Sunday, December 12, 2004
Weekend at the Haupertonian World HQ pt II
It's a good morning. I get up, light a fire to warm the house and harass the dogs. I muddle about and then finally get down to business. We get the kids dressed after the Grandparents and I take our turns emptying the hot water heater into the sewers below. I've got to get on the solar powered water/air heaters. We had about fifteen minutes to load up the family tank and get to the church for the 1000 mass. We got there in 10 minutes and chose to go to the basement instead of the regular chapel. Since this is the family mass, there are load of screamer in the basement and it is expected. My kids singing or raging would not turn any heads. The other reason is that the mass downstairs is a smaller gathering and tends to finish up a bit quicker. You can get out of the parking lot of purgatory much quicker. It was just my luck that the parking Nazi was on duty when I got there and we managed to get suck in the center of the lot, about 3 cars back from the front. The parking lot at our church is somebody's really bad joke on the parishioners. It is essential 3 batches of queues where if you do not park at the edges, you will pretty much get stuck in the lot for 15-30 minutes after the mass is over. I expected the worst when I landed smack dab in the center queue of fist lot, about 3 cars back from the front. Nutz. We hurried down the stairs and bumped into Corrina, the wife of a friend's friend. She is married to the contractor fellow who just got diagnosed with some sort of cancer and is in treatment right now. She was there with her youngest infant son, daughter and 2nd youngest son. I did not see her eldest son. John, her husband, almost never comes to church. I though he would have found God by now after getting smacked down by the tumor and chemo. I exchanged pleasantries with her and then rushed off to catch up with Jacob who was on his way to the dais. It would be an awkward scene should he start to desecrate the alter before the mass.
The service went as expected with the kids resisting our efforts to keep them sedate and quiet. Nothing spectacular, just the usual insistence that they be allowed to do as they please. At one point, Jacob and Alexis figured out that Grandma could not possibly keep both of them from squeezing past her to get out of the pew. Now, Alexis is not interested in going much more than an arms length from the edge of the pew. She would be the distraction. She insisted that a book at the bottom of the back pack was needed to keep her mild and quiet. Once Grandma was distracted into assisting Alexis, Jacob slithered past and stood in the side aisle till someone recognized that he had broke through enemy lines. As soon as I spotted him, his face lit up as though he had won the lottery. I pointed at him so show grandma that she had an escapee on her end of the pew. As she turned to reach for him, he did a little jig and then bolted down the aisle to the back of the church. Little bugger wants to play tag! Grandma darted after him and disappeared out the back. Moments later, I look over to Hero Dad who was trying to juggle Alexis and her variety of accoutrements. I mention to him that they have been gone a while and perhaps I should go see if Jake had managed to get into something that Grandma could not extricate him from. As I head to the back, I thankfully see them coming in and listen intently as Grandma describes Jakes little attempted excursion up the stairs. Heh, natural borders. When the Ushers came out to collect the donations, the kids were more than happy to pour forth the checks and cash that we had given them. The hang at the edge of the pew, anticipating when the basket with be brought to bear and they can make their best bank-shot. The song that accompanied the exit procession involved a copious amount of hand clapping which really endeared it to Jacob. He stood there, clapping his hands and swaying side to side. He particularly relishes dance with music for some reason. Good thing we are not Baptist or Quaker. We work our way out of the chapel and up the stairs after Fr Henry makes his way to the back. I still remember his homily. It was a joke about Rome, the Pope, a hairdresser and the faithful. I wont steal it here, but it was a big hit. Afterwards, he proclaimed that he despised the Christmas season. Some explanation was in order and he gave it in spades. The moral was that you should not shirk away from that which others deem unworthy, but forge ahead and look for the beauty of the act. I'm wondering how many of my fellow parishioners got more or less out of it than I did.
Once We managed to get outside, it was obvious that the 'Upper Mass' had not let out and I was still thoroughly blocked in. By chance or luck, two cars to the right of me left within minutes of reaching the Family Tank. Then, a third car, a minivan, left giving me about 8 feet of space to get into the lane that led out of the pickle I was in. I leaped at the chance and got out with great care, but little difficulty. Whoever says that God does not reward the faithful needs to spend a day in this parking lot to understand how delighted I was to be on my way. Back at the manor, Amish Dad goes about loading all the wood that I could not split into the back of his beater truck. The fireplace in the Northern Homestead is large enough to hold these impenetrable hunks. He has just enough space in the back to hold it all without stacking it. I paid for it, he helped chop it. He even loaned me his High-tech Corked Maul of Wood Chopping +3 I would have left it at the curb for the scroungers if he did not take it. The kids were put down to nap while we were busy with the wood outside. Since they were asleep, we took off to go pick up the tree that we would decorate for the Manor today. Instead of the usual 12 footer that the cathedral ceiling can take, we decided on a smaller specimen that would be a bit easier for the kids to help decorate. I directed Hero Dad to drive to two separate places that usually sell pre-drilled trees only to find that both my favorite vendors were no longer in business! We ended up going to a place not too far away that the Mrs had spotted. Lots of trees, good ones, and ok prices. I ended up paying 42$ for a 7 foot tree. Of course, I could have paid much less for a live tree in the summer time. Where would I plant it though! No, I'll shell out the cash for the pre-killed tree and put it out back with the other one from 2 years ago. I cant believe the carcass is still there after 2 years of decay. I'll have to take care of both of 'em after I take the tree down this time. We get the tree home with little difficulty or surprises. It goes up and needs little leveling. They drilled a hole in the bottom of the tree that was just a bit too big for the spike in my tree holder. That, and just took a free-hand drill and went to town. Good thing I was not paying for accuracy! The lights went on just as easily. I'll leave the proliferation of ornaments and paraphanalia for the kids to enjoy later on. I got a report later on in the night that the twins were completely overjoyed to have the tree up with only the lights on. I have got to remember to water it this year. Fewer needles, less pain.
I had to get changed into some Semi-Formal clothing for the corporate holiday party. It was going to be held at the same place as last year: Peoples Light and Theater. This place is in Malvern and is a good 45-60 minute trip for me. I give my thanks and say my goodbyes to the Grand-Parental units before heading out. The twins are still asleep and the Mrs is busy going over the Central Asia Reports from our field agents. I make a hasty exit at 1530. That should give me a comfortable window to get there by 1630. When the cocktail hour/dinner starts. I arrive 15 minutes early with no traffic issues or irritations. That may never happen again! As I pull into the parking lot, a flood of doddering elderly and oblivious children bolt out into the lane. The previous play has just let out and the patrons were under the ill conceived notion that nobody else has anything more important to do other than to yield to their desires to walk without care or caution to their cars. Upon reaching their cars, the attitude changes dramatically and the immediately lurch forward, blocking any other cars that may already be in the lane. I work my way to the back of the lot and wait for the madness to subside. In spite of common belief of urban legend, Lemmings do not march into the sea to drown themselves. These people would in a heartbeat. Within 15 minutes, the lot is cleared and I find through this experience that the best spot to park is not in front of the theater, but instead, near the lot exit. I dock the SuperSaturn and head into the restaurant. It is ingeniously name the 'Bistro'. Genius. I am the first to arrive, mostly because I try to be on time. I order my first of many Vodka Martini for the evening and wait for the activities to begin. Within minutes, my coworkers start to show up and we exchange profuse volumes of small talk. The CEO makes some odd demands on how the tables for dinner should be arranged, and we then move on from that disaster to the play. I find that my appetite for Vodka Martinis increases when someone else is footing the bill. I think that I need to drink much less than I used to. The play is two hours long and I would probably have enjoyed it a bit more if my stomach were not fighting back at the attempted pickling. It (the play) is an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty and is actually quite enjoyable. It is packed with sub-regional references and is quite mirthful with it's naming conventions. There is a bit of manufactured humor in the character names and situations. Additionally, the machinations that implore audience participation are thin and mostly entertaining for those who are not singled out. A coworker, D*, tries to single out our CEO and gets tagged himself as a target for the sexual innuendo and coarse jabs. All in all, it was fun enough. We get out at 2130 just as my head starts to hurt. Hangover or migraine? I don't know, but it was probably well deserved.