Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Time Crunch

So, a number of the laypeople in my life have been trying to figure out this whole Christmas thing and why it often seems as though I disappear. There's been a number of conversations over the past few weeks with various individuals, going like this:

Are you coming for Christmas Eve? You'll miss the codfish balls!

When are you coming for Christmas day? Not til after noon? That's so late! The kids want to open their presents!

What are you so stressed out about? You work for the church, you knew about this stuff.

Last year was the worst- it was the first time I'd lived near my family since starting the ministry, and I tried to do everything and just about killed myself. This year, the best aunt let me know she'd think of me and the door was open if I could get there, but no pressure. (The Day's rock!) My brother finally figured out that Christmas is NOT the day to ask me to cook anything. Bring wine. That's it. (He knows I probably have a bottle or two on hand.) I think my parents are still trying to remember my working hours. It seems like they are round the clock right about now. M just keeps a picture of me on his desk at work, so he remembers what I look like. "Oh, yeah, the wife, she's that dark haired chick..." My cats, on the other hand, are unrepentant, needy mewlers who cry when I won't pick them up. "Why don't you love us anymore? What have we done wrong? Here, let us give you our toys and you will love us again! I'll put it in your shoe for you so you will be sure to find it!" It's really not personal, guys, but I swear, if I find one more catnip mouse in my slippers...

Finally, this morning, I canceled my hospital hours so I could put the final touches on tonight's services (plural!), do the emergency laundry as I couldn't do laundry during the snowstorm (the laundry rooms were the last to be shoveled), wrap the presents, and perhaps do some of the cooking (we are literally down to cans of beans and tomatoes and crackers- we have a TON of ingredients, but I haven't even had time to cook!).

M looks seriously at me over breakfast and totals up in his mind all the extra services, extra office hours, extra visits, extra writing and notes, and I remind him about the extra cleaning due to the sloppiness of the snow. And he says, "Oh, so it's sort of like Easter, just not exactly..."

Ah, yes, pretty much. Christmas is one of the TWO BIG DEAL services for clergy. We joke about the "C&E Club Christians", but we all know that we are putting on a show for the twice-a-year crowd. There are people who are mourning the loss of relationships or loved ones at this time of year, when the mass media spends its energy telling us all how happy we should be with our perfect lives. There's a lot of emotional need- grief, joy, hope, despair, that just rockets around God's people at this time of year.

For the clergy person, we're sort of caught in the middle of this perfect storm. While trying to keep our own family life going, we're also trying to be present and pastoral for the many in our parishes who we might only see tonight. For these two days, there's a lot about the parish that just has to come first.

We clergy try really hard to balance our lives- family, work, self. So on the days like this when the parish, by necessity, just swells up and overwhelms us, give us the gift of understanding when we seem to retreat from normal life. We're on the front lines of celebrating the gift of God becoming incarnate in human form. It's a little overwhelming.

I'll see you in church tonight. Peace on earth to all people, and peace in the highest heaven. May it seep throughout the rest of this season.

Merry Christmas. And to my clergy friends, hang in there!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

So what does a priest do on her snow day?

After hours and hours of agonizing, reading every weather related news piece I could get my hands on, and a few phones calls to the weatherman (he's also my uncle, so I have his private number!), we called it snow day. There's so much snow we're not even plowed yet.

So what does the priest do? Well, we went for a couple of snowy walks around the neighborhood. M introduced me to his church, a UU place where the minister lives next door. Just like I used to hold services when I lived next door... even if it were to a crowd of none! We went for brunch, since the restaurants were open. And finally came home, where still, nothing was plowed, shoveled, or swept. Come on, apartments, it'll be dark soon! Get with it!

I hope you all had a nice, warm, safe snow day. See you on Christmas Eve!

THE SERMON

I have a confession. I don’t like Peanuts. No, not the nut (which are technically legumes), but the cartoon. You know, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Charlie Brown. I don’t like them. The dirty kid character has always bothered me- where IS Pigpen’s mother? And I think that Snoopy needs some serious obedience training. Of course, not liking Peanuts means I also can’t STAND the Charlie Brown Christmas special. With the exception of the tree (I’ve always liked the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and have had them myself. I root for the underdog.), I hate that Christmas special. I would read a book or go play the piano or do my math homework while it was on. I suppose that I always found it chintzy. I always thought the other kids were mean to Charlie Brown. They couldn’t see his creativity. They couldn’t root for the underdog. Everything had to be obvious and the right way, the first time around. The stupid tree had to be just right. No other substitutions could be used. Maybe I hate the Charlie Brown Christmas special because I’m uncomfortable with how sad I feel when he hangs that big ornament on the tree, and it slumps down and he moans, “Oh, everything I touch gets ruined!” Oh, how I identify with that! It often seems like, no matter how hard I work or what things I’m trying to do different, it just doesn’t work. The anonymous complaints keep coming. The difference in Charlie Brown is that we know the end of the story- the dopey part (and the part I can’t stand) where everyone comes out and starts singing Hark the Harold Angels Sing. As a kid who was traumatized by a mean choir teacher in school, I always hated the singing in public thing. In the middle of the special, I seem to remember one of the characters reciting parts of the gospel of Luke. Then Charlie Brown runs way from the group. I think the religious kid was trying to say that Christmas first happened because of the story related in the gospel.

Much as Charlie Brown evokes strong feelings, so does Luke’s gospel evoke strong feelings now and through the centuries. Luke tends to raise more questions than he gives answers. Today we are given the story of the Annunciation, when Gabriel the messenger visits Mary and tells her she will become pregnant, that her child will be unimaginably special, and that she will bear the child who will take up King David’s throne.

Mary takes this all rather well. I can only imagine that she had no idea what she was really being asked to do. If she were told up front that her child’s fate would be to die horribly on a cross, I imagine she would have never borne children at all. At my age, I have several close friends who have small kids or new babies now. They go to pieces when their child cries with teething pain. I can promise you they’d never intentionally bring their child to harm. You’d have to be insane to bring a child into a situation where you know he’d be harmed. Mary had no idea what she was actually getting into with Jesus’ birth.

And you see, that’s the way it is with God’s work in most cases. We usually have no idea what it is we are actually saying “yes” to when we embark on the work of the Almighty. If I had known what kind of a life the priest was in for, I would have probably gone to law school or librarian grad school. I’d have never chosen this kind of a life if I had known what I was getting into. But now being in it, I can’t imagine doing anything different.

It’s like that with any sort of work we do in God’s church. We say yes to the experiment of hosting an open house. We say yes to the work of being on Vestry. We say yes to calling a new priest or a new organist, thus starting our way down a new path.

The quirk is that we don’t ever know what would have happened if we had not said yes. We don’t know what would have happened if Mary had said no to bearing the baby who grew up to be the Messiah. We don’t know what would have happened if we had said no to any part of our lives together here. We only know the life we are living through as we live through the “yes”.

That is our good news, and our challenge. We don’t ever know what might have been. We only know what is, as we live into our “yes”. When Mary did it, her child grew up to bring her joy and still more pain that she could have ever known. But he also grew up to free us all from the bondage of sin.

For us- what does it mean when we live into a yes? I can’t answer that for you. Only you can. What does it mean to live into the yes of church life? To live into the YES of attending on Sundays, even in snow and bad weather. To pledge and to give, even in the bad times? To balance looking after your own family and your church, even in the tough economy? To work with a young pastor? To sing new music? To take on the risk of a Cookie Walk or a church fair like Epiphany Unveiled? From my vantage point, even at the same time that we look like a church in crisis, we also look like a church that says yes, an awful lot. We’ve said yes to God in so many ways, together. We will never know anything but the path these Yes’es have led us on. There’s so much hope in this unknown. Where will God lead us next?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sunday Story Sermon...

Okay, guys- since I KNOW that several of you are reading this, even if you won't comment. Oh, please comment! It's so special to get comments!

Anyhoo- this is how the sermon would have gone down. The Gospel book would be put away, but instead of letting you all sit down in a dignified way in your pews, me saying "The people may sit", I would have strode back to the baptismal font area. Without a word. You'd all be looking at me a little oddly.

I would have said that John the Baptist was certainly not a prophet who came to proclaim the Messiah in the way we expected. In fact, John's work- baptizing in the wilderness, eating such odd food, wearing such uncomfortable clothes, crying out again and again that God's Messiah was coming... all of that should have been an inkling that perhaps this whole Messiah thing would not look like we thought it should.

Somehow, God's work just doesn't ever happen the way you think it should. And what if John had a hard time of it? I mean, if he really understood his role in the divine dance, he'd know that his words would foretell the coming of his cousin... he'd know that if he dared speak, he'd be sealing the coming of the Messiah- who came to die. He'd be setting in motion the things that would lead to the death of his cousin. Did he dare?

Listen to this.

John lay on his side. It was quite early, almost too early to be awake. He had gotten used to the early times, though. He had gotten used to never feeling like he’d quite slept enough. He’d tried to ignore what was coming as his destiny. But it just kept gnawing at him- this urge, this desire. He’d gone out into the wilderness. He’d given up the food of his childhood. He ate only locusts and honey now. He wore coarse hair clothing. His beard and hair had grown wild. Certainly he looked the part of crazed prophet, but definitely not respectable.

John thought back to before it all began. He tried to remember the last time he’d seen his cousin. Jesus was a strong boy, then, eager to help Joseph with the carpentry. But mischevious, all the same. Jesus liked to listen to the Rabbis and the temple preaching. John favored the wild outdoors. For John, God spoke in the wilderness- in the rocky mountains, the untamed, scrappy trees. Beyond the olive groves, the colors faded until the whole world was a slightly faded, melancholy version of its real self. That was where John heard God- not in the bright, noisy time of the temple. Far from the noise of the city, from the noise of the temple, from the noise of even his own family.

John remembered the awful day he’d realized what he and Jesus had been born into. THey were hanging out with each other, too old to play like child, but not old enough for eavesdropping to have lost its thrill. The mothers were talking, talking, talking, like women do. But they knew it was different, with them. John remembered well the stories of how Mary, pregnant and scandolous, had visited Elizabeth. He knew the stories of how an angel had visited his own father and told him the name to give John. The women loved to hash over those stories, and for some reason, he and Jesus felt they had to listen on these little bits of woman-talk.

On that day, he’d heard the prophecies- something about gifts Jesus had been given and a sword piercing Mary’s heart and someone dying. And Elizabeth responded that John was to be a great prophet, he’d know the Messiah when he came. John had looked at Jesus, then- Jesus had gone a little pale. Someone was going to die- someone important. A sword piercing Mary’s heart? Was his own mother going to die? Jesus looked at John- and suddenly John comphrehended. He was going to be the one who predicted it all. He was going to set it all in motion. It would all start because of him. The look of recognition lasted only an instant. Then Jesus shoved past him and ran into the yard with the other cousins and siblings. They’d never talked about it.

John left home when he was grown. He went into the quiet wilderness. He would not speak in the public arena. If he were going to be the one who would set things in motion, then he’d simply be far away from everyone. It couldn’t all start because of him, could it?

Soon after that, the urges started. When he spoke with his friends in the wilderness, they followed him, as his disciples. He found himself fughting an urge- he spoke indeed of a coming king. He didn’t will the words to come- they just came. He couldn’t keep them down. As he fought against his destiny, it was as if there were a howl of misery in his soul, scremaing to get out. He was amazed at how peaceful it felt to give in, and to call out of a coming messiah. And here he was, in the remote places. Nowhere near the city. Nowhere near his family. They’d be safe, after all. His prophecies would fall on remote ears. Nothing would come of his words. He was just a voice, crying out in the wildnerness.

John rose on his elbow and slowly pushed himself to his feet, facing the rising sun. It was time. Time to wash the pilgrims free of their day’s sins, and send them on their way. Time to tell them of the one coming after him, but nowhere near him. “Prepare the way of the Lord! Make his paths straight!” And as he baptized each person, he would say, “There’s one coming later who is more powerful than I. He’ll baptize you with the power of God.” John stood tall as the Jordan swirled around his legs. There was one coming indeed, one of great power. But he was far, far, far from his family. He was far from influence. He was a voice in the wilderness, a voice no one heard or paid attention to. His family was safe. He’d avoided the disaster he’d feared.

He waved to the next pilgrim. Time to come in the water.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snow day #1

It's the first snow day of the year. I was up last night watching the internet, checking three different predictors, all of which agreed there would be snow. I dreamed ALL NIGHT about snow and snowplows and that Martin invited over all his friends who went out for a snowball fight after I declared a snow day- in the dream, just declaring a snow day made more snow fall.

Meanwhile, here in real life...

When I woke, snow was still falling here in West Hartford. Nothing is yet plowed, though there is just an inch. It is, however, an icy inch. And there's more snow predicted with ice-forming temperatures and severe wind.

The median age of parishoners at Epiphany is north of 50, with a number of pretty creaky ladies and gentlemen. Most of whom I would have called ANYWAY to ask that they not come. That would leave me with about 7 able-bodied persons who are fully capable in eyesight, body, and/or condition of their car.

So we decided to cancel. This was me on the phone with my Senior Warden, who has eyes on the ground in Southbury. So I chose to trust her assessment of the ground conditions while we parsed out the condition of the congregation.

Now it's a matter of calling the service participants, the snow day closings people on TV, the organist, the other warden... and I'm in AGONY! Will people be upset? Are they mad? Did I make the right choice? Is it better to safeguard your congregation and hope they are going to be okay in the bad weather, or are you better off going in and holding services come heck and high weather? If I were next door, I'd be open (but still officially closed). I'm quite worried, being 30 miles away- is it RIGHT TO CLOSE, or am I BEING A WIMP?

Augh! The stress!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday in West Hartford

Last night, West Hartford sponsored its holiday stroll. No one I knew was available to come (really, you had to get tile, all night? There was free hot chocolate!), and M was at class, so I went all by myself.

I got to see Santa twice, I got a hug from Rocky the Rock Cat of New Britain Rock Cats fame (the walrus and that other furry guy were there, too), and I got lots of free samples from the shops. One bank used its enclosed lobby for dance performances, with tiny ballet students forming a sort of living music box. L'Shir, an acapella group, sang in the square. They were fun! They really staged their show- and they WEREN'T scared of a little rain! They staged the songs! I picked up all sorts of fun ads and entered a few sweepstakes, and went to the art gallery opening (and resisted the chocolate cake).

And of course, did a bit of thinking. Some of the buisinesses closed early. Well, that's no fun! Other buisinesses stayed in their shops, waiting for you to come in (and ready to scold if you entered with ice cream). Uh, guys, it's a HOLIDAY STROLL. Everyone's giving out free samples. I'm just trying to have a good time. Some businesses welcomed you with open arms, with strolling workers in the streets and smiling faces inside. Reigning Cats and Dogs, I'm looking at you. You were fun!

Two groups hosted what looked like fun parties, but I worried they were private parties in the public venue. Did you really mean that? One group had wine and pastries, and I entered as a couple left. When I finished looking around, I discovered the door locked and had to ask to be let out. Um, maybe I should have wondered why everyone was standing in groups talking to each other, and why no one, yes, no one, even said hello to me. You just had your private party crashed by a holiday go-er! (Either that, or your welcome group stinks!) Another group was having dancing and all the seats were taken, half of them by members of the group. I wonder if there would be a way to have group members enticing the public to dance? Or did you really want us cootie-public to join you?

Mostly, I considered the churches. I have no idea what St. James, the Lutheran church, or the congregational church did last night, if anything. And I was SO JEALOUS! DUDES!

If I were there...

I'd host a living nativity. I'd have a choir carol sing, in FULL CHOIR ROBES! I'd host Evening Prayer, or Evensong. I'd have a guided labryinth walk. I'd give away cookies with church brochures attached. I mean, REI was doing it. Whole Foods was doing it. I was given a cup of rice pudding and a menu by the Shish Kebab house. They sure weren't worrying if I would be offended by their meat-eating lifestyle. They just said, "Hi, here, have some rice pudding and a menu!"

If I were at those churches RIGHT ON THE CENTER, I'd have them LIT UP, open for tours, and I'd be throwing elaborate welcomes on the night of the Holiday Stroll. I mean, Santa came. Shouldn't St. Nicholas also make an appearance?

On the bright side, I was very, very glad last night that I live in (almost) the city again. I liked, very much, leaving my house, wandering around something fun for an hour and a half, then coming home as I started getting cold. No parking, no driving, no mess.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Spookie Dip... ew!

Among my friends, I have a little bit of a reputation as a reasonable cook. A certain Chick-of-Honor had me as a guest in her house one notable summer during which she declared she'd never eaten so well in her life. (She and her husband are no slouches in the kitchen, and I still consider them popover authorities. We *all* ate well!) But suffice it to say, the kitchen and I are usually friends.

Well, barring the occasional misstep like the nothing-but-broccoli-rabe dinner. Maybe I'll add another veggie to cut the sharp mustard-y flavor next time...

And certainly barring the latest effort. I am carefully watching my portion control over the next few weeks. One New Year's resolution is to be healthier, and one of the ways I plan to do that is by watching what I eat and not eating everything in sight. I cook pretty healthy... I just tend to eat too much of it. It's just sooooo tasty!

So I got a cookbook out of the library, advertising "bodacious spinach dip". So I made it. It tasted a little... raw last night. I thought maybe it just needed to sit over night.

Today, it tastes like the sort of dip you'd dip your spinach cookie into if you were a crazy health-food nut and ate only raw spinach. It TASTES healthy.

It tastes ICK! Blah! Yuck!

Then I realized the recipe called for COOKED spinach.

Meet the girl who made the Spookie Dip with RAW spinach.

Out goes the spinach dip. I don't think it can be saved. Next time, note to self- try COOKING the spinach!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tough Day At Work

Have you ever had one of those days when you go in to work and it seems that everyone is mad at you? In case I've never mentioned, I hate it when people are mad at me. My conflict style is turtle: yell at me, and I tend to draw away inward, then slowly withdraw when I think your attention is distracted by someone else. I've never liked direct conflict, so having to work through direct conflict is just torture for me. It ranks right up there with getting cavities filled.

So over the past week, there was a bit of upheaval in the parish. A few individuals (stalwart, solid souls) decided their level of burnout was affecting their ability to be joyful in community. They decided to allow their positions to expire, and to take a break from further work for a while.

It's sad to lose them as leaders for a season, but I have seen far too many times before what burnout can do to people. I've seen too many people leave the church entirely because we allowed them to burn themselves out to the point they couldn't even experience the saving grace of God. And what purpose do you get involved in a church for, anyway, if not to try and become closer to the Almighty? I'd far, far rather face the task of waiting for new leaders to raise their hands than to face the pain of having two great people leave the church entirely and never return.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure the entire exchange went down well. I fear that there is the sentiment that I somehow forced good people out of their work by being a bad priest. So I felt in the services as though a number of people were just glaring at me. I felt like the bug under the microscope- and a bad bug, at that. I felt like the deer tick must feel after you pluck it off and send it in to be analyzed. And let me tell you, that's a lousy way to feel when you are doing services and presenting your week's worth of work in the sermon and liturgy!

And since I'm still recovering from the Bug, I'm exhausted. I drove home feeling dizzy and queasy. Hours later, after a long rest on the couch, I'm feeling like I can stand upright again. I hate being sick. I hate having people mad at me. And I hate it when these things happen in such stupid ways.

There was a point in the book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when the Magician reflects on his caretaking of the Dufflepuds. He declares his fondness for his wayward charges, saying that at times, they act as if he sees all and knows all, and at others, they behave as if he could be taken in by tricks a baby would see through.

I suppose I feel like the Magician in charge of the Dufflepuds, at the moment. I wonder if the Magician ever got the flu?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sick Priest

The 24-stomach-bug has been running through our house. I'll spare you the details, but it started with M. I went to have my picture taken by the State Police (who've asked me to do some chaplaincy for them), and then I went to the retirement of our awesome assistant, Marty D. (Can I just say that I realized on that day that I have TOTALLY under-appreciated Marty? The lady is bedrock. I was stunned to realize that I have just taken for granted her supreme helpfulness and intelligence. She's so mild-mannered, you don't even realize how essential she is, or how much guidance she gave so many of us.)

As I came home, suddenly, the door opened and M lurched in. He proceeded to spend the evening in misery.

I woke up yesterday feeling, if possible, more tired than I was went I went to bed. By the time my hospital shift started, everything hurt. I gave up with an hour and a half to go. By the time I got home, I had chills and a legit fever. I proceeded to spend the night shaking on the couch wrapped up in two blankets, flannel jammies, and a heating pad. I woke up this morning with residual soreness. I think it would be a good idea to cancel the newborn-nephew visit and... well... pretty much anything else I was going to do today.

Maybe if I'm really good M will make soup.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Light Verse

After a particularly grueling Vestry meeting last night, I was overheard to say "I think I will go home and have a nice junkyard martini" (the dirtiest of all dirty martinis). A gracious vestry member offered the following:

A Drink With Something In It

There is something about a Martini,

A tingle remarkably pleasant;

A yellow, a mellow Martini;

I wish I had one at present.

There is something about a Martini,

Ere the dining and dancing begin,

And to tell you the truth,

It is not the vermouth--

I think that perhaps it's the gin.

Ogden Nash

Of course, I don't drink the gin. All my martinis are vodka martinis, due to my unfortunate prior run-ins with juniper (and the serious allergy that followed). But still. I love me a good martini... clean, dirty, junkyard (with olives, capers, and pimentos with the brine), pumpkin...

As the story goes, in WWII, as England fell into ruins and the atomic bomb was built and the question before the world was whether or not we'd have a future to look forward to at all, the Brits published a small book. It was printed up to the very margins as paper was so precious. It was a volume of light, airy verse, such as the ode to Martinis printed above.

Even in the worst of times, England found time to celebrate with a small bit of something completely frivolous.

I think we call that hope.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Priest's Cats

So... I was down at **name withheld** church in a very, very wealthy town in the westernmost section of CT. And they have a bookstore. I stopped by, I found a cool wood dice-shaped block with different table graces printed on it. (Great way to impress the in-laws... roll the dice and pray the prayer. No having to think up your own prayer on spur of the moment!)

I also found "An Advent Calendar For Your Cats", complete with a fuzzy Christmas-card style picture of kittens. It contains the appropriate number of little kitty treats.

Thank you, **name withheld**, for helping my cats become closer to Jesus. I have indeed been sorely neglecting their spiritual welfare and development, except for the one animal blessing thing I dragged them to. But now, for thirty whole days, I can give them cat treats, and on Christmas, let them bask in the warm, glowing Christmas tree and try to rip up ribbons and wrapping paper, knowing that Jesus came to save them from their... er... sins?

That's what church is all about, people...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Making priests happy...

It's tough sometimes to be joyful. In one job, I deal with tragedy and death and life-altering injury all day. In the other job, we navigate the murky waters of a church struggling for survival. I haven't done a wedding in over a year, but I have had plenty of funeral requests. It's tough sometimes to find the joy in your job when it seems all the celebrations are had by other priests.

We gathered the clergy for Safe Church recertification. Can I even say how much I love Safe Church? I was expecting a boring day of dull videos, a re-hash of the same stuff I'd gotten the last two times around. Whoa, can I even tell you how much the Diocese rocked it?

They had large plenary workshops and then small breakout sessions dealing with all sorts of issues from porn to difficult parishioners. I found the sessions to be well-thought-out and actually interesting. Of course, perhaps my extroverted side went nuts and was so excited to see so many people that I lived off the endorphins of seeing so many people, but still.

I found a cool Christmas present for my maid-of-honor (that's right, Jen, I got your present right here!), and I found an awesome new item for my Tacky Jesus Collection. Sorry, Christ Church Bookstore.

I'm really excited and heartened by so many clergy getting so revved-up about keeping our churches safe. I'm pepped up by other clergy affirming certain difficult decisions I've made. I'm relieved to have the Diocesean staff supporting us that we do. Hey, you guys in Hartford, I really appreciate what all-y'all do for us. We're a tough crowd. BUT it was a GOOD DAY!

Here's wishing the folks in the house on Asylum a relaxing week. (Really!) Good job on Saturday. You made me happy to be an Episcopal priest.

Amen to that!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wedding Rings

I finally broke down and gave in.

We had known from the start of our marriage that our wedding rings were one-of-a-kind art pieces. They are custom designs in solid gold. They were featured in a bridal magazine and are on the front page of our designer's Torpedo Factory webpage. Ours are done by Cynthia Corio-Poli.

She carefully designed low, simple rings for me because I do so much "hands on" and emergency type work, and I was concerned about the rings getting damaged. She did such a great job.

Recently, I had been noticing several larger scratches on my rings. Martin gave in a few months ago and ordered a tungsten carbide faceted ring. It looks like a little disco ball. He wears it to work, when we go out hiking, and when we do 'hard stuff". He saves his fancy rings for hanging out and going out.

I'm a difficult-to-find size, but I finally found one that I can live with. I struggled mightily, feeling that any replacement ring would just be ugly, being very cheap and not wanting to spend lots of money on a fake ring, and finally feeling that any replacement just wouldn't be THE SAME. In the end, I ordered the tungsten-gold ring to serve as my 'work ring'. Apparently, this is much more common than I had realized. Many of my co-workers and nurses have "fake rings" they wear to work. Plenty of police officers have simple "scratch-and-dent" rings that are totally cheap, so it doesn't matter if it gets scratched, damaged, or cut. There's plenty of us in the hard-scrabble world who seem to choose to preserve our "real rings" for our "off-duty" life.

I wonder what that says about our priorities, our separation of work life and non-work life, and our view of our relationships.

Of course, there's always guys like my brother, who took a file to his wedding ring... the night before his wedding! He got some super-duper strong metal (he's the paramedic/firefighter) and I guess he wanted to be sure it was REALLY strong enough. He ruined the file. Lucky for him, the ring was without a scratch. I don't recommend that for the general public to try, though.

I'll just wait for my "working" ring to come in in a few days, and then I'll be able to send my "real rings" off for a cleaning and polishing. They are just too special to risk damage to. So much for the girl who thought she didn't get emotionally attached to jewelry!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

How to It's a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day...

I totally shoulda worn the railroad train pajamas and taken my picture of the Invisible Castle. Instead, I went to the party as Max, the King of the Wild Things. You'd be amazed at how many people DIDN'T get it. The literary crowd did. Adults should be required to read children's books. Really. But the most awesome costume was easily the person who came in a business suit, with a golden parachute, monopoly money spilling out of all the pockets, and a sign saying "Out of work Wall Street CEO. Help save my yacht: can you spare 700 Billion?" She rocked!

Anyway. It's a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day when...

The social worker doesn't answer her phone. Sure, she says it's ringing. Four hours later when you corner her.

There are four major cases upstairs on your floor...

And about 6 cases in the ED.

And did I mention the social worker was AWOL, so I'm catching ALL this one my own? And the kicker...

When an overloaded electrical outlet shorts out and starts a fire...

in YOUR office...

while you are on the phone with a trauma victim's freaking out husband...

after the fire department comes and saves you...

It's probably a bad day. Just leave it at that.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

OY!

Well, after waking up all nice and warm and cozy on my day off, it's 9:30 and I remember now why Thursdays are not great days off. So many chores to do, bills to pay, bathroom to clean, checks to deposit... My neck and shoulders are killing me!

And my insides are all twisted up ALREADY. I just read the paper and the online news, and read about people perpetrating political attacks on themselves and hanging Gov. Sarah Palin in effigy. Now, yes, I totally disagree with her in so many ways it's not even funny. But even so: to me, it is never O.K. to hang anyone in effigy. Doesn't matter if it's Sarah Palin, Presiding Bishop, black men, or KKK figures, or Osama Bin Laden effigies. It's still a human figure, and it's still fantasizing violence on a real person. It's just never, ever O.K. to perpetrate violence upon other human figures. (Yes, I insert caveats here for police and military, and that issue is far too complex to parse right now!) It is far, far too easy to de-sensitize yourself in our everyday life. Is that the sort of legacy we want to give our kids? If you don't like someone, no need to engage thoughtfully, or to work to bring about a different reality. Just kill, do violence, get angry, and do NOTHING in the end. That person who made that Sarah Palin effigy has done NOTHING for the world. Except foster hate. That's a pretty shameful thing to teach our kids. That's pretty shameful for our world.

In my little church world, I seem to have stepped in it slightly when I questioned if we should call the upcoming Deanery meetings "emergency", and elevate a normal planning process into the status of CRISIS. We're just electing a Bishop as normal. Apparently, CT parlance is to call non-scheduled meetings "emergency" and no one is ACTUALLY freaking out. (Well, maybe one person, who needs a hug...) But wow, I spend SO much time in the church trying to DIAL DOWN from crisis. In God's time, don't we get to rest from our labors and enjoy a time of peace?

I think I'm going to change now, go to the gym, and do some bike riding and iPod listening. My newsreaders are going off for the day. No more news. I'm re-centering the rest of today. Though I am STRONGLY thinking of calling my Bishop and asking if I can borrow her dog for some dog therapy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Welcome, new readers!

Hi there to all the new readers who are visiting to check me out after the blog workshop at Convention. It was really a pleasure to assist Matthew Scott, Laura Ahrens, and Karin Hamilton.

I'm currently engaged in trying to write my sermon. In fact, my husband has bribed me with promises of pizza and a movie, and he is out picking them up. (Does he ROCK or what?) So I have just a few minutes left to bring some sense to the readings for tomorrow.

It's good classic stuff, like the death of Moses and the Greatest Commandment. Sometimes I find the Collect to be helpful in parsing readings for the inner connections, but I have to say that this week's collect is so nicey-nice as to be pretty useless. "God, increase in us gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command". Not helpful, thanks. There's no meaty middle in there. It's just asking God to make us better than we are, to change the stuff of right now.

But how can we talk about what we are becoming unless we speak of what we are? Is there a place in this sermon for a bit of truth-telling about how we are constantly becoming new in God.

I suppose I want to preach an ACTION sermon, but the readings this week are reading almost like soundbites from an election: Candidate A supports law and order; Candidate B preaches a return to old-fashioned values and faith. Perhaps I'm also a little news-ed out from election coverage.

Well, please enjoy yourselves on the archives, the blogroll, the comments, and the other blogs of the world. I recommend Ship-of-Fools for some churchy type fun. Check out the Kitchmas and Jesus Shop.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ordination Bibles...

So I have a confession... I have never before actually used the Bibles I got at ordination. We get a small, portable one for our Diaconate, and a big, desk one for our Priestly. (At least in this Diocese.) They are very, very nice Bibles- we're talking guilt edges. They are also the same edition- the New Oxford Annotated, NRSV, that I had bought when I went into Seminary. I keep my Seminary Bible, and my looseleaf notebook that I call "The Ultimate Study Bible" (a now-two-volume set of every reading I have ever researched or preached on. 7 years into it, I still don't have the full Bible...) in my office at church. I wrap up my Sundays by printing out the readings and starting the next week's sermon.

I was on vacation last Sunday, so I did not do my usual process. So today, I decided I really wanted to read the full story around this pericope (that's the little part of the story we read each week), so I delved into my Priestly Ordination Bible for the first time ever. I've only had it out of the box once, since I feel like it's too pretty to be an every day thing.

There's my declaration certification and the presentation card signed and a little service for dedication of the gifts the parish gave me at ordination.

I think it's a sign. "Write the sermon, Betsy... this is your work."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baby Boy!

After months of waiting we finally know the winner of the betting pool! Okay, just kidding, D&D. No one was actually betting on the actual arrival date of the kid, but if we HAD been, wouldn't it have been cool to bet on 10-09-08? Yeah, it would have been!

We are celebrating the arrival of the little boy who will carry the non-phonetic name of Bagioni to the next generation. Ah yes, 20 more years of teachers struggling valiantly and often vainly to pronounce the three syllables. And they never just spit it out... they always draaaaaag it out to its furthest- "Bah... uh... BAY-GUY-ON-n-n-n-n-n-Eye?" before admitting they have no idea how to pronounce classic Italian.

Welcome to the world, kid. Auntie Bee stands ready to feed you Mountain Dew as soon as you learn to say "Please" and "Thank you", to feed you Bento lunches, and to introduce you to sushi and tofu at unreasonably early ages.

Your mom and dad have no idea what a wild ride they are in for. But I gotta admit, you are one fabulous looking kid.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Vacation!

I get vacation! And I'm finally doing what I dreamed about for years... spending an entire day in my pajamas! My mom is one of those people who is convinced that you will feel better if you get up, wash up, and get dressed. Even when I was sick, as a kid, it always meant getting up and getting dressed.

Well, I sure showed her! M did drag me out of bed (reluctantly) with the promise of breakfast together and eggs. Ah, I am such a sucker for eggs. But then I washed up... and put my jammies right back on! And then I sewed for a little while, finishing up the trial run of the pajama pants I'm making for my halloween costume (Alexander from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day). That's right, I DO have a railroad train print. But for now, I was trying the pattern in a purple heart print with giant pink-and-green-striped skulls and crossbones. It's so wrong. I love it. And it's warm and fuzzy. The pattern IS too large, so I have to go down a size.

In the meantime, I'm toying with the idea of making a cake. Not for any reason, just for fun. And how often do we get to do THAT?

My vacation plans for the rest of the week include going to the gym, sleeping late, reading the rest of my latest batch of library books, and taking a whirlwind weekend trip to Virginia and Maryland, where we plan to see a few of you at Octoberfest in Accokeek and catch up with cool people in Alexandria. Oh, and have ourselves dinner at Lost Dog, the BEST pizza place in Arlington. Divine.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Service Planning

Blessing of the Animals coming up on Sunday. So much to coordinate- like making sure the organist really understands that we are doing Morning Prayer (not Eucharist). Since we almost never do MP, it's all seat-of-the-pants learning for him. And seeing if any of the invited guests are coming. Dude! You people got INVITATIONS! Didn't your momma teach you ANYTHING? RSVP, already! And thinking through the service movements, and making sure the animal tamers know how to tame their animals and getting ready to take my poor kitties for a little ride, and SHOOT! Remembering that I forgot to order the second leash to match Origami's collar, and discovering that Snowbeast has SLIPPED his collar and is running around naked! Naked cat in my house!

But seriously, isn't that what life as God's people is all about? A little bit of chaos that will resolve into something like just-barely-contained order by Sunday, when we recognize and bless those creatures who share their lives with us?

And somewhere in there, there will be a sermon. And prayers. And readings. And praise to God. And I think that might be what it's all about.

Home from vacation, part one

We spent our weekend on a little whirlwind tour of Montreal. It was lovely to have a Sunday off. It is SO rare. I love sleeping late when everyone I know is "at work", and I love lazy brunch. Well, this one was a little off, as we were hoping to have tea at the Ritz... but it was CLOSED! Well, part of it was. We were mis-directed by our own hotel to the Ritz-Carlton APARTMENTS. Not having internet, we could not check and discover that the Ritz-Carlton HOTEL was actually in the OTHER direction, and so we missed out on our high tea. <> I long for high tea. I wish every day that I could have high tea. What is WRONG with our country that I cannot ever get myself a decent cup of tea and some nice scones and some clotted cream?

For background, I became seriously addicted to afternoon tea when I lived that semester in Bath. The Bath tea room just beyond and below the Sally Lunn place was FAB-ulous. Sally Lunn was the tourist stop, with the waitresses all dressed up in costumes. The Bath Bun Tea Room was just the simple neighborhood stop. They served you nice piping hot tea, lukewarm scones, and a veritable VAT of clotted cream. Oh, la, la, la, la, la. Makes me happy just thinking about it...

Anyway, here's one of the Montreal Photos. It is from the Jardins Bontanique, where we were lucky enough to get to see the chinese lantern exhibit. Whoa! (Sure, we got to see the Japanese gardens, the Shade garden, have a lovely walk and a snack, and visit the Insectarium, as well...) This place was TOTALLY worth the $27 admission! This is a MUST-SEE for Montreal. And pretty romantic, if you go with your main squeeze. Especially if he can part the crowd and buys you a moon cake to share over jasmin tea. :-)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Big E!

Many New England dwellers know of the Big E, the all-New-England state fair held in Mass. each year. Last year, about two days after M and I arrived in Connecticut, my parents decided to treat us to a trip to the Big E. Now, moving is very stressful and we had arrived with no furniture, sleeping on an airmattress in a HUGE house. We would later discover we were allergic to the mold in the house. Suffice it to say we were sick as dogs last year. My throat was so sore I couldn't swallow anything but broth. (Rhode Island house, quoahog stew. It's the only thing with broth at the Big E. Just so you know.) So we decided to go THIS year again to make up for it.

This year, we knew to park in the "far away parking lot" and just walk 12 minutes instead of spending an hour in the traffic jam for the "official" parking lot.

This year, we were not sick, and we could eat whatever we wanted. Like pizza, pot pies, cream puffs, and the essential Fried Food. It's just required to eat something fried at a fair. Preferably, something sort of gross like fried broccoli, but oddly tasty when eaten outdoors surrounded by corn dogs and crazy looking people wearing whack-a-doo outfits like that lady who was wearing a different loud flower pattern on every part of her body, including her 3-D flower hat.

This year, we were feeling good enough to do lots of walking (unlike last year when I sort of schlumped from bench to bench in misery). So we played the "$10 Game". Each person gets $10, and has to go buy a present for the other. You secretly shop and surprise the other person with a treat. We took our $10, and suddenly found ourselves, face-to-face, at the same table, looking longingly at the box of "IDEAL BLOX". It was the funnest-looking block game in the world- like three-D tetris-meets-tangrams, all in rainbow colors. You could stack the blocks SO high and they were even dishwasher safe! But it was $20, and this was the $10 game.

So we pooled our cash and bought the Blox, and came home with our new toy. I'll post pictures later, when we build some cool stuff!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sermon for Sept. 14, 2007

Well, I guess the fastest way to get folks into church is to stop posting to the blog while the fall starts up! Welcome back, and glad you are feeling better!

I have to say I am privileged to be a member of the Seminary class that I am- VTS 2004. During our Seminary time, we weathered the 9/11 attacks, a giant snowstorm, a hurricane, and the great cicada hatching of Brood X. Our Dean joked at our graduation that we must graduate... before the frogs or locusts arrived! Through it all, though, through all the uncertainty, the fear, the protests, the natural disasters- we have never been a class defined by fear. We have always been a group of people best defined by our great love for each other. I know for a fact, having been a recipient of my classmates' generosity during my own tough times, that there is a safe place for me under their roofs, and I hope they all know that there will always be a place in my own home for anyone who needs shelter from their own storms. Love truly does cast out fear, and our class has lived out what it means to love your neighbors as yourself. They are why I am still an Episcopal priest, despite those rough first few years, and they give me hope for our church, our country, and our world.

With that said, I offer to you my sermon from Sunday the 14th.

Over the past week, I’m sure that many of us heard much about the passing of the seventh anniversary of 9/11. Even as that date rolled near, we also turned wary eyes to Texas as Hurricane Ike neared landfall. I watched the internet news ceaselessly as the giant storm rolled towards Houston, and I read ever article I found about the opening of the Pentagon memorial. 9/11 and the great hurricanes have both been events that have shaped my adult life.

I had just started seminary in 2001. Shortly after the plane crashed in the Pentagon less than four miles away, even before the acrid smell of smoke reached us, my new classmates and I huddled together in the dorm as we heard the then-foreign sounds of sonic booms as fighter jets arrived over Washington. Over the next week, the Pentagon would continue to smolder. But our class rallied around each other. We sorted out who had lost family and friends in New York and Washington DC. My adrenaline ran so high as I was woken up at night by military helicopters shining incredibly bright lights on our campus, that I wanted to run to war and rain down destruction on the sandy parts of the world. But even more than that, I wanted to forget a time when I didn’t know what a sonic boom sounded like. A friend and I sat up into the night watching the TV as we invaded Afghanistan and later Iraq.

Later that year, that summer, I went to Houston for an internship in Clinical Pastoral Education. St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital was celebrating their one-year anniversary after a serious hurricane had broken the floodgates and submerged much of the medical center. They told stories of the famous human chain. Employees fo the hospital had formed a chain up the tallest building, passing essential supplies hand-to-hand from the lowest floors to the highest floor, 27 floors. Staff was stranded at the hospital for four days.

I did work with police departments during Hurricanes Irene and Katrina, but they are not going to figure in this sermon, so believe me when I tell you that they were formative experiences. And I spent a few years with Concerns Of Police Survivors hearing the stories of families and officers who were 9/11 survivors. To me, those victims have families, friends, names, and faces. I remember the smell of smoke and the broken things just as well.

And yet, still, every year, every single year, we face Peter and we face Jesus. Every single year, Peter asks about forgiveness. He tallies up in his mind how often he must forgive those who wrong him. Every year, Jesus responds that we forgive until we’ve lost count how often we forgive, and then we forgive some more. Every year. Jesus never changes his relentless drumbeat. Every year, Jesus commands us to forgive until we forget how to do anything else but forgive.

Why? Why should I bother? When the plane hit the Pentagon, it touched off a stream of events that would eventually chase several of my foreign-born friends out of the country. When the plane hit the ground, it started the events that would forever change the lives of people I know. I would always know the smell of jet fuel. Is anger, vengeance, retalitation, so wrong when the sins are so great?

Jesus tells us a story of a master who forgives a slave. 10,000 talents is a lot- more than one could earn in a lifetime. Typically, it is understood that the slave probably did something he should not have done to spend that kind of money. The king does become angry. The difference and the quirk is what he does with his anger.

Isn’t it so much more complicated when we are dealing with our issues today? Issues of money, big deal. Today, our issues are much bigger. Our issues are life and death. I’ve told you where I was on Sept. 11 seven years ago. I’m sure you remember where you are, and you probably have your own sadness and anger around that time. I’m not going to tell us that anger, sadness, and yes, even a thirst for revenge are not a normal part of human nature. Of course they are! If a desire for revenge were not natural to us, then why would Jesus even spend so much time and energy around teaching us to forgive? When we are wronged, we want to have it righted. We want the person who said the thoughtless remark to apologize, in exactly the words we want. We want the ex-boyfriend to come back in town, and catch us, looking hot, on a date with a new guy. We want the pull the hair of the little girl who dipped her finger in our cupcake frosting. We want to kill the person responsible for planning the attackes that killed 3,000 of our friends and co-workers and made the smell of jet fuel burn in our noses for a week.

But here we are, instead. Here we are in this church, where we worship a God who commands us to forgive. I wonder about the power of forgiveness.

In St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, they elected to forgive the town and administration which did not plan. They remember the day that they formed the human chain, but they also served on the committees engaged in planning for future storms. New flood doors were constructed, and I am so relieved to report that as of today, St. Luke’s remains totally operational. Even as Houston is mostly suffering from widespread flooding and power outages, the medical complex benefits from special generators and flood doors. They are continuing operations as normal, providing emergency services to help benefit thousands of people, because their choice to forgive and be part of the future helped move them beyond their anger of the moment.

I often daydream about what could have been in our country. What if, if only, if only, instead of declaring that we would not give in and we would hunt down the terrorists to the end, what if our president had said instead, something like this: that we were a strong country, and a wealthy one, and that the attacks hurt s deeply. We’d be forever scarred. But as a powerful country, we would wage peace instead. What if we instead had waged peace at home, strengthening and rebuilding? With all those trillions of dollars, could we have saved the 5,000 lives of soldiers and military people and the 100,000 lives of civilians who are now dead? One of the most haunting images of the current war (for me) remains the image from the Washington Post a few years ago, of a father and son caught in crossfire. They never discovered (to my knowledge) which side fired the fatal bullet. They know only that the father was unable to prevent his toddler son from being hit by the bullets. The Post published the photos of the father desperately running for safely and then cradling his son as the boy died in his arms. That is the price of holding on to our anger. That is the price of no forgiveness.

Jesus commands us to forgive. We hav certainly failed on a national, collective level. There is no chance left except on a personal level, between you and me. St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital stands today, fully operational because they chose to forgive and work towards the future. Iraq stands in ruins today because our country did not. But I see the photos of the new memorial at the Pentagon, and I remember the words of the police officer who I drove to the airport one May two years ago. He had just completed the Unity Tour on bike, and told me stories of how he was putting his life back together as survivor of the attacks. He was remembering how to fall in love again. He was remembering why he became a police officer in the first place, and it had nothing to do with justice. It was to help people. He gives me hope, even today. What a challenge to me, if even he can forgive and move on.

Jesus commands us to forgive. That starts on a personal level, here, between each other. In the end, we can’t control the behavior of cruel people in government. I can’t control the decisions of engineers who didn’t plan for the right level of storms. I can’t control the insanity of a bearded man who comes up with the terrible idea to steal airplanes and crash them into our landmarks. But I sure as anything can choose my own actions. I choose my own path. Jesus commands us to forgive. I choose the path of Peter who listened to Jesus who commanded us to forgive until we forgot how often we had forgiven.

I know I am not offering any solutions at all today. I’m talking on a national level, not even on an Epiphany and Southbury level like I usually do. You are the ones who have to take this story and make it your own in your own heart and mind. All I am doing is granting us the most difficult charge of all: to hear and follow Jesus’ command to forgive, even here. Let me tell you with one final story.

In the final days before the war started, a number of us went to a final peace protest. I went with a friend from Nebraska. Military veterans and active duty military came to hear the group that was playing. We came armed with candles. On the stage, stood Peter, Paul, and Mary. The flame started to be shared and the famous words of “Light One Candle” rolled through the twilight. I believe it was the final song. Peter, Paul, and Mary said good night and left the stage. I remember walking to the metro, watching the lights shimmering and spreading in all directions as people let their candles burn as long as time and flame and the wind allowed. The lights glimmered for what seemed like miles, and it seemed that every corner you turned, more lights were there. In the darkness, hope, forgiveness, and peace blanketed our nation’s capitol.

Maybe someday, it will blanket our world.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Odd...

So, I got a phone call at the church office. (Which smells a little funny... I'm upping the dehumidifier! I guess one of the drawbacks of moving out of a moldy house is that as you recover, you regain your sense of smell. Mold is stinky!)

Anyway, I got a phone call today from this place that is having a "lock up" for Muscular Dystrophy, and they let me know that my name had been put in, but the person who nominated me opted to be in the "witness protection program", so they can't tell me who nominated me to put me in prison.

Thankfully, I wasn't available for the lock-up, but I would hope this program might find a way to tell people about in a different way than just "You've been nominated for a lock-up! You get breakfast or lunch! Oh, you aren't available? Just send a donation!" It sounds just a little on that side of slightly creepy. Of course, I am a rather paranoid person. It's all the hanging out with police officers, I think...

It makes me a little sad, though, that whoever nominated me didn't tell me in person. I'd like to know who that person is and if this is a cause that's particularly close to her/his heart...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Big Hints and Barbie-Doll Wrappings

So, I got home after the Vestry Meeting last night, and saw a small pile of brand new grilling tools sitting on our stoop, with a pile of charcoal.

Back when I was in my single girl apartment in Arlington, I did not have a coffeemaker. Why did I need one, I reasoned, when Rappahannocks was just down the street? Houseguests glared at me. Several refused to come stay until I got a coffeemaker. With much eye rolling, I gave in and bought a french press. The rest has been coffee history. (And let's just say, it was a pretty nifty thing to have when I started dating a coffee-making hunk like M...)

So when we moved in to our place in Southbury, we did not have a grill. We had a grill pan, we reasoned. It was a wedding present. Along comes the 4th of July. We invite everyone over for a picnic. People RSVP that they'll come. People started figuring out that we really had no idea what we were doing when we started calling people and casually asking them if they wouldn't mind bringing their grills with them.

"Hey, dad, we'll provide the burgers. Why don't you bring your grill? What do you mean, it's a problem? You have a pickup, don't you?" Apparently, there are some things you can't do even with a pickup and a firefighter for a son.

They showed up instead with a little charcoal grill shaped like a red egg. It worked quite well and we've been experimenting ever since. Of course, we were using regular kitchen tools. Seriously. I'd take my metal tongs and a big potholder out. I'd bring my grill grate inside and wash it with dish soap in the sink, just like a grill pan.

Last night, the Grill Tools showed up. They have wooden handles that are very long... you know, things that'll keep your hands out of the fire. I did have to laugh since they came wrapped in so much plastic and twisty ties that I told M I felt like I was unwrapping a Barbie Doll. You know how they twisty-tie Barbie's everything and tape her to the box and it takes about 15 minutes to unwrap Barbie and her shoes and her hair? Same deal, only with tools.

I'm being educated. Anyone want to come over for a cookout? You bring the burgers this time... I'll try and figure out this "chimney" thing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New House! (not mine)

It happened! It finally actually happened! They’d been talking about it for years. They dithered for ages about other places, other states, other ways to live, and managed to always reason themselves out of it.

Two of their friends had been kicking them in the collective butts for a while, helping them move forward in a half-hearted attempt at making it reality. They started cleaning out. They started looking at other places. Then a close friend died, and they suddenly realized that the life they wanted to live was somewhere else.

The family home I grew up in got a serious cleaning and a fabu, mod new paint job. They found a community they liked and the builder went nuts to help them design a custom dream home. Finally, with much hemming, hawing, and many, many predictions of doom, they put their home of 33 years on market.

It sold in 2 weeks. It is honestly in a great neighborhood safe enough to play in the streets. (Who remembers the “CAR COMING!” shouts?) They bribed their kids with chocolate cake (they still know the way to our hearts) to come over, and spread out the blueprints of their tony new place with the hardwood floors, tile bathrooms, a real study for my pop, and a passive solar layout to make Francis Moore Lappe herself want to come over and stay.

I think my mom is in shock. My dad hasn’t mentioned “mortgage” or "doom" in 48 hours, but he babbles happily about the new stainless steel and glass stove hood, the cabinetry, and work orders. If all goes well, they will move for the last time in November and Christmas will be in their new house. In the ever-cheery mode, my brother and I (both emergency workers) informed them that they’ll never move again until we carry them out feet first.

I don’t think they really appreciated that part.

The “Family House” has sold. It was a good place to raise a family. I mean, none of us turned out to be axe murderers or bank swindlers, though K might still have a chance… ;-D Now it’s time for their own house, the sort of place that is THEIRS.

Very cool. And it even has comes with their choice of Yard Boulders.

Coffeeshop Writing (aug 15)

I would have included a few photos of Box City where we currently live, but my camera is packed up and I do not know where it is.

I had me a little meltdown yesterday. I think every girl needs to have them once in a while. At some point during the day, with my “to do” list stretching out to an endless “too much to do” list, I sat down and blubbered. M, unfortunately, was on the phone at the time. He came home to attempt to figure out what had happened to his normally cheerful lady love, and got a little… er… socked with accusations that I was not a Stepford wife and couldn’t work full-time, organize the house, reset all the addresses, and clean the kitchen too. Poor guy.

He suggested (wisely) that I take this morning and spend it working somewhere out of the house. Now Starbucks’ wireless access stinks (yes, I have AT&T and yes, the technical problems are still being worked out, but yes, I would have expected Starbucks could have done what Rappahannocks and St. Elmos did years ago and have free wifi, already, and a jazz band on Thursdays, and coffee roasting in house…). So I’m sitting at Starbucks writing away, getting quite a lot done, and have made a list of things that I must do when I return to an internet connection.

I do freely admit that I love walking to the coffeshop and the drugstore and the bank again. I had that in Arlington, and I loved it. I missed the walking world when I lived in lovely-but-isolated Country Land. The drawback of rolling green country is that no one walks. I really, really wish they did. Country Land would have been the perfect town if our sidewalks had been more prevalent. As it is, we just realized that the lack of sidewalks was a non-starter for us.

I'm back home now... on my own two feet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ah-HA! I know you are out there!

Okay, parishoners, you are OUTED! I have heard of a few of you quoting quotes from this blog! Come on, out with it now! The coolest thing about blogs is the ability to start a conversation in the comments. Do you agree, disagree, or get inspired by any posting? Then comment on it! I'll comment back and we will have a direct conversation. Com'on, it's no fun when you only complain to your pew neighbor! Tell me too! Let me kvetch with ya!

And yes, our Rectory IS totally "oldy and moldy". It does need some serious love and work to bring it back up to date. It's not been properly cared for in about, oh, 7 years at least. The current renters look like they are awesome, though, and they FILL that place up! Which is cool. And they share peppers and tomatoes. Which is even cooler.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Moving Tips

So... we moved this past weekend. We gave up the oldy, moldy Rectory and its 3,000 square feet of sprawling, oddly arranged (but somewhat charming historically) space for a nice, compact, UN-moldy apartment here in West Hartford. It's much more our size, and we are totally digging the walkable neighborhood. Sure, we drove to Starbucks tonight, but that's only because my whole body is SO SORE from moving.

Anyhoo...

Here's a few moving tips.

When your moving company is three hours late showing up to the job, that's a good time to use your internet connection to call their competitors and hire a different company. A very nice company called DHK Movers totally saved my skin on Saturday. Sure, I got moved in a day late, but they rocked my rental truck!

When your moving company (the first one) shows up in a tiny car with HANDICAP plates, you might be screwed. I'm just saying.

When you get to the new house, if you walk in and say, "Hm, something doesn't seem quite right", start putting things away in the kitchen. It's the fastest way to discover that you lack the dishwasher you thought you had, and thus the best inspiration to start measuring your rooms and to discover that you are, in fact, in the wrong apartment. Whoops.

When the very nice apartment manager saves your dickens by moving you into a larger unit with a dishwasher, you send a shout-out and say, "Thank you, new landlords!" So we are now unpacking our Big Mess, but we have plenty of space and it feels like the place we are supposed to be.

Amen to small spaces.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Paris Hilton For President!

Ohmygod, this has my vote right now for, like, totally the BEST political ad of this election.

Paris Hilton, you have heretofore never occupied a cell of my brain, but now, honey, you are golden to me. Whenever you show up somewhere in whacked-out looking clothes, I will defend it by pointing out your involvement in this ad. Whenever you get arrested and sent to a day or so in jail, I will send good karma your way just because you did this ad. Whenever anyone has the nerve to call you a dumb blonde, I will totally point out that even if the Funnyordie people wrote it, you had the brains to be IN it.

For that, my dear, you are my hero.

Readers, you must click on this link right now. And don't sip any liquids for a few minutes.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New Toy for Cats

So, I think I gave my cat the BEST TOY EVER!

We are packing for our move to West Hartford. We are very excited to be moving to a space about a third of the size of our current sprawling place. 3,000 square feet is just not our thing at this time in our lives. We are so thrilled to be moving, in fact, that we are smiling and laughing when family torments us that it's only a matter of time before we start illegally parking our Lexus SUV or calling our new hometown-to-be "Wey-Ha!"

In the meantime, our house is becoming box city. Our cats think it's the best thing I've ever done for them. They are the Homer Simpsons of cats. First, they survey the box with the disinterested demeanor of Homer answering the phone... "Y'ello?" followed by the high-energy hyperactivity of the yellow one's discovery of a donut... "Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod." It's a BOX!

Origami just spent the last half hour napping in the box I was planning to pack my desk items into. He thinks I'm the coolest person EVER.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Diocese of CT goes online!

So, the Diocese of Connecticut has gone online! How cool is that?

Your very own Vagabond Priest will be the blogger for small church celebrations. A few small fires over at my own parish of Epiphany have prevented me from posting, but this week I am determined to catch up and write about some of the COOL things these smaller parishes are doing around our diocese.

And did you know that Laura Ahrens, the Suffragan with the cool shoes, is a Blogging Bishop for Lambeth? That totally rocks!

It tears me up, actually... should I spend time reading all the awesome blogs from the bishops who are excited by the neat things happening in Lambeth and take in their accounts of the struggles our church is going through, or should I be packing up my home office? I mean, I still have most of the "tacky Jesus" collection to get bubble-wrapped... wouldn't it be terrible if Bobble-Head jesus didn't survive the trip!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Totally Ridiculous Collar Story

So, most of you know that I wear linen collars which require a bit of starch for stiffness. I got new collars recently. They take a few washes before the factory starch wears off a bit. That factors heavily into my current predicament, because I rinse my collars before wearing so they aren't so stiff.

It's very hot and HUMID in Connecticut. It's so steamy that we have to put all our towels (even dish towels that hang on the oven handle) in the dryer to dry. It is important to this story that things don't dry. Because I rinse my collars, and even if they feel dry to the touch, they apparently are not dry.

Because I put my collar on in my humid, steamy house, and I went to work in the air conditioned hospital.

Where my collar dried solid. I'm not kidding. I can't get the damn thing off... it's dried so stiff I can't move it enough to get the collar buttons out. I think I'll have to go sit out in the humidity for a few hours to loosen it up a bit. I bet this NEVER HAPPENS to normal people!

Although I do admit it's a great way to get your library parking comped.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Long night at the hospital

So it's about 4:45, and I've been up for over an hour. Getting woken up on call is rough since I can't get back to sleep very well. And tonight, I made the mistake of packing my change of clothes in my gym bag. I won't do that again. Let's just say I'll be wearing my clothes from yesterday throughout this morning!

In the meantime, I surfed over Facebook, and I am starting to feel bad. There's a number of popularity contests- "best looking", "cutest", and so on, and it's making me feel like I'm in high school again. Geez...

Anyone being disenchanted with Facebook at times?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Pastor Sings the Saturday Blues...

I don't want to write my sermon,

I don't want to write my sermon,

I don't want to write my sermon, no, no, no, no, no!

I'd rather be surfing the internet,

Buying moving boxes and drawing up floor plans

Or looking at pictures of cute Portuguese Water Dogs

Or taking a Saturday nap.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.....

I don't want to write my sermon....

No, no, no, no, no, no!

Readers will have to come to church tomorrow to find out how the procrastination resolved.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cleaned out the closet!

Well, I cleaned out my closet today! And now I'm starting on the bookshelves.

I thought I'd have several bags full of items to donate. As it turns out, I have just one. Using the rule of "If you haven't worn it in the last year, toss it!", I ruthlessly tossed everything. One old PJ suit (very cozy, but torn) went straight to the trash. A few college relics (great stuff that was vintage when I got it- the hippy look was in at the time), and the Shoes Of Death that I wore for my brother's wedding. I love ya, D&D, but I felt TOTAL JOY to throw those in the donation bag! Yeah!

My mother reasonably suggested I keep the gowns for consignment. OK. Since I take good care of my stuff, I have three formal gowns in perfect condition that could be consigned. And with that... I have gleaned the closet.

It may be, as we are moving into our new place and putting clothes into the new wardrobes we plan to buy, that I will fill it up, and say, "Ah ha, and now I must reduce more!" We'll see at that point.

Now it's on to the harder stuff... for a book nut like me... what books go and what books stay? Obviously, my beautiful hardcovers and first editions and old old classic fairy tales never go. Heck, I might be cremated with the Grimm's tales in hand, I love them that much. AND they are psychologically healthy for developing children! But some other books have run their course.

Now, I always built my library with the question of, "If I have an overnight guest, could they find something interesting to read on my shelves?" but a resident at the hospital asks the question, "Does this book still answer questions I'm interested in asking?"

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vestment-optional Sunday

Today it hit 80 degrees with 90% humidity. I pulled out my tropical weight vestments that I bought with specifically this type of weather in mind (ah ha, to all those classmates who thought I was being silly in Seminary when I spent all that money buying two sets of vestments! NOW they are coming in really handy!). Then I turned to the choir, the lay minister, and the acolyte, and said, "Look, I have tropical vestments. You don't. Why don't you not wear your vestments today?" The choir sighed audibly in relief. The lay minister smiled. The acolyte, well, she's 9, so she does her thing. The lovely ushers procured ice water and had it ready in the back for anyone who felt they needed it.

And we had ourselves a story on Abraham and Isaac. If you want the text, you may email e a b t e s i at mac.com, all one word, no spaces.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Decluttering

We got accepted for our new apartment! Whoo hoo! With a low security deposit, too. I was worried, actually. Over the past two years, I've moved 4 times, with this one making it 5. I knew one was temporary. But each time after that, I thought it was a settle-down-for-two-years thing. And each time, life has conspired to change on me!

I don't much mind being a nomad. In fact, being a 7 on the Enneagram scale, constant change is right up my alley. I get a little antsy if I'm not moving. I'm looking forward to the gleaning.

I'm reading massive amounts on decluttering, downsizing, and building storage. We are going to supplement the totally insufficient closet space in our new digs, but we (meaning me) are going to clean out our (meaning my) closets of stuff. Yes, I think it's finally time to let my junior prom gown and my tight, belly-baring "club shirt" go on to a new home. Maybe I'll give the shirt to my sister, who MUST go clubbing in England next year. Maybe I'll send a lot of it over to the Upper Room Thrift Shop.

We are really working towards a philosophy of less and simplicity. I would like to have my home clean, clear, and filled with those things I actually use. I wanna have one of those cool homes that you walk into and you say, "Wow, this is a cool place!" with neat throw pillows, a cozy cat, and a aura of awesomeness. (And not of "hello, I can't accept that I'm no longer 21!")

I'm also trying very hard to impress this philosophy upon my parents- yes, both of you!- who think they are downsizing. Not so much. This past week, I cleaned out the cupboards down in the basement of expired items and old canning. As I filled up the back of my dad's pickup with jars destined for the Southbury recycling (since there was no way they could fit it all in their home recycling), I caught my dad "rescuing" some bottles. He fairly ran for the basement, swearing every which way that he really USED them for storage. My mother also "rescued" a chipped glass bowl. Their days are numbered, you guys. Just wait!

I'm not unreasonable. I will not argue that you should keep your family photos, the military awards, and your gorgeous vintage handmade wedding gown. But you've got to toss the unused school notebooks and the brand-new, never-used sewing maching cart. And I've got to let go of the bridesmaids gowns and the blah books and the suitcase I keep saying I hate.

Just you wait.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bubble Water

And per popular request...

Bubble water, fizzy water, selzter, soda water... whatever you call it, I love it. I got hooked when I worked at Friendly's when I was 16, and I could get endless fizzy water out of the soda fountain.

Enter the coolness. I have gotten hooked on Apartment Therapy and its sister blogs, and one sister blog is TheKitchn. That blog talks about delectable food, and had a post on soda siphons. I had no idea! But you can actually make fizzy water at home! Nirvana, it seemed, was just a CO2 canister away.

So I researched and read reviews, and settled on the Soda-Club. Ahhhhhhh....

No kidding. If you love fizzy water, it IS nirvana in your kitchen. So far, I had made about 12 bottles of plain fizzy waters, and two mojitos. You can control how much fizz to put in the H2O. It's weird. It's a niche item. It's probably a little eccentric.

And it's one of those things I'll take with me if I ever have to, say, flee an oncoming tornado or run from a tidal wave. "No, wait! I don't have my fizzy water machine!"

Okay, maybe not THAT bad. But I love my new toy. It's happiness in my kitchen!

Good Times...

I was just checking a friend's page on Facebook, and ran across her blog, which is super-well-organized. And she has a very detailed wedding blog section from her wedding in Australia. And it was SOOOO much fun, since I was her Maid of Honor, and she and her husband brought me all the way over to Australia.

Coolest. Wedding. Ever. (Actually, I'm blessed to know a bunch of people who have had cool weddings, very individual and awesome... like Diane and David, Emera and Ian, and Jenny and Johnathan. They have bucked the cookie-cutter trend and had something unique and gorgeous. But only Eleanor went to Australia!)

It was such great fun- we had to organize the wedding mostly by email and internet, as we were all scattered all over the world. There was family stress and high drama. She mentions that we were nice and didn't play any tricks on her wedding hotel room... what she doesn't know is how narrowly she escaped! We were one phone call away from having the stinky cheese platter delivered to the newlyweds... when her (very good) sister remarked that since she was newly engaged herself, that she'd better play it safe or reap what she sowed!

At the time, I was single and job-searching for the perfect job. It's great to look back, four years later and see how far we both have come. It makes me think that now it is time to make some paper cranes for my own Christmas tree!

With her 4th anniversary coming up, here's wishing a very, very happy 4th to Eleanor and Westley!

(The above photo is one I shot while El was showing me around Sydney. I just hope that I was able to gracefully make myself scarce at the right times so she could spend lots of time with Westley!)

Friday, June 20, 2008

And the BIG CHANGE...

Well, after the coolest Vestry meeting ever, it's official. I'm remaining at Epiphany (we all knew that, that was never in question, and that bridge is few fords down the river now...), Martin has his new job, and the commute is unholy.

We are going to be moving house, from very pretty and spacious but somewhat remote Southbury to tiny and compact West Hartford. We just got approved for an apartment in the cute Brooksyde Apartments on Loomis Drive. The grounds were well-maintained, the corporate apartment that is used as a show apartment is spotless and clean, the entryways and sidewalks and parking lots are free of trash and junk, and the staff are quite nice. We'll have a two bedroom townhouse. (Move date is Aug. 8).

I think the day has also come when I must buy new bookcases. Our books have outgrown my old bookcase. RC probably knows my pain on that account!

But the great part was the Vestry meeting. I mean, going in, announcing you have to move, and asking for a housing allowance can be a recipe for disaster. In fact, I knew someone in a similar situation whose apartment raised the rent beyond a point where she could afford it. She announced she planned to move in with friends and rent their 'in-law' space, and was promptly dismissed.

Instead...

Epiphany's leadership just blew me out of the water. Their conversation was grounded in reality, but also hope and expectation of God's grace. It was about what is good for both Epiphany and for me. I have rarely had the opportunity to feel like a church actually cared about me as much as they cared about their bottom line.

It was truly an example of loving your neighbor as yourself.

The results will be fantastic. M is thrilled, I'm enthusiastic, my other job is breathing sighs of relief... The only folks who aren't totally thrilled are my family, who can't figure out why I'd give up a gorgeous , historical farmhouse. Sorry guys, the flying squirrels and racoons just don't pay enough rent to make the commute worthwhile!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cool Lunchbox!

So, I recently have become addicted to this COOL blog on home design, and I discovered this morning that it also has a kitchen blog! And on that blog...

The coolest Lunchbox I have EVER seen! My current lunch box is pretty cool- It looks like a fabric version of a paper sack. I found it at Crate and Barrel in Alexandria- that outlet store that has all this funky stuff that is gone from the normal store.

This one looks like a space capsule! Ooooooooo!!!!!!! big eyes... very big eyes. Especially looking at the Amazon reviews and what people write about packing! And they pack snacks! My doctor told me I need to eat snacks. Therefore, I can justify this lunch box on the basis of snacks!

Actually, to be fair, all the math is right. If you tally up what you WOULD spend in the cafeteria or buying lunch each day, then lunch boxes are far and away the most economical option.

And you make your co-workers jealous. And I bet this can be easy to take on a plane! (If you pack all dry food.) oooooooooo...

Readers will kindly not mention this to M right away. I'm afraid he'll take away my computer so I can't read the cool blog as much. So far, I've imaginarily redesigned our bedroom, our shared office, and in real life, made throw pillows out of curtain scraps and a worn-out shirt of his...

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Change... is OFFICIAL!!!

And now the news you've all been waiting for! (We had to tell the official people first, of course! It's called life under authority to your Bishop, and all that!)

M has a fan-tab-u-lous, freakin' awesome new job... as the Museum Educator for Children's Museum in West Hartford! (yay!)

His first day was today, and he got to make slime. Yes, it's probably every guy's dream job. "Dude, you got to make SLIME? No WAY!"

We'll be figuring out over the coming months what this means in terms of commutes and gas prices (AI-ya!) But He and I are super excited. It's taken a long time for a job like this in this area to open up, and it's exactly what he's been preparing for for years. No more substituting, no more "schools for bad kids", no more lessons plans designed to teach to the No Child Left Behind laws and standardized tests.

It's all slime from here on out!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Reports of my demise... are not true!

Wow, so I just heard that apparently rumors are circulating that I've left Epiphany! Readers may rest easy... those are just rumors. I have no plans to leave Epiphany at this point in time. I mean, we've just started some great conversations about what our mission IS at Epiphany. Who are we, and what are we there for?

Perhaps the confusion arose because it is true that my Letter of Agreement is for one year. At the end of that year, we make mutual decisions about how we are doing as a team.

There is indeed some exciting news occurring, but I have to finish informing the proper parties first. It doesn't involve my job or anything like kids (back off, wanna-be grandmas!), but it is exciting for me and M as a couple. We have not, unfortunately, won the lottery or the Powerball. Announcements will follow in this space probably next week.

Don't worry about the cranky tone of the last post- there have been so many exciting things happening, I just get a little frustrated when people choose to focus on the miniscule things like vestments and being upset because a priest won't wear what doesn't fit, rather than celebrating the fact that the priest does have other vestments that fit and that the choir has doubled in size in one year, and that three people who previously didn't contribute to the church have demonstrated that their passion is in heavy-duty outdoor work. There's been some awesome stuff happening...

And the vestry is having some cool conversations...

And the Diocese is giving me some exciting work to do...

I plan to be around here for a while longer!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Stubborn Priest

In other news, I sure hope that the parishioner who spoke to me was not as peeved as she appeared. One of my parish ladies appeared a little irate that I was preferring my green chasuble over the church one. On Sunday, the altar guild had put out the church one, and I replaced it with my own.

What I won't say is that I don't like the church ones... I think they have a distinctive 70's vibe. I call the purple set "Disco Lent". Yeah, it's like that.

What I did say was that (truthfully!) the church set doesn't fit. It's too big and too tall (from what I see). Having been made for a man, it does not fit a woman of my stature. And I'm fantastically average in so many ways. I'm a medium everything, including hat size.

I have a number of custom vestments made to fit me. I simply refuse to wear the things that don't fit. I wouldn't wear a pair of too-tight jeans out on the town. I wouldn't wear my husband's shirt as a dress to go to dinner. We all understand why a civilian would wear clothes that fit to go out in public.

That's the main reason I don't wear church vestments. They never fit me. The end.

Slow on the blogs, fast on the changes...

Ah, yes, it has been a while since the last post. We had a lovely week of vacation in Acadia National Park, complete with the camping and the sleeping bags and the cooking outside. It was very nice. We pretty much ate our way up and down the coast of Maine.

Then I was at the First Three Years' residency in VA, where a number of us recent Seminary grads reflected back on our first 3-6 years and discussed how the residency had been helpful. Sounds like the consensus was that:

We like having a mentor, a person who was typically (though not always) outside our own parish, who could teach us some ins and outs of our jobs. This person could be hard to find. Mine was great. He was my field ed supervisor, and one of his great gifts was his ability to challenge me in a safe way. He called me on my own unhealthy behavior, but he also tried to help me see the other side of the story. I like that he's a different race than me, and he was a safe place to discuss issues of minority and race. As a minority myself, it's hard to discuss sometimes! P. rocks the priestly world. I also really appreciated that he took a sabbatical in the middle of my residency, and afterwards, he really started modeling healthier behavior in a better way.

We like support groups. My fantastic group of women were the ones who taught me what healthy behavior looked like in an unhealthy parish. When I got off track and was giving up my days off to bogus emergencies and when a guy dumped me for just that, they were the ones who let me know I deserved to get dumped and that I was not behaving in a healthy, differentiated way. If I wanted to have a life, I had to draw my own boundaries. I would wish that everyone had a rabbi, a UU, and a Presbyterian who could do for them what my friends did for me. It takes a true friend.

We love our residencies! Having everyone together is amazing, since the peer support and the discussion about what has happened and how we've progressed is invaluable. After my first parish blew up, I spent a lot of time feeling as though I had failed as a priest. It's great, affirming, and blessed to be able to be with people who say things like, 'Wow, you look great! Your job sounds cool! You are doing SO much better than you were! Things are going well for you now!' and to be able to realize that, hey, they are right.

Changes will still be happening, but they are very positive ones... Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Official Results!

The results are posted for the Bishop's 5K. Martin and I tied at 34:56 (even though he gave me a little shove near the end...).

I was actually the #3 clergywoman to cross the line, but due to an error, they gave the trophy to the #4 clergywoman. Worthy opponents, and I look forward to getting my trophy in next year's race!

Relaxing times

So we came home from the Bishop's Run for Kids, where Epiphany made a fine showing. I actually was the 3rd clergy woman to cross the line, but due to a tag error, the #4 clergywoman got the trophy. Oh, sadness! Amy let me know I was the real #3 with a time just over 35 minutes. (Waiting for the actual times...)

At any rate, here we are, getting home, and Origami (our tuxedo cat) grabbed something in his mouth and ran upstairs. Things were overturned in my office...

"Oh, no, he's got a squirrel!" yells Martin. He fetches Tupperware. I separate cat from squirrel. Martin rescues squirrel, who was unhurt. (He was just covered in cat spit...)

As a hawk soared through our backyard right in front of us about 10 feet off the ground, we took some pictures of our new friend. He's been released in the woods where he scampered right up a tree.

Meet a real, live, North American flying squirrel.

(Look closely to see his little wings in the second picture- they are the bunched up sections of his body.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Giving

I'm telling you, stuff like this renews my faith in humanity. Sure, international aid and donating from the other side of the planet is nice, but when a people in trouble turn to their neighbors and open their hearts, wallets, and time, I think that maybe this world is doing alright after all. God's peace be within us, Christ's peace be over us, the Spirit's peace be under our feet.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Bag!

On a happier note, my new bag just arrived! I have been searching for a bag that could fit my laptop when necessary but not required, but was also good-looking and light enough to carry around for every day work. Ideally, it would be a hybrid of large purse/work tote.

I had bought (off ebay) this nice Mobile Edge Tote. It was very well-made and good-lookin', but it was huge. It was carry-on luggage size. It is a great bag if you are a road warrior who needs to defend your laptop every day from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but for me... not so much.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the universe, a small company called Rainebrooke had just gone carbon neutral. They had a slew of cool, funky bags that seemed pretty nifty. Then, they went on sale.

I bought this one, in green. It just came today. It's the PERFECT size to carry every day, very spacious with 4 (four!) outside pockets (just calling for my hospital ID and pager!) and several large inside pockets, big enough for my mobile phone and sundry! Plus, it's green.

The only quirk is the the laptop sleeve is a little large for my Macbook. (Uh, it's HUGE, actually.) So I am swapping in my Stuffit laptop sleeve in because it's happy and it looks cute. The sleeve that came with the bag will probably only be used for serious travel involving airplanes and super-spy type action where I must leap off the second floor of National Airport, grab the nearest Vespa, jumpstart it, and take off with tires squealing to get a good seat in St. Elmo's Coffeepub. (That's right, you're going to go if you are lucky enough to live in DC!)

Here it is. (Above, with the Stuffit sleeve.) Stuffit is another small, great, friendly company. Love those small companies! Power to the little guys and their great customer service and creativity!

Remember to donate to Episcopal Relief and Development so they can help the hurting. But also remember- if you don't have time for some silly joy in your life, you don't have time for your life. Balance, it's all about it!

Myanmar, Virginia, and other Disasters

I've seen and heard a lot lately about the natural disasters that have come with this spring. It makes me hurt and makes me wake up at night to make sure M is okay and wonder what I would do if something like that ever happened here. Being in emergency work like I am, I know I'd probably get called in to work and wouldn't be able to check on my loved ones and make sure they were okay. So...

This is the link to donate via Episcopal Relief and Development. They already have in-roads to places where help is needed, and the donated dollars go to the cause, not to buying Lexuses for the administration. When you give via ERD, you can really know your money has helped.

M and I have been talking about donating a tithe of our tax refund. I think ERD will be very high on our list of who that money will go to.

Call upon God for peace in our time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

First Anniversary!

One year later.

In a year, M and I have certainly been through a great deal of change. We married, we started to put together our first tiny apartment together, we moved to CT into a HUGE house, and started new jobs. In the meantime, we've seen each other through the flu and the acquisition of two cats.

(I think the cats like M better than me.)

Throughout it all, I'm amazed. I know I'm certainly not an easy person to live with, given to bouts of melancholy, restlessness, and controlling behavior. M is gracious, and does not tell the world what a weirdo I can be about folding laundry. The most common phrase I have uttered this year, I think, has been, "Well, in Arlington, at MY apartment, I did X-Y-Z." M, thankfully, has not gotten at all mad at any of those utterances. (Thank God I married such a sweet, laid-back fella!) Of course, he probably knows he couldn't compete with my single-girl decorating sense. He WAS a single outdoorsy guy, after all.

I think that, perhaps, the best things we give each other: we loved each other in the beginning for who we were, and oddly enough, we actually really like each other. We also have a weird knack for talking things through, and we have grown to know how the other is saying "I'm sorry, please forgive me".

I must be a very lucky girl- M is exactly the sort of guy I'd pick out of a catalog to special-order. I sure was lucky the day he walked into that class in DC!