Tuesday, May 31, 2011

hitting the road!

This morning Mom and I are getting on the road with our ultimate destination, Connecticut. I haven't seen my family in three and half years, and it is past time! Now that I'm unemployed I have the luxury of time for an extended visit, so I'll be gone for about ten days. She's got a box of fresh South Carolina peaches in the car and they smell so good that I may eat half of them before we get home, but I'll do my best to exercise restraint. Darn!

I'll check in from her place, and do my best to keep up with you all. Be well!

Monday, May 30, 2011


I've been scanning pictures from photo albums and came upon this one of me from 1965, so thought I'd post it today in honor of Memorial Day.

I know I've said this before, but days like this have taken on a new meaning since becoming part of a military family. Some people don't think it's possible to be a pacifist and to support the troops or be proud of my soldier husband and son, but I live that dual reality. Early in my relationship with this side of the DOD there were certainly tensions as I worked through and dismantled some of my perceptions about the military and those who choose to be part of it. It's slightly ironic that the values of my family and Quaker roots are what make it possible for me to keep my distance from judgment and to embrace, in a manner of speaking, those who see the world differently than I do. The habit of doing so does, in fact, change how I see the world, and I feel richer because of that. So you'll see my cheering on my Ranger son, and weeping at footage of helmets balanced atop rifles that represent the fallen.

My history with Memorial Day has more to do with local town parades and school marching bands than remembering and honoring sacrifice, but my present life and relationships reflect a different point of view. Today I honor the men and women who take up arms on our behalf, and remember those whose lives were cut short as a result. The dead don't hear our thank yous, but I trust that in the grand, cosmic scheme of divine mystery our gratitude and sorrow is made known to them. God bless them all.

Added 3 PM Memorial Day:
The following fatalities were identified by the Department of Defense on May 29th:

Chief Warrant Officer Christopher R. Thibodeau
Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Hamski
Tech. Sgt. Kristoffer M. Solesbee
1st Lt. John M. Runkle
Staff Sgt. Edward D. Mills Jr.
Staff Sgt. Ergin V. Osman
Sgt. Thomas A. Bohall
Sgt. Louie A. Ramos Velazquez
Spc. Adam J. Patton
Pfc. John C. Johnson

Operation Enduring Freedom

Friday, May 27, 2011

friday five: achoooooo!

At RevGals Marybeth is struggling with allergies, and misery invites company!

So, thinking about allergies:

1. Do you experience any seasonal allergies? Are you allergic to anything else?
Indeed! During football season I am allergic to Tennessee Orange. And actually, I'm allergic to most versions of the color orange created by anything other than God. I'm all about Marigolds and Pumpkins, but in clothing, furniture and shag rugs, ewwwwwwwww!

2. What kinds of symptoms do you experience during your allergic reactions?
I have been fortunate not to be symptomatic with sneezing, watery eyes or itching. Well, sometimes the itching. Mostly every molecule in my being wants to beamed up to some bucolic destination far from the man-made version of this color.

3. How do you manage your allergies? (ie: medication, avoidance, alternative therapies, etc)
Avoidance works, and alcohol is a great aid, but when I can't escape I root for the other team. It's cathartic, especially when the other team wins.

4. What is the strangest allergy you've ever heard of?
I once dated a guy who was allergic to pine. Considering that my family owns a (timber) tree farm where we harvest pine, this didn't bode well for the relationship. I'm sure there are stranger allergies, but I had not heard of being allergic to pine prior to that.

5. How do you feel about school and social policies that ban peanuts and other allergens?
 I am absolutely unaffected by this, but since allergies in the young appear to be on the rise, I guess it makes a difference that kids not be consistently medicated or suffering when they're in an environment to learn. I'm not sure what the implications are for the school and what kind of burdens this might put on them, but that's my initial response. Social policies? Huh? You can see that I am clueless!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Since bringing home old photo albums and scanning pictures of my grandparents, great-grandparents and early 20th-century activities, I've also been working on doing some online genealogy research. I can get totally absorbed in following lines of relationship and tracking down the smallest lead toward authenticating data. It's something I love to do.

When I met with Becky earlier this week I put to her the practical question, "what should I do about earning some income while I'm looking for my new REAL job?" She shared some of the creative endeavors that other clients had done while in the same predicament, and suddenly it hit me. I could offer genealogy services!  For one thing there is almost no overhead to such work. I'm already paying for access to records and databases through ancestry.com for my own use. That can now be a business deduction. I can work from home at hours of my own choosing, and for Tennessee records I'm barely 30 minutes from the state archives. For local research the only added costs are mileage and travel time, and those get passed on to the client. In addition to online and local research (when needed) I can also offer the service of computerizing hand-written or typed records.  And again, the cost of software occurs once for me (I need to upgrade my version of Family Tree Maker), and then it's a matter of starting a new file for a new family, and saving that material to a designated CD. For the generation for whom computing isn't an extension of their being, I think this is a great service to offer. I can also scan in old family photos, though digital restoration would have to be outsourced (I have not yet learned to do that). Is this a natural, or what?

So I've been playing with a name and logo for my venture and have pretty much settled on "Branching Out" for a name. The logo has been trickier. Searching for images available online (and some at a modest cost), the following are the ones I'm considering. I would really like a branch on a business card, but it's amazing how few suitable branch graphics are out there, at least where I have been able to find them.

I'd love your input on these designs. Do you have a favorite? And why? Here goes:

And the winner is!

 (the watermarks would go away once I paid for the use of this image!)

I'm researching what rates are typical for this industry, and considering what I would charge. I'm also looking at ways to increase my own knowledge of doing this research so that I'm comfortable using the word "professional" attached to my name. I realize this may sound like a total yawn to many people, but I'm psyched about doing this. Now I just need to get the word out. And decide on a logo, of course. Please weigh in!

And by the way, I'm NOW accepting new clients!

Friday, May 20, 2011

friday five: words

At RevGals this morning Jan invites us to share words that we like. Just the other day I remember referring to a word and saying (out loud, no less), "that is such a great word!" Of course, this morning I have no recollection of what the word was. Such is my life these days! But what a great exercise (thanks, Jan!), and I will strive to do it justice. It may take all day to come up with those words...

puppy - This word invokes an automatic release of endorphins, smiles, a pause to consider the cuteness of such creatures and, if I'm lucky enough to have one in my clutches, squeals of delight! Few things bring instant joy to my being like puppies.

engaging - I use this word a lot in its various conjugations. I invite my congregation to engage scripture; I find a person to be engaging; I encourage parishioners to get engaged in a ministry where they feel passion--you get the idea. To me the word is about involvement, investment, participation, jumping in with both feet, taking a risk, not being idle, and so on. It's dynamic and energizing and get-my-butt-out-of-the-chair motivating.

hope - I've been through some tough, discouraging years, but I  manage to keep putting one foot in front of the other because I have hope that better times are ahead. 'Nuff said.

on the verge - I'm cheating because this is a phrase, but it relates to hope (see above), and possibilities (see below). It engenders a sense of anticipation, awakening, and transformation. I'm kind of big on those three things. On the Verge is also an excellent play.

possibilities - as an INFJ I am all about what can be. I will be out of a job at the end of the month, making this is a time of opportunity and renewal, and the possibilities are ripe with redemption (that's another word I like).

Crucible - I had to add this as a sixth word. It holds meaning for me as an introvert (this appear to be something of a stream of consciousness list), and a "process" person. It's also one of my favorite plays (by Arthur Miller--am I detecting a theme?). Trying to parse its significance to me feels like it would detract from its power, so I will let this brief offering stand.

If you're interested in the words that matter to some other folks, hop on over to RevGals and check out those posts!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

thankful thursday

Let me start by saying that I'm thankful for my friend The Bug for her regular Thursday posts of thanksgiving. 1) It spares me having to come up with a singular focus for my post, 2) it encourages an attitude of gratitude (like that Bug? I'm being poetic!) and 3) reading her post always gives me a chuckle. There are far worse ways to start the day.
  • Thanks to my friend Jules I have some cool new fonts (like the one decorating the photo, above). I love fonts.  Thanks, Jules!
  • I'll follow that with being thankful for readings who don't come here to be lured into becoming pampered chefs when I'm trying to share the benefits of our fabulous products but indulge me in these posts nonetheless. Having said that, if you're on the fence about purchasing any of these items, let me push you over the fence into the "well of course I need that!" yard to help me with some sales this month. Thank you for that commercial.
  • I'm really thankful that I can now talk/blog about what comes next in my life. It was a real challenge to keep quiet at certain points along the way as the end of life as I've known it got booted into the end zone. But it's all good. Well, it's 90% good, and I'm leaving that remaining 10% for God to sort out.
  • Speaking of what comes next, did I mention that I am working with an amazing, awesome career coach? She blows me away. I had a session with her yesterday during which we looked at the gifts I bring to the world and the environment in which I've been working. The disconnects were astonishing. This doesn't mean that I don't have gifts for parish ministry. It means that the parishes in which I have worked and the responsibilities I had in those positions have not been well suited to my gifts, or have been received in the places I served. Frustration with all capital letters! There is a huge piece of awareness that emerged from the work we did that is so liberating it (which will be a post of its own).  Working with Becky has been the first fruit of an unfortunate situation.
  • Ken will be away this weekend at the Tennessee Democratic Party biennial summit. He's representing our county. I'm planning to get lots done at home!
  • I came up with an idea for how to earn some money between now and when I land My Next Job. I'm pretty psyched about it, and will share more in the coming days. Sorry to tease and make you wait.
Next stop after posting this: cleaning off my desk so that I can do some scrapping this weekend. Heh heh...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

are you a fashionista?

Once again it's time for a shameless Pampered Chef promotion. This month is Help Whip Cancer month with TPC, and as is true every year, we have a collection of exclusive products available to assist that effort. $1 from the purchase price of each item goes toward breast cancer awareness.

Let's start with our fashionista item: the pink and white tiger-striped pie and cake server. Is this a svelte little number or what? The sassy heel is attached by magnet, and can be removed for ease of use as a server. Not for you? Surely there's a fashionista in your life who would be over the moon to add this to her culinary collection!

Next we have the microfiber towel. Microfiber towels are a personal favorite: they are SO absorbent, and are the perfect accessory for the bathroom (cleaning those faucets have never been so easy--no streaks!), wiping spills in the car (who needs 28 napkins when one microfiber towel will do?), and of course, drying stemware without leaving spots or streaks. So many other uses, too! I use them to do a damp dust on furniture--so easy to rinse and wring before going back for another round of easy dusting!

The spreader is fun and entirely girly. It's perfect for all kinds of soft cheeses, hummus, and more! Great hostess gift! Add a bottle of our Raspberry Habanero Sauce (or any of our incredible sauces!) and you've got a one-of-a-kind thank you gift.

If you enjoy camping, picnicking, or even brown-bagging to work, the paring knife will be your new best friend! The color alone will help you locate it in a drawer full of black-handled utensils, but it also has a blade protector and cuts like a dream. (and pssst! the green color-coated tomato knife is a great companion item!).

And finally, our special coupon organizer, designed to wrap around the handle of your shopping cart for quick and easy access. This little goodie can be yours FREE when your purchase is $60 or more. If you purchase each of these Help Whip Cancer products and a bottle of sauce, you'll be eligible for this free item!
But wait! Father's Day is just around the corner, so we have a special opportunity to help tackle that occasion. Another exclusive gift is this apron (for any grill-master in your life!), $15 by itself, or bundled with our very popular BBQ Turner and new Chili-Lime Rub for $29 (a $10 savings!).
What are you waiting for? Get your order in now and stock up on great gifts, must-haves for camping or around the house. The first three orders will also get a free gift from me, just to say thank you for joining us in our efforts to Help Whip Cancer. I'll also put all names of persons who place an order into a drawing to receive the host benefits: half-price free shipping, free products and discounted additional products, and a year of purchases at 10% off.

Click on the picture at the top of this post to start your shopping. Remembers brides and grads, too!

Monday, May 16, 2011

the cat's out of the bag

I am now free to share publicly that I will be leaving my parish at the end of this month. This is not a voluntary departure, but a financially forced farewell. There are nuances to how this all came about but the bottom line is this: the church is operating at a deficit, and prudence suggests that the biggest chunk of the budget be excised. That would be me, as the saying goes.

This parish has had an uphill fight to grow in size, spirit, and bank account since its previous leadership effectively shredded the ranks. A struggling economy and a membership dominated by retired folks didn't bode well for strong, increased financial support. In spite of numeric growth in membership, the financial reality is that it is costing the church more to have even a part-time priest than it can manage.

All of us are sad, some are highly upset, and no one knows what the future will hold.

Though this is not of my choosing I see this is an opportunity. I am working with an incredible career coach to assess and explore what direction to take next, and feel good about what is emerging from that effort. This is a frightening time, to be sure, but I am full of hope.

Now that I am able to "talk" about it and am free to refer to what is going on here on the blog it will be much easier to share this journey with you as it unfolds. Prayers, encouragement, affirmation, etc., are more than welcome. Stay tuned, as I fond of saying! 

photo from www.liberatingchoices.com

Sunday, May 15, 2011

sunday notebook

Outside my window … 
cicada detritus
I am thinking … 
that every day presents an opportunity to redefine myself
I am thankful for …
the many wishes for a happy birthday with which I was showered on facebook. That made my day!
I am hoping …
that suitable weather emerges soon in order for the grass to get cut. 
On my mind …
the poor and bedraggled in Louisiana, watching their lives sink before their very eyes
Noticing that …
Dust and dog hair don't vanish of their own accord, no matter how many times they wave to a certain spouse
A few plans for the week …
scanning more photographs from the early Melrose albums (1910's and 1920's); taxes; figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life
From the kitchen … 
so many condiments taking up space in the fridge begs for some creative cooking or baking. Stay tuned!
Around the house …
the usual, sad to say
One of my favorite things …
birthdays! (it was my birthday on Friday, but with blogger being down I had no way to tell you!)
A picture I am sharing …
One of the pictures scanned this past week: my great-grandmother is in the hat (and I think this is a rare picture of her smiling!), my grandmother is third from left.  1919, I think.

Friday, May 13, 2011

unexpected love

George at the wedding reception of his oldest daughter, 25 years ago

My godfather is dying. He is 91, has had a good life great life, and is being dragged to his end by cancer. I will be heading east in two and a half weeks, and I hope that he is still alive by the time that I get there so that I can pay him a visit and tell him goodbye.

George is the father of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Judy. In Junior High and portions of High School (should those be capitalized?) Judy and her family were my salvation when my own family's cohesion cracked and crumbled through various stresses. I spent evenings at their dinner table and weekends at hockey games, attended church choir concerts, and melded into the patterns of their family life. Judy's family became my family, and the bonds formed in those adolescent days are as sinews of my being.

I haven't seen George in several years, and as I hold his being in my heart during these difficult days for him and his family I find myself fighting tears. My affection for him runs deep, although it is generally unexpressed. George doesn't really express feelings. Raised by an American father and Canadian mother, he is the epitome of the proper and convivial professional. A state prosecutor who moved into the honorable ranks of superior and then appellate court judge, his manner was controlled and his views tended toward the conservative. We saw many things differently, but I knew through the joshing over sherry and peanuts and the song into which he might break after dinner that he included me among the treasures of his life.

In spite of my clear liberal leanings, there are any number of people among my own treasured friendships that view the world differently than I do. Though the differences in our politics (and sometimes our theology) may breed certain tensions, there is never any question in my mind or my heart that my love and affection for these friends trumps any differences of that kind. It dawns on me now, with love ferried through tears, that George would say the same.  This is an emotional awakening that I didn't know was dormant, but aware of it now it seems to open a door to understand other bonds of love unspoken or otherwise unexpressed in the usual ways.

It is a testament to the strength of love that though time may diminish contact, and even memories, its truth pervades distance of all kinds. As I begin to grieve a loss I find that within me there is an eternal presence that transcends loss. It resonates not only with what is divine and holy, but what joins us as human beings in relationship over time, space, and circumstances. Today grief bore me a gift. Tomorrow perhaps my heart may find a way to share that gift beyond the corner of my world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

a typical routine

Most days at Melrose include a walk after breakfast, and there are a number of options for that walk. The road leading to the cottage also leads to a neighbor's property, and though we are permitted to be on his grounds, our own property line ends down that road about 1/3 of a mile past our driveway. The preferred walk takes us back down our road to another dirt road, known as the Plantation Road. Don't read grandeur into that name. It is so-called because it leads several miles through the property of more than 1000 acres until it ends at the Savannah River.

Other options include a walk through a portion of the "West Dam Park" at the J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake--a handful of miles from Melrose--or at a park on the area known as the lower dam. While growing up we spent all our spring school vacations at Melrose, and a staple of that visit was a trip to the dam to see the diagrams and inter workings of its generators and sluices. Since 9/11 the interior isn't open to the general public, but the grounds outside are available for picnicking, fishing, and general recreation. Perhaps it's the sentimental attachment I have to the dam from those visits in my youth, but it is a special place to me. The playground and fishing deck are relatively new, as are dual swings and designated picnic areas, and we found them to be very appealing. Fiscal drought was also apparent in the lack of upkeep on the grounds: the grass was past needing to be cut, and downed limbs from recent storms littered the picnic areas. We found this to be prevalent at highway rest stops in Georgia, as well.

The lake created by the dam is beautiful, with easy access to the water for swimming and boating, and campgrounds at various locations around its extensive perimeter with sites by the water shaded by tall pines. I regret that these sites are so close to Melrose, because we would be making reservations at them in a heartbeat otherwise.

The days that we walked at the dam parks (upper and lower) were beautiful, clear and dry, with perfect spring temperatures. Juliet enjoyed the time sniffing new territory, and even took a drink at the river's edge when we visited the Georgia boat ramp site. If you followed the river downstream about three miles you'd reach our place, but there is nothing to identify it as such.

Access to the lake is one of the perks of Melrose, of which we don't take enough advantage. But as Mom always says, "we never want to leave Melrose!"

And so we walk.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

back and happy report

It was a wonderful week at Melrose, with lovely, cool and sunny days, cicadas, breezes on the porch, cicadas, crossword puzzles to my heart's content, cicadas, visits with dear friends Jimmy and Barbara, and cicadas.

Did I mention cicadas? They. Were. Everywhere. Holes in the ground announced their communal hatch (my shoes are in the picture, below, as a measure of their size). Shells left behind clung to trees, leaves, and branches. With wings free to launch them into their mating pursuits they hurried from tree to tree, branch to branch, and by day buzzed themselves into full concert mode. When you're surrounded by woods the serenade is constant during the day (they rest at night), like an incessant roaring crowd just over the next rolling hill. Not one of God's more lovely creatures they were nonetheless not much of a bother unless they flew into you. While pruning a crepe myrtle among its lower limbs I experienced several dive-bombing episodes, but that aside, they're tolerable in their short-lived time on earth. That said, I'm grateful that they only visit every thirteen years.
Tomorrow I'll share photos of less noisy passages of time. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 02, 2011

monday miscelaney

We are off to Melrose this week, and since my laptop died I won't be posting until we return. I will be taking my printer so that I can scan some old photographs that are kept there, and capture them for the family archives. And now that I've just reviewed my "scan to" options on the printer, it looks like I will be taking my desktop! Fortunately it's small, and the screen is flat. Ken will think I am crazy, but frankly, I don't care! It's a worthy effort.

I learned the news of bin Laden before going to bed, and there is much to ponder related to this event. Various news sources have been doing a lot of the pondering for me and given me a head start in that department. By the time we return and have access to news again (other than the radio) the world will have moved on to the next big story. That might be a good thing. One can saturate on news and events. And though I know that much of the world over-saturated on the Royal Wedding, not me. I love all things royal and barbecued! I will also confess that it crossed my mind that I'm glad the news about bin Laden didn't happen on Friday and spoil Will and Catherine's day.

Off to pack, load the car and be on the road. This is a much needed vacation. We haven't gotten away since a year ago when Kenneth and Trisha got married (I'm not including BRC, since although that was getting away, it was not in the least bit restful!). I'm taking cross stitch and one book.

Until our return, thoughts and prayers are with all who carry burdens, blessings wished upon all, and light and laughter strewn your direction. May we all have a happy heart at least once during each given day.


Sunday, May 01, 2011

sunday notebook

Outside my window … 
the rain is falling gently on freshly mowed grass, less weedy garden beds, and Ken's newly planted, started-from-seed tomato and pepper plants.
I am thinking … 
that in spite of some challenges in our life, I've got decent health and a sharp mind (except when it's not, if you know what I mean)
I am thankful for … 
yesterday's beauty and the endurance to get some necessary yard work done
I am hoping … 
to plan some scrapbook layouts this afternoon
On my mind … 
the people of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and parts of Tennessee who have lost their homes, their loved ones, and their communities
Noticing that … 
it's less than two weeks until my birthday!
A few plans for the week … 
one word: Melrose!
From the kitchen …
leftovers and perishables will go on the road with us
Around the house … 
same old, same old!
One of my favorite things … 
morning quiet, especially this morning as the falling rain is gentle and offers up a soothing melody
A picture I am sharing …

the first G&T of the season, enjoyed out on the deck! 
A word about this glass. My grandparents had barware just like this, with field and waterfowl on them. I have so many memories sharing happy hours with them, and these glasses hold a special, sentimental place in my heart. I have no idea why they had fowl on their glasses. Neither of them hunted or were particularly interested in game.  I don't hunt or have any particular interest in these birds either. The connection to my grandparents are why these are in my possession. And not that it matters, but they were a wedding gift from cousins for whom these glasses also stir memories of my grandparents. Just so you know.


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