Saturday, April 28, 2007

it's a food-fest weekend!

There's lots of food on the agenda this weekend. Last night we had a friend over for dinner and I cooked an old favorite that I hadn't had in a long time: roasted chicken with mustard-shallot viniagrette that also seasoned potatoes and green beans. Yum! I also did the first round of some baked beans that we're taking to a barbecue this afternoon, and this morning chopped the veggies and brought the beans and sauce together in the crock pot. Ken is preparing his favorite cole slaw recipe to take this afternoon, too.

Shortly I'll start on preparations for tomorrow, when I host my grand opening Pampered Chef party. It will be more like an open house and a social time, but products will be on display, food available for snacking, and some products set up for people to try out (like the chopper, my favorite all-time PC product that I've used nonstop the last two days!). On the menu: colossal chopped salad, chocolate fondue dip with strawberries and cinnamon tortilla chips, festive cheese spread, homemade hummus with veggies to dip, beanut butter and jelly thumb print cookies and mini pizzas. If you're in the neighborhood, come on by!

Back to the kitchen!

Friday, April 27, 2007

it's been one of those weeks...

I've been having computer issues this week, but things took a dire turn yesterday when it crashsed three times, and this morning has crashed once already. There's no telling what led to this, and I am so technically challenged that even following the vague instructions on the screen feels like the equivalent of entering the first tier of a maze: no clue what I'm looking at, where I am going, or how to recover so that I can start over. Very frustrating. Ken has had similar problems with his computer for several weeks now, and though we've managed to reduce the frequency of his crashes, our "good fortune" will likely expire. Time for the geek squad, except we can't afford it!

In the meantime I'm still learning the nuts and bolts of the Pampered Chef, have closed my first show (which did great!) and am biting my nails with a couple of catalog shows that are out there. I'm also trying to recruit some assistance for a fund-raising effort for May, but so far am getting nowhere with that. I am trying not to get discouraged!

I've had my coffee and am now off to the pool. In the last couple of weeks lap time has also proven to be fruitful with generating ideas, so perhaps some more will come forth from this morning's swim. It will help if I can get there before the aerobics class!!


Monday, April 23, 2007

remembering

A year ago today I lost my best friend, Kathy. It's hard to believe that she died less than six months following her diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer. Her attitude was always upbeat, and she worked diligently and with fierce determination to combat the beast that took her life. There is still a sense of disbelief, even now, that she is gone. But she is gone, and her absence is felt keenly.
When I was still walking the dogs I would use that walking time to talk to her. We became friends over a period of months when we walked every morning before I went to work, and walking was always one of her joys, especially on a beach. Without my walks I find other ways to share with her, and daily there are reminders of her presence in and impact on my life. I am grateful for the little talismans that remind me not just of her, but of how well she knew me, understood me, and cared for me.
I was on my way to see her when she died, and though I regret that I wasn't able to squeeze her hand that last time, or kiss her goodbye, I have made my peace with a spiritual farewell that took place. That gift is precious to me, and allows me to continue to honor who she was and continues to be for me. It is enough.
This is my favorite picture of us. There aren't very many, because one or the other of us was always behind the camera, but on this occasion we were visiting friends in Michigan and they did the honors. I'm not crazy about how I look here, with my goofy, closed-mouth smile, but it captures a moment of friendship that is typical, and cherished.
I love you Katrina. Thanks for all the memories...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

initiation

I had my first Pampered Chef party last night. It went pretty well, all things considered, but I definitely initiated myself from the get-go. I had packed a container of garlic-infused olive oil, but neglected to secure the lid on the container. When I went to unpack my bags to set things up at the host's home, my brand new, never-been-worn PC apron was covered with the aromatic oil, as were several of the products within the vicinity of the spill. Oy. Thank goodness I had lots of time to clean things up, and when I got home I promptly put the apron into the wash. I guess every "first" needs a mishap of one sort of another, and this one was tame. You'd think, though, that I would have learned my lesson about properly sealed containers from the last dreadful experience I had with that--a can of pain spilling across the back seat of my car! At least this mistake was mine and wasn't costly, just unfortunate.

This morning I get to give it another go. This time, the container will be sealed. I'm no longer a first timer, after all!

Friday, April 20, 2007

defining moments

I was reading a story this morning about one of the shooting victims at Virginia Tech. His mother was recounting his experience that morning, and as she completed telling his story she remarked that she didn't want this to become the defining moment of his life, that she would rather his life be defined by something positive, a "great celebration of his life."

So I've been thinking about defining moments and turning points. The traumas of my life have not approached the intensity of what took place this week. Even so, they have had their impact, and have shaped, to some extent, who I am, and in some cases changed the trajectory my life has taken. That has not been a bad thing. I also understand what this mother is saying, and I agree with her that a focus on what is good in life, and what can be made good is much preferred to dwelling on the negative. I have seen the damage done to people whose life reference point keeps them in the place of victim. Not only does it inhibit that person's life, but it makes smaller the lives of those around them.

In a book I am reading for a clergy study group, the author refers to what he calls "reverse paranoia," where he does his best "to assume that everyone is part of a plot to enhance my well-being." Why not? And if we each took some portion of responsibility for trying to enhance the well-being of those we encounter in life, what a difference we would make in the world!

I don't know that there is a single defining moment in my life thus far. I like to think that many moments contribute to the person I am now, and that many more will help shape the person I will yet become. I can also choose to be intentional about that definition, by seeing what is good, doing what is better, and believing the best about people as often as possible. That, indeed, is cause for celebration.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

dedication

Most mornings my pool time coincides with one of several water aerobics classes. Although a handful of the women (and some men) in these classes are in their 50's (and gracious, that description will soon include ME!), most are in their 60's and 70's, with a few older than that. This morning when I was leaving the pool I passed two women on their way in. One of them was probably in her 70's--the other looked to be in her mid 80's, and walked with a modest degree of caution in her step. God love 'em. Many of the water aerobics women come early to the pool, some of them as much as an hour early and get in the pool to do some exercise, but mostly to socialize. I realize that for many of them this event has this double benefit. Still, I admire their faithfulness and dedication to the class, and I can only hope that as I age I can be as determined as they are.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the day after

Am I alone in not jumping all over the administration at Virginia Tech for their "slow" notification to the VT community about what transpired yesterday morning? I am appalled by the criticism of the University's handling of the incident, and the quickness with which fingers are being pointed and blame is being cast.

Let's do a reality check. The first shooting had a response within ten minutes, and appeared to be an isolated incident. Witnesses were interviewed, information was gathered, and based on the information at the time, it appeared that the perpetrator had fled the scene. The dorm where that shooting took place DID go into lockdown until, based on the information at hand, it was determined that it was safe to give the all clear. There was no way to know that the student responsible for the first shooting had other violence in mind, and those in charge cannot be held accountable for not being clairvoyant.

In situations like this things happen quickly, speculation is rampant, and significant decisions must be informed and take into account the big picture. The dissemination of partial or faulty information can prove more dangerous than none at all, and I believe that the University acted properly.

The events of Monday morning were horrific, and the wound that community faces is raw and painful, and will continue to be so for some time. What is helpful to offer comfort and healing is compassion for all those affected, prayers for those who grieve, and reticence in passing judgment.

Monday, April 16, 2007

the trip we can't take

This morning I received an email advertising what sounds (to me) like a fabulous trip with my favorite Scottish fiddler, Alasdair Fraser:
A five-day adventure across Canada! Every day we'll have non-stop music and fun: workshops, open mic sessions and evening concerts. Three days and nights on board our own private section of the legendary streamliner "The Canadian" running through the Rockies from Vancouver to Toronto, 3,000 miles on the rails that built a nation! Comfortable sleeper berths, freshly-prepared meals, plus two nights in four-star Fairmont hotels in Vancouver and Toronto, kickoff concert and non-stop entertainment on board! A gorgeous 1950's art-deco dome lounge; diner and performance car with plenty of space for socializing, and our own on-board naturalist ready to explain the passing landscape.

Ken has indicated that he would like to do some train travel (which I agree sounds like fun), and I know from experience that traveling with Alasdair is a blast. The trip is in November, not the best time of the year to travel north of the border (short days), but better off-season makes it more affordable. Even so, it isn't affordable for us! Not including the cost of getting to Vancouver and home from Toronto, it would cost close to $5000 for the two of us! Not exactly in our budget this year, and probably not for several years. But it's the kind of trip to have tucked in the back of one's mind to plan for in the future.

Sigh. Guess I'll just have to be content with listening to Alasdair on my iPod...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

foiled again!

I've been emerging from what has proven to be a difficult winter, a casualty of which was my daily swimming routine. I am beginning to return to that routine, but this week have been foiled twice already in getting in my time at the pool!

Yesterday I arrived at the pool and was about to get out of the car when I realized that I had left my bag at home. No suit, towel, etc. The timing on that occasion didn't allow for me simply to return home to retrieve my things and head back to the pool, so I had to abandon that effort.
This morning I got to the pool at a good time, donned cap and goggles, showered and headed out of the locker room. The pool was closed! A thunderstorm with lightning was the culprit this time. The indoor and outdoor pools are linked through a common treatment and filtration system, so there went today's plan! To make up for yesterday's lack of exercise Ken and I took the dogs for a long walk before dinner. With today's rain a repeat of that doesn't seem likely! Oh well. At least I've got a little extra time to take care of some things that would have had to wait until later.



Tomorrow--swim or bust!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

a gift of peace

On the run this morning, but I know people like looking at fresh blog entries! This picture is from Melrose, our tree farm in South Carolina, taken last fall. Maybe I feel immediate peace when I look at this picture because there is such peacefulness at that place. Imagine being able to sit on the front porch and gaze out at that view all day long (or perhaps I should say, looking up periodically from immersion in a good book), and then take in the sunset with a little happy hour before heading indoors for a leisurely dinner. Even on a rainy day I like to be out there on the porch to take in the wet view. The mood created is different, but still peaceful. In another month we'll be headed there for a few days of R&R (or at least that's my plan--Ken will probably busy himself with a host of projects!), not long enough to get fully restored, but even a few days are a tonic. It's wonderful to have such a place in our lives.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

happy easter!

It's a beautiful day out there, even if it is the coldest Easter on record for middle Tennessee!! We have only one service today, which has allowed me the rare privilege of sleeping in a bit on a Sunday morning. I enjoyed lying in bed listening to the birds (who sang in defiance of the temperature), and waiting until eight enthusiastic paws decided it was time for their breakfast and launched themselves onto the bed as my wake up call.

It will be a leisurely day here after church. I'm planning to watch the final round of the Masters in hopes that Tiger will pull ahead and win. They all had a tough day yesterday with a rugged wind. The week ahead has varied events, one of which is that I am hoping to return to a weekly writing routine that I suspended last year when life was blowing me to and fro. It's time to reconnect to writing, and to invest some time in exploring the nooks and crannies of the spiritual life. It's past time, in fact.

I had a nice thing happen yesterday, a sort of Easter gift, in my mind. I was backing out of the driveway to head out on an errand, and just as I neared the street I saw Susan, a woman in the neighborhood I have gotten to know during morning dog walks as our paths crossed on a regular basis. She often had biscuits for the dogs, which offered us both a pause in the journey, and opportunity to do more than wave to each other as we passed. Yesterday's intersection offered us a chance to chat briefly, and as we were bidding farewell she wished me a happy Easter and then said, "love you!" It's nice to know that more than plants are blooming this spring.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

croissnots?

Publix can't open soon enough. Although we can shop at Wal-mart for groceries, it's on the other side of town, and produce is not their best event. The local Kroger is the best bet, and closer by a long shot, but when I saw the sign advertising those lovely french rolls spelled as "croissnots" I knew we were overdue for another choice. There have been other spelling anomalies along the way that make me wonder about the quality of Kroger management.

And then, miracle of miracles, the lot at the corner where we turn off the main drag to come to our house began to be cleared and a sign went up: "Publix--coming soon!" We are thrilled! Not only do we love Publix, but it is a mere mile from our home. The Exterior of the building is now up, the roof in place, and the exterior brickwork is beginning to be done. We can hardly wait, but wait we must.

There's also a rumor that Wild Oats is coming, and since they have been bought by Whole Foods, I am in seventh heaven. Should the rumor turn out to be true, I will have a mere five minute drive to procure my free-range and healthy food products, rather than the 45 minutes to the other side of Nashville (and a traffic headache) that I presently endure. This is progress I can live with!

Friday, April 06, 2007

woohoo! my kit has arrived!

My Pampered Chef consultant kit arrived Wednesday, but the last two days have been so busy that I haven't had a chance to unpack much of it! I am surprisingly excited about this new venture. I'm not afraid of sales--heck, I tried to book several parties yesterday with clergy! My downfall is postponing acting on ideas and suggestions until it's too late. Must overcome that!!! But the product is so great, and the support I've been getting so far from my recruiter and director, not to mention the company, has been unexpectedly solid and encouraging. They'll keep me on my toes!
Once Easter is over I will plunge into setting up my first parties (I've already got hostesses lined up), and get myself organized. In the meantime, did you know that you can host what's called a catalog party? You don't even have to clean your house or clear your calendar for this! Just invite friends and family by email invitation to shop online. How cool is that? So for all you interested readers out there, now is your chance to host the easiest party ever! We also do fund-raisers (my church just had one), bridal showers, and all sorts of other fun events.

Look out world, Anne is about to cut loose!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

a new reign

Yesterday I had an appointment with our new bishop. It was a "getting to know you" visit, one that I scheduled for a variety of reasons, none of them urgent. His plate is full of urgency these days, considering that:
~~the day after our former bishop retired, one of our priests took 80% of his congregation and left the Episcopal church, stranding a remnant of parishioners without care, and shouldering considerable debt

~~another congregation has been discerning their own future within the church, leaning, in public statements, toward departure

~~we have numerous clergy vacancies to fill, some of which represent congregations on the brink of deterioration, others of which live with unresolved conflict

~~one of our congregations closed a week ago, ending a tumultuous eight-year tenure.


Considering these things, it was remarkable to me that the bishop spent nearly two hours with me in leisurely conversation. We covered a variety of ground, talked candidly, laughed, shared perspectives, and began to get to know each other. He listened attentively, and asked questions that indicated a respect for my experience and an appreciation for my input. In the nearly twenty years during which I've had relationships with bishops, I've never had an encounter like this one before. He is a breath of fresh air, and a welcome presence in our midst.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

is this cute or what?

When I first met Ken one of the early "tests" he passed was his endorsement by the dogs. They loved him instantly. Dooley is the cuddler in the bunch, and his habit had been to snuggle up with me on the couch when I watched television. One night when we were watching TV, Dooley abandoned his post by my side on the loveseat and went to the couch where Ken was stretched out. At first I thought he was being really sweet. After a few days he abandoned me entirely and simply joined Ken at every opportunity. I accused Dooley of going to the dark side.

Dooley is, in fact, an equal opportunity cuddler, and I've gotten over the fact that there are times when he chooses to cuddle with Ken instead of with me. The other night he was at Ken's feet, with his paw draped across Ken's leg. It was just too dear not to take a picture!
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