Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Getting Ready to Hit the Books


I'm getting ready for a long day in the ol' arm chair today. We've got the week off from school due to Thanksgiving and this should give me the chance to get ahead on some of my coursework… yeah, right. This was the intention for Monday and Tuesday as well, but we ended up actually doing some long needed housework and the Dance Class Shuffle last night for the girls. Big fun. Now I've got to settle in and get busy on reading a couple hundred pages and writing responses to same where required. Not a big deal, but all the reading tends to make me want a nap.

Nothing much else to report. Everything went well with our trip to North Dakota to get Pastor Susan all installed in her church there. G'ette sang well, as usual, and I got to preach at a whole new group of people. I hope that went well. I received some good feedback and will accept it as is. (I tend to be overly critical of my own messages.) The town was quite nice. A typical Midwestern mini-city of about 15,000 with the usual farm town feel.

We ate at another hole-in-the-wall Mom and Pop cafe and that was fun for me having been raised in and near one. I almost expected Grandma Lottie's long-time head waitress, Vivian Doring, to come out of the kitchen at any time. Vivian was the classic "old broad" in my young eyes. She had a mouth like a sailor, but a real heart of gold… especially with us young kids. I truly miss the days of padding down to the cafe after a morning at the swimming pool and bellying up to the bar for a real hamburger, Grandma's perfect american fries and a bottle of Crush. Orange, Grape or Cherry as the mood suited, though don't have one of each in one sitting or you'll upchuck on the bar. I've tried it… you won't dig it. Doing so tends to piss Vivian off.

I know the adults, who put in some extremely long days for very little pay, probably remember those days quite differently, but for me, "Grandma's Boy" at the front counter, my time at Lottie's cafe will always be a golden memory. What I wouldn't give to sit there just one more time and hear the chatter from the booths and the roll of the men's poker dice with the cloud of cigarette smoke hovering about three foot off the ground and the scent of fresh, hot coffee and honest-to-goodness home cooking coming from the kitchen.

The thing I remember most about those days at Lottie's Cafe is that you really can't divide one from the other. There was a constancy to things there. The same men would come for the same menu day in and day out. The conversations were always the same too. "How are the crops?" "Whatcha got planned for the day?" "How are they biting?" "Did ya hear the one…" They came there because it was their place. It's what they did. Grandma putting on her servant's towel (as I see it now through iPastor eyes) and taking care of her people and Grandpa holding court with the boys.

As we near Thanksgiving, I don't have to wonder about what I'm thankful for. I was raised in a stable, loving environment by people (not just my parents) who actually cared about me. What a gift that was, and how I wish more people could say the same. I don't have any doubts that my own children will be able to, and that is another thing to be thankful for. What I wonder about is what I am missing as Georgette and I race along trying to provide for this brood of ours. Is there something about our lives that means something more to them than we're aware? What is it they will look back on 20 or 30 years from now and say "What I wouldn't give to do that just one more time."

Take some time this holiday to slow down. Enjoy the moments. They'll be gone before you know it.

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