Let It Snow!

So we’ve had our first real shovel-able snow this past week and there are animal tracks in the snow that I can’t identify. I’ve described them to a few friends but they are stumped, too. I’m going to take some pictures of the tracks and send them to the Wisconsin DNR; they like to identify things like that.

Last night’s story reading on WPCA-FM was a story called “Betsy”, a tale about a gun named Betsy and about a protagonist trying to understand the link between narcism and paranoia. It’s one of my longer stories, clocking in at around 32 minutes but I was struck anew about how the sense of danger builds from page to page and, of course, the ending is a surprise–at least that what readers have told me.

I’m writing this just after finishing our third Zoom Bible study session with members of the Wolf Creek United Methodist Church. With the exception of me, the group is all women. They are smart, savvy and willing to engage in a study that keeps injecting new thoughts into our spiritual minds and I appreciate them.

I’ll share a cute thing from last week: I was putting the finishing touches on a new story and one always wants to be accurate in the writing, so since there is a priest in the story I wanted to make sure I knew what Roman Catholics call the priest’s residence. So I called Sally Christiansen, the Administrator at Our Lady Of The Lakes Parish over in Balsam Lake. I said, “I know it’s not a parsonage and it may be a rectory, but what do you call the residence you provide for your priests?” Sally said, “It is a rectory.” Then, after a pause, she said, “Are you thinking about converting?” I love it!

More snow is forecast for tomorrow and my shovel has been used and is ready for more. Tomorrow is a Zoom conference with the Northwest District’s pastors; then I have to prepare a list of prayers and people we pray for on Sunday; I need to bring more logs closer to the house for the wood stove; and then do a little spit-and-polish to be ready for lunch guests here on Friday. Our guests are a couple from a congregation I pastored 13 years ago. I was there for 11 years, which is fairly long for many pastorates, and some people become friends that you can keep up with after you leave. Yes, as a pastor you can’t have “favorites”, but you can keep friends after you leave; you’re just never their pastor again because if the church is still there and they still belong to that church, they have a pastor and it’s not you.

Son Aaron flies in from Portugal next week, or at least that’s the plan and with COVID all plans can be dicey. He’ll be here for a month and his siblings are trying to put together a family gathering while he’s in town. I gather he’ll zip off to California while he’s here to pick up a painting my mother gave him for his college graduation years ago that has been held for him in San Francisco. He’ll also stop in the L.A. area to check in with a major client of his and maybe even see some of our relatives in that area. We are looking forward to his visit. He likes to “jam” so I’ve been working to rehabilitate my guitar playing callouses because I know he’ll want us to play together. It has been good to pick up the old instrument again. It’s a guitar made in Mexico and I’ve had it since I was 14 years old. I bought it for $10 from a kid who’d had it at the beach and cracked the bow. My Mom found an old violin maker in downtown L.A. who did a superb repair job (you couldn’t see a trace of the former break). While the guitar doesn’t have a hole like Willie Nelson’s guitar, it is plenty worn where holes eventually appear and I’ve used it in coffeehouses around the country, in various churches, and to lead worship. However, since retirement, my old friend has seen little use. After playing at a nursing home event, a guy from Dresser named Roger repaired the top that was separating so now it’s good again. We’ll see how the riffs go; Aaron has sent me some clips of his playing and he’s pretty good. But then, he’s one of those people that can take an instrument and make good sounds in a short time. It doesn’t matter whether you bang it, blow into it, strum it, pluck it, or create it electronically, he can be credible quickly. Example: at age 12, with just a few lessons, playing cello he did a duet in the Siren UMC church with the church organist. What a nice and unusual gift! His electronic music has taken him all over the globe. It will be good to see him.

All of the above about Aaron is not to slight anyone else in the family. With her sixth CD out, Alice’s kids are old enough now that she can do a small amount of touring, so she’s had recent shows down in Georgia, North Carolina, her old stomping grounds of Nashville, Michigan, Wisconsin and in the Chicago area. She was able to bring along her daughter Samantha, age 9, to her show last week just north of Milwaukee and said it was fun to have such good companionship. A few months ago I had someone introduce me as the “father of a world famous singer-songwriter”. That may be so, but she’s still Kid Number Three.