Tag Archives: Friends

Effie and Hormisdas: Are They Courting?

I sensed Effie’s need for a friend, and approached Heidi with the idea that perhaps her Hormisdas and Effie could be friends. The time-space issues would probably mean little to them. Heidi and I live 1,843.2 miles apart. We have sustained an abiding bond for 10 years. We have never met in person, and neither of us has the gumption to travel.

Effie is very lively, while Hormisdas is actually quite stuffy. He lives with an equally stuffy snow leopard named R. Aloysius. Heidi and I believe that kinetic Effie and stuffy Hormisdas–and perhaps R. Aloysius as well–might develop long-distance amity toward one another. Heidi and I and our husbands have all been very good friends for a decade. Of course we would be thrilled if “the kids” reached across space as well.

P1010957Effie is an explorer of everything in her world.


IMG_20160203_114736Hormisdas surveys his world from the vantage of his majestic living room.

P1010958Effie likes jungle environments.

IMG_20160526_102749_956 (3) RAlyHormisdas likes beds. Here he helps R. Aloysius find his lost tie tack.


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White gnat anniversary

I remembered yesterday that September 24 marked the fifth anniversary of our cross-state move to our present home. The sudden appearance of hordes of white gnats must have triggered a subliminal memory.

My husband remembered that the massing gnats were here when we arrived. I didn’t; I recall seeing them a couple of years after our arrival, but I only remembered the bazillions of black house flies that were in the house when we got here. They were everywhere. Their dead filled interior window tracks, their living swarmed in every room, and everywhere outdoors. Fly City.

The only thing as unhinging as the flies was the presence of our home’s previous owners and their three yappy little dogs. Oh, and the indoor bunnies. The smells were overwhelming.

A swarm of flies the size of New Jersey—well, that’s life in Eastern Washington. Our home’s former owners requiring another few hours to move out with their malodorous creatures was a tad more trying.

We were exhausted. We arrived between 4:00 and 4:30 PM. Closing had been final at noon. We expected to move in when we arrived–the house legally was ours. It was after 7 PM before the former owners were out. They were moving a few miles away, in the same area. We had been on the road since 9 AM, with our diabetic cat.

Much earlier, our realtor had assured us the former owners had packed their trailer and were departing. We saw no evidence of what she saw. She had promised us she would do a walkthrough inspection. It didn’t happen; or again, we didn’t see what she saw.

Offsetting the cheer-hindering presence of flies, scofflaw former owners, and their yappy dogs (the bunnies at least were quiet), was the presence of our new pastor and another member of our new church and his daughter. They had come to help us move in. Not only did they carry things into the house from our vehicle and the U-Haul truck driven by other friends; they also pulled up animal-urine-saturated carpet for the rest of the evening.

The following day, most of the members of our new church came and helped clean out cupboards, clean virtually every interior surface, hang sticky fly strips (two of us got our hair caught in the same fly strip—kind of a girl-bonding thing), and basically making the house sufficiently livable to spend the next six months overhauling it entirely.

Another heartening welcome came unexpectedly from Home Depot. We needed a new stove and refrigerator immediately; the ones in the house were too disgusting to use. It was Saturday, and Home Depot didn’t make Saturday deliveries. Two employees stepped forward and said they would deliver the new stove and refrigerator with one’s own truck. They were wonderful to do this, and we still and will always greet them as family when we see them at HD.

Six months with our stuff in boxes wasn’t very long, considering that my attorney husband put in new hardwood floors, new kitchen cabinets, new lighting, and other improvements; we had new windows installed, friends helped us with interior and exterior painting. . .may God grant that I will never forget who did what.

We’re home and we love it here.

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Judith Ellen

Like Christ, you were a better friend
to me than I to you;
you knew
this and endured the defects of my amity:
What else could you?

From my comfortable vantage I could call
your episodes dramatic;
Was my heart toward you at all —
was it fictive, or pragmatic?

How could I know your life so soon would
find a portal to its egress?
My unbelief could count you frail,
but mortal not confess.
Death brings us hard things to address;
and time, so little progress.

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Birthday massacres and other happy thoughts

As most people who know me know, I’m really very spontaneous as long as nothing upsets my routine. My birthday is no exception to the no disruption in my routine rule. Thursday morning invariably finds my husband and me cleaning our house, and me shopping while he operates the vacuum cleaner, which must exceed OSHA noise level standards by at least 100 dB. Having already cleaned the bathrooms, done the laundry, dusted objects, and consolidated the trash so I could take it out later and clean the kitchen trash can, I set out for Wal-Mart. It struck me as an odd place to be on the occasion of my birthday, but it was actually quite pleasant.
I withstood the notion of going to Albertsons for cooked tail-on shrimp, because the cool, overcast day made the idea of chicken soup seem more agreeable. I didn’t need festive foods to force myself to celebrate a birthday. I felt happy, contemplating the multitude of blessings God’s good hand has brought since my last birthday: our move to the place we found so much to our liking while on our honeymoon; my congenial correspondence with Heidi’s stuffed dog, Hormisdas; and the fulfillment of many other happy aspirations. And if this were not enough, cleaning my house and shopping at Wal-Mart beats the birthday parties of the Bible hands down.

The Bible chronicles two birthday parties, neither of which is awfully good press for the concept of birthday parties. Pharoah celebrated his by hanging his baker; and Herod, having made an idiotically indulgent promise to a stripper (okay, there may be a little eisegesis there), highlighted his birthday fête with the decapitation of John the Baptist.

Remembering the birthday parties of my childhood doesn’t dredge up very pleasant memories either. I typically got sick eating too many hard-frosting flowers and bluebirds, the birthday child’s portion of the birthday cake. And I wasn’t exactly a Pin the Tail on the Donkey ace. As soon as I was blindfolded and spun around, I could wander off anywhere. I think it was my fifth birthday, and the donkey was on the front door, a few feet in front of me. Someone spun me around, and I wandered off into the den, which was at the other end of the house, and triumphantly pinned my paper donkey tail to my mother’s desk. When I removed my blindfold, wondering what sort of delightful prize I had won, everyone burst into uproarious laughter. I smiled and smiled and accepted the booby prize, a little metal car that would probably now bring the price of a tank of gas on eBay. Not everyone is good at everything.

Friend Laurie just e-mailed a greeting that included, “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord and he never leads us astray or on a blind path.” A great reminder, and maybe somewhat vindicating as well. I think the chiefest way to go astray is to celebrate ourselves. I celebrate Laurie, who has lived for decades with the most compromised health of anyone I know, while ministering to many. And I celebrate my husband and our church, and all the friends, and the animals, living and stuffed, who sustain my cheer and perspective. My doctor just gave me a good report, saying I am good for another 30,000 miles, until my next tune-up. He has no idea how many alignments I need and receive between tune-ups.

And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. — Psalm 39:5


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Such a friend

When our pastor let us know Tuesday that Mark had died earlier that very morning, I knew that none of the multitude of lives he had touched would ever be the same. Particularly in his home church–our former home church–his absence would leave a crater. And that is because every single person Mark loved — and I think this was nearly everyone he knew — Mark prayed for. And Mark’s prayers, we can all be certain, brought grace to our lives.

Mark was a far, far better friend to me than I was to him. And I’m not the only one: I think every single person who was blessed to know Mark was Mark’s friend, and Mark was a better friend to all of them than any could be to him. His wife Sharon told me yesterday she thought this was true too, even for herself. How could anyone be as good friend to Mark as he was to them? Mark had a very special gift this way. I have never known anyone who could confront with love the way Mark did. The Word of God was his breath. The church of God was his life. His family was his reward. I think this lovely descriptor that J. I. Packer applies to John Owen applies to Mark as well: “a traveler on earth who grasped God like one in heaven.”

And so, as my husband noted, now Mark, my brother, my first friend in heaven, knows who really wrote Hebrews. Worthy is the Lamb. . . .


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It’s like Christmas!

Rather suddenly, all the boxes are gone from our living room; our furniture is in place, books packed away six months are on shelves, and our house has an appealing lived-in look. Today I found my Fiesta spoon rest, and my Bible cases, one of which contained the notes of my checkbook math demonstrating that Adam was still alive on earth into the lifetime of Noah’s father, Lamech, and that Noah lived into Abraham’s 50s. I unpacked my deerskin drum and displayed it on the dictionary shelf. Only pictures, and a few other gratuitous things one moves from home to home wondering why, remain in boxes in our office closets. What a joy it was, slashing open these boxes, revisiting our books, and having them in our sight and available to our touch again.

This revolutionary climax in our transition phase was made possible by my husband installing baseboard molding in the living room yesterday so the bookshelves could be placed against the walls, and the good eye of our friend Brenda, who came over to help us determine placement for the furniture. Brenda and her husband have issues with their own home similar to ours: a small space, fairly massive pieces of furniture, and a preference for a lot of open space. They have such a good sense of how to use their space and still preserve liberal traffic patterns that I asked Brenda to help us with ours. And so she did, with good cheer and fresh from her of new record-breaking workout. Our furniture is in place, we have room to move around with access to everything, and I even got to keep my coffee table.

I’m still unsure what to do with all the pictures. I haven’t missed them at all, but now, with things in place, I think I will at least need Jane’s cat needlepoints, and possibly my Chinese watercolor up. The old Bozeman Sweet Pea Festival poster in its copper frame is a weak maybe. The ancestral photo gallery is close to out of the question and will likely live in a box in the closet for a while. Perhaps indefinitely. As for the rest, a box in the shop might be a good home for an indeterminate while.

As of last Wednesday, I have enjoyed finished kitchen counters of porcelain tile, completely grouted. My husband has been putting in six-day weeks for most of the past three months on a complete overhaul of our house. Lots of trim molding remains to be put in place around baseboards, windows, and ceilings; two bathrooms remain to be gutted and new fixtures installed; a new roof awaits a warm spell, the shop needs to be wired, and we might still replace the bedroom Pergo floor so the new bamboo floor in the closet doesn’t outclass it. But our livability index has gone from happily endurable to joyfully near luxurious. We are so grateful for all of God’s kind provisions in seeing us through all of this, always with the good help and encouragement of our old and new friends.

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