Monday, January 26, 2009

Not Quite Resolutions

I don't believe in resolutions. At least, not for the secular New Year at any rate. My new year and my resolutions began at the first of Advent. One of those was to be more organized and tidy. Some of my friends call me a neat freak. I live in fear of my inner messy getting out. If I ever took Ambien, I wouldn't sleep drive. I'd sleep-mess-things-up. I'd wake up a house where socks are strewn everywhere, cat dust bunnies roll threateningly across the landscape, and dirty dishes pile the counters. Since that sounds frighteningly like the place I currently make war against, resolutions to be organized are always good!

In the spirit of "More Organized", I did a great job of setting up a system of folders, to-do lists, and dividers in a notebook I call my "Book of Everything". It had 4 pockets, a to-do list, a calendar, a divider full of emergency info, a parish directory, and a notepad. Each Sunday, I choose several projects to work on for the week. One is always my sermon, but the others might be a Diocesan blog entry, the Vestry report and agenda, an article to work on, or a parish event. What I like about my system is that I always had my immediate "to do" projects at hand in my bag, which also has my keys and pagers, so I can work anywhere, anytime.

What I didn't like was the waste of paper (4-6 pages of paper for the readings, alone, each week). What my acupuncturist didn't like was the weight. I had a full size, 8x11 notebook. It *is* honestly hefty. With my laptop in the bag, it weighed well over 10 pounds, and apparently may have been a factor in the chronic back/neck pain and stress. Not to mention was the paper load and my urge to green my office by going paper-less when possible, and the need to recycle so much.

Obviously, some lightening was in order. I took a hard look at my "book of everything" and realized that I could adequately do most of my work if it were half the size, and I could stop toting so many documents if I made more use of my flashdrive. If I printed my calendars and readings on pages that were half the size, I'd save paper. My readings now take up 2 pages instead of 4-6! Global warming stopped! Trees saved! Environment rescued!

I even got to be thrifty. Typical planner binders start in the low $30s and go up over $130. What's a thrifty (read: cheap) chick on a budget to do? I went to Office Depot... on a mission! I went alone, since I'm a terrible, slow, indecisive shopper who browses, selects, debates, chooses, changes mind, puts back, browses more, has brainstorm, puts back... But I lucked out. On my third browse through the aisles, my eye fell upon this telephone address book. It was the right size, it was cute-but-dignified, and it was just 20 bucks! I also splurged for the fancy "to do" and "subject" planner pages. In high school, my mom tried valiantly to teach me to make my own on recycled paper, but there's just something about the virgin paper of the plastic-wrapped To Do list and Project pages I just can't resist. Hey, I'm printing my own calendar pages and cut down my sermon to 2 pages, what more do you want?

I took my loot home, made a martini, and spent the next half hour cutting down the dividers in my big notebook to fit. I even discovered folders that fit perfectly in our receipt saver!

We'll see how it works. Will my new mini "Book of Everything" keep me organized, allow my stressed back to heal, and fold my socks for me, or will it also fall by the wayside of best intentions?

Addendum: Jan 30. Clearly, because her mom is a pain, the Vagabond must clarify. The main calendar is kept via her beloved Palm Centro, the phone that is also her brain. It is only the CHURCH and WORK related calendars and projects that go into the Book of Everything. Things like sermons, calendars including special services, and liturgical days. Trust me, no one needs to carry the liturgical calendar around all the time. If I'm on my day off, I don't care whose saint's day it is. The book of everything is limited to work related things only. So I can safely leave it in my work bag and ignore it when not working. See? Brilliant.


My mother mentioned that I should probably discuss WHY the church burned stuff the other day, lest readers be confused. Was the church protesting the secularization of Christmas? Was it a way of making carbon compost for our flower beds? Was the parish so strapped for cash they'd resorted to creative methods to keep warm? Why the heck did I dress up like a druid?

Here's the skinny- that was not a druid outfit. The Druids are actually still an extant religion in some form. No, I was wearing my classic clerical cloak. It is made by Wippell's, and was a gift from my family for my diaconal ordination. It must weigh about 12 pounds of solid wool (think old school, U.S. Navy peacoat- that kind of thick wool). I only get to wear it a few times a year, but when one is off to the cemetery or the outdoor service and wearing full clericals, a parka just looks weird at best and disrespectful at worst. Actually, in my dreamworld, President Obama will ask me to do the Invocation for the next inauguration, and I will show up in proper office vestments with my tippet, my lined cassock, my surplice, and this cloak topping it off. Not only will I be warm and toasty, I'll teach those boys how the clergygirls do it. Here in the real world, the cloak is actually very appropriate outerwear for vested clergy. And, yes, I do know it's pretty damn cool.

The bonfire is a fairly common "12th night" tradition, where people burned the decorations of Christmas and welcomed the new year. I've heard myths that, because evergreens are hung for various superstitious reasons (such as hanging holly over the door so that no evil spirits can enter the house), they collect spiritual debris and should be burned. You may make up your own mind on that matter. Others say that a large bonfire is simply a fun way to dispose of used-up decorations. Instead of a landfill or dump, reduce the trash.

In our case, we were celebrating the latest of the 1st of the Season Evensong services. It was Pam C's tree that went up. I was amazed at how quickly all those greens caught fire. I'll be very timid about ever having another greened Advent wreath! It was a simple parish event to celebrate the start of the Epiphany season. We hope that more people will join the fun next time!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Weird Cats...

I've wanted another dog since shortly after my lab Sandy had to be put down, during Seminary. I've counted the slow dog-less years, yearning for a pooch. I love the dogginess of dogs, even the crazy stuff like pulling on the leashes and the occasional chewed shoe.

Instead, I've been granted cats. M and I adopted two of them. Now, they are very nice cats. They have little purring motors inside their tummies. They are pretty good looking and don't claw furniture. They just wrestle with each other a little.

But today I arrived home to find a little hole in one of my shopping bags, which I had used to stash a change of shoes in this messy, salty weather. And what did I find next to it... but Snowbeast, gnawing away on the shoe?

Luckily I retrieved it before he had done any serious damage, but really, SNOWBEAST, you are a CAT! Why the heck are you chewing shoes for? Whoever heard of a shoe-chewing cat?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


First- sorry this took a few days to get up. The doctor discovered that my chronic ab pain was actually due to an interior piece that was twisted up in the wrong position. She was able to untwist and resolve that little issue and I feel loads better. But I did spend a good bit of time this past week curled up on the couch with a heating pad and Nurse Kitty. Nurse Kitty is my black-and-white cat, who looks very seriously into my face, diagnoses with an astute "mew", and prescribes naps. Here, he'll demonstrate...

Epiphany had its latest Evensong. I continue to work on my chanting (not my greatest strength, and I'm never convinced about my tone. Methinks Dr. Whitmire would send me back to voice lessons again!). But the choir rocked the casbah with their gorgeous soaring rendition of The Lord's Prayer, and they did a proper round on Hymn 25, the one about evening coming. My classmates from voice class, actually, will remember that song as our final exam which we had to sing for breakfast one day. It's one of my absolute favorites, and truly gorgeous when sung in a round.

Afterwards, we lit stuff on fire. Amen to that. Here's a few bonfire pictures.