we have a new boiler at work. it’s a lovely, 75K, brand-spanking-new, high maintance boiler. one of the things that has to happen is that we have to “bleed” the boiler every day to get the sludge out of the system. three times a day organist or i go and bleed the boiler.

last night, before preaching a big funeral, i went to bleed the boiler. and as i was dumping the scalding/boiling water into the drain, the bucket slipped and the result was that the boiling/scalding water came tumbling down on my right hand. ouch, ouch, ouch. a little screaming. then pulling it together to greet the family.

after the funeral, i went to a dinner party at the home of one of my writing friends. a little wine, some great food and (when i got home) a bowl full of ice water, and an episode of buffy and today it’s better. blisters are minimal.

into the fire

Mother teach me to walk again
Milk and honey so intoxicating
And into the fire I’m reunited
Into the fire I am the spark
Into the fire I yearn for comfort
–Sarah McLachlan, Into the Fire

the advent wreath at the church was not extinguished after last night’s service. i should’ve checked. i should’ve checked. i should’ve checked.
but i had a class to teach, people to feed, i had things to do. i thought it was being done.
i should’ve checked.

how long will these words run through my head? how long?

the blessing, the absolute blessing, is that the rug is charred, st. peter is charred, the wall is covered in black smoke, but that is all. the wreath is gone. the lesson is learned. the damage is minimal. we were lucky. we were beyond lucky. i should feel relieved. i should feel grateful.

but i smell the smoke. the char. and it is all too familiar.

it smells like aunt kay’s apartment, on the day my mother and i walked through the ruins that remained after the fire. the fire. did she start it? did she suffer? did she try to get out? we’ll never know. i pray she was oblivious. but the smell–i’ll never forget the smell. and to smell it again today was not what i expected.

someday i will make sense of it all. someday i will understand. but today i am sad. i am sad for her. and i am sad for me because she is gone. and all that remains is the smell of char.

Jesus and Mama

But Jesus and mama always loved me
Even when the devil took control
Jesus and mama always loved me
—Confederate Railroad

Mom is here visiting. Sometimes visits from the parentals are on the stressful side, but not this time. Something about my mom coming to visit in the winter that just makes my heart happy. Tonight she cooked the most amazing black beans and rice. My house smells like onions and rice and garlic–it smells like home.

The last time she came up by herself was when I first moved to Chicago in 2005. I was depressed. I was BEYOND depressed. Better living through chemistry wasn’t helping. It was dark and cold, I missed my NYC BFFs (I still do), I had no friends and I was working in a place that was foreign to me on many different levels. Mom arrived. And things started to change. She helped me find places for the pots and the pans. She cooked me dinner. She told me she loved me a lot. Sometimes you just need a mom to do that, you know?

This visit is so different. A world of different. I love my job, I feel like I’ve come home. I have new friends here that make my world this amazing place of happiness and fun. My Chicago BFF and Mom and I will go out for dinner tomorrow night. He will tease me mercilessly about all my flaws and my southern accent and I will laugh and Mom will, at even a deeper level than she knows now, know that I’m much more okay now than the last time we did this.

the midnight train from georgia

mom arrived today. she carried with her this little tree. there are many stories behind it, but the my favorite is the story of how it came to be in my life. my grandmother ran the best nursery school in all of athengs ga for about 20 years. if i am anybody in athens, it’s because i’m mrs. mcdonald’s grand-daughter. this is one of the many gifts given to her from children and their parents over the years. she gave it to me when i was little. i loved it and every year waited for it to come out, symbolizing that the season of expectation was upon us. a former member of my family stole it briefly, but it was later returned to its rightful owner. and it has happily lived in athens ga since then. until today, when my mom brought it to chicago. it was wrapped in fluffy stuff and packed with her pj’s in her backpack. thanks mom. you rock.

baby it’s cold outside

some say i’m a freak, but i can’t help it. it’s snowing and i love it. we’re supposed to get something like 5 inches tonight. my new apartment is right by the el, so i took the train to work and walked in the snow, which was so much fun. i’ll probably walk tomorrow too since my car will be burried in the snow!! i wish i knew my neighbors so i could throw a snowball at them!