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.