FASHION: 1963

This picture of my husband and I standing in front of the Bloomington Reformed Church the year he was ordained shows a considerable change in clothing people wore to church.

We had lived in Bloomington (our first church) about three or four months when this was taken. Richard is still in his Genevan gown following service. I am wearing a suit I do not remember but would presume to be a neutral light brown, tan, or gray. My hat is red. In the 1960s a woman always wore a hat to church. I am not wearing gloves which were also demanded if you were to be “properly dressed.” I would guess this was taken after the congregation left, so they had been discarded. When I went to church I would also have carried a matching purse. Certainly a new minister’s wife was expected to be properly dressed.

A SALUTE TO MY DAD

I grew up on an upstate New York dairy farm in the 1940s. An only child, I have always been petite, a nice word for small. Dad certainly could have used a strapping young man to help him care for the herd of 50 to 60 large animals. He hired those men.
Still, no matter what I asked to do, Dad never said, “You can’t do that. You are a girl.” He did say on occasion, “You can try it, but I don’t think you can do that.” It was true, I couldn’t. I didn’t have the strength.
When I was about twelve, he taught me to drive the doodlebug, which was an old 1929 car, cut in half with no cab that he used for a tractor. Manufacturers who built tractors were turning out tanks during World War II. A standard shift and I had to learn to deal with the clutch and changing gears.
One day I asked to drive our pickup truck on the road. About a mile from home I went around a sharp right hand turn on two wheels. In a normal voice Dad said, “Next time, slow down before the corner.”
After the war, we acquired a tractor which was fun for me to drive. One day I was driving it with the hay wagon and hay loader attached, making it nearly the length of a semi. Twice the same day, I cut the corner in the hay field too short causing the hay loader to catch on the rigging of the wagon. The first time, he called, “Whoa.” The second time, Dad hollered, “Lord, girl, what in hell are you doing?” He fixed the problem and we finished loading the hay with me being more careful to swing wide on corners.
One day, the tractor was on the third story barn floor. I asked to back it out of the barn and down the stone ramp. I climbed on the tractor, started backwards. I had my foot on the clutch and it began rolling. Dad yelled, “Brake!” I slammed on the break just short of going over the side of the ramp. I think Dad took over at that point. But a short time later, we were back in the barn. Dad pointed to the tractor. “Get on.” He climbed up beside me. “Now, back up. Keep your foot off the clutch!”
I’ve driven many vehicles with a standard shift over the past years. Each time the words, “Keep your foot off the clutch!” have kept me from making dangerous moves.
When he had back surgery in 1952, the doctor told him he’d spend most of the remainder of his life in a wheelchair. His response, “To hell I will.” He was never without pain for the next 35 years of his life, and he almost never complained. He just kept moving.
Dad has always been my hero.

WHAT SEASON IS THIS?

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I’m confused. Why?

Shopping this afternoon in two of this nation’s popular stores selling all manner of decorations for the home and garden brought me up short.

I was dismayed to discover that I’d missed the seasons of Carnival or Mardi Gras, Lent, Easter, and Spring. I did find remains of Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day in post-holiday clearance.

I was plunged into enjoying Summer with beach towels, plastic pails and shovels, and summer garden flags.

When was the first day of Winter? Was it just 31 days ago? That can’t be right!

When is the Vernal Equinox in 2017? You say March 21? That’s 60 days away. You must be wrong. The Summer Solstice can’t be six months away on June 21. You must be joking!

I’m looking forward to the Autumnal Equinox. It’s only 243 days away. I’m sure the decorations will be out in only a few days. Right?

I’m confused.

WARSAW INTERNATIONAL CHURCH

A discussion at our monthly consistory (council) meeting at church last night prompted this memory.

My husband, Richard, served the Warsaw International Church in Poland from September 1989 to July 1993. At the time WIC was the only English speaking service offered regularly in the city. Communism had been defeated by ballot in the spring of 1989.Initially, going to church was not easy. The service was held in the secure part of the embassy. Our first Sunday we were guided through the procedure. First we entered the not-as-secure social wing where we had to identify ourselves to the Polish security guards. From there we walked out the back door of that building, down an outside stairway to a door under the guard of a US Marine. There we entered a short space to wait until the first door was secured before thimg116e second door was opened by another Marine. Church was held in the first meeting room off the hallway. Its amenities included chairs and a piano. The lectern normally there had disappeared, so Richard stacked up boxes which he covered with a cloth found in the nearby embassy kitchen.

As you might imagine, the congregation was not large and most people spoke English as their first language. When we first arrived the church primarily served members of the embassies of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, the International School of Warsaw, and other embassies.

We had only just arrived, but at this first service Richard was asked to baptize the newborn twins of Nigerian Ambassador George Ajone and his wife, Onyanta. They were a joy to know and were very kind to us during their tenure in Warsaw.

When we arrived little throughout the country had changed. But change came quickly in Warsaw and everywhere with the end of state control. Foreign businesses came in by droves. WIC changed its meeting place first to the Marine bar and then to the Lutheran Seminary in the Old Town, where it continues today.

 

 

TIMELY GENEROUSITY

What does it mean to be generous?

I was recently given a flyer about creating a congregational culture of generosity. As far as I could determine it was primarily about money, engaging the members and caring for the members to grow a larger sense of stewardship and the church budget. I’m nostock-photo-luxury-watch-isolated-on-a-white-background-103887638t against this, but I think there is more to being a generous person.

The Biblical basis of the program and of our lives is that all comes from God, so in thanks we give back those things we’ve been given.

What is the one thing we all have the most of? TIME

What is generosity of time?

Standing in a checkout lane with a basket full of items and a person behind you holds one or two things in their hand and you quickly step aside to let them go first? A gift of a few minutes.

The driver who stops to let you move into traffic from a side street is generously giving you a moment of their time.

The store clerk who must call assistance and wait for help? What’s happening to her blood pressure? Letting the clerk know you are sorry for her wait, but do not blame her is being generous. Offer a quiet comment? “It’s been a long day?” Or “It’s busy here today.” Or “Are you nearly finished work?”

One day I was shopping when a woman holding an address book said, “a gift for a teacher?” I responded “I rather have an ornament or something to eat.” We chatted for a few minutes. She was stressed out and needed to talk. She thanked me for listening. Those few minutes enriched my day.

Then there is the opposite of giving time and one of my favorite peeves.

It is a driver dashing back and forth across lanes to be first at the next stop light. If they are not going at least fifty miles, speeding will get that person to their destination only seconds earlier than if they’d stayed within the speed limit and in a single lane. I always want to ask, “What are you going to do with those nine seconds?” It’s not even time enough to take a deep breath.

The next time you are in a hurry, think about what you will do with any time you save or perhaps if you slow down something or someone will touch your life in a way you would have missed by hurrying.

What are other small ways to be generous with your time?

REVISE, YET AGAIN

Revise, revise, revise. That is the mantra of editors. I’ve thought my novel was finished. It has been revised and revised.

A few weeks ago no one was prepared with a manuscript to read at our writers group. A number of prompts were tossed out to us. I chose “Have one of your characters tell you (the author) why they are upset with you.”

What came out was a minor character spewing forth all manner of complaints. Freddie said all I did was say he was a pest that caused trouble. He wanted me to know that he doesn’t like his home and family much. He has two little sisters and a baby brother and he has to take care of them. Their house so small he has to share a bed with his sisters.

No one cares about him. He’d rather spend time at Johnny’s house up the road. Johnny’s mother makes better stuff to eat too.

After listening to Freddie’s tirade, I feel he deserves more space and recognition in my novel.

Freddie has left me no choice. I must revise, yet again.
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DAYS ARE CHANGING

Is it the coming end of summer marked by the opening of school? Is it the ripening of the decorative grasses putting up their seed heads, notifying me they are finished growing?

The porch boxes are overflowing with plants, including one with fresh lettuce waiting to be pulled. After months of slow growth, my caladiums are in full leaf, but they won’t survive a frost.IMG_20160822_115930

My kitchen counter was covered with ripe tomatoes that I waited all summer for those plants to produce. Now they have been reduced to juice for the winter.

Everything seems to have come to fruition. Why do I sit here feeling apathetic?

Evenings are shorter, morning comes later.

Perhaps it is simply I’m not ready to transition to autumn and winter.

How do you feel with a change in seasons?