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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Coq au vin

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
  • flour
  • 3 to 4 pounds chicken breasts or preferred parts
  • small jar white onions, drained
  • 1 can mushroom pieces, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
1. Melt butter in Dutch oven. Dredge chicken in flour and brown well in the butter. Add remaining ingredients, cover, put into very low (275 degree) oven and bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
2. Serve with rice,

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

also from the Boston Sunday Herald Traveler

Best Pork Chops

  • 6 thick pork chops
  • 1 or 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 or 2 large mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1. Put pork chops into a casserole dish. If you like and have the time, brown them in a skillet first. But you don't have to brown them. They don't even have to be thawed out first if you add 15 minutes to the cooking time.

2. Cover with onions and mushrooms. Cover with mixture of sour cream, yogurt, seasonings and wine. Turn chops over, so both sides are covered with sauce. Cover with lid or foil and bake about 1 hour @ 375 degrees, or until chops are tender. Serve over rice, with a dash of paprika for color. Makes 6 servings.

from the Boston Sunday Herald Traveler—must have been centuries ago...well, at least during the last century just past!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

True Colours

by Cyndi Lauper, but I especially love Phill Collins' version

You with the sad eyes
don't be discouraged
oh, I realize
it's hard to take courage
in a world full of people
you can lose sight of it all
and the darkness inside you
can make you fell so small

But I see your true colours
shining through
I see your true colours
and that's why I love you
so don't be afraid to let them show
your true colours
true colours are beautiful
like a rainbow

Show me a smile, then
don't be unhappy, can't remember
when I last saw you laughing
if this world makes you crazy
and you've taken all you can bear
you call me up
because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colours
shining through
I see your true colours
and that's why I love you
so don't be afraid to let them show
your true colours
true colours are beautiful
like a rainbow

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

poetry party 28

Abbey of the Arts: illumination!

invitation to poetry icon

Christine took this beautiful photograph at a retreat center on the Hood Canal.

poetry party 28

luminist painters revealed light—
we otherwise wouldn't see
luminaries in arts, in sports, in politics, too—
are more than usually visible
luminarias show pathways—
during a season of darkness
the smile on your face—
illuminates your love
J the B decreases because in him, just as in us—
the light of Jesus Christ increases...
illuminating the world!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

poetry party 27

Abbey of the Arts Poetry Party 27

invitation to poetry icon

poetry party 27Christine tells us "the image was taken in the summer of 2007 on Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands in Ireland."

What is written on my heart?
Little more than endless pain.
Decades of
"tomorrow will be different
"this next thing will work
"all I need is a long night's sleep..."
imagining and actually believing sorrow, loss, grief and hope
were the night that Spirit
would transform into dawn

Thursday, October 30, 2008

poetry party 26

Abbey of the Arts poetry party 26

invitation to poetry icon

Ipswich Robin by Christine In Christine's invitation she writes, "This week I invite you to celebrate your own ancestors, either as a group, or dedicate your poem to a particular person (human or animal in nature). For this week’s party, I also invite you to email me a photo of this person (if you have one) to accompany your poem.

This photo was taken last March in a cemetery in Ipswich, Massachusetts when I traveled back to trace some of my maternal ancestors.

North Shore

Today rather than people or places or pets, I'm stepping back to honor one of my own previous lives, still wondering how the crooked path got to this current here and where. Not that Ipswich, Massachusetts was quite point of origin, but for those years going up the shore at first from Boston and later from Salem on a summer Sunday afternoon, stopping at the Clam Box for fried clams and simply being stripped clean and purified by salty Atlantic air meant going home renewed and hopeful. During Holy Week before Robert and I were leaving the East Coast for the Left, senior pastor of the congregation I'd been serving took me to lunch at the Clam Box. I almost never regret any of the big choices I've made for longer than a split second, yet what could I have done differently that would yielded the life of service I prepared for? I don't know, yet I do know "these things" don't happen in 1st or 2nd world countries. So I dedicate this paragraph to Boston's North Shore and commit myself to making at very least a virtual pilgrimage back, and filled with the bright hope of Atlantic sea air to retrace, refine and reinvent my own journey.

Friday, October 24, 2008

locations 5

location location location...Friday 5 from the RevGals

For today's Friday 5, Singing Owl asks, "Tell us about the five favorite places you have lived in your lifetime. What did you like? What kind of place was it? Anything special happen there?" I'm not quite convinced any of these qualify quite as favorites, and I'd love to write lots about all these and others, but due to time constraints will say just enough to be suggestive, but each one would make a great separate blog topic. I have pics for each point but haven't organized my photobucket account well enough to retrieve them on time, so here's my play for today.

1. Boston's North End: basic studio with full kitchen, 3/4 bath--a block away from the Prado with the statue of Paul Revere with his horse that was a few yards away from the back end of Old North Church (of Paul Revere fame). I lived there as an undergrad and then for the year I substitute taught in the Boston Public Schools.

2. federal house The Orne-Prince House [1788] in Salem, MA: top level of a 3-story Federal style house, and this Cat's Meow collectible almost exactly matches; the only difference is the windows in our 3rd floor were 6 over 6 like in the 1st and 2nd floors—even the yellow clapboard siding is identical!

3. 3 parsonages: almost mindless living, but bummer in that I couldn't do much of my own decorating style in terms of painting, customizing the interface, etc., but it was great to have yard and exterior regularly maintained.

4. 5 Wellesley Park, posterizedIn the Dorchester section of Boston during summer 2000, just before I returned to Paradise, probably for only a year. This is called a Philadelphia style house; I lived on the 1st floor so Nick, my friend and the owner of the house who lived upstairs could have a lot of freedom to come and go while he again was trying to renovate it for again another tenant. Nick had attended the church I'd served not that far away and over the previous couple of years we'd become good friends. Lots more to say, but that's enough for purposes of this blog.

5. 4875 courtyardRight (technically Left) here in Paradise: again on a 3rd floor, this time a 64-unit complex and this time it's a coastal desert close to the ocean for walks on the beach, not far from the hot desert with its promise of spectacular newness, a short drive from the mountains and not far from the international border. Here we regularly get weather forecasts for 4 different climates: coastal, inland, desert and mountains.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

poetry party 25

invitation to poetry icon

Poetry Party 25: celebrating the gift of the written word

Introducing this week's Poetry Party, Christine says,
The photos below taken this past summer in the library at Melk Benedictine Abbey in Austria...From their website: "In the order of importance of the rooms in a Benedictine monastery, the library comes second only to the church"–another reason I love the monastic tradition! This week’s theme is simple, I invite you to write a poem celebrating the gift of the written word in your life.
Rather than attempting a formal poem about the suggested "written word" topic (it would fill at least one book), I'll thank Christine for the images, inspirations and friendly support. It's rare that I don't start a poem or reflection or retrieve one of my own graphic designs for the party, though only a little more than half of what I begin is ready to post by Friday. poetry party 25Nonetheless, the Poetry Parties have helped me remember past places, persons and events, ponder this present now and dream of a somewhere future in healthy, non-obsessive ways. This has been a sparse blogging year in terms of formal theology and of writing more directly about my own stuff, but uncharacteristically I've been allowing myself an amazing number of naps! Many of those slumbers have featured long, interesting dreams that have recast experiences from my past into where I am now and have helped me finally start sorting through ways to express my ongoing sense of call to serve world, church and creation in ways related to my gifts, passions and education. Thanks, Christine!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

appleseed 5

Johnny Appleseed
♪ ♫ ♫ ♪ Oh, the Lord is good to me
and so I thank the Lord
for bringing me the things I need
the sun and the rain and the appleseed
the Lord is good to me
Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen! ♫ ♫ ♪ ♫

this is Johnny Appleseed day, so Singing Owl brings us today's 5 in his honor. part of his bio includes:
September 26, 1774 was his birthday. "Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.

As Johnny traveled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels.
1. I'll pick a pair of favorite apple dishes: the harder to make apple dumplings wrapped in flaky piecrust and perfectly seasoned with more nutmeg and less cinnamon and also, easier to make apple cobbler, with either from-scratch biscuit or bisquick topping. I especially love heavy cream on the dumplings, vanilla ice cream on the cobbler, but a shot of whole milk is an okay stand-in.

2. back in the Intermountain West (the real west, by even today's standards!) I participated in a ceremonial tree-planting (one of those events that gave us a spot and a soundbyte on the late evening news), but I don't recall the why of it...

3. roaming around the countryside wouldn't exactly be the first choice of adventure for this city-girl, but if God called me to do so, I could preach and pray a little, display some design and get some commissions as well as play a few piano recitals.

4. two on the historical legend front, as well: Johann Sebastian Bach and Martin Luther. We have a lot of factual info about both of them, but there's a ton of hearsay we can't tease out from their realities.

5. when I'm trying to get cheerful, praise songs such as "Shout to the Lord" and related are wonderful; if I feel really despondent, a symphony by Beethoven brings back perspective in a heartbeat.

Monday, September 22, 2008

poetry party 24

To introduce Abbey of the Arts poetry party: equinox edition Christine observes, "Today is the autumnal equinox, a time when the sun rests above the equator and day and night are divided equally. It heralds in a season filled with change and the brilliant beauty of death. I invite you to write your own ode to autumn. What are the gifts, challenges, and invitations for you in the days ahead?"


invitation to poetry icon

[...BLUEBERRIES!!! was my first thought about Christine's pic...great colors and contrast!]

starting out with equal parts
day and night
with leaves falling
colors richening
and differently scented air
autumn eases into cooler longer nights
for better dreaming

creation winters in sleep
until on the other side
spring bursts open
splendid in resurrection liberty
reborn in greater wisdom
and overflowing depth

so instead of sadness
over another sorrowful summer
I'm ready to welcome
a season of settled quiet
and excited to anticipate
next summer's festivities!

Friday, September 19, 2008

autumnal equinox 5

(north of the equator) fall equinox Friday 5 on the revgals

for this September Friday, Songbird suggests, "tell us five favorite things about fall."

1) A fragrance: Thanksgiving dinner baking in the oven with scents of onion, celery, sage and turkey permeating the house

2) A color: I'll pick a palette of 3...
plum
camel
indigo
3) An item of clothing: corduroy anything

4) An activity: walking on a tourist-less beach when the weather is cool but not too chilly or otherwise intemperate

5) A special day: Thanksgiving Day USA

Friday, September 12, 2008

back to school 5

back to school friday 5 on the revgals site

Mother Laura lines out this week's 5:

1. No one in this house is going back to school this year.

2. Until a couple of really good HS teachers (I also had a couple of fine art teachers in elementary school), I was close to indifferent about school in general, but at least I didn't detest it, so when some good teachers and interesting subjects showed up, I was rarin' to go. But I always enjoyed getting a few new clothes for back to school and I always was particularly interested in that season's special colors (styles, too), though I hated the end of warm summer weather.

3. No historical rituals for the Autumn New Year. And now? My last really formal educational course of study was design school a few years ago, but we began in January and attended classes 25 hours a week for 9 months until mid-October, making it an interesting back-to school time, since it wasn't exactly a 2nd semester beginning. I enjoy putting away summer clothes and getting out the ones I wear only in the cooler weather, but that's about the extent of any fall ritual.

4. My answer to (2) about new fall colors and styles works for this one, too.

5. My best year of school...depends...but getting a 2nd undergrad degree probably was the most exciting time in school because I was old enough to be highly intentional enough about getting a solid background in the social and behavioral sciences in order to be well-prepared for seminary.

Thanks, Laura! I was delighted to find F5 online in time to post before going to bed. I haven't been blogging at all, so I very much appreciate having a ritual way to stay connected with Friday 5, which I almost never miss.

Friday, September 05, 2008

5 about vulnerability

RevGals vulnerability Friday 5

Sally introduces today's Friday 5:
It seems almost crass to post a Friday 5 after Mary-Beth's last post and prayer request for our dear Gannet Girl and her family (many prayers arising from here, needless to say). So I hope that folk will take this in the spirit with which it is offered; that of continuing prayer and concern tempered by the knowledge that we are called both to weep and to rejoice with our communities.

I have recently been reading a book entitled Jesus wept, it is all about vulnerability in leadership. The authors speak of how Jesus shared his earthly frustrations and vulnerabilities with a select group of people. To some he was the charismatic leader and teacher, to others words of wisdom were opened and explained and some frustrations shared, to his "inner circle" of friends: Peter, James and John, he was most fully himself, and in all of these things he was open to God.

So I bring you this weeks Friday 5:
1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person?
Less and less easily every day, though despite being people-seeking and people-craving, I've always been what you refer to as "a private person," for whatever reasons.

2. How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry?
In front of any audience (in the chancel, greeting people in the narthex after worship, at council/session/vestry, community meetings) very majorly ultra extremely so. Other, less public settings are on a case-by-case basis.

3. Masks, a form of self protection discuss...
A healthy person does not and will not spill their guts right away to everyone they meet as soon as they meet them, though on the other hand, if someone cannot ever reach a stage of basic trust and openness with anyone, that's not healthy, either. Again, time and place. Masks are essential to healthy functioning, but you gotta know when and where to unmask gradually and what parts to reveal. And I'll say no one (except Jesus) ever did it right all the time.

4. Who knows you warts and all?
No one whatsoever any more.

5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.
Dozens and dozens! Here's a quote from one of the most so, Robin Williams' "Don't Let me Come Home a Stranger..."

When the ties no longer bind, Lord save me from this darkest fear
Don't let me come home a stranger
I couldn't stand to be a stranger
In this place so far from home, they know my name but they don't know me
They hear my voice, they see my face; but they can lay no claim on me...

Though I wouldn't exactly say that song calls me to be my most authentic self, too many times I've believed I was returning to a kind of home and discovered otherwise. Last night I finally realized the best strategy for right now is to start acting like I'm brand new in town and to begin introducing myself and reaching out once again.

Friday, August 29, 2008

labor day 5

today Singing Owl brings us a fun 5 on the revgals site; originally I blogged in $$$-green, or maybe it's the green of liturgical ordinary time...

1. worst job: hard to say in any real sense, but I'll mention the production line temp job I worked at for 2 whole days. It was the only job I ever quit in disgust rather than at an appropriate time because another opportunity was waiting or because I was hoping.

2. best job—how many times have I blogged this? two, both food-related: writing restaurant reviews for the local radical rag and working as a line chef.

3. if $$$ and other considerations were no object, for employment I'd design textiles, which was my very original dream as a very young kid. I got the header description for my first design blog, sun country living! from an old ad for illustration boards and professional papers. It reads, "In the beginning a small bell chimed. Creativity! It chimes like a small clear bell at the heart of the human spirit..." Speaking of labor, my earliest memories are of myself drawing at the dining room table, but I tell people a greater Love drew me. Heeding Singing Owl's wise suggestion I can put down the chopping board, the sauté pan, the pen, the commentary, the piano (yes!) and even hang up the alb and the geneva gown (maybe especially since these days I usually preach in street clothes) but color, line, pattern, design, Pantone and Adobe never are far away.

4. this past week and next week are sort of breaks from formal labor but I still haven't gotten a break from wondering if I have any sort of real solid future related to my gifts, education, experience and ongoing sense of call.

5. as summer morphs into fall, my "work" will morph into anticipating or dreading...see my response to #4,

bonus: a song, a book, a play that says "workplace" to me...how about a font or even better, a typeface? I'm still lovin' helvetica and cooper...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

poetry party 22: music

Abbey of the Arts Poetry Party 22: "there will be music despite everything"

invitation to poetry icon

Introducing the topic, Christine tells us,

The title from this post is a line from Jack Gilbert's beautiful poem "A Brief for the Defense"...This line came back to my memory poetry party 22while in Vienna when we saw this street musician performing on the Graben, one of the city's pedestrian zones. The cello is by far my favorite instrument and while standing there on a perfect summer evening and watching him play I thought of my father who loved music so much and wondered if, when he was young, the sounds of his favorite Austrian composers got him through the terrible years of the war.

then Christine asks, What do Gilbert's words and the mosaic of images evoke for you?

my response...

how can there not be music?
as heaven formed earth, morning stars sang together
no music?
earth and heaven declare thy praise!
there will be music?
long ago the drawing table awakened my heart
color and line, shape and pattern still revive my spirit
but equally
the roar of waves
winds through branches
subterranean chatter of the desert floor
the profound moan of hurricanes
birdsongs intertwined with melodies from stone-etching streams
the cascading splash of baptism's waters
beethoven symphonies at the speed of full orchestra
breaking and pouring of eucharist's grace
birthed and continue re-borning me
there will be music?
but how can there not be music?

Friday, August 22, 2008

dates 5

5 about dates on the RevGals site

from Songbird:

1) I track my appointments and parts of my schedule with an analog week-at-a-glance book; for the past 7 years I've used the exact same kind, with different covers (some years).

2) The last time I forgot an important date...well, actually, never! Really!

3) Having been single again for quite a while, I haven't gone on a formal date with a (single) guy for about 5 years now, for whatever reason.

4) Oh, I love vintage clothing...a couple of my favorites are my two cotton (one is lawn, the other a heavier-weight woven fabric) full, floral-print, flowing, lace-trimmed Jessica's Gunnies skirts from the early 1980''s.. I've also quite recently bought new a couple of skirts that look as if they're from that era, and I know the style is back now and I also realize almost anything goes these days, but you know! After an African-American tradition I always wear a single silver bangle bracelet as a baptismal symbol (given that I'm too much of a Calvinist to wear a cross), and despite the fact bangles also are a current trend and easy to find these days, I've received a few comments about their vintage-ness.

5) I love the Fruit known as Dates, and have an absolutely wonderful recipe for date bread (I don't llike to add nuts) made with a cup of strong brewed coffee. I'll try to find and post the recipe later.

Friday, August 15, 2008

(not quite yet fall) transformations 5

today the revgals friday 5 is about fall transformations

Mary Beth reflects,
Here in my neck of the woods, rain is falling...a little uncharacteristic for August, but most welcome! It'll be hot and humid later, but a break in the heat is most welcome.

Also falling (especially into my driveway) are the fruits of the bois d'arc tree (also known as the Osage Orange). We call them "bowdarks" and enjoy bowling them down the driveway to the empty lot across the street. (Yes, I may be a redneck...)
bowdark vase
Bois d'arc fruits are used only for: 1) making more trees and 2) eating by squirrels (if you have another use, please let me know!) The wood of the bois d'arc tree, however, is very hard and very beautiful, and makes gorgeous items like the vase above. Such a lovely thing, from such an odd-looking source!

For this Friday's Five, share with us five transformations that the coming fall will bring your way.

Bonus: Give us your favorite activity that is made possible by the arrival of fall.
I've always absolutely loved the start of the fall semester in school with its new notebooks, textbooks, teachers and classmates, along with revitalized hopes and expectations--just like mini-Easters and New Years. I love Mary Beth's intro and especially the beautiful vase, so here's my mostly directly about me play:

1. By the time fall officially arrives I hope to have sufficiently sorted out my print portfolio to be able to choose 4 or 5 differently-themed pages to get my online portfolio and website live, and even get the GoDaddy ad deleted (yep, I'm going to pay for server space), plus welcome/splash and résumé pages.

2. As much as I love hot weather, I always enjoy wearing warmer sweaters and light jackets, as well as corduroy pants, skirts and blazers that never seem quite right during the summer, even on cooler days. Besides, we've been experiencing some very uncomfortable high humidity; hot dry desert weather is one thing, but soaking swampy heat is another.

3. Hot fall days always are great too (in the Northeast we called them Indian Summer, but we get them here in the coastal southwest and also had quite a few in the Intermountain West), and I love the happy surprise of not having packed away all of my hot weather clothes and getting to wear a few favorites again.

4. Most likely I've admitted many times on my blogs that I only practice the piano when I have a gig, but I'm planning, hoping, to return to almost daily piano practice to retrieve and refresh some favorite repertoire and learn the remaining Beethoven Sonatas.

5. Despite everything I just wrote so seemingly optimistically, within the next few weeks I'll need to have made a decision about where I'll be living and if it's not here, I need to find someone to help me pack. At least I've decided not to continue as Queen of Abandoned Property.

bonus: Going north a piece to Julian for apples, apple pies and apple cider.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Federal Street Salem

federal houseThis Cat's Meow collectible almost exactly matches the Orne-Prince House (1788) we lived in at (108)-110 Federal Street in the historical North Shore city of Salem, Massachusetts. The only difference is the windows in our 3rd floor were cat's meow salem sign 6 over 6 like in the 1st and 2nd floors—even the yellow painted clapboard siding is identical! Lined up into a streetscape flush with the sidewalk, you also could appreciate the Leach-Nichols House (1782) at 116–118 Federal Street and the Page-Lawrence-Farrington House (1786) at 112–114 Federal Street. These are phenomenal representations of successful business owners' houses from the post-Revolutionary War (for Independence) Federal architecture!

God (Dog, Cat) Days 5

Summer God Days 5 on the RevGals

Presbyterian Gal opens with::
It’s August. An oppressively hot and humid month where many of us live...I am trying to focus on the blessings apparent around me, past and present, that I might not notice, necessarily. In that spirit, this week’s Friday Five goes thusly:
1. Despite originating from a William Faulknerian-type situation, I still have quite a few wonderfully "best and or/sweetest" memories from my earlier years. As usual I'm playing late, so I'll recollect my first ever major-league baseball game that featured a spectacular Detroit Tigers home win against a team I don't remember.

2. Oh, there have been and still are so many favorite summer clothes, but seems as if the clothes that best "insure a cooler, more excellent day" are 100% cotton, with the best of those soft, absorbent, colorful cotton from East India or Pakistan. I'm always in a quandary as to whether very pale, icy cool pastel colors or sizzling hot ones better capture the spirit of summer heat. I especially enjoy wearing short cotton skirts.

3. For delightful, flavorful summer food, I'll take any freshly-assembled salad, though my dressings of choice are highly-caloric Roquefort, blue cheese and other ultra-creamy ones. However, The Very Best summer food has another cool memory attached: sandwiches made from fresh home-baked white bread, thick-sliced, sun-warmed beefsteak tomatoes and mayonnaise.

4. One of my best, if not sweetest summer vacation memories is from my teen years, the week I spent in a beachhouse in the lower Cape Cod town of Truro, Massachusetts with a classmate's family. I've previously Friday 5'd about how we'd walk out the door onto the sand and how we went into nearby Provincetown most evenings. Of course, "Truro" now makes me think of the hymntune Truro.

5. This summer has been the 6th in a row I've been anxious to get over and through, yet this year the HS has acted mightily in my life by enabling me to walk away from more than one less-than-okay setting and I've been assembling an extensive print portfolio in preparation for getting my professional design site really live (currently it's technically live, but with a single lone image and the GoDaddy ad at the top). I'm also composing a background track for the site :D Right now I'm feeling a stronger, healthier sense of my own worth...not very natural-wonderish, but it's grace-filled for me, nonetheless.

I'll answer the "hot, humid and uncomfortable" bonus question by noting how it's been all 3 here in Paradise for the past week, so its feels exactly like the inner-city Northeast or ultra-urban Midwest. To refresh and renew body and spirit, I'm proud of myself for heeding the plethora of water is a precious, diminishing resource warnings on TV besides formally signing our local 20-gallon challenge so I haven't been enjoying extra showers, but I've still been wearing fairly loose cotton clothes, drinking lots of cool water and other low-cal drinks, keeping windows and home doors open. In addition, for summer I always make sure my hair is long enough to put up off my neck (I've had very short hair only twice in my life, and it looks really terrible).

Thanks, PG!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

plants installed

landscape committeeWithout a doubt I wanted to show off the picture I made after our meeting...among other activities, I'm on the Landscape Committee of our condo home owners association. It's an amazing experience, especially because it's jarring to not open and close a meeting with prayer, and I sometimes get a little concerned that I'll offer to do so (haven't yet, though). Ten days ago we did a detailed walk-through the courtyard and front of the complex with the professional landscaping contractor (that may be redundant, given that pro and contractor both should have both experience and a license), and a week later at our membership meeting they kept talking about plants being installed. Plants installed? "Install" sounds like something you do with a computer, with software, with a sprinkler system, to a pastor(?!) into his or her formal role, but how about living, breathing, growing greenery? True this geography should be xeriscaped more than landscaped, but whatever—hope you like the image!

Friday, August 01, 2008

lock in, lock out 5

Today's Friday 5 from the RevGals is lock me out; lock me in and this one's from Songbird, whose intro includes:
For some reason, Blogger declared this blog possible SPAM and locked us down yesterday. This morning, we're free to post again, but there was a fair amount of excitement last night among our contributors, who found a dire notice on their Blogger dashboards threatening that this blog might be deleted in 20 days!

We requested a blog review, and I posted a request at the Blogger Help group, where I found we were not alone. Many other perfectly nourishing and cromulent blogs got the same notice last night...
For my intro I need to mention how excited I was when I realized this group of Jesus People had been flagged--I hoped just maybe it meant we're being appropriately subversive and counter-cultural?! Now, my responses to Songbird's 5...

1) In cases of road construction blocks, if they've let traffic go that far it's generally a simple Go Slow or otherwise not a long wait, so with resignation I trust I've not lost too much time and the dust and debris won't cause too much dirt or destruction.

2) Have I locked myself out of my house? Yes. Back in City of History when I was living in the parsonage (supposedly for 2 or 3 months while they got it ready for sale, but it turned out to be 18 months...) it was late at night and a neighbor helped me get in a window, though surprisingly, I don't recall how I happened to get locked out. Currently I'm in a condo complex, and my next-door neighbors have a key; I also carry an extra in my wallet.

3) Clearing a material or metaphorical hurdle...currently I'm amidst a huge one, as a long series of hopeful possibilities have started to open up and then shut down. Despite someone saying to me, "not a single door has been permanently closed," none have opened wider than a crack of space or longer than a fleeting slice of time and these days I wonder, truly I do.

warnings4) When I get a mental block, if at all possible I'll switch to another task or take a short break, but when time and schedules loom, I just tough it out and hope the results won't be too terrible. Then again, I can't count the times I've told myself I'm tired and tomorrow will be different after I've had some sleep, but "tomorrow" has duplicated all of the near-fruitless yesterdays.

5) My caption for this picture: "Just walk away, Renée; we can't let you pass by here again."

Friday, July 25, 2008

travelin' gear 5

RevGals can't leave home without 5

Singing Owl asks,"what are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?"

Here's my quick list in clumps that explain themselves:

road trip1. wide-ruled spiral notebook; ballpoint pen supply; 9"x12" sketchbook; drawing pencils and markers; some kind of book for random notes and journaling

2. bandanna, hairties, scrunchies, hairclips and barrettes—in the desert or by the sea, a wind might be blowin'

3. iPod loaded with fave music; a few sheets of music manuscript paper in case I hear a song I need to remember

4. sufficient clothes for sufficient warmth and at least one fairly dressy outfit just in case...

5. binoculars, camera, extra sunglasses, extra contact lenses and prescription sunglasses

Friday, July 18, 2008

blog names 5

RevGalBlogPals what's in a name 5

Today I'm answering for both of my blogs that are in the revgals ring: desert spirit's fire! and this far by faith and I'm cross-posting.

1. My by-line is "leah," but my blogger tag is "desert spirit." I love words and combinations of words (I'm a theologian!), so I compiled and considered a list of 50 or 60 possible combinations, and desert spirit's fire stuck. I love love love the implications and especially the reality of the desert; spirit is about the Spirit of Life and our closely related and relentless human spirit; I've been told and concur that I preach and I play the piano with a touch of fire.

this far by faith, after the African-American hymn, was the only possible name for my testimony blog; it's also the title of the ELCA's African-American hymnal:
Refrain:
We've come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord;
trusting in God's holy Word, God's never failed us yet.
Oh, we can't turn back, we've come this far by faith.
We've come this far by faith.

1. Just remember the good things God has done,
things that seemed impossible;
oh, praise God for the victories won.
Refrain

2. Don't be discouraged with trouble in your life;
God'll bear your burdens,
and move all the discord and strife.
Refrain

text and music: Albert A. Goodson, alt.
2. In my blogs and in real life I refer to my current geographical location as Paradise, and sometimes I talk about City of History, where I used to serve. Why? weather people routinely call this Paradise and City of History was one of the primary sites where this nation settled and grew.

3. Just a single favorite blog title for today: "You don't have to listen. I just like to talk." It sounds so much like something I'd say, but these days I need to talk and I need someone to listen.

4. I'll pass of listing My 3 Blogs, mainly because other than Friday 5's and some graphic design, mainly on sun country living, I've been neither blogging nor reading lately.

5. I've no idea when I first heard about blogs, but I started blogging during summer 2002, after I'd finished a year-long mini-MBA in Community Economic Development. I was relatively recently back in Paradise and anticipating spending some discernment time; getting some of my existing and older writing online as well as making a place to store notes and handouts from classes I'd been leading and even sermons seemed like an excellent idea, though later most of the class notes migrated to ...urban wilderness... and typing up sermons is too much trouble since by Monday they're already relatively dead.

The only blogger I know in real life is Erin, of "Waves of Mercy," who pastors in this town. But I've talked on the phone with Laura, who blogs at "Junia's Daughter" and several other places.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Christian Bloggers Network

Andrew Jackson has requested all members of the Facebook group Christian Bloggers Network to post on their group-listed blogs (I've got two—this one and desert spirit's fire!) and to invite and encourage everyone who blogs on Christianity-related topics to join Facebook if they're not already there (and who wouldn't want to be on Facebook?), get their blog into the listings, write on the wall and participate in the forums.

Friday, July 11, 2008

summercamp 5


RevGals summer camp 5 outlined by Mother Laura

1. Did you go to sleep away camp, or day camp, as a child? Wish you could? Or sometimes wish you hadn't?
I didn't, and no one could have bribed me to do so. That's one thing I'm still grateful for!

2. How about camping out? Dream vacation, nightmare, or somewhere in between?
I've done some camping out in a sheltered tent-trailer with now-former (due to life happening rather violently) former friends. Once I got past about a dozen hours of high anxiety from not being in the city, I absolutely loved it.

3. Have you ever worked as a camp counselor, or been to a camp for your denomination for either work or pleasure?
Never a camp counselor, and I haven't been to any denominational camps per se, and I know this is a summercamp 5, but my first intro to heavy-duty theology was as an undergrad at a winter weekend at the ABC-USA's Grotonwood, where we got to converse in small groups with Leander Keck. During the summer I've been to Holden Village, a milder form of roughin' it and in the winter to La Forêt—the UCC still uses the facility a lot but no longer owns it.

4. Most dramatic memory of camp, or camping out?
I'll do a topic semi-switcheroo and reference the wonderful though not usually very dramatic 6 weeks of urban (inner-city, actually) day camp I was site director for at the church in City of History; it was in session Monday through Friday mornings. We used VBS curriculum (oh, I know, it's written for a week's worth but we stretched it). The second year I did it senior pastor gave me one of the best lessons in evangelism ever by saying, "Leah, I know this is your program, but bible study is not optional! This is a church program, and what does it say about us if our actions imply Jesus is so unimportant we don't care whether or not people hear about him?!" The first year I'd let a couple of kids from non-Western religious traditions (Muslim, I think it was) sit out bible study, but SP was soooo right, and the perspective-changing lesson I got was dramatic, after all.

5. What is your favorite camp song or songs? Bonus points if you link to a recording or video.
"We Sail a Ship with a Man named Jonah!" I especially love, "Lord, send a fish and a resurrection — Done! and the sea has ceased its raging..."

Friday, July 04, 2008

fireworks 5 for the 4th

RevGals fireworks 5

From across the pond, Sally says:
From my short stay in Texas my memories of the celebrations are of fireworks and picnics, one year we went in to central Houston to watch the fireworks and hear the Symphony Orchestra play, we were welcomed and included, and that meant a lot! So lets have a bit of fun:
fireworks1. In some ways they're basically the same with festive food and fun, but I usually think of BBQ's as including grilling something outdoors and picnics featuring mainly cold food with anything warm or hot carried in at that temperature rather than heated on-site. I'll take either, as long as the food tastes great and there's lots of conversation.

2. Since I live in a beach-laden area and also lived near the beach on the east coast, I'll take home for the 4th. For other sunny summer days spending some time at the beach can be cool, or warm or hot (as circumstances may have it), though our beaches are sandy and I don't care for sand in my food...better yet, a picnic at a table in a park. Lots of them have BBQ pits, and it's fun to grill right there at the park.

3. I adore fireworks! And thanks so much for the wonderful photo! This evening I'll get to attend Summer Pops concert at the Embarcadero (I know the family who does the Symphony's videography, and as a leftover(!) from their original agreement they still get a package of front-row center champagne table seats for each concert), so we'll have live music followed by fireworks over the water. After selected major league baseball games we also have fireworks.

4. Because so much of the music that accompanies local parades tends to be tawdry and the floats can be not great, I'm usually indifferent, but a few years ago on The Other Coast I was one of the artists for the local Assemblies of God congregation for their entry in the Cranberry Days parade. Although I didn't do much in the way of original art, but mainly outlined some stuff for people to paint (most likely I painted a bit, also), I enjoyed watching my creativity parade through town!

5. For my essential Independence Day music, I love playing Stars and Stripes Forever on the piano (I have a plain arrangement I've enhanced and added pianistic bells and whistles to) or with a good symphony orchestra or excellent band.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

swap stuff!


magic wand



Check out this gorgeous, hand-made card with my initial—way over a month ago Princess Mindy sponsored a blog swap and I got to swap with her! I'm finally posting this, though I still need to edit a pic of all the great stuff Mindy at Princess & the Beads - Bits & Pieces sent me (except the long-gone chocolate, of course). On her blog Mindy posted a pic of the stuff I sent her. All my stuff was fabulous, but the most exciting thing was my magic wand, since I'm a princess too!

Mindy  Card

Friday, June 27, 2008

summer reading 5

summer reading on the revgals site

Songbird brings us 5 about summer reading, introducing it with:
Back in the day, before I went to seminary, I worked in the Children's Room at the Public Library, and every year we geared up for Summer Reading. Children would come in and record the books read over the summer, and the season included numerous special and celebratory events. As a lifelong book lover and enthusiastic summer reader, I find I still accumulate a pile of books for the summer.
Although as a kid I was far more artist than reader, during my late elementary and junior high years I usually joined the library summer reading club and like Songbird, I worked at the library during HS and spent a fair amount of time shelving books in the children's room as well as doing a few story hours (prequel to a teaching/preaching ministry, maybe?) Here's my 5:

1) In general I don't read as much during the summer as during other seasons, though historically I've always loved summer school and almost always find a class to take even when I'm not in a formal program of study (meaning lots of reading and writing). Summer's not the best reading season for me mainly because of the strong pull of other activities.

2) I don't usually take reading other than magazines to the beach, though I always have a journal-notebook and sketchbook with me. However, I fell asleep more than once reading Jurgen Moltmann's The Church in the Power of the Spirit because I'd borrowed senior pastor's copy and he wanted it back in a hurry. BTW, Moltmann is one of my favorite theologians; it's just that the sun, sand and ocean air tend to make me lazily sleepy.

3) My favorite childhood and adolescent books, summer or any season, always were the ones with appealing illustrations. Though as an adult I've become very much a word/Word person, I'd still claim the artist-designer in me usually stays front and center.

4) Usually Better Homes & Gardens and graphic design type mags are my best summer reading rather than books.

5) My next book probably will be one from the short stack I got from Amazon a couple months ago. Not sure which one...

Friday, June 20, 2008

summer in the city 5


summer in the city 5 from the RevGals

From Singing Owl, who begins with:
This post...comes from the Lovin' Spoonful song, "Summer in the City."

early june music cover
Think summer......are you there? Below you will find five words or phrases. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem, a memory, a recipe, or a story. You get the idea:
This just may be the very best Friday 5 ever! I'll open by linking to Streetlife, a poem I wrote during summer 2000 collaging some of my urban experiences over quite a few years and I'm posting the portfolio piece I did a few weeks ago. My design blog doesn't qualify for the ring, so most likely few of you have seen this CD cover and back:

early june music playlist

on to the questions...


1. rooftop

How much space do I have and how much reading time does everyone have? Here are two, though: 1) I found a video of James Taylor live singing Carol King and Gerry Goffin's Up On The Roof. 2) As an undergrad I live in the high-density, ultra-urban North End of Boston where during the summer we'd often spend time on the roof tanning, talking, studying, writing and listening to music.

2. gritty

Exactly as the song says, my skin and feet after a few hours of searing heat and high humidity. Then, of course, wherever, whenever, we gotta get to the nitty-gritty of life and everything.

3. hot town (yeah, I know, it's two words)

Walking out the door around 7:00 am and the sidewalk rises up and hits you. In my opinion "hot town" particularly evokes the combination of excessive heat and humidity typical of towns like Chicago, New York and Boston rather than the Southwest, Intermountain West or Southern California or any of the southern states, though they sure do get steamily hot.

4. night

Out on the town for dinner or a concert; summer picnics on the beach or patio; tough sleeping because of the heat? Any of those plus countless others.

5. dance

What I always want to do year-round, but maybe especially street dancing to local bands at neighborhood food and craft events.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

beach trip 5

Today Mother Laura asks...

...in honor of summer, please share your own memories, plans, and dream with a Beach Trip Friday 5
My image is a scrapbook page featuring a photo of my grandparent's house and a pic of the flower garden, a Susan Branch drawing that looks sort of like me and assorted blandishments.
1. Ocean rocks, lake limps or...

Ocean! oCEAN! OcEaN! ocean! OCEAN!!!!! etc.....

2. Year round beach living...Heaven or the Other Place?

Harwich 05a
Depends. Urban beach living, maybe, depending on where and how. I've lived within a short walk of urban, suburban and rural beaches though not on the beach, so that's probably the best compromise. Currently I'm 15-20 minutes away and that's cool, also. I love knowing it's there, but during the warm months *our* beaches actually are far too crowded, so walking on the sand alongside Ocean Pacific in the off-season is a great activity. Seems as if I mentioned both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in last week's 5!

3. Any beach plans for this summer?
Not yet, but I'll blog when they happen.

4. Best beach memory ever?

Endless memories of so many beaches and experiences thereof and thereon! One of them in particular haunts (in the sense of wanting to duplicate the time or at least the experience today in 2008) me every single day; that's the week I spent right on the beach in the town of Truro on lower Cape Cod, where we'd walking out the door right onto the sand. A classmate's family rented the same house every year and we made almost nightly excursions into nearby Provincetown. I'll also mention the summer I worked for a family with three kids as an au pair in Nahant, Massachusetts. The house was right across from the beach and that summer was quite good in almost every way.

5. Fantasy beach trip?

Maybe simply a few more late weekday afternoon/early evening summer picnic potlucks on La Jolla Shores. I can't think of anything fancier or more elaborate right now, especially considering that I was astonished to discover F5 posted so early—I'd gone over to read ATM, which can wait until tomorrow.

bonus: a piece of music/poetry/film/book expressing something about what the beach means to you.

Henry Beston's book about The Outermost House—I never visited it, but loved the book and wept when I heard the outermost house had washed out to sea. For a few others, Crosby, Stills and Nash, "Southern Cross" (you don't really need or want an exegesis of any of this, do you?); Bob Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In"; "Rock me on the Water" by Jackson Browne (I think); Handel's Water Music, though I'm familiar only with the suite; Karla Bonoff singing her own "Faces in the Wind"; more to come...

thanks so much, Laura!

Friday, June 06, 2008

5 views from paradise

Friday 5 about taking in the view from the revgals

Sally brings us today's Friday 5 ideas:

1. about the big picture, as much as everyone needs a broader view amidst everyday grunginess, in many ways my ability to see panoramically (at least when I force myself to do so) has kept me from admitting how many of the small and crucial details have disintegrated or at least are not okay.

2. my primary challenge is to sufficiently admit 'this is very definitely not okay, so not what I'd planned or intended in the least' without constantly acknowledging stuff that's gone well in spite of everything else and without my usual explanation of how God has waited very patiently for every one of us. Hey, folks, we're living within finite time, and need to be faithful! That was another obscure statement, but my guess is most women and a lot of guys understand exactly what I'm saying. sea cools

3. As Sally exclaimed, one....what am I thinking.... for a book, poem, psalm, piece of music that transports to another dimension, playing or listening to almost anything by Beethoven—how about his Symphony No. 7?

4. A physical view that inspires and helps me 'breathe more easily' and regain perspective has to be at least two, the Pacific Ocean down the street from here (I love the Atlantic, too, but the Pacific seems vaster, broader, more extensive and placidly, peacefully pacific—the Atlantic can become so wild and out of control in a storm!) and, of course, the hot desert anywhere. When I lived in the Intermountain West I'd often feel a little hemmed in and even mildly claustrophobic in the valley, but driving up the canyons and viewing vast vistas helped lots with perspective, too.

5. For lack of time to search for anything else, I've included one of my Ocean Pacific impressions I called "Sea Cools."

Friday, May 30, 2008

garage/yard sale 5

from the RevGals, of course

Songbird asks some leading questions:

1) Are you a garage saler?

Yes, but not compulsively. As in most places, Saturday mornings are the usual Sale days in these here parts, and I usually have something else scheduled. I love garage and yard sales, thrift stores and swap meets because despite not buying all that much at any of those venues, I've bought some of my most favorite things (clothes, decorative artifacts, a few pieces of furniture to paint and miscellaneous other stuff) pre-owned.

2) If so, are you an immediate buyer or a risk taker who comes back later when prices are lower?

Buyer-on-the-flyer here; I learned very early on if I really and truly want it it's so worth buying it then and there unless the asking price truly is absolutely unreal.

3) What's the best treasure you've found at a yard or garage sale?

Oh, this list could be endless! In terms of the % of my clothes and other stuff the number's not that high, but for right now I'll mention the 9-drawer chest I bought either unpainted or barely so for $15 at our church thrift store (see #4); I colorblocked it with paint in four different orangey-yellows and added ceramic knobs I got on Ebay; I'll post a pic later.

4) If you've done one yourself, at church or at home, was it worth the effort?

I helped a friend with one of her sales, including donating some of my things to the cause and we mutually swapped a few things we hadn't known each other had, but I do not believe it would be worth doing it on my own; for the most part I keep my overflow culled by freecycling. The church I served in City of History had an onsite thrift store in business every weekend; they generally set up the loot on Friday, which was my usual day off, but often I"d buy Saturday lunch there and help with storing everything Saturday afternoons. The prices were right, and I bought some stuff. In addition, the mostly women who ran the shop sometimes at times would announce to me they just got a donation from one of the "suburban churches" and I"d get to sort through the clothes before they put them out for the neighborhood folks. BTW, I paid for my treasures, but senior pastor seemed to think he should get everything for free! He bought, or got, all of his blue jeans there...

5) Can you bring yourself to haggle?

Very very occasionally; sometimes successfully, sometimes not, though I never pay advertised price anywhere in Mexico, but that's a way different culture with different expectations and practices.

BONUS: For the true aficionado: Please discuss the impact of Ebay, Craig's List, Freecycle, etc... on the church or home yard/garage sale.

On eBay I've bought quite a few things off and on: new and used (pre-owned, already worn—you know!), mainly clothes and household (domestic?) textiles, though I'm too lazy too venture into eBay sales. Here's my freecycle post again. I've kept a list of the stuff I've offered on freecycle and it's almost 100 items long, with many of that being multiples of whatever I've offered, though I've only received a few plates from someone else. I visited Craigslist for the first time ever just a couple weeks ago, and I must say it is funky! I was there for a friend whose dog had been stolen (prayers, please, please) and didn't check anything else. But Songbird asked about the impact of all of those on the church or home sales? No clue, really, but again I'll say some of my most favorites of everything have been from other than the typical retail suspects.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

poetry party 19

poetry party 19

invitation to poetry icon

Christine introduces this Party #19:
The photo is of course of my beloved Abbess Petunia. This is the first time she stars as the prompt for a Poetry Party. She teaches me many things, but her total abandon when it comes to rest is one of the most precious gifts she offers. I have been thinking a lot about Sabbath these days because summer is coming when my husband’s and my schedule slow quite down a bit and we make time to relish relationship, to linger, to make discoveries in the sacred space of being rather than doing. So my invitation to you for this week’s Poetry Party is to celebrate the gifts of being – what do you discover in those still spaces and holy pauses? Where are you invited to release the hold of doing and surrender to something much bigger?
Abbess PetuniaTime suspended in space, or maybe 'pause' refers to immeasurable minutes. Still but never ever static ways of just being and receptive, too...Abbess Petunia has the amazing gift of abandoning herself to the moment, in the moment, and I need the same ability to release the nearly compulsive "hold of doing." Christine mentioned Sabbath, and we read in Genesis 2:3
So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
a few blogs ago I quoted Carl Sandburg
...and the forgetfulness of our sleep Pumpkin Marigoldis strange and beautiful in itself—and what would you rather have than sleep?
However, the ability of someone like Petunia to rest without guilt, the talent my cats – like PumpkinMarigold in my featured pic – possess and happily own to fall asleep in a heartbeat are gifts most humanoids would welcome and could use, but what I'd "rather have than sleep" would be even more precious than restful, dream-filled sleep: it's the *where* of place and the *who* of people safe enough for me to dare abandon my worries, fears and anxieties, whether I'm waking, sleeping or inbetween.

Friday, May 23, 2008

vacation thoughts 5

vacation thoughts 5 from Sally, who says in her introduction:
It is a holiday weekend here in the UK, and the weather forecast for much of the country is not good!!! But we can still dream and so with that in mind I bring you this Friday Five.
1. Getting ready for summer, do you use the gradual tanning moisturisers (yes gentlemen you too can answer this!!!), or are you happy to show your winter skin to the world?

(This also is a major holiday weekend here, often referred to as the unofficial start of summer.) A few years ago I tried just a single tube of a gradual tan product, but found the results blotchy because it was impossible to apply evenly, though the color itself was fine. My complexion is light olive and I tan easily, so typically I wear sunscreen in the 35-50 range and during the days prior to achieving a reasonable real glow use a translucent bronzer, usually Bonne Bell's can't remember the name right now.

2. Beach, mountains or chilling by the pool, what/ where is your favourite getaway?

sea sky surfI love oceans, rivers, streams, rivulets (glaciers, waterfall, etc.) and any sand, restaurant or resting-place that's shoreside, but this is such a tourist destination and paradise in real life beaches here get way way far too crowded during the summer months, so I'll take conversation and food by the pool, ideally a friend's (municipal is okay, but not the YM/WCA) with ready access to a comfortable bathroom and real indoors shade.

3. Are you a summer lover or does the long break become wearing?

Summer! Summer! Summer! Endless, eternal summer, please!

4. Active holidays; hiking swimming sailing, or lazy days?

Active! Whether a vacation-length holiday, or just the long weekend we're anticipating here across the pond from the UK, I gotta keep moving, doing and showing results for my time.

5. Now to the important subject of food, if you are abroad do you try the local cuisine, or do you prefer to play it safe?

Oh, at least some local! In these here parts our local vernacular is mainly burgers and fries and Mexican, but ethnically our population is extremely diverse so you easily can get every kind of Asian and Amerasian fast food and slow food. When I'm home I eat a burrito a day, though in Mexico it's almost always a higher-end sit-down restaurant. Oh, you said "abroad!" I've only traveled abroad of home port to the aforementioned Mexico (San Ysidro/Tijuana is the busiest land border in the world, though I've also spent time in Mexico City), Peru and Guatemala plus a fair swath of central and northern Europe. So I eat whatever, usually allowing myself an occasional really sumptuous meal. But I realize especially in what one might refer to as 3rd and 4th world countries you really do need to have at least a little caution regarding local tap water and also take care since veggies and fruits may have been washed in contaminated water.

Monday, May 19, 2008

too long a time

This is how I've been feeling for too, too long...I found this in the "First Person" series on page 67 of the February 2000 print version of Life magazine; John Trotter is the author.
I struggle each day to find that once familiar person, me, closest companion. I've lost so much precious time. It's been rolling over me like a river in a nightmare, having neither length nor brevity. The waters...tangled me in a dark eddy of lonely struggle, apart from the world, where time hardly seemed to exist at all, even as it flowed past me. But as my awareness has gradually risen...I see that my loved ones, my friends, the rest of the world, have gone a long way down that river without me.

Friday, May 16, 2008

grand tour 5

revgals grand tour friday 5

songbird outlines today's 5--to name places in the categories:

1. though i realize "fave" implies uniqueness i have lots of favorites, but for now i'll pick albuquerque.

2. no real unfavorite, but there are too many places that send mixed signals to my total being; for this friday morning list it'll be cape cod. my grandparents who'd lived many places had a mid-cape house they remodeled, etc.; growing up i never could be sure what encounters and exchanges would happen on my next visit, and then as an adult it pretty much remained the same...

3. without considerations of cost and time i'll spend 6 or 8 weeks traveling through the indian sub-continent.

4. because i don't read or watch nearly enough fiction or fantasy, the only one i can think of would be avonlea(?) in prince edward island, where anne of green gables lived. in real life i far prefer energized urban or healing desert locations, but i loved the yesteryear setting and especially the clothes anne wore in that series.

5. funniest name—pass on this one, but i can't wait to see what everyone else dredges up!

thanks so much, songbird!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

poetry party 18

invitation to poetry icon

invitation to poetry: and a donkey shall lead them

I love Christine's intro to this very Pauline, extremely Jesus-y topic:
The image was taken at a sheep farm in Arlington, WA, about an hour from Seattle. ... I was most moved however by the donkey they keep in the pasture with the sheep. Apparently he provides some extra protection for them from coyotes because he bonds with the sheep and then his size scares away some of the predators. At one point the dogs had herded the sheep behind the donkey and the image made me smile. I was reminded of the Isaiah 11:6 quote "and a little child shall lead them." ... Where do you go when you choose to relinquish your own ego and follow a path that might seem foolish?
This time I'll be prosaic rather than poetic and begin by admitting maybe particularly since I'm woman, that ego-not ego brings such a constant, often bewildering, seemingly insolvable push-pull. I love the earthy roots of the word "humility" connecting us, binding us to the soil - hummus - safely (I'd hope!) securing us into the ground. poetry party 18 One of the greatest compliments I've ever received was from a woman who attended a church I served; she told me she was amazed I got the call because she had some awareness of their pretentious history and aspirations, and during my interviews I was "so real!" That's akin to being in the earth, the physical place where resurrection to new life of necessity must begin; being "real" (in Spanish the word spelled r-e-a-l means "royal"—Daughter of Heaven!) relates to letting go of the unnecessary layers of your self, freely allowing yourself to be seared by the fires of the Spirit of Pentecost, purified by the heat and born again from the ashes. Several places I've quoted "Endless Love," sung by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie; the recurrent phrase in the song, "and love, I'll be a fool for you," is exactly what God becomes for us in Jesus Christ. Both within and without the Church, foolish frequently is many people's perception of life in Christ. The Heidelberg Catechism explains how salvation history (and the liturgical year) moves from Christmas, with the mystery of Spirit in flesh, to Ascension, with the mystery of flesh in Spirit! May the example of Jesus Christ become our experience, as well!

Thanks for another wonderful opportunity, Christine!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

5 for pentecost

with the festival day of pentecost right on time's horizon, hosting her first F5 ever, presbyterian gal offers today's Holy Spirit pre-pentecost Gifts of the Spirit 5; because it would take almost forever to do this justice, i'm taking a few pauline liberties with her questions.

Have you or anyone you know

1. ...ever experienced a prophesy (vision or dream) that came true?

déjà vu that turns around into vujà dé--lots of times, but actually can't remember enough to write details right now. for the past few years i've become intentional about remembering dreams and often write them down; someone told me to pay attention to the symbols in a dream rather than the story line.

2. ...dreamed of a stranger, then actually met them later?

only in the sense 'this person and this situation both are so very familiar, i *almost* already know their behaviors and the outcome of this scenario.' as i wrote in #1, déjà vu that turns around into vujà dé and wraps around itself all over again.

3. ...seen a wonder in heaven? (including UFO's)

almost any natural phenomenon visible in the sky gives me a sense in my body, mind and emotions this may be a reassuring life- or world-transforming portent; typically i interpret these in a very positive manner. whenever i fly into tucson into the late afternoon/early evening southwestern sunset rather than on a later flight, it reminds me God is still speaking, still sovereign and endlessly lovingly concerned and providing for creation. tucson being an astronomical dark sky area makes it a perfect place for savoring these (right here and now) and those (in the past) experiences.

4. ...seen a "sign" on the earth?

a couple weeks ago i finished reading Quaker pastor Brent Bill's most recent book, Sacred Compass, and i'm currently trying hard to organize and blog my notes. In his book and in the podcast i listened to, Brent talked about learning to notice and read signs, and as both a visual artist and a reader-interpreter of scripture i routinely read high meaning into almost everything, natural, circumstantial and/or otherwise.

5. ...experienced knowledge of another language without ever having studied it?

a woman i met in one of my former cities of residence told me she'd learned Hebrew with very little effort whatsoever, convincing her she must have previously known it.

Bonus Question: What would a modern day news coverage of the first Pentecost have sounded like?
Today in the Holy City Jerusalem at the annual celebration of the Mount Sinai Covenant, known to the faithful as the Day of Pentecost, while an estimated several hundred followers of Jesus of Nazareth were gathered together a wild wind came into their midst and some reported a flame of fire appeared over the head of each individual. According to selected commentators and observers, many believe the renegade itinerant tekton or carpenter Jesus actually has brought a New Covenant of Grace to all creation and some consider the Man of Nazareth also to be the Christ of God. We'll bring you more video and an exclusive eyewitness report on our late evening newscast.
thanks, PG, and congrats on this 1st!

Friday, May 02, 2008

wait, pray friday 5

wait and pray friday 5

from Sally, here's todays 5:

1. These day I pray best (or at least better with more trust and less anxiety) with others, either one other person or in a group of almost any size.

2. About that discipline of waiting...a pastor I served with told me I love "the thrill of the chase," and he was so right, but lately (make that about 4 years' worth of latedness) I've been far far too anxious, though in general I'm usually more into anticipation's excitement. Nonetheless, I still know God has wonderful future surprises for me and for the world.

3. At least thus far, I've never waited upon God for a specific promise, but cannot wait until a time comes that I trust completely enough to claim one.

4. I hugely prefer action to stillness...I'm very restless and virtually never lack enough physical energy. Despite that fact, I try regularly to practice centering prayer and to consciously discern with all my senses the presence and movement of the Spirit throughout the day, whatever I'm doing, however I'm engaged.

5. For one gift, spiritual or otherwise I'd love to receive, I'll choose the ability to be alone by myself and with myself without excessive anxiety and fear of abandonment.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

poetry party 17

abbey of the arts party 17: inner compass

invitation to poetry icon

What serendipity! At this very time I'm trying to write a blog about Brent Bill's book, Sacred Compass, for this week's poetry party Christine posted a group of four marvelous weathervanes from the state of Maine! I chose just one because shake shingles, black whale and all, it reminds me exactly of the outbuilding on my grandmother's acreage, though she hailed from Michigan and literally boasted hints of Nebraska and a touch of North Carolina. So I'll talk about it some.

In a seafaring town on the Atlantic Ocean coast, clapboard dwellings painted white and silvering shake shingles equally prevail. Tides, sand, rocks and dune grass being common concerns, so is the weather. You need to know where the winds are blowing, whale vanecuz what you don't know you can't say "yes" to and you certainly cannot ever intentionally change anything you don't know nothing about. Discerning breezes, spirited winds and directions in general is where weathervanes can be very handy, in addition to symbolizing past glories of way bygone whaling times. But regarding change, when I commented to my grandmother how raw and unfinished freshly new shingles seem to be, standing out in a too conspicuous way like a person of any age whose manners haven't been put on quite right politely, Nana pointed out to me how quickly, how naturally with no effort on their part the shingles just happen to acquire a shimmering patina of silver. You might even call it graceful! In spite of that fact, still I'm wondering if I wouldn't rather be brazenly conspicuous and freshly spoken, because that's how I've naturally become as winds and rains have breezed through my life and world and days. That's how my manner has become, polite or not much so, and to learn where the wind of the Spirit currently blows, Bob Dylan has words for what's going to be happening soon; you can read it all on his site at When the Ship Comes In

Here's a sample:
Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathin'.
Like the stillness in the wind
'Fore the hurricane begins,
The hour when the ship comes in.

Oh the seas will split
And the ship will hit
And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking.
Then the tide will sound
And the wind will pound
And the morning will be breaking.

Oh the fishes will laugh
As they swim out of the path
And the seagulls they'll be smiling.
And the rocks on the sand
Will proudly stand,
The hour that the ship comes in.

And the words that are used
For to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they're spoken.
For the chains of the sea
Will have busted in the night
And will be buried at the bottom of the ocean.
© 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

And the morning will be breaking!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

worship notes, etc.

Worship notes, etc. 26 April 2008

Since I'm playing once again at another church, which once again is without an organist, I won't be at Sunday's potluck and discussion, so I'd like to say a little more today. Thanks for all the thoughts and ideas, everyone; Pastor M, thanks for this opportunity!

Like previous posters, I enjoy the lively energy of the music at the 1st service, and I love singing those songs. I also love playing arrangements of them on the piano, too--during the year plus I played keyboards for the heritage service, I always and inevitably played a setting of a contemporary praise song for the offering.

I particularly resonate with the comments by PB and LAW, but in the interest of posting this and possibly even getting it read, I won't specifically say anything about their remarks, but will offer a few more of my own.

Before I continue talking about this subject I'm so very passionate about, I'll admit I don't know how many folks in this congregation besides LAW, PB and the Sunday adult Bible study group know much about my background. I won't go into the long Pauline-style list of credentials, etc. or even the extensive list of shipwrecks and related disasters, but I'll mention here that in fall 2000 I returned to SD after a long a church in North County before venturing back to the east coast to serve a term call there for an inner-city congregation, coupled with my finally entering the candidacy process for ordination to ministry of word and sacrament and concurrently to begin an MDiv program. In September 2000 it looked as if I might be in SD for only a year; there was about a 50/50 chance I had a PT position to return to in Boston starting the following September. Although the entire situation fell through, that possibility excited me because in addition to serving an inner-city church as worship specialist I'd have been developing new liturgical forms that still would focus on Word and Sacrament in a fully participatory manner, and in a highly multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-everything setting...

Although I didn't grow up even on the periphery of the Church, the texts, colors, music and symbols of the liturgical year gradually came to shape my entire understanding of God's gracious encounter with all creation and God's redeeming work in Jesus Christ, so by the time I started preaching and teaching on a seriously regular basis, I naturally drew upon those understandings. Of course, as a life-long artist I'm very visual about everything!

And again, the church's historical liturgy is deeply rooted, not only in the practice of the early church (when to be ecclesia still was far more political and cultural than it was religious or theological), but also in the worship of God's people we first knew as Israelites and later as Jews. One of the many strengths of retaining some aspects of historical forms is the way those words and actions connect us vertically with the people of God in every place and time and also horizontally connect us here at NPC to the contemporary Church and churches around the world. Of course, the way of Jesus is comprehensive, but retaining historical liturgical practices helps move us out from our own concerns as individuals to the demands of the gospel for political and social justice and advocacy, something I don't see or feel happening nearly enough (anywhere, actually).

A few words about the assurance of pardon: needless to say we all sin far too frequently, but the rite of confession, pardon, absolution isn't nearly as much about announcing the fact our lives again have fallen far short of God's demands along with our need for grace and forgiveness as it is an opportunity to reflect upon God's claims on our lives in this community and in the world. Possibly it better could be expressed as a proclamation or assurance of our reconciliation to God, one another and all creation in Jesus Christ.

By the way, our liturgy classes in seminary were team-taught, not only because I attended an ecumenical seminary but also because we can learn so much from other styles and traditions. Yes, I do understand all this is developing and evolving at NPC and everywhere else, but I'd be very happy to work together with Pastor M. and anyone else to write some orders of worship, prayers and responses reflecting our scriptural and confessional grounding and this congregation's history and experience as a people of God in Jesus Christ here on this mesa. LAW also has a great deal of knowledge and interest in worship and liturgy; given her involvements in church and elsewhere, I don't know to what extent she'd be interested in being part of this possible endeavor. I'm making this offer because of my concern for this congregation as my church community and because of my own need to use my gifts, education, experience and skills to a far greater degree than I've been able to for the past dozen or more years. Although I have no regrets about not continuing to serve in authorized, public ministry, believing that choice was consonant with God's call to me and would lead to better stewardship of my life, very few of the opportunities I'd anticipated have happened. And it could be résumé fodder for me, and might even form part of a book of worship resources I've imagined writing!

Prayers continue arising to heaven from here; be blessed!

Friday, April 25, 2008

old, modern, post, etc. 5

Originally in green, a color of life:

rev gals old, modern, post-modern, whatever friday 5

according to singing owl...
Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring...The WW II generation [and] MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century...and on and on.
As for the questions!

1. I absolutely positively could not live without the ability to digitize my graphic design and of course that means electricity, computers, etc. I also appreciate indoor plumbing, but in this climate...

2. Right now I can't think of a modern convenience/invention that never should (I always say 'should' advisedly) have seen the light of day but probably will think of one as soon as I post this.

3. Older than a CD player? no, because I finally ditched all my cassette tapes after replacing those I couldn't live without, but between my iPod and YouTube, it looks as if most of the CDs are on their way out, too—a few months ago I freecycled about 50 of them! I've kept a couple dozen LP albums for their amazing cover art, and I have one vinyl 'record' that's not out in CD, but nothing to play it on: the Te Deum by Ernst Pepping; I need to get someone to transfer it to CD. (editing this several years later: an online friend burned CDs of both for me!)

4. I love the way the world is changing at close to the speed of light, but it's consternating to realize how many people never have lived without a computer, don't really know what an LP is or (gasp!) are clueless about 45's...that must sort of be related to how young today's university students look to be to me!

5. Thinking especially of my grandmother, regarding what our forebears had and we maybe haven't lost quite completely but need to work hard to acquire [regain] and retain, an acute awareness of seasonal, natural rhythms of all kinds, including responsiveness to our own moods and the needs of body, mind and spirit. I won't do the bonus about starting that process, but I ponder the question lots.

Friday, April 18, 2008

24 hour 5

24 hours friday 5

RevHRod introduces this great topic by saying:
Yesterday I had the 24 hour flu. I had been told by the people who had it first that it really was a twenty-four hour bug. And so while I dealt with all the blech of the flu, I kept reminding myself that morning would come and I would feel a lot better.

This is certainly a strange way to start out a Friday Five but it made me think about what I might like to do if I knew it would only last for 24 hours. There are no reality boundaries to these imaginings. So here are the five things for you to consider...
1. my chosen appearance change isn't all that dramatic! I'll be about 3 inches taller, about the same weight (meaning I'd look thinner, of course), and about 20 years younger...dreaming on into eternity...

2. for 24 hours I'll live on almost any caribbean island, dressing the part, acting the part and especially feasting on the food in those parts.

3. for someone else's job I'll be head chef for a high-end (maybe the highest-end) restaurant in the above-mentioned isle of the caribbean.

4. my quick spending a day choices are either martin and katie luther or johann sebastian bach.

5. for a magical power I'd definitely choose bilocation, though I'm not sure if that's technically magical or spiritual. on 2nd thought, how does trilocation sound?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wherever You Go...

Wherever You Go



although the 60% gray background is literally cool and I like the rest of what I've done, I'm thinking something a little more light and airy, maybe almost casual, might fit the text better. I'm also going to trace and scan the original bulletin cover again—really soon, I hope.

Revelation 11:17

a trio of digital versions of my analog original; here's the magnificent Christus Pantocratur ascription from Revelation 11:17...

Revelation 11:17

revelation 11:17

revelation 11:17

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

poetry party 16

invitation to poetry icon

Abbey of the Arts illuminated from within—Christine provided the beautifully unusual photograph!

illuminated from within
illuminated daffodil

glowing subtly from inside to out
grief-laden cloud soaking my days, sorrowing my nights
almost imperceptibly transforms into
another resurrection dawn's
dew of morn reflecting
fresh hopes of
this new day

Friday, April 11, 2008

moving 5

moving is today's revgals' friday 5

from Mother Laura, this 5 so resonates with me:

1. According to my quick count, I've moved about 23 times so far, with the last time in September 2000.

2. I enjoy the necessity of sorting through, giving away, throwing away and organizing stuff and I love needing to acquiring a few new essentials and optionals when I get to my new place; for the most part I hate packing.

3. Locally I've always moved myself and/or with the help of friends, but from one section of the country to another I've hired actual professional movers.

4. For both surviving and thriving during a move, you gotta assume a sense of high adventure and enjoy the thrill of the unknown; on a practical level, eat as healthily as possible and try your best to get enough sleep on whatever bed, couch or floor near enough to crash on.

5. At this time I'm still praying and attempting to assume the spiritual and physical move of walking out onto the water and in faith hoping to land on the Rock Who is Christ; for a more visible outer move (again!) I'm considering returning to City of History before long.

Bonus: right now I can't recall a poem, song, book or film, so for what moving means to me I've chosen Genesis 12:1 - "Go...to the land that I will show you..." knowing all the promises of God are accomplished in Jesus Christ.