Me:  Tell Dad what you’ll be reading in English class.

Son:  Walden.

Husband: Walden who?

Son:  “Where’s Walden?!”... and Civil Disobedience.

Husband: You could just watch Lord of the Flies instead.

Son:  And something else by some guy... and the Declaration of Independence.

Husband:  We should get that movie ‘1776’!

Me:  And ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’!

Son: Isn’t it ‘Bill and Ted’s Very Excellent Adventure’?

Husband and I (looking at each other meaningfully):  Be excellent to each other!

* * * * *

I will also admit that, around the Common Household, one of the most frequently quoted lines from a movie is "The piano must go up!"  - most recently quoted just before the symphony orchestra concert of Rachmaninoff's piano concerto in d minor, but also used when any large or heavy object needs to be moved.

Does anybody in your household like to quote movies?  What's your favorite?  Do you know what movie "The piano must go up!" is from?