Archive | May, 2012


29 May

Every year, our parish celebrates Pentecost by doing the entire service in various languages. The Prayer Book is typed out in one column, and the “foreign” language is written next to it, so you can follow the service.  Dr. J does preach in English (British!) and the Prayer of Consecration is in English, but the rest of the service is something else, really something else, indeed. We only have seventy-two families, but we manage to pull together an impressive roster of languages. Yesterday, we had Swahili, Hindi, Japanese, French, Latin, Chinese, Zulu, Spanish, and some silly old lady who sang in Cherokee.

OK, so Just As I Am is not particularly “Pentecostal”  but my repertoire is limited.  I’ve been told my accent is not bad for a unega, but I don’t think I would fool anybody.  At the end of the service, we have a sheet with the Lord’s Prayer written in Russian, German, Greek, and a couple of other languages we missed during the service. I heard a voice behind me doing the German (as was I) so I think we have another poor soul who is going to get nabbed for next year.

And every single person was “home-grown”. We’d welcome visitors to join us, but that has only happened once. A friend from  DBE did a reading in Welsh. It’s a wonder the spell-checker doesn’t have a nervous break down.

It isn’t often you get Episcopalians speaking in tongues, so the entire service was filmed.  And yes, my Cherokee in-laws do call me Pale Face. Why do you ask?

Ladew Gardens

24 May

If you ever get to the Baltimore Area, one of the places on your to-do list should be LaDew Gardens. Harvey LaDew purchased 200 acres in Harford County and turned a decrepit farmhouse and “two lilac bushes” into an absolute show case. Although he had many wildly varied friends, he never married, and to me the place seems oddly sad. There were never any children to race and chase across the broad lawns. Before his death, he arranged for the estate to become a public area, and it is on the National Historic register.

A few weeks ago three of us from church went up for the day, early enough to catch the azaleas in bloom.  We were a “mixed bag”. Although I was raised in the country (when I wasn’t in boarding school) both Nancy and Dot are city kids. I hardly know a dandelion from a  tulip, but both of them are scared to death of the nitty-gritty of nature.   We stopped for lunch beside a koi pond, and it was obvious the fish expected a share of our meal.  I tore up bits of bread and tossed them into the water – some far out for the little fish and larger bits in closer for the larger, more aggressive ones. I reached into the water and ran my fingers along the backs of the fish, and Dot had a stroke. “You’re touching them?”

“I was just scratching behind their ears.” I think she believed me.

Later, we went on a nature walk around a large lake. There was one section where it was suggested we keep an eye out for native snakes. Both Dot and Nancy had mini-hyseterics about the mere idea of meeting a snake, so I suggested they stomp their feet. “The vibrations will keep them away.” And so, off we went, with the two of them pounding along, making as much noise an entire battalion of Storm Troopers, and me bringing up the rear, barely able to stand for laughing.

They may have became suspicious.

We did find this snake sunning himself on top of a bluebird nest. Apparently, snake baffles are every bit as effective as squirrel baffles.   I think the snake probably dropped out of a tree, but who knows – they are sneaky creatures. And not afraid of foot stomping!

A Good Week’s Work

20 May

Well, Savannah’s dollhouse is not exactly complete, but since a) I don’t need it until Christmas, and b) I accomplished this in a week (and was out two days), we’re not doing too badly.

I did miss one piece of trim under the small front window, the front door needs door knobs (which my grandson always called door slams, for some reason), and a few more piece of furniture would be nice, but all-in-all, not too shabby for a week’s work.

A.C. Moore is phasing out all of their dollhouse “stuff”, but they still had bags of shingles. Unfortunately, they were $40 a pop, and me without a coupon! It’s not so far away (5 miles) that I can go back with a 40% or 50% coupon and not feel wasteful. The roof will be painted red – just about the same colour as the flowers. There is a small piece of porch roof to go over the door, but that can also wait until the shingle situation is resolved.

I may stick some hedges around the edge of the house “chust fer show”, as my Amish friends say, but we shall see. Lamps, kitchen cabinets…I have to remember this is for a child and not go obsessing over things that can only be seen by a midget lying on his back with a dental mirror! And, no,  I do not exaggerate.

Another Day, Another Dollhouse

16 May

Mother’s Day was warm and sunny, and since I am completely at an impasse with the Bombay house, I decided to start on the little house I planned for a child at church.

I spread newspapers all over the picnic table, laid out all of the pieces face down and slapped on a coat of flat white paint. This serves two purposes. It gives me a primed surface for the wall paper, and prevents me from putting a piece on wrong way round. (Who? Me?)  While I was waiting for the paint to dry, I found a circle of thick plywood left over from who-knows-what project, sanded the edges smooth, and covered it with a piece of green fabric. I dug an old Lazy Susan from my stash, and the Squire drilled a few holes to fasten the two pieces together.

Monday was cool and rainy, so I moved operations indoors, and got the exterior pieces painted a soft grey, the trim white, and the shutters and door a sort of butterscotch color. The roof will be red. I’m not sure I like the color on the shutters but it’s too late now.

This morning was taken up with a visit to the dentist and the Red Cross, but in the afternoon we got the house fastened to the turntable, and I printed off some wallpaper for the living room. I haven’t decided which room that will be, as the door opens into the smaller room, which has the stairs going up, and the larger room has the picture window.  It the interest of saving space – and my sanity – I may omit the stairs entirely. If anybody asks, they are along the open wall and you can’t see them.

I’ve put pictures of the house on my Webshots site under “Savannah’s House” if you wish to follow the minutia of building a simple doll house. Savannah will be four in November, so I am not putting the effort or expense into this house that I am the Bombay. It’s really fun to be able to just do things, instead of obsessing over every little detail!

Is this Thing Jinxed?

13 May

For as simple a doll house as the Bombay is, I’ve run into a number of glitches – minor, but annoying. First, of course, was the way in which I fell heir to the house. Next, I ordered what I thought was five strips of moulding, and it turned out to be five packages of three pieces each. (Learn to read, dummy!) Then, what I thought was a bundle of baseboard, turned out to be just plain strip wood, so I had to wait again to receive that through the mail.  When I ordered the baseboard, I also ordered a small dining room set, which included a nice  corner cupboard.

When I build a house, I always try to include a cupboard – generally under the stairs – or a large drawer in the base to hold odd bits and pieces. I found a narrow door for the closet, painted it, all that good stuff, and then made a mock-up of the wall where it would go from a piece of tablet back, but you can see the door fits perfectly.

Exactly where the dining room corner cupboard belongs.

Maybe I can get a hutch instead and put it at the foot of the stairs to hide the fact that the wallpaper  isn’t exactly the same color.

It’s always something.

The Dearly Departed

10 May

Once a month or so, a group of us who used to be involved with Christ Church get together for lunch and to reminisce about “the good old days”.  Sometimes we meet for a pot luck at a member’s home, or brown bag at a park, and other times we go to a restaurant. Today we met at an ice cream parlor/lunch room in rural Harford County called Broom’s Bloom.  They have quiche, sandwiches, soups, and the world’s best ice cream.

I had a combo called The Dairymaid’s Delight – a cup of roasted red pepper bisque so thick it actually mounded over the cup, fresh cheddar and strawberries, a slab of cornbread, and what is called on the menu “a very small ice cream”. Two scoops of caramel cashew.  And, of course, a cup of coffee worthy of my dad – a mug which probably held three regular cups.

Most of the folks there knew my dad (including the waitress), and at least knew my mom either in passing or by reputation.  We talked about my dad’s funeral – he was late for it – and the fact that my mom ended up getting buried in the wrong plot.

Now, this was her own bloody fault, although I honestly think my father had a hand in it.  She had refused to have a marker put on his grave (“God knows where to find him”) and even though the marker was free because he was a veteran, and I knew there was no chance she’d ever visit his grave site,  I never did put one in.  When my mother died, it had been raining for a solid week, and although it was sunny the day of her funeral, when we arrived at the church we discovered it had been too wet for the grave-digger to get into the cemetery, so we had to come back the next day to actually plant the woman.

While we were milling around in the grave yard, it struck me that the flag marking the plot was not in the right place. The church office was closed, so I couldn’t check, but I did call first thing the next morning.  I told the secretary I was pretty sure my dad was buried next to the Trafton family, but would she please double-check.  Well, it turned out he is buried on the left end of the Traftons, and my mom’s flag had been placed on the right end. Jan dashed up the hill to move the flag, but she called me back to say that by the time she got there, the hole had already been dug! I still don’t know how to handle this, but the gang today – after rolling off their chairs with laughter – suggested I just wait until there’s another Trafton burial and move my mom then.

And it gives my father a few more years of peace and quiet.


8 May

I got all of the paper hung in the Bombay living room, and discovered that the bundle of strip wood I had in the back room was just that – strip wood, not baseboard, as I had assumed. (You know what that means!)  Went online and ordered a dozen pieces of baseboard, a walnut chair for the bedroom, and – I thought – two walnut night stands.

After I was all done, after I had carefully reviewed the order several times, and hit the “Pay” button, I discovered I’d only ordered one night stand, not two. Grrr.  I think the other one jumped out of the way at the last minute.

I hate when that happens.

When I was on a straightening binge in what is laughingly called my workshop I found two ancient slot and tab kits. They were so old they were marked $7.49! One had been opened, so I kept it, but put the other on Freecycle. Since I am currently at a standstill on the Bombay house, I’m going to paint the inside of this one and begin to put it together. I can use odd bits and pieces to furnish it (I found some Little Tykes furniture in a bag) and scrap booking paper on the walls.  I’ll donate it to some little girl – I have one in mind – as a Christmas gift.

Bloody Sunday

6 May

This has not been a good week.

On Thursday morning, a homeless man who had been coming to the food pantry at St. Peter’s, on the far side of the city, walked in and shot the secretary and the assistant rector. The secretary died almost instantly. The rector was still clinging to life when she arrived at Shock-Trauma, but her family only kept her on life support until arrangements could be made to donate her organs. Both women were shot directly in the face, and at first the police weren’t sure which person was which.  There was a memorial service at the church today for members of the congregation. A general service will be held on Tuesday at the cathedral.

It is so difficult. God tells us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and we feel almost guilty keeping the building locked when we are there alone. How does one reconcile this sort of tragedy? How did a man with a history of mental instability get a gun? Lord, what were You thinking?

When we do the Prayers of the People, we always stand in respect at the beginning while the names of those military who were killed in action during the previous week are read out.  Today there were thirteen names on the list. It just seemed to go on forever.  It always brings tears to my eyes; even if there are only a few names, it is still too many young lives snuffed out.

One lady announced that her grandson will graduate from college on Mother’s Day and has accepted a commission into the Army as an engineer. She is not very happy about his career choice. He wants to be “like his grandfather”, who was a very distinguished Army veteran, but “I don’t think Cliff would have approved of this at all”.  What does that say?

It is time we all came home.

The Squire and I took the dog and the cat up to the rabies clinic after church today. Blazer thought it was all great fun (A ride! A ride! I’m going for a ride! In Poppa’s car! Oh, joy! Oh, joy!), although the arthritis in his back legs made it difficult to get him into the van.  Eddie, on the other hand, was most displeased about being in the carrier and made no bones about it.  The vet had to drag him out head first, and the cat immediately turned to scramble back inside, which put his posterior in exactly the right spot for the injection. As we were going back to the car, the Squire remarked that he must have stepped in something, and stopped to check out the soles of both shoes.

Eddie had made it abundantly clear what he thought of the entire proceedings.  $%!* on you and your shots, buster!

Rest in Peace, ERMP

1 May
My dad, Ernest Russell Melbourne Parker,  died thirteen years ago today. If my mum was a piece of work, my dad was a work of art.
     He’d always wanted to be a priest – a vicar in Australia, where he was born – and my uncles told me he would stand on a soap box in the back yard and preach to the chickens. When my grandfather was transferred to America, it was the middle of the Depression, and my dad dropped out of school  (as did many young men at that time) and joined the U.S. Navy – one less mouth to feed at home, a quicker way to get his citizenship, and the Navy would train him to be a chaplain.  Unfortunately, after Pearl Harbor, they needed him for other things. He had been injured pulling other men to safety, and after he got out of the hospital he served as an abatu, training other men to go overseas. After the war, he was “mustered out”, and went to work for the phone company.   I have told you everything I know about his military career, and I probably made up half of it. Men of his generation never talked about it.
     As a layman, he served in every possible position in the church.  He was Sunday School superintendent, Senior Warden, Junior Warden (financial and property managers to you non-Anglicans), a chalicist, a lay reader, treasurer, you name it. At one time he was the only lay person in the diocese licensed to preach his own sermons. He was a member of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. His friend and mentor, Fr. Carroll Eads, said at his funeral that if it had been physically possible, “Ernie would have run for president of the Ladies Group”.
     He did not actually get to seminary until he was 60. It was incredibly hard for him, I know, to go back into the classroom, so much older than all of the other students, and learning to study again. People talk about what my dad accomplished, but I do have to give my mum a lot of credit. They left a lovely home in Maryland to live in a tumbledown rental in Cowan, TN, while my dad attended Sewanee. He studied, and she typed his papers, shoveled the snow, took out the trash and balanced the checkbook. It wasn’t easy for her, either. He often said she should have been ordained at the same time he was.
     After about ten years at St. Mark’s, in Roxboro, NC, he had taken an exchange parish is Chichester, England, for six months, in 1992 or ’93, and had accepted a call to return as their vicar. He and my mother were busy packing, getting the paperwork in order for her to emigrate (since he was born in “the Empire” he didn’t have quite as much to do), and another eight million things to do, and he began to become very forgetful. He put it down to stress, but it got to the point that my mum finally managed to get him to the doctor. “Practically at gunpoint”, she said.
     He had a massive brain tumor.
     Unfortunately, during his forgetfulness, he had neglected to take his HTN meds, which destroyed his kidneys, and he spent the next eight years of his life on dialysis, and was not able to return to the U.K.  He never gave up,  though. They returned to Baltimore, and he took a tiny church, Holy Cross on Millington Avenue, and served them for a pittance until his death. He used a walker to get down the aisle, and had a bar stool behind the altar because he couldn’t stand up for the entire Prayer of Consecration. He was writing a sermon when he died.
     I asked the girls if they had any special memories of their grandfather.  Our oldest is a neat-freak, and she used to drive my dad nuts by “straightening” his desk. She’d gather all of the papers, and stack them up by size, into a neat little pyramid. He finally had to make a tent sign, “Tina, keep off my desk!” Our middle daughter remembered “log-rolling” in the back yard on the big reels that held telephone cable; he’d bring them home to use as tables on the patio and such, and the girls would turn them on their sides and roll across the lawn. Our youngest remembered the smell of his pipe,  and him letting her “polish” her shoes with his shoe buffer.
     She also said: “But if I had to say absolutely one thing that stands out throughout all the years (one that I have reflected on several times), it would be a moment that only he and I shared:  I been home from GA for a little bit (probably ’86) and we went to church in Forest Hill where Granddad was preaching and after the service he came up to me outside and we were talking and he said “How have you been doing?  Been behaving yourself?”  I just looked at him and smiled and he said, “Well, if not, don’t get caught and have fun.  We’re all human, and I’ll always love you no matter what.”  At that moment, I knew I would look always look up to this man; since I was flawed and he did not care, did not scold me, he made me feel loved unconditionally.”
     And I still miss him.