Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mother was feeling better today and yesterday when I checked on her. Both nurses said she's responding to conversation and that her appetite is ok. (One said it's been better, but she's eating at least half her food, the other described it as so-so.) She's taking smaller bites and not getting choked most of the time. I'm beginning to wonder if Renae may have over-stated her poor condition to justify "skilled nursing care." I never heard back from Dr. Kroose, and I also didn't hear whether or not an appointment was made for a modified barium swallowing test. I'll visit this afternoon when I run errands.

I had a nightmare this morning about being in a war zone. I was on a school campus with children playing, lots of laughter, squeals, shouting, innocent childish fun noises. My dogs were playing with the children. From the distance I heard explosions and gunfire, then it got closer. Suddenly an army of soldiers in camoflauge swarmed the campus in jeeps, tanks, on foot. I tried to gather the children into a building, but they were being shot, the buildings were being bombed, I heard muffled cries of children under the rubble and I heard Gus whimper. The few who had made it into a building with me had huddled in a restroom trying to hide. Soldiers with machine guns came in and shot us all. I awoke immediately, one of those dreams that takes you so close to death that if you don't wake up, you die.

I don't know where we were in this dream, if I was in Iraq or in America, I couldn't tell. I do know that the terrors of war were made so real for me that I hate it more today than I ever have. "Collateral damage," they call it, but this seemed very deliberate, maniacal, cold. Such a sweet, peaceful scene turned so quickly into a hysterical hell. I don't remember ever having such a bloodcurdling dream.

I will not be watching as much television next week as I did this week. It's too easy for me to internalize and personalize the disaster being played out hourly on the news channels. Strange this dream occurred after forcing myself to watch a couple of Fox programs for their perspective. The State of Denial is definitely still intact there. I got the feeling that if jihadism broke out here, they would still be defending and rationalizing why invading Iraq was the right thing for Bush to do.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I got summoned for jury duty for the week of Oct. 9. That's the week we were planning to make our trip to Tampa. It's also the week the tile man wants to do the work in the bathroom. Something's gotta give. I could probably get out of jury duty if I used the "primary caregiver to stroke patient husband" excuse, but that's basically dishonest when he's perfectly capable of making it through the day without me, so I won't do that. I wonder if previously scheduled repair work is a valid excuse? Surely, we can reschedule that. (I've put a shower curtain over the damaged wall to keep the water off of it.)

I actually enjoy jury duty. The few times I've been called turned out to be interesting. I met Rankin County neighbors I wouldn't have met any other way, and I caught up on some reading. I do believe in doing my civic duty, so I'll probably go.

Seems the assessment I made a couple of days ago ("The emperor has no clothes and they can no longer hide that fact from anyone but him.") was overly optimistic. The number of his cheerleaders is shrinking, that's good, but there are still those who, like their pseudo-fearless leader, are afraid to admit that he could be wrong. He's vowed to "stay the course" even if Laura and Barney the dog, are the only two who support him. As Bob Woodruff's new book says, they're in a State of Denial.

When Congress passed the Detainee Bill, I couldn't help but wonder about financial incentives, as in, "no more money for your state race unless you go along." And he has the nerve to call Democrats the "cut and run" party. Basic principles of decency bite the dust once again in the rush for the almighty dollar. What happened to that much-touted backbone of John McCain?

If Americans are thinking and listening carefully to all that's happening, I believe that Democrats will win back the House and the Senate in November. Ever the optimist!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Blogger problems this morning, really getting on my nerves, first draft, several paragraphs lost, here we go again...

Renae, the speech therapist at the nursing home, says Mother has quit eating again. It's not just the swallowing problem, but she's also lost her appetite. She's not responding to staff members much either, verbally or with facial expressions. Dr. Kroose is to examine her today or tomorrow, and they will let me know what he says. I may try to talk to him directly. She may bounce back, she's surprised us before, and she may not.

I took Mike to choir rehearsal with me last night, not because he wanted to sing, but because he didn't want to stay at home alone. He sat in the courtyard listening to us sing until the mosquitoes started biting, then came inside, then went to the car, where he was when we finished, reclined, listening to the radio. I fail to see how that makes him less anxious than staying by himself for a couple of hours, but he said it did, so I tried not to resent his tagging along. It effected my concentration, which I really need on the more difficult pieces, but his presence and his emotional frailty were a definite distraction to me.

Dr. Tipton prescribed more therapy for him on Monday, so we're waiting now for the insurance to be approved. It's no wonder that uninsured stroke patients make so much less progress than insured patients. Statistics show their success in rehab to be 60-75% lower, their survival beyond 6 months 50% lower, mainly because they can't afford to do anything but go home and die. Health care in the USA is appallingly inadequate. Don't get me started.

Daniel has been using my computer quite a bit lately, so I'm thinking some of the trouble I'm having this morning may be due to that. It's doing some really weird things. I did put a stop to the porn sights, though. Fourteen year old boys and their curiosity! Need I say more?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

One of the things I admire the most about Bill Clinton is that he can say, "Yes, I made mistakes." Our current president seems to be pathologically programmed not only to see no mistakes he's made, but certainly not admit to it if one unavoidably gets his attention. That's a character flaw, and a dangerous one. When I pray for Bush, it's the primary thing I ask of God: "Open his eyes to the harm he's done, open his mind to non-military solutions, open his heart to work for peace and justice."

So, I was disheartened to hear him say "critics who believe the Iraq war has worsened terrorism are naive and mistaken..." God's answer to my prayer for him must be, "Not yet."

As Howard Fineman of Newsweek said yesterday in his comments on MSNBC's Countdown: "Well, you do have parallel universes here, Keith. You‘ve got a red universe and a blue universe, to use the current shorthand. But I think there‘s still a few people left in America who care about the facts, and those are key voters, undecided voters. You may argue that in a midterm election, those people who aren‘t involved don‘t vote. I think there are a lot of American people who don‘t quite belong in either of those universes, who are listening very carefully about the parallel universes we inhabit."

Maybe it's the reason so many Republicans are distancing themselves from his madness. The posturing, the pretension, the patronizing platitudes have become implausible and unpopular. The incompetence and malfeasance are too glaringly obvious. The emperor has no clothes and they can no longer hide that fact from anyone but him.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Oh, what a beautiful day!
I've got a beautiful feeling,
Everything's going my way!

Well, everything but the weight. Three days of careless eating and no exercise has caused a big spike on my graph. What goes up must come down. I've got 5 days for course correction, while my Miss Piggy magnet is guarding the refrigerator door. Wish me luck, pray for me, send encouraging messages, I need all the help I can get.

I love this weather - 57* when I took the dogs walking, with sunshine. High today should be about 78. It doesn't get much better than this.

Warning: the following comments may be offensive to my Republican friends and family members, so you can click off here unless you're open to some raving and ranting from a Democrat who is fed up with double standards and hypocrisy.

Seems the Bushies are Monica-obsessed again. It's the only thing they can dredge up to discredit the strong dose of truth Clinton dished out on their network this week-end! I feel sorry for them when the blinders finally come off. I just hope they see the light before we're so deep in debt and so hated internationally that our grandchildren have a third world country to rebuild.

I also hope the Democrats were motivated by Clinton's truth-telling to get out there on the campaign trail and say unabashedly: We are not safer since the Republicans took over. This administration has not been strong against terrorism; it has been wrong about terrorism! Get real, you guys, there's too much at stake here.

Which is a bigger threat to our country's future, whore-mongering or war-mongering! Clinton may have lied about having sex with that woman, but does that create as much danger for the rest of us as fabricating weapons of mass destruction to justify full scale war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11? Thank goodness, discerning Republicans are beginning to question the integrity of their leaders.

And where is the IRS when the Rev. Falwell preaches politics? He gets a pass and the liberal clerics don't? For those who don't know what the issue is all about at All Saint's in Pasadena, read the Oct. 31, 2004 sermon by the Rev. George Regas for yourself. Ed Bacon's sermon this past Sunday was really good, too.

Well, that's all the fussing I'm doing today. I've built up enough steam to tackle carpet cleaning.

Monday, September 25, 2006

One of the Republicans at Saturday's party announced she was going to "convert a Democrat" - me! She didn't get very far.

"But you're much too nice to be a Democrat," she cooed.

"You've watched too much Fox news," I responded.

"You don't watch Fox?!?" she acted sincerely stunned; "they're so fair and balanced," she proclaimed with a straight face.

I wanted to throw up; instead, I laughed, then, peering into her glass, I asked, "Is that Kool-Aid you're drinking, Dear?" (I don't think she got it.)

"But don't you feel safer with George Bush as President?" she asked, still in a sickly serious tone.

"I've never been more afraid for America's security and future in all my 60 years. He's made recruitment to terrorist groups increase, not decrease," I replied, going back to my serious tone.

"Oh, that's just propaganda," she batted her eyelashes, waving away my statement with a Southern Belle limp wrist that needed only a lace hanky for complete effect.

I hope Fox made some mention of the National Intelligence Estimate that came out over the week-end before whitewashing it to suit the Bush bunch. I also hope the Fox fans were watching when Bill Clinton set Chris Wallace straight about his efforts to get Bin Laden. Some people think he was sand-bagged. It didn't appear that way to me; he looked "loaded for bear" to me. I also enjoyed his appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
September 25, 2006. Sagittarius: Sun is in Libra, Moon is going from Libra into Scorpio. You're usually like an open book. That's not a good idea now. Watch and look and listen, but don't say very much.

That's as good an excuse as any to keep the blog short today. The real reason is that I promised Mike I'd go to Dr. Tipton's with him this morning. It messes up my usual morning routine, but that's ok. I can yap about this other stuff another time - rabid Republicans, Clinton on Fox, Ed Bacon on network news again, etc.

I also promised the nursing home I'd come by today and discuss the past due amount on Mother's bill. Maybe the offspring who "borrowed" from her in 2002 is in a position to repay that debt now. That would get the bill collectors off my back and go a long way to easing family tension.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Last night's party was a blast! The birthday girl was in wonderful spirits, amazing since she'd just been through a grueling week of chemotherapy. The weather was perfect, but the musicians set up inside just in case it got nasty. We sang, we danced, we made merry; it was great fun.

I didn't sleep very well, way too much stimulation to calm down and relax. Plus, I was nervous about the solo I had to sing in church today. Rehearsal of it was better than the actual performance, but everybody told me it was good, everybody except David and James. I think they were disappointed. Mike said the last line sounded like I was a little short of breath. I was, so I took an extra breath in an "unauthorized" place, but I wouldn't have made it to the end without it.

Mike and I went to Margarita's for lunch after church. Jon and Trish came and ate with us. I came home after eating. They stayed to have another margarita and visit. I'm feeling the need for a siesta, so I'm cutting today's post short.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

After writing yesterday's post, I googled "sibling psychology," and found lots of information on adult siblings who aren't close. One article from Psychology Today said that about a third of adult siblings describe their relationships as "distant." Of those, a majority lose the intensity of their anger and resentment by their senior years and become closer. Another article described how much "mother love," or the absence of it, affects the way siblings relate to one another.

If a mother is not emotionally engaged with her children in a positive way, they, in turn, are usually not engaged with each other in a positive way. She sets the emotional tone for their adult relationships, to a large extent. Well, that explains a lot. (Benji tried to tell me one time that his problems with women were all my fault;) No wonder there are so many people in therapy!

Anyway, it made me feel better to realize that we are not the only ones who can't get along any better than we do, and to hope that our senior years will bring a mellowing, or maturity, heretofore missing amongst us. I also took a quiz on personal coping skills and scored high enough to make me feel good about that, too. I should renew my subscription to PT; it used to be one of my favorite magazines.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my weight is only .4 lb. away from the Oct. 1 goal, so I'm feeling pretty good about that, too. My weight loss graph on is a bunch of W's, no, let's say M's, but the spikes are diminishing and the dips are increasing. My suspicion that Zoloft causes weight gain was confirmed by another article I read yesterday from PT, but most anti-depressants do. It didn't explain why - does it slow down the metabolism, or just make me not care that I'm getting fat? Anyway, I'm glad I have Zoloft, and that I'm getting a handle on the weight, and the depression.

Our temps were back to the 90's yesterday, but another cold front is promised for tomorrow with rain starting tonight. Autumn arrived last night while our low was only 72*. Next week the lows are supposed to be down in the 50's, highs in the 70's. Now that's more like it! The party we're going to tonight may be inside rather than on the deck and backyard as originally planned.

Friday, September 22, 2006

One of my readers expressed bewilderment about my sibling situation. "How is it possible that a minister who concentrated on the love of God and neighbor from the pulpit and in his ministry, produced three children who can't get along, even as they enter their senior years?" I wish I knew, Dear.

The love and loyalty that seem so natural among other families seems to have bypassed ours. Was it because our mother was a self-absorbed only child? Because my father and his sister were estranged from their youngest brother? Because our house was too crowded? Rivalries encouraged? Hostilities too prevalent? I just don't know.

I don't remember being taught that I "should" love them; I didn't particularly like them. Since I was the oldest, I remember them being pesky and bothersome brats, no endearing qualities, at all. As I aged, I realized, by observing other families, that I should care about them, but that always seemed such a one-sided effort that true affection was rarely felt.

I've managed to maintain civil relationships with each of them, another case of "Act as if, and the feelings will follow," but those warm feelings are few and far between. Sometimes I'd like to "shake them til their teeth rattle," like our father was fond of saying. Most of the time, I'd just rather not be bothered. It's a sad commentary on a family raised to be Christian.

Each of us is struggling with spouses who are seriously ill - cancer, schizophrenia, heart disease and stroke. I've received very little support and help from either of them; each of them can say the same thing about the others. We are not a congenial bunch. If I could wiggle my nose and correct the situation, I would, but I'm not Samantha. Most of the time, I don't worry about it. I've made it this far without them, maybe I can make it the rest of the way without them. I wish for a better accounting to our Heavenly Father at the end of the road, but I'm sure He's heard worse.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Mike's stroke. He's come a long way since then. Rather than letting his limitations annoy me, I try to be thankful for what he has regained. I don't always succeed, but I am trying.

We had a saying in 12-step groups, "Act as if, and the feelings will follow." Most of the time that works for me, sometimes it doesn't. Like acting on a stage, it helps to have experience to draw from, whether the situation calls for sympathy, compassion, encouragement, or physical assistance. Knowing what's needed then doing it, even when I feel like doing the opposite, takes more experience and a stronger will than I sometimes have.

His IEED (Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder, caused by the stroke) is harder for me to cope with than his physical handicaps. The line between IEED and lack of self-control is impossible to detect, at times. The temper tantrums, the anxiety attacks, the tearful sentimentality - what is caused by the stroke, and what would have been there without the stroke? It's just hard to know most of the time.

Who is this stranger who depends on me way more than I want to be depended on? How much does he really need from me, and how much of it is control and manipulation, which I've resisted my whole life. There's another stranger staring back at me from my mirror, feeling one way and doing something else. I guess we're each having an identity crisis.

I got really sad yesterday afternoon and would have been very vulnerable to anyone who happened along and offered me a hug. I miss my husband's two-armed embrace terribly. Nothing feels better sometimes than just being held. Men have complained when women say that, but it's true. "No sex, no romance, just hold me." They roll their eyes. Thank goodness I have several gay guy friends in the choir. They understand, and gladly oblige.

Then in a dream last night, Don came and held me while I wept torrents of tears that wouldn't come when I was awake. It's not the first time I've dreamed that. (Reminds me of a song he used to sing: You'll be back every night in my dreams, You'll be back, and it won't even seem like you're gone...) Today, I'm drawing on the comfort I got from that embrace. Thank you, Don, and thank you, Lord, for sending him.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

There aren't as many white caps on the lake today, but there is a cool breeze to remind us that summer is ending. Nothing invigorates me like crisp Autumn air; I feel so much more alive. Morning walks are a joy, rather than a chore. How sweet it is!

I fully intended to watch Ann Richards' funeral on Monday, but got distracted by all the little irritants that regularly run the course of an average day around here. She was one of my favorite politicians, made me proud to call myself a Texan. has the video, so I'll watch it later. Columnist Liz Smith wrote: The message I brought back from Austin is what I am told Ann said in her final words just before dying. "I don't know where I am, but this is very exciting!" Bill Clinton, in his remarks on Monday, recalled being at a lunch in New York which included Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, and Ann: I thought to myself, I bet this is the only time in their entire lives that Billy Crystal and Robin Williams are the second and third funniest people at the table. Too bad she wasn't the Texan we elected to lead the nation. Wouldn't she have been a great president? I wish Hillary could make people laugh like she did.

Dubya didn't bother to show up, which I thought was tacky. He probably didn't want to get hammered again like he did at Coretta Scott King's funeral. Who can forget the Rev. Joseph Lowery's jab at our current president: We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there, but Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here -- millions without health insurance, poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor.

Gus is on a tear this morning. The yard men are mowing which always sets him off. At 10:30 the temp is only 68*. Good day to get outside stuff done.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Jay-Jay disappeared for several hours yesterday while Mike's emotional state rapidly deteriorated into maudlin mush. Scouring the neighborhood for a missing mutt is difficult enough without a basket case passenger riding along to theorize about the whys and wherefores of the situation. A routine run outside for "business" turned into an indictment of every irresponsible misdeed I ever committed. I was ready to lose him by the time Jay-Jay showed up on his own, just like I said he would.

These overcharged emotional episodes wear me out. He always apologizes later, so he's fully aware that they bother me. I just wish he had more control than he has before they go as far as they go. I was very relieved to see Jay-Jay at the back door around 7:15. Beside being annoyed with Mike, I was beginning to get very sad, too. He was generous with the puppy kisses when he came in, very unusual for Jay-Jay, but he was glad to be home.

Happy news from Tampa - Clay is doing well in 7th grade and loves karate and reading. Mary Ann has joined a band and is taking drum lessons in addition to playing the piano and singing. She even bought a set of drums and set them up in her office, which the boys think is totally cool, and Ricky doesn't know what to think. Cooper's grades are good and he's enjoying playing baseball. I'll bet there's never a dull moment at their house.

Fresh Air was playing on MPB yesterday while I was out looking for Jay-Jay. The topic was Christian Zionism, complete with an interview with the Rev. John Hagee, and clips from his recent sermons. These people seem fanatical to me, dangerously fanatical, and I'm afraid they're influencing much of Bush's foreign policy. They want apocalyptic warfare, rather than peace, and remain the only group who supports the Iraq war without question. Under "All Things Considered" is a story regarding All Saints, Pasadena with clips from Ed Bacon's sermon on Sunday. This one I liked.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Religion, politics, and psychology are the subjects I enjoy reading about the most. Guests looking for bedtime reading are usually dismayed to find very little good fiction on my bookshelves. Magazine choices are Time, Country Living, Artist, Sojourners, and Christian Century. Best bet, if you want a romance novel, is to bring your own. So, of the 39 email messages in my Outlook this morning, the one that got most of my attention (second only to Benji's regarding Pip and his temper) was the New York Times article by David Brooks concerning human behavior and the latest theories about personality development. From that column:

Without too much debate or even awareness, there has been a gigantic shift in how people think human behavior is formed. Consider all the theories put forward to explain personality. Freud argued that early family experiences relating to defecation and genital stimulation created unconscious states that influenced behavior through life. In the 1950’s, the common view was that humans begin as nearly blank slates and that behavior is learned through stimulus and response. Over the ages, thinkers have argued that humans are divided between passion and reason, or between the angelic and the demonic.

But now the prevailing view is that brain patterns were established during the millenniums when humans were hunters and gatherers, and we live with the consequences. Now, it is generally believed, our behavior is powerfully influenced by genes and hormones. Our temperaments are shaped by whether we happened to be born with the right mix of chemicals.

If that's true, it tends to relieve much of the burden of responsibility for misbehavior. My hoping for reconciliation among siblings in my family may just not be possible. Like mixing oil and water, it ain't gonna happen!

People, including my parents, used to make a big deal about the fact that we were "a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead." How much warning did the world need that the preacher's kids did not look alike, think alike, or act alike; three very different personalities and characters developing under the same roof, going in three different directions.

In our younger adult years, we were separated by hundreds of miles; for the last 20 years those geographical miles have shrunk to 5, the emotional distance has only increased. The chemical mix in each of us can be volatile when mixed with the others, so not mixing is probably best for all concerned.

There are times, however, when the explosive elements in each of us need to be extracted, or, at least, neutralized, like at funerals and weddings. Rather than soaking ourselves in the most flammable material we contain, then waiting for someone to carelessly toss a cigarette into the mix so it all goes up in flames is dangerous. Fire can give warmth and light, but it can also destroy.

Rather than depending on each flask of chemicals to extract (or neutralize) its own combustible, the Master Chemist will have to do it. And if He doesn't, I will have to accept that. Maybe that's what Christ meant when he said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Maybe we don't have as much control over these things as we like to believe.

On the other hand, maybe the angelic/demonic model comes closest to the truth. Don't we each have some control over whether we're encouraging angels or unleashing demons? I still believe we do. Maybe not as much control as I once thought, but some, enough to be civil when the occasion calls for it. Weddings and funerals are short-term commitments compared to other interactions. Surely, a few hours together in the same room is not asking too much. Or is it?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I've had a pleasant Sunday. Only two members were missing from the choir this morning, so the anthems had a full sound that was unusually rich and lush for a choir the size of ours. I wore a dress that fits again since I've lost 10 pounds, and a couple of people actually noticed that I'm losing weight. That always makes me feel good.

I went to a kitchen shower for my niece Deanne today. I gave her the Foreman grill she had on her bride's registry. The casual china she chose reminds me of the pattern I selected in 1964. Turns out her future father-in-law was the man who drove Mike to the hospital when he had his first heart attack in 1989. It's a small world after all. She's going to be a beautiful bride with that long red curly hair. What a doll!

We had a little thunderstorm last hour, which put Jay-Jay right under my feet under the desk. The weather forecast says more rain tonight and tomorrow. That's good. I hope they're right. It's too late for all those brown plants on my front porch, but the sweet potato vine has taken on new life, we actually noticed a hummingbird feeding there, and the geraniums still have a little life left in them.

Since we're having some cooler temps, I'm planning to move all the summer things and store them. I also had an idea for covering the hot tub, which I plan to try while it's cool. That's one eyesore I'm really sick of seeing. I've got a tile man coming this week to give me another estimate on the bathroom work we need done. Looks like it will be a busy week.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

We had an unexpected visit from our surrogate grandchild Daniel last night. He got an ipod for his 14th birthday and wanted to download some tunes on my computer. It took him a couple of hours, but he finally figured it out. He and his mom went to the NWR football game afterwards. She has bought a camper and they are living at the Timberlake campground. I worry more about him than I do my own grandchildren, whose parents I know and trust a lot more than I do his. Like the step-daughter, his needs are being minimally met, just enough to keep the sheriff off the doorstep. Kids need so much more.

Benji sent a cute video of Pip getting a haircut and a picture of him after the haircut. He's been more difficult than usual this week trying to adjust to a new schedule and new daycare, and now a big boy haircut. Doesn't look too happy, does he? Do I see some Uncle Ricky in him? He was 19 months old yesterday. Those little chubby cheeks need some Gramma sugar, but that will have to wait until Thanksgiving.

I'm hoping to see the Florida folks in October, Cooper and Mary Ann have birthdays, but Mike is insisting that they install a handrail on their stairway. He made it fine without one when we were there at Christmas, so it seems really silly to say he needs one now when he didn't need one then. I worry that he doesn't realize how unreasonable that sounds to the rest of us. Maybe he'd rather sleep downstairs on the sofa.

We finally got the estimate on the bathroom tile work and it seemed a little high, so I'm going to Lowe's this afternoon to check their prices, maybe Home Depot, too. I heard water dripping inside the wall while Mike was in the shower this morning. Not good, gotta get this done.

My former priest is in the news again. Seems the IRS is determined to investigate him and his church no matter what the first amendment says. for the full report. And to see how well the rector is aging since leaving Jackson 11 years ago, click on Greetings.

For those who wanted to see the puzzle, it's posted below. Good luck!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Can You Find Them?

There are 30 books of the Bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman on an airplane seat pocket on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john boat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column. Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzle so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot, that’s a fact. Some people however will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not necessarily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit, it usually takes a minister or a scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fund raising event which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Phi lemonade booth set a new sales record. The local paper, the Chronicle surveyed over 200 patrons who reported this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it, the books are all right there in plain view, hidden from sight. Those able to find all of them will hear lamentations from those that have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books like Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus. There are really 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in the paragraph, waiting to be found.
Mother was in good spirits and looked well when Mike and I visited her yesterday. As usual, she paid closer attention to Mike than to me, kept asking about the brace on his leg, and told me twice what a fine looking man he is. Bless her heart, she can still flirt when she wants to. She's one tough cookie!

The nursing home's business manager has resigned to take a better job in a doctor's office. She was so knowledgeable and helpful, I will miss having her to explain the arcane regulations of Medicare and Medicaid to me. The Medicare payment we were expecting to cover the last two months of 2005, was not approved because Mother was not in "skilled care" for 100 days following her hospitalization, only 51 days. So they're carrying a past due amount that she doesn't have the money to cover. Medicaid really should have paid it, but they wouldn't approve it either. As long as she isn't evicted, they can carry it until the final accounting. And as Forrest Gump said, "That's all I have to say about that."

Speaking of eviction, though, Mike's ex and daughter had to move last weekend. Their landlord dropped Mike from the lawsuit, and the court gave them 3 days to vacate the premises. I would love to have been a fly on the wall! To see his ex not allowed to obfuscate the whole matter with her drivel would have been priceless. Bonnie still has not let her dad know where they went, but it isn't bothering him nearly as much as I thought it would. Maybe he finally saw the need to let her learn some hard lessons.

We finally got the insurance straightened out with our agent. I told him in the nicest way I knew how that his secretary was not very proficient in handling my complaint, and that I hoped it did not cost him more business than he could afford to lose. If he had not been a personal friend, I would have already gone to a different agent. Unless all his customers feel that personal loyalty, it's going to cost him dearly, I'm afraid.

His wife's tumor has shrunk from 11 cm to 4.5 cm (thank you, Lord). She's scheduled for another week of chemo starting Monday. Her 50th birthday is Thursday and he wants to have a party for her next Saturday, but he's not sure whether to get a caterer or let people bring dishes. With her immune system being so compromised, I'm not sure a party is a good idea, but he thinks she should have one, so we'll go. I hope he lets us all bring dishes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I didn't get to the nursing home yesterday, but I did talk to Renae, the speech therapist who was working on her swallowing problem. Seems Mother was trying to wash residual food down with her tea and getting strangled. They're using a cup that controls her sips and have ordered assistance with every meal for her. She described her appetite as fair; she wouldn't eat her green peas, which is strange, that was always her favorite vegetable. She really liked the pudding that has all the nutrients in it, kinda like Ensure, and wanted more applesauce, but about mid-way through her meal, she got distracted and lost interest in eating. Her weight is down to 165, 20 lbs lighter than when she was admitted 3 years ago.

When Renae told her she talked to her daughter, she smiled and said, "Was it Cathy?" About 10 minutes later, she asked Renae, "Didn't you say you talked to Cathy?" Her short-term memory must not be totally shot if she remembered that.

I'm going to try again today to get over there for a visit. Banking business tied me up yesterday, but at least we got a major nuisance resolved. My local "Suze Orman" has switched banks, but she still gives good advice.

My insurance agent, on the other hand, is letting his business rapidly disintegrate. I wish I knew how to help him, but I can't think of a tactful way to say, "fire your secretary before she destroys everything." The woman seems totally incompetent to me, but she's the only help he has until his wife recovers. I got another cancellation notice on my car's policy, and she said it was probably, "nothing."

Choir practice flew by last night because I was working on a Bible puzzle that David gave me before we started. "You're the only one who could find the rest of these," he said in a frustrated tone, handing me a paragraph that supposedly had 30 books of the Bible hidden in the text. I found 26 of them in between soprano parts. I won't rest 'til I've found the other 4. Everybody loved the new haircut.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Yesterday I felt especially daring and got my hair cut. We have 100% humidity today, so I've got tight curls and frizz, rather than the loose curls and waves I left the beauty shop with. My mother always said the reason she didn't let my hair grow long as a small child was because it was too hard to brush out all the tangles, but short hair has more curl than long hair, didn't she know that? Especially in Mississippi mugginess. I'm going to the nursing home today to check on her, and I'll try once again to cut her hair. She was totally obstinate when I tried about 3 weeks ago.

The cool, wet weather inspired a new soup mixture in the kitchen. Rather than using a tomato sauce for the base, I used salsa and chicken broth. I'm calling this Salsa Soup. Here's the recipe:

1 24 oz. Pace Chunky Salsa, mild or med.
1 can Clear Chicken Broth
1 can Diced Tomatoes in Juice
1 can Santa Fe Corn
1 can Black Beans
1 cup chopped onions & bell peppers
2 cups diced chicken breast, cooked

Saute onions and peppers in 1 Tbsp. veg. oil. Add all ingredients
and allow to simmer until flavors blend, about 30 mins. Makes about 8 servings of 1 cup. Apx 150 calories per serving. To lower sodium content, rinse corn and beans before adding.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I went to bed early last night, mainly because it was raining and Jay-Jay was nervously pacing until I lay down with him. There were a couple of Law and Order episodes on TNT that I hadn't seen, so I watched those, but by 10:00, I was out. I intended to get up and make my final round through the house - turning off lights, AC's, locking doors, and starting coffee, but never did. Good thing we live in a safe neighborhood.

We're being promised more rain today and cooler temperatures. Is Autumn arriving early? Experience tells me we haven't seen the last of the 90's. I do enjoy these cool respites, though; it's a good time to make vegetable soup. We have about a 6" rainfall deficit for the year. I hope it comes in slow soaking rains rather than flash floods.

A speech pathologist from the nusing home called last night to say Mother is having trouble swallowing. She plans to do more observation today to see if it is mostly the liquids, or the solids and the liquids that are going down her windpipe. She's losing weight, too, she said, because she's been refusing to eat much of her food. I'm wondering if the cancer has not spread to something that is affecting her esophagus. She said it was possible. Dr. Kroos is scheduled to do a thorough exam when he makes his rounds this week.

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:
Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home.

When my way grows drear,
Precious Lord, linger near,
When my life is almost gone,
Hear my cry, hear my call,
Hold my hand lest I fall:
Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me home.

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand:
Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me home.

by Thomas Dorsey, from


Monday, September 11, 2006

11 September 2001 - Palestine, Texas, has been burned indelibly in my memory as the place where I was when I heard about the terrorists attacking the World Trade Center in NYC and the Pentagon in Washington DC. Skip and I resolved this morning to make the most of the few days we have allotted ourselves, to find what we can, with or without the help of the Library in Palestine, which has closed in sympathy for the victims of the tragedy. I feel torn and terribly distracted, wanting to watch this historical event unfold on TV and yet, not wanting to waste what precious few hours we have to dig into our family's history in these gentle hills of East Texas. The gentleness of these hills is deceptive, though; underneath the fertile meadows is impenetrable iron ore, not unlike the character of our Texas relatives, I suspect, gentle on the outside, strong on the inside. Yesterday I worried that they might dislike us if they know we're Democrats, today I can't imagine that it matters much. Divisions among Americans seem to have been blasted to smithereens yesterday by our attackers. Today we are bonded in a way I've not seen in my lifetime.

That's where I was and what I was doing five years ago. It's from the research journal I posted on At about 7:55 am CST, I was in my car with the radio on, waiting for Skip to come out of the guest cottage behind the B&B. The radio personalities were speaking frantically about planes and bombs and end-of-the-world Bible prophecy. Thinking it was some sort of cheesy radio drama promoting the popular Left Behind books, I switched stations only to find the same kind of conversation. "Let me find NPR quick, and get away from these religious fanatics!" I thought to myself, quickly heading toward the left end of the FM dial. I quickly recognized the voices of the NPR announcers, but low and behold! They were talking about the same thing, well, I don't think they said anything about Armageddon or the Antichrist.

By 8:00, Skip was in the car and was totally bumfuzzled by all the excitement. The second plane had not hit the second tower, yet. Then as we listened, it did. I wanted to go back in the house and turn on the TV, but we hadn't had breakfast (our hostess was out of town), so we decided to drive downtown and look for a Hibernia Bank so Skip could get some cash, then find a cafe. The tellers in the bank were glued to a small tv set, he said, as he returned to the car. There was also one playing in the small cafe where we ate. That was the first glimpse I remember getting of the horrific images being projected to the world. Skip remembers us going back in the B&B to watch it for a few minutes on tv before setting out in the car. Maybe we did.

When we got to the library in Palestine (pronounced Palesteen), they had a black ribbon on the locked door with a sign declaring the library closed in sympathy for the victims in New York and Washington, DC. I think that was when we discovered the part about Washington. Or maybe it was at the courthouse where we went next. Everybody there was transfixed by the unfolding tragedy. Somehow, we were able to detach and do the work we drove from Mississippi to Texas to do.

In reviewing some of the other files, I realize how very little headway we've made since then on the Johnson family. So many clues that led to dead ends. Terribly frustrating.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

It was raining when we got to the Ballpark last night, so we turned around and came home. Nobody seemed very disappointed. The concert was held, I understand, but I didn't want to sit on wet seats, neither did Betsy or Mike. He went with Ron to the CelticFest for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon, but they got bored and came home.

Our music went well at church today, including the Psalm. In rehearsal, David kept telling me to, "sing out, Louise!" a line that's normally used for Broadway star wannabes. That made me smile when I thought of it in the middle of our performance, but also made me give it all I had so the 3 guys didn't drown me out. The new Sanctus and Benedictus have a couple of rough places that need to be polished, but it's sounding better than the first Sunday we used it.

I signed an online petition this morning asking ABC to cancel their showing of "The Path to 9/11." The docudrama was created by a right-wing activist who fabricated key scenes to blame Democrats and defend Republicans, according to Now ain't that some #&*! Have they no shame?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I told my sister I would go to the Boomers in the Ballpark "By George" concert tonight. The CelticFest and the MS Symphony Orchestra are collaborating, so not only will it be a tribute to George Gershwin and George Cohan, but it will also feature a Celtic/World music group Mithril, from Mobile. Should be a good show, except for Cohan's Americana stuff which is among my least favorite kind of music. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "You're a Grand Old Flag" are much too pseudo-patriotic for me. But FDR liked Cohan, so I'll try to appreciate the historical significance of his music.

My guess is there will be very few black folks there, very few Democrats, lots of W stickers on the SUV's in the parking lot, a pretty WASPy affair. Mike is mad because I planned an outing that didn't include him. Maybe I should send him with Betsy, but he's not interested in that. He just doesn't want to stay home alone. The weather channel is predicting rain tonight, so we may all be staying at home.

Housework has piled up all around me this week. I'll try to get most of it done today. According to my horoscope, it's a good day for Sagittarians to work. And I put off for one more week getting my hair trimmed. That's what happens when I get interested in reading, painting, etc. Not much else gets done. This week I read a lot, mostly on the internet, but I also caught up on some of my magazines and finished the Phillips book. I don't know why I thought that book needed a second reading, musta had trouble concentrating the first time through, it seemed pretty elementary this time. I also played a lot of computer Scrabble and got my score back up to my record high, and took walks 5/7 days. First order of business today is giving both dogs baths. Such an exciting life I live.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mike and I attended a delightful David Nevue concert last night, and I bought 4 of his CD's. He learned early in the computer age to use the internet to promote his music, even wrote a book about it. Give this son of a preacher man a listen, you'll be glad you did.

George has posted a picture of his Aunt Johnnie, one of our hometown's most colorful characters, on his website. I love what she wrote on the back of the picture, classic Johnnie comedy, I'll bet she has the angels in stitches.

Skip sent more info on Granny's time at St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church, and I posted it as a comment on my Sept. 6 post. She was raised a Methodist, so that may help to explain her leaning in a little more liberal direction. Like most Baptists back then, she was opposed to dancing, but that was due to her brother being murdered at a Texas barn dance, as much as being a Baptist.

As an ex-wife of a Baptist minister, I wonder if she went through any of the censure that so many of us as divorcees experienced. If she was as clever as I think she was, she called herself a widow, not a "grass widow" as was popular back then, but just "widow." The ex, my grandfather, had died in '42, so that probably freed her to feel better about her single status. I'll be glad when I can sit down with her and get to know her a lot better than I did; and my grandfather, too, whom I never knew.

One of my favorite stories about my grandfather concerns the stroke he had while preaching one Sunday. His second wife ran to his side, wringing her hands, totally clueless about how to help him. It was then he said, "I wish Florence were here; she would know what to do." He died six weeks later at the age of 64. I've always wondered if Florence knew anything about the stroke before he died. Was there a telephone call from Texas to New Orleans? Did Florence make a trip to Texas to see him? She had plenty of relatives living close to where he was. Did one of them call her, write the news in a letter, encourage her to come out for a visit before he expired? Or did he die a slow and agonizing death full of regrets about his unfaithfulness, never to see his beloved Florence again until she entered Glory 20 years later? Did she forgive his foolish ways and make peace with that tragic chapter of her life?

Speaking of forgiveness, I made this picture of the rear of my next door neighbor Art's vehicle. Not hard to see where his loyalties lie. The sticker to the left of the flag says, "I support Greenpeace." And on the rear window are USM and Oral Roberts Univ decals. Interesting fellow, works for a local bank 9-5, then referees ballgames at night and on the week-ends, somewhat of a work-aholic, but he's single and that keeps him out of trouble, he says. Too bad it doesn't keep him out of this old lady's daydreams. He's so cute, he makes me wish I was younger and single.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

This week's Pipedreams was especially enjoyable. Here's the link My favorite piece is with a trumpet at about midpoint in the program, an Italian composition. The last number starts with an extensive pedal solo that I would love to see performed in person. How does anybody get their feet to do that?

Choir rehearsal was again exhausting. Five of our eight sopranos were absent, which made it difficult for the three of us to hold up the high end of things. Tommy was back in the bass section after being MIA for several months. He, Bill, Max, and I are the quartet for the Psalm (146) this Sunday, an unusually melodic arrangement. The final Hallelujah ends on an F, not difficult for me unless I'm hoarse. Please keep my voice clear, Lord, at least through Sunday.

For my friend who asked for the Lectionary schedule, here's the link: And to answer your other question, yes, we have 4 Bible readings every Sunday. There's usually a common theme that ties all 4 together, but most of the time it's too vague to detect easily. Our daily office also includes 4 readings, but I've been omitting the Job readings since we started them. Job's friends remind me too much of some friends I've had, they really grate on my nerves. Ed Bacon would say that's the one I need the most, the one I like the least.

Ed was in one of my dreams a couple of nights ago. I was walking on Capitol Street by the Post Office (in the old location before it moved), when I found a thick roll of bills, about 2 inches in diameter, lying on the ground. They were bound with a rubber band, and, at first glance, seemed to be mostly $5 and $20 bills. My first instinct was to pick it up (which I did), keep the money, and keep my mouth shut about my good fortune. Then my conscience began to bother me, so I walked across the street to the Cathedral to discuss my dilemma with my favorite priest. He took one look at the money and said, "That belongs to the Judge."

In the next scene, I was in Ed's office talking to him and The Judge, a man with whom I was not acquainted. I was suspicious and wondered if he really were a judge, or had Ed concocted a scheme to get the money away from me and split it with his co-conspirator. I was unwilling to hand over the cash until he proved he was who he claimed to be, and that the money really belonged to him. He said he had no idea how much was in the roll of cash, then I realized that I didn't either. Both men were amused by my apprehension. The dream ended before the problem was resolved.

I see a couple of practical issues and at least one spiritual issue in this tale. First, is the cash flow dilemma we're currently facing. The dream is telling me, "the cash is there, and it doesn't belong to anyone else." Actually, the check we were expecting was found in the mail (post office) that day.

Then there are those two functions within that I don't always trust - The Priest and The Judge. Do they conspire to rob me of good fortune sometimes? Or do they partner in an effort to steer me in the right direction, help me to do the right thing? And why do I have trouble trusting them?

The numbers, too, are significant. Some people are afraid of reading too much into the meaning of numbers, but are they aware of how many times the Bible stories use numbers and assign special meaning to them? The numbers here are 2, 5, and 20. 2+5=7+20=27, or that could be combined as 720, drop the zero and we have 72 (an especially significant number in my personal history, but that's a story for another day).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I live by the simplest, perhaps facile command that Jesus ever gave, which is to love God with the whole self and the neighbor as the self, and I find that's entirely consuming. To do those two things leaves me very little time to do much else. Barbara Brown Taylor

I listened last week to an interview of the Rev. Taylor on NPR's Fresh Air.
She's got a new book Leaving Church, A Memoir of Faith, which is on my list of books to read. She touched on a theme that has been mentioned a good bit since the death of Verna Dozier - the ministry of the lay person, something I've always felt strongly about.

In a discussion with a former pastor over whether or not I was qualified to teach Sunday School, I told him that as a layperson, I didn't "have to be appointed to be annointed." He seemed to think women should not be teaching a mixed class of men and women. I couldn't understand his hang-ups regarding women.

I had grown up hearing about my Granny in New Orleans teaching a S.S. class at St. Charles Ave. Baptist Church that included seminary students. They said she knew more about the Bible than some of their professors, and her pastor was one of her most devoted promoters, short, stout, Cigar-smoking, straight-talking, wish I could remember his name.

Their website says the church voted to end affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2001. Having ordained women deacons and ministers, I'm sure they were no longer welcomed at the SBC, what a shame! I'd like to think my grandmother helped set the progressive tone of that church. And the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor has been a guest preacher at this church! Now isn't that a coincidence! But I digress.

It was Ms. Taylor's description of compassion fatigue that spoke loudest to me. It's something I've thought may be afflicting me since Mike's stroke. She got so burned out that she felt like her heart went to sleep. She reached an impasse and could see no way forward. I have not gotten to the point where I feel like my heart is asleep, because my determination and energy are usually renewed with a good night's rest. And Mike continues to make progress, which encourages us both. Thank you, Lord.

Ms. Taylor also made some comments about our current church controversy that were refreshing. The disagreement over full inclusion of our LGBT members, including ordination as priests and bishops, may be worth the schism, she said. She is not willing to back down from being fully inclusive. I just hope and pray that that attitude prevails. With our new Presiding Bishop, I believe it will.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I had to go back for Be Yourself, Part 2, from Ms. Meyer, and the Pentecostal in me is glad I did. Her object lesson with the geode was really good. I wonder how many in her audience got it. Rather than digging for the gold, the diamonds, the crystal, the beauty hidden inside the plain facade, do they leave inspired to dig, or do they feel satisfied being spoon-fed and entertained by funny stories? It's been my experience that those who throng to the cavernous convention centers would leave disappointed if their funny bone had not been tickled, and wishing they had bought tickets to see Larry the Cable Guy, instead.

It's that "entertain me" mentality that has made Ms. Meyer and so many others famous and wealthy. From some magazine, I copied this observation - Historians of religion like to say that Christianity was born in the Middle East as a religion, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, journeyed to Rome and became a legal system, spread through Europe as a culture - and when it migrated to America, Christianity became big business.

That sounds awfully cynical, but I believe it's true. So much of our religion in America is about 90% entertainment. Note to self - WRITE DOWN YOUR SOURCES!

And in being myself, as Ms. Meyer advocated, I have to take issue with preachers who use the Moses on Holy Ground story, then claim people today cannot have Holy Ground experiences unless they're born again. Saul on the road to Tarsus had quite a Holy Ground encounter, if you ask me, and that was before his conversion, not after. J. B. Phillips, author of Your God is Too Small, would say her God is too small.

I'm re-reading the Phillips book and finding new ideas on every page. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 readings for me to get the full gist of a book, not because it's hard to understand, but because I can only absorb so much in one reading. This book deserves to be totally absorbed. Written in 1952, it is even more relevant today.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Rather than watching Don Imus this morning, Mike was watching Joyce Meyer! That's quite a contrast. I always enjoy listening to her, so I sat down with him to hear today's message on "Be Yourself," a topic she's unquestionably qualified to speak on. If anybody is living out her God-given potential, it's Joyce Meyer, 110% of her. What a gift!

The temp was only 68 when I took the dogs for a brisk walk this morning. I'm liking this! We may get the sluggish metabolism revved up yet. Eating lunch at No. 1 China Buffet yesterday set me back on the other side of the Sept 1 weight loss goal, and Mike wants to go back again today. I'm going to try to trim down the portion size, lay off the fried stuff, and eat only fruit for dessert. Yesterday I had apple pie and ice cream. Tsk, tsk, tsk. But it was so gooood!

Mike is enjoying playing with the new CD recorder. He hasn't quite got it mastered, but he's taking the time to read the instructions, unusual for him. I hope it does what he wanted and doesn't have to be sent back.

Benji is participating in a novel writing competition to raise money for charitable causes, and he wants me to do it, too. is the website. I'm considering it, but haven't committed to it. They can even provide a plot for those of us who are plot challenged.

I read some more about Verna Dozier this morning. One story stopped me in my tracks. From the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton of St. Paul's in Chatham, NJ:

My favorite memory of Ms. Verna Dozier is the "charge" she gave to Jane Holmes Dixon at her consecration at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I'll never forget it.
Ms. Verna, also affectionately described by neophytes to the church as "that little itty bity African-American woman," was in that grand stone pulpit, standing on a box and yet still not quite visible from the congregation.
When it came time for the "consecration charge," she peered up over the microphone and, speaking like the spiritual giant she was said, "Jane Holmes Dixon, stand up."
And, of course, Jane did. Immediately.
She cleared her throat and began, "Every leader in Christian community most often wants one thing," she said, pausing before she continued, "They want desperately to be loved."
The silence was deafening. Everyone in that big cavernous cathedral who knew anything about Christian leadership knew exactly what she was talking about. We held our collective breath waiting for what was coming next.
"Jane Holmes Dixon," said Ms. Verna (but she was speaking to everyone else in the congregation, herself included), "you must find that place in you that wants desperately to be loved . . . and," she slowed down for effect, ". . .
let . . .it . . . die."
I could hear myself gasp even over the gasps of recognition all around me.
I'll never forget that moment. Ever.
And, I will forever be grateful for this and all the other many valuable lessons taught (like, if you're going to drink Bourbon, it should be Maker's
Mark) by that quintessential Christian teacher, leader, pastor and prophet, Ms.
Verna Dozier.
May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Our choir was commissioned at church today for the coming year. We had 24 of our 25 singing, even got a very enthusiastic round of applause from the congregation. I'm always encouraged by the seriousness with which the "ministry of choristers" is taken in our church. Here's how the commissioning goes:

The Celebrant says:
Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, we are all baptized by the one Spirit into one body, and given gifts for a variety of ministries for the common good. Our purpose is to commission these persons in the Name of God and of this parish to a special ministry to which they are called.

The Celebrant asks the sponsor:
Are these persons you are to present prepared by a commitment to Christ as Lord, by regular attendance at worship, and by the knowledge of their duties, to exercise their ministry to the honor of God, and the well-being of his Church?

Sponsor: I believe they are.

The Celebrant then says:
You have been called to a ministry in this parish. Will you, as long as you are engaged in this work, perform it with diligence?

Candidates: I will.

Celebrant: Will you faithfully and reverently execute the duties of your ministry to the honor of God, and the benefit of the members of this parish?

Candidates: I will.

Sponsor: I present to you these persons to be admitted to the ministry of Chorister in this parish for the year 2006-2007.

Sing to the Lord and bless his Name; proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

V. Come let us sing to the Lord:
R. Let us shout for joy to the Rock of our Salvation.

Let us pray.

O God, who inspired David the King both to write songs and to appoint singers for your worship: Give grace to the choristers in your church, that with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, they may sing and make music to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the Name of God and of this parish, I commission you as Choristers for the year ahead.
Verna Dozier died on Friday. She was an amazing woman. Just reading her obituary is inspiring. I especially like her statement about being nominated for Bishop of the Washington Diocese. She responded by saying that at her stage in life, she was “not willing to accept a demotion from lay person to bishop." And from her book The Dream of God:

"Doubt is not the opposite of faith: fear is. Fear will not risk that even if I am wrong, I will trust that if I move today by the light that is given me, knowing it is only finite and partial, I will know more and different things tomorrow than I know today, and I can be open to the new possibility I cannot even imagine today."

She was fond of quoting one of her mentors Dean Howard Thurman on his vision of God's desire for creation: "A friendly world of friendly folk, beneath a friendly sky."

Almighty God, the God of the spirits of all flesh,
who by a voice from heaven didst proclaim,
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord:
Multiply, we beseech thee, to those who rest in Jesus
the manifold blessings of thy love,
that the good work which thou didst begin in them
may be made perfect unto the day of Jesus Christ.
And of thy mercy, O heavenly Father,
grant that we, who now serve thee on earth,
may at last, together with them,
be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;
for the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I didn't hit the Sept 1 weight loss goal until Sept 2, but I have hit it and passed it. I'm quite pleased with me.

Mike's Christmas gift was delivered this week - a TEAC stereo that allows vinyl LP's to be recorded on to CD's. It was advertised in my Sears bill last month at the same time he was looking for someone to do this for him. His friends have plenty of expensive equipment, but no one has the capability to transfer analog to digital. Immediately, when he saw the flyer, he said, "order it." We're not totally satisfied with the quality of the sound and may send it back. I'm going online to see what other manufacturers make equipment like this. We really should have done more research before ordering. I hate having to return things.

Mike has been named in a lawsuit by his ex's landlord, along with his ex. He co-signed the original one year lease because she couldn't pass a credit check. Child support was paid directly to the landlord after she agreed to that in writing. He seems to think Mike has an implied continuing obligation even though the lease expired years ago and child support obligations ended almost two years ago. I don't think he has a case, neither does Mike, but he hasn't talked to a lawyer.

I didn't dare say, "I told you so," but I did try to warn him not to do it. People have enabled her irresponsibility all her life, that's why she can't work for anyone but herself. And if she's 4 months behind in rent, she's obviously not a very good empoyee.

What irked me the most was that Darling Daughter called him being friendlier than usual, "chatting him up," they call it now, then gave the phone to her mother so she could give him a "heads up." He was spitting nails when he got off the phone, called the landlord and cussed him a blue streak, scared the dogs so bad they both hid under the bed. I had to leave the house. I felt like someone had flushed a nasty toilet in my face. At times like this it helps to remember the prayer I read every morning from Forward Day by Day:

O God:
Give me strength to live another day;
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;
And make me the cup of strength to suffering souls;
In the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 01, 2006

After talking with George on Weds, I started thinking about writing a book. Unfortunately, I'm not good at making up stories, so it would have to be based on the things I know. But the most interesting things I know still make me very sad even to think of them.

I always believed the best of everyone, which led to many disappointments, but my way to deal with that was to put it behind me, not dwell on it, forgive, try to forget it and keep going. Consequently, I have forgotten much of it. Journaling helps "get it out of my system." Going back and reading those journals dredges up all the pain and grief, so very rarely do I do that. I don't throw them away, but I don't read them either. There's a great deal of ambivalence about keeping or not keeping. Maybe when I'm dead and gone, a son or a grandson can take those journals and find a story there worth telling.

I am not party to a lot of gossip, out of the loop, as they say. Not knowing anything juicy to share cuts me out of many hen parties. And I was so gullible in my younger years! Anybody could tell me anything and I believed it, which got me in trouble more than once. Early on I decided to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil," my mother was a master at that, maybe I was taking my cues from her.

My youthful escapades were the subject of many whispered conversations, I'm sure, but I'm also sure the tales were heavily embroidered. A few of the stories that got back to me were so preposterous that I came to view people who told them to me as troublemakers, insecure people who had nothing better to do than talk about other people. I felt pity and contempt for them.

Dealing with the everyday challenges of my life is all the drama I need, for now. That may change. But I'm rarely bored, and I have enough to do to keep me busy. Why would I undertake something so demanding as writing a book? I admire those who do. They seem to have a creative drive that energizes them beyond anything I can do. Reading a whole book requires more work than I can usually muster. Writing one would be extremely difficult for me.

So for the two of you who have suggested I write a book, I'm sorry. This lazybones gets tired just thinking about it.

I'm being warned about the pedant again - Sun is in Virgo, Moon is in Sagittarius. Although you're confident, and with good reason, you also need to have the facts. The person who's asking the question now is something of a pedant. It's OK to look at notes.

What notes?