Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Post-Christmas Recovery

I spent the day running errands, replenishing the refrigerator (a natural result of having two 20-something young men over for a few days), doing laundry, straightening up. I should be doing my Hebrew homework, since I doubt I'll have time to do it in the Middle East, and I should be doing more preliminary reading for the trip, but it seems like the thing I need to do most is to chill out. It was great having Litigator and StoneMason here (StrongOpinions is still here, since she'll be going with us on the trip.)

My sister-in-law called to give me some logistics. Only one carry-on bag, not to exceed 56 cm x 45 cm x 35 cm. No separate purse (it will need to fit into the carry-on, along with my meds and laptop and book and knitting and make-up). Guess I'm going to have to figure out how to travel a bit lighter than my norm. Of course, it's never clothes, it's always books and such.

I'm sleeping a lot, another natural result of holidays and family and such. I should be working out a lot, given my eating habits over the past week, but I won't worry about it. Yet.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why Mothers Have Gray Hair

The airborne figure is StoneMason, doing what he loves best, competing on his snowboard.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Just found out that Princess Granddaughter is going to be a Big Sister. Her little brother or sister will arrive late in July, and will bring my grandkid count up to four. Since Princess Granddaughter is approaching five years old, I had doubted whether they'd have another one, but I guess they need another child to use some of the eight zillion toys PG has or has outgrown...(giggling madly, since I'm responsible for a bunch of them).

Ever so much more fun to talk about than NT exams!

Home Stretch

Survived the Hebrew mid-term today. Survived the Liturgics final and the Old Testament mid-term yesterday. Survived the Church Music take-home final last week. Only the New testament final awaits. Tomorrow morning. All Paul, all the time. Since we have yet to receive ANY of our written work back from this prof - didn't get our mid-term back either - we are all shooting in the dark in rpeparing for this examination. If I didn't love his lectures so much, I'd really be ticked.

I've worked with a wonderful study group on this material, but I still feel somewhat lost on preparing for it. The possible essay questions are so broad-ranging I hardly know where to begin. Oh, well, in another day it will all be past me, and then I'll be on to the next thing.

On a less stressful note, I've got all the gifts wrapped except for the hom-knit ones, and I'll get the last of them done within 48 hours (Litigator's skullcap). I think I am ready for a rest.

Then again, the Hebrew prof gave us homework...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Global Warming, or at least Local Warming

It will be in the mid-70's today in Your Nation's Capital. About 30 degrees higher than normal. My pocketbook likes it - lower heating bill - but my daffodil bulbs are way confused and all my non-winter clothes are stored away. Mebbe I should go naked....


Never mind.

Bad idea.

It would scare horses and small children.

Back to studying...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My weekend with no one (well, not quite)...

Done this weekend:

1) outlined Genesis and Exodus in preparation for the OT exam. Still working on Leviticus. How much of it have I retained? I haven't a clue.

2) reviewed 500 Hebrew words, 5 different conjugations or paradigms, rules for all sorts of Hebrew grammar. How much of it have I retained? I haven't a clue.

3) did an analysis of Romans for my NT study group and organized and shared my class notes with my fellow students. How much of it have I retained? I haven't a clue.

4) organized all my materials for my open-book liturgics exam (I'll re-read the key articles tomorrow night). How much of it have I retained? I haven't a clue.

5) noted with sadness the decision by several Episcopal churches in my diocese to leave ECUSA to become part of the Church of Nigeria. Does this mean the end of ECUSA? Hardly. Does this mean the end of the debate? Hardly, but dialogue is better than picking up one's marbles and walking away. Jesus weeps.

6) started my new icon - turns out I'll be doing Saint Matthew, since I couldn't find a model icon for Sophia that spoke to me. It was soothing to pray and work on this project, although I won't put my hands on it again until mid-February after my research trip to the Persian Gulf, diocesan council and class retreat. I'll miss working on it. I had hoped my Saint Peter would be back - my teacher is varnishing it now - but he wasn't quite ready yet. I'll see him when I get back from my travels.

7) finished the first Woodsman Sock for StoneMason, and am periodically taking a break from studying to knit Sock Number Two, which I expect will be done in a day or two. Feels good to do something tactile and finite. I'm going to try and get a skullcap done for Litigator by'll be tight. I'd like to give something knitted to each kid (made a shawl/scarf thing for StrongOpinions already).

8) did four loads of laundry. How do we get so many things dirty in the course of a week?

9) went to a former Senior Warden's party. Good to be with friends, but the introvert in me can only take so much of that before I want to go for a walk in the woods, or take a nap.

10) visited a potential Field Ed site that I really liked. I'll talk with the vicar again at diocesan council.

Our OT professor, noting our jumpiness last week, said, "You know, you wouldn't be here if God didn't want you to be here, and God will help you. You know more than you think you do. Trust the Spirit." Wise words. I need to keep saying them to myself at least 2000 more times until Thursday noon, when the exams are done.

PH has been a prince, cooking for me. I am blessed!

I covet your prayers for this coming week, for focus, calm, and good memory.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Coming Up For Air One of These Days

I sang as soprano soloist at another Messiah last night, this one at the home parish. I'm hip deep in finishing the semester. Last session of the Liturgical Music class this evening, along with prep for the online exam. The Hebrew prof is driving us full throttle so we get through Chapter 15 before the final (gack). Piel verb forms. We finished the Pauline corpus in NT, and tomorrow we tackle more OT (scary looking forward toward THAT test). Last Liturgics class and practicum tomorrow (another exam that fills me with dread). Plus I've got to work on the study notes for my study group on Romans. Seems I'm the only one in the group who actually read the book that the prof assigned for Romans...

So I got back a small paper - one-pager - from the OT prof, who felt I should have gone deeper, and gave me a 3 out of 5. Gee whiz, how deep can you go on a one-page paper? 'Twas a small comfort that the others in the class also got 3's. The next paper for her is due tomorrow. Suffice to say it is three pages.

Five exams await, two online. I know I will survive, but it will be a busy week and a half. Plus I'm interviewing for a CPE placement on Wednesday. Plus I've been visiting different churches every Sunday scoping out potential Field ed placements for next year.

I think I need chocolate.

Or Valium.

At least I got my icon of Saint Peter done on Saturday. If Irena gets it varnished for me by next week, I'll take a picture and post it for you. He came out better than I thought he would. Saint Matthew will be next.

Knitting when I've got a moment here or there. Another pair of socks (probably for strong Opinions) will be done by tomorrow; then I'll start a pair of heavyweight socks for Stonemason, who's working this winter on chimney repairs in the North Country.

Maybe Thorazine.

Or sleep.

Whatcha think?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ah, Saturday Night!

We did reasonably well at our Seminary Choir Messiah sing-along last night. It was a full house in the chapel. My singing of the soprano solos was well-received. Given that the other soloists were our choir director ( a tenor with an international reputation in his younger days as a specialist in early music) and two young people with vocal performance degrees from two of the best conservatories in the country, I was grateful to have not embarrassed myself. It was somewhat disconcerting to look up and see several of my professors in the audience. . .

Today was a whirlwind of various and sundry errands, but I got to icon-writing in the midst of it. St. Peter is two or three weeks away from being done. I'll post a pic of him when he's finished. I'd like to get him done before I go to the Middle East for January term and my independent study project. I'm trying to decide which icon I'll do next. I'd like to do a St Paul, but I'm also intrigued by the possibility of doing a Sophia. We shall see.

I was pleased to finish phase two of my NT exegesis paper. This part was word study. I was grateful to have studied Greek before getting to seminary - it made the research much more understandable. it was supposed to be five pages, but I barely kept the text of the paper to eight. It actually was something of a gas to do. Am tunring into an exegesis geek?

I'm up ten pounds since I started seminary, whch is annoying. It's mostly due to a lack of exercise. I'm lucky to get seven hours of sleep, much less add in 30-40 minutes of exercise. I suppose I should make the time. I'm not able to get all of the reams of reading assignments done (I'm not alone amongst my classmates in that regard) so it feels strange to be thinking of trying to fit exercise in as well.

I got brave and went to Costco for some household odds'n'ends, plus winter socks for StrongOpinions out in the cold and snow of Colorado, and gifts for the grandbabies. The crowds were not too bad, and I got out without buying anything stupid or ridiculously self-indulgent. I even got StrongOpinions' package mailed (including rolls of quarters for the laundromat - why she can't get to the bank herself, I don't know, but that aspect of living on her own hasn't quite settled yet).

Short ribs are braising on the stove, and I'm just about ready to crash for the night. Tomorrow I'll go check out another possible field ed site, and in the evening go to a showing of "The Ten Commandments." Believe it or not, it's an assignment for my OT class...

...and maybe somewhere in there, my dear usband and I will get to actually sit and talk to each other. What a concept!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Knitting Again - Yay!

Having finished the shawl/scarf for StrongOpinions while in Windy City, I have started a pair of socks. Feels good to be knitting again...I just have a couple of papers to complete this week that may interrupt the knitting fiesta. Dang!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Windy City Adventures

Thanksgiving. Wow.

Way too much food, especially of the carb-laden variety. My mother-in-law made the food extravanganza yesterday, while some of my generation and some of the littler ones went downtown to watch the parade. The Lawn Chair Dads precision lawn-chair drill team was the high point. They wore red union suits with sleeveless t-shirts and print boxer shorts over them, furry arctic bomber hats with earflaps, and black socks and sandals. Truly a sight to behold. We kept ourselves warm with a thermos of coffee for adults and of hot chocolate for the kids. I was surprised by the number of vendors giving out freebies (Naked Juice, for example, and free porta-potties with 7-11 logos plastered all over them!) Great fun, and not overly cold for Windy City on Thanksgiving.

I should have gone out walking each morning, but didn't. The jeans are definitely feeling snug.

I've got a pot of turkey wild rice vegetable soup on the stove, to get the last bits of flavor out of the carcass, and to give us something a little lighter on the digestive system for supper. There's also a butternut squash soup in the works. My veterinarian brother-in-law (a man of many talents) has a pumpkin cheesecake in the oven.

We went down to the great big art museum today. No icons per se, but some early Italian religious images in tempera on board that clearly were influenced by them. I successfully avoided buying stuff in the museum store. I did fall victim to a great buy on a Norwegian sweater in the store for all things Swedish. Here's the advantage to being short - you can fit into kid's size clothes sometimes. And a kid's Norwegian sweater is one-third the price of a grown-up one. And I never knit something for myself - I only knit for others, so I have to buy for myself (poor me!).

Speaking of knitting, I'm slowly getting back into it. Hadn't knit a thing since August when I started seminary. But StrongOpinions had asked for a combination shawl/scarf thing, and I saw some great bulky yarn, so I whipped that off. I should get back into gear on my sister-in-law's Norse sweater (it's about 1/2 done). I had planned to give it to her for this Christmas, but I'm afraid she'll get it next Christmas. Ah, well. It feels good to be knitting again, though.

Tomorrow we'll get up, have a bite, and head to the airport and back home to Your Nation's Capital. It's good to be with family, but it's also good to be home.

So where are you?

Monday, November 20, 2006

News update on break-ups, mess-ups, and speak-ups

On the breakup of StrongOpinions and Semi-Useless Boyfriend:
I was worried about my girl, so I cashed in some frequent flyer miles, went out to Buddhist University last weekend and made sure she was eating and such. I took her out to eat a couple of times, made a batch of vegetarian chili and put it in the freezer, adn took her for some retail therapy. she seems to be doing better. SUB called last week, though, and wanted to get back together. SO is appropriately skeptical. I'm hoping she decides it's over once and for all, but mothers can't push about such things. She can do better, though.

On the Congress:
No sooner did Nancy Pelosi ascend to the Speakership than she tripped over her (very chic) Armani pantsuit and backed Jack Murtha for her second in command. The predictable result was that he lost, and her former rival, Steny Hoyer, won. An embarrassment, since she expended much political capital trying to get her candidate the job. She should have done better, but I'm still hoping she can do better.

Our new Presiding Bishop, Katharine, sent a very crisp letter ( to a bishop who, unhappy about the past 30+ years of ECUSA's decisions, was threatening to pull his whole diocese out of the church. It was the letter I was hoping someone, somehow, someday would write. Finally! She has done better, and I'm proud. You go, girl!

On school:
I am busily writing, and reading, and translating, and memorizing. I'm trying to NOT feel guilty about going to PH's family in the Windy City for Thanksgiving. Rationally I know I cannot get it all done, even if I stay home chained to the books and the computer, but irrationally, I worry. (mumbling to myself: "all will be well, all will be well...")

I will do better at managing my own expectations of myself.


(And you blog-lurkers, c'mon and check in with me. I love to know you're there reading my pithy prose.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gray Day

It's wet, the leaves are mostly on the ground, and I'm tired.

StrongOpinions and Semi-Useless Boyfriend broke up yesterday (his idea), and I've been fielding calls from far away from her as she deals with the pain. She called last night at 2:30 am. I am not at my best at 2:30 am (who is?) so I tried to comfort her and get her to sleep. More similar calls during school today. It's so hard when you lose your first love.

I managed to stay awake in classes today. Barely. I hope I'll get a full night's sleep tonight.

I'm feeling swamped by the amount of reading the profs are expecting this semester, but I think I'll survive. The good news is that Hebrew is such a gas that I end up doing more work than required since it's so amazing.

The other good news was the changeover in the House of Representatives - I'm not fond of one-party government. The bad news was the passage of a marriage bill in our state - marriage defined as one man and one woman - that seems to be legislation at its worst. It's mean-spirited, it has a number of unintended consequences not only for gay couples but for straight couples who are not married, and it does nothing to help the body politic.

Don't these folks have more important things to worry about?

Meanwhile, our bishop left this hospital this morning - they thought he might have had a little stroke, but he is doing fine. He doesn't have an easy job, and he does it with grace. I'm hoping this was just a blip on the radar screen.

I had to take the car to the body shop this afternoon after school. It was parked on the street in front of our house, and someone backed into the side of it and scraped the whole driver's side. It goes without saying that the guilty party didn't leave a note on my car. $1725 worth of damage. Thank goodness for insurance.

Yes, I know the good news items outnumber the bad news items. It's still a cold rainy gray day, though. Now if the Secretary of State of the Commonwealth would just certify that Jim Webb has beaten George Allen, I think I'd feel like the sun has come out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Investiture and Seating, and Why I Don't Like Liturgical Dance

On Saturday, I watched the investiture of our new Presiding Bishop, the incomparable Katharine Jefferts Schori, on my computer. We were supposed to watch it at Big Old Seminary on a big screen, but the technology failed us. That's fine, because my house is only five minutes away, and the service was two hours long. You can check it out here if you'd like:

It was marvelous. Amazing music across many different cultures (you haven't lived until you've seen a couple hundred bishops - mostly WASP - in chimeres and rochets and all that, bopping to Siyahamba), beautiful liturgy, great sermon.

And then there were the liturgical dancers. I am admittedly a curmudgeon, but I just don't get a bunch of people running around whipping pieces of cloth in the air. None of these folks were Baryshnikov or Twyla Tharp by any stretch of the imagination. It all seems a bit forced to me. Maybe the more visually oriented people can explain what I'm missing, but it seems too 70s for words. I lived in the 70s the first time around, and it wasn't any more attractive then.

I could have done with something with a bit more gravitas than the tie-dyed look vestments (I'm turning intoPeaceBang) but other than that, it was wonderful. Very moving, and the sermon was powerful.

Then on Sunday, I went down to the Cathedral for her seating and Eucharist. Several fellow seminarians were part of it, and a number of us were among the congregation. Another amazing event, with many of the same features as the investiture (including the dancers, darnit) - it was great to see and feel it from another angle. Many of us were moved to tears by the import of it. Who'd have thought even 20 years ago that we'd see this moment?

God grant her strength for the time to come. It won't be easy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Both ends of the spectrum

I got back my Hebrew final...

(drum roll, please)


Now you know exactly how geeky the prof is, that I ended up with a grade like that.

I got an A for the semester, since we started in August term. glad; it was hard work, and i loved it. Still, I'm taking the second semester pass-fail, since it will only get crazier.

I did my Liturgics mid-term. Sixteen questions, multiple choice, open book. A half-hour to take it.

Piece of cake, right?


Only two questions referenced what was covered in the lectures. The rest were obscure factoids from the readings, and we're talking obscure here, not the main themes.

My grade? 75. And I was grateful to get that, given what some of my classmates got.

This was a lesson in humility. Also in not getting too wrapped up in the grade thing. It's about the skills and about grace, and not about a number. I need reminding of that on a regular basis.

As for the other exams and papers, none have yet been returned. Another lesson: patience. Drat.

PH is off at a conference this weekend, so the cats and I are alone in the house. I have gotten a few movies from Blockbuster, and I intend to do studying/reading/homework and videowatching. Tomorrow at 11 I'll join a bunch of fellow seminarians in one of our auditoriums to watch the investiture of our new Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Sunday, a number of us will go to the Washington National Cathedral for her seating. I am thrilled!

RevGals Friday Five: Toofies

Friday Five: Toofies

Please share your thoughts on the following:

1) The Tooth Fairy
I got quarters, too. My kids got a buck a tooth. now I hear that some little ones around here get a fiver per tooth. Seems a bit high to me - does that make me a curmudgeon?

2) Flossing
I don't like to floss, but I do love my little steel curved toothpick that does the same thing, only better. I use an electric toothbrush that's supposed to stimulate my gums.

3) Toothpaste Brands
StrongOpinions, being Miss organic, uses Tom's of Maine. I like plain old garden variety Colgate.

4) Orthodontia for Adults
If you need 'em, get 'em. Lots of folks (like RM's friend) come from families that didn't have the resources when they were kids. Go for it. PH, who grew up a missionary kid in Africa, dodged the bullet, but others he knew didn't. Since they were home on itineration for a year, all orthodontic work had to be completed in that timeframe. It was a painful thing, getting what took the rest of us three or four years all done in one. Poor things. I wonder if they would have preferred to have waited until they got home for college.

5) Whitening products
They often make the teeth look unnaturally white. Seems a bit much for me, but I think we've already established that I'm a curmudgeon.

Friday, October 27, 2006

RevGals Ghoulish Friday Five

1. Do you enjoy a good fright?
No. I've had some bad stuff happen to me that make me less than enthralled by scary happenings, because sometimes it's not a game.

2. Scariest movie you've ever seen
I'm with RM - "Silence of the Lambs" tops my scary movie list. When I was a teen, "The Exorcist" was way up there on the scare list. For some strange reason, an old movie called "Soylent Green" scared the *** out of me when I was in college, but who knows why.

3. Bobbing for apples: choose one and discuss: a) Nothing scary about that! Good wholesome fun. b) Are you *kidding* me?!? The germs, the germs!
I don't find it scary. I don't worry about the germs. However, as someone with temperature sensitive teeth, I have been unpleasantly surprised when my mouth hit the water once or twice in the past. Yeeoow!

4. Real-life phobia
Having to walk in a dark place at night in a less-than-savory neighborhood. See #1 above. Something similarly scary happened to StrongOpinions last week, and we're still both a bit freaked out by it.

5. Favorite "ghost story"
The opera DonGiovanni, and the ghost of the Commendatore. If you've got to have someone scary, make him a good singer. Second best: "Hamlet." What can I say? If it's in iambic pentameter, it can't be all THAT scary!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Prayers, Please-

...for dear L. She had become engaged to a wonderful man (after a number of years as a single mother) and was looking forward to the wedding in a few months.

Her fiancee was found dead of a heart attack two days ago.

Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant W. with thy saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing but life everlasting.

Sometimes God gives us gifts that last a lifetime, like a slow-burning candle. Sometimes God gives us gifts that are like a meteor shower, exploding with beauty, but so very transitory. Who is to say which is the greater gift? We can only thank God for His gifts, even as we grieve their transitory nature.

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of all confort: deal graciously, we pray thee, with all those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We love you, L. We loved W. for loving you, and we grieve with you.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

No Rest for the Weary

...not when there are two cats in the house.

I was up early this morning, getting ready for a field trip to a funeral home. I was just getting dressed when I heard a mighty crash from downstairs. I went downstairs and the two cats were in the kitchen, looking nervous. A marble cheese board which normally resides on the counter was on the floor, broken in two. I suspect one or the other of them tried to jump up on the counter onto it, and it slipped off and broke. In thinking of the expressions on the cats' faces, I'm reminded of the first words my dear husband learned as a second-grader in Belgium many years ago: "Ce n'etait pas moi." The cats always speak French when they do something bad; they think it makes them seem less guilty and more charmant...

Then it was off to the farmer's market for beautiful apples, then to the funeral home, and now I'm hip-deep in Hebrew and Liturgics et al for my exams next week. Later I've got a rehearsal for a concert I'm singing in tomorrow, a fundraiser for a homeless ministry here in Your Nation's Capitol, and a dinner part tonight. I'm trying not to feel guilty about the time spent away from studying. It will be what it will be.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Word for the Day: Hesychasm

So a goodly part of the day was spent doing abstracts of previous lectures for my New Testament study group. Reading, analyzing, winnowing out the important factoids and themes. It's necessary work (our mid-terms are next week) but it's not the most rewarding stuff in the world.

I took a break to go to Evensong at 5:30. It was a wonderful and peaceful end to a rainy, cool day. I love the quiet. I love the singing. I love the meditation on Scripture (great reading from Jeremiah tonight). I love the incense. It's an opportunity to take the time to go deep into prayer, which is often very difficult to do. Mostly I love the darkness in the chapel (this service is lit by four candles and just a bit of light over our psalters) and the quiet.

After evensong, I came back home, finished up the fifth lecture write-up, and cooked dinner. I had grand plans for studying Hebrew, but I was too tired, so I went upstairs with my big book on icons, to research an icon of unknown provenance in the seminary's Oratory. I got what I needed (it's a Harrowing of Hell, probably a copy of something from early Moscow school), but I got lost in the wonderful book, reading and remembering why I love icons so much.

And I found out about hesychasts, who spent their life in silence so they could meditate and pray. They may have used repetition of the Jesus Prayer as a meditative tool. It's an ascetic practice from the 3rd C, noted by Chrysostom and the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

It also informs the work of some of the early icon writers. Some of the proponents of the practice were the subjects of icons as well.

The thought of quiet and a disciplined meditative practice seems very appealing right now, although I doubt I could sustain it for the long haul. Maybe just an evensong's worth of hesychasm...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sex Ed For Clergy

One of the requirements in this diocese for all clergy, seminarians, and paid staff in parishes is that they take two sexual abuse/misconduct prevention classes, one targeted at protecting children, one dealing with issues for and about adults. I spent my Thursday at the Adult class.

I wanted to take a shower when I came home.

I understand the importance of this training, and I buy into the ways we need to prevent such bad acts and protect ourselves as clergy.

I just wish this was a different world, and we didn't have to think about it. One of my seminary classmates was there with me, and she and I were disturbed to see that one description of bad acting sounded frighteningly like some behavior we've observed in one of our classmates, who has, as they say, "issues." The surprising thing in both of our minds is how we thought our rigorous "process of discernment" was supposed to take folks like that off the front burner until they had worked through those issues. I guess it doesn't always work that way. Dang.

I came home to wonderful, delightfully sane PH, who doesn't have any issues (or any issues he has complement mine delightfully). We went out for an anniversary dinner that we could ill afford, but life is short and we both were ready for a treat. It cleaned away that icky feeling I'd had all day in the class. Life is good.

I'm past my whine-fest of the other day - thanks for understanding.

Friday Five: Creature Comforts

Thanks to ReverendMother for this lovely Friday Five - it made me feel relaxed just thinking about it:

1. Comfort beverage : a pot of white jasmine tea, or a mix of Diet V-8 Tropical Splash and sparkling water, or a glass of Sancerre.
2. Comfort chair: the big old burgundy leather sofa in the living room. I stretch out on it with my nice warm laptop on my lap and websurf, or I put the laptop down and pretend to read wile actually dozing.
3. Comfort read: silly mindless detective novels and thrillers, or nonfiction about food.
4. Comfort television/DVD/music
TV: Grey's Anatomy and House...I've always had a thing for doctor shows.
DVD: Anything with Alan Rickman, or the Vicar of Dibley videos, or anything with Helen Mirren.
Music: Carrie Newcomer (just like RM), Bryn Terfel (great Welsh bass-baritone), Thomas Quasthoff (great German bass-baritone). Bach. Some Mozart. Anything done by Yo-Yo Ma.
5. Comfort companion(s): PH, of course. The cats, although only Spooky seems to like to cuddle up next to me. My friend L, who's been a pal through thick and thin.

The other great comfort thing is a nap. That's my Sunday pleasure: falling asleep for an hour or so on the aforementioned sofa, with the New York Times magazine section on my lap, and a pot of tea on the table beside me. Bliss!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Want Some Cheese with that Whine?

I volunteered to be a class chaplain. It's the sort of thing I love to do, and that I think I do pretty well. Apparently a number of other folks felt the same way, and also volunteered. I didn't get picked.

So now I feel like an eight year old who didn't get picked for the school play. Cranky and rejected and wondering why I'm doing this.

Yes, I know it's childish.

Part of the challenge of going to seminary is having to redefine myself. No one here knows me as a very smart person. I'm not feeling terribly bright these days, frankly. No one here knows me as a good musician. I'm intimidated by the choir director, who has very strong opinions, not all of which I agree with. No one here knows me as an excellent administrator. The folks who got elected to those sorts of roles are living in the dorms and were elected because they were popular amongst the dorm residents.

So today I'm feeling old, dumb, unwanted, and invisible. I'm doing it to myself, of course. That doesn't make it any less painful.

Somebody please kick me in the butt and tell me to stop being such an idiot.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What Day Off?

I'm working my way through Leander Keck's "Who is Jesus." Only problem with reading this stretched out on the couch is that I keep dozing off. This may be the sum total of restful activities for this three day weekend.

PH has been down in New Orleans for the past several days, gutting houses in the Lower Ninth Ward with a team from our church. He's coming home tonight, tired and a little sore, but glad to have done the work. I've missed him so much. I can't wait to pick him up at the airport tonight.

I've been doing all the wonderful stuff one does when one is alone for a few days: catching up on laundry, planting a hundred spring bulbs, watching a couple of videos, cooking dinner for two other friends from seminary who are part of our midlife seminarian group (giving them a break from the refectory cuisine), cleaning, problem-solving from afar for StrongOpinions, whose phone gave up the ghost, taking stuff to the recycling get the picture.

For my Field Ed prep class, I went out on my third church visit yesterday, to a corporate-sized church. This category is for churches with over 450 members. The church I visited has 1500 members, with seven services from Sat. night through Sunday evening. Very, very low church, and very conservative. They are going through 40 days of discernment after which they will decide if they are leaving the Episcopal church. From the sermon that was preached, they've already decided they're leaving. The only open question is whether they'll try to affiliate with the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Rwanda, or Uganda, or form something else entirely here in the US. The priest told us that ECUSA is preaching apostasy.

Suffice to say it was rather difficult to sit through.

The Sunday before, we visited a tiny African American church across the river. No magnificent Steiner Renk organ with trumpets en chamade, just a little electric organ that had seen better days. No thirty thousand dollar sound board and awesome praise band, just a rector who could preach with power and joy and a five member choir that got the rest of the parishioners singing, too. No fancy Newcomers' Welcome Center, just parishioners that all wanted to greet us and give us a hug and ask us "are you going to be our seminarian?" No message filled with political rancor, just a sermon that encouraged us to take on the responsibility of all that God calls us to be.

Guess which one I liked better?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

R.I.P. Moses

At 11 pm last night, the phone rang.

Never a good sign, since the universe knows I'm incoherent after ten.

It was StrongOpinions, in tears because Moses, her gecko, died while she was in class. She hadn't thought he was sick, although he seemed a tad sluggish to her. She came home from food-shopping, and there he was in his little habitat, on his back. She was inconsolable. I talked to her and tried to soothe her from afar for a half hour.

This morning in chapel we celebrated the feast of St Francis of Assisi, who is known, of course, for his great love of animals. All I could think of was poor Moses, and poor StrongOpinions, who shares Francis' deep respect and love for all of God's creatures, even the least of them.

I told her tonight that I admired her love and care for her little gecko, and that he had a good life with her.

Not that I'm anxious to see another gecko in our household, but I think I'll miss the little guy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Just in case you were wondering...

RM mentioned in a comment on a prior post that I was looking radiant when I was at the concert at her church last weekend.

The truth is that it has nothing to do with seminary.

It's the vast quantities of silver hair shining under the lights now that I've stopped dyeing it.

Aw, shucks! It's no fun basking in the reflected glory of your own gray hair.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yes, I'm Still Here

...just a little swamped with work right now. It's all good, and I'm loving it. I got deeply engrossed in an exegesis last night and the next thing I knew, it was 11:30 pm. Would that I could get as joyfully engrossed in Hebrew grammar!

I did get to do some fun things this weekend: a community dinner at the seminary, a dinner with the rector of the church we helped out on the Gulf Coast this past February, a concert by the absolutely transcendent Carrie Newcomer at RM's church, and dinner out with dear PH last night. In between, it was reading, reading, reading, writing, writing, writing (with some loads of laundry in-between).

StrongOpinions got an A+ on a paper about feminist perspectives on the Bible. I hope some of her smarts rub off on her mother!

I am mostly over the icky cold, just some occasional sniffles and hacks. This, too, shall pass.

Back later.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Still feeling awful. I went to bed early, and slept in StrongOpinions' room since I didn't want to infect poor PH, who's doing a 100-mile bike ride today (what cyclists call a century) up in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

I got up and took some DayQuil in hopes of beating it back, so my nose isn't drippy, but my throat still hurts and my head feels like it's stuffed full of cotton. I will skip icon writing today, which gives you an indicator of how vile I feel.

I'm perched on the couch with my nice warm laptop, and should really put it away and get started on my Hebrew homework. I can't afford to be sick right now, but whining about it won't help. Is it too early for me to take a nap?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Five: Five Things I've enjoyed This Week

I'm sitting here feeling yucky from what feels like a bad sore throat/flu coming on, so meditating on things I've enjoyed may put me in a better frame of mind (I hope):

1. Small group worship this morning. Here at Big old Seminary, on Fridays we don't go to chapel in the mornings, we go to our faculty advisor's home (all faculty are given houses on the campus) for worship, fellowship, meetings about stuff. We had a lovely Presbyterian service led by one of our two advisors, some great coffee cake made by the other advisor, and some wonderful and frank conversation among our group of nine students and the advisors.

2. Blue Bunny Sweet Freedom Ice Cream Bars. Sugarfree, so I don't feel guilty. Delicious so I feel indulged. Life is good.

3. A hug this morning from PH that made me feel so safe and loved in the midst of all this change and chaos and fear in my life.

4. The first rehearsal of the motet choir. It was so good to be singing with a group of good singers. I NEEDED to sing, even though my voice wasn't at its best. And the new choir director is awesome.

5. A commitment from my rector to help cover the cost of some vestments I need to buy. Whew!

I'm going away now to take some TheraFlu.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

About that Hebrew...

...remind me why I'm so ticked off that I only got a 91 on the final...

Gotta find a way to shuck that competitive streak...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Anne Lamott talks in one of her wonderful books about her friend, whose two modes of prayer are "Thanks" and "what??!!"

I'm feeling rather "what??!!??" this evening.

Today was registration. Being in something so new and unfamiliar, and being a beginner after umpty-ump years of being the resident expert on something, is odd and disorienting. Tomorrow classes start, and I think I'll feel better sitting in a classroom with someone telling me what is expected of me. I do better with the parameters circumscribed around me than floating free.

Igor Stravinsky once said that the thing he feared the most was a blank page. No decisions made yet as to what the music was to be about, no choices as to form, not even a key signature or a meter. Once the initial decisions were made, he could be bold.

I suspect that this is a bit of what I'm feeling, although nothing I produce will be "The Rite of Spring." I need the boundaries defined for me, then I can press against them.

The debate du jour - you knew I couldn't do this seminary thing without stretching the envelope - is whether I'll run for something in student government. Odd to be considering this some 18 years after I ran for statewide public office (it wasn't a rollicking success story, but that's a tale for another day). I wonder if I'd have the time, I wonder if it would be nothing but a pain in the butt, I wonder if it's something I might called to do, I wonder if I'm over-thinking it.

Some things never change.

Perhaps I'll just wait and see if someone nominates me or someone volunteers. My guess, though, is that everyone will sit around waiting for someone else to do something, and I'll fill up that empty space by volunteering. We'll see. I have until Thursday to suss it out, and since I'm having dental work done that morning, I may be unable to speak.

It may be a good thing, that Novocaine!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Life is what happens when you're making other plans

I really did have grand plans to study hard last night.


But first I decided I needed to bake some cookies for Hebrew class. We're all so very exhausted right now, I figured it would be a pick-me-up. I made ma'amoul, a date-filled shortbread that you can get all over the Middle East. Of course, I was doing it for me as well, since I felt the need to do something tactile and finite. Funny how cookies came to mind instead of cleaning the house.

So that took an hour.

Then the phone rang, and it was a friend who needed to talk. Fine. I love to talk with her - she's got the same very quirky sense of humor that I have.

So that took an hour.

Then it was getting on towards dinner time, so I started dinner for PH and me. Chicken with pesto, some orzo, a nice salad with tomatoes from the farmers' market. We had dinner.

So that took an hour.

Then I sat down on the couch to finally start studying, and the phone rang. It was an out-of-town friend who had some fun news and who wanted to find out how I was liking seminary.

So that took an hour. Well, more like 40 minutes.

Then I settled into the couch again to finally FINALLY start studying and StrongOpinions called up from college to bemoan the amount of reading assignments and papers that have already been assigned to her.

That only took a half an hour.

I went to bed.

The good news is that we didn't have a quiz this morning, and I have another night to study the new vocab words before the final exam tomorrow.

So what am I doing? Posting to my blog.

I guess I win the Procrastinator's Award for this week. I hope I get a couple of points extra credit for the cookies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Brain is Full

That seems to be the operative phrase these days, as we memorize another 25-30 Hebrew words per day plus a new verb paradigm every couple of days. I still seem to be aceing the class, but we'll see what happens on the exam on Friday.

The Oral Interpretation fo Scripture calss has gotten more interesting and challenging. I worked on Isaiah 53:1-6 for today. What a problematical text for a reader! The first verse had me frustrated, so I went to a couple of commentaries, Brueggeman "Theology of the Old Testament" and then picked PH's brain for a while. I came up with a reading that my prof and classmates found compelling, but I find it hard to imagine spending as much time on the job on a reading, rather than a text I'm exegeting for a sermon. I now know that all those times I read in church before were less than distinguished. I also realize that training lay lectors is a challenge.

We got our orientation to Clinical Pastoral Ed today, and I've got ideas about a couple of places I'd like to apply. I'm looking at the places that scare me the most - the ones most likely to stretch me. Heaven knows I never do things the easy way, so this would fit. We'll be doing CPE next summer, but the application process starts in September. The prep work and application process will overlap that of Field Ed, so I should be truly overwhelmed most of the fall.

PH is happy my advisor talked me down from the insanity of trying to do 16 credits in the fall - I've cut it back to 13, which will be enough in every sense.NT will overlap OT, Liturgics, Liturgical Music, continuing Hebrew, the Field Ed prep class. I'll just be glad not having a bunch of new Hebrew words to memorize every single day.

I think I need a nap.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Friday's Hebrew Class Meditation

'Twas my turn to do the pre-class devotion:

Barukh atah Adonai, ha-mavdel ben kodesh l’chol. (Amein)

Blessed are you, Lord, who separates the sacred from the mundane.

This is the final line of the final prayer that closes Shabbat on Saturday evenings.

Let us pray.

Lord, Hebrew is hard.

Yesterday as we left class, our brains were reeling with the sheer volume of information with which we were presented. We were worried about our quiz score, whether we’d get the “qal” paradigm memorized by Monday, if we would ever be able to gracefully pronounce guttural sounds, much less memorize rules about gutturals and radicals. We may have wondered why we were doing this, and if perhaps we would have been wiser to opt for Greek.

There was a moment, though, Lord, when we were listening to Mark read that excerpt from Genesis, when a thin beam of light shone on us. We could hear the poetry, sense the rhythm and even get a hint of the humor of the language. We could imagine that this difficult and ancient language of our forebears might one day be meaningful to us, that it would inform our exegesis of Scripture, that it would teach us about the very different world in which it was written.

Lord, it is so easy for us to forget that this is not simply about memorization of today’s vocabulary words and rules, although that’s an important part of the work. It is not about these words. It is about Your Word. It is about the sacred, not the mundane.

Keep shining that thin beam of Your light on us as we struggle to learn. Actually, a broader beam would be helpful, but that’s Your decision, not ours.

Let us never forget, though, that we seek the sacred not in extraordinary moments but in the mundane work we are called to do everyday.

We ask Your blessing on us and on our work this day.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Happy Birthday, Princess Granddaughter

It's hard to believe you're four, but here comes that birthday on Friday and you're a big girl princess!

You've given me such wonderful gifts:

  • seeing the next generation and all the hope for the future it contains
  • seeing your dad all grown up and watching him be such a wonderful daddy
  • seeing the love that binds your mommy and daddy and you
  • watching you go through all the phases and changes I never got to enjoy with my own children - I was too worried about it all - as a mommy
  • giving unconditional love and getting it right back
  • your smile and your endless curiosity.

I just wish we were a little closer to each other so I could enjoy your company more often. Virtual hugs and kisses and a gift in the mail from

Your GrandMary.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I'm hip-deep in Hebrew and am actually loving it, although we'll see how long the honeymoon glow will continue.

The prof has relaxed a bit, the class has relaxed a bit, and I aced my first two quizzes, so I'm feeling good.

Note to self: don't eat a big lunch, otherwise you'll find it hard to stay awake for the after-lunch lecture class.

Note to self, part the second: remember a sweater since the a/c is ratcheted up really high.

Note to self, part the third: yes, the rolling book bag is geeky, but with the Hebrew text, the notebook, the lexicon, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, the Book of Common Prayer, the NRSV Bible, plus assorted other stuff, it is your only hope of avoiding the chiropractor.

The question du jour: should I leave Hebrew as a pass-fail, or should I request a letter grade? Right now (just a couple of days into it), I feel like I'm in the top group in the class, but that could certainly change. Dare I tempt fate?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Miscellany: Hail and Farewell

I'm taking a brief break from studying my Hebrew alef-beth to visit with you all. Not necessarily the wisest thing, since we have a quiz tomorrow morning, but my brain is tired.

Our prof for Hebrew is a doctoral candidate at a nearby university, and this is first class at Grand Old Seminary. He hasn't quite gotten the ethos of the place (no, we don't skip class, and yes, the default is pass-fail for Biblical languages) but he seems quite bright, and eventually I hope he'll stop treating us like undergraduates. On the other hand, he seems to have a real passion for the subject, so it may turn out to be a wonderful class. We were all pretty shell-chocked by the time we left class this morning.

Afternoon was consumed by a lecture on worship services in our world, and the philosophy and variety of the services during the week. Interesting stuff, but we were all fading sitting there in a warm chapel after lunch. A bird flew in and perched on the altar crucifix - it added a moment of levity and interest that kept us from falling asleep while the Dean was speaking.

Then I went home to make supper and take StrongOpinions to the airport - she's off to her dad's and thence on to college. Here's what we learned:

  • you don't really need to take everything you think you might need when you're flying to college

  • geckos are not allowed by Southwest Airlines

  • trying to smuggle a gecko onto an airplane is stressful for all

  • trying to smuggle a gecko in the pouch of a jockstrap is not a good idea. A looser pouch under a flowing peasant skirt works well.

The jockstrap (actually a soccer jock, which has a pouch in which a male soccer player would insert a plastic protective cup) was PH's idea. At six pm, we were experimenting with every possible thing to take Moses the gecko off to college, including a sock and a pair of PH's BVDs...that was when he suggested the aforementioned jock. 'Twas a sight to behold. If she were flatter on top, I would have suggested one of my super-sized bras, but --alas --she has inherited my significant bosom. All I could think of was if TSA or the airline had patted her down, they would have thought they were having a "TransAmerica" moment. Thre we were, a seminarian, a minister who just celebrated the 20th anniversary of his ordination, and a Buddhist agnostic 18 year old who wants to save the world, all trying to smuggle a gecko onto a plane.

Someday we'll laugh about all this. Right now I just want another piece of chocolate. It wasn't quite the way I pictured sending my baby girl off to college, but it was true to who we all are.

Friday, August 11, 2006


One of the odd aspects of this change of life is unhooking myself from my home parish, St P's (aka Land of Too Many Government Lawyers). The Commission on Ministry was very clear that I belong to the COM now, not St P's.

Thus, today was my last Friday Morning Women's Bible Study.

The group is a diverse bunch of women with a sense of God's grace and a sense of humor - an unbeatable combination.

We had a bit of a breakfast party, with coffee cake, fruit, coffee, juice, and a litany prepared for me to send me off to seminary, plus the gift of a lovely framed calligraphic rendering of quotes from Jeremiah 29 and 30.

I'll miss our conversations, and the freedom to say whatever pops into my mind about the text (you should have heard us about "uncovered feet") and the unconditional love I've felt.

I'm grieving a bit at the loss, but it's part of the process. Interestingly, our study this morning was on Acts 12: 1-11, and we reflected on Peter's unquestioning following of the angel sent by God to rescue him from prison. It was a useful reminder to me about answering the call and trusting in God.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Prayers Please

My friend the stay-at-home dad of three who was diagnosed with inoperable cancer a couple of years ago died last night. He managed to hang in there with good humor and much grace as he fought the disease. It will be a hard road ahead for his wife and three children.

Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world; In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created you; In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you; In the Name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you. May your rest be this day in peace, and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I'm a Stranger Here Myself

We are more or less settled in to our new digs. I'm still adjusting to settling in to my new life.

I've found a good local drugstore, an adequate supermarket which will hold me until the new Harris Teeter is completed just down the road, a place to get the car inspected and some good walking routes for my morning walking meditation time. We've met several seminarian families and have almost finished the rehab of the basement. The books are unpacked - a major undertaking - and the cats have come out from behind the furnace. My spices are now on shelves, and enough of my kitchen stuff is unpacked so I can cook a decent meal. The menu tonight was baked bay scallops, fresh corn, and a salad of grape tomatoes, mozzarella and basil with vinaigrette. Some leftover butterscotch brownies to round it all out, and some leftover Pinot Grigio from last night to smooth the rough edges.

I've got a new library card, I've registered to vote, and the DSL line for my work computer is nearly functional. I can mostly work our voice mail and snail mail appears to be getting forwarded properly.

I haven't found an Asian food market, a small mom and pop hardware store for when I don't have the intestinal fortitude to brave Home Depot, or some good ethnic restaurants.

Rationally, I know that I'm settling in remarkably quickly. I just wish I felt less like a stranger and more like I belong here. An odd sensation, feeling like I'm 17 again. I expect that once I start class I will feel a lot better, or at least less alien.

I think it's time for another brownie.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Musical Friday Five

Ah, what a wonderful Friday Five! Thanks, NotShyChiRev, for giving it to us!

1. Describe the last play or musical you saw. (At least provide the what, when, where, and why). What was your opinion of it?
Not a musical, but an opera, "Le Comte Ory" by Rossini, at Wolf Trap Opera a couple of weeks ago. Hysterically funny story of a horny count who's dodged participating in the Crusades and is instead storming the battlements of a castle to win the maidenhood of the princess therein, masquerading as a holy hermit and giving "advice" to all the young women in the castle who are lonely for their Crusader men off to the war. Great young voices, clever direction, a lot of silly physical humor, a great way to spend a warm Sunday afternoon.

2. All time favorite play? Musical?

I'm fond of anything by Sondheim, but "Sweeney Todd" has a special place in my heart.

3. “The Producers,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Hairspray,” “The Wedding Singer”…all were movies before they were musicals (okay “The Philadelphia Story” was a play and then a movie, and they changed its name when it became a musical, but whatever). What non-musical movie do you think should next get the musical treatment?

I can picture John Adams doing a strange version of "Hotel Rwanda". "Dancing at Lughnasa" (Brian Friel, I think) cries out for musical treatment.

. 4. Favorite song from a musical? Why?

"A Little Priest" from "Sweeney Todd", which I've done myself a couple of times...anything from "South Pacific"..."Summertime" from "Porgy and Bess...."Take Me or Leave Me" from "Rent"...the list goes on and on...

5. The most recent trend in Broadway musical revues is to construct a show around the oeuvre of a particular super-group or composer, where existing songs are woven together with some kind of through story. The most successful of these (“Jersey Boys” (The Four Seasons), “Mamma Mia” (ABBA), “Movin’ Out” (Billy Joel)) have made a mint, but many (“All Shook Up” (Elvis), “Hot Feet” (Earth, Wind and Fire)) have bombed. What great pop/rock singer/composer or super-group should be the next to be featured, and what might the story-line be for such a show?

I'm not terribly fond of that kind of treatment, but I'm a story/music snob, so just ignore me.

Bonus question for singer/actors. Favorite part you’ve ever played/sung.

Mrs. Lovett from "Sweeney Todd". Gotta love a part where you can be a lovable homicidal maniac. Of course, the requisite hairdo - which resembles Princess Leia-style danish pastries over each ear - is a negative, but it's a small price to pay.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Free Agents

We're no longer homeowners. The closing went very smoothly. We're waiting for the check to be deposited. Nice to have a nest egg for the future.

The house is shaping up. Litigator (my 20 y.o. son) will be arriving for a few days' visit tonight. He can opt for the cool but box-filled basement family room, which has the digital cable connection and the lumpy sofabed, or the small but civilized sister's bedroom upstairs with us. A little warmer, but closer to the bathroom. I'll guess he'll go with the basement.

It's been brutally hot here, and the A/C and the ceiling fans have not kept the bedrooms very cool, but they say the weather will break in a few days. I can hope. I go out for my early morning walks at 6:30 since I'm not supposed to be out in the heat. I wear a cap with cooling gel crystals in the hatband and a neck wrap that also has the cooling gel inside. I keep them in the frig overnight - rather odd, but they help keep my body temp down.

Time to unpack more boxes!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Home Again

...into our new place, that is. We moved yesterday (one of the hottest days of the year). Thank goodness we used movers rather than trying to do the UHaul thing. As it was, I thought a couple of the moving guys would pass out any moment with heatstroke. It took from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., which isn't all that bad considering they had to retrieve most of our worldy possessions from the storage place. We cleaned ourselves up, made the bed, and went out to dinner.

The cats are moved in and are adjusting to their new home, we went back and cleaned the old place to ready it for the walk-through, and the stereo and computer are up and the kitchen is almost functional. Only a couple of nonessential small things got broken. We're fortunate.

We've unpacked about 40 boxes thus far, with most of the important ones unpacked. I'll slowly wend my way through some more, and then I'll stop, and the remianing stuff will probably stay in boxes for the next three years, and I won't really care.

Tomorrow is settlement day for the old place. I pray it all goes smoothly. I'll be glad to get this part of it done.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Signing Off Until Next Week

The movers are coming on Saturday morning, but some things (like the computer) will go to the new place in the car, so I'll be packing up the 'puter today to go to its new home. If all goes well and our Internet service works as planned, I'll check back in on Sunday or Monday...

Say a paryer , please, that all goes well.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Sheetrocking - done
1st coat of joint compound - done
Lining the cabinets with plastic sheeting - done
Hanging the towel rack - done
Putting the water filter on the faucet - done
Closets emptied - done

Most important:

Moving Moses the gecko to his new home - DONE!

He is riding over there now with PH in StrongOpinions' Saabie. The cats will go after the movers are done on Saturday.

Today will be sanding the joint compound, putting on another coat of it, and painting the other walls of the basement. Plus carting a ton o' stuff over in the car (fax machine, office stuff, more fragile things, etc.) I'll make one stop in PetSmart for crickets for Moses and one stop at Goodwill to drop off assorted cast-offs.

After we got back home last night, PH got up on the tall ladder to put a skim coat of spackle on the bad spot in the hallway ceiling. Tonight he'll sand that and we'll paint it (hopefully it will be the final time). Meanwhile the pest control and repair folks are fixing the one part that they needed to do after the termite inspection.

The repair men showed up at 7:45 this morning, two short, dark Central American guys, very friendly and polite, who set to work right away and should be done soon. Most of the workmen who have helped us get the house ready for sale are like these two - from Central America, hardworking, sweet-natured. They do good work and they're clearly glad to have a job. It got me to thinking about this whole immigration debate, and wondering what it would be like around here if these folks weren't part of the workforce. It would certainly mean it would take longer to get things done. I know the issue is more complicated than justthis small slice of it, but I would hate to see guys like this (I don't know if they're legal or not) get shipped off just for someone's political posturing.

Off to pack some more stuff-

Friday, July 21, 2006

The First Load

We're getting the keys to our new place tomorrow morning. In anticipation, I've packed my car with the following:
  • Garbage Can
  • Coffee pot
  • Garbage Bags
  • Assorted cleaning stuff
  • Towels and shower basics
  • Ice Cube Tray
  • Frying Pan and 1 pot
  • Two boxes of StrongOpinions' fragile stuff
  • One workshop shelf unit for PH's tools and stuff
  • Toilet Paper and Paper Towels
  • A small portable radio
  • First Aid Kit
  • A five foot long needlepoint my SIL made for PH on the occasion of his ordination. It is a vine with all different symbols from the Bible, from grapes and olives to cranes and bees. It's gift of love that will eventually be hung near our front door, to remind us what we are about. I want to prop it up in the living room while we do this work, to make us smile.

The other thing, of course, will be our wallets....moving is an expensive proposition! We'll spend the weekend getting supplies, removing the cheesy faux-paneling in the basement. and starting the work of sheetrocking the basement. We'll have friends from church (a couple of whom were part of our Pascagoula mission trip in February, and are now experts at this sort of stuff) helping out, plus PH's retired cousin (HeWhoOwnsAPickupTruck), clearly one of the most important helpers because of our need to get sheetrock, ceiling tiles, and other large things from HomeDepot.

Somehow, I think I'll be making lots or trips back and forth between the places, moving the little odds and ends that aren't suited to the movers' truck.

All will be well, all will be well.

Fifth Anniversary RevGal Friday Five

1) What is your first memory of the RevGalBlogPals?

I found members of group in its early stages circuitously from Real Live Preacher. Can't remember exactly how I got to Songbird and St Casserole and ReverendMother, but they were the first Gals I met, and I was encouraged to blog myself. A pretty radical step for a 50-plus woman going through the discernment process.

2) Have you met any of the other ring members in real life?

Reverendmother and I have gotten together on a couple of occasions. I had hoped to meet St Casserole when I was down rebuilding in the Gulf after Katrina, but we weren't able to make it happen. One of these days, we'll manage it.

3) Of those you haven't met, name a few you would love to know in person.

The list is endless. Kathryn, Songbird, St Casserole, Emily, Sophia,Lorna, ChiRev, Cheesehead...I hate not to include anyone since I love you all! I should find a way to get together with JLEdmiston since we're in the same neck of the woods.

4) What has Ring Membership added to your life?

Affirmation, laughter, tears, courage, new ways of thinking about things, a theological education, a greater understanding of the polity and theology of other denominations, and ever fresh views of Christ in my brothers and sisters of the ring. Plus the opportunity to stretch my writing wings in a new way in our devotional books. You've been with me through my discernment process, through myacceptance as a postulant and to seminary, through illnesses, through various and sundry joys and travails...what a great group of friends!

5) Describe a hope for the future of the WebRing.

A continually growing, supportive community that has more intentionality in getting together. Maybe mini-regional-meet-ups.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Just when I thought I was in the home stretch on selling the house, several things rear their ugly heads. We had a termite inspection; they found evidence of termites, and we paid to have the house treated, not with the cheaper alternative, but with the Cadillac of termite systems. There was some damage to a 2x4 in the basement, but the inspector said it wasn't a structural problem and didn't need to be repaired. The settlement company is now insisting on a structural engineer to come evaluate it and repair it. I need a receipt from one of the workmen on some other work we needed to get done - I haven't even paid him yet - and I haven't been able to get a hold of him. The hallway ceiling is looking (once again) like there is some water damage, after PH did such a wonderful job fixing it a couple months ago. Of course, the 300-year rain we had over the past couple of weeks might have something to do with it. Lastly, I'm in a plateau in my weight loss. Twelve more pounds to lose and I haven't lost an ounce in three weeks.

This sucks. Praying for calm.

New Toys

I'm typing this on my sexy new laptop. What's more, I'm now able to WiFi...we have a wireless router on the home computer.

The laptop was an investment for seminary, but I'm loving being able to work in the living room while PH is in the den. No more competition for the 'puter! Yay!

Twas good to have a dear friend who's a geek, who came over and set all this up with us last night. Hopefully, it will survive the move in good order.

Off to pack stuff...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Who Needs MasterCard?

Seeing Princess granddaughter looking lovely and perky...wonderful.
Seeing Cowboy grandson being his usual wild and crazy self...exhilarating.
Seeing Buddha-Baby grandson as serene and mellow as ever...heart-warming.

Seeing Stepson #2 looking as sleep-deprived and exhausted as I was for much of his growing up years...


Friday, July 14, 2006

Peevish Friday Five

1. Grammatical pet peeve

Use of four-letter words indiscriminately. Yes, I use them myself. Not infrequently. But I'd like to believe I use them meaningfully, rather than as a modifier to EVERY noun in a sentence.

2. Household pet peeve

Leaving empty cartons or containers that previously held food in the frig or pantry. How am I to know if we need more unless I see the milk jug's gone, or there are no more cereal boxes in the cabinet?

3. Arts & Entertainment pet peeve (movie theaters, restaurants, concerts)

Operagoers who shout "bravo" before the aria is completed. Especially aggravating when the performance wasn't worthy of a "bravo" in the first place. People who unwrap their coughdrops (crinkle crinkle crinkle) during the quiet passages. Yes, I'm glad you're trying to combat that nasty cough. Couldn't you have unwrapped it when the music was loud? I know. I'll stop being such a prissy nudge now.

4. Liturgical pet peeve

"We just really thank you, God." It has become a catch phrase that equals "Jesus Christ, personal Savior" as code and as posturing. Sorry if I offend anyone, but I'm unhappy with recipe book Christianity that requires certain key phrases as an indicator of being "the right kind" of Christian. I'll go put away my quotation marks now.

5. Wild card--pet peeve that doesn't fit any of the above categories

Assumptions that all Republicans are greedy troglodytes and all Democrats are idiotic bleeding heart spendthrifts. Politics is slightly more nuanced than that. I give you John Danforth and Joe Lieberman.

Bonus: Because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God: What do YOU do that others might consider a pet peeve?

a) I allow StrongOpinions to interrupt my conversations with PH, which rightly peeves him.
b)I use ellipses (...) excessively....

Monday, July 10, 2006

Home Again

I'm back from retreat. It was lovely, a time of reflection and conversation with the other postulants from our diocese. Our retreat leader found out she has been nominated to be Bishop in another diocese - very exciting news, since she's a marvelous priest and solid as they come.

I was pretty frazzled when I got there Friday evening. what is normally an hour and 45 minute drive turned into a four hour endurance test. Fortunately, the return trip Sunday afternoon was more like the usual time.

Back to the real world today: the termite inspection guy is walking through the house poking walls and such with a stick. He just told me he saw some evidence of termite activity downstairs. Sigh. And the handyman is preparing to install a french drain on the side of the house where we may have some water seepage. Another sigh. And I need to call the post office because they started forwarding our mail to the new address already, when I told them to start July 28th.

I think I'll go back down to the retreat center....


The termite system will cost $1500 and instead of a French drain, we're having that side of the house waterproofed. another grand. Good thing we're making some money on this house. The mighty wind you're hearing is money pouring out of our checkbook.

Friday, July 07, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Short Stuff

On all things short:

1. Here in the USA, at 5'2", I'm considered short. In Japan, I'm considered average height for a woman, I think. In certain parts of Africa, I'm tall.

I'd like to think that I'm not short, simply energy-efficient.

2. Real strawberry shortcakes, with biscuit-type shortcakes that absorb the strawberry juices so wonderfully, are culinary nirvana. Eating strawberry shortcakes any time but in June when the local strawberries are at their sweetest is a crime against nature.

3. It's just a short time before I start seminary. I'm as excited as I used to get in the days before elementary school started, and I got my new pencil case and black marble-covered notebooks. The only difference now is that I got a new laptop computer instead of notebooks.

4. Short-tempered people abound in the heat of a Washington summer. I find I'm saying to myself "Remember, this is a child of God" more often now than in wintertime.

5. Short skirts: I know I've become an official middle-aged old poop when I see my daughter and some of her friends wearing thigh-high short skirts and I think to myself "Those skirts are wayyyyy too short!" Then again, those skirts really ARE wayyy too short. Then again, 30+ years ago, I wore skirts not much longer than that.

I get short-tempered when I'm hoist upon my own petard...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A range of Emotions

Remembering the wonderful mezzo Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, whose interpretations of Bach cantatas move me beyond words. She died of cancer this past Monday. I'm grateful for her artistry, but am so sad I'll never hear her live again. For more, here's NPR's article on her:

We spent the past several days up in Michigan, west of Detroit and north of Ann Arbor, at a state park. We were sixteen family members ranging in age from 2 to 70+. Some wonderful moments:
  • sand hill cranes and deer in the road in the early morning, plus a family of raccoons who shamelessly walked around our cabins looking for food
  • a July Fourth small-town parade in a nearby town, complete with five candidates each for Probate Judge and District Court Judge, a jump-rope drill team, and firemen playing soccer with a bowling ball, propelling it with hoses spurting water
  • my brother-in-law gracefully explaining the possible reasons why we have so many flood stories, like ours of Noah and the Ark, in so many different ancient traditions, to my scary-bright 13 year old nephew
  • my almost-three year old nephew saying "Please" and "Thank you"...most of the time
  • s'mores made with Reese's peanut butter cups
  • driving through Ann Arbor and hearing my MIL and FIL tell stories of their days there as students (she in nursing, he in med school)
  • the cries of loons and geese and cranes at 6 in the morning
  • bratwursts on the grill.

Of course, bringing the bocce ball set turned out to be a mistake, since the little one decided he should drop them on his dad's foot and throw one at his mom's arm. Ouch.
Now, 16 people in two large family cabins means the likelihood that someone, or two, or three, will snore is pretty high. Thus, I was grateful for the earplugs and melatonin that I brought with me.

As wonderful as it was, I was glad to be home again in my quiet little house, with a real toilet and a shower I didn't have to drive to. And I need to detox from all the coffee we drank (they are Swedish, after all).

Tomorrow will begin the postulants' retreat for new postulants in our diocese. I'll meet eight other folks at our diocesan conference center 100 miles from here. I'm excited and little scared.

Last but not least, I'm bummed. My lovely 2000 Saab needs a brain transplant, it appears. The mechanics will call me tomorrow to see if the transplant successfully fixed its problem. Would that it were as easy for me and my quirky brain!

Life is full, indeed.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

You Deserve a Break Today...

No, not at McDonald's.

PH and I deserve a break, so we're driving up to Michigan for a PH-family clan camp-out. There will be walks, bike rides, cooking on the grill, dipping toes in the lake, many intense games of Scrabble, Sunday morning prayer service, and fun conversation. I will be bringing my Hebrew alef-bet to continue memorizing it, several books I'm supposed to read for seminary, a little trashy reading, my Branching Out scarf to knit (it will be a green stole for L, who is starting her new job as rector of a church in PA next month), and a whole bunch of baked goodies. I made Triple Chocolate Espresso brownies, a Sacher torte, a cherry pie, and spiced nuts for snacks. Hopefully they'll survive the trip and be edible when we get there.

StrongOpinions is working her next-to-last day as a waitress, and then will be going to WI to spend some time with Semi-Useless Boyfriend, then going up to the lake for some time with her childhood best friend, before coming home for a week and leaving for college in CO. Hard to believe!

Meanwhile, the local conservative newspaper reported that one of our conservative Episcopal priests was named a Bishop in the Diocese of Nigeria, and that his church (one of the largest in the diocese) and another conservative church (also one of the largest in the diocese) were affiliating with Nigeria and leaving our diocese. We got a letter from our Bishop saying he had spoken to them both and they say it is not so. Whether someone can be a bishop in another diocese, indeed another primacy, is another question: it seems pretty unlikely to me, but we'll see what the Archbishop of Canterbury has to say about all this.

I'm ready for a wee break.

Then I get to come home and go to the Postulants' retreat. We'll have a lot to talk about, I'll wager.

Have a good Fourth and stay safe if you're on the roads.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sending Out the Dove In Hopes of an Olive Branch

It hasn't been quite 40 days of rain here in Your Nation's Capital, but it feels darned close. Many areas nearby have had over 7 inches of rain in 24 hours. Roads have been closed, cars have been swept from one parking area to another, people have had to climb out of their cars while stranded in standing water, hardware stores have been stripped of sump pumps and the like. The IRS's main building and the National Archives are closed due to flooding. I was to go for a business lunch today to one of my favorite seafood restaurants downtown; my lunch partner just cancelled - too many of his folks are unable to get into the office because of road closures, so he has to stay in the office to man the fort. Ah, well, another time.

It's been four days of rain so far, with four more (at least) ahead of us. My windows are steamy with moisture that just can't evaporate.

Yesterday, I went over to the new place we're moving to next month and found out that most of the units suffered basement flooding - the downside of living in a place abutting a lovely stream (see said stream pictured above). I don't know yet if mine is one of the ones that flooded. If it is, I'll definitely make sure our renters' insurance will cover damage from basement flooding in case it ever happens again.

To add to the effects of the rain, one of the items that our house buyer had asked us to repair after the home inspection is a problem with a basement bathroom wall. There had been water damage in there that we were pretty sure was a result of the steamy conditions in the room when one showered; we'd since put in a vent fan, and had seen no fourther deterioration, and the plumber said there wasn't a leak in the wall. So Felipe the Bolivian handyman came and repaired and painted the wall (a beautiful job). Then the rains came. Now there is a little bit of bubbling of the paint down low on the wall. Is it the result of not letting the repair cement dry completely? Is it a result of the rain? Do we need to dig out the exterior wall outside and see if it needs a french drain or a coat of waterproofing? We'll wait until the rains cease, say a prayer, and figure it out from there. At least the bubbling doesn't appear to be getting any worse.

On a less soggy note, I have adjusted to my daily shot of Copaxone quite well, and the neurologist says I don't need to see him for another three months. All will be well. The dove will, at some point, return with an olive leaf in her beak, and we'll know the water is starting to subside.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Just in from Africa:

CAPA - An Open Letter to the Episcopal Church USA

We, the Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA),meeting in Kampala on 21st - 22nd June, have followed with great interest your meeting of the General Convention of the Episcopal ChurchUSA in Columbus. We have been especially concerned by the development of your response to The Windsor Report, which has been reported to us quite extensively. This is something for which we have earnestly prayed. We are, however, saddened that the reports to date of your elections and actions suggest that you are unable to embrace the essential recommendations of the Windsor Report and the 2005 Primates Communiqué necessary for the healing of our divisions.

At the same time, we welcome the various expressions of affection for the life and work of the Anglican Communion. We have been moved by your generosity as you have rededicated yourselves to meet the needs of the poor throughout the world, especially through your commitment to the Millennium Development Goals.We have observed the commitment shown by your church to the full participation of people in same gender sexual relationships in civic life, church life and leadership. We have noted the many affirmations of this throughout the Convention. As you know, our Churches cannotreconcile this with the teaching on marriage set out in the HolyScriptures and repeatedly affirmed throughout the Anglican Communion.All four Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion advised you against taking and continuing these commitments and actions prior toyour General Convention in 2003.

At our meeting in Kampala we have committed ourselves to study very carefully all of your various actions and statements. When we meet with other Primates from the Global South in September, we shall present ourconcerted pastoral and structural response.

We assure all those Scripturally faithful dioceses and congregations alienated and marginalised within your Provincial structure that we have heard their cries.

In Christ,
The Most Rev. Peter Akinola,
on behalf of CAPAChairman,

If the Primates of the Global South were as concerned with issues of AIDS, violence towards women, inter-tribal violence, child rape, and other troubles in their world, I could take their statements herein a bit more seriously. It seems they are determined to use our actions as a reason to rend the Anglican Communion asunder. The last paragraph really makes me grind my teeth. I wonder about all the dioceses and congregations and faithful folk in their provinces who feel marginalized and alienated.

I'm trying to respond to this in a Christian way, but it hits all my buttons about Christ calling us to care for those who are marginalized, including the gays and lesbians. I guess Bishop Akinola would have us pick and choose which of God's children we serve.

Friday Five: Ice Cream!

1. Ice cream: warm weather only or a year-round food?

Definitely a year-round food. In the winter, French vanilla over a molten chocolate cake is heaven on earth.

2. Favorite flavor(s)


Okay, I'm not crazy about B-R bubblegum flavor, but if I were desperate...

I'm particularly fond of things like Jamoca almond Fudge, Caramel Praline, and unusual flavors like ginger and green tea. And italian gelato (the rum raisin at Bar Nico on the Fondamenta Nuova in Venice, for example) is sublime.

3. Cake cone, sugar cone, waffle cone, cup?

Cup. I like my ice cream experience undistracted by other stuff.

4. Childhood ice-cream memory

Butterscotch ice cream sundaes at the fountain on Central Avenue. It was by the wallpaper store where my mother would go and spend HOURS poring through the pattern books deciding what to get for her next decorating frenzy. The sundae was my reward for playing quietly and not making a mess. I was so easily bought.

5. Banana splits: discuss.

Never really my thing, although other sundae variations (brownies with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge, for example) were pleasurable. Still, my preference remains for the pure ice cream experience (see #3).

The non-ice cream ice cream that I'd also recommend is coffee granita (strong, sugared espresso, frozen, then scraped into a large-crystal kind of ice), served with some whipped cream and a brioche. I understand that it's served for breakfast in the summertime in Sicily. Guess I'd better go check it out!

I am such a dessert slut...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Prayers, please (2nd edition)

So now StrongOpinions' mother asks for prayers for herself. You may recall I mentioned recently I had to go for my semiannual MRI, a result of the bout of optic neuritis I had a little over a year ago. I lay down in the tube and listened to the squeaks and claps and bonks, while they pumped gadolinium in my veins and looked at my brain. Unfortunately, they found some changes in this brain.

Yes, I know, I'm going to seminary so OF COURSe my brain has changed!

But this was a small change of a kind they don't like, so they're going to start me on drugs for Multiple Sclerosis.

Normally, MS is diagnosed by two neurological "events" separated in time and separated in the parts of the body they affect. I've had one (the optic neuritis) only, but given the change in the MRI, they're pretty sure it's MS, mostly because they've ruled out anything else it might be. So I will begin injecting myself every morning with Copaxone, the purpose of which is to keep relapses at bay, and possibility to limit any disability to something easy, like lumps in the injection sites.

This is not all bad news: the fact that I've been diagnosed this late in my life (!) and I'm a woman and the optic neuritis responded so well to treatment all bodes well for the eventual progress of the disease.

Still, it is a pain, both literally and figuratively. The uncertainty of the progression of the disease is hard to take. I'm praying for another 15 years of disability-free service to the church (that would take me to mandatory retirement age). At some point soon, I'll have to tell my Bishop. I think he will be supportive, and won't say "No seminary for you, missy!" But there's still a small part of me that's scared.

I'm looking for the pony in the room full of manure...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Holy Moley!

We've got a woman presiding bishop! See here:

I'm ecstatic - she's a fascinating, brilliant person, a second-career priest (like I will be), and her views are progressive but conciliatory, which resonates with me. I'm also worried - there are some parts of the Anglican Communion who haven't even signed on to ordination of women, much less women bishops, much less a woman primate. This is going to be interesting and maybe a little scary, but I think she's the right choice for ECUSA.

I was also rejoicing yesterday, reading this homily delivered by Maori Anglican theologian Dr. Jenny Plane Te Paa, the "ahorangi" or dean of Te Rau Kahikatea (College of St. John the Evangelist) in Auckland, New Zealand, which is one of the most powerful I've read in some time, and makes me proud to be a woman, to be a Christian, to be part of the Anglican communion:

Some days I think it's the work of women that will save the church.

Friday, June 16, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Zzzzzzzzz

My favorite subject: sleep!

1. In what kind of environment do you sleep best?
Cool but not cold room, my down comforter in winter, my memory foam pillow, the cats and PH.

2. How much sleep do you need to feel consistently well-rested?
Seven to eight hours. I can get by with less, but only for a day or two.

3. Night owl or morning person?
Definitely a morning person. Up at dawn. It's when I get my best reading and thinking done.

4. Favorite cure for insomnia.
Reading in bed. It's a bad habit, I know, but it does work. when I get really desperate, I'll take half a Tylenol PM or some melatonin.

5. To snooze or not to snooze? Why or why not?
Naps are a gift from a benevolent and loving God. Couldn't function without a few minuts of snooze time in the afternoon!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Prayers, please-

for StrongOpinions, who is having a surgical procedure done today. It is outpatient surgery, so she should be home later this afternoon, but it is the very first time she's ever had anesthesia, so I'm a bit nervous.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Icon: John Baptizing Jesus

I finally got around to taking a close-up picture of this one. The Saint Peter I'm doing now is a lot easier, since it's just one figure, not six.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Is there anything quite as wonderful as the gift of grandchildren? Herein are Princess Granddaughter, her cousin Cowboy Grandson, and Cowboy's new little brother Mr. Mellow. Their GrandMary counts herself very lucky indeed.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


We signed a contract for the sale of our house this afternoon. The offer was slightly less than the asking price, but not bad, so in the interest of our sanity in an increasingly dicey market, we accepted it. The buyer is prequalified for the mortgage and doesn't have another house to sell, so barring any problems on the home inspection, we should be done.

The best news is that this means we don't have to have another Open House tomorrow. The cats can stay at home, I can stay at home, the gecko is now back up from the basement in his girl's room, and the cats' scratching post is back in the living room where it belongs.

Life is good! Bye, bye, little house!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Counting the days...

...until the family camp-out in Michigan here:

getting away from the house and work and moving and all that to a place where it doesn't matter how I look and I can loll (don't you love that word?) and wander...bliss.

RevGal Friday Five: Rain

1. Favorite way to spend a rainy day
On the sofa with a good book and a pot of tea, with a fire in the fireplace if it's chilly, and my feet in PH's lap.

2. Favorite song about rain
There's great old song by the Temptations (R&B group from the 60's and early 70's) "Wish it Would Rain."

Day in day out, my tear stained face, pressed against the window pane.
My eyes search the skies, desperately for rain...
'cause raindrops will hide my teardrops,and no one would ever know...
that I'm cryin', cryin' when I go outside.
To the world outside my tears, I refuse to explain
Lord I wish it would raaaaiiiiin...

3. Favorite movie featuring rain

"The Umbrellas of Cherboug." Catherine Deneuve in a musical. A marriage of French drama and hollywood musical. Strange but beautiful. Very Sixties romantic French music by Michel Legrand. 'Nuff said.

4. Favorite piece of raingear, past or present

My rubber boots, which propelled me through the acqua alta (high water) in the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Venezia in the autumn, the time of the high tides that waterlog the street drains, is beutiful beyond words.

5.. Favorite word for rain

Drizzle. It feels the way it sounds.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Assorted Stuff: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (not necessarily in that order)

No, the house hasn't sold yet. Why is it that I have to comfort my realtor, who is freaking out that the market has softened in our area? I told her that I won't be stressed about it until the house is unsold for 45 days. Remind me of that when I start to fidget.

I get to go with L(my buddy and assistant rector) to a lecture by Barbara Brown Taylor, the wonderful homilist and writer, at the Big Gothic Cathedral in Town tonight. She's flogging her new book, but any time I get to hear her, it's a joy, so I'll buy the book and be happy. L is just back in town after going on a trip to Africa, so I'll get to hear the latest on that...all in all, a good evening ahead.

PH got our home computer functional again. We were without it yesterday, and it shocked me how antsy I was without high-speed internet access. He and neighbor Dave diagnosed and solved the problem by midnight last night. Yay! They even did it without beer.

The cats (particularly Mia) have not yet forgiven me for my application of their topical flea medication yesterday. We survived the application with no gouges or scratches, so we count it as a victory.

The insurance coordinator from StrongOpinions' doctor called and said we may or may not have the insurance company's approval for her surgery next week. The difference between approval and nonapproval is over $2K, so I'm hoping she wins the battle over approval. The kid needs the surgery, so it will get done regardless, but I hate to spend the extra dollars when I pay gosh-awful premiums to these folks every month.

Time to go make some pestering phone calls (work-related) before taking a break for Greek...

Friday, June 02, 2006

RevGal Friday Five goes to the Movies

1. If you were a mutant, what ability would you like to have? (think superpower)

Sounds like X-men to me; I think I'd like to be able to look back on the past an see what REALLY happened. Much more interesting than the future.

2. Tell us about a memorable road trip you've experienced.

Thelma & Louise, Rainman, the Crosby/Hope/Lamour Road movies...several movies come to mind. My favorite trip of my own is probably driving cross-country with PH to a family wedding in Minnesota. We meandered through West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin into MN. Stops at all sorts of funky little places along the way, with no major superhighways. It was cool. The strangest was traveling with my mother the summer I turned eighteen through Europe. I got to see a side of her I'd never known: the Great Fearless Adventurer. We stayed in funky little places and ate interesting food. It was as much about discovering/rediscovering ourselves as it was about anything else. She swapped cigarettes with US Airmen in Copenhagen, she fended off a Spanish businessman who was trying to pick my up (I was thirty years his junior at least) in Paris, she dragged me into every blessed church and museum in our path...

3. Do you enjoy solving riddles and working on puzzles? If so, what kinds?

I'm thinking a variety of movies, from Proof to a bunch of mysteries to Clue to whatever. I like Scrabble and crossword puzzles, and I like doing jigsaw puzzles, though they're addictive for me.

4. Take two of your phobias and combine them to make a campy horror/disaster flick. What would it be called?

Falling Down the Mountain and Landing in a Mess Of Snakes. Sounds somewhat like the upcoming Snakes on a Plane, doesn't it?

5. Just how batsh*t crazy is Tom Cruise, anyway?

All the way to the bank. He's definitely an effective self-promoter despite being a mediocre actor. The real question is whether or not the new baby was conceived the old-fashioned way, or via a Michael Jackson turkey-baster method. Snarky on Fridays, aren't I?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thank God for PH

He knows how I like an attractive abode, and how much I swallowed hard at the seminary townhouse we'll be moving to.

Last night he said, "Do you think we could sheetrock that basement?" Gotta love a man who's willing to do that kind of work to make our seminary home basement livable! Don't know if I'm going to take him up on it, but the thought is very appealing.

And did I mention that next week we'll celebrate the 20th anniversary of HIS ordination (and still he's willing to go through all this with me at this advanced stage of our lives)? What a prince!

MRI Boogie

Since my scary bout of optic neuritis last year, often a sign that one has multiple sclerosis, I go for an MRI of my brain every six months. Thus far, there haven't been any changes to indicate the MS diagnosis, thank God, but I still have to go to double-check (neurologists hate idiopathic conditions). It's rather an interesting experience, although a noisy one. I'm not sure how the technology works, but there's lots of clanking and buzzing and clicking and such. Marlon, the technician, is my buddy - he's especially appreciated because when he injects the contrast dye into my veins, he does it almost painlessly. Something about lots of practice, I guess.

I was lying in the tube at 9 this morning, with my head wedged into submission with some pillows, my eyes closed, and the noises bouncing around me this morning, and I tried something different to keep me calm and non-claustrophobic. Usually, I alternate between reciting the Jesus Prayer, the Our Father, and singing the gospel hymn "Be Still and Know that I'm God." This time I tried to parse the different sounds to see what they reminded me of.

The clanking sounds like someone hitting a hammer on the outside hull of a submarine. Particularly apt, since the tube has the feel of a one-person submarine. Occasionally, there's a sound like the "Dive!Dive!" klaxon in a sub as well.

Then there are the sounds of a callused hand on bongo drums, with varying rhythms that are reminiscent of jazz performers of the bebop period. The beat is slow, then gets faster, than becomes totally arhythmic, then...silence.

There are intense buzzing noises that feel like an alien is drilling into my spine. Not painful, just intensely vibratory. I can feel my whole body zinging with it, even with the earplugs.

Such strange technology; such a coarse way to look at our innards. Remarkable that God does it without a tube and without us feeling a thing.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New House

We went to visit the townhouse we'll be living in for the next three years yesterday. StrongOpinions, who is in a mighty funk with all this change, went with us.

The townhouse is pretty small, although it's advertised as a three bedroom with a finished basement. The sweetheart of a seminarian who has just graduated and is vacating it showed us around.

Here are the facts:
  • a tiny three bedroom townhouse occupied by a family of five is, by necessity, going to appear stuffed to the gills with stuff and thus somewhat messy (get over it, Mibi)
  • a third bedroom that is going to be the back-from-college room of StrongOpinions is going to seem much smaller than humanly possible by said 18-year-old (get over it, StrongOpinions)
  • the buckling faux-paneling in the so-called finished basement doesn't indicate that the front door still leaks, making the wall unsuitable for bookshelves
  • the exceedingly lively party at the next-door home of the African-American family looks promising, except when I think how much I've got to read and study
  • the vast quantity of small kid detritus in the courtyard and in the back yards means I may get asked to babysit (I have mixed feelings about that)
  • the number of seminarians living on this one courtyard guarantees community of one sort or another (I have mixed feelings about that, too, being a private person)

The jury is out on what will actually fit in this place. I think I need to draw some diagrams or something...

We got home, StrongOpinions went out with her friend, I crashed. She came home about midnight and thumped around making herself a snack. I woke up, came downstairs to read on the sofa, and she decided to join me for a long conversation about fears, sadness, etc. etc. Conversation lasted two hours. She will be OK, I think. She's also facing some minor female surgery in a couple of weeks, and I know that's weighing on her mind. All I know is that I need more sleep.

Please, somebody, buy this house?