Monday, January 30, 2006

RevGals Procrastination Meme

1. Are you a procrastinator?

I am a recovering procrastinator. This means I do get most things done on time and I do start them at a reasonable time before they're due. I don't always stay diligent about completing the task at hand, and I often get distracted by other things I'd rather do, or need to do. I got my devotionals done on time, although I did the last one and a half today. I got stuck on how I wanted one of them to move and it needed to cook in my brain a bit longer.

I told you I was recovering.

2. If so, what is your favorite way to procrastinate? And what task are you most likely to put off?

a. Reading, knitting, blogging, cooking, knitting, sleeping, eating, knitting, reading, reading, reading...

b. Expense reports, cleaning, exercise, taxes, cleaning, bills, cleaning...

3. If not.... share your best time-management method.

Actually, I have something to offer, even though I'm still a work in progress: I do the hardest thing first thing in the morning before I can get distracted by other things. This implies correctly that I have a running list of stuff that needs to get done. It works reasonably well most of the time. Often it's a phone call I don't want to make.

Off to Greek class. BBL.

Back to Blogging

I spent most of the weekend at our diocesan annual council. I was braced for conflict, with resolutions flying about with all sorts of flame-throwing adjectives contained therein. happily, this was not how it turned out. The rhetoric was tempered, the resolutions were middle-of-the-road, with a focus on working together despite our differences, and comments were more mild in tone than in past years.

Here's the resolution that was the final result on the issue of working through our differences on the issue of human sexuality and the Church's response to it:

R-17s (substitute for R-1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15)
Adopted by the 211 th Annual Council. Text pending final review.

Whereas, We in the Diocese of Virginia, members of the Episcopal Church in the United State of America and members of the Anglican Communion, united in Christ, called to live out our witness, are “gathered in the spirit” and moved by thanksgiving for the many gifts that mark our life together now, and over the last 400 years; and
Whereas , The Lambeth Conference and Windsor Report have called us to acknowledge and respond with compassion and understanding to the pain and suffering of those who, because of their sexual orientation, endure marginalization and rejection; and
Whereas , The bonds of affection and civility within the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church in the United States, and the Diocese of Virginia continue to be strained as a result of the actions of the General Convention in 2003; and
Whereas , Bishop Lee, through his leadership, honesty, integrity and sincerity, models grace and civility in the midst of disagreement; and
Whereas , Bishop Lee, Bishop Jones and Bishop Gray provide witness to our unity in Christ in their efforts to keep us in relationship to one another; and
Whereas, One of the historic strengths of our Anglican tradition is our capacity to hold together persons with different, even conflicting, emphases in their understanding of the gospel; and
Whereas, We are defined by our mission in Christ to the world and not by the disagreements that lead us to focus on our internal life; now therefore be it
Resolved, That, for the purpose of advancing mission and the spread of Christ’s kingdom, the Diocese of Virginia commits itself to seek the highest degree of communion possible with those members of the Body of Christ with whom we find ourselves in disagreement, and will make every effort to cooperate as co-laborers in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America within the Anglican Communion; and, be it further
Resolved, That, we commit to attend to our differences in a spirit of listening to one another, in order to witness to unity in Christ’s mission; and be it further
Resolved, That, following the model of Bishop Lee, Bishop Jones and Bishop Gray, we commit ourselves to seek always to be respectful of one another and to stand together at the foot of the cross.

It was a masterful piece of wordsmithing - as you can see, it combined a number of other resolutions, some of which were pretty inflammatory in tone - and attempts to amend it to reintroduce those elements were soundly defeated. Now all we have to do is live it.

Whether the relative lack of armwrestling and poking out of eyes at this council is a result of folks being tired with this whole battle, I don't know. I do know, though, that most of us want to focus first and foremost on doing the good work of the people of God. This discussion is important, but it's not the only thing we are called to address. The last I checked, there were still a lot of poor people, and hurting people, and struggling people. We have work to do, rather than fight each other. General Convention in June may fan the flames once again, and we may still see schism, but I'm hoping and praying we'll continue to talk rather than walk away from each other. I guess you can call me Pollyanna.

The bishop called for the election of bishop coadjutor, essentially a bishop-elect, who will co-lead with him as part of the transition to his retirement in 2010. Right after I get ordained, God willing - hard to tell what the impact of that might be, but change, particularly after having Peter Lee as our bishop for 20-plus years, will be difficult.

One of the great joys of the council was a series of meditations and a sermon by the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones. Brilliant. One of those very soft-spoken but powerful preachers. Everyone was sitting on the edge of their seats listening intently to his message of love and reconciliation. We Episcopalians are not known for our preaching. This bishop is the exception to the rule, and what a gift his preaching was to us.

Other more personal good news: I'm now on the calendar for the March meeting of the diocesan Commission on Ministry, and we finally were able to set up a meeting with my COM representative, who's been out of pocket for several weeks. Now if I can just get my PDC Chair to finalize his report and get the vestry to sign off, life will be much easier. Oh, and I've got a date for my seminary interview - two days after I come back from the mission trip with StrongOpinions, so I hope I'm not too fried.

Last but not least, StrongOpinions completed qualifying for snowboarding nationals in two disciplines this weekend. Plus she won a week at snowboarding camp in Oregon. Yowza!

Sunday, January 29, 2006


...for friends who are hurting with ills both physical and emotional.

...for the Church, that we remember the Great Commission and the greatest Commandment, forget legislating consensual sexual behavior, and stop claiming those who oppose us are heretics.

...for discernment.

...for loving each other even when we're unlovable.

...for rest and renewal, even when we don't think we have time for it.

But most especially, thanks for God's faithfulness and His many gifts, some of which we don't easily recognize.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Why I'm Not Looking Forward to Diocesan Council This Friday

Aaarrrrgggghhh. Jesus weeps:

Virginia parish demands leader 'repent'
By Julia Duin

Virginia's largest Episcopal parish, in a letter to the church's 2,200 members, yesterday called on Virginia's the Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee to "repent and return to the truth" over supporting the ordination of the openly homosexual bishop of New Hampshire. Leaders of the Falls Church Episcopal said in their eight-page, single-spaced letter that "no compromise on this issue is possible," although they refrained from specific threats. In the past, the parish's rector has threatened schism. "A Christian leader does not approve of sin, or purport to declassify it," the letter said to Bishop Lee, who backed the 2003 consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. "Rather, he calls sinners to repentance and proclaims the Good News that sin can be forgiven and new life can be obtained in Christ." The letter was sent to Bishop Lee on Oct. 4 but was not made public until yesterday. Calls to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia yesterday for comment were not returned. Bishop Lee, however, did meet with parish leaders soon after the letter was sent. The letter is modeled after Matthew 18:15-17, which advises Christians that "if your brother sins against you," one is to first privately show him his fault, then repeat the message accompanied by "two or three witnesses." If the exhortation still is ignored, Christians are to "tell it to the church," the pattern that church leaders followed yesterday. If still nothing happens, the offender is to be treated "as you would a pagan or a tax collector," the verses say. But church leaders made no threats from the pulpit yesterday about the letter, just a casual mention by one of the priests that congregants might be interested in picking up a copy of it after the service. The letter was signed by Falls Church senior warden Sam Thomsen and junior warden Teri Ballou. The church, the letter said, wished to express its "grief at your complicity in the errors of the 2003 Episcopal General Convention," which approved the election of Bishop Robinson, a divorced homosexual man living with a male lover. Bishop Lee and all but one of the lay delegates from the Diocese of Virginia, the country's largest at 90,000 members, agreed to the election. The letter next cited numerous Scriptures for the bishop to "bring you back to the standard that God has always called His people to uphold" in terms of sexual purity. The bishop not only fell short of calling Virginia Episcopalians to that standard, it said, but he later defended his decision about Bishop Robinson.

The letter reminded the bishop of his public statements that homosexuals should be included in church life just as Gentiles were by Jewish leaders 2,000 years ago, then slapped down that reasoning as "selective and careless exegesis that could be invoked to condone and sin, sexual or otherwise." The letter, which pleaded for the bishop to affirm "unequivocally" that sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman, was released six days before the Diocese of Virginia's annual convention in Richmond. It was the culmination of a series of private discussions between diocesan officials and the Rev. John Yates, rector of the Falls Church Episcopal who last summer took 20 clergy to confront the bishop. "He [needed] to know there are many of us who will not accept the new morality," Mr. Yates said in a Nov. 13 sermon. "We will not go [along], and it may mean major schism." Leaving the diocese would mean a huge battle between the diocese and the Falls Church Episcopal for the church's $17 million in assets and historic property in the middle of downtown Falls Church city. The church, whose $4.26 million budget just edges the diocese's $4.21 million budget, was founded in 1732. Church law says that a departing church must cede all of its assets to the diocese.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

25 Questions No One Would Think to Ask

From Songbird:

1) When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
Dang. Bad hair day.

2) How much cash do you have on you?
$60. I think. Maybe $40. Plus three stamps and a Metro fare Card.

3) What's a word that rhymes with TEST?
Messed (well, it's pretty darned close.)

4) Planet?
Jupiter. I'm way out there today. I spent most of it on Capitol Hill. Nuff said.

5) Who is the fourth person on your missed calls?
The office, telling me I need to fix someone else's problem IMMEDIATELY!

6) What is your favourite ring on your phone?
Mozart Jupiter Symphony, or rather a synthesized version of it. Rather strange, but I haven't heard it on anyone else's phone, so I can always recognize that it's my phone ringing.

7) What shirt are you wearing?
Black cotton knit turtleneck. The Duofold one, as opposed to the one I wore while working today, which was a black ribbed cotton Talbots one. I think my fetish for black sweaters and black shoes has gotten the better of me.

8) What do you label yourself as?
Cranky but still hopeful.

9) Name the brand of shoes you've recently worn.
New Balance once I got home; Josef Seibel while working the halls of Congress.

10) Bright room or dark room?
Dark, with a lovely little halogen lamp giving me the little light I do need.

11) What were you doing at midnight last night?
Sleeping, and grinding my teeth on my nice new night-guard.

12) What did the last text message on your phone say?
"I'll be home in a little while. " It was from StrongOpinions, who always texts me when she doesn't want to argue with me about when she should be home.

13) Where is your nearest 7-11?
A quarter mile away. Not a high-frequency place for me to visit, as I'm trying to stay away from Twinkies and Ho-Hos.

14) What's a saying you say a lot?
Oh, well... (usually after I've done something stupid.)

15) Who told you they loved you last?

16) Last furry thing you touched?
Spooky the neurotic cat.

17) How many drugs have you done in the past three days?
Synthroid, Celebrex, Aciphex, Actonel, vitamins, low-dose aspirin. Also caffeine. Also a very nice glass of Sancerre. Can you tell I'm a middle-aged woman?

18) How many rolls of film do you need to get developed?
None. Digital camera. But I *do* need to put pics in albums. Someday. (This is an exact copy of Songbird's answer, which is an exact copy of Terminal's answer, and is just as true for me.In fact, it's probably a universal truth for all of us with digital cameras.)

19) Favourite age you've been so far?
I like them all, except 41, when I got divorced. Twas not a good year.

20) Your worst enemy?
Unrealistic expectations.

21) What is your current desktop picture?
A gorgeous white lily from our front garden last year; a bank of these lilies overlooked the fish pond. See upper right hand corner of this post.

22) What was the last thing you said to someone?
Yes, I got your email with instructions for the conference call.

23) If you had to choose between a millions bucks and being able to fly, which would you choose?
The bucks. I'm afraid of heights!

24) Do you like someone?Like? Or “like” like?
RGBPs. The women on the retreat with me last weekend. RLP. Other blog pals. The folks with whom I'm going on the mission trip. Our neighbors Bob & Dan, and Dave & Betsy. My spiritual director. The only "like" like is PH, whom I actually like like like like...

25) The last song you listened to?"
"The Fisher King" by Carrie Newcomer. Before that, the Mozart Requiem, to help PH decide which movement to play for his staff meeting on Thursday. They are psychotherapists, after all.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

This prayer of Merton's is one of my favorites. I have a copy of it, in fact, tucked into my wallet, for easy reference when I'm feeling particularly confounded.

It's an apt metaphor for my life these days.

An anonymous medieval mystic wrote a treatise called "The Cloud of Unknowing." I feel like I'm in that cloud a lot. The good news is that it's all right, indeed appropriate, to be in the cloud.

I say "I don't know" a lot these days.

"Are you going to stay in the area after seminary?"
"I don't know."
"Are you thinking of a parish ministry?"
"I don't know."
"Would you like to work in a big church or a small one?"
"I don't know."
"Are you [insert any question here]?"
"I don't know."

For someone who's a control freak, this isn't easy.

I like lists.
I like knowing what comes next.
I like Mapquest and Quicken.

I don't love not knowing what comes next.

And yet, my greatest spiritual growth has come at times when I've been in the cloud, not knowing what was going to come next - during my divorce, when I was in between jobs, when I was traversing the rough waters of congregational conflict as a church's lay leader. I had no choice but to give up control and hand it over to God.

The comforting part of that surrender of control, as Merton says in the prayer, is knowing that God will be there for me, even (perhaps especially) if I misstep.

I still don't know where this journey will lead, but I do know I am not alone. I trust Him. He hasn't always led me where I thought I was going, but He's always led me somewhere interesting.

And so, once again, I step on to the path, not seeing the endpoint, except to know that I'll know it when I get there. I think.

Back Home

I just returned from a two and a half day retreat with our parish's women's contemplative prayer group. I did a bit of writing whilst there that I want to share with you, but I need to do a bit of cleaning now that i'm home, so I'll be back later, probably after our meeting on logistics for our Mississippi mission trip. Blessed Sunday!

Friday, January 20, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Pleasures

Do I have to stop at five? Thanks to Songbird, here goes:

1. PH's arms around me.

2. Whipped cream. Of course, I could combine #1 and #2, but that might be too risque for this webring...

3. My living room couch, a good book, an afghan on my lap, the Spooky cat on the afghan, and uninterrupted Sunday afternoon (plus a fire in the fireplace in the wintertime).

4. An "I love you" note from one of my kids.

5. A gift certificate to the bookstore, my favorite yarn store, or my favorite cookware store, and the time to go shop.

Of course, it goes without saying that the greatest pleasure of all is too ubiquitous to even be mentioned - CHOCOLATE!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The report wasn't ready, so the vestry didn't vote last night. This means that they'll have to vote and turn around their letter of support for me virtually instantaneously next month, to make the deadline for me to participate in the Commission on Ministry interviews in mid-March.

For want of a nail, the seminarian might have to wait for another whole year.

Allie's Donuts

If you live in a big city, you get your doughnuts at Dunkin Donuts (up north) or Krispy Kreme (down south). The Dunkin Donuts are cakier and heavier. The Krispy Kremes are airier, more like a quickly fried piece of air. For those of us who love doughnuts, each has its glories.

If you live in Rhode Island, particularly the West Bay, though, you don’t eat chain-store doughnuts. You eat Allie’s Donuts.

Allie’s sits on the road that used to be the main thoroughfare between Providence and the southern part of the state, and its bridge to Newport. In recent years, an elevated highway has taken the traffic above the route, so it requires a certain effort and foreknowledge to take the local road to enjoy an Allie’s donut.

Allie’s has donuts of many flavors, and good non-froufrou coffee, but to me there is one reason, and one reason only, to go to Allies’s.

Maple-frosted doughnuts.

A moment of silence, please, while we sigh in the memory.


My love and I were going to South County to pick up his sons. He was divorced. His sons were five and nine, and the adjustment had been difficult for them. I was mad about him, and wanted things to go well with the boys. Driving south from Providence to retrieve the boys from their mother’s house, where I had recently moved to be near him, we stopped to pick up a box of doughnuts. The place was unprepossessing, no more than a winterized shack really, but there were many cars and trucks parked in the lot. In true anti-establishment Rhode Island form, there were no lines painted in the parking lot, so the patterns of the cars and trucks were random, and finding an identifiable spot was a challenge. He ran in while I waited in the car. Did I tell you it was winter, and it was cold? He came back about fifteen minutes later (there had been a long line) with a box of doughnuts and cups of coffee. He said, “Have one.”

“Before we get the boys?”

“Once we pick the boys up, the doughnuts will be gone in five seconds. Eat yours now.”

And so I did. It was maple-frosted. It was still warm, the frosting was still somewhat gooey, and it was pure delight. It was the Platonic ideal of maple-frosted doughnuts. It wasn’t too airy or too caky. It was light, but full of flavor. It filled my mouth with its richness (but not too rich), its warmth (but not too warm), its mapleness (real, not chemically modified corn syrup). It was the doughnut equivalent of good sex.

Perhaps some Valium was part of that doughnut’s secret, because I suddenly wasn’t quite so worried about the boys and whether they would like me.

Of course, they did like me. I had brought them Allie’s Donuts.


We had been married for several years. We had made three babies, two more boys and a girl. We were raising the aforementioned two boys, whose mother was a troubled soul unable to care for them. Things were sometimes good, sometimes tense. I was working several hours away and commuting home on weekends – this is a long and complicated story, and I will spare you its awkward details. It was not a good situation, except financially. Every Friday afternoon, I drove several hours home. I did the laundry, cooked several meals to be frozen for use later in the week, cleaned the house, did the thousand things one’s children need when you’re in a commuter marriage, tried to give my angry husband the attention and love he wanted, and usually didn’t breathe for the whole time I was there. There was no time, and no air. Every Sunday night, after supper, I would leave and drive the several hours back to my job in another state.

I craved Allie’s Donuts on those trips back and forth. I needed some sweetness without expectations. Of course, the timing was all wrong. Allie’s was out of the way, and wasn’t even open when I was driving. Weekends were too full with work and Little League and soccer games to make the trip for doughnuts.

There was a hole in my heart, and it wasn’t just missing Allie’s Donuts, although they made a damned good symbol.


We were divorcing. I couldn’t find work in our area, so I had to take a job in Washington. I couldn’t take the kids out of state, so they had to stay with him until things were settled. On Valentine’s morning, I drove away from the home I had lived in, brought my babies home to, cooked in, wallpapered, loved and loved in.

My daughter, then six, said “I’m not ready for this.”

She wasn’t alone. I wasn’t ready either.

I headed south to the new job.

I didn’t go directly; I took a detour. I had to get some doughnuts. I had to stop at Allie’s.

I got a dozen maple-frosted dougnuts. One cup of black coffee.

I ate the dozen doughnuts like Sherman marching through Georgia, relentlessly, one after the other.

When I was done, I pulled over to the side of the road and was sick.

The sweetness seemed disconnected, empty, meaningless. I couldn’t taste the maple flavor. Something was wrong with me, more than the broken heart, more than the longing to have the children with me. I had lost the woman who had first tasted those doughnuts so many years before.


It is a warm day on the crest of summer, and I am driving north to retrieve my children from their father’s house. Several years have past. He is remarried, I am about to be remarried, and some, but not all, of the pain of the past few years has settled down to a dull memory of an ache. My husband-to-be is with me in the car.

“We have to make a detour,” I say.

“Aren’t we going to be late?” he answers.

“This will only take a minute. It will make the kids happy.”

And so, we turn off the highway, go the new back way to Allie’s – I only get lost once – and get a dozen doughnuts. Half maple-frosted, half with colored sprinkles. Time for new traditions, new tastes. Two large cups of black coffee, which lead me to ask the question: why isn’t coffee a sacramental element, or is it?

We get to the house, my old house, one I had decorated with love and care and imagination. It looks tired, and unkempt. Several unfinished repair projects are in evidence, most notably the beautiful front porch, which looks like it is about to separate from the body proper of the house and collapse. We knock; the dog, white in his muzzle now, barks wildly. The children come running to the door and open it, smothering us in hugs and kisses.

Then they stop.

Like pointers, they raise their noses in the air…

“Allie’s!” they cry.

Any pain, any stress, any wondering whether the summer would go well, ends with that cry.

Another bridge crossed, with Allie’s Donuts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I'm holding my breath.

Tonight the vestry may be voting on whether to endorse my request to become a postulant and go to seminary. I say "may" because it's unclear whether the chair of the Parish Discernment Committee has actually finished writing his report saying they endorsed me. Rationally, I know the vestry will vote to confirm. Still, I worry. Oh Mibi of little faith! The juxtaposition of my impatience and my lack of control of the situation brings out the worst in me - I spent an hour last night pestering poor PH for the reasons why he thinks I will be a good priest and why I'm much nicer than his former wife. I returned the favor and told him how much better he is than my former husband, of course. I had the easier case to make.

I'm breathing a sigh of relief.

StrongOpinions has wanted - passionately - to come on our mission trip to the Gulf Coast next month to rebuild homes destroyed by the hurricane. The ground rules say you have to be 18. She is three months shy of 18. The Powers That Be decided that she's a mature almost-18 (true) and her mother will be there with her (also true). She, being the kind of girl she is, cannot imagine why anyone wouldn't want to come and help. We'll see if she feels quite the same way after a week of manual labor. I do enjoy long car trips with her, which is a good thing, since the drive will take 18 hours. We may need to hide the power tools from each other by the time we get there. A little closeness is different from a lot of closeness. Still, I'm so glad she will be doing this with me. She's still up visiting her dad, and I mailed her Marcus Borg's book on the similar sayings of Jesus and Buddha. She was so excited to get it. I'm blessed being her mom.

I'm sighing - ironically, of course -about politics.

I am shaking my head at the Speaker's vague attempts here in Your Nation's Capitol to apply some ethical standards to the House of Representatives. Nothing like shutting the door after the horse is out of the barn.

And then I get to read some poetry - ReverendMother's latest jewel, plus some new stuff from Billy Collins' "The Trouble with Poetry."

I breathe easier.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dr. King

I'm remembering the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King today, as we celebrate his birthday. It's a legal holiday here in the USA. I'm trying to remember how we are called to make change in this world, which is still so very broken.

I had the pleasure of singing that wonderful old spiritual, "My Lord, what a Morning," at church yesterday. It was the closest thing to a remembrance I could offer at our very non-diverse church. Nothing was mentioned of Dr. King at the service, which seemed sad to me. When you have had a prophet in your midst, why wouldn't you continue to celebrate him?

So today I'm thinking more of Dr. King as I do a thousand little things around the house (laundry, cleaning, making a batch of beef stew, shredding old financial documents). Perhaps others have more transcendent ways of honoring him. I can only say a prayer and do my work. Perhaps that's the best tribute to a man who continually - in the face of great danger - said his prayers and did his work.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Fast As My Fingers Will Let Me

I'm continuing work on the incomplete Irish Fisher Gansey which was one of PH's Christmas gifts. It appears it will now be his Valentine's present (along with a really neat red plate from a pottery artist friend of a friend). I will finish the body tonight, and will start the sleeves forthwith. If it isn't his Valentine's present, it will be his Father's Day present, or maybe his Labor Day present...I do promise to post a picture of it when and if it's done. I have a lovely pattern for a lace branches and leaves scarf that could be used as a stole over an alb if I were feeling that creative. It's next in the knitting project queue before I start in on the Norse sweater for DSIL. As Songbird ( ) says, knit without ceasing! Two pair of socks to be knit in there somewhere, too...and I should start something for impending grandbaby #3, who is due sometime in April.

Next week is our church's Women's Retreat, so I should get some good knitting time then, out overlooking the Patuxent River. A good time is had by all at this event, even though we usually are there at the same time as another group's silent retreat and we have to decamp to the furthest basement room so we can party with our wine and cheese without disturbing anyone. Silence is not something our group can do with much success. We usually try to do one meal silently and can't even quite manage that. Nothing like reinforcing the stereotype.

After several days of weather up into the 60's, we are shivering and watching the trees shake in a cold wind. Feels like it's down to the 30's right about now, which we're definitely not used to. We lost electricity at the church during icon writing class today, probably due to the wind. My vision is not really sharp enough to do the work in natural light. Ah, well, we were close to the end of class anyway. The Baptism of Jesus by John is going slowly, slowly, slowly. These works go at their own pace - at God's time, not ours.

In this sense, it's rather unlike the knitting, which only goes as fast as my fingers will let me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Almost Empty Nest

StrongOpinions leaves tomorrow for a month at her father's house. A chance for her to spend some time with him, I hope, and a chance for her to get some quality snowboarding time, as this will probably be the last year that she competes (she's nationally ranked). She was up at midnight doing laundry. It's a fact of life that she never does this stuff during ordinary waking hours. I suppose I should be happy that she's doing it at all, rather than expecting her mother to do it. Her room looks like a tornado hit it, but I am told it will be cleaned up before we take her to the airport tomorrow.

I took her to lunch today at a new restaurant her in the 'burbs that serves excellent vegetarian stuff as well as stuff for me. It was delicious, and the conversation was interesting as well. She's such a passionate and thoughtful person. I'm enjoying this evolving relationship - I am her mother, but she views me as a friend to whom she can talk as well.

It seems painful, then, to be seeing her off, this time for just a month, in a few months for college, just when the friendship is blossoming.

Some things don't change. I have to take care of Moses the gecko and take her beloved Saabie out for periodic drives while she's gone.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Spare Space

The tree is naked and shedding and waiting at the curbside for pickup. The ornaments and the Santa collection are boxed and returned to their hidey-hole under the stairs. I've swept and vacuumed up the pine needles, and the regular pictures and mantel tchotchkes are in their usual places.

The living room looks surprisingly bare after the excess of Christmas decorations. It's soothing to have this kind of clear space back in the room.

Our living room windows have no curtains (or window treatments, as they're currently called). I like looking out at the trees, even in their gray and brown bare state right now. The living room couch (with the afghan I knitted for my late mother 25 years ago) is my favorite place in the world, and the only things that make it better are a cup of tea, a good book, and a Hershey's Kiss.

While all the Christmas things were up, it wasn't quite as enjoyable. Too many visual distractions, perhaps. It's good to have some spare space again.

Friday, January 06, 2006

RevGal Household Items Friday Five

Thanks to Songbird and St. Casserole:

Things I love:

1) Bleach (and anything with bleach in it). Yes, I know it's very strong, but it disinfects, it kills mold, it whitens.

2) Swiffer. In a house with wood floors and two cats, it's remarkable how effective the swiffer is at getting up the reams of cat hair we seem to find every week.

3) Formula 409 with Orange Oil. Nothing better for the kitchen, including the stainless steel vent hood. It degreases like nobody's business.

4) Microfiber cloths. I particularly like them for washing windows with just water, no windex or anything.

One thing that isn't worth spit: Pledge with orange oil polishing cloths. The polish doesn't absorb into the wood. Regular old Guardsman seems to do the job much better.

Now do I use these things anywhere near as frequently as I should? I aim for once a week. I don't always succeed. I suspect once I get ordained, I won't have time for housework, so maybe I'll get a cleaning service then.

As part of my preparation for selling the house, I'm trying to de-clutter and organize little pieces of our lives. This morning, for about an hour, it was choral sheet music. I've sung in choral groups of varying sizes and abilities for forty years, so I have a lot of sheet music. I managed to organize a box full and toss a lot of illegally copied or otherwise yucky stuff. Small victories!

I normally do my house cleanup (or what FlyLady calls "House Blessing") on Saturday, but I've got a meet of the delegates to our diocesan council - the infamous pre-council meeting, and since the tree and the Santas all have to come down Saturday evening, I think the house will not be more than cursorily cleaned this week. it will be an accomplishment to get the needles from the pine swept up. Ah, well, so be it.

My heart is pure (mostly), even if my house isn't.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I couldn't resist planning ahead. I've found my next big knitting project, a sweater for my sister in law. Here's the Dale of Norway pattern:

Yes, I am insane.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


It seems I cannot get things done without a deadline.

It also seems it's hereditary.

StrongOpinions is trying to get her college applications done before going north to her dad's house for a month or so. She had three essays to write for the college she is most interested in (hippy-dippy Buddhist college in Boulder) - one a statement of interest, one a decription of a transformative event in her life, and one a narrative about what she wants to do with her education. She is given to grand pronunciamentos, so these read like a cross between Ayn Rand, the Dalai Lama, and Jim Wallis. Could be worse. Reading her observations on her life so far, and my recollection of what REALLY transpired, is an interesting experience. I have to keep reminding myself that my purpose is not to correct her perceptions, just look for grammatical errors and typos that spellcheck missed. My tongue is bloody from biting it.

My deadline is to finally finish PH's Christmas sweater. It's a complex Aran, with a 36 row repeat, so it's taken much longer than sweaters usually take. I worked on it for a couple of hours last night, while watching a marvelous NOVA special on savants and my guilty pleasure: "House."

Meanwhile a couple of beautiful new books await my attention, Walter Brueggemann's "Theology of the Old Testament" and Jaroslav Pelikan's new commentary on Acts. Of course, what am I reading? The Phil Rickman nystery novel. Why eat cruciferous vegetables when you can have a Snickers bar?

Plus, I'm a couple of chapters behind on New Testament Greek - terrified by aorist verbs. Got to get cracking on that. Plus I am moving my downtown office stuff back to the house, and I've got files to organize. Plus I have a couple of advisory memos to write to the bosses...

Procrastination is my middle name (actually, the second middle name, after Chocolate).

Monday, January 02, 2006


This Monday holiday thing has me very confused.

Woke up at 7:30 am, an all-time late wake-up, and finished the last chapter of a mystery novel (Phil Rickman's "The Cure of the Souls", and thanks to St Casserole for turning me on to this series about an Anglican woman priest who does deliverance ministry). PH was already up and making coffee, bless him. He had an early meeting downtown.

At 8 a.m. StrongOpinions crawled into the bed - a cricket had escaped from Moses the gecko's environment and was chirping all night.

At 8:30 a colleague called up for a mutual complaining session about the head of the trade association we are noth involved with.

At 9 a.m. I went downstairs, read the paper, and signed PH and me up for a photo for the church directory (note to self: lose 20 pounds by January 21st).

At 9:15 I noted on the calendar that I am going on a mission trip to Pascagoula, MS in early February to help rebuild one of our sister churches there, St John's Episcopal Church. St. Cass, is that fairly close to you? If so, can we get together for a cup of coffee?

It's now 11 am. I've gotten dishes done. Should I:
a) do the last 20 rows of StrongOpinion's Andre the Giant scarf, then sew it and block it?
b) go downtown and do expense reports and get StrongOpinions' cell phone replaced, although the Verizon store may be closed for the holiday?
c) start the other Phil Rickman novel I got from the library?
d) bake a pumpkin cheesecake (low-carb, of course)?
e) go back to bed?

Hard to decide what to do first on a holiday Monday!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

I'll be back later, but I have to tell you a miracle happened last night! PH and I both stayed awake until midnight!

I think that's the first time that happened in a loooonnnngggg time. Guess we really are old poops!

N.B. I have now used my entire exclamation point quotient for the month of January.