Thursday, November 30, 2006

Birthday Eve was like a roller coaster. Ricky cancelled their trip due to problems with Clay and his incomplete school assignments, then decided to come anyway. The emails they got from a couple of Clay's teachers looked very familiar, I've seen complaints like that before (and now that student has a Master's degree and is working on another one.)

ADD is especially hard on parents like Ricky and Mary Ann because they were such conscientious students and would have never neglected to turn in an assignment on time. At least, they have Adderall and sympathetic and understanding teachers and counselors. Poor Benji was just beat down for being lazy and irresponsible.

As a student, I went through some of that myself. All my teachers complained about my being an under-achiever, "not applying herself," a scatterbrain. Grades don't tell the whole story, I used to tell my father. But he always came back with, "Knowledge is transitory, records are permanent." Did he actually believe it was more important to make a good record than to learn? It was hard to tell.

They just couldn't understand why Betsy and Paul could make good grades and I didn't. Why weren't good grades important to me? Was I ADD, too? I suspect I was. From the reading I've done on the subject, I'd say Adderall would have helped me and Benji. The disorder and the meds came along too late to help us, though, so we, like millions of others, struggled with the academics and enjoyed the social aspects of school. Many got so discouraged that they dropped out and never recovered any sense of self esteem.

Well, I certainly didn't intend to spend my birthday bemoaning the misfortune of Attention Deficit Disorder. I am glad that we've progressed to the point of recognizing it as a treatable medical problem and not a weakness of character. Clay is blessed to have parents who understand, and even though very frustrated at times, still support and want to help him. Dealing with the disorder has broadened their perspective, too, and softened their attitudes about struggling students.

Thanks to those who have sent sweet birthday greetings. Your love has lifted me and I feel blessed. The choir sang happy birthday to me last night and I got lots of hugs and kisses. Mike brought home a beautiful bouquet

of flowers for me yesterday and 2 cards, a silly one and a sweet one. It's a tradition with us. The sweet one says:

I'm Glad You're My Wife

With you by my side, everything in the world seems better. Good things are twice as much fun because when I share them with you, I get to see you smile...Bad things are only half as bad because I know I can count on you to help me through them.

With you at my side, I know that I have someone who sees life a lot like I do, someone who shares the same values, dreams the same dreams... I know that I have someone who understands the parts of me that other people don't even know exist.

With you in my life, I know that I have everything anyone could ever want... someone who's understanding and supportive, who's fun and interesting... someone I love who also happens to be my best friend.

With Ricky's family coming today, I can't imagine a more perfect celebration of this milestone. It's been a very full week of love from family and friends and I thank God for it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I hope the Tampa folks are planning to bring that cold weather gear they never get to use in Florida. Temperatures are expected to go below freezing while they're here, so they will need the heavy stuff. Thunderstorms are forecast for tomorrow, so I will probably spend my birthday in the kitchen. I haven't decided, yet, what to cook, but I will cook more than I did when they were here in July. I felt really ashamed after they left that I hadn't fed them better than I did.

I had a mild reaction to the flu shot yesterday. My arm got really achy and I got so sleepy that at 5:30 pm I was taking a nap. I feel ok today, and I'm glad we got them. I bought myself an extra week to reach the 15 lb weight loss goal by rescheduling the Dec. 1 doctor's appointment to next week. I've been way too careless in the past week about my eating and added back the 3 lbs I'd already lost this month. I'll be on the strait and narrow until I get rid of it.

Our Thanksgiving meal was simply irresistable, some of the best food I've had in a long time. Karen is a great cook, and her meals are always culinary delights. Both my daughters-in-law are accomplished cooks, and I've never worried that my sons were not well fed. Benji enjoys cooking, too, and Ricky took it up after becoming an Emeril fan.

Thinking of Thanksgiving meals and men in the kitchen always reminds me of Uncle Bings and his Oyster Dressing. I need to get his recipe, I think Skip said that his ex-wife Courtney has it. In the pictures he gave me is this cute picture of his parents, Aunt Margaret and Uncle Bings.

Then I have this picture that Dad made after the 1959 Thanksgiving meal. From left to right are 9 year old Paul sitting in our cousin Becky's lap, 11 year old Betsy with cousin Bill behind her, and (almost) 13 year old Cathy with 19 year old Skip behind me. The mural on the wall behind us was painted by a friend of Aunt Margaret's, if I'm remembering correctly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Skip just left and Mike is due back from the gym soon, not much time for blogging today. We've got several errands to run this afternoon including getting shu flots (flu shots). Skip gave me a beautiful piece of North Carolina pottery for my birthday, and left several CD's full of pictures for me. I'll post some of them later. Having him here for a visit was the best gift, though. I really love my cousin.

I haven't heard any more from Benji and Karen. I hope, by now, they've ironed out all their wrinkles. Ricky called last night to let me know they're leaving on Weds. afternoon and will arrive here on Thursday after spending the night at a friend's house about half-way. This is turning out to be a great birthday.

Update: Benji is back at home. I don't know the details, nor do I want to, but he sounded calmer and more optimistic than yesterday. That was reassuring to me. My assessment of his emotional state last week was accurate, he said, "I'm happy 95% of the time, Mom." That sounded better than average to me, enough to make the other 5% tolerable anyway.

Monday, November 27, 2006

This mother's assessment of her youngest son's emotional and mental states last week must have been terribly wrong, or he's a better actor than I realized. He's disappeared. He's not answering calls from Karen or me. He doesn't have clothes with him or his school gear. I can't believe he left that precious Pip, no matter what other problems he's having. I figured he was to the point of doing whatever he had to do to stay close to his son, and maybe he will, it's not too late. I pray he's OK and can work out whatever is wrong.

10:22 am. Benji just called. He's OK, spent the night on an air mattress in his office, cooling off after a spat with his significant other. I feel confident they can work it out, there's too much at stake not to. Ah, the challenges of being married to another imperfect human! God bless 'em.

I'm glad I had plenty of housework to do today to keep myself occupied. It's all we can do to hold things together here, but so far we have. Marital spats always remind me of some of Ed Bacon's pre-marital counseling: "Couples who don't fight, don't f***." How dull would that be?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mozart's Solemn Mass is behind us for awhile, thank goodness! I always enjoy singing it, but I also feel relieved when it's done. We were blessed with a string quintet accompanying us and Adam on the organ. Mikes recorded it, even though there were a couple of deviations that will raise the eyebrows of those familiar with the score. David said 5 measures were skipped in one place, not sure where that was, must have been in one of the interludes. At some point, I thought I heard him hum an organ part that was missing, maybe not. Anyway, when the audio links are posted on the church's website, I'll post them here, too.

Skip is supposed to come tomorrow. He's on his way home from Asheville, where he spent Thanksgiving with his daughter Margaret and other family. He's spending tonight at Bill's in Atlanta, then plans to stop here tomorrow night. I've invited George and Carole over also. Since we're all Democrats, it will be safe to discuss politics. I politely restrained myself from mentioning the election to Billy while at Benji's. He's smart enough to have abandoned Bush by now, but if he has, he didn't mention it.

Rick's family will be here Thursday for my birthday and for Deanne's wedding next Saturday. Look for more pictures soon. The digital camera has so many features and the software offers so many options that it will take much study and experimentation to master it. Photography is fun again. Hooray! Thanks to my sons for the great birthday gift!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving has come and gone and was certainly enjoyed by the seven of us at Benji's house. Pip was the center of attention most of the time and his four adoring grandparents admired and appreciated this baby beyond measure. He was well aware of his captive audience, too, and once, when our focus was directed elsewhere, he picked up his blanket and bottle and headed upstairs, as if to say, "Ok, folks, show's over for tonight. Come back tomorrow for the second act." He's a charming child who, no doubt, has a ton of intelligence and personality and a bright future. What a joy!

Bella and Phin spent Thanksgiving with their father in Memphis, so we got to see what Pip is like without them. He plays alone well, always busy, busy, busy with his trucks, cars and trains, or whatever else interests him at the moment. Frustration usually results in a little "Benji fit," but he's quickly over it and on to something else.

He and Benji have the cutest hugging ritual with heads alternating from right to left to right several times on each other's shoulders. Pip started that, Benji said, and I can see them twenty years from now still doing the same thing. The father and son bond is strong and Benji seems to be maturing more easily as a result of fatherhood. It's changed him, softened the hard edges, broadened his perspective, and enlarged his emotional range. He seems happier than I've ever known him to be, not nearly as melancholy and cynical as he's been in the past. Maybe most of the pain of estrangement from his own father has healed and he's drawing on the strength of the bond he shared with my father, who cared for him in a similar manner to the one he has with Pip. He's good at it, wherever he got it, I'm thankful.

Billy and Mamie, Karen's parents, are not leaving until Sunday morning, but Mike and I came home yesterday. We had a pleasant trip and got home in time to retrieve our puppies from the kennel. Gus and Jay-Jay were ecstatic. I don't know who was gladdest to be back in our own bed, us or them.
Here are a few of the close-ups I got of our chubby-cheeked cherub.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Going downstairs this morning was like waking up in a different house. I should have made before and after pictures. My dining table actually looks like a dining table again, not the overloaded messy desk it had become. My energy stayed high most of the day. Maybe I worked off the extra calories I ate at #1 China Buffet. And I threw away lots of stuff with less difficulty than I usually have.

I'm getting excited about seeing Pip again, and the rest of his family, of course. Benji sent this picture today that I thought was perfectly adorable.
I love the table top that Benji uses for a desk. It's been the scene of much creative activity.

Betsy just called to tell me that she is now the legal guardian of her ex husband. She went to court yesterday and had no trouble convincing the judge that he needs her help. He was unusually lucid during the proceedings, she said, and agreed with her petition. Maybe that will alleviate some of the problems she's had making doctor appointments, getting his meds, etc. She's planning a small Thanksgiving meal for the two of them and will probably spend the rest of the day watching ballgames. She's as much a sports fan as any man in our family. Sometimes Richard watches them with her, but most of the time he's just sitting there with his mind off in a different dimension. How sad to see so much intelligence turn to dust!

Keith Olberman offered a refresher course on the Viet Nam war last night for the president who obviously skipped that lesson altogether. Here's the link. It's rich.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sagittarian: Sun is in Scorpio, Moon is in Scorpio. It's difficult for you to part with anything, because you don't take the time. You haven't, anyway, up until now. Just do it.

And I thought I was a pack rat because I am my mother's child. My plan to give the house a good cleaning today and tomorrow in preparation for company coming next week is timed in accordance with the stars. Maybe that will make it easier. There is enough that needs doing around here to keep me busy for several hours, especially if I start throwing things away.

Benji has discovered Keith Olberman and sent me a link to his Special Comment about Bush Lies. Countdown has become my can't miss show of the evening, it used to be Hardball, but the arguing and overtalk really gets on my nerves lately. I like Chris Matthews and I think he and Keith made a terrific team on election coverage, but his program, in its attempt to be fair and balanced, has become just noisy. Keith really hit his stride on 9/11 of this year when Bush twisted so many facts for political purposes. He's been on a tear ever since. And I love it!

George gave me a book a couple of weeks ago that was written by a friend of his, a fellow English prof from NWCC, John Osier. Covenant at Coldwater is every bit as good as John Grisham's bestsellers. I started it Saturday night and had trouble putting it down, even considered skipping church to finish it. I'm taking it to Benji, he will love it, especially the hero.

Mike is insisting on lunch at #1 today, even though I told him I didn't want to eat much. Staying away from the buffet is the best way for me to resist temptation. I may fix him a plate and let him eat while I make a run to Kroger.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Gus is feeling much better today. His appetite has been good and he romped in the sun with Jay-Jay for about 30 minutes after I returned home from church. Dogs and cats both seem to know instinctively that time and rest are what's required for a bug to run its course. They shut down almost completely, not doing anything much but sleeping. We humans could learn from them.

We've got a gorgeous day here in Central Mississippi. It's 55* with clear skies and fall color is peaking like it usually does for Thanksgiving. I love this season of the year. I feel like all 8 of my cylinders are engaged, instead of the 4, and sometimes 6, that work in the summertime.

Tom preached a good sermon this morning, which included poking fun at the Republicans who are telling everybody to "be afraid, be very afraid," since the Democrats won the last election. He even sang the "Gloom, despair and agony on me ..." song from Hee-Haw. Our readings today were mostly about end times with dire apocoplyptic warnings. Not all of the Republicans were amused. The Bishop worshipped with us today and I noticed him laughing, which I was glad to see. I also was relieved to learn that our church's Mission Statement will not be revised. One of our anthems today was what David has affectionately dubbed "the Sprite song," written by Thomas Campion. At one of our rehearsals he raised a 2 liter bottle of Sprite at the end. We are an irreverant bunch sometimes.

Never weather-beaten sail more willing bent to shore,
never tired pilgrims limbs affected slumber more,
than my weary sprite now longs to fly out of my troubled breast:
O come quickly, sweetest Lord, and take my soul to rest!

Ever blooming are the joys of heaven’s high paradise,
cold age deafs not there our ears nor vapor dims our eyes:
glory there the sun out-shines; whose beams the blessed only see:
O come quickly, glorious Lord, and raise my sprite to thee!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I've got a sick puppy this morning. Gus is feeling puny and yelps pitifully like he has a tender place when I try to pick him up. He isn't limping, and his nose is wet, but he wasn't hungry last night, and he trembled until he went to sleep, clearly some sort of distress going on. He ate a little bit this morning and went outside with Jay-Jay for about 10 minutes. I hope he hasn't been hurt or mistreated while running unleashed. The UPS delivery people are the only ones I've known who will kick barking dogs. Gus hates them, and no wonder. Everybody else in the neighborhood knows and loves him, or at least, tolerates him.

The Dec. 1 weight loss goal has been reached. I want to lose a couple more pounds so I don't have to worry about Thanksgiving. We plan to spend it with Benji's family and will probably rent a cabin at the nearby state park. Their lodge offers outstanding meals. Karen's parents are coming from Mobile, so it should be fun.

I wonder if her dad is still supporting Bush. Mike heard from one of his Republican friends this week that he has switched to the Democratic party, one of the last people we would have guessed would give up on this administration. Some of the pundits said that even Rush Limbaugh is disgusted with Dubya (he's tired of carrying water for them?), as are several of the other right-wing radio personalities. Well, they had a good 12-year run, maybe it's time they did something else. Their hot air contributed to the craziness that has prevailed in Washington for the last few years.

I took the quiz, which really didn't take that long, and here's what it said were my signature strengths. For those of you who have to plan my funeral one day, this may come in handy.

Your Top Strength

Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith. You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

Your Second Strength

Humor and playfulness. You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.

Your Third Strength

Appreciation of beauty and excellence. You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

Your Fourth Strength

Bravery and valor. You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.

Your Fifth Strength

Gratitude. You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Taking up a large chunk of my time today will be the 240 question quiz that Benji sent on But what else do I have to do?

Countin' flowers on the wall,
That don't bother me at all
Playin' solitaire til dawn
With a deck of fifty-one....

This quiz supposedly identifies signature strengths. His were:

Top Strength
Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Second Strength
Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Third Strength
Appreciation of beauty and excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

Fourth Strength
Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.

Fifth Strength
Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

The one I question is love of school. As a teacher, yes, but as a student, rarely, until he got to college, anyway. Treating all people fairly is something he's growing into. Like his mother, his bias about some things is quite pronounced. Was it the untreated ADD that kept him from enjoying math and science more than he did? His love of beauty is becoming more and more obvious in his photography, especially in finding inspiration in the mundane things of everyday life. (What did you do for entertainment before you got your camphone, Son? He calls this picture sugar water.)

It will be interesting to see how his strengths compare to mine. I wish Ricky would take it, too, and Mike. The site offers several other quizzes that look interesting. It's a research project being offered by the Univ of Penn Positive Psychology Center, and it's guaranteed to make everyone have a new appreciation for themselves.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Drama in the political theatre has been high for the past week. Even though I've never been a Trent Lott fan, I was pleased when he was elected Minority Leader in the Senate yesterday. Katrina had a humanizing effect on him, from my perspective, as did being ditched for his careless remarks about Strom Thurmond. And it was on his watch that the Senate refused to conduct an impeachment trial of Clinton. None of this made me actually like the man, just dislike him less.

What pleased me about his election as Minority Leader is that his reputation as back-stabber is well known and if anybody can undo what needs to be undone in the Republican Party, it will be him. Vendettas are serious business with this Mississippian. Look for more closeted skeletons to be exposed. If I were Bush, I'd be very nervous.

Rep. Steny Hoyer was just elected House Majority Leader. (He bears a striking resemblance to the guest priest we had at our church last Sunday, the Rev. John Stone Jenkins.) Nancy Pelosi handicapped herself by backing Murtha, but if she's as smart as I think she is, she can overcome the handicap. Hoyer made a very conciliatory acceptance speech, and Murtha was gracious, too, as was Pelosi.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hiding among the treetops reminded me of a house plan I've saved for years. "Build this at the back of the Pville lot," is written across the top. It's in the shape of a barn and appears to have a silo and tractor shed attached. The silo is instead a tower retreat that I thought would be great fun, especially if I could see out but no one outside could see in. Tinted glass should take care of that nicely. I would probably flip this and build the mirror image.
We've got a thunderstorm going on. Jay-Jay has safely hid under my desk. The radar shows an even heavier line of storms to follow. And tonight the low temp is supposed to be 43*, tomorrow's low 33*. We'll have a few more sweater days, looks like. Good time to cook. Nothing warms me like my stove when I've got several things going at once.

New pictures are posted on The Plantersville Connection. One has me at the top of a tree. Mike says he has trouble picturing me as a tree climber, but I was real good at it. That's where I escaped to when I wanted to get away from the insanity in my house. Every tree that could be climbed was climbed, and around our house there were several. Maybe that's why I enjoy my upstairs office like I do. It's above the fray on the first floor, a sanctuary, painted green with leaf patterns all over, it's as close to the top of a tree as I want to be now. (Pictured with me are Linda Partlow 2nd from top, Jean Jutman under her.)

We watched The Da Vinci Code yesterday. Not having read the book, it was totally absorbing to me. I've long thought that Christianity's history of war and violence has been more about protecting the patriarchy than defending Christ. But the book was written as fiction, not non-fiction, and the controversy it sparked was a total turn-off for me. I've deliberately avoided it for that reason. I am amused when the insecurities of the infallible crowd make the news. Why are they so afraid of thinking about the "what ifs?" Oh, that's right, the patriarchy must be protected at all costs.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My tummy felt queasy last night, so I didn't go anywhere. Haven't heard how the meeting went. Judging from the lack of concern following the General Convention, I'm guessing that most Philipians are satisfied with the way things are progressing and the direction that the larger church is taking. I heard very few disparaging remarks about the female presiding bishop and her liberal views. Our local parish is blessed to have a good blend of the mature and immature, a very diverse, but warm and friendly, church family. It's a good place to grow, serve, and worship. Staying away from behind-the-scenes church politics is probably best for me. I've had enough of that for 2 lifetimes.

I got nothing but disparaging remarks from my sister after her daughter's family left. I'm sorry they were not able to stay at my house instead of hers. Steve is allergic to cats, though, and their change in plans of when to be in Meridian and when to be in Jackson caught me with a house that was definitely not company-ready or child-safe. I admire Tara for making the effort to visit family, but her "stay with Mother" reminds me of some of my "stays with Mother," not a very congenial experience. I hope she has a thick skin, she will need it, or she will get her feelings hurt very easily.

I very much enjoyed the time I spent with Tara and her guys. As a mother of twin boys, she is developing the firm hand necessary to survive. She has proven herself to be a survivor through some serious disadvantages, and she has developed strengths and coping skills that will come in handy as a mother. Sit down meals and corporeal punishment may not be what works for them. They are smart people and they will figure it out.

Betsy has forgotten, I guess, that the last physical fight that she had with her sister was in the early 70's when I popped Ricky and Benji with a belt for misbehaving, and threatened to pop Laura also if she didn't mind. Betsy came unglued and wrestled me to the living room floor of our parents' home to take the belt away from me. "We don't beat children in my family," she declared, then threatened to whip me if I ever laid a hand on her child. She's done a 180 since then, it seems, and I have, too.

Monday, November 13, 2006

We had the Rev. John Stone Jenkins as our guest preacher at church yesterday, which was Stewardship Sunday. At 82, he's still a marvelous speaker, inspiring and entertaining. He delivers jokes and funny stories as smoothly as he delivers strong doses of spiritual truth. He spoke to Mike's Sunday School class, too, relating all the changes he's seen in the Episcopal church in his 50+ years in the ministry. He's optimistic about our future regardless of all the current controversy - it's the Episcopal way, plowing new ground, harvesting new fields. I was encouraged.

There is a meeting tonight for those who want to discuss the future direction of our parish. Some of our more conservative members want to reign us in on some of the new thinking among our leaders. Ostensibly, they want to revise our church's mission statement:

Welcoming the stranger,
celebrating all of life,
accepting, forgiving and loving each other,
providing a place to grow in mind and spirit,
teaching and living the scripture,
seeking and trusting God's guidance,
and serving Christ in all persons.

My thinking is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Some of the terms are vague and ambiguous. Most of us can live peaceably with that. Others have trouble with it. They prefer rigid legalism, black and white rules of order, and that makes me very uncomfortable. As Max Lucado said, "Legalism has no pity on people. Legalism makes my opinion your burden; makes my opinion your boundary, makes my opinion your obligation." And Mr. Lucado does not have a reputation as a wild-eyed radical or liberal.

I haven't decided whether or not to attend the meeting. Part of me would really like to, part of me says, "sit this one out." Nothing disturbs my spirit like controversy in the church. If I can't get my emotions under control and go to listen more than I talk, I will stay at home.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

On Saturday afternoon I went with Tara and family out to
visit Vance. The boys enjoyed all the running space and the dogs and Harlee's toys. After Bethany got home from work with Harlee, I tried to get a picture of all the parents and children, but it's hard to get wiggly little boys to sit still long enough for a good group shot. Of the 6 pictures I made, this one had the fewest frowns. Since Griffin's head is ducked, I'm including the single shot of him.

The fall color around the lake was so pretty and I had no trouble picturing
Ricky and Mary Ann's house on the lot next door. There are some big trees that I hope they're able to keep. The dirt road that separates the Johnson and Borden lots will be paved soon as a joint project among neighbors. We need to get some pictures of all the autumn leaves so Rick will have a better idea of what to keep. Maybe most of them will still be there when they come at the end of the month.

6:00 pm. We visited Mother for a short while today, it's her 88th birthday. She looked fairly alert and seemed to vaguely recognize family members. When I showed her Tara's pictures as a child in her album, and I asked if she knew who it was, she said, "my granddaughter." Then we explained that the pregnant mother of the two unfamiliar boys is the same granddaughter, she smiled. I think she enjoyed the visit before the boys got fussy. It was their naptime, so we didn't stay long.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I made the move to Beta Blogger this morning. I hope it works. My blog is inaccessible while all the files are transferred. It makes me nervous to think it could all be lost, but I’ve got my fingers crossed. There are supposed to be some new and improved features in the Beta format. In the meantime, I’ll use the old word processor to write out today’s thoughts.

I outed myself as a liberal Democrat and Episcopalian to the readers of the Plantersville Connection and gave them the link to this blog. I now understand what my gay friends mean about the feelings of relief after “coming out of the closet.” It does feel good to take responsibility for who we really are, no matter the disapproval that some will have. For any new readers who will accept me as I really am, welcome!

Yes, I was emboldened by this week’s elections. I'm sorry it took a swing in public opinion before I was brave enough to admit this truth about myself to some I knew would judge me harshly, but I’ve already been encouraged by a couple of Democrats that I would have guessed to be Republicans. And I thought I was the only Democrat in Rankin County! Just goes to show you never can tell.

Temperatures this morning were cool enough to switch from AC to heat. I thought it was raining, but when I let the dogs out I realized it’s just heavily overcast. It’s a good day for the work that Paul and the MCC scheduled for Eagle Lake today. He publishes their newsletter with fine examples of his writing skills in every issue. To link the online version go here: I have teased him about being the pastor of the MCC, and it doesn’t take much reading in his newsletter to understand why.

Mike dressed himself and left the house early without waking me. No supper last night left him craving Krispy Kreme donuts this morning. And he brought one back for me that I could not resist. Thank goodness, it was only one. He said they got rid of the trans fats in them. It certainly didn’t make them less delicious. Back to the diet, Cathy Jo! Dec. 1st is only 19 days away and you need to lose 2 more pounds, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Today's blog will be delayed. I'm headed to the zoo with Betsy and her grandchildren from Boston. Look for pictures and commentary later today.

8:00 pm...Whew! I've had a long day. Between my sister, my husband, and my dogs, I haven't had time to compute all day. I did get a much-too-short nap this afternoon.

The camera batteries died on me after just a few minutes at the zoo. I was so disappointed. Steve took lots of pictures, so I'm hoping he will forward some to me. There were some really cute shots I missed. Tara's twins had a blast running all over the spacious park grounds, running space seemed to be the biggest attraction for them. Griffin has the blonde hair, Sawyer has the red, and they are adorable. Steve and Tara's teamwork is seamless and efficient. I'm no longer concerned about the third little boy being added to the mix.

I've never seen Tara look so radiant. She's one of those mothers for whom pregnancy brings out a glowing beauty, and she has taken to motherhood like a duck to water. She's got the confident maturity it will take to enjoy her growing family. Steve is a prince and thoroughly enjoys his children. Tara is lucky to have a husband who loves being a daddy.

After the zoo, we enjoyed a family meal at No. 1 China Buffet. Mike and I ate enough that we weren't hungry at suppertime, so we didn't eat. We watched the movie Cars, which was predictably cute and sweet. I can see why Clay and Cooper loved it; I wished for them to explain some of the Nascar jokes embedded in the dialogue. All the reminiscing about the way things used to be reminded me of the conversations that I have with George.

Mike surprised me by wanting to go to the zoo with us this morning, but we had to take his wheelchair. Man! am I glad those days are over, mostly. I'd forgotten how much work is involved in pushing that thing. I think that is what made me so tired. Betsy, Sawyer, and Mike are watching Tara and Griffin ride the carousel.
I really hope Steve and Tara got better pictures than these. I apologize.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I let a historic moment pass on Saturday without comment. What was I thinking? The Very Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori was installed as the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. The National Cathedral has photos, video and audio recordings of the ceremony. It's very inspiring. Here is the link; pay it a visit, you'll be glad you did.

I'm enjoying politainment again, now that balance has been restored to some extent. To see Bush forced to make nice with the Democrats is rich. The venom and vitriol that have infected my soul for the last six years is breaking down. It's not healthy to feel the way I've felt about Bush. Time will tell how justified those feelings were. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him get a "Texas whooping," as Tom Delay called it, or a "thumpin'" as he described it. Will it make a real difference in the way he conducts himself? Again, only time will tell.

It's too late for the 2, 836 American soldiers who have been killed, so far, or the 28,000+ that have been wounded, or the thousands of innocent Iraquis who were killed or maimed. Our children and grandchildren have a heavy national debt to pay, and I've lost a lot of respect for people I once regarded with high esteem. So I pray that healing has begun, not just in me, but in the deeply divided and polarized people of our nation.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats rejoice! (And some Republicans do, too.) Somebody will finally put the brakes on this runaway elephant before he does any more damage. I hate that Tennessee did not elect Harold Ford, he made a good showing, but had some insurmountable obstacles, not the least of which was that despicable, racist ad that supporters of Corker aired.

Katherine Harris got beat like a drum in Florida. After the way she was shunned on Monday by Dubya, will she write a tell-tale regarding the election in 2000, and admit her complicity with the Bushes to hijack a Democratic victory? Probably not, but wouldn't that be great? I would even pay $25 for that book. And as much as I want to see Bush held accountable for real high crimes and misdemeanors, impeachment would leave us with Cheney in the top post and that would be just as bad, or worse.

When I got the news in email that election results were tilting in the blue direction, I had to turn the tv on and watch, and I lasted until midnight. MSNBC provided the easiest-to-watch coverage, watching the back-pedaling on Fox was amusing, CNN was boring. Exit polling indicated Iraq to be the number 1 issue in voters' minds. Corruption among the Republicans concerned a good many, as did immigration and the economy.

It's time for conciliation and bi-partisan cooperation. We all need to pray that reason and responsibility are restored in our nation's capitol. A couple of prayers from the BCP:

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Happy 42nd Birthday to my first-born! You are a treasure and I love you dearly. Hope this day is special for you in every way. Here is one of my favorite blessings just for you:

May God bless you with a restless discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to them and turn their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be upon you, and all you love and pray for this day and forever more. Amen.

A Franciscan blessing used frequently by our priest Father Tom Slawson as a benediction.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election day in our part of Rankin County has one judgeship to decide, that's all. There will probably not be a line to wait in at our polling place. The election coverage on tv is too nerve-wracking for me to watch. I'd rather just hear the results after it's all over.

I'm hoping Bush's appearance in Pensacola yesterday without the candidate he went to stump for is an indication of the distance all Republicans want to put between themselves and this clown. The good thing about Republicans retaining control in all branches, if that happens, is that it will be much easier for Dems to get a clean sweep across the board in '08. The death toll in Iraq, illegal immigration, and the national debt will be even more appalling than it is now, but that may be what it takes.

I lost some of my enthusiasm for a Democratic takeover when Nancy Pelosi announced there would be no impeachment of Bush on her watch. Maybe there are more pressing issues, but that would be at the top of my prioroties. I would not make a good politician.

Maybe it will improve our reputation in the world if America has enough gumption to repudiate Bush and his disastrous course. Posterity will judge us harshly if we don't. And they should.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Last night's All Saints Evensong was absolutely glorious. I heard a couple of minor mistakes but Mike said it was not noticable from where he was sitting. We had a better than average crowd for this nighttime event - the choir was outnumbered by the congregation, the seen and the unseen - "For in the multitude of your saints you have sur-rounded us with a great cloud of wit-nesses..." (Painting: Passage of the Souls by Anne Francois Louis Janmont 1814-1892) For all the saints, who from their labors rest...

We should have practiced our Preces and Responses with Molly, who was officiating and trying her best to stay on pitch, but she had no accompaniment, so she got off track pretty bad a couple of times. With the choir depending on her for our pitch it was impossible to get it right. We found some "lost chords" that should have stayed lost. She felt really bad about "messing up" and stood at the exit apologizing to choir members as we filed out. I hugged her and laughed and told her she was very brave to have even attempted it. If she were trained as a musician, I might have felt differently, but she isn't.

David's postlude was majestic and earned a well-deserved, hearty round of applause. Microphones were set up for recording. I'm hoping we can link to it on the church's website or at the MPB site. I'll post it here when/if it becomes available.

We baptized two precious babies at the morning service. It's my very favorite church ceremony. It requires the participation and support of the whole congregation in a way that must be very encouraging to young parents. Scroll down to p. 298 to read the liturgy at this link.

According to the news this morning, Ted Haggard was fired by the board investigating the allegations against him. In a letter that was read to the congregation yesterday, he said: The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There’s a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life. At least, he didn't stage a Jimmy Swaggart spectacle.

Ted Haggard was rather progressive in some of his beliefs, such as insisting that Christians take global warming seriously. He hosted an Ecumenical community service that included a Gay choir and would not revoke his invitation to them even after some of the other churches refused to participate because of that. My guess is that he, in private, has been inching toward the truth concerning his sexuality, based more on recent medical research than on the antiquated thinking of centuries old convention. I pray that as Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Problem is, he will have to give up the personality cult that has built up around him. There are no mega churches over here where he can gain a huge audience for bashing homosexuals, or politic for outlawing their rights. It will be interesting to see if he attempts regressive or progressive recovery from his dilemma. Most of his followers are praying for the former, I'm sure. Maybe God will use him to lead them into the 21st century. That's what I'm praying.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The wedding was sweet. I wish the power point presentation with their growing-up pictures hadn't screwed up like it did. They got as far as the groom's toddlerhood and then zip! The pianist, who was marvelous, started playing again, they interrupted her with loud music from the big screen to try again, but again it failed to launch. How embarrassing!

The preacher couldn't resist preaching about marriage, and I could have done without that. The bride's parents are divorced, and not Baptists, so lecturing the congregation about the sanctity of marriage was insensitive and a little heavy-handed, in my opinion. Made me glad, once again, to be an Episcopalian.

We came home after the ceremony, and did not go to the reception, which was being held outside in dropping temperatures. It was 50* when we left the church. I hope they had several chimneas lit. Mike suffered through 2 hours in tight pants and a necktie, but was dressed well enough that I wasn't embarrassed. I was glad we made the effort and so were the groom's parents.

This morning my sinuses are congested and I could play hooky very easily, but I won't. Sudafed and a hot steamy shower will clear up my head. Better get started.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tonight we're supposed to go to the wedding of Jordan and Melissa. Mike and I have argued all week about what he will wear. His best suit pants are too tight, as are most of his dress pants. He hasn't needed dressy clothes since his stroke and has depended on khakis for dressing up or down. He doesn't want to wear a tie, even though I told him I can tie it for him. He thinks khakis and a sweater should be dressy enough. I disagree, but not so much that I went shopping and bought larger dress clothes for him.

I wish there were a graceful way to get out of going to this affair, but Jordan's dad is one of Mike's best friends. It's supposed to be cold and I'd much rather stay in my warm cocoon and avoid the hassle. If I put my foot down and tell him I'm not going unless he at least wears a dress shirt and tie with his blazer, he'll probably decide to skip it, too. He hasn't had on a tie since his stroke and doesn't want to break a "perfect record." He hates them. Giving the couple a nice wedding gift will probably be enough to preserve the friendship. It's no wonder I have so few friends.

Skip has decided to wait until Sunday night after Thanksgiving to come for a visit. That will be between our trip to Benji's and Ricky's trip up here, so that should work out perfectly (and allow me a week long birthday celebration). He's going to Asheville to see daughter Margaret and granddaughter Grace for the holiday. Margaret recently bought a house in Asheville. Helen is going to Colorado to see her daughter Lillian and new granddaughter Julia. His birthday was uneventful, he said.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Today we Episcopalians remember and give thanks for Richard Hooker.

O God of truth and peace, who raised up your servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion: Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

See for more info on this priest and theologian. The Rev. Tobias Haller, vicar of a multicultural parish in the Beautiful Bronx, has a delightful sermon posted on his blog about the Rev. Mr. Hooker.

The news story that caught my attention last night was regarding the conservative evangelist Ted Haggard. I've never been able to watch the man, not because I disagree with his messages so much, but because he always has this cheesy grin on his face that appears, at best, to be fake. If it is the result of a stroke or Bell's Palsy or some sort of involuntary tic, I apologize, but I just couldn't get past it. I do disagree with his stance on gay rights and his undue influence on Bush and his advisors.

At the same time, he is human and I'm sure he means well most of the time. If the allegations against him are proven, (and he has admitted to some "indiscretions") then I hope all those who follow his teaching regarding homosexuality are forced to re-examine their beliefs. It's the only way that American voters are going to move back toward the via media, as Richard Hooker called it, and start cooperating in a bi-partisan manner.

Maybe this story will knock the Kerry gaffe off the radar, poor man just cannot keep his foot out of his mouth. I don't think any serious-minded person believed he was taking a jab at American soldiers with his botched joke, but Republicans couldn't resist making as much hay of it as possible. Democrats would have done the same, no doubt.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

From Halloween 1973, Ricky clowns around for treats and does some tricks, too.

Oh this is fun.
I'm having way too much fun with the new scanner to write much. It's not as steep a learning curve as I thought it would be. The old scanner on the old computer was similar, this one just does more stuff. When I get something done that's publication worthy, I'll post it. So far, everything looks pretty amateurish.

George sent sad news that Thomas Williams died yesterday. He was 75. The obituary in Tupelo's paper was incomplete. I will always be grateful for the kindness he showed to my children, especially Ricky, who enjoyed many hours of water skiing behind Thomas' boat. Thomas, Billy Francis, and David Monaghan were the "young deacons" elected after Daddy became pastor at Plantersville. He always credited the building of the first educational annex to the church to the younger men's influence, as the older deacons were opposed to it. Tom and Janie were high school sweethearts who managed to make their marriage last until "death do us part." May he rest in peace and rise in glory. Peace to those who sorrow.

From LaRue, I learned that her brother-in-law Buddy had a mild stroke last week. He's expected to fully recover within a few weeks. I hope he and Betty Sue know how lucky he is that it was mild. I also hope they take all the preventive measures his doctor recommends to prevent any more.

Still haven't heard back from today's birthday boy, so I hope he's enjoying himself wherever he is, and I'm sure he is. Since he's an admirer of our choir's music, I should let him know about the All Saints Evensong on Sunday at 5:30. We're doing some beautiful pieces. There is one selection, however, that I hope we are never asked to sing again - "Let us now praise famous men." It got a thumbs down from all of us ladies and some of the guys. David must have been in a mean frame of mind when he picked that. The devil made me do it?

Mike just called to see if I wanted to meet him for lunch at No. 1 China Buffet. Guess I better get dressed.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Benji sent this and I had to share it. Is this not the cutest little guy you've seen in a long time? It's Pip's first school picture, and he's looking none too happy about the whole thing. A chip off the old block, Benji?

Then here is Gramma's embellished version.
Happy All Saints' Day, Y'all!

Skip's cow story reminded me of the time he went with us out to Williams' farm, east of Plantersville in the area known as Tater Hills (no, I'm not making that up). As a city boy from New Orleans, he'd never seen real cows before and was totally fascinated, to the extent that he allowed one of the cows to lick his hand,
and wasn't the least bit
squeamish about it.
Remember that, Cuz?
We should have known there
was a country boy in him that longed to escape the city, which he did as soon as he could.

Tomorrow is his 66th birthday and I'm trying to bribe him with a birthday cake to come and visit. Whatever you decide to do, Skip, I hope your birthday is a happy one!
The new scanner has been installed, also the new mouse. I didn't find the deal on monitors I was hoping for, so I'll wait about that. As soon as I figure out how to do what I want to do, I'll post some pictures. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to get by with the one power strip I'm using instead of adding a new one. There's just way too many wires and cords snaking around to suit me. I know, I know, get a Mac, Mama.

Skip sent a short reflection on a bucolic scene he observed yesterday. Since I'm not feeling inspired to write much today, I'm borrowing from him:

Early this morning I found myself driving on a small country road not too far from our house. It was a partly cloudy, cool day. Topping a small hill, I approached a fenced open field with a number of cows grazing. It caught my attention, as the field was pretty and was filled with sunlight.

I began dropping down the hill and a cow that was close by seemed to be grazing in a peculiar way. Her head was bobbing up and down. Puzzled, I took my foot off the accelerator and looked more closely. She was not grazing. She was licking the head of a very young, jet black calf that was lying in tall grass. The calf was holding its head upright as if to accept those licks from its mother. There was something utterly maternal in this scene. I felt it deeply, this very basic act of caring for an infant, and the infant's response to its mother.

With a lump in my throat I looked up and straight into the eyes of a huge bull that was maybe 30 feet behind mother and calf. The bull had stopped grazing and had turned its attention to this passer-by, on full attention to my intrusion. The scene was now complete, and became whole. The very essential parts of life were all present.

Oddly enough, our devotional today struck a similar theme:

Psalm 149. Hallelujah! Sing to the LORD a new song, sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.

When I walk past our neighbor's farm in the early morning my friend Daisy courses the roadside, the ditches and hedges, seeking a scent she can pursue. She yearns to follow her nose, to run, tail flashing behind, yipping her joy of the chase. A groundhog would be fine, deer would be interesting, a fox would be prime. It is in her nature to chase.

A light frost in the shadows, a heavy dew on the rising meadow, clear sky with fading moon and brightening dawn, cows grazing quietly with a protective eye on their calves, the distant thrum of the first school bus on the county road—all seem to proclaim permanence and tranquility.

A little after seven the first hammering begins. Carpenters and masons are at work transforming the other side of the road into housing for new people. All this will change. Our world is in flux.

It is in our nature to build. And to gather. And when gathered, to worship. And, when worshiping, to sing praises. The saints of old knew that. The saints today know it too.

Every day we sing a new song. Hallelujah! (from Forward Day by Day )