It’s that time of year again… Cheesefare Week, when Orthodox Christians start to ease into the Lenten Fast, giving up meat but still eating eggs, milk, cheese, etc. Here’s my son David Mathewes’ tender farewell to all that is dairy and glorious, “Let It Be Me.” Now that our time is waningOnly one day remainingWho’ll eat this ice cream?Let it be me.
I didn’t plan on being a beekeeper. It all started one afternoon when I was taking a walk around the block, and came upon a scene of chaos and frenzy. Some neighbors were having work done while they were out of town, and workmen had been taking down a big tree. One of the guys had been high on a ladder when his chainsaw bit directly into a honeycomb. People harbor differing sentiments toward bees. The guy on the ladder began scooping handfuls of honey, laughing and telling his buddies how good it was, unfazed by the stings. His boss, on the ground, was gripped by a terror approaching apoplexy. By the time I got there the workmen had laid the trunk on the ground and were trying to drive the bees away from the tree by several methods; most recently, they had set it on fire.
For children, Christmas is a time of wonder, if not outright bafflement, because of the archaic vocabulary and syntax of Christmas carols. This produces interpretations that our devout ancestors never had in mind. Here are some of my childhood mishearings of these songs. How about yours? * “For in thy Dock Street shineth…” (“Little Town of Bethlehem”) I knew what “Dock Street” meant, because my home town was a seaport. But if something was shining there, it was a little creepy.
[Books & Culture, March/April 2008] On the road, shuttling between airports and motels, I sent my daughter an email: “I’m on my way to Branson, Missouri. They say it’s like Las Vegas, but for Christians over fifty.” She wrote back, “I can’t even begin to imagine what that means.” I could; I imagined it would be laughable and hokey. (You could point out that I am a Christian over fifty and should get off my high horse, but I would only blink at you.) This little town of 6,000
[National Review Online, May 12, 2006] On Mother’s Day, what says “I love you, Mom!” like a new vacuum cleaner? A whole lot of dark chocolate with almonds might do it. Or a pair of chunky silver earrings, or a dozen of the smelliest roses. Even a phone call saying “I love you, Mom!” does a pretty good job. But it takes a vacuum cleaner to really evoke the whole motherhood experience. Oh, the many times I shoved a vacuum under a child’s bed and got a pajama bottom tangled around the brushroll. Do tears spring up prompted by wistful memory, or by the smoke of the jammed rubber belt?
[National Review Online, May 3, 2006] Okay, so maybe it was a *little* complicated. I wanted to use some of my USAirways Award miles to fly my daughter and her two little ones from Baltimore to Charleston, S.C. I checked the airline’s website, and there were no longer three Award seats available on the necessary dates. But maybe there were two, or even one, and I could purchase the others on the same flight. No way around it: I was going to have to wade into Press Three Hell. Eventually, with enough shouting “Agent! Agent!” I’d lasso a human and get things squared away.
[Unpublished, April 2, 2003] There’s a song in my heart. Sorry. I’ll try to keep it to myself. As a rule I haven’t been successful at this. All through the years, my kids would ask, “Mom? Are you singing again?” and I’d look down and discover I was. It might not have been so bad if I’d been softly murmuring “O-o-o-o-o-klahoma” or “We Will Rock You” or some other lilting air. No, it tended to be songs that I made up myself, though not intentionally. Songs would come evolving from random thoughts revolving, and gradually work their way up to audibility. Generally, these were not exciting songs. However, they tended to be annoyingly memorable.
[Unpublished, March 2003] I'm a pastor's wife, mom of three, short, plump and southern, so people are generally surprised to hear that I was once under investigation by the FBI for making death threats on behalf of the Mafia. It could happen to anyone, really. One night we were having dinner with a couple in our congregation, Bob and Cathy, while our combined five kids played downstairs in the rec room. My husband's gingery Chinese stirfry was disappearing fast, and Cathy's special Chocolate Overload cake was waiting in the kitchen.
[Beliefnet, January 25, 2002] General MillsMinneapolis, MN Your Excellency: I am writing in regards to your food product, Cheerios. Actually not the Cheerios themselves, which look fine as far as I can tell, but the box. Whatever possessed you to start putting inspirational sayings on the top of the boxes? A few weeks ago I took a new box of Cheerios from the kitchen cabinet, and as I opened it I saw this printed across the top flap: “Trust your instincts. You know more than you think you do.” Now, Your Eminence, I've never been in the military, and I'm not even sure how to address a General. But I was still pretty surprised at the sentiment. Army life must not be at all like I pictured.
[Beliefnet, March 4, 2001] A person can only hope to accomplish so much in a lifetime, and of course many of the better discoveries (fire, the wheel, the home Jeopardy game) have already been taken. But I can rest easier now that my own contribution to mankind has been perfected. I have discovered the moral equivalent of oatmeal. It goes like this. You know that eating oatmeal is the most noble act a human can perform in the course of food consumption. It’s the right thing to do, as some wise man (Copernicus?) once said. This is because, face it, oatmeal is not very appealing. Once in a bowl, it transitions quickly from homey to homely, and in bright morning light is a soggy, depressing mess. What better sight to thrill our sense of duty?