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Archive for July, 2005


Sunday Post ~ May you know a place of refuge from gathering clouds and rough waters.

Psalm 62:5-8

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I’m almost outta here. My ’80s jewelry has been melted down and molded into a golden minivan that will take us south. (It’s a short, convertible minivan; I didn’t have that much jewelry.) I won’t get to post again before I leave, tomorrow morning. Packing, meeting with detectives (that case from last week), getting a haircut, enduring a medical appointment (hi, Nina ;), finishing up work stuff. I have responded to the flurry of comments from last Friday when I posted the 25-year-old photograph — I was 20; the photo is now 25. I have corrected the one who thought I was blond and the ones who thought I was black. And I was very amused by both. I still say, read this and this and form your own image. It will be more accurate than using that photograph. If I go missing, do NOT put that photo on the milk cartons, or you may never see me again!

I’ll be away the rest of the month. (That sounds more extravagant than 10 days.) We’ll be sharing a cottage in the Blue Ridge Mountains with another family — two parents and a kid, the dad of that family having been Jif’s close friend since third grade. Very lovely people.

Please forgive my not visiting your blog lately. Work has been so crazy, in terms of hours and intensity. I have followed the well-worn paths to a few old blogfriends’ places, and made a couple of new friends, but many of you whom I find most delightful, I just haven’t been to see you much. It’s not a reflection of my regard for you. And bless your hearts for coming to see me anyway.

While I am gone, there are some people I’d like you to meet. Sarah visited me not very long ago, and I was “hooked” quickly. The first thing I read about Sarah was how she had a painting of a picnic on her head, complete with M&M-stealing ants. Not on her hat, right there on her head. She is smart, and funny, and opinionated and kind. And right now she’s very ill. She has non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma, and she has recently begun the 120-day journey that will lead to her getting a bone marrow transplant, and becoming well. She only started posting in June, so you can read her blog from the beginning and get the whole story.

While she’s hospitalized and not up to blogging, she has an amazing partner, Nikki, and six sisters who have started a blog to keep blogfriends updated. Her sister, Shoshie, is the head-artist and even more importantly, the bone-marrow donor. Their blog is SWLF: Sarah’s Wacky, Loving Family. They appreciate all the prayers, well wishes, good vibes, healing energy and any other good stuff you know of, sent in their direction. And you know how bloggers spell “love”: c-o-m-m-e-n-t. Go visit and leave some encouragement or something to help them laugh. Other bloggers going through health troubles, and their families, have said how very much it has meant to them to have us internet strangers sending them love and prayers. We do what we can, and we can surely do that.

mrtl found this quote last week, and it comes to mind now:

Let a good man do good deeds with the same zeal that the evil man does bad ones.

Yea, like that. (Ahem, lest you get the impression that mrtl is all wise and deep and dignified and whatnot, I will also tell you that this week she taught me the “cocksucker drinking game.” Ask her.)

God bless you. Thank you for visiting here. I’ll see you soon. XOXO

*The title here pays homage to the inimitable Bucky Four-Eyes.

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Merry Christmas!

Our church is preparing to celebrate Christmas in July, when we decorate for Christmas, sing carols and collect school supplies to give to agencies that help inner city kids get back to school in style. That got us in the Christmas spirit this week.

Each year, at “real” Christmas, we enjoy getting those Christmas letters with the news of how well everyone has done in the past year. Sometimes, though, they just have us scratching our heads. Like the times when someone writes about being more in love than ever with their spouse, and you know they’re both having affairs. Or the time when they write about how much their son is enjoying his fancy boarding school, and you know he’s in a rehab.

Last year, for the first time ever, Jif and I jumped into the Christmas-letter pool, trying to keep up with the Joneses. Here follows our email Christmas letter of 2004, modified slightly for the blogging audience.

Dear Friends,

For years now, we have enjoyed our many fine friends’ Christmas letters. And what fine friends we do have; we are blessed. We so enjoy reading, for example, about the blinding whiteness of their children’s perfectly straight teeth. And so many of our friends (and their offspring), continue, year after year, to win MAJOR AWARDS. We have welcomed the news of the “Biggest SUV in the Neighborhood” award, and the esteemed, “I Gave More Money to Charity this Year than Oprah Made” award. Most of our friends’ major awards, pardon us, MAJOR AWARDS, do revolve around the beauty and brilliance of their children, however there are also awards for the taste, beauty, and yes, CO$T of their home(s), as well as the level of long-term, sustained passion, devotion, etc., of their marriages.

And we have realized how very selfish we have been in enjoying the most intimate details of others’ lives, while year after year, withholding any information about our own equally fascinating, equally envy-inspiring lives. Well this year, in the spirit of the season, we want to share:

Susie has cut WAY back on her drinking. LG and Jif are so happy to report that she comes home now more nights than not! We are finally looking forward to a year in which we meet no “nice officers” bringing her home after a . . . well, an “incident” . . .

LG and Biscuit have suffered terribly this holiday season with earmites. It just about breaks your heart to see them shaking their little heads and rubbing their ears against any rough surface in sight. That’s why the photo with our letter is not of our own little ones — we put halos and angel wings on them and tried to snap a good one, but they just kept on with the scratching and the gnawing . . .

The presidential election was a confusing time for LG. She was quite annoyed with people like her mother, who claimed to be voting for “nader.” LG said, “No! You can’t say ‘nader,’ you have to pick one or the other!”

We do have much for which to be thankful. Turns out the voices in Jif’s head are almost always RIGHT, so how bad is that, really? They even gave him some good investment tips. (The mole rat breeding thing didn’t work out, but who could have guessed that the Neighborhood Association has tenets specifically prohibiting that particular enterprise? And those children just shouldn’t have gotten so close . . . )

A bit of seasonal advice, and we don’t want to say how we know this: it is proper etiquette to buy a separate gift for EACH of the personalities if a loved one is, um, challenged in that way . . . just didn’t want you to commit the holiday faux pas that we did last year! Speaking of gift-giving, one of Susie’s clients gave her the Christmas gift of two SELF-HELP books: “Why You Act the Way You Do,” and “God Has a Plan B for You!” Is someone trying to tell her something? You know, some gifts should just come with a big ol’ label stuck right on ’em: Excellent for Re-Gifting! These helpful volumes will definitely be seeing some action in that arena.

Dear friends, if you have received this letter, then you are not one of those from whom we have received the treasured annual Christmas letter — OR — and this could be you — you did send us a letter, but your kids just aren’t winning enough MAJOR AWARDS. Your life is just a little too ordinary, and/or we think you’re . . . you know . . . FUNNY.

Wishing you every happiness of the season, and a 2005 with AWARDS, REWARDS, etc.,

The Fairchild Family
Jif, Susie, LG*, and Biscuit the Unruly Beast

*For the record, LG disavows any association with this project; her exact words were, “You may NOT use my name; I FORBID IT.” (We narrowly missed snagging “Dr. Phil’s Listen to Your Children Award.”)

(The photograph here was totally stolen and doctored up. So report us.)

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Sunday Post ~ Love is stronger than fear

2 Timothy 1:7

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I’m still in the midst of hell week at work, and it’s gotten even more bizarre. I want to play SPF, but no time to dig up everything. This was handy, so here’s my SPF installment, I might complete it later today, or maybe not. Feel free to make all the fun you want, offer captions, etc. 😉


This is not really representative, because a nonsmiling pic of me is rather rare. I think the photog must have said, “Now let’s try a thoughtful look…” But this was stuck in a book, and it is from 1980 (college yearbook proof), and all other 80s pix are boxed up, etc. I look exactly like this now. Except subtract some hair. Add some fat. Add some wrinkles. You know how skin loses elasticity and starts to droop? Yea, add that, too. You know how after age 35, your ears and nose continue to grow, and your lips shrink? Yea, factor that in, too. There, that’s me, almost exactly the same. Well, here’s something that’s the same: I still frequently turn my head to the right, stare off into space and look pissed.

Ooh, look at that add-a-bead necklace. That was ’80s jewelry. Where the hell is that thing? I could melt those babies down and make something useful . . . a minivan . . .

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I’m still making my way through 100 things. This is the third installment. Here’s #1 and here’s #2.

21. I just accepted a second job. I’ll be supervising graduate student interns in a counseling agency part-time. I like doing clinical supervision. I do some of it in my private practice, too. It’s like using my skills, but the intimate relationship is once-removed; my concern is with the counselor’s growth, rather than directly with the client. It is a nice balance. There is a limit to the number of intimate relationships I can handle well at any one time.

22. About 2/3 of my clients are therapists or clergy. This is a little niche that I’ve evolved into, by word of mouth. I did not see it coming, would not have guessed that things would go that way. But I like it.

23. Until this week, the most difficult scenes I’d been witness to at work were husbands learning of their wives’ infidelity, in my presence. One husband insisted upon details. It was excruciating for all concerned. It seemed to me very much like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

24. Now, I’ve witnessed a new kind of train wreck. A daughter telling her mother that she has been molested by the mother’s husband for 12 years. People ask, “How does a mother not know?” This mother did not know. This mother and daughter are devoted to each other. Yes, I’ve dealt with this topic plenty. But I’ve never actually been there to feel the energy in the room when the adult child tells the parent.

25. The above gets even more difficult, for me. The mother and father are my clients; not the daughter.

26. I’m going on vacation at the end of next week. Can you say, “Hurry! End of next week!”

27. I spend more time with my daughter in the summer. I am enjoying her very much:
“Mom, when we go to D.C. this summer, am I old enough now to visit the Homocaust Museum?”

“Is Mark Twain Shania Twain’s husband?” Yes, I know, I should be ashamed. Tom Sawyer is now in her hands.

Yesterday, between swimming lesson and Mad Science Camp, we had 15 minutes to pop in the house and grab a lunch . . . . OK, sandwich and fruit! I threw a hot dog in the microwave, presented it to her on a roll, with a side of banana. “Mom, I think we need more variety in the shape of our lunch foods.”

28. Sometimes I go through my “referrals” and just click on the people I don’t know who have visited me. Sometimes I can’t read their blogs because they speak a different language, but I imagine that they’re very nice blogs, and I wish I were bilingual like those folk.

29. There are exceptions, but mostly I am not at all impulsive. I consider things for a very long time before I actually do them.

30. When we go on our vacation, we’ll be driving many, many miles in an 11-year-old, 200,000 mile Hoopty minivan. I’m a little apprehensive. Last night we went out to eat at Outback. No rules, just right. While we waited for a table, we talked about options — borrow a vehicle, rent a vehicle, take my slightly newer but smaller, less comfortable car . . . Our waitress was Dawn. And you know what she said, don’t you? “I will take care of you. Just let me know if there’s anything you need.” When she went to get our drinks, Jif said, “Hey, we can borrow Dawn’s car!” We kept trying to get LG to ask her, but she wouldn’t.

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I missed out on last week’s Stuff Portrait Friday, and wanted to try to make “Motif Monday,” with something on “costumes.” Then it occurred to me that I can show some “stuff” from last week’s SPF, as part of my “costumes” post. Here you have one of my favorite framed pictures in my house, with “costumes” as a theme:


A framed print of a painting representing the college where Jif and I met and decided to love each other. It was painted in 1987 as part of the college’s “sesquicentennial” celebration. Did you know that word? I didn’t. It means the 150th year. The print was given to us as an anniversary gift by Jif’s parents. It is large, and this house is the first time we’ve had wall space big enough to hang it on without overwhelming the place. I love it. The people are gathered for “The Commencement,” and they are dressed in period clothing that spans the 150 years of the college’s life. Isn’t that cool?


See, here is a detail with a boy in jeans beside a Civil War soldier . . . a buggy and an automobile, various skirt lengths . . .


And here the graduates march in caps and gowns from the various periods . . . a family plays music from a gramophone, while a boy practices soccer . . . Isn’t it clever? I appreciate the acknowledgement of the connectedness of the people who pass through a place over time.

OK, now for the story portion of the Monday Motif, unrelated to the above. This is another little somethin’ that I wrote a while ago, for my church autobiography group:

Suppose . . .

When I was in sixth grade, my class presented a play called, “Suppose.” In this play, a group of maidens sat discussing how their various talents (weaving, spinning, baking, etc.) would impress the king if he should happen to come to their village. There were 12 maidens, each dressed in a pastel colored long skirt and white blouse, and each boasting about her particular skill. At the end of the line of maidens sat a 13th girl, with a sweet, modest disposition, but no particular talent. Her name was “Plain Jane.”

The other girls were always admonishing Plain Jane that she should work harder at self-promotion, just in case a king should come to their town to choose a bride. During the course of this discussion, each girl would go down the line, saying, “Suppose . . . ” and the 12th girl would finish the thought with, “. . . a king comes by!”

The teacher in charge of this production was my beloved Mrs. Thornton. As we read “Suppose” together in class, I knew immediately that I wanted to be Plain Jane, only because she would be dressed differently than the other 12 girls. At that time, and pretty much throughout my school years, I liked to avoid conformity in dress whenever possible. As we continued reading the play, it turned out that not only did Plain Jane not have to wear the skirt and blouse “uniform,” but a king did come by, and asked Plain Jane to marry him and be the queen! (I think this was because while all the other girls were bragging and showing off their creations, Plain Jane offered the king and his fellow travellers a drink of water.) So, between the different costume and being chosen by the king, now I really wanted to be Plain Jane!

When Mrs. Thornton described the costume she had in mind for Plain Jane, I realized that I already had it. I told Mrs. Thornton about a calico “granny dress” that I had, with a white pinafore trimmed in eyelet lace. She agreed that it would be perfect, and I brought the dress in the next day. I thought the dress and I would be a package deal for Plain Jane, but that’s not what Mrs. Thornton had in mind.

She asked Ginny, also known as “Punkin,” to come up and try on the dress. Ginny was called “Punkin” by almost everyone but me. The story was that Ginny’s mother had conceived her while a teenager in West Virginia, and had denied the pregnancy until it was so obvious that relatives began to say to her, “Then what’s that, a punkin?” Ginny’s mom would say, “yes,” and from that point on, Punkin was her name. In retrospect, I guess it would have been unlikely for me to call her Punkin when I knew that the correct pronunciation was “Pumpkin.” Living in a northern state with southern parents was always a linguistic balancing act for me, and I was a bit fearful that some pronunciation I learned from my parents would turn out to be a “hillbilly” pronunciation, and someone at school would tease me.

Anyway, Ginny was Mrs. Thornton’s choice, and I pretended not to be hurt by that. Ginny was petite, with light blue eyes, white-blond hair, and very fair skin. She looked like an angel or a porcelain doll, and I can understand Mrs. Thornton’s choosing her. The king was played by a tall black boy named James. James had been my friend for many years, and he was a very talented boy. I don’t remember whether he could act, but he was a gifted artist and singer.

We all went along preparing for the play. I was one of the 12 maidens. A couple of days before the play, Ginny came in with my dress in a bag, and a note from her mother. Mrs. Thornton read the note and was silent for a moment, then she looked like she could cry. She often referred to herself in the third person, and this day she said to Ginny, “This makes Mrs. Thornton very sad, but Mrs. Thornton understands that this is not your decision.”

Then she said to me, “Susie, you will please be Plain Jane. Let Ginny have your skirt and blouse.” I was bewildered, but complied. I don’t know how we all knew what happened, but we did. When Ginny’s mother realized that her punkin would be marrying James, a black king, in front of the whole school, she refused to let Ginny play the part. If James was hurt by this, he didn’t show it.

I was confused. Suddenly the part I had wanted so badly was no longer desirable. Ginny had turned it down. If Ginny were “too good” for the part, what did that make me? My mother encouraged me to go ahead with the play, reminding me that James was the same boy I’d been laughing and singing with for years. I did the play, anxious about whether I would be teased for marrying a black boy. I wasn’t. I was the star, the chosen one, just as the play was written. James and I walked down through the middle of the assembly together, to cheers and applause.

When I think of this now, I’m struck not only by the racial issues we dealt with more or less explicitly, but also with the message of the play, which we didn’t examine at all. The first 12 maidens were producers, achievers, good at something and eager to get recognition for that. They were portrayed as unworthy of the king’s attention. The 13th, Plain Jane, was self-deprecating and a servant to the king and his men. This is what a man was looking for in a wife. This was about 1971.

Anyone is welcome to play these themey things; please join in if the spirit moves you:
Kristine is the lovely hostess for Stuff Portrait Fridays, and mrtl is the magnificent mayor of Motif Monday. If you play, let them know, and lots of people will comseeya.

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