Monday, September 14, 2009

The Sunday Scramble

In this modern life, it is inevitable that schedules must sometimes collide. Michael and I had grown spoiled and accustomed to his having weekends off over that past several months, so much so that I took it for granted that our weekend plans were set - until last Tuesday night, when it suddenly dawned on us that he was scheduled to work twelve hour shifts on both the following Saturday and Sunday.

"You can't!" I cried. "The Pink Martini concert is Saturday, and we've had those tickets for months!"

A last minute decision to work a twelve, rather than eight, hour shift on Wednesday gave Michael the freedom to leave work in time for Saturday's concert (although this turned out to be unnecessary since he stayed home sick on Saturday - yes, sick again - still sick, in fact, although he made it to the concert and to work for the past couple of days). Sunday was another story. Just because Michael was at the VA for the day didn't mean my plans were in any way altered. Well, except for the fact that I needed the car. For the first time, I rose at 6:30 on a Sunday morning so I could drive Michael in to work and keep the car to myself for the day. For a Sunday, that's early. Very early.

Somehow Sunday had morphed into a day crowded with church-related events. I'd planned a hike for the "young adults" in the afternoon, it was the first day of Sunday School for the year, someone else had planned a walk at Volunteer Park, there was a meeting for Elizabeth Gregory home, a fundraising dinner for Elizabeth Gregory home, and I was counting the offering money with Erv. Not that all of these events affected me, mind you, but it seemed everyone in the congregation was busy in some way or another. Hey, at least the church felt alive, right?

Well, I'd planned the hike, so I was going hiking, no matter what. Four others crowded into my Pontiac Vibe, with Lucy huddled in the very back, and we headed out of town for Little Si. Not nearly as famous (or infamous) as Mount Si itself, Little Si offers a more gentle hiking option within 45 minutes of the city. Sure, there are some switchbacks and rugged, rocky steps and serpentine roots to navigate, but there is also a long, lovely level stretch through the woods, surrounded by alders and firs, ferns and snowberry bushes. After a final climb, we were rewarded with views across the valley, including a less-than-awe-inspiring peek at Issaquah's suburban sprawl, and a shady place on the rocks to relax over lunch. Out of all of us, Lucy seemed the least relaxed, having wedged herself into a fissure in the rock that was perhaps a little too tight for comfort.

Back at the trailhead we were happy and a little weary, and more than a little dirty. Two of us were attending the Elizabeth Gregory benefit dinner that evening at Portage Bay Cafe in South Lake Union, and time was running short. I pulled into the ULC parking lot around ten after five, sped home, fed the dog, took a shower, got dressed, and made it to the cafe promptly at six. Truly, that was miraculous timing. I also discovered the benefits of rolling down the windows to dry one's hair while cruising down Lake City Way. God bless multi-tasking!

Dinner seating was family style, with a wonderful buffet of salad, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, and stuffed chicken breasts. My friend Stephanie joined me as my guest to take Michael's place, although I'm afraid I lost her for a while when another friend, David, and I started up a conversation about rowing, inspired by the racing shell hanging from the Cafe's ceiling.

The best thing about the dinner, however, aside from great food and company, was the fact that every single cent from the very reasonable ticket price of $30 per person is going to Elizabeth Gregory Home. This is the women's transitional housing shelter instigated and brought to fruition through our church, a shelter that has now been helping women in need for three years. The fact that the owners of Portage Bay Cafe were willing to donate this entire meal to the cause, and provide us with a wonderful community night out while doing it was inspiring.

After dinner, I headed back to the VA to pick up Michael after his shift. Tired and coughing, he was eager to be home, sipping a tall mug of tea before bed. I felt a twinge of guilt at having been the one to get the long end of the stick, so to speak. Even if I had to rise at 6:30, going hiking on a sunny day and feasting with friends can hardly be considered hardships, while working at the VA... well, that's another story entirely. The man deserved a back scratch, and after he'd had his tea, I was happy to oblige.

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