Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Blogger Dork Apology

Okay, I'm still a Blogger Dork. Just tip your head sideways to see the correct version of the previous photo, and cut me a little slack.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentines Day, Sort Of

Today has been a day rich in reflections on the meaning of Valentine’s Day in BlogWorld. I was particularly taken with these thoughts by The Yarn Harlot, who dazzles me with her insights and terrific writing.

I had the idea a week or so ago as to how we might celebrate Valentine’s Day at home, which is a darned good thing since the roads are covered in glare ice over 6" of snow, and our car is completely plowed in. A good night to stay home.

My plan was that Berry’s Dad (who is a fabulous cook, and who makes dinner every night anyway) would come up with a special menu for a Valentine’s Day Eve Dinner; my job would be to set the table in the parlor and make a nice flower arrangement. (Note: we have a perfectly good dining room, but dinner in the parlor is something very special, involving a pretty little antique card table, a special tablecloth, and an unusual setting for a celebratory meal).

So I got all dressed up. That is, my special tight jeans and a necklace and earrings with the turtleneck and fleece jacket which are de rigeur on these very cold days. I took a shower and got all spruced up, even putting on makeup and eye liner (which I haven’t worn since high school—thank you PeaceBang!)]

When I sauntered downstairs, Berry’s Dad greeted me in the kitchen with the terse words “Dog puke.” He was too busy with dinner to take care of the after-effects of Berry eating his dinner too fast. So there I am, all fancy in my eyeliner and tight jeans, crawling around on the kitchen floor cleaning up dog puke. I will spare you the details—pet owners understand these things.

The menu:

Appetizer course: martinis (made with Tanqueray Ten, a real splurge) and a plate for each of us consisting of one superbly cooked crab cake, four shrimps sautéed in garlic and gin, and three lightly steamed asparagus spears drizzled with truffle oil. All to die for.

Entrée: lamb chops with caramelized carrots (from our garden) and onions; roasted sweet potato, white potato and onions with tarragon; and some weird kind of mushrooms.

Salad: (yes we do it the European way, with salad after the entrée): spinach salad with roasted pecans, avocado and goat cheese, and a Balsamic vinegar dressing.

First dessert: lemon tart made with Meyer lemons picked from our lemon tree which lives in Berry’s Dad’s study in the winter and outside against a hot brick wall in the summer (we brought it with us from California ten years ago and it is thriving!) paired with a lovely Masala wine.

Second dessert: Decaf espresso and LOTS of chocolate truffles! BD had made truffles last night; I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had bought a dozen truffles from our church youth group, who were making and selling them as a fundraiser for their annual social action project. But what the hell—you can’t have too many chocolate truffles!

This dinner was a great excuse not to attend the meeting of the Finance and Fundraising Committee, which is struggling to put together a draft budget to submit to the Board tomorrow night. They need to learn how to do this by themselves. Pass the truffles…

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Being Friends

I feel so lucky to have J. as a friend. We met in the park about two years ago, walking our dogs. Those early-morning accidental meetings gradually led to deeper and more honest conversation about our lives (interspersed with picking up dog poop and commenting on the weather, the ducks in the creek, and the strange characters who hang out at the park at 7 a.m.)

One day I was telling her about the loneliness of ministry, especially in a small town like this where NEARLY ALL the cool people are already in one’s congregation. Since one can’t be friends with one’s members and still minister to them with integrity, there is quite a bit of self-sacrifice involved. She immediately blurted “I’ll be your friend!” and indeed she has been ever since.

We went to Weight Watchers together and provided the support (and the sarcastic commentary) to keep each other on track with the program until I reached my goal and she came close to hers. We have joined a book group together, through which I have met other cool women who are not in my congregation. We have done confession and contrition, and told each other some of our most important stories. And with her I always feel that there is so much more that is possible between us in the way of a rich and rewarding friendship. All it would take is more time.

We are both busy – I with work in ministry, and she with landscaping her yard, maintaining the house she lives in and more than one rental property, travel, writing, and artistic endeavors. Sometimes weeks go by without our seeing each other (because she doesn’t have the dog any more, and who in their right mind would come out to the park at 7:00 a.m. when the temperature is 19 if they didn’t have to?)

By dint of careful planning and persistence, we managed a full 4 hours together today, and I am feeling replete with gratitude for having such a friend. We went to a brief talk given by a Dickinson College professor who is a member of my congregation, and I was delighted to see about 20 other members there to cheer him on. Then we went out for dinner, followed by a long soak in her hot tub and a wonderful conversation, after which she drove me home (it being 19 again by 8:30 p.m.)

When I was younger, I took my friends for granted. I met them mostly through my children or through work. Good people, interesting people, with whom I had a lot in common. It was easy to make friends, and the circumstances of our lives threw us together frequently enough that friendships were easy to maintain.

Now my children are adults living elsewhere, and the very nature of my work precludes friendships except with colleagues, who by definition don’t live here in my town. I am very fortunate to have Berry’s Dad living under the same roof, who is both colleague, friend and life partner. Many of my single colleagues are not so lucky, and I hold their loneliness in my heart with considerable empathy.

But I am a woman, and I long for women friends. I am so grateful to J. for her outburst of affection and support when she said “I’ll be your friend!” and for the way she has stuck by me ever since.

Tonight in her hot tub I was talking about our eventual move back to the west coast when we retire, and how painful it will be to leave both the folks in my congregation whom I love, and my family members who live at least in the same time zone: my married daughter (whose husband I adore) and my two brothers and their wives and families. But I neglected to tell her how much I would miss her, and how much her loyal friendship has meant to me.

J., you know who you are. And I am here in front of God and everybody to tell you that I love you and I am so glad we are friends! Thank you for your friendship, which has meant more to me over the past two years than I can ever tell you.