Monthly Archives: August 2010

First Day of School

Do you remember that way back in June we moved from hot and humid Georgia to hot and humid Missouri so that my husband could begin seminary?  Well, I sort of thought of that as the beginning of school, because for my husband and 40 other men it was.  Only, it wasn’t.  It was the beginning of summer Greek, which is a life and world unto itself.  Summer Greek has its own culture, language (Greek.  duh.), and social events.  It is sort of like Ranger school in the army – your husband disappears for eight weeks and when people ask about him all you have to say is “summer Greek” to get looks of sympathy and/or understanding.  The wives who have been through it are encouraging and supportive; the students who haven’t are respectful; but the rest of the community goes on with their normal lives unaffected by the frenetic memorization and translation and periodic hazing (not really) of the summer Greek students.

Today, however, “real seminary life” began.  This morning between 7:30 and 8:00 my entire neighborhood was abuzz with activity as the carpools pooled and students gathered, engaging in the seminary equivalent of high school “first day of school” conversations.  By 8:30 there were only four cars in our parking lot and the sound of my children playing made a strange echoing noise against the bare concrete.  It’s the first day of real classes and Jonathan is a real seminary student.



It’s 73 degrees with less than 50% humidity and a beautiful breeze.  We had a great breakfast with our friends Rob and Sherri and now Rob and Jonathan are playing outside with the children in the cool.  I’ve mopped my floor and opened every window (that will open) in the apartment and now Sherri and I will be going outside to enjoy a beautiful day.

The cyber-world will take a back seat to the real world today.

When Normal Isn’t Normal

Today Jonathan is working 9 to 5.  It’s weird.  He’s not here now.  He’s not in class, because classes don’t start until Thursday.  But he will be home for supper and bedtime and all evening with me.  It is the suburban ideal.

In another round of normalcy, Jonathan’s mom and dad went home this morning.  For the first time in weeks, it’s just our family once again here in our seminary home.  I have a to-do list to check off, meals to cook, things to prepare for when our next round of guests arrive on Tuesday, but what am I doing?  Sitting on the couch with two out-of-sorts kids who miss their daddy and miss Grandma and Grandpa and just want to snuggle with their mama

All this “normal” is just too much for my kids to handle.

Fiction Friday

(This is a continuing series called “Kissing Frogs” posted every Friday.  To get caught up, you can click the “Kissing Frogs . . . so far” link at the top of the page.)

Joanna joined them in the hall, quietly closing the door behind her before speaking.

“When I asked if you could wait in her office, she said it was fine, but it’s a pretty important call with the printers, so maybe keep it as silent as possible?”  Joanna was almost apologetic in the suggestion, but both men nodded in understanding and hesitated at the closed door as Joanna headed back to her lonely desk.

“Do we just go on in?” asked Joey, despite Joanna’s assurances.

Jack just shrugged, and quietly unlatched the door, opening it enough to slip through, but no more.  Tracey’s voice rose through opening, startling Joey into action.

“So you would agree that the words “princess” and “goddess” would be fairly important to the overall message of the book?”

Joey joined Jack, closing the door as quietly as his friend had opened it, and lowered himself into the one of modern leather chairs sitting across from Tracey’s desk.  She didn’t even glance up at them, but the general level of total disgust wafted from her like cologne off a middle school boy.

“Good.  We both agree.  Princess and Goddess are integral words to the book.  So explain to me then, why every single instance of the word “goddess”- all 397 of them – that appears in the digital manuscript has been magically transformed into the word “gaudiness” in the print edition sitting on my desk right now?”

There was a brief moment of silence in which Jack and Joey dared not make eye contact, and then Tracey erupted once more.

“I don’t care if your spell checker is HAL 9000!  There is just no excuse for this sentence getting past your quality control: ‘Jennifer, the time has come.  In three days you will have your birthday ball, and when the clock strikes midnight, you must decide: will you become a princess or a gaudiness?’  The digital edition should never have been edited at all after final approval.  This is completely unacceptable! . . .”

The rant continued, understandably, thought Joey.  The poor woman had banked a significant gamble on this book and she was sitting two weeks from the release date with boxes of unusable editions.  Feeling empathy, however, did not stop the men from feeling completely awkward.  They sat there, rooted in place by mutual embarrassment, wishing they were somewhere, anywhere, else, while simultaneously feeling that leaving would just make things worse.


“So they just walked in uninvited and then sat there through the entire discussion?”  Andrew had a more sardonic expression than usual as he listened to the story of Tracey’s afternoon.

They were sitting in a fenced courtyard as they had three evenings a week, eating grilled salmon with sweet potato fries and grilled vegetables.  It was delicious, and Tracey had given up wondering where the meals came from.  She would just eat and enjoy the one-on-one time with the most private man in radio.

“What did they need that was so important they couldn’t wait at Joanna’s desk?” asked Andrew as he meticulously flaked a portion of his salmon.

“A key to the building.”

Andrew halted his excavation and looked up at her.

“That’s all?”

“It’s for the work on the electrical they are supposed to begin tomorrow,” answered Tracey, almost sorry she’d brought it up.

The problem was that they’d been asking for a key for two weeks, since before the plumbing weekend, but she had no key to give them.  Her father owned the building – and the entire business, until she could pay off that loan he’d floated her – and there were only three keys.  He refused to get the depression era locks changed – something about character – so she couldn’t even get another key cut, and dear daddy was a miser about access to his real estate.

“The last thing I need is to get a call from a local police force informing me that my building has been used for a rave,” he told her when she mentioned that she’s hired a repair crew.

“Daddy, I’m thirty-two.   My friends aren’t throwing raves, they’re having babies and buying SUVs,” Tracey had responded.

“No one thinks their friends are throwing raves dear.”  And the conversation was over.  Joanna, the only other trustee of a key, had helped out last weekend, but she was supposed to be at some sort of tournament or other this weekend and couldn’t help out.

“It’s just a security issue,” said Tracey, waving it off to Andrew, and wishing she could convince herself.

“I’ll look after that for you.  You have enough on your plate with your incompetent printers.”  Andrew reached over and drew one finger down her jaw.

“All I know is that Dr. Faulkner hired us to do security for the weekend while the building is being renovated.”

Joey was staring at a very large man in a cheesy “rent-a-cop” uniform. He looked at Jack, who shrugged.

“Yeah.  I’m as stumped as you are.  I sure prefer Joanna and muffins.”

So did Joey, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with Tracey.  This just felt off.  Suddenly Joey felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Will, his friend and Sunday school teacher, and occasional employee on jobs like this one.

“Hey, it’s not on you.  Let’s just do exemplary work this weekend.”

Joey smiled and hefted two boxes of wire onto his shoulders and into the building.

My name is Coralie and I’m an addict . . .

At noon today I was dragging.  I don’t mean I was just feeling like sitting down, I mean I was feeling like falling into bed and taking a nap.  It was largely inexplicable considering the Cheesedoodle had allowed me to sleep more hours (both cumulative and consecutive) than I have since before he was born, by falling asleep early, sleeping soundly and sleeping in.  It was bliss.  I should have had more energy today than any day in the last four years or so. 

But I didn’t. I just didn’t.

At lunch Jonathan looked at the french press sitting on the counter and said, in extreme surprise, “You didn’t drink your coffee this morning?”  Indeed, I hadn’t.  We had been in a hurry to go grocery shopping and I had run out the door without my fix.  Sure enough, a cup and a half later and I’m a different woman! I feel motivated.  I can focus on the task at hand.  I feel like life is worth living.  I’m tackling my “to-do” list. 

This has me pondering my statements to various women that caffeine just doesn’t affect me any more.  It would appear that I have become so dependent on my morning coffee that I require it to achieve normal.  It doesn’t keep me awake, it keeps me running.  Caffeine does indeed affect me.  In fact, it might be time for an intervention.

In Which a Cool Down Refreshes My Perspective

Jonathan’s parents arrived in Missouri in the midst of summer’s dying throws of heat, humidity and just general angry revenge.  It hasn’t just been hot for two retired folks from a temperate island off the coast of British Columbia, it’s been hot for everyone.  Until the last three days.  On Monday and Tuesday, the temperatures were almost 20 degrees lower than the week previous, and the humidity was as low as it gets in a valley surrounded by large rivers.  The foam of delight that topped it all off was the slight cool in the breezes that whispered, “I’m fall and I’m on my way.  Don’t despair.”

Needless to say, we crammed every cool minute full of activities here in this new adopted city of ours.

Monday morning was the zoo.  While the zoo here is both excellent and free, it is also very large and we had walked the rough equivalent of half the Lewis and Clarke expedition by the time we returned home for lunch.  We were looking forward to a quieter afternoon, but the last-minute discovery that Jonathan had the evening off led us off on a new journey downtown – supper at the old Spaghetti Factory (a Cowan tradition) and a journey (on foot) to the arch park.  By the time we arrived home, three hours past the children’s bed time, we had walked to the moon and back  or at least it felt like it.

So how did we recover on Tuesday?  By walking some more, of course.  On Tuesday we explored St. Charles and discovered a great historic town, with a beautiful park on the Missouri river and . . . a lot of walking.

It was two very excellent days and everything was new, and beautiful and fresh.  It was a reminder that we have embarked on a new adventure in a new state with new things to see, explore, and walk around.  It was two days of reprieve from heat to remind us that heat and humidity, like seminary,  is a season and does pass.  It was a wonderful blessing spent with family that we haven’t been able to see often enough and that is a cool refreshing breeze in a summer of total chaos and ongoing change.

I’m looking forward to fall in St. Louis.  Maybe without so much walking.

Here are some reasons I haven’t been blogging lately

This slideshow requires JavaScript.