Friday, July 29, 2011

a sober declaration

On my way to work this morning, on a local state highway, I passed a work crew picking up trash along the roadway. As I approached a dark pink, square sign with it's corners pointing in compass directions proclaimed "DUI Utility Crew." My eyesbrows arched slightly: this was a first.

As I passed the crew I couldn't miss the yellow-green neon workvests sported by many roadwork crews, but neither could I miss the words blaring on their backs: I am a drunk driver. These were men and women, most of them between the ages of 20 and 40.

As my travels took me past and away from them I pondered the vests. My first reaction was that the identification of these workers as drunk drivers seemed shaming. I'm not a fan of using shame as a tactic to effect behavior. And then I thought again. Was this shaming? It was an honest statement, and communicated a great deal. Should the fact that they made a choice to drive while under the influence be hidden? Does it make an impact on them in a way that will effect that choice in the future?

I'm still pondering, and would be interested to hear what you think.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


On my way to work this morning I heard a report on a news program about the possibility of birth control being considered a "preventive" health measure, making it essentially free through insurance programs. One of the statistics was startling: one out of two pregnancies in this day and age are unplanned. Half. (I write that for emphasis, not because I think you can't do the math.)

There are proponents of this measure, of course, and there are opponents. The opponents come down heavily on two sides: conscience, and morality. On the conscience side the argument is that those who don't believe in "artificial" birth control would essentially be paying through their insurance plan to support the cost of contraceptive for others. I hear that, but the argument doesn't wash for me. I'm a pacifist who pays taxes, and I'm not overjoyed that a portion of my tax dollars supports the military-industrial-complex. Does that mean that the government shouldn't dole out money to the Department of Defense because of my belief system?

That would be an emphatic "no." Instead of railing against the system (although there are certainly those that do, some more constructively and thoughtfully than others) I choose to invest my efforts by living in a way that exemplifies my values, and hope that there are opportunities for others to see the positive impact of those values not only at work in my life, but as a postive impact on others.

There is a bigger picture here than individual belief systems, even when those beliefs are shared by other. The implications of policies that make birth control available as a preventive measure aren't about flaunting one belief over another. They are in place to assist families, and particularly the poor, in making decisions freely about their own lives and the size of families and the spacing of the birth of their children. Such freedoms benefit all of us. It's how we live together, experience the ebb and flow of our challenges and joys, and work our way through the life's labyrinths toward liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As for morality--come see me when the death penalty has been abolished.

Monday, July 18, 2011

and baby makes nana and grandpa happy

We're back from a weekend with our daughter and her newly expanded family! Each visit with them familiarizes us with our grandsons, and them, us. A good great thing! Friday evening after dinner we were out in their backyard and Luke was leading the way, calling over his shoulder, "Come ON, Nana!" Music to my ears.

We were blessed with good weather for mid-July. The days got into the high 80's, but overnight it cooled to 70 or slightly lower, and sleeping under ceiling fans to help cool the house down at Melrose, this was an incredible blessing. Humidity was present, but low, and a slight breeze made the warmth bearable. A big "thank you" for that.

Jude, whose birth was the catalyzing event for the timing of this trip, is sweet, and I drank in the joy of watching the constantly changing expressions on his face when he was awake, which wasn't often. In a way it is just as well that his interactive capacity is low right now, because it gave us time to play with Luke and Cross and let them know that Nana and Grandpa are cool. Ya know?
Friday we cooked out on the deck and then played in the backyard, swings and a trampoline being the activity of choice. It's been about 40 years since I was on a trampoline, and although I'm sure I looked anything but graceful up there, it was fun to bounce and giggle with my boys! Other activities included puzzle making and oohing and ahhing over the collection of trucks, trains and boats. I couldn't keep up with all their names, so (shhhhh!) don't tell.

Saturday was spent out by the lake with picnic lunches, some paddling in the blow-up canoe, and attempts to fish. We were also delighted to have dinner with our friends Jimmy and Barbara Saturday night. Time with them is always a treat.

Sunday morning we met the family for breakfast at Cracker Barrel before they headed to church and we returned to Melrose to wash sheets and towels and take care of other sundry details to close up the house. We got on the road around noon and headed home.

Now it's back to the grind with wonderful memories and some fun pictures to light our way into the week. Week? Here we come!
Ashley and Luke rockin' it at Cracker Barrel
Travis and Jude share a moment

Cross demonstrates his double-fisted agility with a banana split.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

love, love, love

I hope that Spider Solitaire won't take it personally that I have forsaken it (mostly) for Pinterest. Oh, gracious, how addictive is Pinterest! But it's a good addiction: I discover all sorts of great ideas that I can adopt, imitate, or use for inspiration. I discover recipes that I can dream about and feel like I've eaten without actually using and devouring the results of them. I learn about beautiful places that soothe my soul, laugh at the antics of people I have never met, and find inspiration through encouraging words and quotes. And more.

There have been some very moving items posted lately, and this one was in my vision this morning when I perused the latest pinings. It's an adorable story. Whether or not it's true, I don't care. Posted at herOinchic@tumbler.

Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey.  She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her.  I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:
Dear God, Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her. Love, Meredith
We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office.

A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet.  I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:
Dear Meredith, Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away. Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.  Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find, I am wherever there is love. Love, God…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So happy to introduce

our new grandson, Jude! Facebook friends met him last night, and we will meet him in the flesh this weekend! This makes three boys and one very happy family. I don't have details at this point, but does anyone really care when he got here and how much he weighs? We're just delighted he has arrived!

Monday, July 11, 2011

market day

On our way home from Mammoth Cave last week we detoured to a small Amish community near Scottsville, KY. We picked up some wonderful fresh produce along with home baked tomato cheese bread (oh. my. god.), and maple syrup, but arrived at the door of Habegger's market just in time for them to close for the day. Subsequently hooked on the cantaloup, Ken suggested a return trip (about an hour's drive) Saturday morning.

We knew little about the contents of the market. The worker at the produce store told us that the market sold "Amish goods:" not particularly suggestive. A peek through the locked door revealed a lot of candy along the lines of a general store. We didn't know what to expect.

When we arrived at the market we found a full parking lot, which boded well for an interesting visit. Sure enough!

Indeed, there were candies, and the makings of candy. THIS is the place to come to find anything you want for baking (including cinnamon chips, which will be used in muffins or scones). The colors of sprinkles was extensive, the little silver balls were abundant, and pieces of peppermint stick neatly packaged to spare the agony of smashing your own into powder with a rolling pin, hammer or meat tenderizer.

There was a variety of flours, all manner of things pickled (including brussel sprouts), and fillings for pie vacuum-sealed, rather than canned, in a quantity sufficient for a substantive pie. There were homemade breads, fudge, cookies, and ice cream. The meat at the deli (from which we enjoyed lunch) was sliced to order. There were cheeses and butter and produce and peaches (now in season locally). This was a slice of heaven.

Our basket filled quickly with the selections of items we couldn't resist, and then overflowed to include additional items. We filled two reusable bags from the car, and were smart enough to have brought a cooler and ice packs for the cheese and butter. I braced myself for a high price tag, and was shocked when the total came to $63 and change. Here's our stash for that amount (contents: about 1 1/2 pounds of butter, goat, colby and havarti cheeses, soy beans, corn nuts, pilaf, quinoa, granola, potato salad, cinnamon chips, sliced almonds, ground cinnamon, ranch dressing mix, salt substitute, green peppers, cucumber, peaches, zucchini, squash, banana peppers, and chili peppers.) 
As noted above we enjoyed amazingly fresh sandwiches, and were thrilled to find that they also carried diet birch beer! I couldn't resist a sample of soft-serve ice cream (which tasted so much better than the stuff we usually buy under that name), but we did resist the peanuts.  And the fudge. And every other sweet temptation.We couldn't help but note how many people were also making Habegger's market their Saturday destination.
It was a great day for a drive through the country, and we look forward to future trips to Habegger's, as well as discovery other delights of the area about which we have learned since our return. Just trying to do our part to eat local, with delicious results. What did you do over the weekend?

Friday, July 08, 2011

friday five: summertime and the living is abundant!

painted by my dear friend Wendilee Heath O'Brien

At RevGals Dorcas greets us: So, what's up, Rev Gals and Pals? How are you spending your summer? (I know, some of you are in a different hemisphere and it may be chilly...sorry!) Are you experiencing fire or floods or tornados? Vacationing? Working harder than ever? Experiencing change? Longing for change?

Share five things that are happening in your life, personally or professionally or some of each, in this season of life.

1) Big change here! An involuntary departure from my most recent adventure in parish ministry has led to an amazing opportunity. Through what can only be attributed to divine intervention I am now working at a local university as interim director of their center for women and nontraditional students. This is an amazing place, great staff, and I am in heaven.

2) My departure from the parish (I wasn't fired, there just wasn't money to support my continuing employment) led to a great deal of soul-searching, grieving and assessing. I realized this morning, tearing up as I listened to a moving story on NPR, that the boundaries of parish ministry were like shackles on my soul. I feel liberated (thank you, God!), and am reconnecting to deep reservoirs within my being that feed me in hugely beneficial ways. I will probably be a more sacramental presence to the people I serve here than I could be to members of my previous parishes thanks to this change. I feel like Lazarus being unbound.

3) Grandchild number three is due to make his or her entrance into the world any day now. Can't wait to meet him or her!

4) Because I am no longer working a parish ministry schedule I have weekends! That is a big, huge, fat Amen!

5) Being in a new work environment I am meeting new people, experiencing new challenges, finding new strengths, reviving my confidence and plunging with glee into the future. Yay! and YAY!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

thankful thursday

It's an adjustment, this being-on-a-schedule-thing. I've gotten up just once at the time I intended. I still get out the door on time when I get up later than I should but there are consequences. Like having to buy my lunch yesterday since I ran out of time to make and take it. But this morning I actually have time to blog before I leave for work!

LOTS of things for which to be thankful. Starting with coffee, which helps me ease into consciousness at these earlier hours.

I move quickly to my gratitude for pain medication. Two days ago my right hip began to hurt. Yesterday it began to ache just after lunch, and continued to ache through the day. It was particularly bad last night and the extra strength whatever it was didn't alleviate the pain by bedtime. Which meant that sleep came much later than I needed, and which also meant that multiple attempts to go to bed and get to sleep confused the heck out of the dogs. Not to mention me. I think Ken slept through it all. If the pain persists a visit to the doctor will be in order.

I work at an awesome university. New student orientation happens multiple times during the summer with small and manageable slices of the population of the new students and their parents at each session. I have renewed appreciation for my Boss (as opposed to my boss) who does a superb job of assuring parents that MTSU is committed to helping students succeed. At a session with parents yesterday she communicated that reality with directness, honesty, compassion and humor. You rock, Deb!

Golf carts are invaluable on a large college campus.

Yesterday a student gave me a "welcome!" card, along with the gift of a frame to let me know that I was appreciated. Pass me the kleenex! This same student came to the office on Friday to have a quiet place where he could take part in a conference call with President Obama and other students around the country. It was pretty cool to be within earshot of that opportunity for Laurence.

It feels incredible to work with people who have faith and confidence in me, who tell me that they're glad I'm there, and who pile assignments on because they know I'll get the job done. That latter part is a little overwhelming with three days under my belt, but I've got a handle on it!

Today is the second day of this round of new student orientation, which means that wardrobe decisions are much easier than other days. I am to wear blue!

And off I go to get into my blue. For what are you thankful?

Monday, July 04, 2011

patriotic miscellany

I struggle to be original, and although I sometimes succeed at originality I often need inspiration (read: an idea to copy or steal) to accomplish whatever is in my sights. Like today. I'm copying The Bug's presentation of a patriotic version of a Monday miscellany. Ready or not!

My favorite period of American history is the Revolutionary War. Especially the 70's. When I was a tween I wanted to be a docent at Colonial Williamsburg so I could wear those cool dresses. I even wrote a letter to inquire about how to go about getting the job and got a really snotty response. I guess being 13 didn't impress them much. I ended up making my own really cool costume later on. Take THAT, Williamsburg.

In keeping with my love for all things revolutionary I also have in my possession a 13-starred flag. My younger brother (who can be very original) got the idea of giving it to me one year for my birthday. Best. Gift. Ever! Except for the Sheltie when I was 11. My beloved flag hasn't flown in a while. The other day Ken and I were at Home Depot and he bought a "regular" flag (the last one we had got sort of torn up by snagging on the bricks on our house). When I mentioned that I had this Beloved Flag he asked, "why?" Men. They can be so clueless sometimes. (Dr. M., you are an exception, especially regarding this flag!).

Does anyone remember a very short-lived television series back in, oh, 1970, called The Young Rebels? Set in greater Philly, 1777. I ate, slept, and breathed that show. I even wrote my own stories for the characters. You can take the TV show out of the lineup but you can't--well, never mind.

Another tidbit of my revolutionary war-phile era (and then I'll move on, promise) is that I really wanted to be part of a fife and drum corp. March in parades and all that stuff. It wasn't the parades that was cool, it was the dressing up part. I know, there's a theme in the offing. Any wonder I became a priest? I get to dress up!  I played the recorder so I figured it couldn't be too much of a stretch to play a fife. Or whatever it's called. I seem to recall that my mother discouraged me from pursuing this. The word "no" comes to mind. But I honestly can't recall and I don't mean to malign my mother in any way. She knows I love her. Eventually I got over the fife and drum thing. I think I realized that I would be really hot (as in sweaty hot) in that colonial costume. Especially marching in a parade on July 4.

According to a very well hidden legend the song Yankee Doodle (as in "went to town,...") was "inspired" by the disorderly troops under the command of one of my lateral ancestors. A great-great-great-great-great-grandmother's brother, to be precise: Colonel Thomas Fitch.  Lest Tom get all the glory, his sister, Elizabeth (that would my ancestor), later saved the town of Fairfield, CT from being burned by the British. Girls rule!

I have two favorite musicals. One is A Chorus Line, the other is 1776. Surprised you there, didn't I?  I was fortunate to see it twice with its original cast on Broadway, with William Daniels as John Adams, and Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson. I still break into song sometimes when certain phrases cue the lyrics. Musicals written for the stage just don't translate well to movies, IMHO. For instance, the play ends with the various representatives of the Continental Congress being called up to John Hancock's desk to sign the Declaration of Independence. The liberty bell begins to toll in the background. Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and two others are standing there at the desk when the tolling of the bell crescendos and a screen with the declaration printed on it drops like a curtain in front of the scene. A light shines from behind it and the scene on stage freezes. You realize that it is the famous portrait of the signing (see below). There is such power in that visual presentation of the signing and the words superimposed with the image.  This isn't what makes this a fabulous musical, it's just the crowning glory. If you haven't ever seen it, I recommend highly that you do so if the opportunity presents itself.

I guess that's enough historic miscellany for today. I hope you enjoy your celebration, whatever it entails, or your day, wherever you might be. For the record, we'll be home doing regular stuff, and our cooking out will involve a drunken chicken.


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