Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ode to our Nick

Here on the North Shore of Boston, every town has their Roast Beef place.
These RB places, they make a sandwich- they carve the beef right off the roast and put it, warm and juicy, onto a hamburger roll (or an ONION roll!) with your choice of toppings, and then a special barbecue sauce (or, I hear there's a horseradish sauce too).
Once you've lived on the North Shore for a while, someone will bring you to one of these places and teach you how to order. My order is "Junior, LTM Sauce, and a small fry well done." That's Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo, obviously, but these things must be ordered in haste and when you use the initials then they know you're no outsider and will not be a pain with your order. They're not like the soup Nazi, they're very patient, but it's a badge of honor to know how to order like that, and also an early sign of heart disease.
These places are not fancy, but clean and run like clockwork. They are Greek, and offer Gyros (pronounced "yeeros" I think, delicious wraps with garlic sauce like WOAH.) along with their beef as well as Greek salads with perfect creamy Greek dressing, and they're closed on Greek Easter.
At ours, Nick made the sandwiches for over 20 years and made them the BEST of anyone who worked there. He had a thick Greek accent, and a big smile, and if we would call to order, he would tell us "ok, number one!" but I am pretty sure he gave everyone the number 1 when they called. Scott had a long-running joke with him, ordering a slice of pizza every time we went there (they don't serve pizza), and he was always friendly to us, and to everyone.
We had heard that Nick was sick, some kind of cancer. Yesterday when I went in, the young man at the counter told me Nick has died. The crew there had just come from his wake, and his funeral is this morning at the Greek Orthodox church. Nick will be missed, and no one's roast beef sandwiches will ever be as good as his...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trapped at home with the birds

I'm happily trapped at home because Scott is at a long meeting and my car is in the shop. Something about brakes, but they're covered under a LIFETIME GUARANTEE!! so it's just the annoyance of being carless for a while as it is being fixed. I finished my book, and my laundry and there's not a lot of food in the house (it's pay week!) but I can't go get some more, and can't get started on packing up the car for the camping trip. I've finished my book (funny, but dark, and a little too close to possible... scary!) and had a nap, and now I'm facing a yawning gap in time. I'll make chocolate chip cookies, but have to wait for the butter to soften up a bit. Ah well.
Outside the crows are cawing and chucking at each other. This neighborhood is a hangout for a crew of large black crows who behave a lot like a gang of bad middle schoolers downtown after school. They just hang around and intimidate the smaller birds, knock at the birdfeeder until it spills seed on the ground and then gorge on the stolen seed. They just sit there, talking or yelling at each other, and they have little squabbles over nothing. At dusk they fly around from tree to tree, yelling and annoying the neighbors. Whenever I walk outside I clap my hands, making them scatter, making me worry about whether or not they'll recognize my face and hold a grudge as I've heard on NPR. Why doesn't the parks department put something on for them in the summer?? Keep them busy?? The yard is full of the scars of them digging for grubs (well, fine, they can have the grubs but do they have to destroy the grass?) and their poop is on every surface. I guess that's different from middle schoolers, if only slightly. Ha!
I actually really love middle schoolers, so maybe I should give these birds a break. They do give a creepy feel to the neighborhood though. The birds, I mean.
Anyway, must figure out something about suppa. Ahhh, trapped.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Googling on Sunday

Today I was faced with the dizzying opportunity to go to Mass anywhere I wanted to go! I have today off, and although I do get homesick for my parish when I'm not there, I love to go check out other parishes and see what they're up to.
Coincidentally, I got this cartoon in my work email this week:

It's funny 'cause it's true!! Or, I should say, it's... so... likely!
But the good thing about being a stranger in a strange church is that it reminds me that there are strangers in my church every week, some peeking in (because they've seen a Catholics Come Home ad?) and some Professional Catholics like m'self. You can't tell by looking! In fact, today the priest at the parish I visited mentioned the Eucharistic miracle at Lanciano in Italy and I was so simutaneously intrigued and disgusted that I had to google it on my iphone, right there during the homily. I know, totally bad behavior. But the point is, you can't tell a book by its cover- anyone in the pews around me could have looked upon my frown and iphone use and judged me harshly, or sniffed in disgust when I passed the basket without adding to it (I realized on my way there that I had no cash, and didn't have time to stop at an ATM and even if I did I wasn't about to give a 20, and there was definitely not time to stop and break a 20, and although I did have change and I know every bit counts, I did not want to be that person who tosses a handful of clangy change into the basket...) and that must remind me not to judge people at my church who look sheepishly at their hymn books when the baskets slide by their shoulders. Let's all just assume that those people give weekly, through online giving, which is totally possible in almost all parishes these days. Okay?
Anyway, this was a small parish that had been tha-rough The Ringer back in the beginnings of the clergy abuse scandal, and they seem to be doing well. By 10 after, right on Catholic-schedule, the church was pretty full, with lots of kids, and everyone sang and was friendly. The homily was long but not too shabby, and while it wasn't the very best in exegesis it was solid and based on the Eucharist, this being the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. It made me think, and made me google, which is not a bad goal for the modern homily, now that I think of it...
Happy Sunday everyone.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Too bad it's raining.

We stop to take advantage of a pause in the incessant rain, not to complain (see blog title) buy to creep out and check on the waterlogged garden and save the worms gasping on the sidewalks and gaze up at the sky for the first time in days without getting an eyeful of rain.
Yesterday was a day off for me and a home-alone day, to boot- I used the rain as an excuse to do very little chores and to take naps. I had a lovely solo dinner and caught up on the DVR and read my secular book (Super Sad True Love Story... so far it's dark but quirky, my kind of book!) and tried not to anger Mother Nature (ahem, to clean the selfishness out of my soul) by not complaining about the grossness out there, because next week it really needs NOT to rain. We both have camp trips coming up and in the case of my trip, soggy camping is considerably less fun than dry camping... and for Scott, soggy camp trips with hundreds of bored and cranky teenagers are seriously less fun than dry camp. So. Let it rain, for now.
Today we're wandering around the house, with all the doable chores already done and it's too soon to start the rest of the chores, and other chores like laundry aren't worth doing when it's so DAMP. So, I dunno, maybe we'll go shopping. Or, take naps. Scott is back to work tomorrow, so we won't go far or stay out late, but it smells funky here, and the sink is clogged, and... aw, too bad it's raining.
Oh, the colonoscopy? All's well! Thanks for asking!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Turd Degree (sorry!)

I am tantalizingly close to vacation week. I worked today (and was super-productive! What is it about weeks-before-vacations??) but am taking tomorrow off (until evening LEX) to take a certain beloved someone for a colonoscopy. Tonight has been preparation night, which basically means we just wait around... for the other... poo... to drop... It has been SO hard not making jokes like that all day.
Anyway, for an introvert, taking someone to the hospital for a procedure is an exciting prospect! I have my book and another book all ready to go, despite the fact that the procedure is only supposed to take about 30 minutes. I figure with waiting time and recovery time, I should get in a few chapters. I have been trying not to eat in front of him, because he cannot eat, and I am trying not to have to go to the bathroom, so as not to take up the only seat in there. I'm weirdly psyched to go to the hospital, where there is a Starbucks IN THE LOBBY and comfy seats and free wifi.
Well, I am sure that the procedure will go smoothly (wokka wokka) and everything will come out just fine (Stop! My side!!) so it's not a stressful trip... for me. I will not giggle, and will not make poop jokes, and will not bait him into saying inappropriate things under anesthesia, this I vow. After tomorrow, one more day of work and then I'm freeeeeeeee to rest and relax and read stuff. I can hardly wait.

Friday, June 17, 2011

7 Quick (random) Takes

So. In no particular order:
1) I just took a bite of my first strawberry of the season. I love that moment! We haven't had a lot of sun, so our strawberry plants have a lot of tiny, deformed, white nubs of berries on them but one went all the way and turned a gorgeous red. I picked it yesterday but set it on the kitchen windowsill to prolong the anticipation. The taste was surprising, like a memory recovered. MMMM I love strawberry season!
2) If there's one thing I regret about my child-free state it's the loss of the opportunity to name someone. I think that would be such an honor, and I can imagine it would be fulfilling and fascinating to watch someone grow into the name I've given them. I kind of collect names in my head, and when I hear names on the radio I often pair them with my last name to see how they'd sound, and imagine the kind of person who would have that name. Fortunately, we get to name whatever pets we'll have for the rest of our lives, and I want you to know I take that responsibility just as seriously.
3) If there are two things I mull over in the car, in my alone time, while listening to the radio, they are names of non-babies, and songs I could sing at Karaoke. Don't get me wrong, I'm never going to sing karaoke, but it's fun to imagine it. My dream song would be "Loving You" by Minnie Riperton, but I'd get the crowd to sing the high notes, and that would be funny. You see my singing career and comedy career are intertwined, and similarly non-existent.
4) Even though things have slowed down considerably, and work is a breeze these days (I spent a lot of time this week reading all the journals that came in the mail over the winter that I didn't have time to read) I still am aching for a vacation week. I'll get one, too, starting next Thursday. Even if work is not slave-labor, there's something about vacation that just hits a giant re-set button for me. I can't wait.
5) I watched the whole Bruins Stanley Cup series, and it was a lot of fun! You know I love school and team spirit, and that I reflexively get choked up at the sound of cheering so this is perfection for me, even though I am generally not one to watch hockey and would never make it through their 13-month season (it's longer than this sentence!!), especially with the amount of tension in those games! I prefer a nice leisurely game of baseball, or the short-term crazed burst of excitement of the Tour De France. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is Yay Bruins! It has been fun being a near-Bostonian during this time.
6) We attended a big fest in honor of our friend who has been in ministry at a nearby parish for over 15 years. As we stood there, watching him being presented with citations and gifts and celebrated by people who talked about how he has touched their lives, Scott and I came to the same conclusion: we can do anything in this ministry job. We can do trips, we can do new groups and ministries, we can do new things, we can stretch and grow and develop. The world is our oyster. It was very inspiring and I think having seen his success, we're going to work on our own.
7) Scott and I are off to see Katherine soon, and are willing the rain to go away so we can walk with her around her neighborhood. I have been learning a lot about myself through hanging out with Katherine, and seeing myself through our conversations together. We talk about big stuff like God and Glee, but also about science, a lot- it turns out I'm into science! Who would ever have thought? (Not, certainly, my Mom.) Last week Katherine asked me a science question and I thought "huh! I'm a science geek!" She is a bona-fide scientist, so it was kind of an honor. Oh, and just to be clear, I don't KNOW anything about science, but I find it all pretty fascinating. That's something, right? Even though I don't know much? Like having a sense of humor even while not being funny.
Anyway, Happy 7 things. Our Quick Takes hostess (over at is having a much more significant week than I, so do go take a look.

Monday, June 13, 2011


This week, I can't get this song out of my head. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


This afternoon, the doorbell rang at the rectory. The offices are closed on Sundays- no one's in on duty to handle doorbells and phone calls, because the staff on Sunday are usually running around doing other things. But the truth is, even if someone is around on a Sunday afternoon and the doorbell rings, we are prone not to answer. It's because if we are in the rectory, it's because we taking a break or grabbing a quick bite, or because... well, you just never know what you'll find when you answer the door at a rectory, off-hours. I usually don't answer if I'm there because I don't know how to do some of the things that people come to the door for (like getting a Mass card or whatever) and I don't like to answer the door when there's no one around to ensure my safety. I know, it sounds mean to leave a doorbell unanswered, but often, people who reach past the "CLOSED" sign to ring the doorbell can be... scary. A priest in our Archdiocese was stabbed in the eye several years back, answering the door at off-hours- I know, right?? It's just... risky. But today I was having lunch with Scott and one of the priests was also in the building, and the doorbell rang... 6 times. I decided to risk it and go to the door.
The first thing I could see, below the mail box, was that whoever was there had his pants tucked into his tube socks. It was too late to turn back at that point, though, so I opened the door to an old man who had two shopping bags in his hands, and a stack of grocery store fliers. He had a big smile, handed me the flyers (couldn't decide how to spell that, so I went with both) and asked to come in. I said I'd be happy to take whatever he had to give me but didn't invite him in, but he pretty much insisted.
So I let him in, and he put the bags down to sort through them. I realized that this is the man who brings random grocery items to the rectory door a few times a week- the housekeeper and office manager know him well now. He handed me a bag of cough drops (because, he said, they're good to have now that it's getting cold out!) and then a box of mac and cheese. He said "oh, women love this stuff!" Then, he reached in and handed me a package of English muffins. He said "these are for you and the priest." I said "how nice of you to think of us!" and he said "Well, I'm a Roman Catholic. And as they say, everything counts. It takes a penny to make a dollar, and one prayer counts too." He combined his other items into one bag and said to himself out loud, "I'm so happy." I saw him out and he said "now, I want you to have one of those English muffins, maybe with some jelly!" and I promised him I'd have one.
I am so glad I answered the door. I think it's possible we made each other's day- he was so happy to give, and I am so blessed to receive.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Mmmmmm, that feels great.

It's ten years, officially, and so far so good. Our anniversary trip was flat-out wonderful- we had a great time in beautiful Mystic, CT eating great food, staying at a lovely (and quirky) inn, people-watching at Foxwoods (we didn't play even one slot machine!) and driving the countryside. Even the parts of the trip where we were just resting or reading or exploring were fun and I loved each minute of it. We had a delicious and decadent (for us!) dinner on our anniversary night. As great as it was, I was happy to come home to our comfy place and see the kitties, who missed us terribly, it was clear.
On the last day in CT, we got up and went to a local spa for a massage! Well, two massages. One each! And this leads me to my point for this blog entry, as I had a big religious epiphany during my massage. My massage-therapist was a lovely, soothing woman who made me feel comfortable, relaxed, and pampered. Her movements were never harsh, even when she was working on my tough spots. I was compliant and happy to have her move even my arms and legs when needed, and I just closed my eyes and floated along. I thought silently, "massage-therapist-lady, I love you. I will turn in whichever direction you move me, and I want to be the best massage client ever, because you, to me, are wonderful." And then it hit me, this is what we want God to be. We want God to be soothing and comforting and always making us feel better, never allowing us to feel pain. We want angelic music in the background and we want God to just gently turn us in the right direction. And we'll go! We'll gladly go limp and let God do the work. If it were only like that, we'd be compliant and trusting, and we'd want to be the best followers ever, because it is all so lovely and comfortable.
Oh, but my friends, this is not the way God works.
Tonight at LEX we talked about this Sunday's Pentecost Gospel reading- it's a quick one, from John (20:19-23) where Jesus appears to his freaked-out disciples after rising from the dead. We noticed that Jesus appears with the wounds from his crucifixion, where we supposed (being God and all) He could have chosen to appear with a nicely healed body. Why did he still have those wounds? We guessed that maybe Jesus was showing that He knows that we too, like Him, will suffer. That pain is part of life, and that death is part of resurrection. He suffered, but then triumphed over suffering. Pain is real, and true, and it exists, God knows. Massages are nice, (really nice) but they're not real life. Life is walking, sore muscles, working, suffering and victory. Massages, and vacations, are temporary. Life goes on, wounds and all.
I don't know how God works, but I know how God doesn't work! (still, it would be nice, wouldn't it?)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


This week we celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary! I can hardly believe it. My parents tell a story that on their first anniversary Dad said to Mom "it feels like we've been married forever" (or some version of that). He meant it in the nicest way possible, and she took it in the worst way. I think that's what marriage does to a couple.
Ha! Just kidding.
Anyway, looking back over ten years, it does seem like it's gone impossibly fast, and like we've been forever together. I can barely remember what life was like before Scott came along.
To celebrate, we're going on a schmancy trip! We're going to an exotic New England location, and staying in a classy inn, and getting massages, and having dinner that we'll dress up for! I obsessed for a month about where to go, sending Scott daily email destination suggestions (who was totally distracted with Confirmation and graduation Mass and retreat, and various and sundry other things) and fantasizing about spending a lot of money on frivolous things. But not too much money. I feel some pressure to celebrate up this significant anniversary (significant because it's, like, an even number, I guess... they've all been fairly significant so far though.) Now that we've booked and it's practically here I am trying not to look at travel things anymore, like the Yankee Magazine I just bought, and trying not to get so excited that I wreck the whole thing, like someone hugging a kitten to death.
BUT I CAN'T WAIT TO GO!! And, you know, 10 years is something worth celebrating. So cheers to Scott My Love, and thank you for so far.

Latest Musical Obsession...

Oh my, I cannot get this song out of my head. Check it out, s'good: