26 June 2006

Sweet Tea on the Porch

The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch swing with, never say a word, then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.
~ Unknown

There is nothing quite so comforting and relaxing as a wide front porch with a few good friends scattered here and there in rocking chairs and on banisters. When that porch is facing the Potomac River and it is a glorious June afternoon, even better.

Yesterday was just such an occasion. The friends were a group from my adopted parish and the porch belonged to a priest friend. After he said Mass for us (ad orientem no less!), the gentlemen fired up the grill and we ate burgers and avocado salad (heavenly!) while Father regaled us with tales of rolling deacons, good ol’ boy golfers and the like (if he had not been accepted by the sem I am sure he would have made his mark in Vegas as a stand up). ;-)

As odd as it may seem for a die hard Southerner such as myself, I grew up without a breezy front porch. It is more a stoop or a portico then an honest to goodness sittin’ and rockin’ Southerner front porch. Being thus deprived has not tainted me too much. I have set up 6 course dinners in the orchard, picnicked on the patio and served tea under the tall, matronly maples.

A couple of visits ago, Mom had mentioned wanting to add an honest to goodness porch on the front of the house. At the time, the atheistic in me said no – that is not going to go with the façade of the house (Federal, although we traced its history back to the early 1900’s). But after yesterday, I long for a front porch on which to sip a tall glass of sweet tea, with a fan in one hand and the current favorite cookbook in the other. Now I wonder if there is some way of making that wish a reality without ruining the clean lines of the existing façade.

Until then, I will have to content myself with sitting with friends anywhere and everywhere we find a comfortable and inviting spot. And in the end, that is what a porch is for ~ a place for creating memories, sharing old ones and sipping sweet tea within the warm embrace of friendship and a warm Southern night.

Oremus pro invicem,

19 June 2006

Unanswered Questions

I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand.
~Leonardo da Vinci

…..and by the end of my sojourn, I had written a new song. In minor key (of course) and about forgetting the ones who love you the most and the need for forgiveness. At any speed, life enables us to just fly by, sometimes not connecting with those we love for perhaps days or weeks at a time.

For those of us who have a seemingly insurmountable difficulty in expressing the deep, passionate feelings we harbor for loved ones in the depths of our soul, this disconnect happens all too often. I think of friends and loved ones all the time but that rarely becomes translated to words ~ either written or spoken. If I am very blessed, it does flow out into lyrics and melody, but even then, can be shaded in metaphor, the depths remaining unplumbed.

How much of this is the result of the overwhelming weight of living life day to day? How much is the result of the heart’s reluctance to open itself up to being misunderstood at best or ridiculed at worst? It is very easy to say that a life lived in fear is a life half-lived. That it is better to open oneself up and risk it all for one taste of heaven then to live closed and never taste the rain….or the sun. But is the pain really worth it?

This new song provides no answers. Only asks more questions. And begs forgiveness.

Oremus pro invicem,

14 June 2006

Adventures in Adversity

Never shall I forget the time I spent with you.
Please continue to be my friend, as you will always find me yours.
~ Ludwig Van Beethoven

The test of a true friendship is adversity. And if that friend who rides through adversity with you can also turn that ride into an adventure, then surely his friendship is true.

My dear friend Sinjin was in town this past weekend for a mutual friend’s ordination. It had been almost a year since I saw him last and our correspondence has been at best sporadic and at worst non-existent. This is not too surprising considering that we are both very busy and happen to live two states apart. But we were thicker than tea leaves in a Royal Doulton tea cup in our undergrad days. So we were ecstatic that we would have at least a few hours here and there to go over old memories and make new ones.

We decided to leave the ordination reception fairly early and since we had about five hours to kill until the dinner reception that night, we went out for a somewhat more substantial lunch. I do not cater those receptions; ergo food is not made for Cox’s Army, but rather for their pet birds!

After driving around Arlington for a few blocks, we settled on Tara Thai on Fairfax Drive. If you have not been there, go. The décor is a tad bright and strange but the food is unbelievable. At one point, Sinjin pointed to the pendant lights, made to look like tiny jellyfish, saying that he first thought they were extremely dusty!

After a wonderful lunch (it was surprising we were able to eat anything we were laughing so much!), we headed to Old Towne Alexandria to kill time. We got quite a few stares as Sinjin was wearing his cassock. Too bad he didn’t have his biretta with him! Or even better, his cappello romano! :-)

We sat on the marina and continued to talk about our college escapades, absent college friends and his thoughts on Rome. We laughed quietly at PDAing couples who would glance over at him right after engaging in some very wet romantic clutches. In unison, we sighed, rolled our eyes and wondered aloud who they were trying to convince, us or themselves? People watching is such a hoot! Honestly, folks, put that mess away! ;-)

Realizing that it was almost time to be at the dinner reception, we walked quickly back to the car. And this is when our real adventure began. The dear Ukaristmobile would not start. Not after Sinjin blessed it. Nor after he cursed it. Nor after I prayed desperately to St. Joseph. Sinjin and I turned to stare at each other in dismay. This was not good.

After a few phone calls, Di and Scotti, two of my housemates, came to our rescue. First, we tried hooking the car up to automotive CPR. This did not work. Not even after running Di's engine for over thirty minutes. Several gentlemen came by and took a look under the hood, but to no avail. Scotti kindly called AAA for a tow and then we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
At this point I was on the verge of tears and a migraine. The inner workings of cars are beyond the ken of this damsal and I believe it is one of the many responsibilities that are best left to the stronger sex. On top of this feeling, I felt terrible that Sinjin was missing the reception. He however, proved his friendship by turning to me and saying, “Well, I am not terribly upset to be stuck here ~ at least it gives us more time to spend together, albeit not in the way we had planned!”

All in all, it was a glorious evening to be marooned in Old Towne ~ the weather was on its best behavior. The four of us took turns babysitting the car ~ Sinjin and I walked to Starbucks (have you tried the Blackberry Green Tea Frappacino? Decadent!) and Di and Scotti went to Ben and Jerry’s. With the car doors open to take advantage of a sweet June breeze off the Potomac and the CD player blasting opera, I said a prayer of thanksgiving for gift of friends ~ especially steadfast and true ones! They turn adversity into adventure. :-)

Oremus pro invicem,