Tuesday, December 27, 2005
So, I hope you all had merry Christmases. I had a marvelous day myself. We had breakfast over at Nate and Penny's- a sumptuous affair, let me tell you. I had to go lie down on the couch for a little while towards the end, I was so full...The guys topped off the morning by seeing who could throw leftover tater tots the farthest in the backyard. Penny and I joined in a couple of times. High hilarity. I guess it will have to become an annual ritual: the tossing of the tots. Nate referred to one mighty throw as, " The Tot heard 'Round the World." Ah, that Nate. Such a wit. Too bad he doesn't keep up with his own blog. He could have one of the most sought after blogs in all blogdom- but if he doesn't care to maintain it, I will be forced to report his unique witticisms for him.
In the afternoon, we traveled over to the Pass parents' house and did the whole stocking thing, gift thing, card games thing, and dinner thing there. Great fun was had by all. I got tons of cool loot and it was a really good family time of making a lot of wonderful memories.
It seems like the world has heaved a collective sigh now that Christmas is over for another year.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
For instance: if Karena, Liane, or I watch a movie, alone or with each other, we are bound to note, and remark aloud, that someone in the movie looks like someone else. They resemble someone famous, or someone we all know personally. This is a strange family trait, which never ceases to annoy certain other people, I think. I mean- I think it took our husbands a little while to get used to this. No one is themself. There is no unique, original person. Everyone reminds us of someone else. Or a mixture of several other people.
Today, in a vain effort to cheer me up from my strange eyeball debacle( see story below), Brad was showing me some clips from a video blog he found. It was amusing. Kind of a mild form of a Brendan Leonard type thing, if you know what I mean, but not as knee slappingly hilarious. It's this one guy, Josh Leo, a twenty-something student in Grand Rapids, MI doing things like strapping a camera to his head and showing you his world. Or talking to cows and sheep in Germany, asking if they had video blogs.
Brad commented that he looked like, or reminded him, of Brandon. Yes, he does look like Brandon! Remarkably so, in fact. My habit has rubbed off on Brad! He has caught on! I would say that he looks 75% like Brandon, about 3% like Tim Fulton and a few percent like another history major in my class at Saint A's- Ian Brown. Huh. Then we said that he looked a little like Wesley. Maybe 4% worth. And I also thought he reminded me a little tiny bit of Andrew. And then- another Aldrich came to mind: Ryan.
So I mentioned this to Brad- " He reminds me a little of Ryan Aldrich." "Brian Aldrich?" "No - RYAN." "Who's Ryan Aldrich?" "You know! The son of Floyd Aldrich!" "No! Who's Floyd Aldrich??" "He's a brother of Andy and Warren Aldrich..." ( Although, now that I think of it- is he really their brother or their cousin?) Brad still didn't believe me. He's like: " Yeah- and the brother of Hank and Phil Aldrich. Riiiiiight!" I laughed helplessly. Hank and Phil Aldrich! " You know-- Floyd and Anne..." "No!!" I almost started doubting their existance myself. Desperately, I struck again..." Do you remember Amy Aldrich?" "What? Who's Amy Aldrich?" "She's their daughter! She's blonde..." No- he doesn't know Amy Aldrich. How can you NOT know Amy Aldrich? He thinks I'm making all these people up! He doesn't believe in Floyd Aldrich! To say nothing of Ryan Aldrich- the guy who started this whole thing.
Help me! I need validation! Tell him this family really exists! It does! I feel a little bit like I'm in, " A Beautiful Mind." Have I been imagining this family all my life?
I was sitting around, relaxing in the evening, and my right eye itched. So I rubbed it. It itched more. I rubbed it more. For a while. It started to hurt. Up until this point, it was sort of an unconscious, absent- minded incident. I started to get a little annoyed. I got up and went into the bathroom and took out my contact, and I think I rubbed my eye a little more. It's all sort of a blur in my mind at this point. My eyelid started to swell up. I started getting scared and moaning. I cupped my hand, filled it with water and rinsed my eyeball repeatedly. My eyelid got bigger and bigger. It felt very strange. I started to freak out.
Brad didn't know what to do with me, poor thing. He helped me find a phone number to call a nurse. I resisted calling but eventually, I called the nurse help line, fighting panic, and trying not to cry on the phone... and after a little chat, she said I should see a doctor in the next twenty four hours. WHAT? No way am I going to go to a doctor on Christmas Eve! But I didn't tell her this. I was in very deep distress. She told me all sorts of stuff like, wash your hands a lot etc. WHAT? I'm already bordering on OCD with the whole washing of the hands thing. This freaked me out MORE. Even now as I write, my stomach is tensing up thinking about it. She said the doctor might prescribe some anti-biotic drops for me. YECH! What good would THAT do? I don't think I have an infection - I just irritated the daylights out of my eye. She said something about not sharing eye cosmetics! WHAT? Who do you think I am- some ignorant thirteen year old waif from the fourteenth century?? First of all, wearing ANY kind of eye makeup is just tempting fate. For Pete's sake, it's practically an invitation to fate, asking for something to make you cry and then you look all gooky and horrifying. Second of all, SHARING it? *shudder*
My eye looked like it was a Chernobyl survivor who had just gotten beaten up. ( Not me- just my right eye.) I could hardly see out of it. It was tearing up and everything. Gross. So I went to bed, hoping that it would clear up on its own. I slept in this morning...Every time I thought about waking up, I said to myself, " No- give the eye a little more time to rest." I didn't want to get up and look at it. But I did eventually. It looks a little better. Now I just look semi-freakish. It kinda feels like my eye got bathed in a small vat of egg white.
I hate wearing my glasses all the time- they are not up to my current prescription so I can't see very well...and this makes me feel enfeebled. The problem is, I haven't delivered my Christmas fudge gifts to all my neighbors yet- two of them were gone last night. NO WAY do I want to show up at their doors looking like this. Hi! Merry Christmas from your scarily deformed neighbor!
Now I'm trying to figure out if I have permanently ruined my right eye. I keep closing one eye, and looking at something with the other and then switching and trying to evaluate whether I can see better with my left than my right. The problem is, I can't remember which was the stronger eye BEFORE this happened. My Christmas is teetering on the brink of ruin. Christmas 2005- the Christmas of My Maiming.
Brad said something really comforting like, "You can make it on just one eye. Your depth perception will be all thrown off but..." I practically threw something at him. You know how they say that women marry men like their fathers? Uh huh. That's just like something Daddy would say, in a vain effort to try to cheer me up. " Yeah- so you lose an eye? No big deal. You'll just lurch around and never be the same." We'll see. Ahhhhrrgh! No pun intended!
Friday, December 23, 2005
This afternoon I'm going to make Brad's Famous Eggnog Fudge as a gift for some of our neighbors. I can't wait to taste test it! [Editor's note: This is Brad. Actually, I made it. After spending almost two hours searching for white chocolate chips. Target was out. CVS was out. Kroger saved the day. Now back to Claire.]
On a completely different note, all the hype about Christ being taken out of Christmas is getting to me. Yes- I KNOW it's wrong, it's outrageous, it's maddening, it's whatever. I know, I know, I KNOW! I know what's going on and what people's points/arguments/agendas are on both sides. But personally, the bottom line for me is: it's stupid. Nobody who KNOWS what Christmas is really all about is going to forget it- the traditions lie too deep for that. And people who DON'T know what it's all about- well, they must live under a rock...and saying "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" is not going to inform them of the true meaning of Christmas.
I mean- come ON! Does anybody besides Lowe's or Target refer to Christmas trees as Holiday trees? Do people really think that in the households of America, there is a great tide of change sweeping through the Everyman's vocabulary right now? I mean- are parents really going to say, "Okay, kids! It's time to decorate the....Holiday Tree!" or "Let's all gather round the Holiday Tree to open our presents!" ??? It sounds so lame! I guess I'm a little annoyed with everyone, whether it's those in the Merry camp, or the Happy camp. Good grief. Calm down, everyone. Nobody can change what Christmas is- no matter how big they are or what they do. It's like trying to call the sky the Whatsit. Nope- it's still the sky. No matter what anyone says. I'm sick of all the hype. Jesus was born as a human being to save you. Period. Accept it and be grateful and shut up! There- you just celebrated Christmas.
To continue in the same paranoid vein of thinking that is driving me cah-razy: next thing you know- we won't be able to say Valentine's Day because Mr. Valentine was a saint -- OOO! OO! Religious connotations! A saint! We'll have to call it Love Day or Heart Day or something. Same thing with Saint Patrick's Day: it will become Four Leaf Clover Day. And then Easter will have to become Spring Day or Bunny Day or Warm Fuzzy Day...and so on...Rargh. If people really want dumbed-down, meaningless holidays, they can have them but don't inflict the hysteria on me, please.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Yesterday, Penny, Pari, and Joshua came over and we all made gingerbread houses! Well- Joshua's was more of a graham cracker cube with a few peices of candy attached in random spots... This was the first gingerbread house that Pari or I had ever made. ( Ahem...We won't count last year's debacle....Liane and I tried to make one but we were pretty inexperienced and it was fairly ramshackle, to put it kindly. We had a great and hilarious time but it was not a thing of beauty that we produced.) So...that was fun! I'll try to post some pictures of our fabulous creations at some point, with Brad's help. We also decorated cookies! However, I ate so much candy in the process that I felt sort of woozy and coma-like. I wasn't much good for anything after that, although I did give another guitar lesson...
Today, I went on an excursion to...you'll NEVER guess where...A Ford plant! The Adams' family invited me to come along with them and several other people to tour the facility as part of a homeschool field trip. We had about sixteen (?) people in our group and the tour took over an hour, I think. It was pretty interesting, a little bewildering, very noisy, and sometimes smelly. We all wore these little radios w/ear pieces which corresponded to a mike that the tour leader was wearing so we could hear him all the time. We saw Ford Taurus sedans in the various stages of evolution, ranging from the steel frames to the finished product, and many points in between. We saw doors going on, engines going in, wheels going on, dashboards going in, windshields installed, tests being done...I just never thought about all the parts that go into making a car! It was pretty incredible! The plant produces around seventy something cars an hour. The tour guide told us that this facility may have to be closed down soon b/c Ford is in such bad shape.
This experience was fascinating; I sometimes wonder how things are made, and wish I could see them in production. It was really neat to be able to satisfy this curious part of me.
And tomorrow, I'm off to jail again and after that, I'm going Christmas caroling. What an interesting life.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Also - an update on my friend Alice - the one in jail. I meant to post about this earlier in the week but it's been fairly busy around here lately! I went to visit her on Wednesday and she seemed totally different- no more tears. She was much more positive and I was really encouraged. Dennis gave me a copy of The Message ( a modern version of the Bible) to give to her and she was very appreciative. She seems very open to the things of God and said she goes to all the services that are held in the facility. She even mentioned the fact that she's aware that the devil wants to discourage her. Huh! I guess she knows even more than I thought!
She described a little bit of what jail life is like- enough for me to decide that I don't want to go to jail.
Since the last time I had seen her, some Baptist ladies came in to hold a Wednesday night meeting for the women inmates and encouraged them to get together in small groups to pray and support each other. Alice thought that no one would want to do this in her dorm.
( Apparently she is not in the typical jail cell- where she is, it's more like an open ward. There are cells but apparently those are for inmates with more serious offenses or who have demonstrated bad behavior.) But that Friday night in her dorm, she noticed a group of women gathered around a table singing out of a hymn book, and she asked if she could join them. They said yes and every night since then, they have met at 9:00 to sing, and pray for each other! Last week when I talked to her, she had said something to the effect that the atmosphere was pretty awful and that it was kind of a dog-eat-dog kind of place. She was disappointed because she thought that everybody should be helping each other, seeing as how they were all in the same boat. I didn't want to say anything that would come across as too cynical, but I remember thinking that I wasn't surprised. I mean, A) it's a jail, not exactly a hotbed of selfless altruism, and B) that's just base, unredeemed human nature for you: Look out for Number One. So anyway- that conversation last week served to emphasize that this development is all the more amazing.
That was so encouraging to me; things like this are happening all over the world - God is at work in millions of lives and we never hear about it. I was so happy to get a glimpse of a hidden miracle. It is such an obscure situation and but for Dennis inviting me to the jail, I never would have had any idea of how God is at work there. Be amazed again, my friends- this is just a small representation of the kind of thing the Holy Spirit is doing all the time.
Okay- I'm off to go see that picture of Drew again!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
We played a couple of games, including one where the contestants, who have their eyes closed, have to transfer six cotton balls from one bowl to another bowl using only a spoon- no hands allowed. It was pretty funny to watch them often carefully spooning thin air from one bowl to another. The winner was my own mother-in-law! The other game was a contest to see who could correctly identify six baby foods ( the ones you buy in little jars- not the kinds you mix up yourself) by sight and smell alone. ( The labels were covered up.) ( I did allow tasting on one.) The winner in this case was Sarah Aldrich with five correct answers.
Well, by the time everyone had gone and the house was- mostly- cleaned up, I was pretty beat. After a siesta of sorts, I went out to get the mail and encountered my neighbors- Clay's family. Another guitar lesson is in the works for tomorrow night ( Thurs) and I am looking forward to it. The mom, who stays at home, was commenting on the fact that she noticed me outside that morning in SHORT SLEEVES sweeping leaves off the driveway. It was fairly chilly- in the thirties or forties- but I was on a roll, going a bazillion miles an hour trying to accomplish everything before people came for the shower... and I didn't want to stop and get my coat...This woman seemed stunned that I could do this and proclaimed, "You KNOW you're a Northerner when it's this cold outside and you're in short sleeves!" A Yankee set on a hill cannot be hid.
(When she asked if I was sensitive to the cold, I said yes...But I guess my Northern-ness was still confirmed by the fact that I was scrambling around in a frenzy. I can't escape my identity.)
She also said she'd noticed that I had a lot of ladies over and said, " I wondered if you were having a luncheon or a Bible study or something..." and I told her all about the shower etc. and we had a really nice chat. She is a very kind, personable lady. She offered to loan me some of their china if I ever held another function in my home again! Wow. I don't think I'd ever take her up on it because, knowing my luck, I'd probably break something...but, it was incredibly nice of her to offer. Anyway- the whole conversation just made me chuckle. This neighborhood is full of stay at home Moms and apparently not a sparrow falls, not an insect moves, not a hair of my head falls to the ground, but it's noticed by someone around here! It almost tempts me to go outside and do something REALLY crazy, just to see what the reaction would be...
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Here are a couple thought provoking quotes from "The Rosemary Tree" that I enjoyed. I love having these little gems of truth hit me between the eyes.
“ She stood by the window, looking at the day with astonished recognition, as though she had not seen an English spring for twenty years. John thought that possibly she hadn’t. Beauty awakened such intolerable longing that people often shut their eyes to it, unaware that the longing was the greatest treasure that they had, their very lifeline, uniting the country of their lost innocence with the heavenly country for which their sails were set. He dared not move or speak while she took hold of her lifeline again.”
“ ‘The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.’ That was the artist’s problem as well as the man’s. Progress in evil was quick and easy; Apollyon was not a chap who hid himself and he gave every assistance in his power. The growth in goodness was so slow, at times so flat, so dull, and like the White Queen one had to run so fast to stay where one was, let alone progress; and there were few men who dared to say they had found God. It was easy to be a clever sinner, for the race to an earthly visible goal was short to run, so impossibly hard to be a wise saint, with the goal set at so vast a distance from this world and clouded with such uncertainty. Patience with the apparent hopelessness of spiritual growth was the man’s task, patience with breaking chalks and the smudgy drawing was the artist’s. And for both the grim struggle of faith. …Did such men as John, and the old man…at times lose their faith that an hour spent in mental prayer was not a shocking waste of time?”
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Then I zoomed off to the Rockdale County Jail where I met up with "Deputy Pass" who introduced me to...let's call her Alice. Wow. The poor girl was in tears most of the time- not sobbing or anything- just a tear here and there trickling down regularly through the half hour that we talked. What a tale of woe. This girl is only seventeen and already, she's been through more difficulty than most of us ever experience. Her family has basically rejected her, and she's been on her own for a couple years- working jobs under the table, staying with this person and that person...with no real support system. I don't think she's been to school since she was fourteen. Now- she didn't blame her family for where she is; she admitted that what she did was wrong but I guess this is the first time she has gotten into trouble and it's knocked her for a loop. She really reminded me of a lot of the girls at the Shelter...the plucked eyebrows starting to grow back again and all. How many hundreds of thousands of girls does she represent? Hopeless, alone, scared. She doesn't know when her court date is or when she is getting out of jail. She said she was really thankful for Deputy Pass, because he is the only one who is kind to her. She has been in jail for two months and has had only two visits from a former roommate. She has yet to lay eyes on her public defender.
For those of you interested- yes- our visit did take place in a room where we were separated by glass and had to talk over a phone. Just like the movies. Weird. Surreal.
I hope to go again next week and bring her some things. Dennis gave me a list of things that are allowed, among which are religious books, thank goodness. Apparently the prison library is full of trashy romances but if it's not educational or religious, I can't bring her any reading material. Hmmmm....educational and religious could be stretched kinda far...Apparently she has had some sort of religious experiences in the past- at least some church attendance and she seemed to be fairly open in that area...so that's a help. At least I'm not starting from total scratch. I told her that God loves her, that He cares passionately about her- I hope it didn't come off as weird or trite. I did get a little tongue tied at one point...I mean- WHAT do you say? Rather - how/where do you start? Her misery almost paralyzed me. But today was a start. Please pray for her. She needs some REAL HELP. I told her I would pray for her but imagine if everyone who reads this blog prays for her- how much more the good will be multiplied.
I have SO much compared to this girl. I almost feel guilty for having such a good life. Why do some people get born into supportive, loving families that point you towards God and some get born into a family of losers?
Sunday, December 04, 2005
And the teaching wasn't all one sided. He showed me how if you play the bottom three strings open, it sounds just like the ending to the Dr. Phil Show. I didn't have the heart to tell him that it didn't really sound like the end of the Dr. Phil Show...But I think it might be the same notes- just backwards. ANYWAY- I just appeared enchanted and said I couldn't wait to show Mr. Brad.
He also noticed that the chords for E and A sounded like they were from The Mask of Zorro. He's totally right! When played one after the other, they DO sound like they could be part of the sound track to some sword fighting scene. Is this kid amazing or what? He's picking out chords and sounds and placing them in other songs he already knows. I thought that was unusually insightful for a child that age...
He was here for about an hour and I thought he might stay all afternoon as he seemed to have no end of stories to tell and useful information to pass on...but I tactfully mentioned that I hadn't had any lunch yet and suggested he go show his parents what he had learned. What a cherub!
Hopefully, Clay is coming back on Thursday, to coincide with another Grandpa visit. On the way home from church today, Grandpa was still talking about him, so great was the charm which Clay manifested on his last visit.
Friday, December 02, 2005
So I lifted up my lid, and, lo, it was not there either. PANIC welled up within my stomach. I realized with horror that the contact had slid back, back, waaaay baaaack...BEHIND my eyeball! I had heard of this happening but never realized it could happen to me! Brad was already gone to work so I had no one on which to vent my fear. I blinked furiously for moments on end. I rubbed my eye socket. I prayed. I got down on the floor in my closet and put my head down as if I was going to turn a somersalt, in a fruitless attempt to enlist the aid of gravity. I looked on the bathroom counter to see if I might possibly have dropped the stupid thing by mistake. To no avail. Nothing helped. I was getting really panicky now. I couldn't just walk around with a contact trapped behind my eyeball all day! I had things to do! A Christmas tree to buy! A house to decorate! Other important stuff...too...
What would the eye doctor tell me to do that I wasn't already doing? Would I have to have surgery for this? Would the contact rub against nerves...? Nerves connected to my brain????!!! Could I...gasp... GO BLIND? " Did you hear what happened to Claire? Such a sad story..." I popped my right contact back into my eye, the better to see my left eye...and lo, I caught sight of a small blue thing on the floor- my left contact. How had it gotten THERE? I began to cry. Saved from blindness! Great was my gratitude. And my feeling of profound stupidity.
I told this story to Penny who almost couldn't bear to hear it. She, like me, has a deep seated aversion to stories about eyes, especially painful stories...and she says that people are always saying, " Is Claire around?" when they tell these gross stories, and she does not want to burst their bubble, but SHE can't stand them as well! So be thoughtful. Include Penny in your disclaimers about gross eye stories. And Pen, be forewarned- the next time you see Jeff Demme, he is going to approach you with an evil gleaming smile, knowing your weakness in this area, and pretend to jab a fork in his eyeball.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I'm also working on some "window treatments" for the living room. Basically they're just thin panels of a red material draped over some hooks...Okay, I stink at describing them. I'll have to get some pictures up when it's all done. Brad kindly installed the hardware very willingly and in a timely fashion. With some tweaking, it should look fairly satisfactory soon. Right now I can't even look at them without going into conniptions because something's not quite right with how they're hanging and I don't have the energy to deal with it right now.
I made a little Christmas topiary which I was actually pretty excited about...but Brad says that it looks like something out of Dr. Seuss (he says it is like a car wreck - so horrid that you can't keep your eyes off of it), so I have banished it to the laundry room, where I catch occasional fleeting glimpses of it, as it sits forlornly on the dryer. Sigh. Such a waste.
This evening, a couple of the kids- a brother and sister about 9 and 6 respectively- from next door came by to say hi and I invited them in...partly because Grandpa was here and I know he loves kids and partly because, well, it just seemed the thing to do, and I wasn't thinking. Well, they came in and we were having a great old time, and suddenly their mother showed up on our doorstep, not too happy about them not telling her where they were going, and swooped them away. I felt really bad. These neighbors are nice people and have been kind to us...but after all, they don't really know us from Adam...and I wouldn't want my kids hanging out at the new neighbor's house without ME there...and the last thing I wanted was for them to think we were evil people. Maybe we should just put up a sign on our lawn that says, " We're not drug dealers! Trust us! We're GOOD!" I called over a little bit later to apologize and they were very nice and said we weren't to blame at all...so I guess it was just a misunderstanding- I thought she had been miffed with us but apparently not - so things feel a little more straightened out...Rargh! The little boy asked me if I would give him guitar lessons and I did have wit enough to say, " As long as you ask your mother..." So tomorrow, he may show up on my doorstep again...and maybe not.
Speaking of visiting and new people, I'm going to go to jail next week. Just passing through, though. Dennis has invited me to come talk to a teenage girl there who has expressed interest in having a visitor. Excitement galore! It's not every day that one receives an invitation to jail! I was just thinking recently about how I miss my girls at the Shelter and lo and behold, God has provided this opportunity. Lest you think I'm braver than I really am, let me tell you, I'm a little nervous about it. I've never visited anyone in jail before. What am I going to say, when it actually comes down to it? It's going to be a little different than the Shelter, where there were activities such as school or crafts or whatever that made it so that you were doing something while you got to know the new girls...Meeting new people in a vacuum is a tad intimidating...But I suppose I do have the Holy Spirit to help me out, so I guess I'll try to remember that! Anyway...further bulletins as events warrant.