Party Planning for Friendly Anti-Socialites

Note: What follows is something I published two years ago. I’m rerunning it because a) We really did have a party this last weekend so it totally fits, and b) because of said party, the story I intended to publish isn’t ready. So until it is, I hope you enjoy this:

We had our annual holiday get-together last weekend, where something like 25 to 200 people stopped by our house to partake in food, drink, and stimulating conversation.

Diners in a restaurant, talking

Twenty-five is the more likely number, but it’s all a matter of perspective. A very social, extroverted person might have looked at our gathering and thought, “My, what a charming little party this is.” While a more private, introverted person might have thought, “GAHHH!!!”

Regular readers of this blog know I lean more toward the latter than the former, and are no doubt wondering why I agree to these parties. Truth be told, in the days leading up to these events, I wonder it myself. But the fact is, I enjoy them.

I especially enjoy them when they’re over.

Also, I think we introverts owe it to society to show how parties should be done. Because from the parties I’ve thrown and the parties I’ve attended, I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion: Introverts throw better parties.

That is because – as with all things – we overthink them.

How an Extrovert Throws a Party:
  • Sets up event on social media, tells friends to invite anyone they left out
  • Gets on with life until day of party
  • Buys food and drinks on day of party
  • Welcomes guests at door
  • Enjoys party
How an Introvert Throws a Party:
  • Carefully reviews calendar and selects a day with least amount of personal conflicts, in which the moon and stars have aligned to give the best chance of success for a social event
  • Looks over guest list; crosses out names, adds names, mostly crosses out names
  • Researches several sites for recipes and decorating ideas
  • Checks out party planning books at library, as well as several cookbooks
  • Creates a menu, revises menu daily until hour before party
  • Walks through home, imagines party in real time, considers main areas of gathering, best flow from one area to another; moves furniture several times until right balance is achieved
  • Plans music for evening, selects song list with care
  • Night before party wakes up several times thinking, “Did I remember to–” but of course they remembered to. They remembered all things
  • Drinks glass of wine before guests arrive, or other calming beverage of choice
  • During party, remains in kitchen for majority of evening, replenishing dishes that don’t need replenishing, providing safe haven for fellow introverts requiring no small talk
  • After party, collapses on sofa and reviews evening, replays every moment, wonders how it could have gone better; pledges not to repeat event for a very long time
  • Makes notes and plan of improvement for next event

I know other introverted party planners include pets at their soirees and I certainly appreciate them at any party I attend. But the sad fact is, phobias do exist and not everyone enjoys a cold nose at their crotch. Therefore I keep my furry friends safely hidden away.

That being said, I came up with a brilliant idea that I’m anxious to set up for any future parties: the Introvert’s Party Room for Rest and Recuperation.

Back when vinyls were all that, there was a huge record store in downtown Phoenix that had a separate room for classical music fans. It was great. When you walked in, all other sound was blocked out and you only heard classical. If memory serves right, there was always an aroma of leather and pipe tobacco. I was 15 years old and had no interest in classical music, but I seriously loved that room.

What I want is a similar room for overwhelmed party guests. The room must be easily accessible from the main area so they can slip in or out without detection. There will be comfy chairs, plenty of books and writing materials, a couple laptops with free wi-fi, and a dog.

White dog next to person with laptop

Once the introvert was fully recovered, they could return to the party in progress.

Or not. No pressure.

Doesn’t that sound great? I’m going to get to work on that real soon. It may involve buying a new house, but dang it I’m determined.

If only because I’m the one in dire need of it. 😉

At this point my original article segued seamlessly into a recipe. In my early posts I did this quite a bit, as it was my shtick. I’m not sure why I quit the shtick. I was probably distracted by something shiny. In any case, I’ve got a recipe for you today.

Two for One Cookies

  • Servings: 4 to 5 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: no sweat
  • Print

This is a recipe I came across in an old tattered cookbook with no cover, so I'm afraid I can't credit it properly. It's great for a party as it allows you to offer a variety of cookies without baking all day.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • 2¾ cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Add-ins (see below)

Directions

Mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs and blend well. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.

At this point, shape the dough into a ball and divide in half. For each half, choose one of the following options:

  1. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, roll into balls and dip in a cinnamon/sugar mixture to make Snickerdoodles
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, roll into balls, flatten slightly and press an almond in the center to make Chinese Almond cookies
  3. Add one teaspoon either lemon or orange zest, can also add 1/2 cup dried fruit and/or nuts, roll into balls and flatten slightly, sprinkle with sugar
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup coconut and 1/3 cup chopped nuts, drop by rounded teaspoon onto cookie sheet
  5. Create your own option!

Place dough 2 inches apart on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly golden brown. Let stand a minute before removing from cookie sheet.

The Story of a Young Girl’s Faith in Santa, Her Ensuing Disgrace, and Her Rescue From Certain Despair

The year was 1970. I was in the first grade, and I was being punished for believing in Santa.

Rather, to be more clear, I was punished for defending Santa.

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You see, an unbeliever in the ranks – a heathen – was casting doubt on his existence. Pointing out irregularities in the Santa Claus canon. Casting aspersions on his good name.

Several of my classmates were listening and their faith was shaken. You could see it in their eyes.

I’d had enough. I proclaimed in a voice for all to hear:

There is so a Santa Claus! He’s been to MY HOUSE!

Gasp!

Unfortunately we were in class at the time and our teacher was not fond of loud proclamations. Even those in defense of Santa.

It was the time-out table for me.

I must pause here, for I need you to understand the overall makeup of our teacher’s time-out table. Only then can you grasp the true horror of what was before me.

Miss September — okay, my teacher’s name wasn’t really Miss September. It was something similar to Miss September. Something like Miss Sembler… or maybe it was Stremble. Honestly, I don’t know.

The fact is, I was never very good with names, even as a child. For those I didn’t recognize or couldn’t pronounce, I’d come up with a close approximation and stick with it. No doubt Miss September corrected me plenty of times before giving up, figuring there were worse things to be called than the name of a centerfold.

In any case, it wasn’t enough for Miss September that a noisy child sat at the time-out table. The point had to be driven home, which was why there was a stack of index cards on the table. Whoever sat at the table had to do so while keeping an index card in their mouth. The entire time.

I had never, in the entire history of my academic career (now spanning kindergarten and a few months of first grade), been punished for speaking out of turn.

I can still hear Miss September’s voice, “Who said that?!” Adding, in disbelief, “Christi? Was that you?!”

Was there a moment of hesitation? A possibility of reprieve given my incredible track record? Was consideration given for the fact my outburst was a necessary one? The foundation of our faith was being challenged! A defender had to rise up!

I was that defender.

But no. Consistency in punishment, that was Miss September’s way. She pointed to the back table without saying a word. I made my way, my head cast low.

The truly frustrating thing was that I had no reason to stand up for Santa.

Santa had never brought me a present. There was no chimney in our house for him to come down, no stockings to fill. My parents never threatened us with “Santa won’t come if you don’t behave,” because we were always to behave. Santa had nothing to do with it. And Santa never came on Christmas morning, presumably, because we celebrated on Christmas Eve. It was our family’s tradition from ages past.

Clearly, Santa and my family had denominational differences.

But being the broadminded people they were, my parents were not Santa-deniers. They never spoke out in favor of him, nor against him. They simply never brought him up.

What I learned, you might say, I picked up on the streets.

My faith was a pure one. Not born out of fear or greed, but out of sincere philosophical musing and sound theology.

Plus, as I said, he’d been to my house.

Santa and me 2

Many years later, as my mom was showing family pictures to my husband, I asked her who the man was who showed up at our house one December day so long ago, dressed as Santa.

She laughed. It wasn’t a man. (Gasp!) It was the neighbor lady from across the street. The people who bred Boston terriers and decorated their house with blue Christmas lights. It was her.

Honestly, I had no idea.

Back to Miss September’s class: I approached the time-out table, sat down heavily, put the card in my mouth. The tears… oh my friends, the tears! Never has a child suffered so much, nor felt it so deeply as I. Shame and misery were mine.

But the story doesn’t end here, for there was another student at the time-out table. She was a frequent visitor, a regular felon in our classroom. In truth, she was our class clown, and though we weren’t close friends, she gave me a gift that day.

I’m very sorry I don’t remember her name. A better writer would make one up for you. Just name her Angie or Susan or Debbie. Invent a name and run with it. But just as it is with Miss September and my Santa lady with blue Christmas lights, I cannot lie. Her name is lost.

I have failed you. Mea culpa.

All I can remember are two things: her hand sliding across the table until she got my attention, and then, when I looked up… do you know what I saw? This little comic genius had taken the index card, folded it in half, put it in her mouth and was now impersonating a duck!

Soon my tears of sadness were tears of joy and I could hardly stay in my seat due to giggling. My misery forgotten, my day instantly brightened.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, what impact we can have on others? Whether we dress up as Santa (remember ladies, it’s an equal opportunity position), or we cheer up a tearful child with a goofy face. It’s the little moments of kindness that matter.

So as we make our way through this holiday season — indeed, as we approach a new year — let’s look at the ways we leave our mark on others. The memories we give them, the words we leave them.

Let’s make them count, yes?

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And please, put in a good word for Santa. There are enough doubters in the world as it is.

First picture: srikanta H. U on Unsplash
Second picture: Author’s own, and ain’t I a cute one?
Third picture: Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Letters From Dad

Dad was never a big letter writer.

Then later in life, after he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and had a few serious illnesses, Dad realized he didn’t have a lot of time left. He began to “get his affairs in order” as they say. He made sure everything was in good standing for Mom. He sorted through his belongings, finished projects, made things for grandkids.

And he wrote letters. Lots and lots of letters.

He wrote to cousins he hadn’t seen since he was a kid, he wrote to his brothers and their wives, his nieces and nephews. He even wrote letters to his grown children who lived in the same city as he did. It wasn’t at all unusual that when you visited and it was time to go, he’d put a envelope in your hands, your name written in a shaky script on the front. It would be another letter telling some bit of family history, or a chart showing our ancestry, some copies of black-and-white photos of our grim-looking relatives.

My recent post on handwriting led me to read them again. Below is one of those letters. 

First, a note: As I was typing, I realized I was editing and somehow that seemed dishonest. In the end, I decided to keep things pretty much as they were, grammatical errors and all. The only thing I changed was to break up his paragraphs a bit, as his thoughts occasionally jump from one story to the next, then back again.
One other note: When he says they provided all the milk for Bruce — that’s a small town in South Dakota.

Dad with siblings
My dad is on the bottom step next to his little sister, Margaret. His oldest brother, John, is in between the twins. Dad was born in ’23, so I’m guessing this photo was taken around 1928.
A Letter From My Dad…

This letter is about things that happened over 80 years ago.

Mother was having a hard time raising her twin boys. She said she prayed every nite for help. Then Mother found she was pregnant again. She thought the Lord was going to punish her with this new baby. The twins would be 2 in August and I came along the 1st of May. The twins were still in diapers. The conditions were rather primitive on the farm back then, no running water, you did things the hard way.

Mother told me when I was an older kid what a good baby I was. At the time I never wanted to hear about it, it made me sound like a sissy. Mother said I never cryed only whimpered when something was wrong. The relatives said something is wrong with that baby, that baby don’t cry – all babys cry. Mother said I was ok and a happy kid and was an answer to the prayers to the Lord. She also said she could sit me down any place & I would be ok.

Then one day when I learned to crawl Mother heard a loud cry & found the twins stomping on my fingers & were proud of them selfs that they got me to cry. Mother thought they had ruined me & I would cry all the time, but I went back to the way I was.

The good that come from it was the twins were better behaved & watched over me & never let any thing bad happen to me. This has been true all our lives. They have always protected me. We never had any fights with them, altho they were always fighting with each other.

*****

Roger & Rolf were always very fair & kind with me except when work was involved. They would divide the jobs in 3 equal parts, they was kind enough to give me the choice of the jobs, that went along quite well. Now the milking of the cows was another thing.

We always had 20 or so cows to milk. The cows were divide in 3 parts of 7 or so cows. I again got to choose the bunch I wanted. This was the evening milking in the summer as Dad & John could stay out in the field until dark. I was never very fast with the milking. I would have 2 or so left to milk when they were done. The fact that I was 10 years old & they were 12 had nothing to do with it so they would watch me finish. The reason we had so many cows was that we had to furnish most of Bruce with milk.

*****

Bro. John was always to blame if any thing went wrong. When I was about 3 I was breaking the ice in the stock tank & fell in. I was in quite a long time when John found me floating under the ice, he was blamed for me falling in & not (praised?) for pulling me out.

Another time when I was about 3 Dad came home from town & found me layed out on the township road. He brought me to the house & looked for bruises. Then I woke up, I was just sleeping in the middle of the road. Bro. John was blamed for letting me sleep on the road.

*****

They got a very good whipping for stomping on my fingers. I wound up with a deformed finger nail & at the time it got infected and got a swelling under my arm. I was brought to a Doctor & he lanced it. This did cause me trouble later in life.

Merry Christmas
Love, Dad

Dad with brothers
Left to right, Dad, John, Roger and Rolf. We could always tell our twin uncles apart because Rolf was the one who glowered. You might think they’re all glowering, but Rolf glowered best. By the way, they were all extremely kind, gentle men. But yeah… glowering.

Dad passed away 12 years ago. I often think of the stories he told, and the way he told them. He was great storyteller.

Thanks for the letters, Dad.

A Thanksgiving Logic Puzzle – the Feeding on Folly Edition

Your Thanksgiving plans (flying to Barbados for a romp with Pedro) sadly fell through. But wait! All is not lost! Your Aunt Carol invited you over to her place.

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Though you’re sad about Pedro, you think “What the heck, how bad could it be?” You grab the Pinot Noir you planned to enjoy with Pedro, hop in your car and head to Aunt Carol’s.

So how bad will your Thanksgiving be? Solve this puzzle to find out!

Thanksgiving Details:

At the House: Aunt Carol, Uncle Harold, Cousin Penelope, Brother-in-Law Dick (no idea where your sister is), and Lydia (friend of the family)

What They Made: Turkey, Tofurkey, Green Bean Casserole, Pumpkin Pie, and Apple Pie

What They’re Wearing: Suit and Tie, Best Dress, Best Sweatshirt, Old Sweatshirt, All Black

What They’re Doing: Watching TV, Cooking, Delegating, Spilling Things, Drinking Your Wine

Bragging Rights: They Have the New iPhone, They Drive a BMW, They are a Minimalist, Their Oldest Attends Julliard, They Recently Found the Lord

Your objective: Find out what everyone brought, what they’re wearing, what they’re doing and what they’re bragging about.

Clues:
  1. The woman cooking the turkey (and doing all the cooking thank-you-very-much) does not drive a BMW and is wearing an old sweatshirt.
  2. Uncle Harold, who does not attend church, thinks it’s too warm to wear a sweatshirt and hates pumpkin pie.
  3. The person who brought the apple pie is careful not to spill things and does not drive.
  4. The man watching TV – okay, come on, you KNEW it was a man – never wears black as it’s simply not his color.
  5. Aunt Carol has two children, but only talks about her oldest who is a far better musician than you or Penelope will ever be. (You never kept up with those lessons, did you?)
  6. When you are introduced to Aunt Carol’s friend, Lydia, you begin singing this song from the Muppets. In response, Lydia, who is not wearing a dress, hits you in the face with her pie.
  7. Your cousin Penelope, also not wearing a dress, has never been more annoying than she is today. That’s saying something, given how she once glued together the pages of your favorite comic book. But today you find common ground as you make fun of the relative fumbling with their new iPhone. Also, she helps you pick the apple pie filling out of your hair.
  8. You desperately want a bit of fresh air, but upon opening the back door, notice that the relative wearing a suit is outside drinking the bottle of wine you brought. He appears to be sobbing. You decide not to go outside and instead see if your Aunt Carol needs help.
  9. The person who made the green bean casserole is wearing a lovely dress and staying out of the kitchen.
  10. The one who made the tofurkey does not appreciate your humor so stop it. Tofurkey is so a real food, no matter what Aunt Carol says. Also, could you wipe up the miso-mushroom gravy she spilled? Thanks.
  11. Aunt Carol wishes the person doing the delegating and the one wearing all black would find the missing bottle of wine.
  12. After pointing out where the wine went, Aunt Carol sends you to the store for another bottle, as well as a pie to replace the one you got in the kisser. The BMW driver can’t go because he’s hammered.
  13. Uncle Harold, who uses Amazon’s 1-click shopping far too often, hasn’t worn a suit since 1983 and thinks BMW drivers are a$$holes.
  14. Dinner is finally ready and Lydia says grace for approximately eight minutes, ending only when the person wearing black spills the new bottle of wine on your pants.

Below is your handy-dandy puzzle grid to help you solve this puzzle. Just click on the upper right toggle to open in a new window and print.

(By the way, it took me 5x longer to make this grid than it did to make the whole puzzle, so even if you don’t use it, admire it anyway. My shattered ego will thank you.)

If you don’t know how to solve logic puzzles, here’s a Video with instructions
Condensed version: Put an X in the boxes you know to be false, put a dot in the boxes you know to be true.

Here’s the Solution to this Puzzle (Yes, it really is solvable, but even if you don’t work the puzzle, go ahead and read the solution anyway. You might enjoy it. 😉)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Top picture (of my future self) is by Alex Harvey on Unsplash
Picture of a few of my favorite things is by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

Thoughts from a Noble Woman: On Holidays and Family Dinners

In honor of the Season, and all the accompanying stress it brings, I hunted through M.A.’s journal hoping to find something that could help us. (In case you missed it, our discovery of M.A. was first mentioned HERE.)
Sure enough, we found something! Not only that, we found a most intriguing recipe for apple pie that includes… wait for it… wine! (Gasp!)

MA 2

From M.A.’s Journal

The holidays bring mixed feelings: Joy, for what we hope they will be, Dread, for what we fear they will be. We place so much importance on these days, wanting everything to be perfect, only to be tired by the end of them.
Remember that holidays are made by humankind, for humankind. No more than that. They are what you make of them. Resolve now to make them what you need, not what you imagine you want.

Family is coming. Why does that make us nervous? Are these not the people with whom you shared your childhood?
Yes. Perhaps that explains it.
When apart, we choose to think of our past as we want. When together, we’re forced to see things as they really are. No matter what we want to believe of ourselves, these are the people to whom we belong.
Are we shamed for not living up to their standards, or for they not living up to ours?
No matter, for both are folly.
If it is your actions, then change them. If it is theirs, accept. It is all you can do. That, and love. Love the quirkiness, the eccentricities, the pain. Yes, even the pain, for all of it is what made you who you are today.
Therefore, the Noble Woman has three tasks before her with regard to others:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Forgiveness
  3. Love

With regard to herself, a fourth task is added to these:

4. Resolve to do better

Also, make a pie. Families who eat pie together, smile together. No one argues. No one fights. The world is a happier place when people eat pie.

This is truth.

From M.A.’s Recipe Drawer

Tipsy Apple Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy with cheats
  • Print

There's not enough alcohol in this pie to qualify as tipsy, but the wine helps bring out the flavor of the fruit. If you'd rather not use it, I suggest a tart fruit juice such as cranberry.

Apple Pie

Ingredients

  • basic pie pastry for a 9″ double-crust pie*
  • 6 to 7 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used the Golden Delicious variety)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine (I used a Zinfandel)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Egg wash and raw sugar for top of crust

Directions

Heat oven to 425°. Roll out pastry for bottom of pie, line 9″ pie plate. Roll out top crust; cover with a clean towel as you make the filling. (See note below for alternative to using crust.)

In a large bowl, combine apples and lemon juice. In another bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add to apples, along with wine, and stir. Fill pie plate with fruit, top with bits of butter. Cover with top crust, cut and flute the edges. Cut a few vents on top of crust; brush on egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 30 minutes, then lower oven to 350° and bake for another 30 minutes. Test to see if the fruit is tender by inserting a knife through a vent.

Note: You can use pre-made pie crusts to make this easier, or skip the crust altogether and make an Apple Crumble: Pour fruit filling into a greased 9″ baking pan or casserole dish. For crumble topping, mix together: 4 tablespoons softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and a pinch of salt. Bake as directed above. 

Cursive Schmursive: If It’s Legible, Who Cares?

If I were looking for a new job — I’m not, you know, but if I was — there’s a new skill I can add to my resume: Handwriting Translator.

Reason being, throughout the day students approach my desk and show me a yellow slip of paper. They ask in meek tone, one befitting Oliver Twist: “Please, ma’am, I don’t know what this says.”

Well, maybe not that Oliver Twistish. But you get my point.

The yellow slip is our school’s “student request pass”. The student’s name will be there, usually written clearly, we hope written clearly, the rest… well, the rest is a crapshoot. It might be written clearly. It might be like a doctor’s scribbling.

I do my best to decipher the note. Usually it’s from our Attendance department, sometimes the Nurse’s office. Back in my greenhorn days, I used to follow up with a polite email, suggesting the scribbler fill out the passes more carefully or give up cursive altogether. After all, most of our kids don’t read cursive.

I no longer do that. Reason being, it usually triggers a rant:

How come they don’t teach cursive anymore?!

Why in my day…

Everyone is so lazy nowadays!

Cursive handwriting is the hallmark of civilized society!

I usually enjoy seeing people on their high horse. It can be quite entertaining and worthy of a blog post or two. But after the fourth or fifth time around the track, even I grow tired of their raging.

Pity they don’t feel the same.

In any case, I’ve come to realize that people of a certain age, the age being somewhere on the far side of 40, tend to feel strongly about this issue.

Well, at least women do. I’ve not witnessed any men going off the deep end regarding cursive. Maybe they do. I’ve not seen it.

In any case, I’ve noticed the arguments for returning cursive to the curriculum range from the ridiculous:

“You’re more creative when you use cursive writing instead of a keyboard”

(Oh, if only Hemingway, Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, et. al., not insisted on using their typewriters! How much greater their works might have been!)

To the nostalgic:

“Remember those lined workbooks with the letters to trace? I loved those!”

I didn’t. As much as I tried to replicate the letters and follow their lines, my clumsy little hand would not cooperate.

And having to make such BIG letters too. The capitals absolutely insisted on touching both top and bottom lines. Not to be undone, several of the lower case demanded it too.

Cheeky little devils that they were.

Cursive alphabet

My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. McCullough, was not a patient woman. She rarely approved of my feeble attempts.

Ms. McCullough and me

It wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the fact several letters are battling identity issues.

The letter A, regretting her cross line and open bottom, caring little she represents my favorite article of apparel (A-line skirt), chucks it all away to look like an abnormal apple:

Cursive A

So too is S, no longer content with his smooth, sloping shape, chooses instead to shroud his silhouette.

Secretive little sneak:

Cursive S

G, ever the garrulous gent, decides he can’t give ground. He follows S’s guide and makes a point of it:

Cursive G

And what are we to make of Q? It’s shameless, really. Q, in her printed state, is round with a little tail; the cousin of O with a quirky flair.

Yet in script, she opts for something different, an queer and querulous affair:

Cursive Q

Yet none of that comes close to Z, that zany zealot who zigzags his way in print.

For cursive… well, at first he seems to copy Q. He zips onto the page, zeroes in toward the bottom and… what’s this? He zooms below the line, where he has no business being!

Cursive Z

Breaking all zoning laws!

You know what I think? I think Q and Z got together and hatched this devious plot!

“Why won’t they use us more in their writing?” Q queried. “I say we make them quiver and quake, every time they pick up their quill!”

“Zounds, Q, that’s zelicious!” And with that, Z zapped and zipped his shape in a most zesty fashion.

Q looked at him quizzically, but remained quiet.

For most of my early schooling, I disliked my handwriting. No, more than disliked. I actively despised my cursive skills. No matter how I tried, Mrs. McCullough’s elegant swoops and flourishes would never be mine.

Then sometime in high school, I was looking through old records and came across Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

Ignoring the cheesy mustache, I latched onto the words at the top.

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Look at those S’s folks! Sure, Z still gets down and dirty, but capital S remains true to form!

Only then did it occur to me how adults (as they do in so many things) throw out the rules and do what they want. I decided right then and there, Mrs. McCullough be damned, I’d write however I wanted.

Which is how I finally embraced my own version of handwriting (more like smushed together printing) and never looked back.

 

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All this is a long way of saying, I don’t think it’s a big deal students aren’t being taught cursive. Maybe you disagree with me. If you’re anything like the women I work with, I know you do.

I still say it’s not a big deal. If our youth want to learn cursive, they’ll figure it out just like my kids did. On their own, with no Mrs. McCullough breathing down their neck. There’s no age limit to acquiring it, and there are plenty of sites offering free lessons.

And of course, they can always make up their own rules.

As for the argument that it teaches them fine motor skills and helps brain development, art lessons and playing a musical instrument do that too. And I’d argue do a much better job of it.

Now as for students not being taught how to properly diagram a sentence?

My God people! When will the madness end?!

Diagram

Welcome to Our Church of Holy Introversion – Please Enter Quietly

Feel free to stay in the comfort of your own home and join us online. This, my fellow introverts, is your safe haven. 

Now let us gather together (not literally together, of course; we respect personal boundaries here), and recite our Opening Prayer of Introversion:

O Holy Silence and Quiet Interlude, we do seek you.
Please make our trembling hearts, which feel deeply, but discretely, Yours. Lead us to that still place within our souls, where we can find rest, and, if possible, keep the noisy people from talking for just one freakin’ minute.
We say all this in the name of the system we hold good and faithful and true, Dewey Decimal.
Amen.

And now it’s time for our first hymn. The words are printed in your bulletin if one was emailed to you, but if you don’t have one, no worries. They’re on the screen too.

As always, you can sing along if you want, or just think the words quietly to yourself. That works too.

I’ll Go Home
(sung to the tune of I’ll Fly Away)

Some glad moment when this party’s o’er,
I’ll go home (go home)
To my place where silence never ends,
I’ll go home (go home)

I’ll go on home, oh Glory
I’ll go home (go home)
When my ride is ready, “Bye and bye”
I’ll go home (go home)

Just a few more weary minutes then,
I’ll go home (go home)
No more mingling and faking friendliness,
I’ll go home (go home)

I’ll go on home, oh Glory
I’ll go home (go home)
When my ride is ready, “Bye and bye”
I’ll go home (go home)

Thank you, everyone. That was beautiful. Boy, those old standards always bring a tear to the eye, don’t they?

I’d like to point out that playing organ for us today (from the comfort of her own residence, of course), is Beatrice Milford from Lincoln, Nebraska. Thank you, Beatrice, for sharing your gifts with us, however privately.

Now it’s time for sharing our joys and concerns. If you have any you’d like to share, please type them in the box below. Don’t be shy.

Though if you are shy, that’s okay too.

Katy in Melbourne: I have a joy. Yesterday at work, my boss approved my request to work more from home. I start next week. Three days at home, two at the office. Hallelujah!

Joel in Austin: I have a concern. I’m a student and in two weeks, I have to give an oral report in my English Literature course. Please pray for me. Pneumonia would be nice. Or maybe a brief coma.

Felicity in Seattle: I just want to say how thankful I am for finding this church. I feel like this is a place where I can be myself, let my hair down and get crazy if I want to. Not that I want to. Well, you know what I mean.

Yes, we do, Felicity.

Thank you everyone for sharing. We also received a number of private messages from individuals not comfortable with voicing their concerns in a private forum. We respect that.

And now it’s time to recite our statement of faith:

We believe in the Triune Behavior of Introspection, Self-Awareness, and Not Speaking Until You’re Spoken To and Possibly Not Then Either.

We believe in Thinking Things Over for a Really, Really Long Time Before Acting on Them, and Then Thinking a Little Longer.

We believe a few trusted friends are far better than many friends, and we uphold every person’s right to refuse a hug when they don’t want to be hugged, and oh, if only everyone did.

We believe in the building of more libraries, the sanctity of quiet spaces, and the necessity of a kitty cat on our lap and/or a doggie at our feet.

Cat for an IntrovertWe believe in a Brooding Spirit,
The Holy Contemplation,
The Forgiveness of Faking Friendliness,
And the Joy of Creativity, forevermore.
Amen.

Now, before our final hymn, I’d like to draw your attention to a few events happening this week. As always, newcomers are encouraged to attend at any time, and remember, everything is offered online.

Of course.

Monday Podcast

Coping with Extraverts at Work: Strategies for Surviving Committee Meetings, Group Projects, and Coworkers with Pet Phrases

Tuesday Video Series

Establishing Boundaries – Handling the Extraverts in your Life, Episode 5: Violence is Not the Answer

Wednesday Webinar

Recluse or Hermit: Choosing the Right Lifestyle for You

Thursday Choir Meeting & Potluck

Please email our director, Winifred Placida, if you’re interested in joining. She’ll send you the music so you can sing from home. If you’d like to join the potluck, send us an email and we’ll give you the details once we figure them out.

Friday Book Club Meeting

Online discussion of the new book: I was an Extravert Wannabe – Confessions of a Closeted IntrovertIntroverted boy

We hope you’ll find time to join us for one or more of these activities. And remember, if you have any ideas for future events, please don’t hesitate to text us.

And now it’s time for our final hymn. I think you all know it. Beatrice, will you start us off, please? 

How Great’s My Home
(Sung to the tune of How Great Thou Art)

Verse 1: O Lord, my room, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all these four walls mean to me
I have my books, my laptop and my Netflix,
It’s all I need, for an evening of pure glee.

Chorus: Then sings my soul! I’m finally all alone:
How great’s my Home! How great’s my Home!

Then sings my soul, I’m finally all alone:
How great’s my Home! How great’s my Home!

Verse 2: When through the woods, and forest glades I wander
And read Thoreau, and hear about his beans,

He make good points, perhaps a bit pretentious,
Though I gotta say, his cabin sounds sweet to me.

(Chorus)

Verse 3: When a friend should come, to a point of understanding,
And drive me home, what joy shall fill my heart,
I’ll tell them thanks, and promise I’ll call them real soon,
And then proclaim, “My Home, how great thou art!”    

(Chorus)

Thank you all for joining us today. Please be sure to sign our guest book on your way out, and remember: There is nothing wrong with you! You are perfect just the way you are!

And now, let us all rise for the blessing:

May your books be plenty
And your interruptions few.
May no unwanted attention
Ever shine upon you.
May peace be in your home
May social obligations be few
And may the extroverts in your life
Finally start listening to you.

We’ll leave you today with a quote from our Patron Saint of Introverts, Greta Garbo:

I never said, “I want to be alone.” I only said, “I want to be let alone! There is all the difference.

And let all the Introverts say: Amen!

 

Note: The inspiration for this post came from Brian of Bonnywood, who very generously gave his permission for me to organize this Church, even though it was his idea.
Thank you, Brian!  🙂

Thoughts on Beauty, Pigeons, and Persian Cats

I was thinking about Beauty the other daythat’s Beauty with a capital Bwhen that Byron piece popped into my head:

She walks in beauty, like the night
               Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
        Meet in her aspect and her eyes

Actually, those exact words didn’t pop into my head. It was more like,

She walks in beauty like the… um… night
   Something, something… yada, yada…
How’s that go again?

So I Googled it and got the exact wording (see above, top).

Word on the street is that Lord Byron penned these words after seeing his cousin in her mourning dress. Even if black was her color, we can assume the dress wasn’t the reason for his rapture. (Though with Byron, anything goes.)

Third stanza:

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, 
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 
But tell of days in goodness spent, 
A mind at peace with all below, 
A heart whose love is innocent!

There was a woman I knew from my younger days, way back when, who I think illustrates Byron’s point to some extent. She went to our church.

Usually children never take much notice of older people unless they impact our lives in some way. Such as a neighbor lady who bakes cookies, or a friend’s mother who will back the cost of the ice cream man.

Children are selfish beasts that way.

Be that as it may, this particular woman I noticed. My mother was talking to her and as I stood to the side waiting — I never participated in any conversation willingly — I was struck by her brightly colored dress. Church ladies in those days typically chose subdued prints, such as a demure pastel floral. But this woman was wearing magenta.

Magenta!

Secondly, and more importantly, I noticed how happy the woman appeared. Most of the women of my acquaintance, the best you could hope for was that they were mildly pleasant. More often they were… shall we say, a little on edge. So much so that an empty juice glass set next to the sink, rather than in the sink, could send them off the deep end.

Yet this woman was smiling and cheerful and looked for all the world as though life was a wondrous thing to be savored and enjoyed. She was positively radiant.

Later I asked my mother who she was and was shocked to learn she had attended our church for several years. This was news to me. How was it I never noticed her before? Or her radiance?

“Oh, she didn’t use to be this way,” my mother replied.

I asked her what changed.

“Her husband died.”

And so you see? Lord Byron was right. Grief is a beautiful thing.

Continuing on our theme of Beauty, I met a pair of pigeons the other day.

They were enjoying a quiet respite in the grocery store parking lot, where someone had very thoughtfully dropped a milkshake and half-eaten container of french fries. The couple was partaking of the bounty.

As I passed, the male regarded me in that peculiar pigeon way they have, where they study your face very carefully and store the knowledge, as it may come in handy later.

He was a pretty boy and so I told him. I said, “Aren’t you a pretty boy.” Not as a question, you see, but as a declaration. For indeed, he was pretty. The top of his head was a shimmery purple and his breast had specks of green and black, with just a dash of gray. Truly, he was a pigeon among pigeons.

He showed no sign of false modesty after hearing my compliment. Birds never do. They don’t look down at their feathers as though to say, “Oh, these old things?” They simply accept your words as a matter of course.

Then I noticed his companion and frankly, I was shocked. With her scruffy grayish-brown feathers and dull aspect, she looked the bird equivalent of a woman in an oversized t-shirt and sweatpants.

And not a flattering oversized t-shirt and sweatpants, neither.

You would think that such a noble bird as he was, she would make more of an effort, wouldn’t you? But no, not her. She squatted in the midst of milkshake froth, a limp french fry dangling from her mouth.

Pigeon

Honestly. I was embarrassed for her.

And yet — and yet, people — it did nothing to diminish his admiration of her in any way. And that is the main thing.

For Love is a Beautiful thing. And blind. Terribly blind.

So if you’ve been paying attention, Beauty is both Sad and Lovely.

Yet there is another aspect to Beauty I think we must discuss, for it is something I learned from a Persian cat. And anything you learn from a Persian cat is something worth discussing.

Missy, for that was her name, the name of the Persian cat, was a gloriously beautiful, white cat.

All cats know they are beautiful, especially Persians. Even when they are not beautiful, cats know they are beautiful. This is a scientific fact.

Missy shared her home with a Cockapoo named Bubbles.

Yes, you read that right: Bubbles.

Bubbles was an embarrassment to the entire canine community. I knew it, Missy knew it, Bubbles knew it.

Bubbles was afraid of everything. The sound of the furnace kicking on sent her cowering to the corner. A sheet of paper flying off a table made her jump. The dog was a walking bundle of nerves.

So it probably didn’t help matters that Missy’s favorite form of entertainment was to sit on one side of a doorway and wait patiently, oh-so-patiently, until Bubbles entered the room. And then, floomph! Missy sprang out and Bubbles yelped, taking off in three different directions all at once, usually urinating in the process.

Meanwhile, Missy ambled away as though nothing happened, returning to her cushioned throne, where she would groom herself.

Persian cat

For Beauty is Cruel.

Beauty is Sad and Lovely and Cruel.

And thus ends my treatise on Beauty for today.

Bible Stories in Text: David & Bathsheba

You may not believe this, but I wrote this piece long before the news about a certain Hollywood producer hit the fan. But given the subject matter — a powerful man taking advantage of a powerless girl — it really shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Sigh.

For context, read II Samuel, chapter 11, verses 1-4 …

David and Bathsheba 1

David and Bathsheba 2David and Bathsheba 3David and Bathsheba 4David and Bathsheba 5

Four missed calls
Two voicemail