A busy day

I have fond memories of talent shows at summer camp. The impromptu performances were part of many of my church camp experiences. They featured a few campers singing songs, telling stories, telling jokes, and lots of silly skits. When we were camp managers, we tired to always have an act for the talent shows featuring camp staff. I made a laundry tub string bass and we played and sang songs with other homemade instruments, including a jug we blew across to make tones. I can still remember some of the silly skits that were made up for the fun of performance. Church camp audiences are a pretty supportive lot. It is a good place to get a taste of performance without much risk.

The church we are now serving has a tradition of a variety show that is reminiscent of church camp talent shows. The organizers of the variety show are quick to state that it is not a talent show - people can choose to demonstrate a talent, but there is no judging of whose talent is better or worse than another. The show is, rather, intended to demonstrate the variety of talents present in the congregation. The show will be held this evening, and I know we will hear a bit of poetry, listen to a few jokes, be regaled with a few stories, and entertained by some musical offerings. The show will follow a soup, competition. The competition is all in fun. Volunteers have made batches of their favorite soup which will be served as part of a light supper. Diners will vote for their favorite soup by using a random number displayed on the serving dish. A winner will be announced based on the votes of those eating supper. There will be a free will offering that will go to support camp scholarships for those attending church camp this summer.

Given my history, my love of church camp, and my support of faith formation and education programs at our church, it was pretty evident that I couldn’t refuse when one of the organizers of the variety show asked me to come up with a performance. I agreed to tell a story. Last year I had a humorous story that took less than 5 minutes. This year, I haven’t given much time to preparation. I’m still refining the story I plan to tell. One of the big challenges for me is trying to figure out how to tell a complete story without taking much time. The variety show can tend to go on and on - something that somehow was less of a problem at church camp, when the number of acts was relatively low. The last thing I want to do is to contribute to keeping people up on a Saturday night. I have good reasons to rise early on Sunday mornings and tomorrow will be no exception.

So throughout the day, I’ll be attempting to figure out ways to make the story interesting, engaging, and short. Those three qualities don’t always go together. A short story that doesn’t engage the audience isn’t the best option. An engaging story that takes too much time is also not my preferred contribution. How do I give enough details to get the audience hooked on the story without taking too much time? It is a question worthy of a bit of pondering as I go through my day.

One of the things I enjoy about my current phase of life is that my days are full. The variety show isn’t the only thing on my schedule for the day. After I complete a few chores at home, I’ll head to our son’s farm where we have several projects we want to tackle together. This time of year there is always mowing, trimming, and picking up grass clippings at the farm. I have a project in the shop, making some new tops for bee hives. My bees have been very busy over the last couple of weeks and soon will be ready for honey supers on their hives. They’ve already made some honeycomb in addition to all of the new brood cells in the hive. Yesterday a bit of honeycomb had to be removed as part of a hive inspection. I shared the sweet delicacy with our grandchildren, who were delighted with the bees’ offering. It is way too soon to begin harvesting honey from the hives, but things are looking good for significant honey production this year. All of the blooming plants in the orchard and other places around the farm are providing lots of pollen and nectar for the bees.

We usually try to have at least one meal with our son and grandchildren on Saturdays. His wife is a mental health therapist who has a private practice. She schedules all of her sessions with clients for Saturdays, which means for a long work day for her, often with 12 hours of client visits. It also means that our son is pretty busily occupied with care of 4 children and a farm to run while she is working at her practice. We like to help the family a bit on these busy days. Sometimes they come to our place for one of their meals. Other times we might get carry out and take it to the farm. Today, since we will be having supper at the church, a lunch plan seems like a good way to go. The local master gardeners are having a sale at a local park that is a good place for a picnic, so perhaps we can combine a family lunch with an opportunity to pick up a few bedding plants. Our tiny yard doesn’t have much garden space, but we have already gotten our tomato plants, a few rows of spinach, some pepper plants and a bit of zucchini growing. And, of course, we have dahlias that we put in a new bed this year. They are beginning to show a couple of inches from the soil and the promise of their large and colorful blossoms give promise and inspire us to get to work with gardening.

It will be a busy day and near the end of the day, I need to have a good story. It’s too bad i don’t have some of my old camp buddies around to inspire me and give me some good ideas. On the other hand, I’m thinking that it is possible I remember our old skits as being far more entertaining than they were in reality at the time. I suspect I’ll be ready for bed by the time I get home this evening.

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