Sunday, May 07, 2006


I've been trying, recently, to stop doing paying work on Sundays, but I haven't quite reached the level where I think I could fairly call it a Day of Rest. The only "work" I did today was to answer a few emails, which is certainly a step in the right direction. It's much better than my usual which is about a 4-hr work day for Sundays.

I slept in until 9:30, which got us all off on a better footing. I don't remember feeding the kids breakfast, but I can see from the kitchen that I did. Somewhere around 10:30 I started feeling more awake, so I pulled a 50 lb bag of black beans from the pile in the basement, opened it, and started measuring black beans into mylar bags. At some point I stopped and did an internet search to learn more about the oxygen absorber packs we have. This led to me throwing out the ones that failed the test and taking steps to make sure we didn't lose another 50 packs right away. Around this time a kid from Max's school called him to chat. They were both planning on going to a school function later in the afternoon.

Now, this child apparently is a part-timer at church. I didn't remember him at all, but that doesn't mean he doesn't go regularly. During Sacrament meeting I'm too busy with my own kids to notice anyone else's kids. And since my memory for names is abysmally poor, I didn't have a mother to match with his name either. For that matter, I didn't have a last name to go on. Let's call him . . . Little John.

At any rate, I tossed at Max "If Little John wants to go to church with us, I can take you both over to the school after church." Max tossed this at Little John. Little John called his mother (who I understood to be working**), got permission, and graciously accepted. What I didn't understand was that Dad wasn't home either, Mom's cell phone was in an area where she got little to no reception, and the child lived about as far on the other side of town as a child can get and still be in State College. It took another 45 minutes to acertain all this, during which time I *did* get a last name. So I found Little John's address in the Relief Society phone list and we headed over there. Little John came out to meet us--in his shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of sneakers with no socks. I wasn't sure what to do at this point. On the one hand, I'm a fierce believer in the FACT that our church has no dogmatic rules about what you wear to church.

Technically, you're just supposed to go with a reverent heart and the understanding that we keep our kids with us during the service. Also we don't have a minister as it is understood elsewhere and once a month our service looks like a cross between an unprogrammed Quaker meeting (except we have sacrament and hymns) and an evengelical tent service (except our hymns aren't gospel, it's a faux pas to shout "Amen!"--say it, yes, shout it, no--and we don't pass the plate).

If you've never been to an LDS service, you know, just go once. We're a nice bunch.

But culturally we do get hung up on dressing nice. We don't care if you put on make up. Half the congregation is sleep-deprived from young children. We'll look the other way and never say a word if you show up with mis-matched shoes, as long as they're dress shoes. Girls, Mommies, and Ladies wear dresses. Boys, Men, and male teenagers wear dress slacks and button-up shirts. The wild ones wear a colored shirt. The ones who used to be wild wear a loud tie.

Now, one of Chris' Traumatic Childhood Memories is of being invited to a Mormon youth dance at some tender age and showing up under-dressed. He was mortified and I've heard that story more times than I care to admit. So in the interest of preventing such an atrocity, I gently asked the boy if he didn't want to change into church clothes and bring his shorts with him to change into later. No, he said he couldn't find any. Well, I have mornings like that. In fact, judging from the pile of dirty clothes in the three upstairs closests, we're maybe two days away from that. So I asked him if he was comfortable going as he was and he assured me he was . . . about that time his older brother pulled up in a pickup truck. The young man sported two piercings in his right eye-brow, but seemed very nice. I ran the situation past him and he asked Little John the same questions and received the same answers. We shrugged and let it go.

By the time we got to church we were running so late that they were just finishing passing the Sacrament. I decided this was a Good Day to sit in the hallway and listen to testimonies from there. I spread out paper and crayons and spent the next 50 minutes trying to impress on Little John and Max that although they were pleased as punch to be together, I still expected some reasonable behavior from them. I won the war but lost some battles. At the end of service they trotted off (okay, bolted down the hallway) to their Sunday school class. I went and found one of their teachers and filled them in on the situation (read: asked her to sit between the boys) and then dropped off Ben and Milo at primary and headed off to my own Sunday school class. Later, the Sunday school teacher found me and informed me that both boys had been stellar during class--and that yes, she'd sat between them. I was relieved. I found the boys myself, took them over to the school, and returned to church to knit in the hallway until the third hour was over. The missionaries found me at this point and expressed interest in coming by this week. I pounced. They're such easy targets.

Now I have two young women helping me package up the frickin' frackin' chicken broth on Tuesday. 100 lbs of chicken broth is going to take me forever to measure and seal in mylar bags without some help. I'll set aside some over-sized t-shirts of Chris' to protect their suits.

Ben and Milo and I headed home and I got another 50 lbs of beans done before it was time to get Max from school. By the time I got back to work doing the third 50 lb bag of beans it had been six hours since I'd done the first one and I noticed that the oxygen absorbers had done their jobs. The first batch of black beans was totally vacuum packed. How COOL is that? My back was aching, but I felt pretty competent there.

In the end, I divided 250 lbs of black and pinto beans into 5 lb bags of sealed mylar bags. I processed 10 lbs of cheese powder (that stuff is HORRIBLE to measure!), 50 lbs of rice, and 50 lbs of sugar (no oxy pack needed).

I still have 20 lbs of cheese powder and 100 lbs of chicken broth to go. But I'm thrilled to have so much done. This is going to be a Very Productive Week. I can feel it. In my Big Work Project the appetizers are over and the Main Course has begun. I feel like doing an Especially Good Job this week (as Pooh might say). And with that, I'm off to bed.

**Later I learned that Mom and Dad were at family-owned property where they were spreading the ashes of a recently departed loved-one. They get poor cell phone reception there. The two older brothers were in charge of Little John and judging from the older of the two brothers, he was in fine hands--if he wasn't in church clothes that had more to do with the willingness of a 9-yr-old to avoid church clothing at all costs and the fact that all this "go to church with Max" stuff was very last minute. Well, that and maybe a backlog of laundry, but like I said, there but for the grace of God go I.


Hornblower said...

I have to say that I find the food thing quite fascinating. I'd never heard of all the food storage things that LDS does until I started reading your blog & googling. Wow. It's amazing. Thanks for letting us get a glimpse of that....

PuppDaddy said...


When might we be getting a glimpse of some POTATO PEARLS around here? A VERY important part of any Mormon's food storage, no?

The Queen said...

Just keep in mind that I'm the food storage specialist for the ward--while it would be great (and perhaps wise) to have 200 lbs of pinto and black beans in my food storage, I don't. Only 70 lbs of those beans are mine. 24 lbs of the chicken broth is mine--I'm thrilled about the chicken broth. At $2.70 a lb, each lb makes 7.5 gallons of chicken broth--that works out to 9 cents a quart.

Okay, so I'm a little obsessed with it--but my point is that the LDS interest in food storage is as much about being frugal on a daily basis as it is about being prepared for financial and natural disasters.

PuppDaddy said...

Redneck Emergency Preparedness: In case of natural disaster or food shortage, grab gun and proceed to the nearest Mormon's house.

The Queen said...

Sarah, tell Justin thank you so much for sharing that joke with Chris. He got so much out of it.