Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Inside Jokes

Today is my sister Dawn Harvey's birthday. This is the poem I wrote for her:
Don your ecology hat, culottes and striped socks
And we'll take a teeny trip through time together to
When we shared the same space in time and place -
Not 'memb'ring my manipulation of aught but time-line -
Michigan New York New York and South Carolina
All the states and times we shared state and time
Remember when my mom? Of course you do she's yours too
If we had had a television we'd have nostalgia now like
Everybody else our age (which we share for the next six weeks)
Hanging our memories from aerial antennas and rabbit ears
As it is, many of our memories are sacred, profaning the church
Revolving around the fundamentals: the fun and the mental
Verily verily I play unto you, I call you now friend not servant
Everyone has heard there's a friend closer than a brother
You should know they call that soul-stuck friend Sister.
She re-posted it on Facebook and noted that a lot of this was inside jokes. Thought I'd try to let you in on them.

"Don your ecology hat, culottes and striped socks" - This was Dawn's favorite outfit from the time she added "teen" to her age until I made her buy a white ruffly blouse and jean skirt when she was almost 17.

"a teeny" - Threw this in due to the fact that she was a teen when she wore the above outfit.

"Not 'memb'ring my manipulation of aught but time-line" - I used to get Dawn to take the fall for me, mainly by talking her into doing the bad stuff. Later, I used to get her to do chores by buying ice cream.

"Michigan New York New York and South Carolina" - Manipulation of the time-line - we lived in New York on either side of living in Michigan. Those are all the States we lived in together, as per the next line.

"Remember when my mom?" - Key word there is "my". We always use the posessive when talking about our mother. Drives the rest of our families nuts.

"If we had had a television" - Our television broke in December of '74, and during the month it was gone, my father started going to church. We sold it in June, discovering then that we had never plugged it in after it got fixed.

"Everybody else our age (which we share for the next six weeks)" - I am the oldest by 10 1/2 months.

"As it is, many of our memories are sacred, profaning the church" - We grew up at church, attending all 3 services after we picked people up, unlocked the doors, shoveled the walks, and stayed until everyone else was gone. Then we came back for a couple of visitation programs, and mowed the lawn. All of our friends were members of the church. We were as familiar with the Lord's house as our own.

"Revolving around the fundamentals: the fun and the mental" - We read incessantly, sometimes even when we were actively playing. We both enjoyed school and learning as much as we enjoyed playing. We usually made our own toys, and hung out at the library.

"Verily verily I play unto you, I call you now friend not servant" - Biblical references, adapted for our particular relationship.

I hope you enjoyed the poem, and have a fuller appreciation of what it means to me and Dawn.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kaylee Dawn O'Shaughnessy

As soon as we knew you were coming we knew who you were: Kaylee Dawn O’Shaughnessy. We knew you were the little sister that your big sister and brothers had been wanting, the other daughter your mother had longed for.
We had been watching Quest for Camelot and realized how perfect the name Kaylee would be for you, combining your mother’s middle name, Kaye, with a portion of the names of the three older children, Stephen Lee, Leighann and Calvin Esley. You fit right in from the beginning.
You were about four weeks old when we found out you were coming. During the next four weeks we planned the adjusted sleeping arrangements, checked to see what infant furniture and toys we needed to replace since your older brother was a couple of years old by now, and discussed all the things we needed to do to prepare our world for your entry, to make everything perfect.
We knew exactly who you would be, where you would go, and how much we wanted you. What we didn’t know was that you would never arrive. We got to see you once, as through a glass darkly. You looked perfect and still, but you shouldn't have been still yet. Our hearts longed for you, but yours didn’t beat.
The day we knew you weren’t coming was Valentine’s Day.
You didn’t seem to want to go. You took your time leaving, and there was a lot of pain for your mother. It was like the pain of childbirth, but lasted longer and left our arms empty instead of full. We still had the sleepless nights because of crying, but it was us that were crying, not you.
We never got to prepare a place for you, not even a final resting place. We were only able to memorialize you later, when the memory of you had receded to the point of less than constant pain. I could have never spoken like this to you then. Trying to have the words come out of me would have been the same pain for me as the pain your mother had during your departure.
We never got to see you in person, to watch you grow, to watch you sleep. We cared for you, but you weren’t there to be cared for. But we know where you are now, and we’ll see you when we arrive at the place prepared for us by our Father. And we know that, although we cannot care for you now, Kaylee Dawn O’Shaughnessy, your angel always sees the face of our Father who is in Heaven.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Where does "Kempisosha" come from?

If you've encountered me online very much, including here, you've no doubt noticed my screen name and wondered where I came up with it. I've had it for a long time, and used it everywhere, and you can determine by browsing a few of the 5,400 results that you can find by clicking this link: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=kempisosha. The oldest one of these is from March 22, 2003 from StumbleUpon. The name predates that by about 5 years.

When it was time to convert from BBS to "real" internet, the main destination for doing so was America Online. My first email address was kempisosha@aol.com, back in 1998. The graphic to the left was my "Buddy Icon", one of the stock icons available to the AOL Instant Messenger program. I've never seen anyone else use it. I copied it so I could continue to use it in all of my other messenger programs.

I think it may be obvious where part of "Kempisosha" comes from - "osha". I don't have some kind of sick fascination with the Occupational Health & Safety Asministration, it's the first four letters, sans apostrophe, of my last name.

Leaving "Kempis". Perhaps it's more familiar to you now that you see it by itself. It's somebody else's last name: Thomas à Kempis. Thomas left home when he was around my middle son Calvin's age, and went to the school his older brother had attended. There he encountered the religious community the Brethren of the Common Life, which led him to eventually take holy orders. He became the prior of the monastery, and wrote The Imitation of Christ for the monks under his care. This little devotional book was to Catholic Christians what The Way of the Pilgrim became in the East, and what The Pilgrim's Progress became to the Protestant West - the best-selling book after the Bible. You can download it for free from Project Gutenberg.

I encountered this book in my late teens, browsing our own extensive library at home. I was struck by the depth of the devotional literature, and especially by the acceptance of spiritual disconsolation as a normal phase of the Christian walk. I read the book several times, and recommended it to others. Although I tend to credit G. K. Chesterton for my eventual conversion from American Protestantism to a catholic (small c, since I became Orthodox) traditional form of the faith, it was really this little book that set me on the right path. I am reminded of this every time I type my screen name or email address.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Zoo Day

Thanks to a friend who has a bunch of kids who has a friend who bought her a zoo pass with a bunch of guest tickets, those pictured here, plus me, plus my son Andy who is standing behind me, spent Sunday afternoon at the Greenville Zoo and the surrounding environs. We had beautiful weather, with skies becoming increasingly cloudy due to the wet coming in, keeping it just warm enough for the animals to enjoy themselves, and just cool enough for the humans to enjoy themselves.

Christine took the smaller kids and my big one to pick up another friend's kid, and the remainder of us spent a while at the park adjoining the zoo.

Greenville's park system is excellent. This park adjoins the Swamp Rabbit Trail, an awesome addition to the Greater Greenville area that ties the city and its suburbs together via bike\walking trail.

There's some of nearly everything at the zoo, even though Calvin insists that for a zoo to be any good requires penguins. Even the smallest member of our troop, 6 month old to the day Lucinda, managed to get up close and personal with the animals.

The animals are not separated by much from the patrons. The iguana was not the only animal that decided a place by the glass the preferred spot to spend the day.

Not only is there a playground outside the zoo, but, in case kids get bored with the animals, there's one in the middle as well. It's designed for younger children, but it managed to amuse the middle-schoolers just as much. There was, in particular, a fun-house mirror which they spend most of the time in front of.

Lucy could have been more thrilled with the park. She didn't care for this tube at all. She did like sitting on, and tasting, the frog, and a rocking parrot.

Andy wanted to make sure everyone got a good look at his brother - Mia the ape, with whom he had a picture taken last year. The baby was larger and very active this year. He stole some gum from Mia's lips with his own, then went swinging around the enclosure.

Greenville has quite a few of this type of statue throughout its common areas, and this bear is a favorite of most people. Anya is leaping away as it sneezes on her. 

Andy, Anya and the baby.

Perhaps in a couple of decades...

We hit the park again afterwards - even after an hour and a half in the zoo, they all still had plenty of energy. This particular activity was very popular.

This is what Calvin enjoyed doing the most. He was fairly proud of standing sideways.

Andy ran into an old friend, Joseph, and got to play with him for a while.

The trip was mainly a special trip for Ransom (above left), who is a budding naturalist, and whose birthday was the day before.

It was a happy day, even for those of us who aren't particularly happy most of the time.