The Bathroom

She was waiting for me when I came out of the bathroom this morning.

No, no — not one of my children, although, as you can imagine that has happened to me more times than I care to remember.

Every mother quickly learns that the bathroom is a refuge.

Every child learns just as quickly that if he (or she) waits long enough outside the door, Mom will eventually emerge.

And she can hear you if you talk to her through the door.

If a sibling is being mean and Mom is in the bathroom, a note under the door will sometimes expedite her emergence.

But she may not be terrible happy about it.

Bathroom = Sanctuary

I imagine, if Quasimodo hadn’t had Notre Dame to carry Esmeralda into as he rescued her from the gibbet, if he hadn’t had that great cathedral to escape to, he would have found a bathroom.

I no longer have to use the bathroom as a hideout from my children, though.

Yes, young moms, your children will one day learn to leave you alone in there.

Or they will be so busy with their lives that they won’t care one whit if you’re in the bathroom, the bedroom, or any other room in the house. As long as they are fed and the wi-fi is working, the natives will not be restless.

img_1256Now I have a cat that waits outside the bathroom for me.

Yes, a cat.

She follows me around the house. Down the hall. Into the kitchen. Into the living room. Up and down the stairs — not on quiet little cat feet, like the fog, but thumpity-thumpity, like an angry rabbit.

She loves the bedroom where she can hide under the bed and pounce on my feet as I walk around it, straightening the sheets and blankets. I think she especially loves that she can still surprise me

I draw the line at the bathroom.

Her litter box is just around the corner. She likes to supervise my cleaning of it, patting her paws on the scooper as I sift the litter and, um, the other stuff.

But, no, I don’t want her in my bathroom.

It’s that sanctuary thing.

So she sticks her paws under the door a few times to let me know she’s out there and then she waits.

Do cats outgrow this sort of behavior?

Amy

Amy Gregory

Amy Gregory

One thing is for sure about Amy — she knows how to rejoice.

Easter with Amy is a joyful celebration complete with silly string, confetti, streamers, caterpillars-turning-to-butterflies, and the Hallelujah Chorus. It’s like glitter.

Anyone who has ever worked with glitter knows how impossible it is to clean. The tiniest bit used in a craft project will show up for the next week on the table, on hands, on clothes, on faces — everywhere!

But Amy — my heart was broken to learn that Pastor Amy is moving on to a new church.

When Bud and I made the decision five years ago to move from the non-denominational church we had been attending to the United Methodist church in town, we sat down with the pastor at our current church to let him know what we were thinking and doing.

“You know,” he said, “Methodist pastors only stay in a place about 7 years. They move them around.”

Pshaw, I thought.

That was not what I was thinking last night.

I can remember the first time I saw Amy. It was at Helen’s Baccalaureate service. Amy was put in an awkward position and handled it with such grace.

Get to know her, God whispered in my heart.

Um, God, maybe you didn’t notice — she’s a woman. A woman pastor? I responded.

Sometimes it’s funny the things God doesn’t notice.

Still He niggled at me — about Amy.

It was probably close to two years later that we started attending the church she was pastoring.

Can I be honest here? Amy and I probably don’t see every issue the same way.

But Amy is like glitter. She got on my hands and in my heart.

I see little sparkles in the darnedest places where Amy has left her mark.

I see many issues differently. I understand them differently.

I am more compassionate because I’ve known Amy.

My pshaw has turned to aww… to sadness. Sadness for a church that will feel her absence. Sadness for me because I like things to always stay the same, and I don’t like change, and I don’t want Amy to ever leave ever ever ever — even though we’re staying in Cooperstown most of these days and don’t even go to the church in Greene. I just want Amy to stay where I knew her forever.

But glitter.

It spreads. It sparkles. Spreads and sparkles, spreads and sparkles — showing up everywhere.

I guess it’s important for Amy to move on. Throw a little glitter around somewhere else.

I, in turn, will not try to get the glitter in my heart cleaned up.

I’ll proudly display it like a Grandma Moses snow scene — sparkling and joyful.

For Amy.

Show Me Something Cool

I was clicking through all my pictures and almost clicked past it.

Another blurry picture, I thought.

I’m an expert at the blurry snapshot. In the days of film cameras, that talent was especially frustrating. I’d get back a whole roll of nothing but blur — and have to pay for it.

These are the kind of pictures I often take. I think this was supposed to be the reflection of the moon in a puddle. It was sandwiched in with a whole bunch of other moon pictures.  I remember that evening walk, seeing the moon’s reflection in a roadside puddle, taking the picture, knowing that I didn’t have enough light.

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Karl is playing tennis somewhere in this photo. In the days of film cameras, I would have thought that I somehow double-exposed, but I don’t think I can do that with my phone. I don’t know how it happened.dsc04086

At least in this blurry shot, there’s a sense of what the picture was all about. We were setting up the family photo at Christmas, arranging people on the stairs, and I snapped this. I love to catch my children laughing, and they were laughing at something here.  Something blurry.img_0988

This is the one I almost clicked past, but I paused and looked at it. It was a little ironic, because that’s what I did the day I saw it.img_1129

I remembered the day I had taken a walk in town. I parked in front of the library and before I started out, I prayed a little prayer Andrew Peterson had talked about once at Hutchmoot — Lord, show me something cool.

Because I walk the same route over and over, even though it’s Cooperstown and beautiful, I start missing the beauty and wonder of it.

Lord, show me something cool — and half a block later, there was this decapitated, one-legged Lego man, half on the curb, half in the street.

I stepped over it, barely noticing, and took about three more steps. Did I just miss something cool?

I walked back, took the not-blurry picture, and continued my walk, turning that little dead Lego man over and over in my mind. Should I have scooped him up and thrown him away? Should I have scooped him up and found a head for him? Should I have left him there for the street cleaner or another passerby, maybe even a child?

I did leave him there — but he didn’t leave me.

He reminded me of the hurting world we live in — a world of poverty, not just of material goods, but of the soul.

Where we fail to think of the other person.

Where we hoard all the things with which we should be generous.

Where we forget whence we came.

Lord, show me something cool.

Cool things come in unexpected shapes and sizes and places. A broken toy in the gutter can become a whole sermon.

Learning Croatian

I walk around the house these days repeating Croatian phrases, preparing for few days in Croatia this summer.

Dobar dan —  Hello (literally, good day)
and variations on that theme:
dobro jutro — good morning
dobra večer — good evening

The linguist in me — or the linguist wannabe — wants to take apart the words to understand the how. Clearly dobar means good.

So, if dobrodošli means “welcome”, does it literally mean “good welcome”?

Je li to u redu? —  Is it okay?

Oprostite —  Excuse me.

Rolling my r’s doesn’t come naturally or easily.

Plus I get frustrated not knowing the real names of the diacritical letters. I make up names for them in my head — s with a smile, c with a smile, d with a crossbar, etc. It’s dumb because the name of the letter doesn’t really matter — it’s knowing how to say it.

But I can’t say the lj digraph, no matter how hard I try. My tongue won’t cooperate.

And I often forget that the j isn’t pronounced as it is in English, French, or Spanish, but more like our y as in year.

Learning a few words in the language of the country I’m visiting feels like the respectful thing to do. I don’t want to rely on them to know English. It seems so… so… American.

Still, I have a feeling I’m going to need help.

pomoć — Help

Lots of it. A translator would be nice.

If I can learn to pronounce this correctly — gdje je kupaonica — where is the bathroom — I should be all set.

Messy

Messy is often the best.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is decorating cookies. Our Christmas cookies are a basic sugar cookie cut out with cookie cutters. It’s actually my grandmother’s recipe, and the only recipe for which I always sift the flour. The fun is both in choosing which cookies to cut out and then finally decorating them.

But it’s messy and time-consuming.

The best.

The best icing is sometimes the messiest. Drippy, juicy, gloopy drizzle.

Licking fingers is allowed, but not licking brushes.

Licking fingers is allowed, but not licking brushes.

The best part is spending time together making them.

Decorating is a family affair

Decorating is a family affair

Or maybe it’s eating them.

Hard to choose which one...

Hard to choose which one…

Play Your Game

I’m a fan of the synchronized sports shot.

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Karl (dark 14) and opposing 14 running for the ball

This is probably one of my favorite pictures of Karl playing soccer because he and the other player are right at the same place in their stride.

I loved watching Karl play soccer.

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Karl and Michael — high school doubles

Tennis was fun, too.

Karl and Michael made a good doubles team. In the picture, they’re sort of synchronized — weight on the left foot, backhand ready.

They did pretty well at tennis — for a couple of soccer players. Against the odds.

I heard their tennis coach give them the same advice over and over that year. “Just play your game,” he told them.

“Their game” was a fairly simple one. Return the ball.

While their opponents were trying to put spin and speed on the ball, not always very successfully, Karl and Michael simply returned the ball. Over. And over. And over.

Sometimes it aggravated their opponents. You could see them thinking, What the heck?! These yahoos don’t know squat about real tennis.

But Michael and Karl knew how to return the ball.

When one of them tried to get fancy, it inevitably failed. Coach would call them over. “Just play your game,” he reminded them.

It worked until they encountered a team whose skill was so superior that neither of them could return the ball. (See “Laughter“)

Coach’s advice was such good advice.

Be you.

Lean in to your strengths.

Don’t worry too much about what others are doing.

Play your game.