Archive | December, 2015

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

Tuesday afternoon, three of us from the Altar Guild met at church and tried to get things set up for the Christmas Eve services.  We replaced the dry greens around the Advent wreath, put fresh magnolia leaves in the window sills, got the crèche figures out and set them around the base of the font, so they could be handed to the kiddles to carry up to the altar at the early service. We put the poinsettias around the altar, but we knew they needed rearranging, as we couldn’t find the stands normally used to put them at different levels.

There were a number of things that simply didn’t get done. The head of the Altar Guild is very, very, ill and simply didn’t have the energy to do some of the stuff, and there are two new men in charge of the Property Committee (The Squire always did everything alone) and they have rearranged things to a fare-thee-well, without consulting the ladies, so we couldn’t find half the stuff we needed. You’d think any man would have enough sense to keep his hands off things that concern women, but apparently not.

The church has an outdoor Christmas tree of sorts – strings of lights going from the ground to the top of the flag pole – and it wasn’t lit when we got there at 10 PM. The new Property Warden said the timer had been on for six hours, and that seemed to be the end of it as far as he was concerned. The original set-up went on and off by the ambient light, but apparently that is no longer being used.  The new man, poor soul, had also used a ladder to attach the strings of lights to the ring at the top of the flagpole, instead of dropping it down and working from the ground, so we only had six strings instead of sixteen.

Ah, well. I have no room to talk. I was the crucifer cum LEM at the late service and totally forgot to light any of the candles  – not the candelabra behind the altar, not the sconces, and not even the candles ON the altar. For some wondrous reason, I kept tripping over my alb. It’s the same one I’ve worn for years, and the same style shoes I’ve always worn. Beats me. I just seemed to be a half-beat off all night.

The Squire and I slept in this morning until an outrageous hour, and then simply started fixing Christmas dinner, rather that eating breakfast. Afterward, we exchanged our gifts. (see “Try to Act Surprised”, parts 1 and 2) The Squire settled into the recliner with the first book of the Safehold series, Off Armageddon Reef, and I promised not to disturb him until 5:00, as we are leaving at 6, to go up to Eldest Daughter’s for a late supper. I figure if I play my cards right, he’ll be finished in time for me to take the book to work on Monday.

Not as dumb as I look.

The Bishop is Coming!

20 Dec

Easier said than done, sometimes. Keep Calm

Yesterday, about a half dozen of us from the Altar Guild met at church in the morning and did as much as we could to make the place look festive for the bishop, and still not break the tradition of not decorating the church before Christmas.

We also made swags to be hung from the sconces and roping for here and there, and laid them outside the back door, in the cool air, ready to put up as soon as the coast was clear.

Blazer didn’t get to go, because one of our members is simply terrified of dogs.  I called home before I left the church, to ask if anything needed to be picked up at the store. Since I was not in the house, when The Squire answered the phone, Blazer came into the den, presumably to see if I was calling him. The Squire turned around and told him, “That was Momma. She’s coming home”, and the poor dog immediately raced to the back door and sat there, expectantly, staring at the doorknob. Silly mutt.

Our Altar Guild chair is not any older than I am, but she has numerous health problems and her husband is very ill. I don’t know how she keeps going, I really don’t. She was running the vacuum cleaner around the altar and had to stop and lean against it to catch her breath, she was wheezing so badly. We finally chased her out of the building with a broom, and she was still too ill to come to church this morning. She did show up after the bishop had left, “ready to work”, she said, but we all agreed that we will meet on Tuesday at 4:30 to do what needs to be done.

She had been training somebody else to take over for her, but that person moved away, so we’re back to square one. I used to be head of the Altar Guild, back in the 80s, but somehow I can’t see M+ offering me the job.

So – Bishop Sutton baptized one adult, and confirmed or received five people, including the aforementioned adult. Not bad for such a small parish. Bishop Sutton is a delight. Fantastic sense of humor, and uses it to make his point. He spoke about the word “Behold”, which is not in any of the new translations of the Bible, nor is it used in Rite II. Either the word “see” is substituted, or the thing is ignored completely. This really diminishes the importance of what is being said. The angel told the shepherds, “Behold! I bring you glad tidings”, which is a lot more impressive than “See, this is what happened in Bethlehem”.

There was a couple in the back of the church who had come for the sake of the one of the confirmands and he, at least, was down-home Baptist. It took him a little while to realize that while Episcopalians do laugh in church (especially when Sutton is the celebrant), we don’t generally shout “Preach it, brother”!

Where Was I?

15 Dec

The Squire and I held our annual Open House on Sunday, the 13th. We’ve done this every year but one since we got married, and that was after Hurricane Floyd dropped a tree on the house.

The Godson came over on Thursday and Saturday to help swing a dust cloth and then acted as our head chef on Sunday.  I baked like a mad woman, gluten-free stuff first and then my more traditional things. The Godson has been helping us for the last four years, so he knows his way around our kitchen, and doesn’t have to be reminded to keep an eye on the trays and so forth. He’s considering a career in culinary arts, so he really enjoys doing this for us.

In between all this, we had a cookie exchange at church and a Christmas dinner with the Daughters of the British Empire, both on Saturday.

Last night I went up to bed at 9:45 and staggered downstairs at 9:30 this morning.  I not only never got out of my robe, but I also took a nap in the afternoon.  Tired? Not a bit.

The Open House was not quite as well attended as it has been in other years, but it was nice. We had a chance to move around and visit with guests, and the weather was warm enough (70!) that we didn’t light the fire.  Eldest daughter came down, bearing oatmeal cookies and crackers; she uses my recipe, but hers are always so much better, and The Squire seemed to think one box of Wheat Thins was enough for the crowd. Sometimes I wonder about that man.  Both of the local grandchildren and their spouses came down, and brought the Little One, who charmed all the guests with her smiles and curly hair.  Blazer wandered from place to place, looking for a handout or a belly rub. We, of course, never feed him, or pay any attention to him.

Somehow, the conversation turned to unwanted phone calls. I don’t answer calls where the name or number is “not available”. If you’re not available, then neither am I. I also don’t speak to entire cities. If I do answer a call with a number I don’t know, I speak Cherokee. One of the guests is from Tanzania and she laughed. “I use Swahili, and just keep saying “no English, no English”.  We have another lady at church who is from Denmark, and she does same thing. Never use French or German, and Heaven forbid you should try Spanish!

The weather here has been incredibly warm. It was 70 on Sunday, and 72 on Thanksgiving day. The cherry blossoms are starting to bloom in Washington D.C., and our forsythia has little buds along the branches. The Squire was joking about  possibly mowing the lawn on more time.  Well, the weatherman is saying we may have snow flurries on Friday.

They were claiming we’d have a hard winter. When it comes, it should be a doozy.

More Than One Way…

9 Dec

For a solid week, The Squire has been trying to get my files transferred from my old computer to this one.  Windows 10 doesn’t have a “transfer” plan that works, and the new computer was set up to run MSN, rather than Comcast, although my email address remained the same.

Having been raised straddling the Lutheran  and Episcopal churches, and being German to my toenails, I do not take kindly to change, especially when it does not seem to be for any good reason.

There is no mechanism on Windows 10 to set up an address book; all of your email comes from Outlook Express, which, for some reason, this machine won’t see. I just carried my old computer into the dining room and used it instead. Anyway, after much mumbling and cursing on his part, The Squire finally figured out how to get this machine to open in Comcast mode. All of my email addresses are there, my favorites are where I left them, and there  is peace in the valley again.

I still hate Microsoft.


Don’t Call Me That!

9 Dec

My parents, with all the good intentions in the world, and no malice aforethought, gave me a horrible first name. I suffered endless teasing over it when I was in senior high, and when I turned 21, I dropped it. It does not appear on my Social Security records, my passport, or the mortgage.

However (There’s always a “however”, isn’t there?), there is one couple who are members of the church I attended from the time I was ten until I was about thirty, who still call me by that name, even though I had stopped using it ten years before I left St. John’s. We live in the same neighbourhood, so I see them fairly often. I have asked them repeatedly not to use my first name. I don’t like it, and every time I hear that word it draws me closer to the rabbit hole that took me so long to climb out of.

Last evening I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up some medicine for The Squire and heard a male voice behind me say, “Oh, hello, what’s-your-name.” I didn’t react, even by instinct, because it’s been well over 50 years since I’ve had that name applied to me. When I didn’t respond, he actually called me by my maiden name!

We had run into each other only two weeks ago, and I had reminded him and his wife – for the thousandth time – that I DO NOT like to be called by my first name, so this was particularly galling. I turned around and said, very calmly, “You know I don’t like that, don’t you?” I didn’t even have to tell him what “that” was.

“Well, yes, but I don’t remember.”

“After fifty years of being reminded, I think you do remember, but you just don’t care how angry it makes me.”  I paid for my purchases and stalked out. So mature.

Well, it was that or slug him.

I hate getting angry;  it is a fast getaway on a wooden horse. If you can fix it, fix it, and if you can’t, walk away. Few things are worth getting angry over. It’s childish and foolish. But after fifty years, maybe this was the time to “fix it”.

To add to the fun, I wandered the parking lot for several minutes looking for my car. I never lock it; if I thought somebody would actually want it, I’d make sure it had gas in the tank, but I knew The Squire wouldn’t be pleased. Finally, in one of my excursions up and down the aisles, I spotted his car, and it dawned on me that I had driven that so I could bring home the recycling from church.  Face-palm.

Forgive us our trespasses…

That Reminds Me of a Story

3 Dec

We are having our annual Open House on December 13th, and are busily engaged in getting this place cleaned up. (Actually, the only reason we put ourselves through all this is to give the house a good going-over. Sort of our version of Passover cleaning.) I was using the steamer on the living room carpet when it suddenly began spewing hot water everywhere and would not suck it back up.

The Squire took it outside and got it to the point where it will suck up the water, but it won’t spray, so I had to dump the hot soapy water into a pan and go over half of the living room floor with a scrub brush.

Except that a thorough search did not locate a proper scrub brush, so I was reduced to using the toilet brush. Look, a brush is a brush, right?

And thereby hangs a tale…

Not too long after we were married our youngest daughter, who was maybe nine or ten at the most, offered to polish her dad’s shoes for him. It was a Friday night, and we let the kids stay up late to watch TV, so instead of staying in the bathroom to polish the shoes, she carried the bottle of black polish and his shoes through the dining room, into the living room, past the sofa, and finally sat the bottle on the end table.

She came upstairs to tell us she had “spilled some shoe polish”.  She had left a trail of black spots all through the house, including over the back and seat of the sofa. We told her to go to bed and we’d clean it up. Actually, this was for her own safety, as one or the other of us would have killed her if she’d stuck around – and she knew it! I filled a scrub bucket with hot soapy water, and since we only had one scrub brush, I got on my hands and knees with that and The Squire began working on the sofa with the only other tool at hand – the toilet brush.

We have always slept in the nude, even before we even knew each other. My winter pyjamas is a pair of wool socks. (It’s a good use for odd socks, and Heaven knows we all have those!) When we came down to see what sort of “spill” we had to deal with, we’d both wrapped a towel around ourselves, but they soon came unfastened, and we’d ended up with them tossed around our necks.

So you had two nekkid people, wearing socks, with towels around their necks, mumbling curses, and wielding toilet brushes. It is, as I have often said, fortunate we have no close neighbours.

And we never did get the polish off the end table.

No Good Deed…

2 Dec

For quite a while, The Squire has been using Windows 10 on his computer. I was not impressed with it, and refused to have it installed on mine.

A week or so ago, his younger sister mailed him her computer, to see if he could fix whatever was wrong with it; the screen kept going black and she’s have to restart it, which can get very old, very quickly.  Without going into all the gory details, he finally decided to get me a new computer and send her this one. This one, mind you. That is important.

All of my files had to be transferred to the new computer, one at a time – my documents file, my pictures, my email address book, my favourites … well you get the picture. There is a program, PC Mover, which was supposed to be a free item to allow people to transfer files from one version of Windows to another. Unfortunately, this does not include Windows 7, which is what I am running.

He finally managed a workaround, and now we have discovered that having transferred “all my files” to the new computer had wiped out everything he had installed, which is why I am still using my original computer.

From what we can gather, Windows 10 does not allow you to type in a new email; the only way to add a contact to your address book is to click on an incoming message. “Please call me. I can’t call you.”  I also cannot log into my blog, which is why I’m still over here. Seriously, if I have been corresponding with you, no matter how long, please send me an email, because my address book has been wiped clean.

It seems that each succeeding version of Windows has more bells and whistles and fewer useful functions than the previous version.

If it ain’t broken, fix it until it is.

I HATE Microsoft! Do you hear me?