Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.


Filed under: — Constance at 9:19 am on Monday, December 21, 2009
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together…”

The sound of a chocolate retriever’s ears being vigorously tossed in his wake-up flap begins the day for the two septuagenarians still abed. As both climb out, she stands looking across at her beloved and says, “Well, we’re up” and he, standing on the other side looks back at her and says, “So we are. It’s a miracle!” After laughing merrily, it struck me that this is what I can tell everyone concerning 2009 – “It’s a miracle!” because much of what took place throughout the year has been ordinary people experiencing extraordinary life.

An example is the onrush of technology. We pride ourselves in being “with it” even though we are aware that without our children’s savvy and assistance, we would still be writing on stone. At the end of summer, Janna and the eight year old twins came to spend a week with us, and I came into the space where we have his/her computers on the desktop. There were the girls, each facing a computer, mouse in hand, clicking away at a ferocious rate, with games on the screen. I said “What are you playing?” Ursula replied happily, “Oh, we wanted to play this game where you talk to each other on different computers, and Fiona found out how to connect through your Airport, so everything is just fine”. I said somewhat weakly, “Does your Mama know?” which was a ridiculous question, and both girls turned and gave me those huge grandchildren smiles that tell you right away that you are swimming in deep water, “Oh yes! She showed us how”. I left, completely routed.

Looking at the young faces and confronting the new minds of our four grand daughters feels miraculous, if not a bit scary. Nine-year-old Kira has all the skills of a competent social secretary well in hand, asking with true concern, “How are you Grandma?” when she visits with me. (It is likely that she has overheard conversations on the subject and knows a good deal.) Zoie is now a thirteen-year-old seventh grade child. I smile inside when I see her and visit with her, because even as I talk to this beautiful young girl, the sound track of many years of teaching 7th graders is playing in the background. “You teach 7th Graders? Oh wow!”, spoken in awe by other professionals. The best outcome of this experience is that from that time on, most life situations have a benchmark that is hard to exceed.

Charles got a new cell phone because we misplaced the old one – we are aware that “land lines” are fading, and “everyone else” communicates with cell phones. It makes great sense, ever connected at all moments. Our old phone had buttons that were very small, and Charles has very large finger tips from playing the organ for uncountable hours, so the new phone has very nice large digits on its screen. It came with a 200 plus page manual telling what else one can do with the phone. He has not read this at all. “I just want a telephone when I need it” he says, plus, he has yet to answer it when I call him on it. Sure that he will forget to turn off the sound, he has it on “Vibrate” so that it doesn’t ring out in church, and since it is rarely near enough to his person to be felt, it is futile. “What if there is an emergency?” I ask a bit shrilly, and he says, “Call Heidi or 911”. So you see, it’s a miracle that we get by as well as we do.

We traveled by car east, north and west in the summer, seeing family and dear friends en route. It is so fine when you have time to hold conversations about the “big stuff” as well as to remember grand shared moments of the past.

Heidi and Jon, Janna and Todd and John-paul remain in the same homes, jobs, and milieu as in previous years; Charles and I marvel at the joy that our adult children bring to us. When you have the little children and are convinced that they are superior human beings, it does not occur to you that one day they will be lovely people who really are superior human beings.

Charles goes forth into the future with unfailing good cheer. He composes, teaches, advises, remains the organist at First Church in Lincoln, gardens, and convinces orchids and other flowers that they are to bloom and bloom under his care. He says “I love you” by spending eight hours with the large snow blower and clearing a three-quarter mile path through Sanctuary so I can walk Alphie across the beautiful snow covered land. He makes me laugh every day. To date, he has not gone through the wedding vows of “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, etc.,” and given a comparison about who is getting the “for better” and the “in sickness” part and who is not. That’s another miracle.

I, Constance, remain ever the same. I am now using “Advanced Revitalift Complete cream upon my face and neck with the hope of causing my neck to lengthen a bit in order to reduce the appearance of too much flesh below the chin. As for the illness, I am taking the long way home. It continues to be a route filled with the loveliest and most unlikely surprises. The one that stands out is a composition that Charles created and named “Glory Rock”. It is a splendid organ piece that uses the tune of “Rock of Ages” interwoven with “Glory, glory, hallelujah” from the Battle Hymn of the Republic. He liked the imagery of “When I soar to worlds unknown” and so do I. We have had many conversations about how the life after this earthly one might continue, and soaring to worlds unknown is most appealing. God will be there, having crafted the whole, and Christ, whose Birthday we rejoice in will have gone before and of course, the Spirit will accompany us throughout.

Merry Christmas!

— the Ores

upside-down Christmas tree

Charles’ Birthday Soireé

Newly Re-Painted Yellow


Heidi helped organize the 1st place parade float from Lincoln’s Star City Parade!

Zoie, Jon, & Kira celebrate Jon’s soap-box victory

Zoie & Kira show off new mouth hardware

Janna knits on Amtrak ride to Nebraska

Todd & Fiona Icefishing

Ursula, Kira, & Fiona

John-Paul & Constance say “cheese”

John-Paul sees a mirrored door in Sancerre, France

the Koi

Ursula & the beloved Alphie

December 15, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 5:20 pm on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The bitter weather continues, so the evergreens still hold clumps of snow, and ice glitters on the tops of the bare branches of the deciduous trees. Charles spent hours clearing paths for us to use through the pasture and forest. In some places the snow was piled quite high by the winds, and without his efforts, Alphie and I would not have been able to go out walking at all. Now these have become highways for many creatures other than ourselves. The human boot is the largest print, Alphie’s paws are perhaps the next largest, and deer, rabbits, cat’s paws, squirrels, and other tinier feet have left their mark. I have put out a great deal of food for the birds and creatures because of the snow cover and the wicked temperatures. We are truly “in midst of coldest winter” even if the solstice doesn’t arrive for several more days.

Yesterday, I received a blood transfusion, and today I returned to that other person from the past who used to do things all day long. It was the very best kind of day, filled with baking, cooking, planning, greeting John-paul as he arrived for a long Christmas visit, and taking Alphie through Sanctuary without wondering if either my lungs or my legs would give up the walk before it was completed. The last time I received blood, I felt it might have come from a chocoholic because I developed cravings shortly thereafter, but this time, I have not had any sensing of the person from whom this splendid gift was given. My dreams were not of landscapes never before imagined, nor did I have unusual thoughts, though the blood has surely traveled a different pathway than my own, and might have stories to tell. There was just the grand energy upon awakening this morning, and it was such a change that Charles inquired, “Should I be afraid?” Hmm.

December 8, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 1:44 am on Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The great snowstorm that has everyone running to the grocery store for a few more supplies is now commencing. There is quite a bit of snow already fallen, and the promised winds are just beginning to send waves of white across the pasture on this side of the forest. Birds fill the space in front of the windows, flitting from pan to feeder to the protection of the plum copse. When I began this writing, the sharp shinned hawk came and perched on the bill of our large heron sculpture in the front while juncos, fiches, and sparrows tried to stay put inside the small branches of the bare trees nearby. The last sighting that I had was the hawk rushing toward the plums and getting a bit tangled up there. While it was not free to pursue, the small birds flew off in all directions.

This year daughter Heidi spent many hours preparing a neighborhood sponsored parade float for Lincoln’s annual “Star City Parade”. It’s a local form of the Macy’s parade, and over the years, it has grown in length and glory. This year there were sixteen bands marching and playing Christmas music, many entries, and many spectators because last Saturday morning was still beautiful. Heidi’s float was a miniature Victorian house (to celebrate the Near South Neighborhood which has many such homes) pulled by an antique truck. I stayed home to watch it on TV, and it was the float right after several new fire engines. As they came down the street, the first thing that could be seen was the smoke billowing out of the house’s chimney, so of course, my thought was “If something goes awry with the generator in there, the fire trucks are close by”. It was a grand sight, and the house was splendid, of course, winning “Best Float” in the parade.

Anyone from our part of the country will have heard, “You coulda knocked me over with a feather!” perhaps as the concluding line to a tale told about some shocking behavior. For the past ten days, I have been “knocked over with a feather” as I seem to be in the thrall of a small germ that another, more healthful person would toss off in no time, saying, “It was just a touch of the flu, I was better by morning”. This does not appear to be the heavy duty kind of germ that would have me in the emergency room, but rather one that provides the experience of “eternal flu”. I think about the absent immunities and my body’s struggle to recover with its very limited resources and my brain says “Good job!”. Tomorrow or the day after it will be off to the Clinic again to consider what else might be achieved by “better living through chemistry”.

For now though, catalogs lie all across the coffee table with pages marked as we seek out Christmas gifts for the dear ones, the Christmas tree is hanging from the ceiling, upside down, decorated and including lights this year, the house is lovely and warm, and Charles and Alphie provide splendid company with which to be snowbound.

December 1, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 9:13 pm on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I went back to read what happened a year ago, and at that time, I was looking toward the last attempt at Chemotherapy treatment. The hope was that it might stave off the movement of the disease into Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It did not, and here I am in “palliative care”, ingesting pounds of pain killers and looking at that morning face in the mirror and thinking, “Whoeee, this life is really aging me” along with “Hello Mama” because that is who I resemble now. A friend of mine who is quite learned in gerontology commented that as one grows older, segments of past life commence to replay inside the head. They are not invited, but simply show up randomly, and so it is for me. I will be walking in the woods and a long ago experience begins to walk with me. Sometimes it is something that I would change if I were given the opportunity to do so, sometimes, it is something that makes me smile. Then I look at Alphie with his dog’s brain that is all about the “Live in the Now” and remember that this philosophy is highly recommended for those such as myself. I willfully pull my thoughts back to the air, trees, grasses and other present things. The wonderful life of the mind – it does not occupy a great deal of physical space, but it contains within it everything that I have ever been and what I am now.

The day is sunny, and the weatherman on TV, seemingly pleased to have some changes to report, announced yesterday that this is the very last day of uncommon warmth. We do not look forward to cold winds, but we were not consulted as to our preferences. December commences, and with it the Advent season whispers, “Prepare your hearts, for your King is coming. . .” even while Christmas holiday trappings intensify at every corner of our public universe, trying to wrap us in tinsel and cookies, and fill our lives with countless distractions. If one can strip away all of that, it can be a lovely quiet time that concludes with the great burst of joy that is the best Birthday of all time.