Thursday, August 25, 2011

presidium

Let me introduce you to some awesome college students. Yes, the ones appearing in the picture above. The student leadership retreat known as Presidium came to its rockin' conclusion Tuesday, and my small group "Family" took a moment to pose with our Family banner. We were the Beezz Neezz.


The students I got to know represented a fraternity, two soroities, the Equestrian Team+, the Swing Dance Club, Best Buddies (mentoring young people with disabilities), a campus ministry, the Penhellenic Council +(for any non-Greek folks out there, this is sorority-related), a computer club, the sociology club, and our student leader and facilitator.


We had three days full of presentations, motivation, small group discussions, games and lots of food. Throughout Presidium anyone could have copped an attitude resulting from heat, clashes in personalities and differences in opinion, but this group of student leaders were amazingly mature, listened intently (well, except when they weren't scrolling through their phones), and contributed thoughtfully to conversations and discussions. I came away from the retreat appreciative of these very fine representatives of this next generation of leaders and count myself fortunate to work with them.

And now, we're bracing ourselves for the start of school (Saturday) and 26,000+ students on campus.  Let the semester begin!



Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday miscellaney

I'm offering miscellaneous thoughts this morning since I will be away from my computer for Monday's round.

Today I am heading off for a university-wide student organization leadership retreat. As part of the administrative team of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership I will spend the next three days with 150 college students. Yay! You heard my cloaked enthusiasm there, right? Of course you did. But seriously, it wouldn't be so bad except that this event is being held at a 4-H camp. Which translates outdoors. In August. In Tennessee. I got very excited when I clicked on a weather icon on a new toolbar on my computer and the highs for Monday and Tuesday were in the 70's. Imagine a sudden improvement in my outlook accompanied by arched eyebrows. Then I noticed that the reading was for somewhere in Ohio. Slump. No such luck here. 90's. I'm packing my best attitude along with my ball cap. Go Blue!

In the good old days--that would be two months ago when free time wasn't limited to weekends (I LOVE weekends!)--it wouldn't feel like the end of the world to lose power in the middle of an online project. Or to spend hours on said project only to discover that it would not work out in the manner I had hoped and it would be necessary to abandon it (in that particular incarnation). I don't despair, but I do wish I could catch a break.

I really hate it when one of the online photo production sites finally offers the sale I've been waiting for but it expires the day I return from being out of town working with college kids. Note to self: start that project anyway so that when the next sale comes I'll be ready for it!

I had a dream last night that included far too many dog containment issues for my comfort. BUT! A part of last night's dreaming also included a difficult, yet triumphant, reconciliation with a friend who dropped out of my life previously. I'm not sure if that's a sign of real possibility or a sign that some healing has taken place. It was the best part of the dream, I can tell you that.

One of the nice things about my new work environment is that I wear regular clothes, as opposed to donning a mostly black and white themed wardrobe. Think accessories! I had a jewelry party the other night that was really fun because I get to pick out all sorts of fun stuff that I can actually wear. Can't wait for those lovelies to arrive!

Anyone need any Pampered Chef? I've got a show going until the end of the month and I'm offering everyone ten percent off, and regular shipping to my out-of-town and -state friends! Discounts taken when I process the order. You can go here to take a look at what you might need (or want). There is a fabulous deal on our grill pan and press being sold as a set this month only. With the additional ten percent off you save $49, plus you qualify for the free guest special (one of our color-coated knives), adding another $15 value to your order. This would make a great gift if it's something you don't need for yourself. Just sayin'! Feel free to share this with your friends who enjoy cooking or love Pampered Chef products.

I'm still working on getting into the scheduling groove of my life's new rhythm. Blogging and reading blogs have been a challenge, but I miss the connection (or what I perceive as such), so I am going to hang in there and try to keep at this effort. I am grateful to those of you who are also hanging in there with me.

Off to pack. Have a great few days until we read again!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

out of the blue

Something I listened to on the radio driving home from work yesterday must have been the nudge that dislodged an ancient memory.  There I was, minding my own business and obeying the speed limit (well, more or less) when a song popped into my head. Not just any song, mind you, but a song that I heard when I was 14 and enjoying an extended visit with cousins who lived in Lausanne,  Switzerland (above). I was there for six weeks (how nice for me!), so the song had, at most, that length of time to be heard and make an impression. It did. I bought the 45. Never mind that I didn't understand a word of it at the time. 

And then, there I was behind the wheel bursting into song. In french. I was actually able to recall most of the first verse by the time I got home, and I continued to sing it to myself in an effort to retrieve more of it.  I couldn't let it go. The record itself is long gone, the victim of a vinyl purge when my mother moved many years ago. I prayed that I would find it on YouTube. Ah, thank you, Internet for delivering to me Non, non, Rien n'a Change, by Les Poppys!

My first delight was that I could listen to it again and confirm the phrases that my memory offered up to me. The second, more surprising gift is the lyrics. The song came out in 1971. Sung by a boys choir, the appeal for peace is poignant. 

According to Wikipedia the record sold 1.2 million copies, was a number one hit in Holland and was in the Dutch Top 40 for 25 weeks. It's amazing what you can find on Wikipedia.

There are a number of videos of the song, one of which includes the English subtitles, but this one is less chaotic visually. I hope you find it as engaging as I did then, and do still.

 

Here are the words in English.

This is the story of a cease-fire I asked for
This is the story of a sun I had hoped for 

This is the story of a love I thought was alive 
This is the story of a beautiful day 
That as a small child I wished 
would be very happy for the whole planet
I wished, I hoped that peace would reign 
On this Christmas Eve 
But everything continued  
But everything continued
But everything continued
 
(Chorus 2 times) 
No, no, nothing has changed 
Everything, everything continued  
Hey! Hey!  
Hey! Hey!
 

Yet many people sang with us 
Many people got down on their knees  
To pray, yes pray 
To pray, yes pray 
But every day I watched TV  
and even on Christmas Eve 
Guns and cannons  
I cried, yes I cried 
I cried  
Who could explain to me ...
 

(Chorus)
I think about the child surrounded by soldiers  

I think of the child asking why  
All the time, yes all the time  
All the time, yes all the time 
I think of that 
But I shouldn't 
All these things do not concern me 
And yet, and yet 
I sing, I sing ...
 

(Chorus)

This is the story of a cease-fire I asked for
This is the story of a sun I had hoped for 

This is the story of a love I thought was alive 
This is the story of a beautiful day 
That as a small child I wished 
would be very happy for the whole planet
I wished, I hoped that peace would reign 
On this Christmas Eve 
But everything continued  
But everything continued
But everything continued

Friday, August 19, 2011

friday five: on the road again!

(love this graphic that Jan posted at RevGals!)
Ah, road trips. Those words are music to my ears! Jan at RevGals has just been on an extensive road trip with her husband and invites us to share some of our own roadie stories. So many from which to choose!

1) I'll start with a general review of childhood travels. Each spring my family spent our school vacation at Melrose, the family tree farm that regular readers know is a staple of my life! We traveled from Connecticut to South Carolina (and back, of course), periodically detouring for stops at historic places of interest. Among those were Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Gettysburg, Valley Forge, and so on. It was a great way to introduce us to American History in a way that "stuck:" beyond reading about it or hearing teacher lectures. An anecdote that I recall: on one such trip it was the first leg of the journey, and we were trying to cover a certain distance before stopping for the night. I was at a stage of childhood where viewfinders were a form of entertainment, and sitting in the rear of the family station wagon I was able to look through the viewfinder as we passed cars on the highway, using the beams from headlights as a source of light. We weren't passing enough cars to satisfy me, so I called to my dad at the wheel, "go faster Daddy!" Apparently he did, because not only was I a happy camper with my viewfinder, but we also got pulled over for speeding.

 2) Fast forward to the age of 30. A friend of mine was getting married in Scotland that summer, and I decided that it was past time for a return visit to that country where I had spent a semester in college. I flew over to surprise Betsey at her wedding. I spent a week traveling on my own, revelling in the countryside (and sheep) that I love so much, go where I wanted, when I wanted, with the freedom to stop for pictures, linger at vistas, and get my fill of gift shops. It was heaven, and a particularly empowering trip as I traveled solo.

The wedding was in St. Andrews (see photo), and I think I will always carry in my mind the look on my friend Betsey's face when she saw me there in the small chapel where she and her beloved tied their knot. When Betsey and her newly minted husband turned to greet the small congregation of well-wishers and begin their trek out of the church, she gave me a wink and a huge smile and thrust her bouquet into my hands. In the photo you will see how well the colors of the bouquet match my dress (heh). I am posing with Betsey's daughter.

One other not-so-insignificant note about that trip. Betsey's priest traveled to Scotland also to perform the ceremony. The short version of the story is that we began dating shortly after our return to the US, and on the occasion when I first went to hear him preach, I experienced a spiritual conversion that led to my ordination.  Life hasn't been the same since!

3) I moved to St. Louis is 1995 to accept a call at a church there. The Diocese of Missouri offered Fresh Start to clergy new to the diocese and in new cures. Four of the members of that class that fall were women, and we quickly dubbed ourselves the "clergy babes." We ranged in age from 30 to 60. We were an odd but fun mix of women, and we decided that as newcomers to that part of the Midwest we should venture forth together to explore the region. We planned a road trip to Memphis (about four hours south?) and had an adventurous couple of days sampling barbecue, listening to Jazz, and locking ourselves out of the car.

4) It was while living in St. Louis that I met my dear friend Kathy, who became my traveling buddy and partner in all sorts of innocent crime. We took a number of trips together, the farthest afield being a two-week sojourn through northern California (we had the BEST time!). We also enjoyed visits to members of my parish who spent their summers in northern Michigan. The first time we made that trip we made a number of stops along the way on our return: a farmer's market, craft shop, and outlet shops in Michigan City, IN. I'll just say that we did our part to aid the economy of Michigan City on that trip. There's a great picture of the car overflowing with our packages and purchases that barely left room for us to squeeze in, but here is the photo of me sitting on the steps at my driveway after unloading the car when we reached our destination. I am a master packer, so things have already been consolidated in bags in this picture. I don't look like it was a joyous trip (it was midnight), but it was one of our best.
5) My husband and I made a big (and fun) road trip east the first summer that we were together. We left Tennessee and headed to Connecticut, where our first stop was to see, and for Ken to meet, my family. We spent a great afternoon kayaking with my brother and his family, had dinners and visits with my dad and younger brother, and spent several days with my Mom on Cape Cod where she was on vacation. We traveled to New Hampshire to see Ken's sister and brother-in-law and enjoyed a fabulous drive up the coast of Maine, then made a stop in New York City on our return to Tennessee. There we visited Ground Zero, went to the top of the Empire State Building and the USS Intrepid and Museum,  and had the best ever pastrami sandwich at a restaurant across the street from the train station in Morris Plains, NJ, where we spent the night. Great trip.

And that's a wrap for today. I'll leave you with this picture from a white-water adventure trip Kathy and I enjoyed on the Ocoee River in East Tennessee. We're int he front.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

reporting live in my jammies

That deep sigh of contentment you hear off in the distance is mine. It is the blessed weekend. And this weekend I have a lot of time to myself. A lot. Picture me grinning. Ken is working at the county fair over the next week, which offers me the gift of solitude.

I'm still adjusting to the notion of having a weekend. Saturdays still feel a bit pressured with the anticipation of Sunday morning responsibilities, but after a full week of office hours the weekend is a very welcome thing. All two days of it!

It's been good for my creativity. Sort of. I'm part of a postcard swap, and I finally got my July card out this past Tuesday. Yay! I also managed to make a get well card for a dear one who had surgery earlier this week, and I've been collecting "pins" of various creative projects that are now on my "do" list.

One of the student organizations supported by our Center at work is called OWLs: Older Wiser Learners (I add a comma after the word "older," but acronyms don't seem to recognize punctuation). Friends who follow me on Pinterest will note that I've been pinning owl-related items, and that is why. When we hold our OWLs open house in September I'm planning on making owl cookies, stringing owl garland, and filling owl bags with something or other as giveaways. With all the fabric I've been hoarding I'll also make an owl tote/purse and a couple of other owl cuddlies for door prizes. See pics here (aren't those cookies just the cutest?):
 
 
 
 
 
I am so into this. Thank you, Harry Potter!

In the meantime I've decided to play with digital scrapbooking and learn a thing or two about that craft. I am grateful for the efforts of those who have gone boldly before me and written tutorials on the subject. I am benefiting from step by step instructions in Photoshop, and am thrilled to be adding those skills to my humble puddle of graphic abilities. It's been a rather exciting week in that department!

So in spite of my absence from this page--I'm still adjusting to the office hour thing--I'm still up to my usual antics of keeping an eye out for fun and pleasure. Stay tuned for photos of my own versions of the above that will come to life in the coming weeks. I especially need to practice with those cookies.

Ciao, and have have a ridiculously amazing weekend!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

beloveds

Did you know this was Pet Appreciation Week? Me either! But thanks to an email from Tractor Supply, now I do, and not a moment too soon! So in honor of my pets, here are some images readily available to share.

That's Brenna, top left. She was my sweetheart Border Collie who came from a real working sheep farm in the Adirondacks. Her grandmother travelled to this country from Scotland, pregnant with Brenna's Mama. That is such an "awwww" thing for me. I lost Brenna to what was likely a brain tumor, six years ago. She took to hiding in the bathtub during thunder storms, or sometimes getting wedged under the bed when she got older and it was hard for her to jump up onto the bed to snuggled for comfort. I miss her.

Then there's Juliet, my current sweetheart. She's a rescue, an Akita/Greyhound mix and the Lady of the House. Her name is, officially, "The Lady Juliet." She's my gem. Rigel is to Juliet's right, looking rather dignified in this pose. We adore Rigel, but dignified is not a word I would typically attribute to him. He's a love.

Starting the second row is McKinlee. She's a mess, as one says in the south. She's also a rescue, Yellow Lab/Jack Russell Terrier. That about says it, eh? That explains the mess. And then there's Dooley, my beloved boy who died in my arms a few years ago. Junior called him Mr. Grumpy, because he could get a little grumpy, but he was the best cuddlebug of any dog I've ever had. During the winter I called him my hot water dog because he would curl up against the curve of my lap in bed and keep me warm. I miss him dreadfully. Hokey, the one cat in my life, is from my youth. She gave birth to kittens in my bedroom closet.

And then we have repeating images of the present trio: Rigel, Juliet and McKinlee (she doesn't even look innocent as a pup!). They are our joy and delight, and our lives would be far less interesting if they weren't a part of them.

So here's to our pets, long may they live and warm our hearts.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

light

I started to type the single word: change. An early Beatles song popped into my head, though the word is wrong: "Chains! My baby's got me in chains!" Sometimes I guess guess change feels like chains. Just thought I'd throw that out.

What I really want to post today is how aware I've become of the transitions so many people are living. Some of them are wrenching, others less so, but the truth remains that transitions are in progress. Most of them are for better, but some are not. Some are jolts to the system, others the inevitable progression of life.

On their own merit many of life's changes and transitions are part of the flow, and we ride them like a wave. There are those, however, that catch us like cross currents to be battled just to stay in place. The effort wears us out and, externally, we have nothing to show for it. I'm not going to go so far as to say that life sucks at such time (though it feels that way), but that the challenge of our days are then best borne when surrounded by the help, love and comfort of others.

For those carrying burdens, I offer this light to you. When I went in search of an image I only sought light. But this is xfold better: I hold you in the light. So rest. Close your eyes and know that you are not alone as you soldier on. The Lord gives even as the world takes away.

"Peace I give to you. My own peace I leave with you."

You are loved.
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