Who was that masked girl?

by the Night Writer

We made our annual expedition to the American Arts Council Craft Show in St. Paul. Saw a LOT of beautiful things, but they cost more than we cared to pay. This is also true of the item in the photos below, but then sometimes you’ve just got to do it when you see those big, sad blue eyes … and the pointy dagger.

Tiger Lilly Mask 1

TIger Lilly Mask 2

Walking the walk

by the Night Writer

Sunday was a beautiful spring day and the Reverend Mother and I walked a few blocks to visit Open Houses for a couple of places we’re considering as investment properties. The six-months pregnant Mall Diva joined us, bubbling along in her jeans, belly-band and flip-flops. After the tour at one of the houses MD had chatted a bit with the realtor about her pregnancy and then she and I sat down on comfy furniture in the living room while RM went over some details with the realtor in the kitchen, just out of our sight. When it was time to leave I stood up, but MD was finding it hard to find her center of gravity on the spongy ottoman where she was ensconced.

“Dad, I need help,” she said, putting her hands out in front of her so I could pull her up.

“Wha….” said the realtor from the kitchen, no doubt picturing a maternity issue in the middle of her open house. No worries, though, and we started to head for home. Going back involved walking up a pretty good hill and MD soon found herself several strides behind. “Hey, guys…” she said, and her mother and I paused and reached back, each taking one of her hands and walking up the hill with her between us, much as we once did at the State Fair, or walking along the sidewalk beside the canal in Duluth, though we weren’t able to swing her between us like we used to.

I laughed a little and said, “Well, I guess we know who the bears are going to get when they come.”

“Yeah,” said the RM.

“That’s okay,” said the Diva, brightly. “I’d just make friends with them!”

And she would, too.

Poem, poem on the range…

by the Night Writer

I’m used to seeing my corporate life detailed in eerie accuracy in the comic strip Dilbert, and there are many times when it has seemed as if Jimmy Johnson, the creator of Arlo and Janis, has a closed circuit TV into my home. This morning, however, it appears that Johnson has sold a subscription to Stephen Pastis of Pearls Before Swine who deftly captured not only what it is like to share a house with the proprietor of Where Poetry Goes to Die (an apparently long, lingering death), but the vocabulary, meter and facial hair of the poet as well:

Pearls poetry

Sweetie 16

by the Night Writer

We once had a little baby that would wake up in the morning, or from a nap, and instead of crying she’d let us know she was awake by giggling. I’d go in to get her and she’d look at me with bright eyes and smile as if to say, “It’s you!” Even then she was no doubt amusing herself with her own stories inside her head.

Seems like that was only a few weeks ago, but here we are and it’s time for singing “16 Candles”, or perhaps in this case, “16 Ninjas”. Our little Tiger Lilly has grrrrrown up and she’s still telling stories — only now they’re in a form where other people can understand them; well, read them anyway. Last week she sent off the manuscript from her first novel to a national contest for as-yet-undiscovered writers. We should know how that works out in the next 30 days or so. Should the judges be so thick-headed as to not rush contracts and cash advances in this direction we’ll look at serializing the story here or somewhere on-line.

As for today, something nearly as exciting: birthday dinner at Tiger Lilly’s favorite restaurant, Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis tonight! Happy birthday, sweetie. I can’t wait to see what you’ll dream up next!

Patience cookie fight
Patience pumpkin
peach louise
Gold Belt 1
Tiger Lilly Fedora

Lesson learned

by the Night Writer

One time, years ago, a bird flew into our garage and expired. When I found it I was about to throw it in the dumpster and then I thought of how our large, slothful cat would sit at the window watching the birds in the backyard, occasionally gnashing his teeth. I thought it might be fun to take the bird inside and give him a peek at the real thing up close. I was wearing a leather utility glove and had the bird resting on the palm; I walked into the kitchen and the cat was passing through. I lowered my hand, expecting that he would get a sniff and initiate a slow stalk. Instead, as soon as he saw or sensed what I had in my hand he moved with nearly blinding speed, snatching the bird in his mouth and racing off to find a quiet place to have his way with it. That was not to be, of course, as I pursued him around the main floor, finally recovering the “prey” and doing what I should have done in the first place and not risked a carcass surprise for my wife or daughters.

So, what brings this up? Well, Tiger Lilly is engaged in her annual Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month (50,000 words, minimum) exercise. In preparation she began squirreling chocolate and other creativity and energy-boosting comestibles around the house and her working areas a month ago. The other night I went to the store to pick up a few things and on the way out I picked up one of those long, flat Hershey bars of dark chocolate, thinking to encourage my daughter’s efforts with a surprise treat. When I got home I hatched a plan to surprise her, though I was surprised to see her taking a break by watching a DVD with the Mall Diva and Son@Night. Her back was to me, however, so I proceeded with my plan – creeping up behind her I quickly reached around and held the wrapped dark chocolate bar horizontally under her nose, intending to waft it side to side, expecting to hear delighted noises and cooing (yes, it’s Tiger Lilly, but that does happen – sometimes). Instead, her head instantly tilted and her jaws snapped down on the chocolate bar. With authority. I almost lost my thumb.

That would have been an expensive and really inconvenient lesson because if it had happened all my sentences wouldstarttolooklikethis. Countyourblessings.Andyourfingers.

The man in black

by the Night Writer

I was eating breakfast yesterday morning when a dark vision suddenly appeared in the kitchen doorway, nearly making me choke on my bagel: it was my son-in-law, clad in his ministerial black shirt with the white tab collar.

“HOLY…,” I said (let’s just leave it at “holy”).

“I know,” he said, “I forgot the belt.”

Actually, my shock was equal parts never having seen him in such a frock and the fact that the clothes he usually wears look as if they were ironed by being placed under the mattress. To see him in charcoal slacks and his “work shirt” was a bit of a surprise, and I was too stunned to take a photo. I’m sure there’s someone, somewhere, who would be very proud to see him thus attired.

He started his internship this week at St. Mary Magdalene Lutheran Church (A Lutheran Church With a Catholic Name and an Evangelical Heart).

Leaving the church

by the Night Writer

Allow me to interrupt the travelogue blog in order to describe a different kind of route that will long live in my memory.

Yesterday was an emotional and bittersweet day for me at church, but before I tell you why let me first tell you about a particular Sunday some 10 years ago. My eldest daughter, the Mall Diva, had been called up to the front of the church for some reason that I can no longer remember. She was about 10 then and as I watched her walk across the dais I suddenly felt as if I were in a large bubble while everything around me was in fuzzy, slow motion except for her. Then I “heard” God say, gently – but in a message that gripped my chest – “You will not have her for long for I have need of her even when she is young” and then my senses went back to normal. In that pellucid moment, however, I absorbed that this wasn’t meant to be scary but merely advance notice so that I (and perhaps the Mall Diva) could be prepared when the time came.

I don’t remember anything else from that service as my mind was focused on trying to decide whether or not what I thought had just happened had really taken place. Had my mind or my enemy dredged up some buried fear to torment me? No, while it wasn’t a message I could initially embrace with open arms, it wasn’t a scary one. Accepting that, my mind then tried to speculate on just what kind of plan God had in mind; I pictured her perhaps being a global evangelist or famous in some way – such are the weaknesses of the flesh and the limits of human understanding. As the years passed I still remembered that moment and a part of me still hoped that it wasn’t true and that she would be with us for a long time to come.

She first came to church with us when she was six days old, on a Wednesday night when the prophet Bernard Jordan was speaking. Since then it has been her home and we watched her grow up in the various children’s ministries and pageants, attending Vacation Bible School and later serving as a volunteer VBS helper, joining and singing in the band, planting and growing her own faith and conviction rather than just coasting along on those of her parents. And from time to time I would remember the word and the moment that had once come to me, and I would wonder anew what it could have meant.

Yesterday she again sang with the band, even soloing on one song as her husband, Ben, harmonized beside her and my eyes clouded because it was the last Sunday that she would be a part of this immediate body, her lifelong church. Next week she goes to Alexandria to visit her in-laws and the week after that her husband begins his pastoral internship at a church in Savage, MN. She will go with him, taking all she has been filled with in answer to the call on both of their lives, perhaps even the one foretold to me.

I know it’s not unusual for children these days to leave the church where they were raised, though most of them may view it as an escape and not as a commission. All her life, however, she has changed people’s lives everywhere she has gone, and I am sure that she will continue to do so and that that is the reason for her going. It would be lovely if she could stay and continue to worship with us, but also selfish on my part to want it to be so. Greatly we have received, and as a result, greatly we give. It will be strange, however, when she is not there, especially for me who’s own membership in our church is scarcely longer than her own. But as I watched her sing yesterday I remembered all the things she has done here, and I remembered that word that I received, and I remembered the very first time she came to church and how she and her mother and I were called to stand before the prophet and I recalled the words that he spoke. Part of the message we received that night was as follows:

“And this child, oh man, is going to be the one that is going to strengthen your faith, to cause you to see the miraculous provision of your God. You’ve wondered in the past, “Where is God?” You have seen me work, says the Lord. But it is just the beginning, because the days of the miraculous are taking forth in your lives.”

Mission accomplished.

Breaking news

by the Night Writer

The big news for us is that Faith and Ben finally got back from their honeymoon yesterday. Of course, there are other things going on in the headlines, but it’s hard not to see everything in terms of the kids being back. For example, I’m so happy I’m thinking about turning over some police cars and setting small trees on fire. Nothing shows the world how happy you are like wanton property damage and abuse of authority, I guess. To follow the lead of the Laker fans I suppose we should have rampaged through our neighborhood immediately after the wedding three weeks ago, but I was just too tired.

With a couple fewer mouths to feed the last couple of weeks we’ve had quite a few leftovers piling up in the refrigerator. This, of course, is just another way Americans are killing the planet with our wastrel ways through excess food accumulating in landfills and producing methane gas that’s 20 TIMES WORSE THAN CARBON DIOXIDE! I thought the problem for years has been Americans eat too much, leading to an obesity epidemic, now we’re criticized for not cleaning our plates? Oh, if only we didn’t live in a functioning economy (for the moment) with an effective infrastructure that efficiently and cost-effectively delivers food to us on a daily basis! Don’t worry, I’m sure that within a few years the government will take care of this oversight while also mandating how much and what kinds of food we can buy. I mean, once the goverment takes over health care and we still die too expensively it’s only logical they regulate consumption for our own good. Or maybe they’ll just let the natural results of their policies run their course: whatever flaws the Soviet Union had, they certainly were never known for letting their wasted food pile up into methane-producing heaps.

Anyway, now that Ben’s back there is sure to be fewer left-overs, and the cattle industry can breathe a sigh of relief after demand took a brief dip in June. To be honest, though, I don’t know how much our household is actually contributing to the food piles in the landfill. I don’t recall ever throwing out any pizza or half a bag of Fritos. Our policy is simply that we will never throw good food away. We merely wrap it and put it in the refrigerator until it becomes bad food, and then we throw it away.

As for the riots in Iran, I guess they’re just upset that Faith and Ben decided not to visit there as part of their world-wide, whirlwind honeymmoon tour.