Friday, September 29, 2006

counting down

Well, six weeks from tomorrow is our big day! The invitations are going in the mail today, and I will be glad to see them go! While they have not been a problem, they have certainly consumed a lot of time in the acquisition, design, printing, addressing, and stuffing and stamping of all necessary parts! There continue to be a few elusive addresses, but once the bulk of them are gone, zeroing in the remainder won't be a problem. We had the tasting the other day to determine what choices to offer for entrees at the reception, and were thrilled with everything we sampled. We are also thrilled with the new event coordinator at the hotel, not minding at all changing that horse in midstream after the lacklustre and lack-of-enthusiasm of the previous coordinator.

Tonight we’re having company for dinner, so I’ve got a busy day ahead sealing and mailing envelopes, cleaning the house, shopping and making dinner! I hope nothing else comes up that needs attention, because the above is enough to max out my day. I always seem to have anxiety about cleaning up adequately. I don’t have a need for a perfect house, but dust and dog hair don’t qualify as suitable hospitality in my book, so there are certain minimums that must be done. And then there are the bathrooms…

In the meantime we’re having glorious fall weather, and except for leaky goggles this morning that ruined my swim, the day looks like a good one. Hope it is for you, too!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

flexibility, part ii

When I was at my first full time position as a priest, I encountered several people who accused me of being inflexible. It struck me as odd, because I am not the intransigent sort. Opinionated at times, yes! Intransigent, no. (One of the things about being flexible is that when you HAVE been flexible no one knows it, because you’ve already shifted a position or decision that is in accord with another’s views or wishes.)

When my boss made mention of it to me, I began to catch on. He was a very loosy-goosy type priest, and by that I mean that he wasn’t particular or fussy about following church traditions or protocols. To him, the fact that he showed up and did his job was good enough, the rest were nothing more than fussy details.

Sometimes that attitude works just fine, and I also confess that while working with him I loosened up a bit in some areas that warranted loosening. But because in the church there ARE certain things that are suited to order and routine, I was the stickler who maintained the order.

One story illustrates how the perception of inflexibility took root. It was nearing Christmas, and on this particular year Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday. What that means in terms of a liturgical church is that the fourth Sunday of Advent (a purple season, in terms of liturgical color use) would be celebrated that morning, and that evening we would hold the first celebration of Christmas (a white season). That Saturday the altar guild began to decorate the church for the Christmas season, and one of the women implored me, “Can’t we just go ahead and set up for Christmas (meaning, set out the white hangings and other worship appointments that change color according to the season)”? It would spare them lingering after church Sunday morning to make the changes, and with multiple services already that day because of Christmas Eve, they would be plenty busy. I said no. In the morning we were celebrating the fourth Sunday of Advent—we were still in Advent! We would set up accordingly.

That wasn’t inflexibility, it was maintaining order. Though many in the pews wouldn’t have noticed the error, one of the appeals of Anglicanism to many people is the ordered and ritualized way that we live our corporate life. There were just as many people who would have noticed, and half of them would have said something!

I don’t know why it is that standing one’s ground is equated with inflexibility, but in some people’s minds, it is. My capacity for flexibility became something of a joke between me and Kathy. On one occasion she gifted me with a bible, and the card that came with it had descriptive words all over the front highlighting positive character attributes. It begins, “You are terrific, charming, dashing, bright, talented, funny, warm, sensitive, kind…” and that’s just the first of about fifty lines of adjectives! When you opened the card, she added the words, “and flexible!” The card is taped inside that bible, which I keep at my desk.

Now, just don’t ask if I can touch my toes. I’ve never been flexible in that way!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

flexibility, part 1

Sometimes you know just what you want, and nothing else will do. Sometimes you start with an idea of what you want and work to achieve or accomplish it, and along the way the plan gets reshaped and retooled, and what you end up with is different from the original vision. I'm experiencing both of these phenomena while planning this wedding!

It turns out there are very few “things” that are not negotiable. For instance, I never thought I’d get married in November, but what matters to us most is that our family can be with us, and one in our family has a schedule controlled by the US military, so there ya go! Other choices have likewise been dictated by the when and the where, and availability. No problem! I hear stories of brides who insist on one thing or another, and their experience (and those who have to live with them throughout the planning) is filled with tensions and angst. Who needs that? A dream should be something that motivates us. Getting attached to too many specifics is a recipe for disappointment and unhappiness. What drives our decisions is that we want our guests to have a good time, and if the details accomplish that, then we’ve done what we set out to do.

I think the only thing I didn’t want to budge on was the music for my processional. When I first heard the music more than twenty years ago (and no, I’m not going to tell you what it is!) it gave me goosebumps, and I knew it had to be THE tune if the day ever came to walk down the aisle. We’ve adjusted ideas on food, décor, invitations and even attire. We’re not sweating the details.

So here’s to flexibility, and the willingness to adapt and adjust.

Monday, September 25, 2006

a touch of fall

Although I didn't have much chance to enjoy it, we had a beautiful fall day yesterday, with clear skies and lovely temperatures, including a light breeze! I took this picture after taking the dogs for their evening walk. There were more interesting colors out there, but views of them were obscured by trees and power lines, so this is as good as I could get!

The last few days have been filled with busyness, but good busyness, and I’m getting things done. That’s a good thing! This week includes a combination of church work and events, wedding stuff, and web site stuff—very close to getting launched! Having adequate time to sit down and work through what remains to be done on that has been difficult, and this week the days are broken up with various appointments and commitments, which makes it hard to get focused on those last few things. It will be soon, though!

Wishing everyone blue skies and the refreshment that comes with beautiful autumn days…

Saturday, September 23, 2006

a calm person?

At a doctor’s appointment yesterday the doctor’s assistant took my vitals (temp: 97.9, BP: 102 over 70, heart rate: 50) and proclaimed that I must be a calm person. Um, okay! Am I a calm person? In some respects, I am. As an introvert I tend to think and process internally, and though I can be animated when I speak, I’m not inclined to be dramatic with volume, inflection, or gestures. Those are my tendencies. Does that mean I’m calm?

When I’m with people I know well, and trust, I’m a bit more expressive, and occasionally I’m even rowdy. Even so, I tend to be a better listener than talker, and for better or worse, I probably err on the side of silence more often than speech. I don’t usually get stage fight (amazingly, a colleague I know who has been a priest for 40 years says he still gets stage fright when he preaches!), and I’m pretty philosophical about not wasting energy on things over which I have no control, so I’m not a big worrier.

A calm person? I can obsess over things when I think something is at stake, and I have high standards about competence (I’m a terrible critic when somebody hasn’t paid attention to essential details, or has been unnecessarily sloppy). But I am also patient, forgiving, and compassionate. Calm? I had never given it any thought until yesterday. Today I don’t have an answer, and I’m not sure that I need one. But it’s been interesting to think about.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

shoes

I “discovered” Easy Spirit shoes last winter when I was looking for a comfortable walking shoe in black. I was entirely smitten by the way the shoe wrapped around my foot and comforted my toes, which suffer a “crunched” effect as the result of a previous foot injury. A month later I spied these wonderful walkers on the feet of my friend Jules, bought myself a pair (well, two, actually), and hardly wear anything else unless it’s absolutely necessary.

This is a long way from my days in the corporate world, where I wore sneakers to the office, then changed into a pair of shoes that were among the choices I kept under my desk. I had six pairs there, one in every suitable color to go with whatever my attire was for the day: black, gray, navy, taupe, maroon, and dark green. As a scrapper, it’s an obvious photo opp to detail a slice of my commuting and corporate life—if only I were thinking like a scrapper in those days!

Now my shoes are pretty basic—functional and comfortable, and those that I have for dress occasions are flats, since heels give my little toes grief. Sigh. My Imelda Marcos days are over, but I still manage to keep Easy Spirit in business.

Monday, September 18, 2006

blowing the whistle

As I write this the train whistle for Nashville's first commuter rail system is sounding as it approaches the crossing less than a mile from our house. It is a happy sound. This morning is the official launch of the new rail system, which, if successful, will be joined in time by six other rail links from surrounding communities into downtown Nashville. The Music City Star, as it is called, has been making practice runs for the last several months (for some reason I think that's cute), so the whistle has been a regular occurrence of late.
As firm believers in mass transit, we really want this to be a success. I worry a little that the stations don't offer enough hospitality. The platform shelters are minimal, and though they might protect you from getting your head wet in the event of rain, there is no comfort from heat, humidity, cold or wind. Ummm, do they think everyone will wait in their car for the train to come? We're actually a terminus, so perhaps the thought is that the train will be there ready to board until departure time, but what about the other stops along the way? We'll see.

I'm happy to see there is community support for the rail, but I also wonder if the potential exists to be an effective means of commuting. There is one downtown station, on Nashville's riverfront, and though there are shuttles to other areas, the downtown area isn't exactly teeming with employees who live along the route. We'll see. I had actually hoped to take the train myself today, since I need to be downtown at mid-day, but there are only two morning and two afternoon runs to downtown on the schedule. Oh well. Perhaps in time. In the meantime, I'm just happy to hear the whistle.

Friday, September 15, 2006

eating well

Since I have just returned from a shopping expedition to Wild Oats, the far-from-my-neighborhood health food store where I get my healthy eating staples, it seems like a good time for a healthy eating update!

There is good news on a number of fronts: I am sticking to it! Surprisingly, while we were on our last road trip for 11 days I was able to maintain the regimen and steer clear of sugar, white bread/potatoes/rice and pasta, and stick with fish and organic/free-range/natural meats when they were available. Dining out is a real challenge. Ruby Tuesday has a seasoned turkey burger with avocado that worked well, and of course a salad bar is a pretty safe bet (though I am learning to take salad dressing with me when I leave the house!). We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant one night and I was able to substitute brown rice, which worked well. And oh, their gingered Tuna appetizer was to die for!

Other good news is that I am losing weight! Clothes are fitting better, and at last weigh-in I was down seven or so pounds after four weeks of new eating habits. Yeeeeeehaaaaa!!!

The major challenge of this new lifestyle is access to food. Kroger carries a few things that will work, but for meats, breads and pasta I’ve got to travel to the other side of Nashville to get to Wild Oats. I’m grateful for its presence, but boy, do I wish Whole Foods was here! I am about ready to write a letter begging them to come to Tennessee—the nearest store to us is Atlanta, four hours away! Wild Oats isn’t bad, but WF is considerably better, and they have a pork sausage that is so good for breakfast you wouldn’t believe it! And yes, it’s expensive food, but again, when you consider the amount of money that people spend on things to help them improve their health and looks (cosmetics, clothes…) it is a reasonable expense and a good investment. There are other benefits, too, but for now I’m grateful for those that are most obvious.

And now, to break the news to Ken about today’s grocery bill…

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

wednesday already?

I don't know where the last few days have gone, but they're, well, gone! Now that I'm back in the saddle there is plenty of terrain to cover--web site, wedding, church programs, committee responsibilities, and on and on. Not much time to rest, never mind be reflective for a blog entry!

Today I’m off to the church, and will spend much of the day reading in anticipation of tomorrow’s clergy book discussion, and some instruction I’m providing on Sunday in worship. It’s been somewhat interesting reading this book (The Fate of Communion, topical analysis on the present struggle in the Episcopal Church) since I know both the authors, and one of them well. One of them writes clearly and his articles are easy to follow, even if they are times discomfiting. As for the other, I have to read many of his sentences three or four times to try to understand what it is exactly that he’s trying to say. From there I need to digest the concept (which is often obtuse to begin with), then move on to the next sentence which is phrased just as awkwardly (or presumes certain knowledge) as the one before it. There is so much grist for the mill that the mill of my brain is quickly clogged! Sigh. I’m not a stupid person, but I sure feel insignificant trying to wade through some of this. At least the material, as we discuss it, has offered some insight and a broader grasp of the issues that are woven through the Church’s dilemma, and I am getting to know some of my colleagues better, which is part of the reason for this group. A Clogged mill may just be worth it! (PS--that's Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford, where I was baptized, confirmed, ordained priest, and held my first ordained job!)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

vinyl lives!

When mom was preparing to move to her apartment she wasn’t sure there’d be room for her stereo cabinet. As it turned out there was a perfect space for it, and though she did pare down her album collection she maintained some favorites, of hers AND ours! Among my requests of records she would keep were several Christmas albums from different countries: France, Italy and Sweden. They weren’t just familiar carols sung in other languages (although some were that), but tunes that were distinctive to that country. One of the Swedish carols has a very festive rhythm and mood. Though we never understood the words, when we were children we couldn’t resist dancing to it. It continues to be one of my favorites.

There were others that, when flipping through the album covers, brought back other memories of times from childhood, and even images of where I would sit to listen to the music. For some reason, I liked to tuck myself in on the floor next to where the stereo was kept, creating a private space where the music and I could share our own special world. (It didn’t hurt that the radiator was also nearby on chilly winter days when I loved to listen to the Nutcracker Suite.) Powerful stuff, music.

I have my own collection of albums with which I can’t bring myself to part, but unlike Mom, the turntable is long gone. Perhaps one day I’ll replace them with available CD’s, but there’s something about holding that square of cardboard with liner notes easily read on the back that can’t be replaced by that small square of plastic that now contains our musical world. Ah, vinyl…

Friday, September 08, 2006

the room with the view!

Here are a few shots of Mom’s apartment on the inside! The amazing thing to each of us in the family is that the layout of the room and the arrangement of furniture is so much like my grandmother’s apartment where she lived for 50 years in Greenwich Village. It’s a reverse image, but without prodding each of us exclaimed separately that it was so much like “61,” which was the address of the apartment. It’s a little eerie, but comforting at the same time. I won’t inundate you with too many images, but at least these will give you a feel for her space.

We were so glad to be able to be there to help her get settled, and after less than a week it already looked as though she had lived there for ages. A handful of tasks remain that are dependent upon my brother’s efforts, but then she’ll be full steam ahead, almost as if there’d been no interruption.

An update on the matter of her purse being stolen: they caught the woman that took it, who apparently just wanted clothes for her kids! Not sure what legal action will be taken, but one purchase was for more than $500, which qualifies as a felony crime.

Back here at the ranch we’re getting back in the groove with details here. Ken got the new patio table assembled, a load of recyclables has gone to their reward, and I’m back to wedding details. It’s a relief, of course, to have the big decisions taken care of, but now it’s the little things that occupy my time! I’ve still got a handful of addresses to track down, and then we’ll be close to ready to stuff invitations and get those ready for the mail.

But now, back to my regularly scheduled to do list!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

views from ground level

I'm on the run this morning, but wanted to give you a visual update! These are pics taken from the courtyard that Mom's apartment overlooks. It's such a restful sight from above, and we noticed over the several days that we were there that other residents regularly stroll through and enjoy the garden. I don't blame them! I'm off early today to attend a clergy book discussion up in Clarksville. Ken is going along and will run some errands at Ft. Campbell, then will join the group for lunch. Other errands en route home will delay us getting back, but I'll try to update you more thoroughly then!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mom's new "room with a view"

We're making wonderful progress getting Mom settled in to her new digs at Seabury, a continuing care retirement community. This is really a wonderful place, and I'm thrilled that she is here. The staff are fabulous, the facilities are great, and the apartment she got couldn't be better. All the furniture is in place, books unpacked and put away, kitchen is organized, and some of the more significant pictures are hung. Her office is taking shape, too, which is a load off her mind as she tries to keep track of her busy life in the midst of this transition. This is the view of the courtyard from her porch balcony, and when I am back in my own dsl world I'll share some closeups from ground leve. If I had my telephoto lens I'd show you the part of Hartford's skyline that you can see in the distance! Apparently you can see the city's fireworks from her apartment, which would sure beat fighting traffic!

Today hanging pictures is on the agenda, and then all that remains is unpacking boxes of photos and getting them organized to put away in the hall closet. She's got great storage here, which is wonderful. I'll post more photos along the way later--there really hasn't been much time to take any! Right now we're just grateful that things are going smoothly and she is beginning to feel like she's at home. And like Dorothy says, there's no place like it!
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