Thursday, August 31, 2006

a quick hello

Since arriving in Connecticut Monday afternoon there hasn't been an opportunity to get my computer connected. No wireless here, and we're staying in someone else's apartment, and it just isn't right to invade their phone service and plug in my computer! This morning I'm indulging for a brief moment while there is opportunity. In the meantime I feel so out of touch with other news. Friends in Florida--are you safe? dry? out of harm's way? Do you have power? I don't even know where Ernesto is at the moment! Will try to catch up later when Mom is a bit more settled and I can set up for a few moments in her place. In the meantime I miss being able to be in touch, and hope all are well!

Sunday, August 27, 2006


We are en route to Connecticut to help Mom move, and we departed from the usual route through east Tennessee and up through Virginia to explore an alternate journey through Kentucky and West Virginia. Leaving Nashville after church, we heard a snip of news about a plane crash at Kentucky's Bluegrass Airport. Lexington, we wondered? We were heading that way.

Our scenic journey took us to the end of the Bluegrass Parkway (a lovely drive), and we approached the outskirts of Lexington and past beautiful, bucolic horse farms. And then the road shifted to one lane, and the flashing lights of a police car at the end of a road was the first clue. Up that road toward the right, at the crest of a hill, were dozens of vehicles. According to the map, the airport was just ahead. It had to be the crash site.

It was an odd juxtaposition, these rolling green pastures playing host to horses at leisure, with carnage just the other side of the crest of the hill. Beauty and unconcerned life within sniffing distance of wreckage and death and grief. It was a sober moment as we passed, and neither of us spoke while our silent prayers ascended for those that were lost.

Life can be cruel that way, and yet, the contrast between life and death, darkness and light, joy and sorrow, weave through our days on a regular basis. Some days we are touched by it in deeply personal ways and our lives change forever. On other days we are witnesses to the shadows of someone else’s grief, or escape being touched at all.

I am sad and grieved for the families of those who have been lost. And I am grateful for the beauty of Kentucky horses and their lush green pastures.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


It is second nature to most of us, and it used to be to me, too. But the demands and stresses of the last year effectively punctured my capacity to do more than one thing at a time, and the mere thought of multi-tasking was enough to cause an increase in my heart rate.

Not any more.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the notation that the lifestyle-change-that-I-refuse-to-call-a-diet might improve my concentration, but it appears that this has, in fact, happened. I have been more productive in the last few days than in the three previous months combined, and as I look around my office and the other spaces where my things collect, I can see a visible difference. This morning I accomplished two things before I had finished my first cup of coffee. I am tracking details better, and remembering to follow-though.


And not a moment too soon. As schedules jump into high gear with the advent of the “program season” at church and in other arenas, more things find their way onto my calendar, and intervals in between become increasingly precious. Not to mention that after we return from a trip east to help my mother move the web site gets launched!

Sometimes, timing really is everything. (And the goats have nothing to do with any of this, I just like the picture...)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

to my friends

I was cleaning out some files on the computer yesterday when I came across a couple of pieces of correspondence I had saved from six years ago. I kept them because writing them had helped me to identify some relational quandaries that were going on in my life, and I didn’t want to lose the path of awareness that I had cleared in the process of sharing my soul.

Independent of the discovery of that file, I had also been reflecting on the nature of some of the relationships in my life, and how they are shaped and nurtured by their context. For example, many of the friendships I made through the churches I served have different parameters and boundaries (for the most part) than my scrapping friends. Context doesn’t have to determine the quality of the friendship, but it does have an impact on its formation. Rereading the correspondence reminded me that some of the issues I addressed there regarding relationships and limits continue to be true. But I was also relieved to have in hand evidence that since that time I have, indeed, found other avenues for friendship that are life-giving and freeing.

To all my friends who laugh with me, cry with me, listen to me and put up with me, I raise my glass with gratitude and love.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Yesterday was one of those days that just clicked in unexpected ways. My agenda included following up on some wedding contacts (cake, florist, reception site, etc.) and taking care of a few other details that are part of life. Mid-morning I got a phone call from a colleague at the cathedral asking if I could do the noon service since something had come up that he had to deal with. I enjoy doing that service, so saying “yes” was a no-brainer.

I used to do the Monday service on a regular basis when one of our diocesan canons was recovering from heart surgery, and I subbed for him for quite a few months. (The photo below is from that time.) There were some regular attendees at that service on Mondays, and on the occasions when I have been back to fill in since that initial stint, I have hoped to see them. Halfway through the service yesterday I looked up and saw Kendall, one of my old Monday “crew.”

After the service, when the others had left, Kendall was still sitting in the chapel, praying. I went in to extinguish the candles on the altar, and she said, “you know, I haven’t been here in a long time, and today I came and here you are.” For both of us, the day’s path had taken an unplanned turn that led both of us to be in the same place. We sat and talked for about half an hour, which was good for both of us, and we parted with hugs and tears and gratitude that the day’s grace had brought an opportunity for our lives to intersect again. There are so many reasons to be thankful that I am back in this place that I called home once before, and this is one of them. Opportunity. For reconnection, rediscovery, renewal, and a myriad of other small graces that pop up in the course of walking the dogs, listening to cows moo, and sharing a zip code with the red-necked woman. Even with the stresses and challenges that are part of our life right now, life is good. Just like my t-shirt says.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

reclaiming normal

This is one of the most "normal" Saturdays I think I've had in a long time. I actually feel like there is some leisure in the day, and I have ambled between domestic chores, pleasurable online chats, making chili, and am getting ready to hang pictures in our designated "rogues gallery." It is still early in the day, which will allow for reading, perhaps, or a crossword puzzle. I want to watch the PGA championship and root for Tiger Woods. I think I can do all of that today without feeling guilty that I'm not tending to some more urgent, pressing matter. Wedding details are under control. The web site is under control. My office could use some attention, yes, but it will keep. I can breathe. Oh, how I have longed to breathe like I am doing today. It feels nice to have normal again.

Friday, August 18, 2006

note to self

Remind me not to go grocery shopping in the middle of the afternoon after school lets out. Lord have mercy, it seemed like there were more children than adults in the grocery store this afternoon! I love children, but when they’re standing three abreast across the aisle trying to convince Mom to make a purchase, or pushing each other around in the smaller carts (there for children, of course!) without due deference to those of us there to do serious shopping (and my shopping was MOST serious!), I make a mental note to plan better in the future.

As for the shopping, I am slowly schooling myself in the world of things organic. Prices are appalling, but I think it’s reasonable to justify the added expense as for my health, just as I would the membership at the gym, or fees to play golf (never mind the equipment), and so on. Now the trick will be to learn to modify recipes and give my taste buds time to adjust to different things. I’m still balking on soy milk, but it may be a necessary plunge.

In the meantime I’m also considering taking on the adventure of making my own bread. We do have a bread machine, though I prefer to knead by hand (speaking of organic), and at one time in my life baking bread was not an uncommon thing. We’ll see. The first step is to learn the ropes of this metabolic alteration, and go from there. Thank goodness olives are on the “yes” list!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

work in progress, version 189

If Kathy were here she'd probably be shocked (and say so) that I have been swimming faithfully now for three months, walking the dogs at least twice a day, and working toward healthier eating habits (my eating habits have never been bad, I just don't like cooked vegetables!). She knew that I'm allergic to exercise and hate to sweat. No one is more surprised than me that I have shunned that confirmed status and taken to regular exercise. What's going on here?

It’s not exactly a midlife crisis, but I am aware that I am following a typical pattern of midlife usually referred to as a process of redefining oneself. Time, experience, and a belief that there is always room for improvement and growth can’t help but conspire to bring one to the point where things that used to seem important are less so, and things to which one gave little thought become more important. It’s not exactly a “stop and smell the roses” transition, but a coming to terms with the implications and consequences of missed opportunities, and the willingness to create the same.

I still don’t act quickly enough to take advantage of opportunity, or to seize moments to create them, but awareness is a beginning. Each day is a new page waiting to be written. Perhaps the place to start is deciding what color ink to use as I begin to fill the next one…

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

radical regimen change

At least for me. After three months of swimming, daily walking and an eye on nutrition and eating habits, I am quite discouraged that I am not in better shape. I was reading an article about improving metabolic function and overall improved health, and have decided that what I was reading made some sense, and it's time for a change.

So, no more sugar, no more processed foods (unhealthy oils, bleached flours, etc.), alas, no dairy, at least for a while, and more fruits and vegetables (which I had started to do anyway). To say the least, it’s an adjustment, but I am determined to reclaim better functioning of my body and fine-tune my health. Sometimes a girl just has to do something radical to get results, and this is my game plan. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

one two three, one two three...

It was an interesting hodge-podge day yesterday. I spent a good part of the morning testing the web-site. There are some bugs in the shopping part which need attention, and those are software issues that require tech help or resolution. Calling them is on my list today.

After lunch I headed off for errands and appointments—Target for wedding invitations (yes, we’re doing our own, trying to keep costs down), Stein Mart for an evening bag for the wedding (a girl needs to have Kleenex handy, after all), a stop at a dance store to look for shoes to wear at the wedding (I need low heels, not easy to find in dress styles), and then a stop at Fresh Market (I LOVE Fresh Market, and am so glad to have found one in Nashville!) to check out their breads. I’ll tell you more about that later.

At the bridal show a few weeks ago I signed up for a free dance lesson with the National Dance Club, and that was the impetus that got me out to the door and on the go yesterday! I have to say that the facility is fabulous, and for a Monday afternoon there was a lot going on there. I had my free lesson with Jamie, and we covered box step and waltz, rumba, and push-pull swing step. Loved the swing, we did turns and everything! Now I just need to figure out how to let loose and wiggle my hips, LOL.

After dancing I had the long-awaited appointment with the florist for the wedding. A brief stop at Borders before meeting with him did a little damage to my wallet, but we had a good meeting, and then I headed home.

By the time I got home I was giving way to the worst headache I ever remember having. It felt like my head was in a vise, and sleep was my only salvation. I went straight to bed and slept in this morning, and now the headache is gone but weariness is definitely present. I have already rescheduled the only thing that was on today’s agenda, and plan on a low-key day doing one thing a time as I have energy. At least more and more things are getting check off the list, and hurray for that!


Sunday, August 13, 2006

time to brag!

I have two very talented brothers, one of whom is a remodeling contractor. His work was featured in a book last year called Inside the Not So Big House, and that same project is the centerpiece of a brand new publication called Connecticut House and Garden. You go, guy! While he was still on that job I had the good fortune of getting a tour of the house, and though the pictures here are good, they just don't do justice to the whole that is the finished product.
The homeowners worked with Jamie and an interior designer, so in some cases it might be difficult to identify where one effort ends and the other begins, but they worked together wonderfully to create this fabulous end result.
Jamie is very much a detail person when it comes to remodeling, and you can see his touches everywhere here. I love his work. I used to say about him that he could doodle and create a masterpiece, and that's not a stretch! I'm so proud to be able to share his work with you here!

Friday, August 11, 2006

things that go crash in the night

Be careful what you ask for... I wanted rain, and it came in a deluge last night, complete with damaging winds, and at least one gust that got hold of our patio table umbrella and took the table with it for a brief ride. The good news is that the umbrella, a projectile under the wrong conditions, didn't damage my car. The bad news is that the umbrella is now broken and so is the table. It's rotten, of course, that we now have to try to replace the glass, and maybe even the table, and we have no funds for such a venture, but I have been struck by the sadness I feel around this loss. I have memories attached to this table, and though the memories haven't suffered any damage, this tangible link to them did, and so they feel a little bruised.

As I go through phases of my life and come to terms with parting with "things," I am aware that it isn't the material possession that matters, it is what a particular "thing" might represent that matters. They are visual reminders of and links to people, places and experiences that are part of shaping who I have become. And sometimes the object itself reflects some aspect of my own being that isn't easily described, or can't be expressed in any other way. Art often fits that category--it moves me or touches some part of my soul in a deep place that makes my heart sing.

The table will be replaced, and new memories will be made around a new table. I suppose this is just another bump in the cycle that is life—endings and beginnings, transformations and new horizons. But first, we have to clean up the mess…

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

hump day

More and more things are coming together with wedding plans, and I have to say that I am enjoying the way that energizes me! I'm now working on finding the right dress for Katie, our flower girl, and yesterday I succeeded in finding the font to use for the invitations. That was totally serendipitous, since I came upon it while looking for something else that arose unexpectedly. Cool beans!

I also got a new phone yesterday, so maybe today I'll spend some time playing with it and learning some features. Technology changes plenty since I got the last one more than three years ago. Of course it has features for which I have no need, but as long as they’re there… what I’m looking forward to most is downloading a ring-tone, and I know exactly what I want!

Today is my day at the church office. I’ve got a newsletter article to write, and there are a number of things we need to begin addressing there, so I think today will fill up quickly with items on that list. So, like my t-shirt says, life IS good, but it sure would be better if we could get some rain!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

time for an update

The last few days just seem to have been crowded with assorted tasks, big and small, and time to sit and write something thoughtful has been elusive! The good news is that I've been so busy away from my office that Sammy's efforts are still in evidence, LOL.

What I'd really like to do is have a string of clipboards hung on the wall that hold items requiring action. This is something I've thought about for the business, anyway. For instance, all pending orders would be on one clipboard (you like the use of the word "all" there? Makes it sound like I'll be busy, LOL). That way I can see at a glance that there are orders to fill and they won't get lost in a pile on my tiny desk, or obscured in an "in" basket. I can just hear all you scrappers now, thinking, "great idea, alter those clipboards!!" Eventually, I will! But first I need to decide where to hang them, and make sure I don't have to step over other piles on the floor to get to them. The last thing I need right now is to suffer injury while trying to keep up with my life.

Wedding plans are progressing… Bridesmaid dresses are finally decided and on order, the cake is “in process” (that means that the design is being explored), and I have an appointment with the florist on Monday. After releasing the last of those tasks I get to settle into the fine details of what remains. I still need to make a few decisions about decorating, need to find shoes, still need a font for the invitations…

Today I’m hoping to return my attention to the web site, which has suffered neglect because of these other things. But first, it’s time to walk the dogs and get to the pool!

Friday, August 04, 2006

one very special girl

For months I have been somewhat overwhelmed by all the minutiae that infiltrates my life: bank statements, tax forms, bills, notices from product vendors for the business, wedding planning info and contracts, mementos, photos, church stuff, and on and on. When I was on the mountain there was a minimum of space for tracking all this, so things would accumulate in piles. In the new house I've got more space to manage it all, just lacked the time to get it organized, and so the chaos multiplied and intensified. It has been driving me crazy, and gotten in the way of getting other things done. Sometimes when I get overwhelmed I can also get paralyzed, and I was nearing a state of constant paralysis. I knew I needed help.

Enter Sammy, about whom you’ve heard before, daughter of my friend Debi. She’s a bright, creative, and thoughtful teenager (yes, they do exist!), and it occurred to me that she might be willing to give me a hand and get me past the paralysis. Yesterday we grabbed some lunch (well, not grabbed, it was leisurely!), then plunged in. I let her determine the process, and we began going through the piles that were in my office. Four hours later we had eliminated unnecessary material, organized most of what remained, and concluded that some items simply didn’t fit into any logical category. Like the Isle of Misfit Toys in The Abominable Snowman, they have their own designated repository like a junk drawer.

There were moments when I surveyed it all and let out a sigh. So much to deal with. Sammy would look at me and say cheerfully, “you need a hug,” and one was forthcoming immediately.

After four hours there were no more piles in the office, and on the dining table there are now a handful of organized stacks that need file folders and then a chance to be put away. The open spaces that now exist in my office serve to remind me of what is possible, and under my own steam, while Sammy was still here, I began to sort through and deal with other items that needed attention. What a relief.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I heard a piece on the news yesterday that left me scratching my head. To try to improve border security there has been legislation passed, or some standard updated, that would help identify false ID's and flag persons trying to cross the border who are on a watch list. Uniformity in what constitutes acceptable ID is the goal, making it easier to spot the fakes and prevent entry. Get this. These changes have not been implemented because it would create a hardship on citizens of other countries to conform to our standards and expectations, and this might impact tourism. Okay, let me see if I have this right. We're not enforcing regulations relating to ID's because it might effect our economy, but we're willing to infringe on the rights of our citizens in order to protect us from terrorists? Does anyone else see the disconnect here?

In other news on a smaller scale home-front, attendant attire took another hit yesterday when I learned that the dress we finally found that was to our liking is no longer available. Back to the drawing board!

So, dear, how was your day?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

name this place

Comfy leather chairs; soft, low light; gentle, meditative music; a hummingbird mobile descended from the ceiling; rich, brick red curtains; an oversized clock on the wall; coordinated prints in frames; bookcases and end tables that look like they came from Bombay Company... know where you are? If you guessed the ultrasound room at our local imaging group you would be right! Can you believe it? I went with Ken when he had his appointment the other day, and my only regret is that it never occurred to me to take my camera with me! This place is amazing. It's a new practice (or at least the office is in a new location), and it just screams, "we care about the comfort and experience of our patients." Our first impressions didn't hurt, either when we walked in the door. Coffee, juice, muffins and bagels were set out. But more impressive to me than that were the extra wide chairs in the waiting room for people who are a bit larger than the average width of a chair. That blew me away more than anything else, but of course I was totally unprepared for the ultrasound room. I found myself thinking, "how can I get an appointment to come here?" LOL. No, I don't really want to be there as a patient, but if I ever do have to go, it will be with considerably less anxiety. We just dripped with our appreciation and admiration for what they had done in terms of decor and creating such an hospitable environment, and they were likewise appreciative that a) we noticed, and b) gave them feedback. There's hope for the world yet!


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