Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Nada, Nothing, No Good Words

The translation of gospel is "good word."

Sorry, friends. I've got no good word today...

Not because I don't feel good, and good things aren't happening...but because I dont' (again) have deep and inspiring thoughts.

I think that I thought that when I became a hospice chaplain I would have these incredible and mind-altering experiences that would make me feel like big-stud chaplain. Instead, I have these teeny-tiny daily insights that make me feel like, well, wimpy-ovarianish-chaplain (not that ovaries are bad...hell, when you're doing the fertility ritual ovarians are never bad, they're always very, very good and very, very worth praising).

BUT...I guess what I'm saying is that I haven't had these mammoth watershed experiences which often lead to posts...and essays...and deep thoughts....

So, for today, you're getting me. Just me. All five foot two inch, one-hundred-thirty-nine pounds of Christen. A Christen who misses the series "Six Feet Under" and thinks of the series finale as a death. A Christen who doesn't know how to relate to her 12 year old (step) daughter because teen culture sometimes alludes her, but more often, pisses her off. A Christen who wonders whether she will ever feel comfortable expressing herself without hitting the #$@%# delete button so often.

Deep thoughts will come....and you'll see them here...I promise (and God/ess willing).

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Kristen and Kara have known me from my birth. Literally. Kristen is two years old than I am, and Kara is four years older, and it wasn't long after I was born that I was shuttling back and forth between their home on Wendmere Lane and my home on Kentucky Avenue. Kristen and Kara remember me before I remember myself.

Kara, four years older than I, taught me to read the word "breakfast." She paired Kristen and I as groom and bride in one of the many wedding ceremonies that she officiated. Kristen and I would sunbathe like lizards on the big rocks outside the Kauffman home, and then come into the living room and pretend it was an ocean that we had to swim across. I sat on Kara's Heidi record and she swore she would never forgive me. Kristen taught me that the word "KaKa" was a word about feces in Spanish and would irritate my mother to know end if I spoke it regularly. Kristen and Kara comforted me when Fruma Sarah sang on the Fiddler on the Roof album and I would cry, and on the morning when Robert and I got married they sent me flowers with a card that said, "This bouquet is just for the bride." They took pity on the only child, and adopted me with open arms.

Our fathers were best friends...that would be Jim the Father and John the Father...Reverend Blue Jeans and Nikon John. They photographed together. They enjoyed good scotch together. They talked often. John gave my father his first camera. Dad dedicated one of his books to John. We took father/daughter escapades to far-reaching places like Maine and Colorado...and also spent quiet evenings eating homemade meals in Fort Wayne. I sat one night at the Hospice Home and recalled stories of our trips to John as he spent a restless night tossing and turning and pulling at his covers, a night when the only thing I could offer Kristen and Kara was a brief respite from the many hours and nights they spent at their father's side. My dad preached at John's funeral.

Kristen and Kara have been here this with their families and we have reveled in Genevieve's 4-month-old smiles, and laughed at Lily's almost-two-year-old pronunciations of words.

I am blessed to have these sisters. How can God be so good?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

San Angelo INDEX

It's Saturday night...a wild and crazy night in our home. The girlies are with their Mama and Robert and I have been luxuriating, nerd-style, in a free and easy Saturday. Translation: Robert got up, read the paper and then sat at his computer for many hours and read articles and then worked out on his Nordic Track. Christen got up, checked her email and then sat in her "sanctuary" (i.e. Study or Guest Room, but doesn't that title add an air of mystique to it?) and read and then went running. doesn't get better than this. Every once in a while we'll wander into one another's space and either plant a kiss on a furrowed brow, whose eyes are heavily involved in the task of reading, or we'll ask, "Want a cup of tea?"

Yes siree...Saturdays at the 'ole homestead of a sociologist and hospice chaplain don't rock more than they do here.

You, dear reader, have probably noticed that there have been very few posts of late. Lest you think I have abandoned you...I'll let you know that INSTEAD I have been deeply ensconced in the wonders of family life in the suburban automobile traveling through the nether-regions of the midwest and into that foreign territory known as Tex-ASS (see previous post of my 4th grade humor when saying that word). We went. We saw. We ate. And here, upon our return home...I provide you with the San Angelo INDEX...a register of our family's trek to West Texas in August. Picture if you will, our very own personal Harper's Index...

  • Miles traveled from Fort Wayne, Indiana to San Angelo, Texas: 1,265.
  • Hours spent in car "enjoying" family bondage, I mean bonding: 42.
  • Number of pornographic passages of "family" books read aloud: 1.*
  • Number of pounds gained by husband while on vacation: 2.
  • Number of pounds gained by self on vacation: 1.
  • Approximate percentage of body weight gained by each spouse: >.05%.
  • Number of pounds gained by dachshund while family on vacation: 3.
  • Approximate percentage of body weight gained by dachshund while staying with Grandma and Grandpa: 30%.
  • Number of "Big-Ass Crosses" seen while traveling: 2.
  • Number of state license plates viewed while driving: 38.
  • Number of bathrooms at gas-stations and fast food restaurants rating higher than an "8" on a scale of 1-10: 7.
  • Number of Subway "Kid's Pack" meals consumed while traveling: 12.
  • Number of times eldest child claimed to spot Brittany Spears in an Applebee's restaurant in Missouri: 1.
  • Number of dead armadillos spotted: 3.
  • Number of times husband burst out in ecstatic singing of the song "Oklahoma" while driving through the state of Oklahoma: 3.
  • Number of margaritas consumed while in Texas by parents: 7.
  • Number of hours from time single margarita was consumed by husband until husband needed to take a nap: 1.
  • Number of days we have to wait until we travel to Texas next summer: 357.
It was truly a well-needed and well-enjoyed vacation for us all. We're so thankful for having such kind family to host us.

*From Chapter III of Carolyn Keene's The Haunted Bridge (Copyright 1937). In which Nancy Drew wonders whether or not she can compete in a golf tournament after falling off a balcony into a flower bed while stepping away from a boy who was a little too "forward." A doctor has come to examine the wounded sleuth. Nancy waits in her hotel room with her boyish friend George Fayne and poor, overweight, pathetic Bess. I quote exactly as it is written. Robert said that the way the scene should have ended was in Nancy having a cigarette.

"Nancy stands a very good chance of participating in the tournament," Bess told the doctor. "It would be a shame if she couldn't play."
"Well," he said finally, after studying Nancy with twinkling eyes, "I suppose you could play. But right now I advise against it. However, by tomorrow night I may alter my opinion."
Dr. Aikerman picked up his physician's bag. "Nancy, I suggest a hot bath and a body massage to prevent your muscles from becoming stiff." The idea rather appealed to Nancy, who felt battered and sore.
After the doctor had gone, George spoke up, "Bess and I could give you a good rub."
Nancy regarded her dubiously.
"There's absolutely nothing to it," Bess put in."You locate the various muscles and then rub until the soreness is all gone."
Nancy allowed herself to be persuaded. After the hot bath, she stretched herself full length on the bed.
"Where do you hurt the most?" George inquired.
"Everywhere." Nancy groaned. "Oh, don't rub in that spot, please, George. It's too tender!"
"I have to massage the muscles," her friend insisted.
"Where did you get that bottle of liniment?" Nancy demanded. "It smells awful."
"This is a free massage, so don't be so critical,"
Bess relieved George when the latter's arms grew weary of the task. There was no rest or relaxation for Nancy. She was pummeled and pounded by her well-meaning but inexperienced masseuses until she felt ready to cry from sheer exhaustion.
"Oh, girls, I can't stand any more," she pleaded finally. "Just let me crawl under the covers and go to sleep."
"We're through now, anyway," Bess declared, as she helped Nancy roll over on her back again. "In the morning you'll feel fine."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Blah, blah, blah

So, I should be posting...and so I am posting...and I only have a bunch of miscellaneous things to type...nothing earth-shattering, nothing shocking, nothing which will rock your world...just little tid-bits which make you say, "Ah, but I do love that Christen keeping me posted on her life..."

First, only a few more days until we pack up the troops and head to Texas (sometimes to annoy Robert I put the emphasis on the last syllable. Say it with me now, "Tex-assss." It appeals to my Miller sense of humor which finds all bodily functions and bodily attributes silly and, therefore, fodder for jokes. I'm continuing to use these jokes with my sensible and non-fecal-humor minded husband by claiming that I'm just honoring my grandmother by speaking these kind of silly truths by telling these bawdy word-plays. [I know, I know, now is the time for all my Brethren comrades to frown sadly and shake their heads at what an ordained minister has come to]). We're packing up the 'ole Honda Civic and heading for San Angelo on Sunday to visit Robert's family and have a week and a half of bliss. I adore Robert's family and am so, so, thankful to feel such a connection with them. I adore them so much that I have absoutely no qualms about getting in car with two pre-adolescents and driving for two days. I am very ready for a vacation. I am very ready for steaks on the grill at Koon Hollar (Lois and Vayden's family homestead) and for long swims in the San Angelo Muncipal Pool (which the girls call "The Municipool").

Second, my sweet Annie died while I was away for my grandmother's funeral. So far I haven't broken, and haven't collapsed in sobbing fits, so I'm doing pretty well. Thank you, Lexapro.

Third, I had an amazing high school reunion last weekend. I was reunited with my two very close high school friends, R. & L. who now live in Eugene, Oregon. There's lots of history there...and there was a "break-up" of sorts in college, which has now all amicably resolved as we've grown and changed and matured and realized what matters in life. It was so, so, so, good to be with them. As we were leaving one another R. said, "I love you, Christen!" and I realized how much I missed their presence in my life. I was so thankful for the time together...I'm blessed... (more about this reunion in an upcoming essay...)

That's about all the news that's fit to print here in Southeast Fort Wayne, where all the cats are above 21 lbs., where all the bookshelves are cherry-wood, and where the dachshunds all neglect their obedience training...(how'd you like that, Garrison Keillor?)