Sunday, October 31, 2010

a halloween blessing

Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin.   
God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you.   
He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out all the yucky stuff-- including the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc.   
Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside you to shine for all the world to see.   

This was shared with me from another pumpkin. 
Blessings on all of the pumpkins in my patch.

Happy Halloween! 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

it's a meme thing

I have been tagged for a meme by The Bug at Bug's Eye View. She has given me the following 7 questions to answer...

1. What do you consider your hometown to be?
That would be West Hartford, CT. It is, actually, west of Hartford, CT, place of my birth, and later the place where I bought my first home (I should try to scan a picture of the house...) We moved there when I was nine from Newington, CT, right next door, so technically Newington is my hometown.  I've got more memories associated with West Hartford, however, so that is what I claim. My Dad still lives there, Mom did until a few years ago, and my brothers are in adjacent towns. I'm the one who flew the coop.

2. What’s the hardest part of your average day?
It's probably going to bed without having gotten done what I had hoped, and experiencing that lament of "shoulda, coulda."

3. The easiest? Why?
Those moments after getting up when I can look at the day ahead and think of the possibilities. There's so much potential for the day first thing in the morning!

4. What beverage do you reach for to quench your thirst?
Dullsville... water.

5. What is one not-so-secret goal you have for your life? I’ll let you keep your secret ones to yourself.
I'm really lousy about goals, but the one I did establish for myself recently was to promote to Pampered Chef director before next July. It's not going too well so far. I made that goal during the summer when church work was light. Now that we're in the thick of the church program year, YOWZA! my life doesn't feel like my own. I'm working on that. Old habits are SO hard to change.

6. What physical pain do you fear most? (The Bug's example: she's trying to decide how bad her jaw pain needs to get before she risks a potential needle from her dentist. So, for her, throbbing is preferable to jabbing.)
Wow, what a question. I don't think about physical pain as a thing to fear. I AM fearful of having my quality of life compromised by physical limitations, however. I've already experienced that to some modest extent because of a shattered heel suffered several years ago. My foot continues to give me trouble. But in terms of specifics, I deal with pain as I need to.

7. Where do you find solace?
Hmm, it depends on from what I need solace. If it's emotional hurt, I turn to Mom. If it's a bad day at work, the distraction of television or reading blogs. Illness: bed (I just spent two days there, I can confirm that this is true). If I'm upset to the point of tears, I cry. Sometimes, my husband is solace, but it depends on what I need. I don't generally turn to food for solace, or drink. When Dooley (the dog) was alive, he provided a good cuddle.

Now I am supposed to come up with seven different questions and tag seven people, but seven people don't come here regularly enough to do that, so I'll invite you to play if you'd like! Just let me know you did, please, so I can come read your answers!

1) What is the most memorable gift you received as a child (before graduating high school)?

2) If you could invite someone from any period in history to come for dinner, who would it be, and what would you serve?

3) Do you have a favorite dish you take to pot luck meals? Do you have a favorite dish that you hope someone else will bring to a pot luck dinner?

4) What fictional character would you like to interview (if you don't think you're a good interviewer, overlook that little detail)? Why?

5) What have you created that you are proudest of?
(forgive me for ending that sentence with a preposition--I couldn't figure out how else to phrase it)

6) What was your favorite book as a child (before you were a tween)?

7) If a movie were to be made of your life (or some portion of it), who would you want to star in the role of you?

Have fun!

Friday, October 29, 2010

friday five: comfort via media

Kathryn at RevGals writes: I don't get to watch that much tv anymore, but I actually wrote down today's Oprah show on my calendar. Why? Because she is hosting a Sound of Music cast reunion!!! ...

It seems no matter how many new movies, tv shows or books come down the pike I still have my ol' stand by favorites that I can watch/read over and over and when I do they actually bring me comfort - like an old sweatshirt or a favorite food.

Today's Friday Five is an opportunity for you to list five of your favorite 'go-to' movies/tv shows/books. You can use images, links, explanations or

When it comes to tv I like what I call "smart" television: it engages my brain. If the writing is bad or the acting is lousy, I am ready to move on. The exception to this is great character interaction. I love Bones for this more than anything.
 1) Hands down, the best television ever is The West Wing. Superb writing, outstanding cast, and an amazing education in politics (I yawned at politics before TWW, but I came to appreciate it, and am now something of a devotee. If nothing else, TWW changed how I look at and engage politics.) I watch reruns regularly. 

2) My favorite movie: The American President. What a surprise! (Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it was written by the same writer as The West Wing!) I can watch this movie over and over and over again.  

3) I like good drama. My favorite is probably The Hunt for Red October. It's smartly written and very well acted. And Sean Connery is well, Sean Connery!

4) I, too, love The Sound of Music. It's well written, well edited, and the music is superb. It's also great to see that in real life the good guys DO triumph now and again! Is there a better scene than the family crossing the Alps at the end?

5) TV marathons of any of these: Law and Order, Burn Notice, Bones, JAG...

6) I have to add a sixth, LadyHawke. It's historical fiction, good vs. evil, poignant love story, and a touch of comedy. It's basically fantasy, but fun and heart-warming. Love. it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

thank you, Anita Hill

I don’t think of myself as a survivor. The period of my life during which I experienced clergy sexual assault is long ago and feels far away. I was lucky. The time frame during which I was assaulted and endured harassment coincided with the revelations from Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings. The topic of debate on Capital Hill provoked discussions everywhere about the nature of sexual harassment, raised consciousness about power differentials in the workplace, the Church, and elsewhere, and created an environment of listening and learning which led to my own very personal disclosure of what had happened to me. Had it not been for Anita Hill’s courage to speak, I can’t begin to think of how things might have gone differently, not just for me, but for others as well.

Whether it was coincidence or serendipity, Marie Fortune made a visit to my seminary campus around the time of the Thomas hearings. I was a junior, two months into my tenure as a graduate student and a seminarian. Fortune’s area of expertise is sexual and domestic violence, and as a pastor herself she is uniquely qualified to speak on matters of clergy sexual abuse.  It would be an understatement to suggest that she had my attention when she spoke.

I have some distinct memories from that time. One of them is that on one occasion of being assaulted by the priest/supervisor with whom I worked we had a conversation about Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. In short, the priest dismissed Hill’s claims as spurious and calculated. He wasn’t alone in his opinion.

One of the things I came to understand during the debate about sexual abuse and violence is that persons of privilege—especially white males—have difficultly appreciating the out-of-balance dynamic of power in subordinate relationships. I came to understand this most fully thanks to Marie Fortune’s book Is Nothing Sacred?, which explores the dynamic of clergy sexual abuse (and though Roman Catholic clergy abuse makes headlines, there are a multitude of untold stories of women who also experience violation from clergy). Another book of tremendous value to me at the time, whose title and author unfortunately escape me at the moment, went further in probing the nature of this dynamic. It is something about which all persons should be informed.

I also came to recognize something else. The effort to raise our collective consciousness to consider people equal to one another regardless of gender, race, age, and every other label that has been used to divide and oppress members of our society showed evidence of bearing fruit. The question so often raised in an effort to discredit Anita Hill’s testimony was why she didn’t bring to the attention of superiors the incidents of harassment she described during the Thomas hearings. I can tell you why. At the time, they were normative. It was accepted that men could speak to and treat women they way they did because they had power. Oddly enough, I have come to have compassion for men accused of actions prior to this consciousness being raised. I don’t overlook the actions, but I don’t feel that they can necessarily be held accountable for things said and done in a time when, right or wrong, they were “acceptable.” Call it anachronistic punishment.

I was fortunate during that year in seminary to have people in my world that I could trust: the friend to whom I first disclosed my experience as we left chapel one morning; the Director of Supervised Ministries; my Dean, and ultimately, my bishop. In spite of feelings of shame and the all-too-typical tendency toward self-incrimination, I thank God for finding within me, and with the support of others who believed me, the courage to speak about my experience, to accuse the offender, and to risk being vulnerable enough to put everything about my future on the line.  

On the occasion of Marie Fortune’s visit to campus she made available books, bibliographies and brochures to help us broaden and deepen our understanding about matters of sexual abuse and violence. She also had buttons for us that read, “I believe her.” They were intended to show support for Anita Hill, but I wore that button on my coat for years afterward to indicate my support for any woman who had a story to tell. I was one of those women. I still am.

Thank you, Anita.You have no idea how much I value your courage.

Monday, October 25, 2010

love and honor

Sunday I had the honor of marrying Doug and Cathey. They are, first of all, lovely people, but this particular union of souls was very moving to me. It's one thing to watch young, starry-eyed couples come together full of love, and hopes and dreams and wishes for a life together. It's another to watch individuals who are seasoned by life and honed by its realities make the choice to marry. When they find and rejoice in a love that transcends hopes and dreams, and are armed with an arsenal of wisdom, fortitude, and endurance, it is truly a blessing to see. Both Doug and Cathey shed tears as they exchanged vows, and it was impossible to witness their pure overflowing joy and devotion to each other and not be moved as well.

Thanks, guys. Mazel Tov to you, and blessings on your life together.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

oh what a night!

We returned home from Melrose yesterday afternoon, fetched Rigel and Juliet from the kennel, then shifted gears for the evening event. Parishioners at another church in the diocese have for a number of years hosted an evening of ghoulish delight and entertainment for members of their church. The invitation was extended to us, and boy, did we give them a turnout!
The host family opens their farm, including the barn and an assortment of animals (including llamas, peacocks, cows and goats, to name a few), and transforms a portion of the property surrounding an old wooden cabin. Fires blazed in two areas where costumed children and adults roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and tiki lamps offered light when full darkness penetrated the grounds, which included an outhouse. And speaking of outhouses, one young trick-or-treater's costume was a "very scary outhouse," as she described it!
Music wafted through the air while party-ers filled up on roasted goodies, then tours were organized through the dark woods for young and old alike to meet up with costumed "treaters" who distributed candy. It was totally fun.
The attention to decorating detail was most impressive, and we learned that during the year the cabin and its surroundings are used for monthly gatherings for music and other festivities. 
Is that a family of ghosts crossing the covered bridge into the yard of terror and delight?
Most satisfying for us was the turnout of 17 children, the youngest of which was two months old! As they say, a good time was had by all!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

before i go...

There are so many news items this morning that tempt comment: oh, the Delicious Offering of Christine O'Donnell on the First Amendment... but I will refrain. For now. There's something else I need to write about before it slips into permanent brain fog. I write this mostly for myself, understand, but sharing it with you has benefits.

I had a dream last night. In the dream the actions and sequences were clear and logical. When I woke and tried to recap them in consciousness the pieces began to break apart and became ambiguous.  I hate when that happens. What I remember, and need to remember, is this: I found purpose. I said to someone, "have you ever had an experience where everything in your life culminated in a single moment, and you knew what you were meant to do? I just had that experience. This is the ministry I am meant to do."  Two things. 1) the ministry in the dream was a pastoral one in a hospital/medical setting, but it wasn't a chaplain. Until I nearly flunked out of chemistry in high school, I always envisioned being a nurse. My cluelessness in regard to chemistry changed that. (How ironic, not too many years later, that the most serious relationship in my life was with a chemist! His brand of chemistry, however, dealt with fuel cells.) Some things don't change, and the draw to medical settings is one of them. 2) To my knowledge, there's no such "job" in the health care industry vis a vis what I was doing in the dream.

I don't really know what to do with the impact this dream is having on me. Pay attention and store it away is my present plan. There are more immediate fish to fry.

I've now got less than an hour before getting on the road, and there are still towels in the dryer and a handful of things to load into the car. I'll try to post from Melrose.

Y'all have fun!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


This is one of my favorite images from Melrose. It sums up the leisure that generally marks our time there, even when that time fills up with projects. We will have two days there this week. Not enough. Ordinarily we can set aside a week between Sundays to head off for a little R&R, but this fall, for one reason after another, there wasn't a week that didn't have an obligation within it. Two days is better than none.

Since I can't afford my subscription to the Times crossword puzzles anymore, one of the first things I will do is get my hands on the hard-copy Magazine section from Sunday's paper. Mom always gets the Sunday Times. Sometimes I do better working on the puzzle when I don't have access to anything more than a dictionary, much as I love Google as an accomplice in puzzling success. I don't think of Google as cheating, but as a tool for my learning.

I also expect long spells sitting on the porch looking out at the view. I really do wish you all could come be with us for a day to enjoy it. Pictures don't do it justice, and of course photographs don't capture the breeze that blows up the hill, or the birdsong that serenades that time on the porch. We'll overlook the lowgrade buzz of the carpenter bees.

Today is jammed with must-dos, not because we're leaving, but because the crush of the previous weeks has meant neglect everywhere in this house: laundry, vacuuming, dusting, my office (total disaster area), Pampered Chef tasks... It won't all get done, but I tried to get a start yesterday. I also need to put out a church-related fire. Sheesh, what is it with people who think they can just do what they want without regard to consequences?

Anyhoo, time to get cracking. The day is chugging along without me, and it's time to catch up. May yours be blessed.
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Monday, October 18, 2010

one last look for a mosaic monday

A few more pictures from Oktoberfest, with a broader view of the experience. Click on the images for a closer look. I was a zombie even before the end of church yesterday, so I begged off my shift and stayed home to nap. Even with a mid-day nap I slept a full eight hours last night! I was one worn out puppy. It looks like we cleared $1000 on the baskets. My stinkin' cute pails were a non-seller. At $5 they seemed steep, I guess, but no one realizes that the pails themselves cost more than $2, the candy filling $1.50-2 each, and then add the ribbon and stickers. There was no money to make on these suckers, no matter how cute! Ken and I will buy some of them to give to a few folks: our physical therapists top the list!

This should conclude posts about Oktoberfest until next year. I'll warn you now, however, that our second annual spaghetti dinner and silent auction is around the corner, so no doubt I'll be posting about that here and there. Have a great Monday, and a greater week!

I am taking this week off, sort of. There are a handful of things that need to be done because they are time-sensitive, but then Wednesday afternoon we will head to Melrose for a very short break. We would have left this morning, except that Ken has a mandatory election training session for poll-workers Wednesday morning. We return Saturday for a Halloween activity for the kids at church.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

pictures from oktoberfest

It was a great opening day of Oktoberfest yesterday. The day started cool and clear, and then the sun burned off the chill to bring the temperature up to a perfect 73 with a light breeze. We sold two baskets outright before the day began, then two more before noon. Another was sold before we left. The spirit of the place was good, the food smelled fab, and we all had fun. We arrived at 8:30 to unload church cookbooks and bring the change to the first shift folks, and ended up staying until 2:00. Don't ask. All is well.

Here are a few pictures from the day. Enjoy! Don't you wish you could come bid on some of our baskets?

The first shift in front of our booth of baskets
The much touted pretzel sticks in their packaging
stinkin' cute pails of candy
a favorite basket: devotional
the Blackhawk helicopter: watched it land: awesome!
 A quilter and her winning work (there were multiple categories, maybe more tomorrow)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

prelude to oktoberfest

The annual Oktoberfest celebration in our community is this weekend. It is hosted by the local bank and held on the grounds of their main branch. It's full of everything: fair food (smell the grease?), live music, play space for kids, handcrafted items, local businesses and nonprofits, churches, the local hospital, and more. And for some reason, my favorite, a Blackhawk helicopter. I guess that has to do with my fascination with planes and such, and the fact that this is the kind of apparatus that ferries Kenneth around when he is deployed. It helps me picture him, even though that makes it a bit harder, if you know what I mean.
Look closely at the mug with the cat snacks. 
Do you not love those little mice sticking their faces up?

Anyway, you've heard about the themed gift baskets that the church is doing. They are all done, bowed, and ready for bid. I also got it into my head some time ago that I wanted to make chocolate-covered pretzels to sell. So make them I did! It's very easy, but doing it alone it was a bit time consuming. Still, they look great, and the first batch was sold in its entirety last night when we were setting up the booth! I made 11 more packs last night and then ran out of chocolate. I documented the process, below, minus the actual "dipping" and the finished, packaged look. I also filled these cute little pails (the ones Jayne shipped from Utah) with candy and tied them with ribbon, securing the ribbon with a sticker. Let me tell you, Martha Stewart's adhesive sticker border was the perfect accomplice for the latter. Pictures later of those.

My absolute favorite basket isn't a basket at all. My wonderful friend Nancy Rue, author of great kids, tween and adult books, donated some books from her "Sophie" series. I found a backpack to use as the basket, so they are assembled in the backpack, with some of the books in the bottom to act as counterweight to the books arranged above. There's also a hat, some bookmarks, and bracelets from Nancy. I hope that this sells for a great price.

That's a wrap for now, as I'm headed to the shower and then to the 'fest for a bit. Have a wonderful fall day. It's absolutely gorgeous here! 

Friday, October 15, 2010

friday five: connections

My main peeps (one of whom is deceased)
At RevGals Jan writes: I am currently reading Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam, where he explores the changes in community in the USA in the 20th Century. He explains how communities, people, and especially children function better when they live where there is high social capital. Basically, it means that "relationships matter."

So here are some questions to ponder for this Friday Five about connecting with:

This is something of a tender topic for me right now. Relationally I really don't have any friends locally, not with whom I am close. There are church people with whom I have good and close relationships, but we all know about the limits of such. The part of my life hardest hit by ministry is relationships. I am really missing close connections. My nearest confidante is more than two hours away.

1. Self: Who was your hero/heroine when you were about ten years old?
I have no idea. I don't know if I had one. Right now my physical therapist is my hero!

2. Family: Who are you most like? Who is most like you?
If we're talking about family, I am like both of my parents, strengths as well as deficits. I wish I had more of my mother's qualities and fewer of my father's. I don't have any kids, so I don't know that there is anyone "like" me, although I joke with my nephew that "we must be related" because of traits we have in common. I used to do that with my step-grandfather, too. I adored him.

3. Friends: How do you stay in touch?
The Internet: facebook, blogs, email. Occasionally the phone

4. Neighborhood, community: What are ways you like to be involved?
I had a much richer life before ministry. I was a very active Scottish country dancer, did lots of sewing, quilting, needlework, knitting... at church I was involved in a variety of lay ministries. I entertained a lot. Gardened. I have expanded my network of connections since ministry through Pampered Chef.

5. Job/church: Do you see a need that will help in developing connections?
Connections I make through church broaden my network of contacts, but they don't help me develop a balanced life. What I really need is a balanced life.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

just call me the bow queen

We are less than 35 hours away from setting up the church's booth at the local Oktoberfest, which runs this weekend. We're auctioning themed gift baskets, like we did last year. And let me just tell you, they are so dang fun-looking! Pictures to come.

Last night I tolerated the western channel by keeping myself occupied creating bows for the baskets. The stash of ribbon we had left from last year's crop has gone missing (it's somewhere, I just don't remember where). Fortunately ribbon is on sale at Joann's, but one spool per bow is still pricey. Our florist ordered some stuff bulk, but it didn't work at all, so here we were, back at the drawing board. There are 15 bows here, and another 15 need to be fashioned. I have my work cut out for me! The challenge will be to find more ribbon--I felt like I was buying out the store, yesterday, and there's a limit to the use of Christmas colors at a fall event. Anyway...

There are still two baskets that need to be assembled, one needs to have a couple of items reinforced for packing, one more needs a couple of items added to give it more appeal (it's a "whodunit collection" of mysteries--what would you add to a basket of books to make it more sell-able?) and a couple of others need to be wrapped. Very doable, maybe even this morning.

I've also got some pretzel rods to dip in chocolate and roll in stuff to package for sale. I've never made these, but it's supposed to be easy, and I have fallen in love with chocolate-covered pretzel rods. These will be for sale.

And THEN, thanks to my blogging and crafting buddy Jayne, who saw my appeal on facebook a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for a source for these stinkin' cute pails and found them while she was out in Utah at a girlfest and then shipped them to me, we'll also have adorable, candy-filled pails decorated with ribbon to sell. I love doing this stuff!

And since there is obviously so much still to do, I guess I better get cracking. Stay tuned for further updates (or not). Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

working toward normal

I know there's really no such thing as normal. There are things that may be normative--for me, personally, or for the culture at large--but normal is really what you make it.

It occurs to me this morning that I am a miserable failure these days at making normal.

Take this pumpkin. The dog is normal in my life (and isn't he/she just the sweetest thing?), but I can't remember the last time I bought a pumpkin, never mind bought one and carved it. A normal thing to do this time of year. A seasonal thing to do. An American thing to do, no matter your race, creed, or the color of your eyes.

My Mama raised me better than this. It's not that we made a big deal out of carving pumpkins when I was a child--Halloween was not a big deal for Mom in the decorating and go-all-out department--it's just something that came with the seasonal territory.

Of late I, we (as in Ken and I), don't take advantage of seasonal opportunities to get out into the world and play and participate and, well, be normal. I'm lamenting that. We have ruts. And when an occasion pops up to burst free of the rut we make noises about doing so and then, nothing. What is wrong with us? Aside from the fact that whatever we do needs to cost nothing, what is holding us back? When did we become fuddy-duddies?

I know it's the wrong season, but I think we need to declare our independence from the doldrums. Or at least I do. Somehow or other I need to generate the steam that can gather into momentum and propel me forward into doing and not just being. I'm pretty good at being, flaws notwithstanding.

The floor is now open to suggestions of things to consider doing in the coming weeks and months that will help break this stubborn mold of same old, same old. I'll start by suggesting that we go out and get a pumpkin.

Monday, October 11, 2010

where are david kelly and aaron sorkin when you need them?

It's almost amusing that the justice system seems to be at a loss on how to handle the despicable acts of the Westboro Baptist Church. Free speech seems to be trumping every legal objection that can be raised to quash the declarations of hate. Since the violation of privacy and emotional distress don't seem to carry any weight, I've been applying my simple mind to other alternatives for shutting up these declarations of hate.

That's why I'm in search of David Kelly and Aaron Sorkin, two of the greatest creative and genius minds I've seen work extraordinary magic when it comes to the intricacies of religion and law. Since I don't have ready access to either of them, this is what I've come up with by myself. Disclaimer: I have not done extensive research to support any of these ideas, so they may well be full of holes. Like I said, it's my simple mind at work...

1) On behalf of God, someone should file a defamation of character suit against WBC and the family Phelps. According to the NIV, there are three biblical texts that include the words "God hates...," two of them in Deuteronomy. The first (12:31) makes a vague reference to "the things the Lord hates." Without a list to delineate those things, we can assume nothing. The second warns against erecting sacred stones. God apparently hates those (12:22). This is unfortunate news to the celts, the picts and the druids. The third reference is found in the first letter of John: "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." Here's the question though: has anyone heard members of the WBC say they love God?

The Message offers a few ideas of what God hates. Fags are not among them, nor are tears. But here's an interesting idea out of Proverbs (6:16): "Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family." Again, there's some vagueness, but I'm thinking that a pattern is emerging, which might be helpful.

2) The IRS doesn't seem particularly interested in yanking 501(k) status rights from churches, but there might be something, upon investigation, that the WBC does that puts that status at risk. Not that they would care.

3) Restraining orders, although there are lots of ways such an order could be challenged.

4) Claims of Harassment. This doesn't prevent demonstrations, but if enough families bring action it would tie the WBC up in court indefinitely, and drain their financial resources.

I'm open to other suggestions. Appealing to decency appears not to have any effect.

What I don't get is how this family benefits from their demonstrations (I don't think these qualify as protests, there's no evidence that they are protesting anything specific). Notoriety? So what? For what purpose? I don't think anyone is running to join their church. Bragging rights? Again, for what? All they seem to do is inflame.

All I can say is that I'd really like to be a proverbial fly on the wall come judgment day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

bobby mcferrin: psalm 23

I woke up with this echoing in my mind, and it just feels right to share it with you all this morning! It is such a gentle rendition!

Friday, October 08, 2010

friday five: fall word association

At RevGals Singing owl writes: Hello everyone! The Canada geese are excited, forming up and practicing, encouraging each other with honking, the Wisconsin fall color is at peak where I am ...  I know, fall is one way on this side of the world and different in other places, but please bear with me as I post words that say FALL--at least where I am.

Give us the the first word that comes to mind (you know how that works, right?) and then add a little something about why, or how or what.

1. Pumpkins patches. I grew up in Connecticut, where pumpkin patches were often clustered at Cider Mills. It was a one-stop shopping event. If memory serves we'd choose a large pumpkin for the family to carve, and I always begged to have a smaller one. You know, they were so cute!

2. Campfire S'mores! Several years ago the parish I was serving as interim had a fall hayride, followed by a cookout over the fire. Hot dogs, of course, followed by s'mores! It was great fun, and I regret that I was only there for one autumn to enjoy that tradition.

3. Apples Cider Mills (see above). And apple pie. My Mom and my Other Mother were a great pie team. Anna made the crust, Mom made the filling. I watched and waited for the results.

4. Color Fall in New England. It's been six years since I've been there in the fall, but it was a glorious one. There really is no better color anywhere. 

5. Halloween Making costumes. I think one of the most fun years was when a friend and my younger brother and I were "the Spirit of '76."  We weren't entirely accurate with our costumes: no drums or piccolo, and at least one of us carried an unloaded bb-gun. It was one of our more imaginative efforts, though

Thursday, October 07, 2010

brace yourself...

(The following was sent to me in an email by a friend who teaches college history. I have made only one editing correction. No questions or answers were affected by this. Get the Kleenex ready, you will laugh so hard that you will cry. That, or pee in your pants.)

These questions were set in last year's GED examination. These are genuine answers .... and the responders WILL breed.

Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar

Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large  pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists

Q. How is dew formed
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire

Q. What causes the tides in the oceans
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight

Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed

Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election

Q. What are steroids
 A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs    (Shoot yourself now , there is little hope)

Q.. What happens to your body as you age
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental

Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery      (So true)

Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes
A. Premature death

Q. What is artificial insemination
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow

Q. How can you delay milk turning sour
A. Keep it in the cow.             (Simple, but brilliant)

Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen)
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts - the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I,O,U.                (wtf!)                                               

Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie

Q. What does 'varicose' mean?
A. Nearby

Q. What is the most common form of birth control
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium     (That would work)

Q. Give the meaning of the term 'Caesarean section'
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome

Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.     (Julius Seizure, I came, I saw, I had a fit)

Q. What is a terminal illness
 A. When you are sick at the airport.    (Irrefutable)

Q. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
A. Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas

Q. Use the word 'judicious' in a sentence to show you understand its meaning
A. Hands that judicious can be soft as your face      (OMG)

Q. What does the word 'benign' mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight   (brilliant)

  Q. What is a turbine?
A. Something an Arab or Shreik wears on his head

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

all's well that ends

We're taking the day off from our book study this morning. Can I get an "Amen!" on that? After two weeks of working round-the clock on all things church, I am quite ready for the break.

I actually slept in yesterday, a day ahead of schedule. It was worth it. When I did get up, get my coffee and head to the computer, an email informed me that one of my soloists for last night's breast cancer service had a sore throat and would not be able to participate. Oh, and I went to bed the night before not knowing if the organist had the music for the piece. The extra sleep notwithstanding, I had a little cry-fest. I spent the rest of the morning going back and forth with the organist, the remaining soloist, visiting web sites and listening to youtube rendtitions of possible replacement tunes. Thank goodness the bulletin hadn't been printed yet, so I didn't have to waste that effort.

Fast forward. I finished the homily (a rare thing, to have a text from which to preach!), drafted the prayers, printed the bulletin, helped Ken with appetizers for the reception, and actually went shopping! Hey, I had a coupon for $10 off, and on Tuesdays folks like me get a 20% discount. A little retail therapy was a smart move, and got me out into the sunshine.

The service went well and was suitably lovely, though attendance was pitiful. I've already made notes about how to promote this better last year, and chatted with a survivor about how to get the word out to the survivor community. Still, it's a start, and the heavy lifting (creating the service, choosing music) has already been done.

My heart is especially grateful for the people who came last night, served during the service, and for those who helped create a beautiful reception. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I gots me some good people.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

a weekend of blessing

It was a gorgeous fall day yesterday, and we started it with some adorable four-legged critters! That's Lani and Emma here. We blessed Jake and Izzie, too. Low turnout, which was a shame, especially since we had such a good time!

After the blessing I headed over to Cumberland University for the homecoming tailgate event. We had fun there, too, and were so grateful for a beautiful day and a win for the Bulldogs! I headed home to give the dogs some relief, then back to Cumberland I went for the "Live on the Lawn" concert. In the shadow the building that served as backdrop to the bands it was pleasantly cool until a wind kicked up. Fortunately I had my trusty sweatshirt and all was well while I listened to some good music. Then all of a sudden I remembered that the bulletins for church weren't finished. I had offered to do them so that Yolande, our trusty bulletin printer, had company this weekend. Back to the church I went, finished the bulletin, put together a couple more gift baskets, then headed home.

We're dedicating our new garden and plantings this morning at church. It's chilly now, but by 10:30 it should be pleasant and comfortable to stroll the grounds and do our thing.

Need to feed the dogs and take care of them before heading off to church. Hope it's a glorious day for you wherever you are!

PS -- I've tried to leave comments on several blogs this morning and keep getting a service error (these were blogger blogs). After the sixth attempt I abandoned ship and came here to let you know. Will try to get back to you later!
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Saturday, October 02, 2010

blessings on the beasts

My favorite picture from last year's blessing when we went 
to the local campground to bless the pets 
of the homeless population there (other campers, too).

We honor St. Francis today with our annual blessing of the animals. I'm trying to steal a moment here before heading to the church for that occasion. When that's over I'll head to the university for homecoming events and to hang out at the church booth!

It's been a loooonnnng week. And to think that I forgot to mention that I had a newsletter to write and put out when I itemized my list of to dos earlier! It turned out to be eight pages long--not bad for a small, struggling church! At least we're busy while we're at it.

Ken is off to the mountain this weekend on the closing retreat with his Companions in Christ class. It's been a great experience for him to lead the group, and though he's been ambivalent at times about doing it again immediately (January), I think the impending reality that he will miss his role, and the community formed, has led him to offer it again. So says the newsletter, anyway!

Tomorrow we dedicate our new plantings, and I am even fairly relaxed about Tuesday's breast cancer service. I've recruited two wonderful sopranos to sing Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu. They will sing at the end of the service, before the blessing and dismissal, and while they sing members of the congregation will be invited to light congregational candles from the pascal candle in the sanctuary, a symbol of the lives lost whose light shines on in love and our memories. At the dismissal those with candles will be asked to place them in a large metal tub filled with sand outside the door, where the collective light will shine and burn until the candles burn out. I get goosebumps thinking about it. Now we just cross our fingers and offer prayers that people will come to the service! It DID get a "best bets" write up in the coming events section of the paper yesterday. Thank you for that, Tennessean!

Off to get dressed and try to visit blogs before I head out the door. I sure have missed you all this week!

Friday, October 01, 2010

friday five: on the job

At RevGals, Kathryn writes: This week, despite substantial planning, the staff here has been reeling a bit from the wave of fall start-up programming combined with conversations looking towards Advent and Christmas. There is a lot to be excited about (Children's Choir sounded great!), but there are also some things that we just have to suck it up and get through (didn't we just do Officer Training last year?).

So for today's Friday 5 I thought we'd hit on the things that give us energy in ministry and the things that take it away:

1) What are a few of the tasks that you find tedious/energy sucking in your ministry position? Please note I said 'tasks' not people :)

Vestry meetings. The items on which we take action area usually in the works anyway, and decisions are generally foregone conclusions. I'd rather meet when there is serious work on the table, when we can be productive and creative.  In a small parish where I am the only staff, too much administrative stuff falls on me. I don't mind the work, but too many things don't get done because they are lower on the priority list.

2) Is there anything you could do to make one of them better?
I'm so glad you asked! I'm putting together an administrative team of lay volunteers to help with some of the administrative stuff. Praying that God will nudge those people to action so that some of the things we've wanted to be doing can actually become a reality.

3) What are a few of the tasks that you find energizing in ministry?
I love baptisms, especially babies. And leading the liturgy. Being part of hospitality and creative efforts. Our women's group is putting together gift baskets for silent auction, and I'm the one who actually "makes them pretty." It's time consuming (and I consider it volunteer time), but it's satisfying.  Producing the parish newsletter. Again, it's the creative thing: writing, graphics, layout... I also enjoy being part of outreach efforts. The picture above is from our first spaghetti dinner, the money from which established a scholarship fund for international students at our local university. We need to build the fund to the point where it will become an endowed scholarship fund ($10,000). When that happens we will celebrate in a really big way!

4) If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you want to spend it?
The first thing I'm going to say here is that a quarterly spiritual day doesn't depend on being given. Take it. And for most of us I would say that such a day would benefit us monthly. I have the "luxury" of working part time, so getting some time for myself comes more easily than it would if I were working full time. When I worked in another city I had a colleague in a different tradition with whom I met for breakfast once a month. Those were long breakfasts (sometimes three hours!), and the day+ that followed that meeting was always productive and newly energized.

How would I want to spend a spiritual day? Somewhere with a beautiful view, a good book and a journal, peace and quiet, and where I didn't have to prepare my meals.

5) If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you actually spend it?

I would try to spend a quarterly day as described above. During the intervening months, however, I would quilt, or maybe enjoy a day with a girlfriend shopping and indulging in a long, leisurely lunch.

BONUS: What would your Dream Ministry job include?
My dream job is to operate a retreat center with the ambiance of a nice B&B. It would include a collection of well-behaved dogs that could be "adopted" while guests were on retreat. It would include a gallery where the art work of children from the community would hang on the walls. It would include a studio where creative types could spend some time creating, (painters would need to bring their own supplies but I'd provide the easel). It would include a worship space called The Chapel of Mary and Martha. Guest rooms would have comfortable, upholstered chairs, and quilts on the bed. And good reading lamps. There would be a library with an amazing collection of books both spiritual/theological and otherwise. It would have a spacious common room with lots of windows, a fireplace, tall ceilings and comfy chairs. A view would be great.

Now if only I had some money I'd make this happen!


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