I went to St. Paul to deliver something to my daughter Cassidy last weekend. It wasnít the perfect weekend to visit, although there is never a bad time to see them and my grandson, Harry.
They are redesigning their kitchen, a gargantuan task, especially since Cassidy is the general contractor, carpenter, tile layer, and she and Angie supply much of the muscle. Harry, the dog and cat just enjoy the chaos.
When I arrived Saturday, the electrician, who lives down the street, was just leaving. He had installed the connections for the appliances in their new spots. As happens in every remodeling job, they have run into problems they didnít anticipate. For instance, the old flooring, which they never liked, had been installed around all the cupboards and appliances, so when they went to move things to new locations, there were large swaths of cement where there should have been tiles. Since they didnít like it anyway, it was only (!) a matter of money, not an emotional wrench, to go shopping for new flooring. The various parts of the whole look great to me. Iím just glad itís not my job in my house.
They have also taken the opportunity to replace the cement floor in the basement, which was in very bad shape. In order to do that, they had to remove the stairs leading from the kitchen to the basement, and take up the hot water heater and the furnace. No heat. No shower, no kitchen sink to wash up dishes. Sort of like camping.
It was cold last weekend, but not freezing. My kids keep their houses much colder than I do (and we keep our house cooler than Johnís parents did theirs), so I never took my jacket off. I decided after seeingóand feelingóthe situation, that I would get a motel room. That turned out to be a good choice, because then everyone could come to visit me and take a shower!
We had dinner at a new place in downtown St. Paul. Iím not going to mention the name, because it was truly terrible. When my meal came, it was the wrong dish, and by the time the meal I had ordered came, the others were done with their meals. That wouldnít have been too bad, but my correct meal was awful.
The next morning, I accompanied them to St. Maryís Episcopal Church, a very nice building in the Laurel neighborhood. It was the blessing of the animals, so we took along Fergie the dog, their long-haired Dachshund, who is a little bundle of energy, like Harry the boy.
Others arrived with their dogs and other pets. During the service, the animals were actually pretty well-behaved, although the dogs wanted to meet and greet each other, and some strained at their leashes. It was the music that got them excited, though. There is a choir/ensemble, employing an electric violin, two drum sets, other instruments, and a few voices.
When the people with animals were invited to form a circle at the front of the church for the blessing, I noticed there were more than dogs. A chicken was there, a Plymouth Rock barred black and white, I think. There were some lizards, no cats that I saw, but a huge gaily colored parrot in its very own plexiglas carrying case. When they began the songs, a dog in attendance decided to join in. But unlike most dogs, he didnít yowl, he barked in a perfect after-beat. Then at the end of the last song, a lively, upbeat tune, the parrot ended the song with a mighty AWK!
After church we went to brunch, which made up for the meal the night before. But we left Fergie the dog in the car, like a hundred times before, and when we came back, it was apparent that she did not derive any graces from the church service, nor think about her sins. She had spilled and drunk our coffees in their paper cups, and eaten the stash of jelly beans and Swedish fish that they keep in the console to bribe or reward Harry.
No wonder they only bother to bless the animals one day a year.