Crying at Church

I am a Presbyterian, although I come from two long lines of Episcopalians. Either way, both denominations are not known for showing great emotion at church. We don’t raise our arms up in the air and sway, or call out “Amen” loudly when we agree with the preacher. For the most part we sit quietly, stand when told and are fairly good at praying in unison if the words are printed in the bulletin.

I diverge from most of my brethren in that I laugh loudly. My preachers have told me it is good and they like the feed back. About the only time we speak back in church is when someone from the lectern says, “Good Morning,” and pauses. Most everyone in the pews says “Good morning,” back.

One of the best parts of our church is the music program. Being unmusical myself I am very appreciative of those who share their gifts. One of my favorite singers is Davis Bingham. As a spry almost 90 year old he sang a solo today in church.

A solo from Davis is about all anyone needs as a way to celebrate the glory of God. Davis brought it on home today and as soon as he finished the congregation broke into a huge applause and then stood up and continued the ovation. This was an unheard up display of emotion from the frozen chosen. We rarely clap in church, no matter how warranted it is.

Of course, this spontaneous out pouring of affection was warranted. His singing brings me to tears. My friend Sarah High was sitting behind me and she was crying too. We remarked that we could just gone home after that because that is as good as church gets.

We didn’t leave though because our friend Rebeca Mattern was visiting and guest preaching. Davis was a tough act to follow and Rebecca did great. She had been our interim youth leader years ago and is finally going off to seminary. We wish her good luck.

After I took a photo of Davis and his sweet wife Joan after church, Davis told us he is doing another solo on July 21. If you ever wanted to visit Westminster that is a good day to come. I can promise good singing from Davis. I’m bringing tissues to church that day.


“I’ll Gut You”

On my way to do errands this afternoon I was listening to a show on NPR about why politicians can’t apologize. Joe Biden has had the “non-apology” spot light on him with Kamala Harris calling him out about bussing. His defense was that he said he felt like it was a state’s rights issue, but sometimes just saying, “I’m so sorry that effected you negatively and for whatever role I played in it.”

It’s not just politicians. We all have difficulty actually showing others true remorse rather than being defensive. The radio show talked about how parents try and get siblings to apologize to each other and mean it. I can remember getting in trouble for hitting my sister and having to apologize. I am certain it just made me do something worse to her after the “apology.”

I finished listening to the radio story just as I pulled into the Costco parking lot and parked behind a white Lexus with a sticker in the window that said, “I’ll gut you.” I thought it was an odd sticker. There was a loose shopping cart right beside of my car so I took it into the store with me rather than let it stay there and possibly ding my or other cars.

After getting Shay’s chicken I went back to the car and two attractive young women were loading their groceries into “I’ll gut you” car. They were just finishing and the driver pushed her cart into the space in front of my car and behind hers. What the hell? We were six cars from the cart corral. So I spoke up, no surprise there.

“Are you leaving that there?”

She didn’t like my asking her that question and tried to deflect her bad cart manners by saying, “I don’t know where the carts go.”

I pointed in the direction of the corral and said, “It’s six cars that way.” I tried not to sound accusatory, but I must have and the woman went off on me.

“Mind your own business.” I think it was my business if she was going to push her unneeded cart into my car. I just stood there and looked at her. I didn’t say a thing. She didn’t like getting caught and didn’t like getting called out. Rather than apologizing for being a bad citizen she went into attack mode. She had started with the “dumb” defense and then went postal.

She was still screaming at the top of her lungs as she pushed the cart to it’s rightful place and I got in my car. All she needed to do was say, “Sorry.” An apology for attempting to leave her cart against my car, which is a real driving no-no, was either easy thing to do. Not only could she not apologize, she couldn’t even acknowledge it was wrong in the first place and instead threw a fit. Her friend stood by with an embarrassed look on her face.

Her prophetic window sticker of “I’ll gut you” is not something to be proud of. Too bad she missed the NPR story. It probably wouldn’t make a difference since even nice guys like Joe Biden have trouble apologizing.

It is a story that stuck with me though so I just want to say “I’m sorry.” If I ever did something to you that warrants an apology, you got it. Just let me know what it was so I won’t do it again, after I apologize to you. We all do things we have no idea are hurting someone, just learn and make amends. Stop trying to justify your wrongs.


I Need to Go to Community College

The other day I way browsing the Durham Tech course offerings. I was looking for something for someone else about becoming a notary, but once I started browsing I just kept at it. Most things didn’t interest me, like “gathering crime scene evidence” in the criminal justice department, but then I came upon “basic home electrical” and I thought I should take that. Russ knows that stuff, but he is at work when I need to fix something or just diagnose a problem.

Today I really wish I had taken that course. I relate this story for your own future protection. Last December we had to get a new HVAC system. It was after getting a new sewer line and new roof and I was just over home repair.

When I compared HVAC units I decided to go with the more robust two stage systems which were more energy efficient and had a ten year warranty. I lived through the installation and had heat up and running when the installer left. The unit worked and the city inspector came out to verify that he installed in such a way that it would not kill us.

So it has been getting much hotter this week and of course Russ was away. Last night I noticed that my air conditioning was not keeping up. As my bedroom got hotter and hotter I called my HVAC company so they could come first thing this morning. I hardly slept a wink as I tossed and turned in my sweaty sheets, and I was all alone.

Without a warning call, a tech rang my door bell at 8:00 AM. Even though I was still in my nightgown I was thankful the tech was there so early. I threw on my clothes and showed him to the furnace room. He looked at the unit and declared that it was a frozen block of ice and would have to thaw most of the day before it could be looked at.

I waited home all day for a tech to return. At 3:45 another did and he declared that the problem was due to poor installation, by his own company, and that a warrantee tech had to come out. After some choice words he got his boss to find me one who was here by 5:30.

He looked at the unit and the water in the pan and gasped. Never a good sign. After an hour he told me he found the problem. My two stage unit had only been wired for one stage, in both heating and air conditioning. So all that energy savings I was supposed to get had not been happening and when it got so hot the unit was incapable of keeping up.

Now is when I wish I had that basic home electrical course. I knew enough to buy a two stage unit, but not enough to know to even ask if it were wired correctly at installation.

I finally have air, but you can bet that Monday I’m going to be having quite a conversation with my HVAC people. I’m tempted to go walk in the office to have it because I am so much scarier in person.

Oh, the life of the home owner. Russ did get in from airport right after I got the air working.


Test Sanding

There is a scene in an old movie, perhaps, The Sting, where some guys are contracting painting a large number of chairs. They paint the sample chair with a brush to see how long it takes in order to determine how much to charge the chairs’ owner. The owner stands by watching the painting with a brush and notes that it took nine minutes and agrees to pay the painters based on all the chairs taking nine minutes each.

After the owner agrees to the price he walks away and the painters throw down their brushes and pick up a spray painter and do the job at two minutes per chair. It made a big impression on me about pricing a job.

Today I am not only the painting contractor, but also the chair owner. I wanted to do a test about how long it would take me to clean the cabinets and do the first sanding. Since I am not ready to totally tear my whole kitchen apart I tested on the sides of the cabinets and shelf around the stove and the sink cabinets.

I used Kurd Kutter and wiped away years of grimy build up even though I had cleaned all the wood surfaces with Murphy’s oil soap last year. Then I got out my mouse sander and sanded every surface and edge. Then I wiped then all down again with another wet rag. The whole job took less than an hour. This gave me great hope about how long prepping 27 cabinet doors will take. I figure taking the doors down will be the longest and hardest job. I wish I had someone to charge for my work.

After finishing that test I cleaned out a cabinet finding things at had not seen in at least ten years. They all got thrown away. If I haven’t needed them for the last ten years I don’t need them now. This project is so much more than painting the cabinets!


Duke, Mah Jongg, Steel Magnolias

Some days you just can’t pack more in. Today was that kind of day. My Dad needed some tests at Duke so I took him over to the hospital at six in the morning and stayed with him until my Mom came and took over later in the morning. One test he was having required him to have someone with him in case he freaked out. Despite that requirement I just had to stay in the waiting room.

Thankfully he did not freak out and when it was over he came out a happy man praising his techs who did the test. I got him a wheel chair and rolled him from the radiology clinic over to Duke North to the 7th floor to the cath lab. “How do you know how to get from this place to the next?” he asked me on our long walk through the various hospital buildings.

“I spent 12 days here with you at Christmas and I have been all these places with you then. You just don’t remember.” Thankfully his tests were good.

It was nice of my mother to come and trade off with me because I had Mah jongg today. I really wanted to play because I am not going to get to for the next two or three weeks depending on how long the kitchen projects takes. My Mah Jongg group is like a therapy session and you shouldn’t go too long without one.

Morgan brought her flowers in from the car while we played so the flowers cold stay cool. It’s amazing how much Shay looks like those chocolate Queens Anne lace.

Tonight Mary Lloyd, who is my young friend and Carter’s old friend came over to watch Steel Magnolias with us. It is part of my great movie education for Carter. She had never seen it and I wanted to share it with her. Mary Lloyd pointed out that when it first came it she felt like “Shelby, the daughter” but now feels like “Melynn, the mother.”

I never felt like either, but more like Wheezer and Clairise. Carter loved Steel Magnolias, more than Gone with the Wind. She felt like Wheezer and Clairise are the future Carter and Ellis. I can see it. Those women friendships are so important.

Tomorrow I am planning less. Maybe that means I will get more done.


Woodworking Child

As I unsuccessfully tried to drill a big ass hole on the inside of my kitchen cabinet Carter stepped in. “You have the drill going in the wrong direction.”

Thank god that those engineering and love-of-wood-working genes got passed on from her father. As Carter drilled three large holes in the cabinet for me she asked, “Did Dad approve this project?”

Why in the world would she think that I needed Russ’s permission I do not know, but I reassured her just that same that he was in on this. “This” being, moving our microwave from the kitchen counter to the cabinet above the oven and taking the doors off the cabinet and having open shelves above the microwave.

The thing about moving the microwave was where to plug it in? I solved that problem by drilling two big holes, one from one cabinet into the cabinet next door and another on the bottom of the second cabinet so the cord could run to the plug under the cabinet.

Once Carter got the drill going the right way it only took three of four big holes, two chisels and a hammer, a rasp and a sanding block to get the whole thing done. I wanted to do this before the painting because I knew it would be messy and I am not looking at adding large sawdust to my kitchen when the cabinets will be wet with paint.

I am certain Russ will be happy with the whole thing because, one, the microwave works and two, he didn’t have to do it.

The next wood working job is putting a knife insert into a drawer so I can do away with my counter-top knife block. I wonder if Carter could make this for me before she leaves for London? I guess I should ask her.


Chomping At The Bit

In my younger years when I got a wild hair to try something new I would jump right in, often without the required preparation. In college I got an off campus house in the summer of my sophomore year. It was in rough shape as the previous tenants had been, let’s just say, not the cleanest people.

Since I was going to be living there with three roommates for the next two years I wanted to make the place as nice as possible during that summer before everyone else moved in. Our land lord was letting me live rent free during the summer and was paying for the materials if I would do all the work fixing the place up.

I started with the kitchen floor. The original floor was something so gross that I had to rip it out. Being impatient and not that knowledgeable I did not put a new sub floor in before I laid down red and white linoleum tiles with mastic. Why red and white? They were the colors of Dickinson college. I could have used with a lot of advice from a professional, but I was too excited to get started to bother with it. Needless to say it was one horrible floor job.

You would have thought I learned my lesson from that one job, but I did not. I was constantly tackling projects for which I was unqualified for. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. Over the years I have gotten much better at DIY. Thanks to being married to Russ I have seen every episode of the 40 seasons of This Old House, at least twice. Now with You Tube I am able to find an expert to teach me how to do almost any project I dream up. I learned to quilt by watching it.

This winter I decided I was going to paint my kitchen cabinets myself. This is a huge job, done right, but one I wanted to do. Thankfully I knew that the right time to do it is in July when Carter is in London. Given that I had so much time I have been able to study the right way to do this job. I have watched countless videos, read many blogs and practically became a professional member of the website, “top coatings” where house painting professionals share advice with each other.

I have ordered equipment and planned out the job. Russ and Carter crafted me a drying rack to hold the cabinet doors where they will dry between spray coats. Even though July is a week away I am chomping at the bit to get started. I have been moving things around in the kitchen, trying to figure out better configurations for all my small appliances in the hope that I can have less stuff on my counters when I am done.

For now I am just praying that all my studying will pay off and I will not repeat my college floor fiasco. At least I am not winging this project.