We Own This Town
The ratio of Hults' to Not-Hults' in Pennsylvania seems to grow narrower by the day. Gramma was feeling she'd gotten to be on friendly terms with her new house, was a little lonely, and she'd gotten nowhere finding friendly braillers nearby -- so it was kitten time! AK had a plan all mapped out, and was just waiting for the go-ahead. So once given the go-ahead we went to our first stop: our vet/groomers. They are very connected in the leash-&-collar community and would understand Gramma's need for a young, healthy, oft-handled kitten which was already potty trained.
They had two.
A brother-sister set of gray striped tabbies had been left at the vet's main doctor's doorstep awhile ago and they'd been living there at the vet ever since. 12 weeks old. They were very friendly, very used to being handled, they had nearly all their shots already and they offered to clip them both for free. $65 in litter, box, canned food and toys later. . . . we've got two more Hults' in Pine Grove Mills! They are as-yet un-named as Gramma goes through the myriad of boy/girl and brother/sister names. There are LOTS of good ones, but I am partial to Frida and Diego :). They are spending their first day/night in Gramma's guest room so they can get used to the house slowly and use their litter box a few times before they are set free to roam. That's worked very well so far, all the kitty droppings have dropped where they belong.
My talk (nearly a week ago now) as you probably read on AK's blog, went very well. I was telling the missionaries next day that after staying up all night preparing the talk, I'd pitched the plans and winged it just before the zero hour. One of them put it well "There's the talk you plan to give, the talk you give, and the talk you wish you gave". Yup. But it seemed well received and certainly a little something different for the local Mormons. I spent Monday taking both missionaries down to Harrisburg for a "Transfer Meeting" where we dropped off one and took home a new one. It was quite an education, and while I'm not sure I agree with the philosophy behind it (missionary work), I'm 100% behind what it does for the young men personally. I don't know the whys, and I'm still figuring out the hows, but I definitely want my son to do what these men are doing.
I have a sort-of-job interview this next Monday, that will be interesting. I'm open to getting "back in the game" so long as it's on my terms, so I thought I'd put myself out there a little bit. I sent my resume in to a recruiter about a specific position that was asking for a lot of marketing/PR/sales background. I feel I'm pretty qualified for the position, but I get the idea I'm going in Monday so Mr. Recruiter can get my whole story and see what else I might also be qualified for. AK worked with him last Spring and he sounds like a straight up professional dude so I'm looking forward to it.
More later. Hopefully some kitty pix? They are cute, with lots of tiger stripes and ears the size of radar dishes. . .
My Conversion Story
I don’t have a conversion story. The dog ate my conversion story. I had a conversion story, but my brother spilled his cereal milk on it and then there was this, um, category 5 tornado, and . . .
See, in the Mormon church people give talks. Everybody does. Not so much with the preaching and the lectures, more with the sharing and the storytelling. I like that about it. Lots of the people who give talks are good at it, and even those that aren’t, I feel closer to them afterwards. As though we’d just had a short conversation and learned a little bit about each other. Sometimes they are not so good at speaking, or maybe they are but they are on a really academic scripture “kick” and get really excited about digging deep & finding symbolism and connections and *yawn*. . . . Even then, it’s no worse than the sweet but charisma-free Methodist minister in Elgin, MN. And I shouldn’t knock the Scripture Kickers, they at least did their homework. I haven’t even read the Book of Mormon.
This is why I was a little surprised to have a Bishop’s counselor call and ask me to talk next week. They’ve had a “Conversion Story/Where Are You From Spiritually Speaking” theme going since the wards reorganized. It helps us all to get to know each other, and personally it’s been great to hear about the paths that led other people where they are. Counselor (there are 2 counselors, they are like Vice Bishops but it’s not just a title. The Bishop’s job is really too big for just one or two men. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes 3 men to Bishop a ward) . . . suggested that the nature of the church (any church or community, I pointed out. . . ) breeds a certain amount of “sameness”. And he thought my point of view, as a not-member from not-Utah, might provide some counterpoint and a sense of spiritual diversity. I agreed, and was as pleased as I was nervous about the talk.
Then he stammered that Bishop said, um, if I could just. . . .
. . . and I imagined our awesome, genuine and sweet and most decidedly 100% Mormon Bishop asking him to gently ask me not to curse or gyrate my pelvis or bite the heads off of any mammals, not that he thought I might do those things but he respectfully just doesn’t know how they DO things wherever I’m from.
But no. Worse. He wants me to mention Jesus Christ.
That one made me stammer. Counselor gave me every option to back out or postpone. I explained to him extensively my concerns, he gave thoughtful and helpful response (with more polite opportunities to say no). I told him it would be a challenge, but I was up to the challenge.
See, I am wholeheartedly down with Jesus. He was unquestionably the most influential human in human history. He was a humble teacher who hung out with the poor, the sick, and the people who needed him. He preached a hard line of compassion and sacrifice, and actually practiced it in his own life. Dude. Show me a man like that today and I’ll vote for him. But most Christian sects insist that God is aware of us on a personal level and that we can have relationships with Jesus Christ in this way or that way.
I don’t feel that. I might some day! I never thought I’d be able to say that God knows me enough to answer my prayers. But he did, that one time. So I’m open to feeling a relationship with Jesus Christ and maybe even talking to people about it (or not. I really feel this is all pretty private. I’d love to have the testimony but don’t know that it would have meaning for anyone else and I’d be just fine keeping it in my pocket and grinning about it instead of bearing witness all over the place. . . ).
(So, you know, I’m talking to THE INTERNET about it)
So there’s the challenge. Who knows how it’ll play out. I’ve thought about it so much today that my brain hurts. I can’t just go up and tell ‘em all how funny/kooky they are, can I? You know, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT? Or how about if I used the time to teach them all The Electric Slide? Lecture on Rap’s renaissance in the 90s? OH you know what I need to do? I need to teach the piano lady some boogy-woogie riffs because there are no whiter, soul’less hymns than these. No offense. Just sayin. Nothin' but love for ya :).
Today was not the best Sunday, AK and I have been working too hard and the new routines of the school year are still, um, new. She slept wrong last night and gimped around today all seized up like she had palsy. And then there were the desperate whimpers of anquish every time she moved, poor lady. Sometimes I'm so aware of my need for a day of rest, that I waste my day of rest worrying that I'm not getting the necessary rest. We didn't get in the full range of Gramma Nesting Help that we'd hoped, but it was legitimately too hot and it's been just a few too many days of too hot here in Pine Grove Mills. Given that I'm alright with what was accomplished, even with the level of rest that was or wasn't rested.
Next week we'll settle into our routines a little more. Readers Theater will start to have momentum. We'll actually do more real actual Boy Scouty things in Boy Scouts. I'll get a few more days worth of clients taken care of. And Next Sunday will be better.
Especially the part AFTER I talk to the Mormons on Sunday as though I've got something meaningful for them to hear.
As Dy says, kiss those babies!
There is a Special Level of Hell for Bloggers Like Me
Yup. SO going to hell here. But it's with all due respect. And AK will deny it to St. Peter but she giggled too.
Going to Mormon For Beginners class (Nephi for Neophytes? Priesthood Preschool?) a few weeks ago, they had a large portrait of Jesus at the front of the room. Really, it was large. So large that you can't help but stare at it for a minute. As I stared, I commented that it must be hard to have to paint Jesus in today's age of media, because you have to somehow paint him in a way that he does NOT resemble some actor, politician or celebrity. This is the picture we were looking at:
David Hasselhoff, no? Am I right? I'll never watch Knight Rider the same way again. And not just because I'm never watching Knight Rider again. Concerned about lightning bolts of righteous and eternal damnation, I let the issue lie at that time.
But then Missionaries came to visit, and left pamphlets, because no one finds their own spiritual path without pamphlets. And I'll be darned if they didn't have more portraits of Jesus on them! Here is a young Robert Deniro . . .
And here we have. . . .
. . . Woody Harrelson.
I Heard somewhere that we're judged by the company we keep. It might be baloney. Or even Hooey. Even so, I concluded in a college paper in an Ethics class that while we do have a complex innate ethical system, we've been completely unsuccessful at defining/understanding it, so we should just seek out the enlightened people, hang around with them, and hope that some enlightenment rubs off on us. I have done so, and I think my friends would agree. Few of my friends would argue that I have decidedly exquisite taste in friends. Yes I count many enlightened individuals in my Franklin Planner. They're mixed in there with a lot of Minnesota Honda Dealers. If you're wondering what the enlightenment factor of your posse is, you might want to use the following as a guideline.
I know I'm hangin' with the hip, consorting with the cultivated and working with the wise because. . . .
-They name their dogs after Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy characters
-They have Opus the Penguin tattoos
-They quote Buckaroo Banzai and Joe vs. The Volcano
-They have "dog voices". And use them. At every opportunity.
-They have machine shops in their basements and fabricate for you anything you could imagine for less than 57 cents and will then recite the story of how they did so beyond their graves.
-They wear capes.
-They ride motorcycles and go as fast as the motorcycle can possibly go -- but only on very small motorcycles that don't go very fast.
-They'd rather watch Muppet Show episodes from 25 years ago than anything on TV today.
There are more reasons, as a matter of fact I'm reminded almost daily of my friends' and associates enlightenment. So much enlightenment has rubbed off on me, I think I need to take a shower. How do you know your society is spirtually savvy?
Yesterday was Ben and Milo's first day of Kindergarten, and they were beside themselves with excitement. All morning we were notified that THESE were their KINDERGARTEN SHOES.
Here are the big boys going to school. . .
That's Milo on top, I caught him in a rare mouth-closed-not-lecturing-someone moment. Ben is the one with the Flock of Seagulls hairdo.
And otherwise, I just can't tell you what a charming and funny day yesterday was. No. Really. I can't tell you. It was one of those days where AK and I say ALL DAY "oh my god I so have to blog this". But it was also my first day of teaching Readers Theater to 5th/6th graders, my second day as a Real Serious Knows-What-He's-Doing Boy Scout Leader Man, and by bed time I'd wrestled with the days photos too much to have any blogging energy left. So this is what you get :/.
More later? Share your first-day-of-school funnies!
Gramma Gaye Update: Gramma is getting more and more settled every day. Most rooms have the proper furniture in them, and most of it is in the place it will live for awhile. Many mountainous mounds of (thinking, thinking of a word for "boxes" that starts with "m". . . . no) boxes. She is very concerned that her house is just way too small. But we reassure her that the stuff in the boxes will all GO places and that will make the box spaces empty open spaces. Oh, and having spent her whole life in California she keeps forgetting that she has a BASEMENT the size of her entire house. Dry, clean ginormous storage space for anything she doesn't want up in her living space :). Every day things get a little more normal-feeling I imagine, though we give the girl a full year before this starts to feel like home. Every day her receipts are reminding her of what a good idea it was to move here, as she spends noticeably less on just about everything she has to buy. $30 tanks of gas, $50 grocery trips, etc. . . .I can't wait for the moving expenses to cease, so she can see how much she saves on an average month!
Pupp Daddy Dog spends his days working as an entrepeneur and as a Dad. He is passionately in love with/obsessively neurotic about his family. Imagine Kicking Bird mixed with Albert Brooks. Oh, and throw in some Notorious B.I.G.
Alaska is the frustrated but caring cat at the center of our canine universe. All of us alternately worship, rely on and ceaselessly whine to her. Her need to control everything is confounded by the fact that she really pretty much does control everything, so in her few free moments, she knits and searches desperately for things to fuss about.
Max is smart and handsome, with a big heart. He is not only growing like a weed, but he has the attention span and concentration abilities of a weed. Despite my best efforts, AK keeps feeding him and he keeps growing. Our plan is to keep him so busy with school, sports & the arts that he won't notice he's a teenager and is supposed to hate us. T minus 2.5 years to teen launch, so far so good.
Ben and Milo are phenomenal little creatures who remind us minute-by-minute not only how little control we have in this world, but why we should cease our controlling efforts and just laugh at all of God's jokes. Lately, Milo likes to dance and is good on the piano. Ben likes to mimic Max and enjoys manipulating adults and anyone else who has no idea how quietly brilliant he is. Both of them would love your full and complete attention. Really, stop reading silly blogs and join the fan club now. Ok? Ok.