Itʼs Pablo Picassoʼs birthday today! I guess that means no matter what, I really do have to seriously practice in his honor. Janet and I ran lines (quite successfully, almost completely without error) sitting in her car in a parking lot in Waverly yesterday, having arrived about forty minutes earlier than we had expected for my Uncle Billʼs funeral/celebration of life service. I am a poor relative and hadnʼt seen most of my cousins (or my one surviving member of my fatherʼs generation, Aunt Macky) in years, but I did feel fine in their company. My sister and youngest brother were able to appear as well, and pastor brother Paul and his wife came for the the family get-together the previous evening (Paul, of course had preacherly things to do on Sunday). I spoke with half a dozen cousins, including Sharon who came right over and greeted/talked with us, even though David was unsure and Janet clueless about who this was (like us, Sharon had come to honor an uncle; pretty much all the others, their kids and grandkids were there for “Dad”).
I always feel both at home (in a peculiar return-to-childhood way) among my relatives and an outsider at the same time. First, most everyone in the clan is wholeheartedly devout (in varying nuances and denominations) and sincerely Christian. Except me, of course. (My uncle was truly a godly man, a good man, a lot like his brother, my father.) Partly, the return to church feels like childhood, partly an anthropological excursion (especially into the storefront church with sacred screen for the holy powerpoint and full band praise singing that we explored on Sunday), partly an unfamiliar experience where I just feel stiff, awkward and outside. (I did noticed that at least one of my cousins wasnʼt quite at home in the community of faith experience either, standing pretty still and staring at the words on the screen like me.) Likewise, my brother and sister arenʼt of this revivalist evangelical schism (and I owe Margaret for the Sacred Screen observation) and also stood uncomfortably for the long alt-rock songs of praise. Good music, well played and decently sung, but all unfamiliar to us…
My conservativism comes out in my religious preferences perhaps?
On the other hand, the pastor was sincere and genuine (quite often in those environments, for me, not the case), and I actually liked the service, particularly the formal sharing of paternal memories by about half dozen of my cousins, as well as the hired man for the farm during the Eighties. Emotions ran deep and powerful during that part of the service, for everyone. Funerals, even celebrations of life, arenʼt exactly blissfully happy times, but it is good to see extended family, no matter what. And to be reminded of roots, genetics and heritages. I have been thinking considerably about family in the past ninety hours. A door closes and a door opens…
But I do think thatʼs more than enough for now to share in this forum about my family.
The old doors/décor theme continues today because ironically last Thursday as I wrote the two posts that appeared on Friday and Saturday about Janetʼs decorative old doors, our furnace/boiler (we have not forced air but hot-water baseboard heat) left its forty-plus year-old spot in the basement for a younger, more svelte, more economic and more efficient replacement. Irony appeared in the form of the tired old boiler and its parts littering the lawn when it came time for me to take a photo of the outdoors door on its tree (a junky mess I had to hide/avoid getting in the shot). So I thought I would give you a look at the yard as it really was that day. (Actually, by the time I shot the picture, the guys had cleaned up pretty much everything but the big box of the boiler itself.)
The new boiler is great, expensive (as is everything) but nice. It takes up fantastically less room than the old one, as you may be able to see in the second photograph, although we now have the gloriosity of the double tubes of white across the unfinished ceiling of our back room in the basement (third photo). Just for fun (and perhaps to annoy The Lovely One, who made us try to scrub the driveway on Saturday to remove oil stains from leaky vehicles parked there recently — canʼt tell if it was the cleaning lady or the furnace installation guys) hereʼs what our basement currently looks like with all the stuff, that once was organized elsewhere, scattered around on the floor so the furnace guys could work (fourth photo).
She and I got started reorganizing and cleaning up after the installation on Saturday (her idea, not mine exactly, although it seriously needed/needs to be done). As I said, she also wanted to scrub the driveway (for me an unnecessary task considering itʼs a driveway and outdoors, but Iʼm only the man around here). At least two vehicles in the past week had dripped oil and/or other automotive fluids on our still nearly new concrete. We had sought a cement scrubbing detergent months ago for the garage, with only minor success, so she had us try Gasser, who had two products. (Go, Gasser: now if youʼd only get rid of your creosote log mountains…) The detergent worked really well on one larger, fainter spot and the tree-sap splotches, not so well on the three major oil smears. But we tried (and I raked the front yard and the driveway clear — session number four so far, creating a good trash bag of moist leaves for the yard waste site). Indoors I was less helpful because she needed a vacuum cleaner, and somehow with the tinnitus that sound a vacuum pump creates is more painful and disturbing than ever (and Iʼve never liked it). Part of the issue may have been that I had just used the leaf blower on the driveway and already hurt my hearing some more. (Of course, she might say I have always been worthless on housecleaning chores.)
Sorry about the bodily condition complaints (I also had one of my peculiar “glittering eye” experiences on the drive back along US 20 to Dubuque from the funeral — thatʼs the fourth since late spring), but these are issues I need to consider myself (and comprise the diary-like portions of the blog, I guess). Sometimes I open doors onto myself that I really donʼt need to. Correct?
And this post is again going up late on a Monday, and I have a flu shot to receive just before noon in Dubuque, so I must leave it as it is and get the words and pictures posted. No plans for tomorrow, so weʼll see what events, chance or the bubbling unconscious spit up later today.