Monday, July 31, 2006

let them eat cake!

(note: I tried to post this early this morning but could not upload pictures, hence the delay. Sorry you've had to look at Saturday's post for so long...) Yesterday I went to the Nashville bridal show with Debi and Sammy (and a friend of Sammy’s) to check it all out, and see if I could make a dent in the effort to find someone to do our wedding cake. I was hoping for lots of samples, and there were a few. But I was so impressed with one vendor in particular that I will call them later today to schedule an appointment to go talk with them about what I want. Here are a few pictures of some of their creations. It’s hard to see the details of the “ribbon” cake, since it was sitting atop a pedestal that was taller than me, but I thought it was a fun design. Most of what they had to display didn’t fall into the traditional design category, but that’s fine. I’d rather know what someone is capable of doing rather than just seeing what they’ve done.

Attendant attire is still plaguing me. I saw a dress (I’ll post it another time) that I just loved, but it is the wrong color (yes, I’m sure that could be changed) and wrong style for mid-forties gals. But oh, the color itself is luscious, and I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it. There were also some lovely floral presentations, but a lot of it was also over the top. Not on my budget! My floral budget is very limited, which saddens me since I love flowers, but there are alternatives to that. We’ve opted to spend our money elsewhere.

It’s a busy week for us: Ken’s daughter and son-in-law will be here for breakfast before they head back to Savannah from KY, there’s a doctor appointment, homework for me for a meeting on Saturday, elections on Thursday (Ken is an election “judge”), and a handful of other details, not to mention ongoing work on the web site. And Jayne, if you have a chance to read this, we’re thinking of you as you move to your new house this week! Have a good one, y’all!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

a peaceable kingdom

Nothing like reading about religious intolerance first thing in the morning to wake me up, LOL. I was reading an article about a Jewish family in a predominantly Christian community who were having a tough time after they pointed out the highly exclusive religious rhetoric in the schools, and asked for a little sensitivity. I was appalled, but sadly, not surprised, that the mother of this family was told that if she didn't like it she could leave, and that was among the kindest things spoken. The family received threats, which is so extreme as to make us all nervous about the very real Christian fundamentalism that pervades our culture and society. But I absolutely had to laugh when the article made reference to other types of groups moving into the area and included Quakers in that mix. Yes, got to watch out for those rowdy Quakers who are among the most tolerant, and most Christ-like of believers that exist. What is the world coming to when they move into the neighborhood? Maybe this will inspire my sermon for tomorrow, although I'm not quite sure how, at first glance, Jesus walking on water (the text for the day) will connect. I'll think of something. (ah, it just came to me, there is something in there about hardness of heart...) Wishing you all a peaceful day of loving our neighbors, no matter what they believe.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

planning stages

We had two wedding appointments yesterday, and more and more things are falling in place. Met with the priest who will be officiating at the service so we were able to discuss some of those details, then stopped at the hotel where the reception will be held to touch base with them there. We're waiting to receive updated menu choices, but in reviewing the original ones we were given this spring we got very excited thinking about this special event for us. Finally got around to sending out some details via email, and got back a few responses immediately, which was nice. The biggest challenge is not knowing how many people to plan for, and trying to make decisions about what things will cost (like menu items) is definitely effected by a head count! But we're not letting that stand in the way of some decisions, OR our excitement. The day will be here soon, and we'll be ready!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

slow day at the ranch

One problem with working at home (the only one, I think!) is that from one day to the next things look pretty much the same. I'm not out encountering the world or being prompted to reflect or muse on anything except whatever goes on within our walls, and frankly, we aren't very amusing, LOL! I don't think web work makes for very interesting reading, and since most of my time is spent on that effort, there seems very little to say. Sigh. It's a constant struggle for me to want to be in touch but make your time worth the effort to come here! I DO wish I would remember to take a camera with me when I venture out, even if only to the pool. The other morning there was a deer snacking on an apple as cars pulled up to the stop sign 20 feet from where she munched. She could have cared less about the audience, she was enjoying her fruit! But did I have my camera to capture the moment? That would be a big NO. Oh well.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

the dress!

I've been doing this dance between allowing for the time necessary to oder a wedding dress (once one was found), and giving myself a chance to lose a bit more weight before beginning that search. There are a lot of dresses out there that don't stand a chance because they don't fit to try them on, and if they don't fit to try on, you can't see what they will look like. Too much money is at stake to "wing it," on a possibility.

Last week I was driving past a bridal store on my way home from a meeting and they had a sale going on, so I thought it would be worth it to begin the process, fit or no fit. I am the size that I am, and there isn’t anything to be done about that!

So Friday I began the process, and found a few dresses that were worth consideration. Saturday my friend Debi and her daughter Sammy (a very wise 15-year old) joined me for their advice and counsel, and it was a good thing they did! Debi ended up finding the dress that we all agreed was a winner, and Sammy’s comment (as close as I can remember) was “you look beautiful, and it accentuates your best features.”

The next decision: to veil or not to veil. Debi and Sammy are encouraging me, but I’m still hesitant. Any opinions out there? The other option is flowers (or feathers—NOT!). The search for a hairstyle continues…

Thursday, July 20, 2006

hands

I make note of this every Sunday when I distribute communion at church. People come to the altar rail and kneel (most of them), and extend their hands to receive the wafer. Their palms are facing up, and often the hands are cupped to some degree, one resting on the other. But the gesture is essentially the same--open supplication. What always strikes me during these moments is the variety of the hands and their postures. Young children sometimes can barely reach their arms up over the rail, so their fingers are pointing up toward me. They are the most eager, and the smile that radiates from their expectant faces reflect the joy of being part of the feast. They almost always make eye contact with me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to smile back at them in welcome as I give to them the body of Christ. Other hands extend forward while heads are bowed deeply such that I don't see the face of the communicant. Still other hands are gnarled and disfigured with arthritis or disease, and it is these hands, particularly, that move my heart. So often people want to present an image of perfection at church, that to see offered the raw reality of someone's physical condition is humbling. These are moments that I wish everyone could witness, since I think it would help remind us all that the playing field is truly leveled, and that we are all there in the glory of our individual imperfections seeking wholeness and grace. I suppose that for the time being it can be one of the ways that I am reminded of how God is at work in my own life and heart, and continue my prayers for the people I serve.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

'maters

I've had this hankering latey for fried green tomatoes. You have to say that right. "Frahd greeen termaydahs." There, doesn't that make sense? Don't you want some too? I don't know what got into me, but a few weeks ago I just had to make some. Never made them before, didn't have a clue how, just had to fry them suckers up. So when we went to dinner at some friends' house a few weeks ago I took the fixings (read that, "fixin's) and fried up a batch. Not bad. But tonight... oooh, aaah, they were much improved! It's as much about the seasoning as it is in having them crispy, I think, but I struck gold tonight, if I say so myself. Wish I could share the picture of the rest of the meal, which was delightful as well (but not in focus, for some odd reason): grilled pork chops, grilled corn on the cob (mine had parmesan, as well), the 'maters and some sliced red tomatoes (for color, donchaknow). All that work on the web site works up a girl's appetite, ya know?

Monday, July 17, 2006

reversal of fortune

And it's about time!!! I made great strides over the weekend loading my product information and images into the storefront, adding content to other pages, and getting familiar with the internal operations of the web site. There's still a lot I don't know, but I DID manage the html code for bullets on one of the pages, LOL!! I consider that a major accomplishment, but the best news is that things are really starting to look good! The technical glitch that kept getting in my way last week still hasn't been resolved, so thank goodness for the "back door" that allows me to continue to work. I've decided to reshoot a few pictures of the prayer beads that I'm selling (I think the images should be clearer), and there are a handful of other things to learn and play with. Coordinating the payment portion of the system (so you can all buy things!!!) is next after fine-tuning these other details. Not sure everything will be ready to go by tomorrow, and Wednesday is my day at the church. Maybe Thursday? Friday? We'll see. I am just glad to have overcome the earlier obstacles and gotten so much done during the last few days. I'll let you know when it's time to count down for the launch!! In the meantime, this photo appears on the home page of the web site, just to tease you!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I feel your pain, Charles

When Pope John Paul II died last year, his funeral was scheduled on the day that Prince Charles and his intended, Camilla, planned to be married. Charles’ woeful comment, when he learned this, was, “Why me?” That’s not a phrase that takes up space in my thinking, but yesterday I voiced a variation of it: “of course this would happen to me!”

A week before I made the decision to switch to a different storefront software for my web site from the one I was then using. I set the wheels in motion, and after a few days discovered that something was missing from what I thought I was purchasing. Turned out to be a communication snafu. I sought to correct the matter. Encountered a problem. A day later, all was resolved, and I was on my way. But then I encountered technical problems. Called to report the matter. Told it was taken care of. It happened again. And again. And again. The last time I called (yesterday afternoon) I learned that although the problem isn’t new to the system, the fact that it is continuing to repeat with a customer has not been encountered before. Lucky me. Fortunately, I have been given a “back door” way to get into the site so that I can continue working while the tech team tries to resolve this problem once and for all.

After months of delays, dissatisfaction, the constant challenge to my non-technical way of thinking, and yes, the tears, I was wondering if it wasn’t all a sign to abandon ship. I don’t consider that an option. Sometimes things don’t happen because they’re supposed to, but because they simply happen. Like the saying says…

And so I persevere—a step at a time, a day at a time, a skill at a time. At some point all of this accumulated movement will mean crossing the finish line, or at least the first of who-knows-how-many. One thing I’ve discovered—it’s hard to train when you don’t know what the ultimate distance will be. But then, that’s life.

Friday, July 14, 2006

bread for the day

Since March I have been serving a church regularly on Sundays following the retirement of their rector. A few months ago they approached me to see if I would be willing to spend a day a week at the church office to be available “in case someone wanted to talk to a priest,” and to make pastoral calls as needed. At the time I was being considered for another position to do a specialized kind of work called interim, or transitional ministry, which utilizes that “in between time” between clergy leaders to take stock of the parish’s situation, assess its health, address issues, grieve or separate from the previous leader and prepare for the coming of the next one. Transitional ministry is a process, and I’m good at process work and enjoy it.

The interim position ended up going to someone else, so this month I began to make plans to work with St. James’ to help them out with the additional time they had requested. There is a great deal to say about the situation, but for now it is sufficient to say that I’m grateful for the opportunity to be engaged in some aspects of parish ministry again, though I don’t want to resume that full time as I had before. The part time effort now should allow sufficient time to continue working to get my business going, and perhaps by doing both I can feed the “right and left” parts of my brain and the associated parts of my soul. The remuneration will also help reduce some of the financial stress we are experiencing, and that will be a good thing. (The stained glass image is not from St. James'.)

Today, I’m finally loading products into the new storefront database on the website, and it looks like we might actually be able to launch by the end of next week. Cross your fingers, say lots of prayers that I don’t experience too much “technical freeze,” and hope for the best with me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

there's an old arab curse...

"May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits." Colorful, isn't it? I have a variation on that curse for those of us less familiar with the lifestyle of camels: may the fruit flies of a thousand ripe bananas fly up your nose... No, I'm not really interested in cursing anyone, but I am feeling ever so slightly cursed by an abundance of fruit flies in our house. We have yet to determine a source for them, so can't quite figure out how to get rid of them! Nasty little buggers...

I’ve been feeling slightly crunched here between web delays (which I knew was inevitable) and other demands on my time. For instance, although I finally wrote the informational letter to go out for wedding guests, it’s now been nearly a week and I have yet to get organized to send it! It will be sent via email to those who have it, and snail mail to others, but even that small task feels monumental these days. That’s what stress will do to you, strip you of all capacity to multi-task! It doesn’t do wonders for my confidence, let me tell you, and as I stare down the barrel of web technology, well, you get the idea. I’ve had better days. Better weeks. A truckload of Calgon wouldn’t be sufficient to ease my tensions, I don’t think.
I was going to fill you in on some of the other stuff going on, but I think I’ll do that tomorrow.

One nice thing: I started my morning with an email from Junior, who is now deployed. Bless his heart. Makes a mama proud…

Saturday, July 08, 2006

local color

I love it when I'm puttering along through familiar terrain and something catches my eye and makes me smile, or laugh. Here are two items that fall into that category. One is at a fork in the road out here between one place and another, and the other (the truck) is parked in a yard that I pass most mornings when I'm walking the dogs. The "mural" obviously has some longevity, but the truck has only been in place for a few days. I knew when I saw it the first time that a spot should be reserved on the blog to share it with you. I hope these images bring a smile to your face!

Friday, July 07, 2006

pasta, anyone?

As reported yesterday, I was on dinner duty last night and was making turkey tetrazinni. I had gone to the store earlier in the day to pick up a few items for the recipe, and at the appointed hour I began to cook dinner. It came time to cook the pasta and I opened the cupboard to find--no pasta! Well, to be truthful we have lots of whole wheat pasta that Ken likes, but I'm not fond of the stuff, and, after all, this was my recipe! Guiltily I asked Ken if he would go to the store and get some pasta. Spaghetti or penne, I suggested. Well, he came home with this. "You want pasta?" the offering seemed to say, "You've got pasta!" I chose the bowties for a change of pace.

Since the weather was so incredible, Ken suggested that after dinner we take advantage of the cool temps and go to a new miniature golf place that is just opening about a mile from us. Great idea! The course is okay, and for whatever reason seems to me to be an obvious purchase of a stock course blueprint, or whatever you call a plan for a golf course. It looks amazingly like the one in this picture, which I downloaded from Google. In any event, I was in rare form, missing several holes in one by a mere breath (and I mean a breath—that ball kissed the rim of the cup a couple of times) or inches. I’m chalking it up to beginner’s luck, not that I can’t putt decently, but I’ve also been known to blow it on short putts that seemed to be a sure thing. Anyway, it was fun.

In other news… I hit a half mile today at the pool!! Woooooohoooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been working at building my endurance to be able to do this, and today finally decided it was time to push past where I had been all week and go for the distance. Having reached that milestone I now need to get a lap counter. Distance swimming is too boring to have the mind occupied with counting laps, and I don’t suffer boredom easily. I could be using that time for sermon preparation, after all! This was a nice way to end the week and move into the day with the hope of other successes along the way. TGIF!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

same old, same old

With a slight twist. Well, two twists. It is an absolutely gorgeous day here, so beautiful that I took the dogs for an extra walk this afternoon just to enjoy being outside. What has gotten into me? The temps are in the low eighties (tolerable, for someone who prefers the mid-70’s), the skies are brilliantly blue, there's a breeze blowing, and the grass is greening up again after yesterday's much-needed rain. Yessssssssssss!

The other twist is that I talked today with a web-group that supports e-commerce, and though I will still have to do a lot of the work on the web site, what they provide streamlines and simplifies my efforts, and allows flexibility for me to customize the site to my needs once it is up and running. It is a template-based solution, and therefore has some constraints, but the templates have a professional look and will get me going. How do I spell relief? Stay tuned. If all goes well, I may be looking at launching my site by the end of next week.

Not much else shaking here. I’m on dinner duty tonight, so need to shift gears away from computer-land and toward gastronomic delights. It’s a favorite turkey tetrazzini recipe, and I think we’ll be dining al fresco. Care to join us?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

sharing a zip code with the redneck woman

Actually, I suspect country music horizon award winner Gretchen Wilson has her mail go to a post office box, which would be a one digit difference between our zip codes, but let’s just say that our mail comes through the same place, LOL! A little birdie (someone I know in the country music industry) told me that Gretchen was living right here in Cedar City, so I took a tour down her street and, sure enough, there was her place (the gate was the giveaway). I wonder if she bought this place because it’s near the outlet mall? As the crow flies she’s probably about seven miles from my house, about equidistant from the red-headed woman (aka Reba McEntire) whose Nashville house is in the opposite direction. Reba’s house isn’t a well-kept secret—her property borders a state highway and major river, so it’s hard to miss, as are her stables.

And, now that Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are calling middle Tennessee home, you just never know when they might choose to pop into the local Starbucks, or one of Nicole’s favorite places, Bed, Bath and Beyond! I never seem to run into local celebrities, but it’s fun to know that the possibility exists. Rumor has it more and more of them are locating in my county, so you just never know!

Monday, July 03, 2006

good food, good company...

We joined some friends last night for dinner and had such a wonderful evening. Not wanting to go empty handed we made a potato casserole and corn and tomato salad to take along. I had also had a hankering lately for fried green tomatoes, so took the makings for that with us and prepared those once we got there. What a feast we had! Beverage of choice while we began to nibble on the fried tomatoes with cajun remoulade, shrimp, and a few raw veggies. Next, a dinner of pork tenderloin, oriental slaw, the potatoes and corn salad. Oh, were we stuffed! In addition to our gastronomic delights we shared lots of laughs and good conversation as well as enjoyed the company of the canine members of the household. Truffles, the brown poodle, is a new member of the family so that Brewster (that other irresistible face) might have some company while adults are at work! I was a little sluggish at the pool this morning, no doubt the effect of too much good food over the weekend. Monday through Friday isn't called a work week for nothing! Now to tend to wedding details and get back to the web site. No rest for this girl… Ta!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

learning curves

Sometimes desperation leads us to do things we would never imagine. I'm not talking about robbing a bank here, but learning technical things! I spent the day yesterday immersed in html coding tutorials, and I did actually learn a thing or two and, better yet, was able to apply it! There is still a lot to decipher, and there's the challenge of determining what I want to do so that I know the right questions to ask, so to speak, but inch by inch, I'm moving along. During the night I had what I hope will prove to be a brainstorm, as opposed to a brain malfunction, so part of today's efforts will be trying something out to see if it will work. I'm hoping to demonstrate that it is possible to teach an aging dog new tricks. Lord, help me!

For our viewing pleasure today, a pic of some flowers that Kathy had received during her illness. I’m trying to clean off my hard drive, so revisited some files yesterday, and these were among them. Here’s hoping that you all have a blooming day!
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