Friday, June 29, 2007

yard art

I was reminded by a picture on Jules' blog that I had this one in the "archives." I took it last summer when we went to CT to help Mom move, and we drove past this yard with its ecclectic display. It's harder to appreciate in a single angle view (you really have to click on the image to enlarge it) but it's a hodge-podge of stuff.

I'm pretty fussy about what looks good in a yard, and though I love landscaping and flower beds, I do think there is such a thing as too much. On the flip side there is also the minimalist approach, which by definition I guess one could infer that I believe is too little!

Our own yard is still a work in progress, and shows NO progress since we got a couple of beds tilled and planted and a soaker hose laid out, now almost six weeks ago. It's been a combination of dreadful heat and a lack of time. Mulch bags are still stacked on the walkway! The coming weeks don't look good for any more progress, but perhaps for the neighbors' sake we'll at least relocate the mulch bags. Then again, a cool front would definitely be welcome! It's at times like this that I miss the chance of such things that occur more readily in more northern climates. Sometimes it's just hard to be a Yankee transplant...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

inner beauty

A few weeks ago I posted an exterior picture of St. Paul's that I appropriated from their web site. Here is a view of the new worship space built a few years ago. I've now got two Sundays under my belt (or should I say stole), and since there are three services on that day it isn't taking long to get the hang of the rhythm of worship.

The staff is fabulous, and I enjoy working with them. I was also blessed yesterday when the assistant stuck his head in the door of my office and said, "this is working for me, I hope it is for you, too." I cocked my head to one side, not sure to what he was referring. "The way we're working together," he elaborated. "It feels really natural." I assured him the feeling was mutual.

What a gift.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

hacked

If I were my neighbor across the street, I'd be fuming. The local electric company has contracted with a tree service to remove tree limbs that threaten power lines. These guys go the extra mile, however, and decimate the species! This formerly lovely maple is now entirely below line level, even though only one side of the tree was within reach of the power line. Egad! I'm grateful that we have only one tree with a few limbs that hover above the line that runs to our house, and I will be expeditious when Ken returns home from his fishing trip to get him to remove only what is necessary so that our tree isn't at risk from the hackers. These guys can't begin to tout themselves as professionals, since the evidence of removal shows they don't know what they're doing! Our neighbors used to have two lovely trees that we could see from our house. The remaining stumps are a scar on the streetscape, and these trees will never be the same. Good Lord, deliver us!

Friday, June 22, 2007

adjustments

The last couple of weeks have been dominated by adjustments. Returning to full-time, on site work has required a change in schedule, a rearrangement of tasks, and an evaluation of priorities. It has also worn me out! Before long I will adapt to the changes, but at the moment I feel like I'm scrambling to cover the necessary bases and get things done.

Still, these have been a good couple of weeks. I am enjoying my time at St. Paul's. The staff is wonderful, and there is great ease in working with them and finding my way toward being part of them. They have been welcoming and patient as I ask questions (often interrupting their own work to do so), and fitting in has been easy. My first Sunday went well and I was greeted warmly by parishioners. It is a blessing to be here.

This weekend Ken is off fishing so I am hoping to tend to some domestic chores. But I also want to cook (perhaps for the week!), and read, and maybe do a little weeding in the garden. Then again, I may simply take a nap...


Sunday, June 17, 2007

here comes the bride!

Our friend Debi (aka Sammy's Mom) got married yesterday, and she was a lovely bride. She and Alan cleverly got everyone started eating at the reception while they snuck off for pictures, so it was a few moments before I noticed their absence (yes, I was busy snarfing my own food--I was hungry!). I got back in to the church in time for a few shots of my own, but missed the formal poses. I think Deb was ready to be done with it (the photos) by the time I got there, because she was busy making faces and offering cheesy smiles. A personal favorite is the self-described "redneck bride" noshing on a chicken wing. Here are a few keepers, though!

Congratulations Debi and Alan!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

this is the life!

Sunday as we were walking in the door returning from church and a few errands, the phone was ringing with an invitation we couldn't refuse: a cookout with friends and a cruise on the river! Although these friends were at our wedding, we really hadn't seen them at all, and Ken had only met them briefly. We headed to another friend's house to rendezvous, and then all of us went to our host's brother's house on the river.

We sat poolside enjoying happy hour and conversation together, then had a sumptuous dinner of shish kebab and other yummy morsels before gathering ourselves up and heading to the boat. It was a cruising houseboat (that's my description), and it was a perfect evening to set out as the sun was setting and enjoy a gentle breeze on the water. Our friend Lee makes his own wine as a hobby, and we toasted his delightful vintage and the pleasure of being with friends as we cruised along. Ah... this is the life!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

a little bit country

Last Friday we went with some friends to the Country Music Association Festival concert at LP Field in Nashville. On the bill that night were Bucky Covington ("American Idol" contestant from last year), Montgomery-Gentry, Sara Evans, Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood, Sugarland, and Jason Aldean. Our seats were in the "high section," so the only possible photos were taken off the large screens onto which footage of the performers was projected. Worked for me! As usual at an event like this the audience in our vicinity was nearly as entertaining as those performing onstage! Nonetheless, we had a fun evening with our friends, and the music was good. Here are some pics!

Friday, June 08, 2007

pardon me while I wait

The other day on the radio I heard a report about a drop in US productivity. The report included an explanation about how such a thing was calculated, something having to do with output and labor involved (I'm not an economist!). The speculation was that if productivity didn't increase, businesses would have to raise prices to compensate for few items for sale.

All of this came to mind this afternoon while I was at the grocery store, and I had to sit in my car and wait to move into a parking place because the young worker retrieving shopping carts was so busy text messaging that she failed to do her job in a timely manner. So, not only was her productivity on an ebb, so was mine!

Businesses don't need to raise prices, they need to ban cell phones from use in the workplace! The way a lot of people behave you'd think there was an inalienable right to have a communications device serve as a necessary appendage. It's bad enough that cell phone use in cars causes drivers to be distracted from their primary task of driving, now the public is served with less satisfaction because employees aren't focused on their work. Oy, vey...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

inspiration

Last week on my way to visit my goddaughter I stopped at a Starbuck's in Asheville for a quick cup of joe. While polluting my coffee with sweetener and cream, I noticed a flyer advertising a quilt show tacked to the bulletin board above the pollution station. The dates coincided with my return through Asheville, and I made a note of the web site for more information to see if a detour on my way home would be feasible.

Turns out it was, and I was treated not only with scenic back roads on the way to the show, but some lovely, clever and inspiring quilts as well. I miss fabric, but my life and our space at home is already overflowing with other activities and commitments, so to bring out the sewing machine and find a place to set up simply won't work. Later. The fabric will keep.

In the meantime I enjoy the inspiration derived from the creativity of others--colors, patterns, techniques, images and messages all working together to deliver a gift to my soul. I will get back to it some day. That day is just out there in the future somewhere.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

to close or not to close...

I had reached the conclusion recently that it was time to close the internet site for my business. In the last six months the only sale I have had came from my mother, who orders from me directly (sometimes it helps to know the owner, I guess!). In spite of a respectable amount of traffic on the web site, visits have not resulted in sales. The costs to keep the web site operational is more than $150 a month (remember this is a commerce site, which handles shopping carts, credit card processing, and so on, and there are bank fees for handling the credit card processing), a lot to swallow when there's no money coming in.

Over the weekend I talked to the company that hosts the site about archiving it in the event that I want to re-establish it later on. No problem. Yesterday I was ready to make the call to pull the plug, and then...

an order came in. It wasn't a big order--two cards, but it was an order from someone I don't know. Some research this morning indicates that most traffic comes to the site for prayer beads, not for cards. Prayer bead sales might actually pay for the site, but without orders...

Oddly enough, it is occuring to me that perhaps I ought to pray about this!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

unexpected grief

I am struggling this morning with the news of the death of one of our bishops, Jim Kelsey of the Diocese of Northern Michigan as the result of a car accident. I met Jim Kelsey several years ago at a national conference where we spent several days in the same workshop, and had occasion to talk informally at meals and in between sessions. His diocese is composed of mostly small congregations, and he was deeply committed to encouraging, supporting, and empowering the ministry of all people in their life of faith and in response to the needs of the world. He was passionate about this ministry and its partnership with clergy known as mutual ministry. One person described him as providing a large voice for small churches and dioceses. As one who has served such churches, I was deeply appreciative of his advocacy for the congregations throughout the church who are underappreciated and often overlooked because of their size. I was also appreciative of his advocacy for justice in other arenas of life and in the church, and admired his integrity and conviction.

The tears I am encountering this morning are for this bishop, but they are also a resurfacing of grief for a friend and parishioner who died just a month ago. Martha Bennett was a member of one of my churches on the mountain, a deeply committed, fiercely devoted and tirelessly active member of the church whose passion for small churches matched that of Jim Kelsey. Martha was the small church, and she loved it wholeheartedly. She and I worked together for nearly two years as partners in our effort to serve the churches on the mountain in our care. She never failed to tell me that she appreciated me, and was a model of cooperative ministry and teamwork that is too rare in the church. She was also good humored and had a wonderful laugh, offered her hospitality with regularity, and knew when to take things seriously and when to shrug them off. She took delight in reminding me that I was a Yankee, and I never failed to remind her that my ancestors fought for the confederacy. I miss her keenly.

On a larger scale, my grief today is for the whole of our church, who has been robbed of two remarkable people who were models of what it means to live a Christian life in the best sense. They were humble, honest and vulnerable, and weren't afraid of risk or confronting difficulty. If only the world had more people like them.

Here's to Jim and Martha, and to the all the saints who have left us for other shores.

Monday, June 04, 2007

new horizons

Sorry it's been so long since I've updated the blog! I was out of town last week, and had a busy weekend over Memorial Day, and here we are, ten days later...

News from here is that a week from today I return to full-time work as a priest! A couple of months ago my bishop suggested that I put my name in for the position of interim at a church whose rector had retired recently. St. Paul's is a good sized, healthy and vibrant congregation, and their organizational/systemic needs (making the transition from pastoral to program size church) held a certain appeal. I went ahead and put my name in, interviewed, and received the call to serve!
I am excited to be working again with a staff, and with parishioners who are engaged in ministry and committed to their faith life. I think fun times lie ahead.

A few years ago St. Paul's enlarged their facilities, so although they are an historic church, this picture is of the new addition. I'll try to get a picture of the inside to share later.

In the meantime I'll try to be better about posting and keeping in touch. For now, off to the pool!
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