Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Furry friend


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Life-long friends

I was fortunate to grow up reading. Our house didn't have the books-in-every-room decor that my husband suffers, but we owned books and my mother read to me. She introduced me to the library when I was a small child and it and the book mobile became two of my favorite places. I wasn't a particularly popular child, so I spent a lot of time alone, most of it with my face buried in a book. I was reading early enough that there was a run-in with my first grade teacher when she insisted--in front of the class--that I could not possibly have read Charlotte's Web the previous summer.  But I had. And quite a few more, too.

I devoured the Little House books for the first time that year, among others. Over the next few years I fell in love with Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, the already-yellowing volumes of  The Bobbsey Twins series that had been my mother's, and my grandmother's contribution, Jean Stratton Porter's Limberlost. I met Katie John, Luvvy and the Girls,Trixie,Pollyanna, Rebecca, the Peppers, and the Melendys. I worked my way through the Nancy Drew mysteries that had belonged to my mom and her sisters, and then moved on to Agatha Christie. After I exhausted Dame Agatha I discovered Dorothy Sayers. About this same time--when I was about 12--I found Taylor Caldwell, Anya Seton, and Victoria Holt. I quickly ran through their writings.

In the school library I found less salutary companions. Judy Blume, Paul Zindel, Go Ask Alice and more gems were the contributions of the library of my Illinois middle school, where I spent a great deal of time during my two study halls every day. Fortunately, they didn't keep me from finding better literature at the public library and, occasionally at the bookstore. And, to encourage the moms whose daughters are currently devouring garbage, they didn't do permanent damage.

I still go back to my childhood favorites from time to time. I just re-read the Little House books for at least the 25th time. A Little Princess is revisited every couple of years. It hasn't been all that long since I spent time with Luvvy and the Melendys. Anya Seton's Katharine is an almost annual read, as is the big hit of my senior year, ...And Ladies of the Club. I introduced all of these friends to my daughter, and we share a satisfying love of many of them. In return, she gave me Anne of Green Gables and all things Austen.

Fine companions, indeed.

Friday, January 07, 2011

No more new friends

Okay. Maybe no more is an overstatement. But I realized today that I approach email lists differently now than I used to.

Once upon a time, I joined email lists looking for connections and support. I found both. Years ago. And have long-since made the transition to face-to-face friendships with many fellow list members. In fact, most of the dearest friends I have were former email acquaintances.

Now I stay on the lists mainly with an eye to the infinitesimally small number of times that I can add something of value to help or support others.  Those times seem to grow fewer. I've become impatient with discussions that I've been through each winter for ten or more years. I frequently think about quitting all of my lists, even the one that I started and manage. I don't enjoy them any more.

And I think that today I figured out part of the reason why: I don't particularly care to make any new friends. I don't want to learn the new folks kids' names, what their husbands do, how they homeschool, or anything else. I feel no compulsion to be fake-nice and not stir up trouble. I just want them not to be annoying.

I think I'm getting old.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Friends at Christmas

I really like this picture. It's not that it's great photography, it's the people and the place. This is in our church basement on the afternoon of Christmas Day. It's a combination of  family, old friends, and newer friends. It really feels to me like it captured a moment. Something important.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Christmas/Epiphany letter

A blessed Epiphany to you!
(Since I’m writing this on the 11th Day of Christmas, I am assuming that most of you will see it after Epiphany.)

This has been another year for us to count our many blessings and to enjoy the wonderful life we have here in Fort Wayne. It seems to have gone very quickly, but on the other hand, last February seems like a long time ago. As a family we enjoyed our church, our garden, our fire pit, and going to a few TinCaps games.

Colin’s year was shaped by the changes going on at work. Many of you know that the company has decided to move its Fort Wayne operations to Chicagoland. As part of that process, and because of his promotion this summer to Chief Engineer, Hybrid Powertrain, he has been spending increasing amounts of time in the Chicago area. Between that and his other travels, we’ve spent a fair amount of time missing him. He has continued to serve as the Chairman of our congregation and to sing in the church choir. He also sang with the Bach Collegium through the fall, but has had to give that up for now because of his traveling. Don’t ask us how this Chicago-based job thing is going to work. We don’t know. We just know that after almost nine years Fort Wayne is home and we aren’t leaving. He likes his job. The most likely solution is a long commute every weekend for a few years.

Bethany has had a somewhat eventful year, joining the ranks of the uncounted unemployed in August. Her paralegal job had its interesting and challenging-in-a-good-way moments, but she also had a challenging-in-a-bad-way boss, who was causing her so much stress that her health was in danger. We told her to quit or we were kicking her out of the house.
(Not really.)
(Well, almost.)
Now she’s babysitting on a regular basis for the one and three year-old sons of some friends. (I, personally, would choose a psycho-tyrant boss over small children, but Bethany is of a gentler disposition than I am.)  Increasingly frequent visits from our friend Evan Meyer have turned into the two of them being “In a Relationship” on Facebook, Evan visiting for Christmas and her going to Wisconsin to visit his family the week after. She is still singing with the Bach Collegium and the church choir, and reluctantly teaching Sunday School. She continues to be the same adorable Bethany, but if I say anything too good about her, she won’t let me send this, so I’ll stop with that.

Some of you may be old enough to remember the commercials: “BankAmericard has become VISA.”
Patrick Casey has become BOW TIE GUY.  In August he added a much-needed job at JC Penney to his schedule. He works in the men's clothing department, and between his sartorial individuality and his charming personality, he has become a bit famous. His sister, attending a movie with him, was accosted by a group of girls who approached her when he made a concessions run, wanting to know how she was lucky enough to know BOW TIE GUY and to be in his presence. When he isn’t hanging out at the mall, he is a sophomore at IPFW majoring in German, minoring in History & Political Science, and making his parents very happy with his stellar grades. He still acolytes when needed, and enjoys helping to train (read intimidate) the new members of the corps.

Jonathan found a new love this year and in the process we threw our normal life out the window. In January he auditioned for two musicals. His plan was to be in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre if he got a part. But since he didn’t really expect a part on his first attempt, he also auditioned for a part in the New Haven High School production of The Sound of Music. He didn’t get the Joseph part, so he took the role of Rolf in TSOM. A week a later the Civic called. They had lost their Benjamin and wanted Jonathan for the part. Performances and rehearsals didn’t overlap. It could be done. It would mean much craziness. Rehearsals from 3-5:30 in New Haven and from 6-10 downtown. Twenty performances in four weeks in March. Since New Haven High School is between 18 & 25 miles, and 30 & 45 minutes from our house, depending on the route, this was not a small time commitment for me. I spent most afternoons in January, February, & March sitting in my car reading, or hanging out at the New Haven library and my evenings running around town. But just seeing him on stage in Joseph--singing and dancing--made it all worth it. He had a blast.

He followed up the spring shows with Sweeney Todd in a summer theater production at North Side High School, and then was back at the Civic for White Christmas this fall. More shows on tap for this spring and summer. He continues to sing with the Bach Collegium and the church choir, and still loves to acolyte. He also sang the national anthem at a TinCaps game again this year. His siblings want me to tell you that he routinely sleeps 12-14 hours a day. As far as homeschooling, he is somewhere in his junior year. The heavy musical schedule pushed academics to the back burner for a while, and he will graduate either next December or the spring afterward.

Andrew never leaves the house without his overloaded backpack. Never. It is packed with Greek, Latin, Biology, Algebra, and some sort of music, plus whatever book he is currently reading. Academically he’s a sophomore, but if he ends up deciding to go to Indiana Academy his junior year, we’re calling this his freshman year to give me more time to adjust to the idea of him leaving. He has also taken to carrying Jonathan’s guitar around with him.

When he isn’t carrying his backpack and guitar around, he likes to play on the xbox, pick out songs on the piano, and chat with his friends on gmail. He got glasses this year and enjoyed the attention that brought. He has continued to love acolyting and loved helping to train some new acolytes. (Of course, we know that’s mostly because he got to talk and they had to listen.) His siblings think that he is the coolest member of the family.

Andrew asks, “What about BenCat & Callie?” To steal a line from my Pastor, “They’re cats.”

My year was good. I got to garden, cook, scrapbook, read, and hang out with my kids. I continue in my seemingly endless, pointless quest to save time and money by moving out of this house and closer to church.

Once again we were blessed with an abundance of visitors and lots of time with good friends, although it never seems like enough! I made it to Higher Things in Nashville and got to see some old friends, and to put faces and smiles with some names. The next month I had the pleasure of seeing many of our friends who came to Redeemer for our second annual family retreat. We also had a great day at the lake with my aunts and uncles and cousins, who I rarely get to see. (We are blessed to see most of our family often enough that it is not an event, although the fall visit of Sean & Anne from Australia definitely qualifies!)

I have what is arguably the best job in the world, being secretary at Redeemer Lutheran Church. My hours are flexible. I get to spend lots of time putting together bulletins, looking at hymns, etc. I am getting to know the members our congregation better. I can decide that I am just not counting an hour that I spent at my desk because I decided to check Facebook “real quick.”  My sons can go with me and either do something productive or just hang out. My boss is not a psycho-tyrant and I don’t have to play with three year-olds, fold the same sweater for the 34th time, or drive to Chicago. Every once in a while I get ambitious and think about revving my Melaleuca business up again,and am quickly slapped down by the realities of my schedule, but the desire is still there.

 This has been a challenging year for some of the people we love. There have been some hard losses due to deaths or economic realities, and sometimes both. You are in our prayers as we go into the New Year.

We enter 2011 thanking God for all of you.

Love, The Caseys

O Morning Star, how fair and bright!
You shine with God's own truth and light,
     Aglow with grace and mercy!
Of Jacob's race, King David's son,
Our Lord and master, You have won
     Our hearts to serve You only!
          Lowly, holy!
     Great and glorious,
     All victorious,
          Rich in blessing!
Rule and might o'er all possessing!

Come, heav'nly bridegroom, light divine,
And deep within our hearts now shine;
     There light a flame undying!
In Your one body let us be
As living branches of a tree,
     Your life our lives supplying.
          Now, though daily
     Earth's deep sadness
     May perplex us
          And distress us,
Yet with heav'nly joy You bless us.

Lord, when You look on us in love,
At once there falls from God above
     A ray of purest pleasure.
Your Word and Spirit, flesh and blood
Refresh our souls with heav'nly food.
     You are our dearest treasure!
          Let Your mercy
     Warm and cheer us!
     O draw near us!
          For You teach us
God's own love through You has reached us.

Almighty Father, in Your Son
You loved us when not yet begun
     Was this old earth's foundation!
Your Son has ransomed us in love
To live in Him here and above:
     This is Your great salvation.
     Christ the living,
     To us giving
          Life forever,
Keeps us Yours and fails us never!

O let the harps break forth in sound!
Our joy be all with music crowned,
     Our voices gladly blending!
For Christ goes with us all the way--
Today, tomorrow, ev'ry day!
     His love is never ending!
          Sing out!  Ring out!
          Tell the story!
Great is He, the King of glory!

What joy to know, when life is past,
The Lord we love is first and last,
     The end and the beginning!
He will one day, oh, glorious grace,
Transport us to that happy place
     Beyond all tears and sinning!
          Amen!  Amen!
     Come, Lord Jesus!
     Crown of gladness!
          We are yearning
For the day of Your returning!

(Lutheran Service Book, 395  by Philipp Nicolai)

Monday, January 03, 2011

It's that time again

No, not New Year's Resolution time. Not time to get organized. Or diet. Or exercise.

It's time for me to give myself the lecture about protecting my time and being able to say no. This doesn't mean that I don't want to see or hear from my friends. Or do things with or for them. What it does mean is that suddenly I find my plate full of tasks that people are expecting me to do, in a certain time frame, but I am waiting on information, etc., from others to be able to do them. So I am getting behind and stressed. These are the kind of things I should say no to. I do not enjoy having responsibility for things that I am not in charge of.

So friends, if you notice I'm seeming rushed and stressed, it isn't you. And I'm not too busy; I'm just the wrong kind of busy.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


The hubby and I took a little road trip to Wisconsin this weekend. We spent the afternoon and evening of New Year's Day with our good friends, our former pastor and his wife. What a treat!

We then spent Sunday morning--yes, you read that right, Sunday morning--driving around the Milwaukee area. We drove along the Lake and up through the campus of UW--Milwaukee, a trip I made daily when we lived there. I loved that drive, and it is every bit as relaxing and beautiful as I remembered.

After our drive, we met up with Bethany and Evan and his parents for lunch at Buca di Beppo. Bethany went to  Wisconsin with Evan on Christmas evening, and spent the week with his family, and part of the reason for our trip was to bring her home. We had a good lunch, and enjoyed meeting Evan's parents.

I didn't realize how badly I needed a break until I got away for a couple of days.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

January blogging

I decided that I'm going to try to blog every day in January. The NaBloPoMo topic for January is "Friends" and I'm going to try to use that as inspiration.

I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking about what I want to read this year, and I wanted to start the new year with a strong choice. I picked a book that Carol, a friend from college who I've reconnected with via Facebook, recommended. Carol is fun, smart, and interesting, so I was sure it would be a good place to start. To see what I think when I finish, you can check my book blog.