Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Lockdown Chronicles #3 Communion-in-Place

    For the fourth time since Easter, I prepare to take Communion in place with my fellow communicants and the Celebrant of Trinity Church.  I've got a wine glass and a plain white saucer trimmed in gold. I have a bottle of port wine that I use, a leftover from a Christmas recipe.  I have saltines.  After pouring about a fourth of a cup of port into the wine glass, I set it on the table alongside the saltine on the saucer.  My kitchen table has become an altar. As video appears on the laptop screen, the altar is inscribed "This do in remembrance of me," and "QWERTY."

    Today I have invited three people to join me.  The first politely declines, citing yardwork to do and impending rain this afternoon.  A tropical storm  named Cristobal (the Christ-bearer) is to blame.

    The second person I invite also declines, but first, he's incredulous that we are still sheltering in place rather than meeting inside our building.  I note that our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan, has given us a schedule he thinks will guard our safety as we ease back into meeting together.  My invitee shakes his head, pronounces us "ridiculous," and leaves to drive 20 miles to the church of his choice.

    The third invitee turns me down too, after explaining that he had wished to attend church today, but had to clean his back porch instead.  He notes that he has asked many people about the communion-in-place practice, and all have roundly condemned it.  "You can't just have communion wherever. You're supposed to do that in church."  I point out that we are the Church, and besides, our homebound bread and wine have been consecrated.  The Bishop has okayed this.  My fellow Christian says an Episcopal bishop bashed the president.

    The front door opens.  Two dogs come in, a yellow Lab and a chocolate Lab/catahoula mix.  They stop near the table and lie down on the cool tile floor, panting a little, and quietly alert.  The yellow one stretches out, relaxed, with his long hind legs extended.  The beautiful mix tucks his front paws and gazes serenely at the wall.

    In spite of audio problems, the sermon comes through loud and clear.  I recite my part of the Prayers of the People, the responses to Eucharistic Prayer A, and the Lord's Prayer.  I know them all by heart.  When it is time to take Communion, I break off a piece of my saltine (the Bread of Heaven)  and sip the wine (the Cup of Salvation.)  The service ends with "Thanks be to God.  Alleluia, alleluia," and I clear away the saucer.  I remember not to throw the leftover wine down the sink and drink what is left.

    The Old Testament text and the context for the sermon today rings in my head, and not because of the extra wine.  God made them, according to their kind.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Lockdown Chronicles #2

Officially, we are no longer locked down.  Our Governor advised us we'd still be safer at home.  We replied, "Yes, Ma'am," and went shopping.  Unofficially, the pattern I refer to as Perpetual Saturday Syndrome persists.  Friday, May 8, 2020 was the last day of school in my home county, and the last day of Kindergarten ever for my granddaughter.  We observed this milestone without the oversized white academic garb complete with mortarboard that indicates the kids may progress to First Grade.  We did without a class party, a warm-weather field trip to the zoo, and the limo ride that was to be part of the prizes promised for selling lots of fund-raiser junk.  We also moved forward without hugs for the teacher or exchange of phone numbers in anticipation of summer playdates.  There was not even a "Have a great summer," or "See you in August."

We had two remaining worksheets which Maddie sailed through without hesitation.  I completed the online checklist and hit send, assuring the teacher for the fifth time that we read 2 books every night, that we went over the sight words daily, and that she could definitely count and write to 100.  Maddie said, "So Kindergarten is over?"  Yes, Maddie, you're done.  Not with a bang, and do not whimper.  She didn't.  She gave me a perplexed frown and asked if she could color. Her workbooks for summer enrichment, her pencil box, her scissors, glue stick, and crayons are all still on the kitchen table.  This space has been her classroom since the day we picked up our first packet of assignments from the front of the school she wouldn't be allowed to enter again this school year.  She sat on adult-sized dining chairs and looked at a wall with sconces and an old print we brought with us from Montgomery 18 years ago.  If she missed funny bulletin boards or her own cubbie near the reading corner, she never complained.

I enjoyed a Kindergarten graduation, or at least my family did.  I remember not liking the white gown and mortarboard I was mortified to wear, as I tripped along the hallway of Rooks School.  My diploma was signed by Principal Viola Rooks, and probably by Mrs. Morris, my teacher, as well.  Mrs. Morris was mean and would gladly smack the palm of your hand or your rear end with a ruler, depending on how talkative you were.  I was on the receiving end of quite a few well-placed swats that year, and Mrs. Morris never worried that she would lose her job for spanking children.  Children who got spanked at school got spanked at home, too.

 I excelled at Kindergarten, even though I only got 2 report cards.  I left mine at home after the second reporting period, and I never got another one.  I guess the budget at little, private Rooks School was even more limited than the public school's where Maddie attends today. I was not conscious at all of whether or not schools had money to pay for things.  I took lunch to school every day and also brought a nickel with me so I could buy a Coke, orangeade, milk or chocolate milk. (All of those came in glass bottles!)  We sat in rows in little desks and never left our classroom other than for restroom break and recess.  Our coloring pages were simple affairs--usually one common object like a flower or a house.  I once got into trouble for coloring a teapot purple and red in spite of the fact that Mrs. Morris had colored hers green and red and put it on the board in front of the room.

The classroom itself must have been some one's bedroom at one time.  We exited our classroom by a separate door onto the wrap-around porch and into the yard for play.  Rooks School was housed in a a wonderful Victorian home with a round tower and octagon-shaped pavers from the sidewalk to the front steps.  It was less than a block away from Oak Park in Montgomery and within 2 blocks of the hospital than has swallowed up the whole neighborhood since then.  But what a building this was!  The principal's office was the entrance hall, with its desk parallel to an imposing stairway.  There were French doors to the right leading into what had probably been the drawing room.  That room was my classroom when I finally made it to 2nd grade.  I never got to go upstairs, but my dream was to be in 6th grade in the round tower classroom.

In some ways it is surprising that I'd remember so much about Kindergarten.  I have friends that don't even know who they had for English their senior year in high school!  But the strict, unique character of the school I attended is captured for all time in a series of mental snapshots. They tell me my first experience of school was rich and useful, because I am a student to this day.

Will Maddie remember Kindergarten?  She really liked her pre-K class, but already some of the names and faces from that year have begun to blur.  She was thrilled with her new school in August, 2019, which feels far removed  from the kitchen table and  the stack of "take-home centers" she carefully colored and cut out.  Maddie, your teacher was glad to meet you and gave you a choice of a hug, a handshake, or a dance as a greeting.  You chose a dance! You  had a cubbie all your own. You went to the computer lab, and that was your favorite thing.  You bought Italian ice on Fridays.  Remember.

Peter, Paul and Mary I Shall Be Released

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Lockdown Chronicles #1

We've been in lockdown mode in my home state of Alabama since April 4, but schools and most jobs switched  to WFH even before that.  This being my fourth or fifth Sunday of virtual church and hanging around the kitchen for the extra cup of coffee I usually don't have time for, I became aware of

Bird Wars

You read that right.  In the midst of coronavirus, which is worse than avian flu, the winged citizens of my backyard had declared war on each other.  It was all my fault.

I have a bit of extra income at the moment.  As a counselor, I have been in part-time practice for awhile with sporadic access to a friend's office.  More recently, though, I have taken to an online platform.  Since the pandemic, the client load has doubled.  The extra income won't get me a plane ticket to Europe when travel is ok again, but it allows me some unusual splurges: a movie rental from Amazon twice in one week, Tide for the laundry, extra coffee pods, and fruit & nut blend for the bird feeder.

The fruit & nut blend turned out to be ambrosia for the birds. 

At first glance, my backyard looked like it always does--2 acres of gently rolling green grass, a clump of trees here and there (mostly popcorn trees and other volunteers) a tall poplar with the yellow flowers that have made their debut this year.  Several yards away from the full-length back windows in my kitchen is a cedar bird feeder at the top of a post about 6 feet high.  I can see it perfectly from the brim of my coffee mug.

Today I saw a battlefield.

A woodpecker has been hanging around the yard for the last couple of weeks.  I don't know how it knew that I was going to buy fruit & nut mix, but it must have known, because it doesn't really like the bird feeder all that much.  Today it was clinging to the edges that supported its considerable weight, munching without pause.  I noted that a grosbeak with splashy red markings had joined it.  The woodpecker paid the grosbeak no mind, and both gobbled as if they hadn't both been eating bugs all along.  Then it happened-- A crow the size of a C-130 came screaming out of the wooded area way in back, approached the feeder at full speed, and gave chase to the grosbeak, which high-tailed it into a bottle-brush tree.  Panicky fluttering ensued among the bottle brushes, and the crow wheeled around to approach the feeder, which it now owned, having scared the living daylights out of the woodpecker.  But before the crow could fix its unwieldy body on the edge of the feeder, out of nowhere came an enraged mockingbird.

I should add at this point, that it takes very little to enrage a mockingbird.  If she has a nest nearby, just the appearance of a happy Labrador retriever will set off her aerial acrobatics, and she will squawk until the hapless dog curls up on the porch.  I once saw an annoyed mama mocker harass a chicken snake until it slithered into a blackberry thicket.  We never saw that snake again, even though it had hung around for 2 summers, working cheap by keeping mice away.

At any rate, today's annoyed mockingbird was no different.  It flew over, under, and around the crow, making the crow's flight unbalanced and stupid-looking.  I don't know if mockingbirds are the natural advocates for grosbeaks, but they don't compete for birdseed, because they generally don't feed at bird feeders. Maybe they just don't like crows.

The crow, humiliated, retreated to the back of the yard, from whence it had come. It did not stay back there long.  In less than a minute it returned accompanied by not one, but 2 of its closest friends and allies.  They fluttered and flapped all around the bird feeder in a kind of drunken victory dance.  The mockingbird thought that was funny.  It flew out of the woodpecker's home tree, and weaved in and out of the crows' carousing.  The English ships must have appeared equally as nimble to sailors aboard the Spanish Armada.  And like the Armada, the three crows retreated, in no formation whatsoever, to the unprestigious thicket down by the pond.  After about an hour, I noted that the grosbeak and the woodpecker had returned to the buffet for lunch.

The mockingbird was nowhere to be seen.

Such is the routine around here during lockdown. I am extremely grateful not to be sick today, and I'll be profoundly happy to return to work some hot July day when the grocery stores are deemed safe and nothing at the gas station needs to be wiped down.  For now, I will keep TV off and social media at a distance while I keep tabs on the mini-drama happening in the world where coronavirus is not a problem.  My money is on the mockingbirds.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fresh Out

'''Twas a rough night."--Macbeth

    On my third morning in post-11/9 America, I noticed many more birds in my backyard than usual. They were drawn to the bird feeder, of course, but more than that, they came for the water in the bird bath.  I understand that it hasn't rained in Alabama in over 21 days. This dry November morning was pale with diffuse light from an unpromising overcast sky. Despite the presence of wrens, chickadees, mockingbirds, bluebirds, and one woodpecker, the quiet settled on the tinderbox of our few acres, hushing even the wind. 

     Like most of the 51%  who supported Hillary Clinton, I had walked gracelessly through day one, still listening to NPR and watching Huff Post the way I had watched polls since July. We were waiting, I guess, to discover that we'd been punked.  Or that Florida had once again confused its
voters as to how to deal with a ballot.  Or that it was all a horrible dream. By day two, we were seeking explanations.  Pollsters were wrong?  All of them?  Why?  Democrats did not turn out in cities?  We should have known that! The rust belt bought the Bring Jobs Back line more than they'd let on?  And finally . . . Democrats have created an "us versus them" climate by claiming to be the educated, rational party, not listening to the outrage of people who work every day.  

     I was sorting out the various angles of why and how as I entered the building where I work, and it must have shown. "It's Thursday," said our doorman. "You're almost done."  Normally I would have nodded agreement and said Yep!  Bring on the weekend.  Today I stopped. I looked at him and said, "We have some dark days ahead."

     His tone when he replied was as even as the overcast sky this morning--still and without a trace of portent.  "Yes, we do.  This is why we pray.  This is why."  I later apologized to him, thinking I must have seemed terribly negative. But he said NO. He didn't think that.  "This is what the Black
community hoped would not happen. But we felt this. Everything is on the table," he said.  "And
when everything is on the table, everyone can lose something."
    This was the first conversation I had had with anyone and the first time I had nearly choked on the taste of despair.  Since then, my friend in West Virginia texted me a clip from Stephen Colbert's
election night show and said she didn't want to talk. Another friend closer to home called to say she had been unbearably sad all day long. My friend on the West Coast thanked God she didn't live in Ohio.  Here at home, my husband and I muttered about the merits of taking social security before full retirement age and what might be the future of Medicare. We did not talk about our granddaughter, who might not have funds for what will become obscenely expensive college.  We did not mention how she might swelter through 95-degree October days and Aprils without showers.  We did not wonder aloud if she would be paid the best wage available for whatever job she chooses. We did not discuss her public school education or the fact that she requires Medicaid. 
    Some groups in cities have already marched in the streets in protest that Donald Trump is not their president. The minority of voters who elected Trump are indignant, forgetting that their stance regarding Barack Obama was much the same. Other people have begun petitioning for electors to flip their votes in December, a helpless bleat from those wishing for a do-over.  Still others have again raised the question of whether Electoral College should exist at all. There is blaming; there is anger.  

     There is fear.

      The Governor of Alabama told us a couple of weeks ago that our education system in this state "sucks."  He offered no solution other than that he would do something about it. This seems to be the modality of those who have seized power.  We see clearly what has gone wrong, they tell us.  We will
fix this.  In the meantime, the Governor warned us, we should not try to burn anything. 

     Hillary Clinton is blameless, the most intelligent, qualified, maligned, and exonerated candidate I have ever seen. Her determination to lead was misinterpreted here in Alabama as power hunger.  Donald Trump's self-aggrandizement was taken as leadership quality. What rabbit hole have we fallen down?  No matter.  I have figured something out.  The blame lies not with Hillary Clinton, who gave her all; not with Donald Trump, who stepped in to fill a vacuum; not with the populace that voted against its own best interest because that is what they've always done; and not with Democrats whose vision was inclusive, but not inclusive enough. The blame lies with me.  I did not listen. I did not work hard.  I did not speak up often enough. That is about to change. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Foxtrot No One Enjoyed

The American military has a way of describing nearly everything with its own unique, arcane language.  Gossip, for example, is scuttlebutt.  A collection of brightly-colored ribbons on a dress uniform is fruit-salad.  A situation that is irreparably chaotic, hopelessly marred by poor communication, or just a big mess is a  . . . wait a minute.  This is a civilized blog.  We will refer to the big mess as charlie foxtrot, and I beg you to excuse my language, but I found myself dancing in a foxtrot I never wished for.  Some one should have cut in.

April 11 was a milestone day for my son, a Sailor.  It was not only his three-year service anniversary; it was the start of what might have been his longest and final deployment.  In addition, my Sailor was to receive his Good Conduct Medal for three years' service without any disciplinary action.  Mr. Powers and I have never missed an opportunity to see his ship leave or return, and this day was to be no different.  Last minute schedule- shifting had been necessary, but we had arrived in Jonathan's base city late on the night of the 10th.  That was a spur-of-the-moment arrival, to be sure, but we had a late supper with our son and made plans to arrive at the base by 0830 the following morning.  That would give us ample time to clear any security details and proceed to the pier before the Sailors began to man the rails.  There would be sad smiles, hugs, and congratulations all around.  There would be pictures!

We were in line at the main gate in plenty of time, drivers' licenses, registration, and proof of insurance in hand.  (Hey, this ain't our first rodeo!)  We presented an MP with our paperwork with the expectation that he would direct us to a checkpoint ahead where we would be identified as members of a deploying Sailor's family.  Instead, the busy MP informed us that we could not "just drive onto the base," as if we didn't know.  He stopped the traffic in the outbound lane so that we could U-turn around the gatehouse and pull into the parking lot of the Base Pass Office.

Every base has one of these cinder-block, square buildings with a giant label by the door that says BASE PASS OFFICE.  A visitor parks his car, goes inside, presents his credentials, and gets a placard to go on his dash.  We parked and entered the building.  There was one other customer there, a Sailor registering his motorcycle.  No one else was waiting.  It was here, at 0827 on a Friday morning, that we had the misfortune of meeting Mr. B.  I will give no information here as to Mr. B's racial/ ethnic group, religious affiliation or ELL status.  I want there to be no unfair generalizing.  What I will state is that Mr. B., a civilian contractee with little to do, was the most indolent, apathetic creature I have ever been cursed to encounter.

"Help you please?"  he asked.  (Translation:  Do I have to deal with you?  OK, let's get it over with.)

Mr. Powers and I proceeded to the window with all our credentials in hand.  (I should note that the MP had already run a check on both drivers' licenses and our car tag.  What a relief!  We are not suspected of being terrorists.)  We put the paperwork on the windowsill, explaining that our son was aboard a deploying ship, and that we were there to see the departure.

"I don't see a  special event on the calendar for (Ship Name).  Is it a departure or an arrival?"  (Translation:  I am not listening whatsoever.)

"It's the (Ship Name).  They pull out at 10:00."

"Is there a list?  Who's your sponsor?"  (Translation:  I don't know what to do.)

Was this a trick question?  How would we know if there were a list?  There always has been, and we've always been on it.  We told him our son's name for the second time.  Mr. B. heaved himself out of his chair and went into another room.  He came back in 10 seconds.

"You can't go on base without a sponsor.  Your sponsor will have to come to the gate and escort you while you're on base.  You can sit over there and wait for your sponsor."  (Translation:  I'm done.  This is your problem.  Get out of my window.)

I got on my cell phone, thinking that Jonathan would still have time to leave the pier area and drive to the gate to act as our escort.  Jonathan, however, was aboard ship. probably changing into his dress whites in preparation for manning the rails, and was unable to receive wireless signals.  I tried calling, texting, emailing, and Facebook messaging, all to no avail.  I was finally able to get ahold of another Navy mom who was already on the pier, having stayed overnight with her son and his family.  I explained our dilemma to her, she passed the word (scuttlebutt!) to another Sailor, and he went aboard to tell Jonathan about the charlie foxtrot we had encountered.  But by that time, no Sailor could leave the area, so our chance of getting any escort was just about zero.  It occurred to me to call the ship's family liaison, but the cell number I had wasn't connecting for some reason.  Thinking I had the wrong number, I ventured back to the window and asked Mr. B if he had a number for that individual.

"I  can give you the number ma'am," he intoned.  (Translation:  Oh my God, lady, can't you see I'm trying to set up a dental appointment here?  Hold on a minute.)

He did give me a number.  It was a landline, and it rang to infinity.  I hung up in despair.

Lest you decide to stop reading here, concluding that this is just a sentimental mom's lament that she didn't get to say Fair winds and following seas to her kid, I should tell you that there was also a practical matter that needed our attention on the base.  Jonathan doesn't store his truck on base; we bring it home during deployment.  He likes it to be driven; we like the convenience of having a nice pick-up truck to use.  He had brought the key along with him to give to us before he had to go aboard.  His friend got to him with the charlie foxtrot message just in time for Jonathan to pass the key along to a Navy wife.  She was able to bring us the truck key, but she only showed up at the Base Pass Office after the ship had pulled out and was out of sight.  Can you blame her?  Her husband was aboard that ship.  She gave me a ride down to the parking lot where Jonathan had left the truck.  Mr. Powers waited at the gate with our car.  By that time, we were fearful they'd tow it away if it were unattended.

Jonathan's white Dodge was where he said it would be.  I thanked the young lady for the lift, unlocked the door, silenced the alarm, and turned the ignition.  The truck idled smoothly.  It hadn't even gotten hot inside the cab yet.  I rolled the window down and pulled the seat forward.  Jonathan is so much taller than I am.  There was an Episcopal service order on the floor from the previous Sunday, a black sock without a mate on the seat, a coffee mug from the NEX in the cup holder--just the everyday trappings of a Sailor on the job.  I pulled out of the lot and headed back the way I had come in. As I passed the deserted pier, I glanced out the left-hand window at blue-gray water lapping against the concrete and stretching to the empty horizon.  I was careful to fasten my seatbelt and stay below the speed limit.

An hour later, Mr. Powers and I were a motorcade of two headed west.  He drove the truck; I was back in my car.  We stopped for lunch, asking each other the same questions we had been asking all morning:  Why didn't Mr. B just call the ship and verify the deployment?  Why didn't he simply ask a Sailor to escort us the half- mile we would need to travel down to the pier?  What was the point of holding us at the gate once they had verified who we were and why we were there?  There was no unusual security on base that day.  What would prevent a couple of aging baby-boomers in a Chrysler from proceeding to a pier where their bona-fide, natural-born son is waiting to pull out?  We couldn't come up with any answers.   We knew only two things for certain:  We were sadly disappointed, and our Sailor was mad.

I mentioned earlier that it was a milestone day for Jonathan.  Check the date.  I wrote this on April 13.  On April 14, 200 miles north of Bermuda, the USS Hue City caught fire.  My Sailor and the rest of the crew fought major flames for nearly two hours, and miraculously, no one was killed or injured.  The deployment ended that day, and the ship began her return home.   On April 17,  Jonathan received the official word:  He's the Sailor of the Quarter.   On April 18, I got the call that let me know my son was safe in port.   I guess even good Sailors get the charlie foxtrot treatment once in awhile.  But having just celebrated Easter in a way I never expected--in the happy company of my whole family--I also guess that charlie foxtrot is a relative term.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day or Breaking Up with Krispy Kreme

On Valentine's Day 2014, I was especially excited because Mr. Powers was going to take me to a restaurant that I loved and he was unfamiliar with.  Translation:  He had never been there and was not interested in going.  The day before Valentine's, he had made the mistake of asking one of his student assistants for advice on where to take his wife for a nice, non-extravagant dinner.  Woe unto Mr. Powers!  She'd suggested my favorite place.

The restaurant was crowded and noisy, but I was pleased to note that the food was so good that even my skeptical husband had to admit he liked it.  I took advantage of his full belly and need of a quiet venue, so I suggested going for coffee somewhere close by after the meal.  We could go to Starbuck's, which might be a little crowded, but it's never noisy, or we could go to Books-a-Million where the coffee is good, and there are other attractions for book-mongering nerds like me.  Mr. Powers could get a magazine or newspaper; I would be free to browse. . . and browse. . . . and . . . .

My husband had a better idea.  He jolted me from my dreams of new books and Sno-Joe with "Why don't we just go on down to Krispy Kreme?  We can get dessert too."

I know when I'm licked, because doughnuts are my mate's tacky pleasure.  He never met a doughnut he didn't like, be it oblong, cream-filled, lemon, chocolate with sprinkles, powdered sugar, or Classic Glazed.  I timidly offered the possibility that we could just hit the drive-through, but for Mr. Powers, that would have meant driving to Slapout from Montgomery with a dozen fresh KK's in the backseat.  He couldn't bear the wait.  We would have to go inside.

So to Krispy Kreme we went.  Don't get me wrong.  I love coffee, and KK makes a better-than-average cup.  I really didn't expect much of a crowd at 7:30 on a Friday night, so I figured that anything we would lose in ambience we would gain in java--and doughnuts, of course.  My regimen doesn't allow me doughnuts right now, but I could certainly sip my coffee in peace while Mr. Powers debated between the chocolate-covered long john and the cinnamon-dusted apple-filled.

The Montgomery Krispy Kreme is not new,  but like a good many coffee emporia, it is trying to keep up with the ubiquitous Starbuck's by offering specialty coffees for people who really don't like coffee all that much.  Therefore, there is a big coffee menu inside KK where there used to be only a list of doughnut prices.  I could choose from cappuccino, latte, iced, hot, with any number of gooey syrups drizzled on top in case my doughnuts weren't sugary enough.  I asked for the small version of their caramel latte, which would probably have packed the caloric wallop of a raspberry-filled glazed.  What I got was an apology.  The espresso machine was broken, so none of the specialty coffees were available.   Relieved, I ordered black coffee with a splash of vanilla flavor, and it wasn't bad at all. Mr. Powers, who was really only there for the doughnuts,  happily ordered black coffee.

We took our desserts and headed for a table.  KK used to be a shiny 60's coffee shop with lots of chrome, booths, and a formica counter with stools.  I think it would still like to be, but competition with you-know-who has led it to try to come up with a new atmosphere--some sort of environment that would encourage one to sit with his frothy, caramel-oozing dessert coffee and read the Montgomery Advertiser online.  KK has added small tables for two.  This night, they had tied balloons--pink and red, heart-shaped and metallic--to the backs of chairs, and in the center of each table was a romantic paper Krispy Kreme hat.  Mr. Powers and I were in agreement that the paper hat could be donned and worn by anyone who sat at the table, but when I said I wanted the balloons that were attached to my chair, he said NO.  He felt strongly that the balloons were only decorative and were NOT freebies.  All in all, it didn't seem like all that bad a place to relax over coffee before heading back to Elmore County.  HOWEVER--

There was one other group of doughnut fans in the place besides the two of us.  There were maybe  five adults in the party, and they had pulled two tables together.  On one chair was an infant carrier.  In that carrier was--you guessed it--an infant.  The baby was awake and peaceful, too young to eat a doughnut, but in no hurry.  Why, I wondered, was this group so noisy?  Then I saw what I had been hearing all along but not attended to, being so absorbed in the dilemma of what to order:  There were three preschoolers, all girls, under the tables.  Giggling.  Chattering.  Squealing.  Screaming.  One by one, out they came and proceeded to run around and around their parents' tables, laughing hysterically, batting pink balloons into the air.   One of them put her paper KK hat on the baby, who stirred a bit, until another little girl decided the hat was hers.  A dispute ensued over who had had the hat first. Balloons burst.  Baby cried.  The smallest preschooler jumped up and down.  Through it all, the adults conversed as if absolutely nothing were amiss.  Without saying a word to each other, Mr. Powers and I sped up the process, placing plastic lids on our half-full coffee cups, and leaving KK, paper hat, and balloons.

I raised boys.  They shouted, they hollered, and they got themselves taken out of many a restaurant, because their dad and I knew that if we were annoyed with them, others must be, too.  I never had little girls, and I surmise that with girls, the rules are different.  No one at Krispy Kreme that night seemed the least bit bothered by the antics of three doughnut-powered princesses.  Who were we to complain?  We didn't.  It was Valentine's Day.  Mr. Powers and I love each other, we love coffee, and we still love Krispy Kreme.  Only next time, we'll hit the drive-through.