Parcheesi, And A Bit of Farce

June 27, 2012 § 5 Comments

An anecdote from the Babetski household: 

          I sat in the kitchen, eating some chips and dip.  The dip was sour cream, mixed throughout with garlic powder and dill weed.  It was simple and delicious.  My father had taught me how to make it, and I always pretended to be a 17th century apothecary as I shook herbs and powders into the creamy mixture.  Never mind the fact that apothecaries were always men.  My mother came into the kitchen just then, interrupting my musings on what clever, possibly herb-related name I would’ve given my ahead-of-the-times apothecary shop.  She poured herself a glass of water, and began talking to me.  A common enough occurrence, but noteworthy this time because it was nearly 10 PM and we were both still awake.  Strange.  Almost as if… she had something on her mind.   
         “Your father began cleaning out his closet today.”  She opened the conversation.
         For a second, my heart dropped.  Was this it, then?  Were 29 years of marriage, 8 children, and a deep love for terrible vacationing weather to be thrown away just like that?  I dropped my tortilla chip as my hands began to tremble.  I couldn’t speak.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t even do simple arithmatic, but I can’t ever do that anyway.
          “I think he finally got tired of me nagging him all the time about his pyschological problems with hoarding.”  She gave a wry grin but her voice was weary as she glanced at the clock.
          It was true!!  My terror grew and I had to eat another chip, with dip, to calm myself.  Be strong, I told myself.  Your mother will need you more than ever now. 
          “Mom,” I finally managed to speak in a quavery tone around the crumbs in my mouth, “are you handling it okay?”
          She looked at me oddly.  “Of course.  I finally have room in that closet again.”
          Poor Mom.  She’s just trying to cope with the news by looking at the only positives there are.  I sighed, mourning my happy childhood and realizing the bleak days that were to come.  What were we going to do?  There’d be lawyer bills, custody battles, property division.  I could see it all in my mind’s eye now: Dad would get the bigscreen televi- oh wait.  Mom would get the fancy shiny kitchen implements, like our brand new- our brand new……. well Mom would get the kitchen implements, regardless.  A thought struck me and I gasped in horror.  Who would get to keep the instrumental, scenic tour of Mount Saviour DVD!!??  Please don’t let him take it from Mom… it’s all she has left, I prayed silently.  Suddenly I became aware that my mother was saying something to me again.
          “And you’ll never believe what he said to tell you kids!”  She laughed, rolling her eyes.
          A parting message!  My heart winced in pain but I leaned forward in my eagerness to hear my father’s final advice to his family.
          “He pulled an old board game out of the closet and said, ‘Instead of these stupid new board games with digital readouts and obnoxious buzzers, our children should be playing Parcheesi!!'”

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Ladies and Gentlemen: My Dad

June 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

I keep getting junk emails about things to get my father for Father’s Day.  And I keep laughing.  They’re all so incongruouswhen I think of them with my dad.  I can just see myself handing him a bright orange Lacoste polo (what?) or a grill (lol) or a tie!!  My dad doesn’t wear any colors other than blue, khaki, or white, I think.  (And his plaid jacket in the winter.)  He might grill if we bought one, if it wasn’t too hot outside.  And by too hot, I mean over 45 degrees Fahrenheit.  Oh and there would need to be a breeze, for sure.  A tie?  He has ties.  I don’t think he needs any more ties.  I don’t think he wants any more ties.  The best thing I can think of to get my Dad for Father’s Day is a weekend trip to Mount Saviour Monastery.  Surrounded by the mountains and forests, all alone, just him and the sheep… and the chapel with Jesus inside.

You know those country songs you always hear, either about fathers or sung by a father… about how they love their little girl and she is their princess and they’ll shoot any boy who breaks her heart?  I always kind of chuckled at them, not because they’re silly (they’re not, they’re very sweet), but because my Dad managed to teach me all the lessons of those songs without ever once telling me I’m a princess (I’m not) or offering to shoot a boy for me (thank you, Dad).  Instead of telling me to dream big, to achieve whatever I wanted to be, Dad quietly agreed with me when I decided not to attend college after high school and took a local job.  He never once made me feel like I needed to ‘do more’ with my life, or that I wasn’t going to ‘accomplish’ enough if I didn’t have higher education.  He helped me write my first resume, and when I was at the interview for my first full-time job, he gathered my younger siblings in the living room and led them in a Rosary.  That is such a good example of the best thing my father has done for me: taught me to keep Jesus at the forefront of every choice in my life.  He didn’t have to tell me I was a princess; he made sure I knew I was a child of God.  We may not have lived in a beautiful home with a garage and air conditioning (heck, or even a dishwasher!), but when Dad and Mom took us for countryside drives out to Wellsboro and Ricketts Glen State Park, I felt like I owned the world.  Sitting there in the station wagon with the wind in my hair and the glorious hope of a stop at the ice cream place on my mind, I learned without even knowing it that I was loved, I was secure.

It wasn’t a shiny red sports car but Dad did buy me my first car: my big old white Buick Regal.  Man, I loved that car.  Nobody messed with me on the road.  And when I had my accident in March of 2007, falling asleep at the wheel and waking up to the sickening lurch of tires and hideous scraping metal, the wide front end of that old Buick kept me safer than any sports car.  My father never yelled at me, not once, after my accident.  I called him at 3 o’clock in the morning, crying and sick with shame that I had done something so stupid: torn up my car and sideswiped two parked cars along with it.  He made sure I was okay, came and picked me up, and never scolded me.

One of my favorite things about my parents is the way they share a sense of humor.  There’s laughter in their relationship, a lot of it, and the same love for (really) weird things: aliens… late night talk radio shows about aliens… bad weather… vacations to places with bad weather…  Ahem.  Anyway.  My father might not have bought me designer clothes or a cell phone or a credit card, but I learned the best lessons of my life from watching him.  Here are a few of the best things about my father:

  • He would go to the prison to visit Mr. Deck and have to wait for hours beforehand in the visitors room, but he never complained.  He just sat there and read books and waited multiple hours to spend an hour in a visit, because he knew that Mr. Deck needed him.
  • When we were all little kids, we would start chanting “McDonalds!” or “Burger King!” any time we were going on a car ride somewhere.  My father would sigh and say “Okay… I guess we can stop this once…”, slow the car down amidst raucous cheering, and then say “Changed my mind!!!” and speed off away from the restaurant.  (Somehow this is funnier now that I am older…. also I seem to remember Mom wasn’t such a fan of this little maneuver.)
  • My dad taught me how to play Scrabble and gave me a Bible for my First Holy Communion that I still use.
  • He makes the BEST scrambled eggs and pancakes.  His scrambled eggs are better than anyone’s.
  • He taught me how to be reverent at Mass.  When you see me at Mass, sitting still and paying attention, know that it’s because I’ve got my dad’s words about the Real Presence of Jesus ringing in my ears.

I’m not going to lie, I’m probably not getting my dad a gift for Father’s Day.  He isn’t much of a gift receiver.  I hope he reads this though.  I hope he reads it and understands that there isn’t any gift in the world I could give him that would top what he’s given me: my Catholic faith, my family.  An example of a real man.

PS- For those of you wondering why I did not make a Mother’s Day post about my mom like this one… well, there are two reasons.  The first is that I was in Michigan on Mother’s Day, playing with The Babe.  The second reason?  My mom is too cool for words.  She’s basically like Frodo, Belle, and Scully all rolled into one (petite) package of awesomeness.

“Everybody Loves A Good Quote”

June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today in 1936, G.K. Chesterton passed away.  I could post a hundred quotes from him and love each one better than the last.  He was amazing: a man whose writing turned paradoxes into swashbuckling adventures and philosophy into detective stories.  His no-nonsense language could seem strident, until you realized he was also the man who wrote: “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”   My favorite Chesterton book is The Ball and The Cross, because he pits the religious man against the atheist in such a pithy, balanced way that by the end of the book, you root for both of them.  Chesterton keeps you from choosing a side just as surely as he keeps the fervent MacIan and the rigid Turnbull from finishing their long-sought duel.  When I read Chesterton, I want to cheer, I want to laugh and throw the book on the floor so I can clap and say why on earth didn’t I think of that!?  Chesterton makes me want to have deep, theological discussions at a dimly-lit pub with my friends over pints of ale.  And I don’t even drink ale.  So instead of raising a glass of ale to Gilbert Keith Chesterton, writer of the Father Brown mystery stories, philosopher extraordinaire, and Catholic, I will leave you with my favorite quotes of his.  After all, everyone loves a good quote.

“Well, we won’t quarrel about a word,” said the other, pleasantly.  “Why on earth not?” said MacIan, with a sudden asperity. “Why shouldn’t we quarrel about a word? What is the good of words if they aren’t important enough to quarrel over? Why do we choose one word more than another if there isn’t any difference between them? If you called a woman a chimpanzee instead of an angel, wouldn’t there be a quarrel about a word? If you’re not going to argue about words, what are you going to argue about? Are you going to convey your meaning to me by moving your ears? The Church and the heresies always used to fight about words, because they are the only things worth fighting about.”
The Ball and The Cross

“The cross cannot be defeated,” said MacIan, “for it is Defeat.”
The Ball and The Cross

The daughter was called a devotee. She left upon ordinary people the impression–the somewhat irritating impression–produced by such a person; it can only be described as the sense of strong water being perpetually poured into some abyss. She did her housework easily; she achieved her social relations sweetly; she was never neglectful and never unkind. This accounted for all that was soft in her, but not for all that was hard. She trod firmly as if going somewhere; she flung her face back as if defying something; she hardly spoke a cross word, yet there was often battle in her eyes. The modern man asked doubtfully where all this silent energy went to. He would have stared still more doubtfully if he had been told that it all went into her prayers.
The Ball and The Cross

“You always go to Mass,” answered the girl, opening her wide blue eyes, “and the Mass is very long and tiresome unless one loves God.”
The Ball and The Cross

“These people have rights.” “Rights!” repeated the unknown in a tone quite indescribable. Then he added with a more open sneer: “Perhaps they also have souls.” “They have lives!” said Turnbull, sternly; “that is quite enough for me. I understood you to say that you thought life sacred.” “Yes, indeed!” cried his mentor with a sort of idealistic animation. “Yes, indeed! Life is sacred–but lives are not sacred. We are improving Life by removing lives. Can you, as a free-thinker, find any fault in that?” “Yes,” said Turnbull with brevity.
The Ball and The Cross

We do not need the learned man to teach us the important things. We all know the important things, though we all violate and neglect them.
G.K. Chesterton in the Illustrated London News, October 8, 1910

Evil always takes advantage of ambiguity
G.K. Chesterton in Eugenics and other Evils

Sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists.
G.K. Chesterton in Eugenics and other Evils

“The attitude of women in such cases was indeed one of the paradoxes of the place. Most of the women were of the kind vaguely called emancipated, and professed some protest against male supremacy. Yet these new women would always pay to a man the extravagant compliment which no ordinary woman ever pays to him, that of listening while he is talking.”
G.K. Chesterton in The Man Who Was Thursday 

Beautiful things ought to mean beautiful things.
G.K. Chesterton in The Coloured Lands

A century or two hence Spiritualism may be a tradition and Socialism may be a tradition and Christian Science may be a tradition. But Catholicism will not be a tradition. It will still be a nuisance
and a new and dangerous thing.
G.K. Chesterton in The Catholic Church and Conversion, 1926

An imbecile habit has arisen in modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age but cannot be held in another. Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but is not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays.
G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy

Right is right, even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong about it.
G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News May 11, 1907

God condescended to argue with Job, but the last Darwinian will not condescend to argue with you. He will inform you of your ignorance; he will not enlighten your ignorance.
And I will add this point of merely personal experience of humanity: when men have a real explanation they explain it, eagerly and copiously and in common speech, as Huxley freely gave it when he thought he had it. When they have no explanation to offer, they give short dignified replies, disdainful of the ignorance of the multitude.
G.K. Chesterton in the Illustrated London News, 7/17/1920

What is most lacking in modern psychology is the sentiment of Honour; the sentiment to which personal independence is vital and to which wealth is entirely incommensurate. I know very well that Honour had all sorts of fantasies and follies in the days of its excess. But that does not affect the danger of its deficiency, or rather its disappearance. The world will need, and need desperately, the particular spirit of the landowner who will not sell his land, of the shopkeeper who will not sell his shop, of the private man who will not be bullied or bribed into being part of a public combination; of what our fathers meant by the free man.
G.K. Chesterton in Come to Think

Sport is speechless poetry.
G.K. Chesterton in What I Saw in America

It would be the worst sort of insincerity, therefore, to conclude even so hazy an outline of so great and majestic a matter as the American democratic experiment, without testifying my belief that to this also the same ultimate test will come. So far as that democracy becomes or remains Catholic and Christian, that democracy will remain democratic. In so far as it does not, it will become wildly and wickedly undemocratic. Its rich will riot with a brutal indifference far beyond the feeble feudalism which retains some shadow of responsibility or at least of patronage. Its wage-slaves will either sink into heathen slavery, or seek relief in theories that are destructive not merely in method but in aim; since they are but the negations of the human appetites of property and personality.
G.K. Chesterton in What I Saw in America (1927)

I represent the jolly mass of mankind. I am the happy and reckless Christian.
G.K. Chesterton in the Daily News, 12/13/1907

The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it.
G.K. Chesterton in The Methuselahite

Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.
G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy

“Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.”
G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy

I found many of these quotes on http://gkchestertonquote.com/

Shut Up And Drive

June 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

I went to Pocono Raceway this past Sunday for the NASCAR race!  Jill went up with her co-workers and was kind enough to invite me on the trip.  I’ve never been to a NASCAR race before, although I went to a race in Kentucky with Britt a few years ago that was just as awesome.  I have to say, my favorite part of this past Sunday’s experience was the very beginning of the race.  The noise level  took me completely by surprise.  When the engines revved and the cars started out of the pit row, I had to yell to be heard by Jill.  And we were 40 rows back in the grandstand!  I loved my time, I really did.  A lot of people made fun of me for enjoying the race so much.  Their disdain didn’t make sense until I realized that NASCAR probably suffers from the same problem as hockey: it’s SO much better to actually be there in person.  If I’d had to learn about hockey just from watching it on TV, I’d never have become such a fan.  The same goes for this race at Pocono.  You lose something when you’re sitting at home on your couch in the air-conditioning (if you are lucky enough to have AC).  But actually being there at the track, hearing the National Anthem and watching the jets during the flyover was intense.  Sitting in the bleachers with Jill, we put ice cubes on our arms and our necks to counter the sun beating down on us.  I marveled at how incredibly fast the cars were speeding by me.  You lose that on the TV screen.  All those camera angles, flashes to graphs and charts, commercial breaks, mid-race interviews, and non-stop announcers’ talking…  It cuts right through the heart of the race.  Actually being there, I could feel the stands reverberating with the growling of the engines.  The cars flew by me so fast that it was difficult to understand someone was inside, willing to drive those speeds. 

And I love to drive, I always have.  I’ve always been the person who volunteers to drive on a long road trip, or who thinks nothing of hopping in my car after work on a Friday and driving down to the New Jersey beach by myself.  Funnily enough, a lot of my favorite books have car chase scenes in it; they take place on long rippling roads in dusty, dry Southern France, or through mountains and deserts in Greece where the decisions made while driving turn the driver’s ability almost into a character itself.  Not the car, though.  The car is a tool, and like all tools it works best if it is the best, but in the end the skill of the driver controls the car.  I think I’ve always been in love with the idea of driving, not just as a means to an end, but as a time apart from the world.   You’re enclosed in a car and the world is trapped outside.  The wind blows in through an open window, but the wind is not the world.  There is a remoteness found inside.  As I write this, it reminds me of the feeling I get when I step into a church on a weekday afternoon, or a Saturday morning for Confession.  The world is bustling around outside, never stopping, ever running, but here in the car or in the church, there is a slowing of time.  A sense that I have finally found a relief from motion, a spot where sitting still is completely acceptable.  No wonder I think all my best thoughts in the car.   

This is a long line of musing from a simple NASCAR race, but there you have it.  I was astonished by those drivers.  Theirs is not the easygoing Sunday drive, or the long smooth interstate road trip.  Why do they do it?  For the victory?  For the burnout at the end with the scent of scorched rubber and the fans shouting their name?  The backflip from a car, a spill of champagne, and a trophy?  They cut and weave, speed up and ease off, holding 200 miles per hour of control in their hands.  They cut through the pack with the wind screaming past and maybe they do it because they have to know: Will their control and their skill be enough, not only to see them safe, but give them the victory?

Guest Post: The Day of Days!

June 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

      Guess what happened on May 22??

       IT FINALLY HAPPENED! My baptism day was on May 20, and Rose said she’d take me to the Café. I have flashbacks, yes, but even I’m forgetting those memories. HEHE! First, Mom drove me to Rose’s office, and Rose gave me and Mom a tour, because she recently changed buildings, then Mom left and Rose drove me to the Café. Ang and Cathy were working, my two sisters were finally serving me. My two friends Paul and Joel were there also, so I and Rose picked our table and they waited for us.

       It was not too busy except for a party in the other room and two tables in the main area, so all the employees were standing around, drinking their waters. Ang brought us bread and I ate one piece, only to find Rose had eaten all of the other pieces. She gave the last one away to Paul, not even considering I wanted some. Humph! Rose had THREE courses and she finished all of them in the course of eight minutes. I had gotten Chicken fingers and fries and instead of hording it down like Willy, our pet rat, would’ve, I enjoyed it slowly.

       I had gone back with my empty soda glass with Rose and refilled it, it was awesome to use the soda gun. I was catching the Café fever! I enjoyed the rest of my food and Ang boxed it. I got a free slice of chocolate cake, which I ate half of and Ang boxed the rest. After that I followed Cathy into the kitchen and I saw Joel’s little salad station. I volunteered to help with making some (but there was no one wanting salads) and Rose wanted to leave. So let’s just say this:

      “I had a great night at the Café. The employees are hardworking and nice, and they don’t forget to bring you bread and butter.”
                          -A very, very happy customer

 

Editor’s Note:  I would just like to say that I most certainly did not eat 3 courses in 8 minutes.  We were there for two hours!!! – Rose

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