Gidley Gumbo

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8


Flaming churches and flying tubes

Sun, Oct 12, 2008

7:30 am

Today is go-to-church day and heading-out-of-town day, so everybody agrees that we don't need any kind of prepared breakfast. Which means I get to "sleep in" as much as I can, which turns out to be all the way to 7:30 am. Unfortunately, this also means that the coffee isn't ready (one of the coffee pots has a timer, which I would use to make sure that the coffee was awake before I was).

So waking up is a slower process than usual, but I do eventually manage it.

9:00 am

I'm done packing all the stuff I brought with me, plus a couple of pounds of dry wall dust (my shoes are in a hermetically sealed bag to keep the worst of the plaster off the rest of my clothes).

If my bag weighs more than 50 pounds, the airline will hit me with a surcharge (or I'll have to drink a quart of rum very, very quickly, which seems like a Bad Idea). There's no scale at the Home Coming Center, so I just have to hope the luggage is not too heavy.

9:55 am

One nice thing about staying right next door to St. Paul's is that we have a short commute. We walk out the back door of the Home Coming Center and into one of the parking lots for the church.

There's a couple of "sucker doors" on that side of the church (go through them and you find yourself next to the celebrant at the altar or in the sacristy). So we start walking around the church when we pass a raised planter full of burning bark. We guess that the bark isn't really supposed to be burning, so I start picking out burning bits of it barehanded and throwing them on the sidewalk.

Fortunately, quick-thinking Denise, Mary Lou and Beth spot a nearby water puddle and start ferrying water over in their hands to extinguish the blaze.

Of course this means I walk into church with filthy hands asking, "Where's the bathroom?". But hey, at least the church didn't burn down.

10:15 am

The parishioners here are all sitting near the front of the church. What manner of Episcopalians are these?

10:40 am

Carl Knirk, who's been our driver all week (plus working on the houses) gets promoted to Reverend by the Diocese of Louisiana (at least in the church program) and gets up to talk to the congregation after the Peace. Since Carl is charge of Stewardship for the Diocese of Olympia, he naturally gives a pep talk about Stewardship and how important it is to step up and give more, especially when times are tough.

Then at the end, he casually mentions that the Bishop's Bash (which he also runs) raised $110,000 last week and half of that goes to the folks at St. Paul's. (And bless their souls, the priest at St. Paul's almost immediately suggests that they might want to help out those poor folks in Galveston, Texas.)

11:15 am

The church service is done, and I scored a couple of donuts (good ones, too!) when I notice a labyrinth in the center courtyard. Ever since I wrote an article about labyrinths I try to walk them wherever I run across them.

This one was about 3/4 size, which made it tough to make the turns. It looked like parts of it have been repainted since Katrina and parts of it hadn't. Because it was outside, it was sort of battered and stained but it was still a labyrinth. A statue of St. Francis looked out over it at one end.

12:30 pm

We're getting a ride to the airport from Katie, who's one of the teachers at St. Paul's School and who also helps out around the Home Coming Center. It turns out that four of us are traveling together and my cooking has been good enough that they want to make sure that I make it home safely (they've seen me yell at cop cars "Shoot his tires out, officer!" so they know that a certain amount of supervision is prudent).

We check in and make it through security safely and sit around in the departure area. Yee haw.

My bag came in at 46 pounds, which means I've got about three pounds of plaster in my clothes. Hope there's a "dry wall" setting on the washing machine...

9:15 pm (Home Time)

Well to cut short a long and boring story, after sitting in various flying metal tubes, I made it home. I'm now in my own comfy chair, with my own cats looking at me thinking, "Gone? You were gone?"

I do have to say that what I set out to do was totally insane. I had never cooked for that many people before. I had never cooked New Orleans food until about a month ago (and then from recipes I got on the internet).

But I found that if you trust in God and work your ass off, and despite a panic attack or two, at the end of the week, 16 other people will be well-fed and thinking that you do this all the time.

Dream big!

That's it for this trip log. I'd like to especially thank the fabulous Laura Gregg who had faith in me even when I didn't. Not sure when the next trip log will be, but you'll see it first!



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(c) 2008 by Robert Gidley