Friday, April 13, 2007

Counting Blessings

I'm pretty tired right now, and I have far too much work to do in the next two days, and I'm moderately grumpy. Today I had three meetings at work followed by a potluck dinner and discussion at church: I did get to swim in the middle of all that, so I don't feel as pretzel-like as I ordinarily would after sitting in uncomfortable chairs all day. However, it's definitely time to list some blessings to restore perspective.

1. Earlier this week, I got good news from a student whose significant other had a really premature baby -- 25 or 26 weeks, weighing 1 pound 10 ounces at birth -- earlier this semester. The baby's doing beautifully: he weighs almost three pounds now and is off almost all the fancy NICU equipment. The student told me they couldn't have asked for a better scenario. They'd originally thought that the soonest the baby would be able to come home was June, but now it's possible that they may be able to bring him home in May.

2. In mid-May, I'll get to start going to the hospital during the week again, instead of Sunday evenings -- which will make my life much easier. I wasn't sure the shift I wanted would be available, but after a round of e-mails with the volunteer coordinator today, it looks like it will be.

3. There was a funny bit of slapstick at the church potluck this evening. We were meeting to chat with our interim bishop, Jerry Lamb (perfect name for a bishop!). I'd forgotten all about the potluck until this afternoon, and there wasn't time to bring something for everybody, so Gary cooked a curry -- lamb, as it happens -- for the two of us, and I brought my own portion to church. Bishop Lamb was late; I didn't want my food to get cold and I was also hungry, so I started eating when everyone else was still milling around socializing. Gary's a very good cook, so I wound up giving away portions of my meal when friends wandered over, said plaintively, "That smells so good!" and stared pointedly at my plate.

I suddenly realized that everyone else was standing up, and when I turned in my chair to see what had happened, this guy in a purple shirt was about eighteen inches away from me, staring pointedly at my plate. "I'm so glad you started," he said.

Everyone laughed. I turned red -- someone said, "Is Susan going to explode?" -- and then I said, "I'll just crawl under the table now," and proceeded to do just that.

Bishop Lamb, who was also laughing, pulled me out by my sleeve and apologized very nicely for embarrassing me, although he also said cheerfully, "I'll never forget having you groveling at my feet."

I gave him some lamb curry to show that there were no hard feelings. I hope he enjoyed it.

So those are my blessings, although I also have a prayer request. My mother's having surgery on the 23rd, a week from Monday; I'd appreciate prayers for her and her caregivers, as well as for me and my sister.


  1. Good Morning Susan!
    It's great that you have a church group that doesn't mind sharing food from the same plate. My ex and I used to do that all the time. Loved the slapstick quality of you crawling under a table. Your bishop sounds like he has a great sense of humor. (g) Yes! I will pray for you, your mom, and family.
    Peace & Hope!

  2. Anonymous6:24 PM

    Dear Susan,

    I'm not sure if compliments count as blessings - but I wanted to write in to say that I just bought The Fate of Mice this afternoon and devoured the whole thing in a single sitting (except Gestella, which I've read several times before and felt would pack too much of a punch for the particular mood I was in, taking a break after an exceptionally full week of particularly long days and even more particularly short nights). What amazing work it is!

    It's much too soon to list favorites among the stories - I will have to read them all again several times to make up my mind - but I wanted to register my vote in the "yes" column for GI Jesus. It was totally different from anything I expected from either the title or the blog conversation. I'd already guessed I would like it because I always like your work, and I'm happy to report that I did indeed like it quite a lot. I wouldn't have imagined that particular set of characters myself, but the conversational inner voice of the main character made her so vivid in my mind, and her conversations with others seemed so very pungently real, that the whole thing was just wonderful, silly and serious all at the same time.

    I'm looking forward to Shelter more than ever - oh, the luxury of two new Palwick pieces in a single year! The long wait between Flying Place and The Necessary Beggar was awful, so this is a very nice change.

    Thank you for your wonderful writing,


  3. Thanks, Lee!

    And THANKS, Jean! Wow! That comment made my week -- or maybe my semester!

    I'll be curious to hear further thoughts on the stories as you sort them out.

  4. Prayers for your mother and whole family as you all prepare for her surgery the 23rd. Hope things go as well as they possibly can!

  5. Anonymous3:06 PM

    Dear Susan,

    Here are those further thoughts on the stories you were asking about ...

    My favorite story of all of yours I've read remains "Aida in the Park," which moved me to tears the first time I read it years ago now in another city.

    In this collection, my favorites are "The Fate of Mice," "Jo's Hair," and "Going after Bobo." I should add that I think "Gestella" is also a truly great story, but just a little too creepy for me to really enjoy it in the same way as the others. I can't say exactly why these are my favorites, but they are the ones that most stick in my head several days after reading them all for the first time. Dare I ask if you have favorites? Or would it be rude to ask an author to single out any of her literary children above any of the others?


  6. Hi, Jean! Thanks for the follow-up comment!

    I'm fond of them all, but for different reasons. "Jo's Hair" was the story I read at my UNR campus visit, so it helped get me my job. "Going After Bobo" was the story that helped me heal from losing one of our own cats. And "The Fate of Mice" was just plain fun to write.

    Of the new stories in the book, I'm especially fond of "The Old World," just because it's unlike my other stories and because I love the character of the father.

    But, you know, depending on my mood, I could claim any of them as a favorite.

    I'm especially pleased that you liked "Aida in the Park;" I was disappointed that the editors didn't include that story.


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