Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sandwich Tasks

My, my, June has been a busy month.

Here are some of the stranger or more laborious tasks of the past few months, tasks which are all part of being in the Sandwich Generation.  Only a few are awful.

The newest addition to the Common Household:
our very own owl!

- birthdays, graduation, a college tour, driving lessons, and more birthdays.  For Younger Daughter’s birthday we went to an escape room and successfully saved the world from a deadly disease, in only one hour!  The puzzle was cleverly put together, and it was lots of fun.

Sovietskaya balalaika

- Tuning my aunt’s Soviet balalaika. A few months back I was surprised to learn that my aunt acquired a balalaika but was at least relieved to know that it was given to her for free.  She has not played any musical instrument since playing violin in high school, but she says she wants to learn how to play “that song from Dr. Zhivago.”  The chance of her doing that is about as likely as an overbearing reality-TV star with a comb-over becoming US President.  In other words, never say never.   My aunt and mom were unduly impressed that I found the “Online Balalaika Tuner.”  It was necessary, because I don’t know the first thing about balalaikas.

- orchestrating a rather complicated series of medical appointments for my aunt.  The whole thing was made blessedly simpler because my brother is able to take her, rather than me having to arrange transportation.

- having my own medical procedures discussed at length at the Old Folks’ Home by people I don’t know while I wasn’t even there. My aunt called and said, “Did you have surgery on your eye? I think maybe you did, but I can’t remember.”  I said, “Yes, I had a very small growth removed from my eyelid.  It wasn’t really surgery.”  My aunt said, “Well, my friend is very concerned about your eye.  What’s her name?  It’s that Chinese woman.  Oh, yes, Sherry Ottley*.  She is very concerned about your eye.” 

I have never heard of Sherry Ottley in my life.  I certainly have never met her.

- duties as the junior member of the band program committee, which merely (ha!) puts together the paper on which your son or daughter’s name is listed, along with the musical selections the bands will play.  Despite that simple description, it isn’t simple.  But okay, it’s easier than chaperoning a band trip.

- moving Son out of his college dorm, and into his first apartment! 
Moving into one's own apartment is likely
to mean a trip to Target.  This Target had
an escalator for the shopping carts.
- leading book club discussion.  The book was David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell.  The person who started the book club, my husband, insists that there be snacks.  What kind of snacks should there be?  I decided on slingshots constructed out of pretzels, fruit by the foot, and cemented with melted chocolate, only to have Son tell me that David used a sling, not a slingshot.   I only made four of them because I thought no one would actually want to eat any.  I was right.  Fruit by the foot is edible, but it is hard to classify it as food.
Edible slingshots.  They didn't look like
 this on Pinterest.  Also, they are not biblical.

* Name has been changed to protect the identity of meddling old ladies.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cabin of Grace

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

The Lord is my park ranger;
I have everything I need.
He gives me the key to a cabin in the woods
And leads me beside the still waters of the vernal pond
Where the trees all around rustle their praise of God's name;
Thus he restores my soul.
He leads me on the right path to get to the boathouse
and grows wildflowers in the nature reserve for his name's sake.

Even though the way is sometimes too narrow
and the hiking path is covered with mud,
I will fear no evil
For the park ranger has marked the trail with blue blazes on tree trunks
 so that I shall not be lost.
Though the ground beneath me is slippery, he will not cause me to fall;
he lifts my foot up out of the mud.

The park ranger tells me where I can buy matches, which I forgot to bring,
so that I can light the campfire.
You make it possible to prepare hamburgers on the grill,
in the presence of rabbits and birds;
You have caused me to remember the ketchup.
My cup of lemonade overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall sweep me along like the creek waters.
And I shall dwell in the cabin of God's grace for my whole life.

 - The Book of Jubilations 23:1-6

* * * * * * * * * *

I wrote this as a serious expression of gratitude to God for the three-day respite we had at this cabin in the woods earlier this month.  But when I recited the first line to my husband, he guffawed.    I stand by my portrayal of God as park ranger – to me it’s more relevant than the image of a shepherd.

Our three days was quite restorative.  We hiked in the forest, and got entirely muddy.  We observed animal tracks in the mud – definitely deer, and maybe raccoon tracks.   We saw a wild turkey, red-winged blackbirds, and heard a bullfrog in the reeds.

Another name for "vernal pond" is "mosquito breeding ground."
By a miracle, there were no mosquitoes during our entire stay.
Animal footprints in the mud.
Are these raccoon prints (after all, we were in Raccoon Creek
State Park), or, as my husband suggested, velociraptor tracks?
In any case, there was plenty of mud.

Younger Daughter got entirely muddy.  Even way more muddy
than in this photo.  She loved it.

We cooked dinner on the grill outside.  We roasted marshmallows.  We made 6-minute soft-boiled eggs and water for tea on the stove inside the cabin, and enjoyed blueberry buckle which I baked at home and brought with us.

Hooray for being able to buy a
lighter at the boathouse!

A week before our trip, we ran out of ketchup.  For the trip,
I packed one bottle of ketchup. Younger Daughter,
remembering the deprivation of the previous week,
 packed two more.
We canoed and did some fishing on the lake in the face of strong winds.   We observed my family’s time-honored tradition of going to the beach when no one else is there because the weather is cold and unpleasant. 

A fishie!

It was windy, chilly, and rainy.  That's my husband and
daughter in the water anyway.

We stayed in the cabin and read our books. We ignored the internet (no wifi at the cabin!).  YD played board games and card games with her Dad, while I wrote a psalm depicting God as a park ranger.  We played the “Jeopardy Game!!” which I made for my husband’s 50th birthday (which he happened to find under the bed while he was packing for the trip, and threw in at the last minute).  

Final Jeopardy category:  Sports.
Click to embiggen to read.
I lost because I forgot to answer in the form of a question.

It really was a cabin of grace: an undeserved gift.