Epiphany Sunday

January 6–King’s Day, Epiphany, Armenian Christmas–Lots of names for this day when the Magi supposedly showed up with gifts for the baby Jesus. Only he was probably close to 2 years old since the Bible said they found him in a house, sitting on Mary’s lap. When the Magi went home, another way instead of going back to tell Herod where they found the baby, the King went into a rant and had all boys, two years of age and younger, killed. Mary, Joseph, and the baby had to flee for their lives, immigrating to Egypt for a few years until Herod was dead. Lots of parallels to today’s rulers and poor people.

The first Sunday of each month is communion and for the past two years, and now beginning the third year, I have been responsible for the setup and cleanup of the elements. Today’s method was by intinction, where everyone comes forward, gets a slip of bread and dunks it in the grape juice. I use a hearty french bread for this so that it does not disintegrate when dunked.

Today I learn that the sacristy sink is out of commission for a number of reasons. The faucet needs new washers and seats and it runs a steady stream of water so has been turned off under the sink. The sink drain needs unclogging, too. So, I could not pour the grape juice from the intinction vessels down the sink but rather back into the bottle from which it was poured. That meant seeking out a funnel with which to pour a steady stream and not make a mess because, as previously stated, there is no water to clean up any messes. I looked all over the church kitchen for a funnel but found nothing. When I got back to the sacristy, I check a cabinet and there was a funnel. It was even labeled, Communion Use only. Leave in sacristy. Hah. Someone had the problem before me. It was an epiphany!


What’s this “routine” look like?

Talking of returning to the regularly scheduled program got me to thinking about what that will look like. My life should be very quiet and simple. I have few obligations, and without a full time job, my time should be my own. That’s what has been pretty nice about the past three weeks, few obligations. We had church activities and the kids came for a couple of days. Otherwise, all was quiet around here. I had time to think. And get lots of rest. It’s at times like this that I think I can take on the world!

Back to routine means getting up at 6 am, even though it’s cold and dark. Feed the cats, unload the dishwasher, have breakfast, read the paper and social media. Do my exercises. Get ready to leave the house if that is on the docket. Otherwise, start laundry, and, in the hot months, run the sprinklers.

I usually prep my “bag of tricks” for chaplain duties on Tuesday. Make sure I have the story down-pat and know the questions I will ask the kids. Wednesdays and Thursdays are my days at school, and by the time I get home around 2 pm, I hungry and tired. I used to eat lunch at school, with the students, but the noon time assistants yell at the kids for talking and they love to talk to me if I’m eating with them. Now I just wait to have lunch when I get home.

Grocery shopping and other errands are done on Tuesdays or Fridays. Church on Sundays. Since I prep the communion elements for the first Sunday each month, I have to shop for those and then cut up the bread on Saturday. Deacons’ meeting is the third Sunday so there is preparation for that during the week leading up to Sunday.

Somewhere in each week I find time to do some housework and yard work. Yesterday was nice (64 degrees) so I spent time while Terry went to cardio rehab to pick up sticks and limbs the tree trimmers missed. Also pruned shrubbery.

Cooking takes time. We eat three meals a day at home most days. Grocery shopping takes a large part of my time each week as I usually go to two or three stores to get everything I need. This week and next week I will be cooking meals to take to a young family who just had a baby. I’m going to make a bread pudding to take to a man whose wife is having rotator cuff surgery early next week. Other deacons will be taking meals to them, but he really likes my bread pudding and I figure he could use some special care as he will be the main caretaker of his wife for the next six months as she recuperates from a surgery that will allow her to do practically nothing.

I won’t even go into the amount of time the cats require. Terry just came into the kitchen to make his lunch and wanted to know why there were three separate plates of cat treats. Because there were three separate cats all wanting treats at the same time and they all refuse to share. Now that’s a daily routine!

The last day of Christmas break

The end of fifteen lovely days of holiday for the schools. Now it’s back to routine and schedules and normal, whatever normal may be. Although the holidays ended this week with New Year’s Day on Tuesday, the official end comes when the school holiday is done. By next week we will be in the thick of the month, and hopefully everyone will be remembering to write 2019.

The Subaru is spending these last few days in the shop, getting new head gaskets. Hopefully it will be finished before Wednesday, the day Terry and I will each need a car so as to be in different parts of the city at the same time. He did reschedule his cardiac rehab today because he had a long-made dental appointment at the same time as his usual cardio session, but he would prefer his mid-morning workout session.

I will be back to school on Wednesday and Thursday next week, reading to first and second graders. I have a large bag of coats, pants and backpacks to deliver to the school on Wednesday. Before we left on winter break, the school liaison told me the clothes closet was low on pants for small girls. While at Salvation Army I also found nice coats. I know there will be a need somewhere for the items.

Speaking of needs, our church has a food pantry that has been getting few calls so the deacons are trying to figure out a different way to utilize the donations. Two nearby schools have needs for food insecure families and homeless students. I’m hoping in the new year that we can make the arrangements to deliver bags of groceries to the schools and put the food into the hands of those who can use it.

Poor Terry. He is working on the annual report for our church, and it’s done in Google docs. What a pain. We are both Word users and cannot fathom why anyone wants to use Google docs. I hear a scream of pain and went to check on him only to find that his report lost its formatting when he attempted an underline. There is no undo, or exit and reopen the previously saved document, as there would be in Word. Sometimes I think volunteers are tortured  for their good deeds…you know that expression, no good deed goes unpunished.

Day 14 of Christmas Break

We received a lovely (and delicious) holiday gift from friends–a platter of dried fruits.

The fruits were locally grown and the trays made by a local fruit distributor. Not only did Terry and I enjoy this treat, so did our grandchildren. They had not had dried apples or white peaches before. I liked the prunes (dried black plums), but our granddaughter made a face when she tasted one. The fruits reminded me of ones my family received when I was a child.

Funny, but back then, 60 years ago, I didn’t think a gift of dried fruits to be very special. Probably because we had dried fruits all year long. Our farm had apricot and peach trees. My mother canned as many as she could, and when the season finally wound down, all the remaining fruit was taken to some friends of my parents who had a sulphur house. The fruit cut and placed on wooden trays, it spent one night in the sulphur house and then remaining days on the rooftop of the sulphur house, drying.

Now, dried fruit does not seem so ordinary. Same thing with the jams and jellies my mother produced every year. Today I see those as treats, back then they were just regular, everyday, foodstuffs. I wish I had an apricot tree in my backyard, and had I known, 38 years ago when we moved here, that we would stay here for this long, I would have planted one. There is no room for one.

Those things we took for granted as a child, now as an adult seem more precious.

Day 13 of Christmas Break

Guess I should change the titles of these last few days’ posts to winter break, but nah, I think of it as Christmas break.

After depositing the Subaru at the mechanic’s and Terry at cardiac rehab, I went to a bookstore where I had $20 in gift cards that would expire on February 1. I know that’s almost a month from now, but the weeks will fly by once we return to regularly scheduled programming. I can leisurely shop during these weeks of break because I have more time. It wasn’t hard to find a series of greeting cards and a book. I went next door to the school supply store but couldn’t stay for long. There was no heat so the temperature inside the store was similar to that outdoors–44 degrees. I saw some penguin erasers I would have liked to buy for rewards for the first graders. Maybe they will still be there when I go back in warmer temperatures.

I’ve been baking this afternoon–cranberry bread, cornbread, potatoes. We have a young couple in our church who has just had a baby so the deacons will be delivering meals for the next few weeks. Remember what it was like when a new baby came home? I sure do. All help gladly accepted.

It’s after 4:30 and the sun is still shining on the palm tree across the road, in a neighbor’s backyard. Gives me hope. Warmer, longer days will return.

Day 12 of Christmas Break is New Year’s Day

The cats all went out early so I went back to bed and snuggled with Terry, under the warm covers, until it was light and the heater had been running for awhile. Made the cats appreciate coming in and having their breakfast as it was 34 degrees outdoors with a thick coat of frost on the ground.

Neither of us had any where to go today nor were there any major chores to be done around here. We have read, napped, did a bit of work on our individual projects, and taken out the refuse containers. I made juice and will bake chicken breasts for dinner. Such a slow, luxurious day. Cold day, but at least the sun is shining. Fifty degrees will be the high for the day. Tomorrow morning is forecast to be 30 degrees, and we will have to be up earlier so as to take the Subaru to the mechanic for a major repair job.

This week the Subaru will be the expense, last week it was the trees. The tree trimmers were here early one morning and this is how our backyard now looks:

The squirrels and birds have been shell shocked. The trees had so much deadwood and were so overgrown. But, they were a haven for the wildlife. It will take awhile, but the trees will fill back out. I’m no longer afraid of storms that could bring down large limbs. And the squirrels still have their nests in the Italian cypress which are not seen in this photo.

Day 11 of Christmas break

It’s New Year’s Eve…the last day of 2018. After grocery shopping in the morning, in 44 degree weather, I am now sitting on the couch, napping off and on. I seem to have a bug of some sort trying to attack me. Just an overall feeling of crummy. I think the probiotics are working on attacking the bug since it feels as if a small skirmish is going on inside me.

I am thankful that there are no obligations on the calendar this week. The Subaru will go to the mechanic on Wednesday for new head gaskets, but all that is expected of me is to drop it off and pick it up. Terry has even offered to pay the large cost of the repair. I would like to feel good enough to do some fun things this week like maybe going out to lunch. If the weather was warmer I would go for some walks, but I hate to be out in the cold unless absolutely necessary.

While walking into the grocery store this morning I saw one of the first grade teachers from Columbia in whose class I read stories the first three years of my school chaplain duties. She moved to another school two years ago and has now retired. Mrs. Alldridge lives in the neighborhood, and even though I shop at this store weekly, I have never seen her there. It was fun to catch up and hear what she is doing in retirement. Being such a highly motivated person, she is taking classes in sign language with intentions of interpreting in classrooms.