Merry Christmas, Beloved

VAnce

In the movie The Preacher’s Wife, Courtney B. Vance plays the discouraged Rev. Henry Biggs, who is helped by an angel. At the climax of the movie, the redeemed reverend gives a rousing Christmas sermon that begins with the word “Beloved.”

I love that movie. It contains the handsome Denzel Washington as Dudley the angel and Whitney Houston as the reverend’s wife. The story is as uplifting as the music.

Beloved.

It’s an old-fashioned word that goes beyond the word “love.”

Love gets around. It slips out in place of “goodbye” with a hug, on telephone calls, in emails and cards.

We “love” food and music, books and movies. We “love” people who are fun to be with. We sometimes “love” our work.

Beloved goes beyond that. It’s intimate, more than love.

It’s hugging your daddy, your face pressed against his white t-shirt and smelling cigarette smoke and Vitalis.

It’s the glances exchanged in the car, when you can’t believe this wonderful person is still sitting next to you after 40 years of growing up together.

It’s a grandchild, almost as big as you, crawling up on your lap for a snuggle

And beloved is of God.

The Bible tells us that we are God’s sons and daughters. We are His beloved. That most intimate of loves.

In his movie sermon, the Rev. Biggs says to look at face of someone you love is to see the face of God.

I see you.

Merry Christmas, Beloved.

 

 

We’re grounded

20181217_101051That’s right.

Joe and I will be spending our winter in Pittsburgh. Not a bad place to be, but not the sunny Texas gulf shores we had planned on.

Here’s how we got here.

After being on his feet for more than 30 years are as a retail manager and then a teacher, Joe has varicose veins.  This fall they started acting up while we were on the beach in North Carolina. He went to a doc in the box who recommended he visit a vein clinic.

He put it off. We were already scheduled to spend three weeks in Pittsburgh around the holidays where we had doctor appointments scheduled.

The doc at the Pittsburgh vein clinic evaluated Joe’s legs and recommended an out patient procedure. He could do it and Joe would be good to go in a week. But, that old ugly insurance raised its head.

The insurance company wants Joe to wear compression stockings for 12 weeks before it will even consider the surgery.  And the doc said the clotting in Joe’s legs is so severe he doesn’t want him to drive long hours.

That means we’re grounded, in a campground, in Pennsylvania, in the winter.

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We could skirt the camper with sliver insulating panels and buy lots of propane. I could wrap my self in throws and sit in the dark with the shades pulled to keep warm.

I mean, we could do it. But I wouldn’t be happy.

Joe’s mantra has always been “Happy wife, happy life.”

So we began looking for a short-term rental apartment, an expensive proposition. We found one in the city, near a park and children’s museum. It had a gym and  dog park. It would even take Nikki and Pocket, for a fee.

We put down a deposit and paid an application fee. Then the nice young rental agent wanted a picture of the dog, for the insurance company. The complex restricts dogs. They don’t accept “lock jaw dogs,” like pitbulls.

Nikki is a lab mix rescued from the pound. She has blue eyes, which makes us think she has some husky in her. She’s also 13 years old, sleeps a lot and is such a scaredy cat she runs when you jangle your keys.

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The insurance company wanted us to guarantee her breed. There was a lot of faxing and phone calls back and forth with the vet. Bottom line, no one can tell you what the mix is and we’re out of an apartment.

Plan B.

Luckily, my son-in-law is part of a co-working space co-op called Work Hard Pittsburgh, which has an apartment above its space. The tenant is scheduled to move out Jan. 1. The co-op has kindly allowed us to rent the apartment for a short time and they don’t care what kind of dog we have.

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We’re three minutes away from my daughter, who has gym equipment and a washer- dryer in her house. There’s a park near by. And my cousins have graciously said they will allow us to park the motor home on their horse farm.

So, Jan. 1 we move in above an old hardware store. We’re reliving college. We don’t have a bed, a couch, a table or a lamp. We’re buying a futon and borrowing the rest.

We’ll be warm and close to family. If you have to be grounded, there’s no place I’d rather be than Pittsburgh.

Happy wife, happy life.

 

 

 

Lincoln, Starry Night and Route 66

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We took a wrong turn in Pontiac, Illinois and ended up viewing art work worthy of public art in New York, Chicago or Philadelphia.

The three tall metal sculptures called “Seasons of Life” were located in a playground in this small city in Central Illinois. They depict three eras of life: childhood, young adulthood and old age. We wouldn’t have seen them if we hadn’t stayed in Pontiac for three weeks.

We were in Pontiac to work with NOMADS, a Methodist mission group that travels around the country rebuilding churches and camps or doing disaster relief. We were in Pontiac to repaint a senior citizen’s facility.

That’s one of the things I like about our new lifestyle. We travel to new places and stay long enough to get to know a community with all its little quirks.

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I doubt there are many places like Pontiac, a city of just 13,000. You reach it either by driving on Interstate 55 or on two-lane roads stretching for miles through corn and soybean fields, which is what we did. Two-lanes give you a real feeling for just how far out there the middle of America is.

The city doesn’t look like much. There’s a Caterpillar plant and the county court house, a couple of restaurants. But this little place supports four museums, all free, plus several house museums. That’s a lot of museums for a small town. There’s even a free trolley to take you around, but really it’s so small you could probably walk it.

Route 66, in all its forms, runs through Pontiac, and the town capitalizes on it big time.

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It hosts a Route 66 Museum and Hall of Fame, a Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center and The Bob Waldmire Experience (celebrating a man who traveled Route 66 handing out literature).

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The Livingston County War Museum and the Life in the 1940s Exhibit are in the same building.  I was drawn to the dozens of newspapers from around the world that showed the run up to Pearl Harbor and its aftermath. And for some odd reason there is a recreation of an old radio station.

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The city also hosts a Museum of Gilding Arts, which is the art of pounding gold or silver into into extremely thin sheets that are used for decorating.

The city boasts Murals on Main Street where people have also installed kiddie cars painted to look like Transformers, Lincoln and Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

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We walked part of the Lincoln Trail,  which goes from the courthouse where the president practiced law as a young attorney to the house were he stayed for two weeks after a snow storm stopped the trains from running and kept him from returning to Springfield, Illinois.

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And we walked across one of the three antique swinging bridges across the Vermilion River that used to bring workers from their homes on one side of the city to jobs on the other.

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Then on the last day a wrong turn took us to the Seasons of Life Statues, public art worthy of the Met in a playground.

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What odd things have you found on your travels?