As you know, Batman, I was very busy Thursday through Sunday with Holy Week and Easter. I served at the Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening services, all of which were over two hours long, I think. I got to read the Exodus passage about the parting of the Red Sea at the Saturday evening Easter Vigil Mass, which vies with the pre-midnight Christmas Mass as the longest of the year. It was tricky carrying either a torch (which is to say, an oil-filled candle on a stick) or crucifix solemnly through the church, process to the labyrinth for a number of baptisms, and stand or kneel before the altar at the appropriate times, AND document all those services photographically without being crass or inappropriate. I didn't really get all the pictures I wanted, but I think I struck a reasonable balance, and nobody seemed to mind my getting out the camera from time to time. In fact, a number of parishioners seemed rather amused by it.
Nevertheless I felt a little out of sorts by the end of Easter Vigil, feeling I hadn't quite managed to do everything adequately. The day had started with my missing Father Smith when I tried to go to confession, and more or less ended with my discovery that I'd gone all through Mass with the snap at the collar of my alb unfastened. There were also a few moments during the Mass when I guessed incorrectly where to stand and when. There's a certain improvisational spirit to some of the ritual at times, when Father Smith or Proscovia wants to do something special at a particular service; they issue instructions but they're not always fully detailed, or I don't always fully understand them. But I do my best, and try to keep the younger acolytes on task as well.
|From Lent at St. Michael's 2009|
One cool thing about the Vigil, though. It had been raining off and on since 2 AM the previous night. I wasn't even able to take the dogs to the dog park before church because of the rain. Father Smith reported later that people had asked him all day what was going to happen if it rained that evening. Easter Vigil starts outside with the lighting of a small fire from which the Paschal candle is lit. Halfway through the Mass, there's also a baptism, this year involving I think six or seven baptismal candidates, both children and adults. They are baptized outside in the baptismal pool, a little jacuzzi-like pool recessed beneath the center of the church's labyrinth, and covered up the rest of the year. Would we all be standing in the rain at Easter Vigil, trying to keep our candles lit? That's what everyone wanted to know. But the rain stopped for the bit at the beginning of Mass, and again just before we went outside for the baptisms. Within a couple of minutes after coming back inside after the baptisms, we could hear rain pounding on the church roof.
Sunday morning I left the house early to pick up a tank of gas, Kevin and Eva, in that (chronological) order. Eva, who will be 104 years old in May, had misremembered her 9:30 AM pick up time (for the 10:15 AM Mass) as 7:30 AM, and had waited outside for us for some time. Standing around in a parking lot is rather taxing when you're 103, and normally alternate between a cane and a wheelchair. Fortunately, an attendant brought out a chair for her to sit on after a while.
By the time we arrived, she had long since given up on us and was inside playing solitaire. I got to re-learn how to fold a wheelchair as we got her to Mass. Everyone was delighted to see her (she hadn't been to our church since Christmas), and she even made a few new friends. So did I. There was a guy at our table at coffee hour, first name Wright. The eldest of the newly-baptized folks from Easter Vigil was chatting with Eva, and set a small bag of assorted Easter candy on the table for the rest of us to devour. Wright, Mary, Kevin and I got quite silly as we grabbed the malt ball eggs and chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and candy bunnies and chickies.
Back at Eva's independent living apartment at a local senior facility, we chatted and I gave her a metal bookcase I've had since college. It had been in the trunk of my car since January, at least. Kevin had wanted to go to The Good Egg to treat himself to Easter brunch, since his father is awaiting triple bypass surgery (which will be at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix) and is obviously not well enough to go out for holiday meals. By the time we left Eva's, though, the restaurant was half an hour from their afternoon closing time. We ended up at Bruegger's Bagels, where my "Easter brunch" consisted of an everything bagel with ham, egg and cream cheese. It was good, too.
It was at about this time that I realized I'd left my red jacket hanging up in the sacristy, the sort of dressing room/supply room for clergy and acolytes. The church was long-since locked up by then, and the office was to be closed on Easter Monday. Drat!
When I got home around 2:30 in the afternoon, John was asleep. As goofy as my sleep schedule is, John's is relatively sane, but still wonky at times. We didn't do the candy thing or any other Easter observance together, since he's both an atheist and anti-sugar. But we had a pleasant evening with chicken wings and tv.
I just skipped over the weirdest part of the day. Let me tell you about it.
Not the same evening, but you get the idea.
What with Easter, tv, John and the chicken wings, I forgot to take the dogs to the dog park until quite late, about 7 PM instead of 5:30 or 6 PM. I didn't want to "cheat" them out of a dog park visit for the third time in a week, so we went anyway, arriving more or less at dusk. Just outside the double gate at the Picnic Place entrance to Miko's Corner Playground, five children were hanging out, with no adult in sight. They asked whether they were allowed in the dog park, and I let them come in with me and the dogs.
The dogs and I spent the better part of an hour with the kids, who ranged in age from about 6 to 10. One little girl offered to carry the dogs' leashes for me, and a little boy asked to throw away a filled poop bag, and to get me a fresh one when Cayenne squatted again. They all wanted to ask lots of questions about dogs in general, and Cayenne and Pepper in particular, such as what kind of dog Pepper was, whether they knew how to fetch balls and "shake," and what was the red dog's name again? They'd never heard of cayenne pepper. One little boy told me he's drawn an alien with a dog's head, and asked whether aliens were real. Another boy had a dog when he was one year old, and wanted another now that he was 10 and dogless. I heard about a neighborhood chihuahua named Chico, and how two of the kids used to be scared of dogs and weren't any more. Pepper surprised me by allowing the kids to pet her repeatedly, as did Cayenne, although Cayenne gave a warning snap at the air when one boy got a little rough toward the end. I showed them about cleaning up after dogs, and told them a little about the history of dogs and why there are so many different kinds of them in different shapes and sizes.
Eventually it occurred to the kids to let their adults know where they were; they'd told them they were going to the duck pond. A kid went and checked in, and a woman returned with her briefly to cope out the situation and make sure everything was okay. Soon after that, the kids went to rejoin their families, and the dogs and I went home.
At 2:30 AM Sunday night/Monday morning, I decided that the few bits of candy at the church's coffee hour constituted insufficient Easter decadence, so I headed over to a 24-hour Walgreen's, site of many a last-minute holiday shopping trip. The Easter candy had not yet been discounted, but I treated myself to a 69 cent chocolate bunny and one of those chocolate-and-coconut birds' nests with jelly beans for eggs. Somehow the cashier and I ended up discussing politicians. She was trying to win a contest to go to Washington DC and meet Bill Clinton's campaign manager, James Carville, because she wants a career as a political adviser. She went on to tell me that when she was 11 years old, she and her family had a personal encounter with Clinton just as they'd run out of film and the press was leaving a campaign event. One of her little brothers was crying, and Clinton asked him why.
"My brother hit me!" the kid complained.
Bill Clinton picked up the little boy, said something to cheer him, and set him down again. A moment later he was gone, off to his helicopter ride to wherever he was scheduled to go next. The family checked all the press reports, but nobody reported the incident or took a picture.
I deliberately stayed up the rest of the night so that I could stop by the church first thing in the morning, hoping to retrieve my jacket. There was a Morning Prayer scheduled, which I misremembered as a mass. I timed my arrival for the end of the supposed service, but when I got there the place was deserted and the church was locked. As I turned to head slowly back to the car, Father Smith came in sight, to say Morning Prayer for Easter Monday. I became his one-woman congregation for this, and afterward he heard my confession as well. I got to retrieve my jacket, and we even discussed the mechanics of health savings accounts, something John has been threatening to go over in detail with me for the past month.
Aside from all that, I've successfully registered for the Federal extension of my unemployment, followed up on John's insistence that Craig's List has job listings for accountants (they do, sort of, but nothing that's remotely applicable to me or unlisted elsewhere), read through 4 1/2 Harry Potter books, done some stuff online, and very nearly finished my Auditing section of the CPA review course. I also picked up my previous, unfixed camera from Geek Squad. It's dead, Jim.
And tonight I discovered that the reason I've been having major computer slowdowns lately is that the hard drive was almost full. So I spent a couple hours copying most of my 2009 photos onto both external hard drives and organizing them, so that I could them delete my unedited photos from February and March from the C: drive. Meanwhile, of course, I've taken and edited a bunch more pictures, at church and elsewhere.
Give me another day or so, and I should be able to get caught up on my blogging. First up: my somewhat delayed entry for the Ellipsis Monday. Photo Shoot.
But first I'll sleep, I think!