Choose something like a star

•August 12, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes it all works out, and that’s why I’m smiling today, even though my back aches and my eyelids are drooping.  Standing in the middle of the street at 2 a.m., staring up at the sky for an hour, will do that to you.  But oh, what a thrill when a sudden streak of silver arcs down the sky, as the Perseids meteor shower offers its annual celestial spectacular!  Too many years,  the Kentuckiana night skies are cloudy, rainy, and/or swelteringly hot and humid ; but this year we’ve been blessed with clear skies and perfect temperatures.  There weren’t even any mosquitoes — just a few fireflies trying in vain to compete with the sky show.  Earlier in the evening, the bright moon offered a challenge, but provided some impressive views of its own as it converged with Jupiter in the southern sky — and by the time the Perseids went into high gear, the moon and planet had sunk behind the “horizon” of neighborhood trees, leaving me to savor the sensory joys of deep night under the stars.  I had to force myself to go indoors, still smiling.

Ever since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by the night skies.  Maybe it was my father’s influence, as he brought home all the science fiction pulp magazines, which I found even more enchanting than my favorite fairytales.  It was the Golden Age of sci-fi, Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, Asimov, and so many others; and it marked me forever.  My schoolmates ridiculed me for insisting we’d land on the moon in our lifetime.  No humans have reached Mars as yet, but the robots have made it, so it shouldn’t be too long before our descendents get there.  

Growing up in Wisconsin was an advantage — there were grandiose displays of Northern Lights which I took for granted until we moved south.  Oh, there’s an occasional showing here, but nothing to compare with the blazing, pulsating sights that –alone among astronomical phenomena — gave true meaning to the word “awesome.”  Lunar and solar eclipses round out my list of celestial favorites.  Occasionally I’ve had to drive  into the country,  away from city lights and tall trees, to park along a deserted road, hang my head out the car window, and wait as the shadow crept across the moon’s face. 

The Perseids peaked early this morning but there will be plenty of action for several more days.  It’s a happy coincidence that Olympics coverage goes past midnight, the fine weather is forecast to continue, and so you can catch some starry acts overhead to complement what’s going on overseas.

Hitched

•August 2, 2008 • 2 Comments

It’s been quite awhile since I attended a non-UU wedding, and even longer since I attended a Catholic wedding, which may help explain why I found today’s experience unsettling, sometimes comical, sometimes irritating.  Luckily, I was seated with other UU friends, many of whom seemed to share my feelings.  The setting was lovely, the vocalist (“cantor”?  I didn’t know Catholic churches had cantors!) sang well, the sanctuary’s excellent acoustics showcased the repertoire of familiar wedding classics to their best advantage.  Everyone in the bridal party looked terrific, and the bridesmaids’ dresses were knee-length, bare-shouldered, actually possible to wear again.  And then the officiating priest began what I can only call his schtick.  Casually informal, with gestures, smiles, brief pauses to allow for audience reaction, he prefaced the ceremony with a monolog, and continued to interrupt various segments of the service with comments and explanations of what was going to happen, what had happened, what was happening, and on and on.  I was reminded of the policemen in “Pirates of Penzance,” reiterating “We go, we go,” while their   leader observed “Yes, but you don’t go!”  After about an hour and a quarter of Christian theology, during which the wedding couple mostly sat facing the guests, who were requestedto do a lot of standing up and sitting down, there came one final burst of oratory — something about a sacristy, whatever that may be — and we were commanded to applaud as the newlyweds were introduced for the first time by their married names.  The priest concluded his remarks with an odd, flippant little wave of his hands, causing me to come perilously close to a disgraceful snort of astonished laughter.  Throughout the ceremony, he gave the impression of someone moonlighting from a comedy club.  Overall, the entire event was about God,and the importance of his role in the newlyweds’ lives, so that my impression was of the bride and groom as bystanders, spectators at the Wedding Show, starring God and Father Gary.  I wondered, driving home, how the  groom’s parents felt as they witnessed their son’s participation in a rite so vastly different from the kinds of nuptial celebrations we’ve become accustomed to as UU’s.  If anyone asks about today, I’ll have to respond, “That WAS a wedding!”   And I wish the couple a long, happy life together.

Raison d’etre

•July 29, 2008 • 1 Comment

When I was in fifth grade, I received a Girl Scout diary.  It’s still somewhere in my house, buried along with 65 years’ worth of memorabilia,  an assortment of notebooks recording in greater or lesser detail the daily events of my life.  Sometimes I’d stop writing for months or even years, but eventually I’d resume the catalog of my humdrum daily life.  Sometimes I’d stick to facts; other times my journal became the outlet for ideas and emotions I couldn’t or wouldn’t share aloud.  Throughout my mother’s life, we exchanged long letters which were diaries of a sort; and during my 45+ years of marriage, my husband and I talked about everything.  At day’s end we’d debrief, share anecdotes, reminisce and plan, act as sounding boards for each other’s thoughts, let off steam.  Since his death nearly a decade ago, there’s been no substitute for this part of my life, and I’ve missed it terribly.  Now comes the age of the blog, just in time — as my old hands don’t hold a pen as well as they once did, and my cat isn’t interested in conversation about anything but food — so after months of procrastination, I’m going to try this 21st century way of capturing and preserving my thoughts.  Thumper said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing (sic) at all.”  Maybe by consigning my thoughts to the blog, I can have it both ways.  Let the games begin!