Saturday, December 31, 2005

A 2005 Z

A is for Archangel Gabriel: Most Fit, Best Roommate Ever
B is for Bob Barker; 19+ years old?!
C is for Coeur d'Alene; how long can a love affair last?
D is for Democracy in Iraq; what a freaking mess.
E is for Evergreens; sustinence for eternity.
F is for
Feathers; who knew you could build a wedding around 'em?
G is for Google;
he knows everything about everyone.
H is for Hessions;
I is for iPod! How did I ever live without iT??
J is for John Paul II; pax tecum.
K is for Katrina; a perfect storm. May God have mercy on us all.
L is for Love.Angel.Music.Baby! (oh that Gwen)
M is for Million Little Pieces; Best Story of many years.
N is for New York; my adopted hometown.
O is for Oprah;
Jesus. Mary. and Joseph.
P is for Portland Marathon; dreams do come true.
Q is for Quizno's; nectar of the Gods.
R is for Rockies, Canadian; (Rockenesis Canadia) (sigh) peace on earth.
S is for Sudoku; handiwork of the demons.
T is for The Donald; yuuuuge.
U is for Ubiquitious rubber band bracelets.
V is for Vive Le Lance; never met a pissing match he can't win.
W is for Wireless Internet; can't live without it, can't live with it.
X is for XM Radio; 'nuf said.
Y is for Yankees, Those damn; brainwashed The Christ Child.
Z is for Zags, who better pull it together.

On Location
Lac Louise, Canada

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The number of days until Christmas are narrowing and the fur is flying, if you will. That's what Dorothy is running around blurting out at every opportunity. That Red Dorothy is such a jokester. The Chow Nation, Bob Barker Venerated Elder is pretty keyed up this year because they are the feature of the 2005 Bellemaison Christmas card. There was much talk and ado as the photographer arrived early this morning to photo us all in our natural habitat. Pete wanted the sofa shot, our natural habitat most Saturday mornings and Dorothy said that Silvie's natural habitat is breakfast dish but in the end, Cleo picked the site and insisted that Uncle Bob get a new coat. What Cleo wants, he gets because every agrees he's the nicest Chow. So the Chow Nation got the nod after all this time. They say it will be the best card yet. Uncle Bob says it's important to remember that he's the main dog.

We have our tree--bit the bullet and went to the Less For More Garden center up the street where they flocked it and delivered it for slightly less than the GDP of a Third World Country. Gonna do the Grandma Jo Tree, the one covered with cardinals, that's now featured on Martha Stewart's Christmas magazine, ten full years after I debuted it here at Bellemaison. We at Bellemaison wait for one and all. And are futilely trying to figure out how we can amortize the cost of this tree, deaccelerated, over ten years.

I showed those children that used to live here. You know, the naughty ones, that are going to get big lumps of coal in their stockings because they leave their mother alone so much? Yeah, those guys. Santa doesn't care how good looking children are; he wants to know if they are nice to their mother. The net/net. Anyway, I showed them. I bought all new Christmas stockings. Yup. Got myself to TJ Maxx on a Friday night and got me all snowmen Christmas stockings. And one teddy bear stocking for Pete who had everyone call him Teddy in the first grade because there was another Pete and he didn't want to be Peter. And since he looks like a teddy bear....Silvie beat the crap out of him for that stupid move. Anyway, all new stockings. And they are fine. And so are we. We like the snow. We like the light of a sunny day this time of year. We like the cold and the crunch of footsteps at our door. And we like hanging around with each other, cooking up surprises in anticipation of what lies around the corner.

It IS the most wonderful time of the year.

The 'Kan EWA

Thursday, December 08, 2005

She was the little red-haired girl who could play the piano second to none. She was a child who was highly amusing to watch as she could easily organize the playground in support of any campaign she was currently mounting because she had all that practical experience at home with those little brothers.

Her name was Sarah and from the day I met her at in my daughter's kindergarten classroom, it was quite clear she was wicked smart. Now Sarah had to come from somewhere and it turns out the parents she had were different than her. They were quiet, measured, thoughtful--but like her-- industrious, smart, and curious; people who held their values firmly as they walked their four children through Cataldo Catholic School and on to Gonzaga Preparatory. Really, really nice people who raised really, really nice kids.

Both these parents worked; they had highly responsible jobs with many commitments and pressures. But I never saw either one of them miss a game, a recital, a play or a meeting as we moved through educating our kids about the world, about history, math and English, about our faith, our community and neighborhood, and about all the paths in which we walk. It is said that Sarah's dad was at the office by 4 am many mornings, in order to break at breakfast, run home and help his wife get their kids off to school. They never left their kids' side for a second and never took their eye off the ball once. Faithful, loyal people.

So as it turns out, Sarah's dad will now be the mayor of our city. He didn't come to it through a traditional route; he did not actively pursue politics of this nature. He has never held mayoral ambitions. His path has been difficult and circuitous, full of the stones of sacrifice and compromise. He has had to have stopped at least several times, and maybe even sat down on one of these big rocks and said "Why me?" or at least, "What the hell?" But now, it's come to pass: it is him and his time is now. And it's for real.

He's such a good man. He is married to such a good woman. Having witnessed the nightmarish machinations of local politics in the last 10 years, it's easy to believe that the next part of their path together will be laced with treachery, betrayal and isolation as they wade neck-deep into local politics, leading the fray of dedicated civil servants and zealous community activists. They will become the consumption of the local media who will be absorbed with Sarah's parents' every move and thought. Will Dennis and Jane still be able to come to the wrestling party at Christmas?

My prayers for them have now taken on a fervant pleading with our Father. I have petitioned my own guardian angel to leave me and follow after, in front and beside them. I hope, I hope, I hope for their children and take it up with Mary each morning. Stay with them. Hold them. Love them. Help them. Keep them safe. But despite my misgivings, I must begin to believe something different than where I naturally wander. Because as this has all come down, it's completely clear that this is how it was meant to be. The time has come and the time is now.

So here is my prayer, with my love, the only thing I can give our old friends who are now in a new school where few are admitted:

Prayer for Dennis and Jane
Father of all children,
walk beside our friends as they labor anew in service of us all.
Shield their eyes from the harsh light of the day, from the smoke of distraction along the path, from the dust of confrontation and fighting.
Hold their hand for courage and and their heart for compromise.
Let the light be light and the dark be dark, so that they know and can see.
Give them peace and hope
Forgiveness and love
Consolation in all things.
always, amen.
The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Now about this holiday crap! Thanks to Bre and to Pup for bringing the definitive retort to the whole lame suggestion about deleting the mention of Christmas in favor of holiday. From the opening monologue of SNL last weekend:

Harry Connick, Jr: I tell you this is my favorite place to be at Christmas time.

Al Roker: Uh, you mean "Holiday Time" don't you, Harry?

HCJ: Oops! That's right...Merry Holiday everybody! (waves to camera)You know some people enjoy Christmas songs, Hannukah songs, or even Kwanzaa songs; but everyone can enjoy Holiday songs!

AR: So, in the spirit of diversity and fear, please welcome the NBC Peacock singers for an all-inclusive medley for everyone!

(Cut to NBC Peacock singers, as the words "Silent Night" flash on the screen)...singing...

"Silent Night, Regular Night
All is Calm, All is Bright.
Round the fire, mother and child,
Random Infant, religiously neutral.
Sleep in Comfortable Beds,
Sleep in Comfortable Beds.

(new tune sung to Away in the Manger)

Away in a Barnbox,
No bib for their lunch,
The donkey and camelon straw they will munch.
The stars in the sky shine down cause it's night.
The lamb and that donkeyjust got in a fight.

(new tune sung to Oh, Holy Night; Harry Connick, Jr. and Megan Mullaly join the Peacock Singers)

MM: Oh Tuesday Night,
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night to watch TV and play Cards.

HCJ: Fall on your knees,
and do a Jigsaw puzzle.
Just stay in side,
Tonight...It's half past nine.

MM: Just stay inside, Feelin' Fine.

And now to narrate the story of the birth of the holiday, please welcome Mr. Donald Trump...
(cut to Donald Trump, flashing dual peace signs in front of the Rockefeller Center Chris, er Holiday Tree and Ice Skating Rink)

Donald Trump: Thank you Will and Grace. This place is really snazzed up. I gotta say, of the non-Trump buildings in New York, this place has a whole lotta flash, and it really screams out Merry Christmas...(looks off-camera) What? I can't say Christmas? Who made that rule? Well, what about Cha-noo-kah-hah? I can't say that? What about Kwan-zoo? That's just great...Alright, let's crank this thing out.

And there were shepards keeping watch over their flocks by night; then a civil representative of the town came up to them and said "Here's the thing: a baby has been born to a lady of undetermined ethnicity and/or religious affiliation. You will find he or she is wrapped in clothes looking really classy and lying in a barnbox...(looks off-camera again) What the hell is a barn-box? (looks back at the camera) You know what? The End.

Fah-lah fah-lah fah-lah, Fah-la la la THE APPRENTICE.
(cut back to the NBC Peacock Singers, and Al Roker, Megan Mullaly, and Harry Connick, Jr. standing in front of them waving)

All: Happy Holidays Everyone!...singing...(singing tune of "Hallelujah!")
How Ya Doin'!
How Ya Doin'!
How Ya Doin'! How Ya' Doin'!
I'm Doin' Just Fine!


The 'Kan EWa

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Well, I have a snow injury. Cleo said he does not know how I can be so clumsy and Dorothy chimed in that even Pete manages to stay on his feet, mostly. But I fell down and jacked my ankle and knee. I am almost at a standstill and this time of year, that's not good. But it's clear it could be much worse: I could be a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. All in all, I say it's pretty good to be me.

The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I was reading the morning paper and the guy was writing a piece about Christmas gifts and rueing the time he got a monogrammed butterknife, saying What do you say when you get a butterknife?

Plenty. For starters, you turn and look into the person's eyes who gave to you and say, Thank You. The guy goes on to elaborate on real gifts, the gifts of the scriptures, unconditional love, forgiveness, peace, and hope. A pretty typical take for a religion columnist on a Saturday morning, second week of advent. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the piece was well-written, despite the superficial remarks on the age-old commentary on gift-giving/commercialization of Christmas.

I think this guy misses a really big point that many people miss. I'm thinking of Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher, who spoke to the Will and Grace of a perfect relationship with God. Buber says that you must have the will, or really want, to be with God in all things; but he also says that once you have a relationship, you must have the grace to receive and to live with it each day. It's the grace that can remain the elusive ingredient of a peace-filled, hope-filled life laced with forgiveness and unconditional love.

It's my observation and my experience that we want people to love us how we want them to love us. That can mean that perfect Christmas gift that delights a heart tied up in one hobby or another, one interest or another, one preference or another. That can mean that person always doing and saying the very thing that meets our needs perfectly at the moment. That can mean that person always being emotionally available to us as we muddle through. We want what we need and what makes sense of our world.

People on the other hand, love us the way they see fit or the way they can. "What she needs is a good pair of winter boots. Here's some with pink laces. I'll get her those." "I am too busy and frankly, too important, to be fooling around with an airport pickup; she can get her own self to town and when she comes, that way I'll be ready to see her." "I will be home when the party is over but I don't really know when." People don't mean any harm. People don't intend to punish with their love or their gifts. And when we respond with "What do you say when you get a monogrammed butterknife?" we short sheet ourselves. That perfect walk with God and his people has slipped through our fingers again. You gotta want it and once you get it, you gotta live it.

You must embrace the love you receive with grace and gladness and return the love with joy, letting the consolation of a relationship settle about you like a luxurious cashmere shawl of untold comfort. The monogrammed butterknife is a good thing for us all: life isn't just how we see it or how we want it. The world will not bend to that strong will of ours and our precise take on things every time. When people give gifts or share their gifts with us, it's a sacred moment and should always be met with the holiest, humblest of replies. Thank you. This is just wonderful.

Because it really is!

The 'Kam EWA

Friday, December 02, 2005

This is almost as funny as those starry-eyed engineers. From David Letterman's website:

Top Ten Messages Left On Oprah's Answering Machine

10. "This is Martha Stewart. If you need it, I planted a box cutter in the guest chair"
9. "It's Paul Shaffer. So you know, Letterman's had a lot of work done since you last saw him"
8. "Hey, Oprah, it's Larry your neighbor. Can you get me Tony Danza's autograph?"
7. "Dr. Phil here. Cleared my schedule so we can have full session tomorrow"
6. "This is Dubya. If you need a presidential pardon to get you out of this, gimme a holler"
5. "Julia Roberts here. Letterman's all hands during commercial breaks"
4. "It's Jets coach Herm Edwards. Since you're in New York, we could use some help at quarterback"
3. "Regis here. Letterman's all hands during commercial breaks"
2. "Letterman thinks you're coming! This is gonna be the best 'Punk'd' ever!"
1. "It's Nick. Hey, have you seen Jessica?"

The 'Kan EWA

Thursday, December 01, 2005

WEll, well, well. We got us a little competition going. Seems those candy-assed engineers in our building wanna have a food drive contest. Among the tenants. The winner gets pizza from The Catacoombs. *absolutely cracking up* Those guys haven't a clue.

The 'Kan EWA