Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

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Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

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  • Saturday, November 26, 2005

    A Thanksgiving Public Service, Part I



    Art by Drake graduate, Marvin Hill, 1952 - 2003
    R.I.P.



    I’m thinking of starting a Thanksgiving Public Service. You know how every family has a Weird Relative, right? Or maybe one who can’t so much be classified as a Weird Relative, but a Drama Queen, one who cannot abide the fact that the Tsunami Was Not About Her, and so makes everything else about her.

    I’ll get to the logistics of the public service in a minute. But first, I’ll give you a purely hypothetical situation involving generic events that have probably happened to every family sometime, or will happen, given lots of years and many ill-spent holidays. The characters are common stereotypes, Everymen and Everywomen, who dwell on some common branch of Everyfamily tree. I hope you can relate, and that my familiar example will illustrate the desperate need we, as a civilized society, have for this service I am about to present.

    When some of us aren’t actively trying to break down the foundations of any and all Western religions for fun and profit, we like to roll-play that we are Martha Stewart. No, really. Look in the closet, past the leathers and the feathers and the strap-on horns.

    There, do you see it?

    Right there; the apron Mom made us, with the little cherries-and-blue-china-plates print, from a pattern she picked up called “Church Lady.” Yeah, disturbing, I know, but let us not judge.

    Yes, some of us blasphemers save this apron for the Special Day, the Day of the Turkey. Some of us lose sleep, wondering if we will find and land The Big One; the turkey that will feed 15 people. Some of us rejoice when our hunt proves fruitful (or turkeyful) and we carry home the Great 26 Pounder, and lo! It Is Fresh, Not Frozen!

    We agonize over keeping the raw, featherless beast at the proper temperature in the garage, because the fridge is inadequate for its majesty. We gather herbs and spices, some from our very own Hell’s Half Acre (this is all hypothetical, of course; everyone has at one time or another named their property Hell’s Half Acre), we perform obscure and arcane rituals over the bird, drawing down the spirit of Ben Franklin, Patron Saint of Turkeys by painting our beaver pelts red white and blue (not THAT kind of beaver pelt, you pervert!) and petitioning his patriotic blessing on this splendid specimen of his beloved fowl.

    We double, double, boil and trouble the Sacred Brine of Many Tasty Ingredients, all at the special request of our father-in-law, who made the silly suggestion that if the event were not to take place at his daughter-in-law’s home (it did), that perhaps she could co-cook the turkey with his psychotic daughter (I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not considered judging if it’s true). We blasphemers do brew this brine for ourselves too, yes, because we are Homesick, and sad that we must be stranded 1000 miles away from our family on our Favorite Holiday, and that we cannot make the Turkey Brined in Many Tasty Ingredients for said family, who always makes a point of ooohing and ahhhing and pouring Many Good Libations into our wine glass of satisfaction (hypothetical), and, whereby, by virtue of our cooking, are not ourselves proclaimed the Weird Relative.


    And in three day’s time, the Brined Bird, raw and colored mahogany from the salty waters of Many Tasty Ingredients, rises from its cooler, and the angels sing (in our hypothetical heads) and we bathe it and anoint it with melted butter, we swaddle it in a cooking bag, tucking the Chosen Bird in with the three gifts of garlic, lemon and a stick of cinnamon, strew it with herbs both bitter and sweet, and we lay it in its aluminum manger. Then we send Our Beloved Bird to its temporary resting place – the oven (or rather, our hypothetical husband does, because, hypothetically, we are too small to get really good leverage on the thing as it goes in the oven).


    Now, before all this preparation of the Most Holy Bird, plans have been made for the rest of the feast, otherwise known as Garnish. Ok, envision something with me here for a minute. It’s two weeks before Thanksgiving, the Christmas decorations have already been up in the stores since November 1st, replacing the cardboard turkeys that replaced the Halloween jack-o-lanterns around July 5th. It’s late afternoon, quiet, the (hypothetical) twin boys are gently napping, when an intense and shrill ringing complains through the house. It is the telephone, and some of us blasphemers answer it with a sense of foreboding.


    It is our (completely hypothetical) sister-in-law, who brings tidings of What Is To Be Made By Whom. Some of us reply that since we will be preparing the way for the Coming of the Brined Bird, we joyfully will add to its bounty stuffing, gravy and appetizers of loaves and fishes; specifically, Smoked Salmon with Herbed Cream Cheese and Capers on Cute Little Slices of Pumpernickel. We hark, and in return, we hear that our (stereotyped) sister-in-law will bring forth from her kitchen mashed potatoes (for hypothetical Dad), sweet potatoes, and five pies. Some of us blasphemers then offer to unburden our sister-in-law a little, by offering up a chocolate torte made from a virgin recipe in place of one of the pies whose number is like the grains of sand beside the sea, or the stars in the sky.

    Our sacrifice is flatly refused, with the lamentation of, “If I don’t make them all, my (hypothetical) husband will be disappointed. So will (hypothetical) Dad.” (Lamentations 6:6,682,725). “Oh, and you must make your corn pudding, since I can’t make it as well.” (Lamentations 6:6,682,726).

    We commend our blasphemous spirit to this decision, and then it is revealed to us that our (hypothetical) mother-in-law shall bring forth from her kitchen the Sacred Cranberry Sauce, the green bean casserole and possibly the Carbonated Libations, if said libations are not provided by (hypothetical) sister-in-law’s own mother-in-law (hypothetically). “Thy will be done,” we (hypothetically) respond, and then some of us blasphemers go in peace to love and serve the Bird.


    We are visited twice more by the Messenger, with tidings of, “I’m bringing one of my friends along too, you mind? (we don’t; there’s plenty of room at the inn) and, “What about bread? Whose gonna make the bread?” Some of us blasphemers respond that with the miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes, we shall have ample bread. “But Dad’ll want rolls,” responds the sister-in-law, “I guess I’ll make those too.” (Lamentations 6:6,682,727).

    To Be Continued... (Dec 1st post, if this link doesn't work)

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Jen Ruzicka, Rest in Peace

    Jen's death was sudden and unexpected. A heart defect, it seems. My thoughts and prayers are with her family right now. Dave and Rob are old friends of mine. We all kept each other sane by driving each other crazy, back in the day. I don't think a weekend went by that wasn't spent in their apartment along with Chris, Sara, Jessica and Orlando. There will never be days like those again. God bless ya all.

    From The Messenger, in Iowa:

    Jennifer Ann Ruzicka, 32, of Humboldt, passed away November 11, 2005 at Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge...

    Jennifer Ann (Kathman) Ruzicka was born in Waterloo, Iowa on Father’s Day (June 17) 1973. She was a great joy in a thunderstorm that early morning and considered to be the greatest gift ever received on “Great Grandfather’s Day” by her great grandpa Baardson.

    Jennifer and her family lived in Waterloo until Father’s Day 1979, when the family moved to Milford, Iowa. In Milford, she had many memories living above H.E. Jacobs Variety Store, which was owned by her father. Living close to the lakes, she loved swimming in the summer. She graduated from Okoboji High School in 1991.

    After graduation, she moved to Des Moines where she excelled at Drake University School of Pharmacy and again graduated with honors in the winter of 1995. While at Drake she first met David who was her older brother, Robert’s friend and college roommate. She was employed as a staff pharmacist at Methodist Hospital in Des Moines when she and David began dating. Many of their dates where spent biking, and David proposed to her after she gave him an antique Schwinn bicycle built for two.

    Jennifer and David were united in marriage on May 17, 1997 in Spencer, Iowa and spent their honeymoon on the north side of the Grand Canyon where Jennifer learned to appreciate mules on a ride down into the canyon. Promptly after their honeymoon, they settled in Janesville, Wisconsin for David’s family practice residency. For the next three years, Jennifer supported David while she again was employed as a pharmacist first in Rockford, Illinois, then in Beloit, Wisconsin.

    The couple was blessed with the birth of their first born, Catherine Nicole on Easter morning 2000. Two weeks later the young family moved to Humboldt. Jennifer was employed at the Humboldt County Memorial Hospital until being blessed again with the arrival of Madeleine Margaret on August 23, 2001. Jennifer was then employed and after being blessed with their third beautiful girl, Cassondra Abigail on November 22, 2002.

    Jennifer lived for her children and was a loving wife. Wise and patient, she taught her children well. She accomplished the goals she set for herself with a quiet determination and was a friend to many. She was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Ladies Society, the Iowa Pharmacy Association, P.EO Chapter BV, and the Humboldt Babysitting COOP.

    As a testament to her love of children, memorials will be made for playground equipment to benefit the children of Humboldt.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    Dialogue and Hell's Half Acre





    What I'd really like to write about here, is the ending of summer, the slow creep of fall, the snow that covers Hell's Half Acre, as O and I have come to call our suburban home. The garden's been put to bed, a handfull of parsnips left in the ground to sweeten over winter, the bok choy that will not let go, stray tomatoes that will grow up to be volunteers I won't have the heart to pull next spring, damn the rotation. The pocket meadow at the top of our property, ringed with wild plum trees, like a lace collar in the spring flowering. Their fruit is small, but so dark and sweet! The way that summer sees its fall approaching and hushes down its heat, letting cool breezes blue up the sky. The cottonwoods that frame the fence one yard over, and how that fence might conceal a long table laden with food, and people feasting, laughing, children playing, everyone happy at the end of the afternoon, the late-day light shining perfectly on them. And how that fence might not conceal anything at all, might only be a boundry between properties. But as long as I cannot prove that it conceals nothing out of the ordinary, I cannot prove that it doesn't, so it keeps my existentialism at bay. I don't want to lose this place.

    *****
    In the meantime, I wrestle with Penemuel's dialogue, disgaced in knowing I'm just too dumb to be his mouthpiece. He's the keeper of words, after all. His speech should be elegant and precise, not wordy or lofty, but beautiful. Shaker furniture should fall from his lips, you know what I mean? So I bounce between:

    “You won’t marry me because you think I’m damned.”

    and
    "Why is marriage such anathema to you? Do I blister your sense of decency? Forgive me if I mistook your physical affection for a welling of the heart, of emotion made flesh, when flesh danced perfected in the fine confines of your bed. Forgive me if I cannot halt my march toward loving you completely, for all eternity, should God grace us with such an embarrassment of time.
    My speech is made clay for your ears, and clangs in my own, unsuitable for encapsulating the delicate, shining song turning in my heart. No golden notes can emulate the brilliance of what lies inside me, of love like the reflection in a mirror cupped in your palm. You bend your face, eye catches eye, the mirror would preserve your visage if you’d but stare pacified and contented. It would betray no line of worry or regret, no canker of your beauty revealed, no strands of grey creeping into the chestnut river of your hair. The bloom of your cheeks like everspring, like a sunrise satisfied to stay low and rosy. My love knows no evening."
    Neither works, don't you think?


    Ok, bed.