Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or treat, give me sweets, and more sweets, and more.....
Art by Lynn Johnston of "For Better or For Worse"
I'm skipping gym time today, trying to tie up some loose ends before I fly out of here on Friday. I got rid of one worry yesterday when I asked David to call the kid from Millsaps to play the organ on Nov. 18th. The pipe organ is great fun, and I intend to become proficient, but I need to learn to use both feet, heel and toe, on the bass pedals, rather than just the left foot toe like I used on the Hammond. I can do it, but to get comfortable and confident will require major rewiring of my tired old brain and hours of practice, something I won't have enough of between now and then. And I don't want it nagging on me while I'm on vacation.

Mary Ann is having her surgery today. Include her in your prayers. Gus was coughing this morning and the first thing I thought of was kennel cough, so pray for him, too. I would not enjoy my time away if there is a sick puppy at home. He would have to be hospitalized. Mike will be struggling to cope while I'm gone, but he is capable of doing everything for himself. He gained self-confidence when I went to Ireland, but when I got home, he soon fell back into depending on me for some of the things he'd been doing for himself. Pray for him. Our choir has an All Saint's Day Evensong tomorrow night at 6:00 and a difficult rehearsal tonight to get ready. Pray for our choir, our director, and our guest organist from Virginia.

Here's some good advice from my friend Sandra in P'ville:

The next time you feel like GOD can't use you,
just remember:
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was homely
Joseph was mistreated and imprisoned
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David was an adulterer and a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer..
AND Lazarus was dead!
Still think you are of no use in God's grand plan?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I've noticed a pattern. It's happened too many times to be a coincidence. Every time I share the poem "Anyway," it seems I'm tested to see if I really believe it. I knew on the 18th when I published it, that the next few days would be challenging, and sure enough, they have been.

Rather than giving Satan credit for pushing all my buttons, I'd rather believe the Holy Spirit was preparing me, bracing me for the rough days to follow, reminding me that disappointments are universal throughout our human phase of being, and that I shouldn't let it keep me from doing the right and loving thing.

My blessings so far outweigh my burdens that I almost feel ashamed when I complain, but I've never been one to suffer in silence, so I use this blog sometimes to vent. I hope I haven't added to your burdens in doing so. I thank you for "listening," it's a lot cheaper than psychotherapy. I feel the support of your prayers and love.
(Warning: If you're looking for a lift, read somebody else's blog today. This is not the one to do it.)

I live in a toxic environ- ment. My husband is so consumed with bitterness and hostility that relating to him on anything but the most superficial level is impossible. He blocks most everything I want to do, objects to whatever I suggest, and ridicules every attempt I make at optimism, calls it "magical thinking." He loses his temper with the slightest provocation, and has forgotten how to express himself without swearing.

If I weren't already conditioned to walk gingerly on egg shells, we would not have stayed together as long as we have. I'm also adept at keeping my distance, creating an oasis in the midst of this God-forsaken desert, and preoccupying myself with pastimes I enjoy.

Recently, he's begun to invade my space more and more, and when he does, he pollutes it. If he goes to his office while I'm in mine, I have to either shut the door between him and me, or go downstairs to avoid the inundation of obscenities that issue forth from his foul mouth as he struggles to cope with whatever he's trying to do on his computer. The simple task of checking e-mail usually agitates him enough to start the profanity. Even though I've asked him not to disturb my peace, he usually "forgets."

And then he wonders why I never want to spend time with him. Spend time with him doing what? Watching the vulgar comedians he enjoys on Comedy Central? Sitting through a 90 minute movie that would have no dialogue without all the expletives? I usually spend an hour or so with him while "Hardball" and the evening news are on. Even then, his muting of the commercials, and not turning the sound back on in time to hear the program are not enjoyable.

I've grown contemptuous of him, and he's very antagonistic toward me. The tender feelings of compassion I've felt for him and his condition are becoming fewer and further between. He makes very few attempts to be pleasant and to pay attention whenever I talk. A call on his cell phone always trumps what I'm saying, and God forbid I should interfere with his symbiotic tie to that plaything. It's like Linus and his security blanket - he can't function without it, goes ballistic if he happens to misplace it.

Since he discovered text messaging, he's sending silly text messages to his friends all day long. Most of them are working full-time and don't have nearly the free time he has to "play." Whether they consider it invasive or not, I don't know, but I would.

a vacation.
3 more days!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why do I get so much satisfaction in seeing a self-righteous hypocrite exposed as the phony he/she is? This one is part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton mentioned when her hubby's indiscretions became public. Republicans ridiculed her for even imagining that such a thing existed.
Since then we've learned that Democrats aren't the only ones to stray beyond the monogamous, heterosexual marital relations that Republicans want to legislate for everyone else. But this scoundrel spent big bucks digging for dirt on the Clintons while he himself, a married man, philandered with other women, eventually divorcing his first wife, then marrying a mistress.
Now Wife #2 is divorcing him because at 75 he still can't keep it zipped, and would you believe this billionaire did not have a pre-nup?!? Richard Mellon Scaife should have been practicing what he preached. Mrs. Scaife is currently cashing alimony checks to the tune of $725,000 per month. Maybe she will donate a portion of it to Hillary, who is still married to Bill!
Even though I don't normally enjoy reading about the misfortunes of others, this story was laugh out loud funny!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

When I came out of Kroger Friday night, the sun had just set and the afterglow continued for about as long as it took me to move groceries from the cart to the car trunk. By the time I made the 3 mile trek from Lakeland Dr. to Spillway Rd, the light dimmed to almost dark.
As I approached the left turn leading to our condo, I caught sight of the upper edge of the most magnificent moon I've seen in a long time. It was huge and golden. The harvest moon? The hunter moon? A half minute later, I parked my car by the swimming pool and walked out on the pier to watch the moonrise. It was breathtaking. The wind coming off the lake was also cold, so I only stayed for a couple of minutes after the whole moon came into view.
Before leaving, I looked around to see if any of my neighbors were watching the same spectacle. If they were, I didn't see them. I felt almost guilty, it didn't seem right, enjoying this beautiful sight all by myself. For those of you who happened to be in the right place at the right time, you know we were blessed to observe beauty that most people missed. The Psalmist said:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Ps 8:3,4 TNIV)
O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP)
(Today's confession: I did not make the picture I used here but lifted it from this sight. It looked more like what I saw than any of the others I found with Google.)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

My brother Paul has started his own blog. His writing has always been humorous, so reading his stuff is always lots of fun. The link to his new site is in my sidebar. Skip has one, too, but last I heard, it's not road ready. Benji has several websites, but the only blog I know about is the one for his students. Are there others? The link on my sidebar to his picture site is worth a click. His eye captures scenes that escape most of us. Laura is blogging on the NPR site under Bryant Park Project. Are there other websites in the family I don't know about? Just send me the link and I'll add it to this blog. And speaking of Benji's pictures, here's the latest published picture of The Pipster.

Even though George isn't family, he is a P'ville native and a good friend, and he's been posting great old photos over at The Plantersville Connection. If I get really ambitious today, I'll put most of his new pictures over on the "Good Game, Buddy" site. If you've been there lately you realize it's not had anything new added to it in several months, but it is a good place to see old pictures of Plantersville folks without having to scroll through page after page to find them. There are a few good essays, and I would love to have more, but the response to that site was underwhelming.

There was talk one time of a CDF website for The Town of Plantersville. Did that ever materialize? My friend LaRue has been too busy to blog lately, but every once in a while she does here. If there are other blogs or websites with family or Plantersville connections, send them to me and I'll include them in my links on the sidebar.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Two of my intimates have been described in recent days by others as irrational. One of them lives in the house with me and his irrationality took an ugly turn last night when a neighbor, walking on the sidewalk in front of our house, encountered our yapping, snapping, very territorial, little 11 pound Gus.

We heard the man threaten to kick him, then I heard Mike explode like I've never heard him do before. His tirade would have made a sailor blush. The neighbor reminded him of the leash law and said he was calling the sheriff, and Mike told him to go ahead and call whoever the blankety blankety blank he wanted to. Mike, needless to say, had had enough wine to completely lose his grip on any semblance of good judgement and civility. His hostility, which rides close to the surface anyway, was unleashed in torrents.

I stayed out of sight and didn't make a peep until the dogs had come in and Mike had locked and bolted the door. He continued to obsess about the man and the confrontation until he took his sleeping pills. This morning he's still obsessing about it, afraid the neighbor will retaliate. I don't think he will, but stranger things have happened.

I'm terribly concerned about leaving Gus and Jay-Jay here with him for a week while I go to Tampa. Even though Art can walk them in the morning and Jon will walk them in the p.m., and Mike would never allow them to run loose like I do, I'm afraid they're going to be more than he can handle. I've got to come up with a better plan before I leave.

The other "irrational intimate" is making a little more sense than she was 3 or 4 days ago. I'm hoping she's over her mad spell and is once again acting like a smart, level-headed, mature 59 year old woman. We all like her in that role much better than the poor, pitiful victim role she was playing. Even though she's very good at it, it's a generator of very bad karma for all parties concerned, and much better suited to a young person who hasn't lived long enough to gain any wisdom. I should think it beneath her dignity to indulge such a sappy personae, but then I'm not proud of some of the roles I've played in my lifetime, so I'll make allowances.

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

William Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I got a real shock at choir practice last night. David asked me to fill in for him on the organ on Nov. 18 when he will be out of town. Since I've never played a pipe organ, only a Hammond, he's giving me lessons between now and then. And it's been 20+ years since I played a Hammond. This is a picture made at PBC around Christmas 1986.

Ooooh! To say I'm a little nervous about this is a huge understatement. Actually, I'm scared spitless! Where is all that audacious nerve I had when I volunteered for this? People of prayer, it's time to do your thing. I'm going to have to do major stretching to get this behind me. And I agreed to sing another solo, too, not on the same Sunday though. Let's hope I don't make a complete fool of myself. It's been known to happen. Note to self:

God is able to make all grace abound to me, so that in all things at all times, having all that I need, I will abound in every good work. 2 Corh 9:8

What would we do without the help of the Good Lord?

I got a shingles vaccination yesterday and so far, haven't had any trouble with it. Pam got hers last week and her arm burned and itched a good bit. Since it's a brand new shot, Becky, the nurse who gave mine, had to do research on it before she gave it. She didn't even know there was such a thing. I got the feeling I was the first one at the University OB-GYN clinic to request it. She wanted me to report any reactions I have so she would know what to tell subsequent patients. I left feeling a little like a guinea pig.

It's not a cheap shot, either. Mine was $185 and Pam paid $300+ at a private clinic. I'm not sure whether my insurance will pay for it or not, but I asked them to submit a claim.

Since I skipped gym time on Tues. and Weds., I've got to go today, so I'm ooh.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We're having the kind of weather today that is perfect for Christmas shopping. No, I didn't do any, but in December when the weather is sunny and warm, I'll be longing for the cool, rainy stuff we're having now. I've never gotten any thrill from shopping early, so I don't do it. I'd rather wait and enjoy the decorations, the music, the sales in the week or two before Dec. 25th. It's all about being "in the mood."

Skip, as usual, left sooner than I wanted him to. We had planned to meet George at Walker's for lunch, but he called to say his car had a dead battery and we needed to reschedule. Then Skip went to his car and he had a dead battery. My brother, who was supposed to come over and visit last night, also had a dead battery, but in his carcass, not his car. So I felt like I'd been stood up three times, thanks to dead batteries.
Nevertheless, our visit with my cousin was a good one. His "Narrow Escape Story" was about his September hike in the Colorado Rockies when he and his friend Johnny got stranded overnight in below freezing temperatures while hail and then snow fell. Thank you, Johnny, for convincing Skip to go with Plan B and to come back down to a safer elevation and campground. I know he was disappointed not to reach the Continental Divide, but I can think of other disappointments (like fingers and other essential body parts lost to frostbite) that could have been much worse. I'm glad you stood your ground with my hard-headed cousin. Besides, you look like you could "whup his scrawny ass" if you had to.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Finally, we're getting some seasonably cool weather. Tomorrow's high is supposed to be 57*, cool enough to wear something other than shorts and flip-flops like I have on today. Skip was planning to drive up for a visit tomorrow, but may have to reschedule if the heavy rains in his area flood the Tchefuncta River. All of St. Tammany Parish is under a flood warning.
If you have to postpone until next week, Cuz, shoot for Thursday Nov. 1, so you can go to the All Saints Evensong and hear our choir sing. My flight to Tampa leaves the next morning at 9:40 which would not give us any a.m. visiting time, and it's your birthday. Bummer. Let's stick to the original plan if at all possible, ok? And if you need to evacuate, you know where to come, don't you?
Not much else going on around here. I desperately need a nap, didn't sleep much at all last night, thanks to the dogs in my regular bed, whose snuggling made me way too warm, and the cats in the guest room, which I moved to around 1:00, who wanted to play and be petted. Making myself get dressed and go to the gym this morning was a major moral victory. It really helps to have other people depending on me. It was my day to drive.
George has new pictures from the P'ville Methodist Church Homecoming last week over on his blog. Several Baptist kids, me included, mixed in with the Methodist kids of the 50's. Musta been Vacation Bible School. They came to ours, we went to theirs, very ecumenical arrangement, don't you think?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Choir rehearsal on Weds night had as many members absent as present. The "cream of the crop," for the most part, were MIA from the soprano section, so David had to make do with just the crop. That's how I wound up singing in the quartet in today's offertory anthem.

"Te Deum" (pronounced tedium, according to one of our tenors) by Herbert Howells is not a short, easy piece to sing, but we did it well, I thought, and our director seemed pleased. The two lines done by the quartet should have been done in two breaths, but it took me at least five. David said I must have snuck in the unauthorized ones real good, because he couldn't tell I did it. Choral music lovers can hear the entire anthem here, performed by the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, just click the free audio on the left side of the screen.

Molly's sermon was about chutzpah, based on today's Gospel reading in Luke 8: 1-8 about the unjust judge and the nagging woman. It's one of those passages I've never understood clearly. For the most part, life isn't fair, I accept that, and the unfairness of life is what inspires some of us to help others like we do. This passage implies that if we want to be effective, we need to be persistent in praying for justice.

I've been known to do some audacious things in my time, I pray often and do what I can to see that justice is done, but badgering God for justice is not one of them. I guess I just don't have enough chutzpah. I wish I'd listened more closely to the sermon. Molly probably explained all this while my mind was wandering.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I went to Jean's brunch this morning and thoroughly enjoyed it. We started with mimosas in the courtyard, then after a half hour or so the six of us went in and ate a delicious meal of scrambled eggs, cheese grits, wild rice casserole, sweet orange rolls, baked fruit, and Halloween cookies. At 86, she still cooks and entertains like a pro. WOW! Color me impressed! She's very inspiring to me.

One of her guests reminds me of Maxine. We met her at the gym, she's usually in the pool at the same time we are. A retired school teacher/principal from Virginia, Tommie is a Democrat and is not reserved about voicing her opinion. She says her son won't let her hook her computer up to the Internet because she would get in trouble with Homeland Security for sending threatening emails to politicians with whom she doesn't agree. Needless to say, I always enjoy talking to her.
I gave Jean the picture I painted for Mother, the one she liked more than any of the others, with the big sun and trees and birds. It has, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray," printed on it. Mother had it hung over one end of her bathroom mirror at one time, and said it made her smile first thing every morning when she saw it. Jean has hung it on her screened-in front porch, and can see it from her dining room. Being more folk art than fine art, it goes well with the casual wicker furniture. I hope it makes her smile, too, every time she sees it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

When a Republican friend of mine found out for sure what he'd long suspected, that he and I were in opposite political camps, he remarked that he hoped I was not one of those Democrats who hates George Bush. "I don't mind that you might not like his policies, but you don't hate the man personally, do you?"

"God forgive me," I replied, "I've tried hard not to. I know it's unChristian, it bothered me when people hated Bill Clinton, but most of the time I just can't stand the man."

"Well, I didn't like Clinton's policies, but I didn't hate the man," he said with not a little self-righteous smugness.

"And when Hillary wins the presidency, I'm not going to spend the next eight years defending her?" I asked.

"Well, you probably will," he laughed, " and I'll spend at least four years wondering how a true Christian can have such unChristian thoughts about another child of God."

This conversation has occurred more than once in only slight variations with different acquaintances since the l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g campaign of '08 began. People who had visceral reactions to everything that happened in the Clinton White House now claim they only disliked his policies. That's not how I remember it.

I completely sympathize with Garrison Keillor, who said recently,

Now I’m an old tired Democrat, sick of this infernal war that may go on for the rest of my life and in which more of our brethren will die miserably, both American and Iraqi. I’m sick of politics today, the cleverness and soullessness of it. I am still angry at Al Gore for wearing those stupid sweaters in 2000 and pretending he didn’t know Bill Clinton, and I am angry at everyone who voted for Ralph Nader. I hope the next time they turn the key in the ignition their air bags blow up.

Is it just me, or are the rest of you suffering from political fatigue? The Repub- licans I know aren't very enthused about any of their candidates, and none of the Democratic candidates are inspiring me. Obama is still my pick, but I'm not sure he can go the distance. Even though he's the youngest candidate, he's already beginning to look a little frayed around the edges, and none of the primaries have even been held. Our system is irreparably broken, they're spending obscene amounts of money on campaigns, and nobody seems to have a practical solution to getting us unstuck from Iraq.

How long, O Lord, how long?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tom, our rector at St. Philip's, posted a very similar version of ANYWAY on his blog not long ago. I've always liked it. My version came from a 1992 BellSouth newsletter with Jim Vandenburg listed as the author. I have another version, different from mine and Tom's, attributed to Mother Teresa, but basically they all say the same thing. Whoever originally wrote it and those who modified the original to suit their own tastes and purposes had wisdom to share with the rest of us.

People can be unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered - but love them... Anyway.

Do good for others, and your motives will be suspect - but do good... Anyway.

Small men with big ideas can be discouraged by big men with small minds - but think big... Anyway.

Give the best you have to give and people will find fault - but give your best... Anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight by well-meaning, thoughtless people - but build... Anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true adversaries - but succeed... Anyway.

Question authority and you will stand alone - but ask... Anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow - but do good... Anyway.

The picture above was made by Jim Carrington at the annual Feast of St. Francis Pet Blessing. I've never taken Gus and Jay-Jay, thinking they might be the only "pound puppies" there, but from the looks of those who got blessed, they weren't all pedigreed. Jim's photography is always fun to view.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A piece of good news from CAPA, Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa - Bishop Akinola's term ends soon and the new leadership is not nearly as interested in furthering his divisive agenda. The presence of American lobbyists, who were there to make sure CAPA "stayed on board," was seen by many as intrusive and heavy-handed.

A sermon that was preached in 1922 by the Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick, entitled "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?" came to my attention yesterday via e-mail. Integrating new scientific knowledge with old faith based wholly on scripture had created a divide not too unlike what we see today, 85 years later. I commend his remarks to those of you who, like me, are concerned about keeping the "Old Ship of Zion" afloat, but equipped with the new revelations we've been given by our Great Creator.

For a fascinating side trip, go to YouTube and search for "Old Ship of Zion." Several different versions of songs with this title, several styles, but I think this is my favorite, by the Pilgrim Jubilee singers, whose roots are in Mississippi.

Rain and cooler temps are predicted for today. Rather than going to the gym, I'm seriously considering staying at home this morning and cooking, maybe a big pot of homemade chicken and vegetable soup. My kitchen always calls me on cool rainy days. I've got unfinished business to finish, and I need to go get my shingles shot, and my flu shot.

Another fun discovery in web surfing this morning, Primarily A Cappella at Vocal Harmony Jukebox . There is also a radio station that plays mostly A Cappella arrangements, with a choice of Vocal Jazz, Contemporary, Gospel, Doo Wop, Choral, Barbershop and World channels.(Yes, I told Pam and Jean to go on to the gym without me.) And this great essay was just sent to me, which I will share with you, my dear readers, The Gospel of Both/And, Not Either/Or.

Now I'm going to the kitchen. Anyone want to join me for lunch?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What has made me so lethargic for the past couple of days? I can't seem to do anything but yawn and crave sleep. I've been sleeping good at night, so I don't think it's because I've missed sleep, I just seem to need more than I normally do.

The only thing I've done out of the ordinary is strenuous water aerobics, but that's supposed to make one more energetic, not less. I don't think I'm more depressed than I usually am, and this summer I was not very depressed at all, but I was getting more sunshine when we were using the outdoor pool, and I think that really helped with the depression. This week, I'm totally lacking in energy and motivation to do much of anything. Maybe the introvert in me just needs a couple of pajama days, or I'm in desperate need of a vacation. Thanks to Ricky and Mary Ann, I have one scheduled for the first week in November.

I came real close to crying this morning when Mike snarled at me in answer to a simple question I asked. He can be so suddenly and totally nasty sometimes that today it caught me off guard, and I immediately wanted to go back to bed, curl up in a fetal position, and cry myself back to sleep, but I didn't. It only took him about 5 minutes to realize how uncivil he'd been and he apologized. I had not even had my second cup of coffee, but I felt defeated before my day had begun. He's had better control of his temper lately, as long as he takes the time to think about his reactions, but his natural tendency is to snap and snarl, so without thinking, that's what he did. I read an article yesterday about caregivers of disabled and critically ill patients having the highest rate of depression. I know why.

The tests he had yesterday showed he still has blockage in his right carotid artery, but no more than was there after he came home from the hospital in '04 after his stroke. The doctor has not talked to him yet, but the nurse didn't think the fainting spells were caused by the blockage, but by a drop in blood pressure.

I've made the decision to sell the Plantersville property. Realizing that the last tangible tie I have to the place I've called "my hometown" for 55 of my 60 years is about to be severed has made me incredibly sad. I feel like my escape hatch is closing. Maybe that's what is pulling my spirits down and sapping my energy.

Jean is planning a brunch for Saturday, and has invited me. I did a very impulsive thing yesterday by inviting her and Pam to eat lunch here, and I had not made the least effort toward cleaning or straightening my messy house. I made them promise not to talk bad about me after they left. I had made several sandwiches for Mike to have for lunch this week, he gets home earlier from his work-out than I do, but I forgot to tell him, so they came and we ate sandwiches, salad, and chips. I was embarrassed by how shabby my house is compared to theirs, but it is what it is. Maybe it won't be long before I can make the much needed repairs and improvements.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Some of the Goat Roast pictures are on the St. Philip's website, and I encourage every reader to view them. Maybe you can grasp some sense of the fun and fellowship we enjoy at this event every fall. The second Sunday of October 2008 - reserve it on your calendar now and come join us.
It was the first time for Jean and Pam to go and they thoroughly enjoyed it, even said they want the rest of their family there next year. Jean had the distinct privilege of entertaining our former Bishop Gray and Mrs. Gray while they ate together. I didn't hear the whole conversation, but from what I understand she settled an old grudge with him about some snide remark he made about the chicken salad at St. Paul's in Corinth over 40 years ago. After sharing beer and BBQ and reminiscing about mutual acquaintances, she came away with more admiration for him than she previously had. I'm glad they had the opportunity to have a more cordial encounter. He's the bishop who confirmed Pam and me, and hundreds of others. Wonder how many former Southern Baptists are in that number. There were several in my group, and I've heard there is at least one in every group.
The Vernon Brothers Bluegrass Band provided musical accompaniment for congregational hymns which included "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," "I Saw the Light," "I'll Fly Away," and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," and David played old-timey Gospel Piano, which he does really well, didn't turn the organ on, at all. The band also played three arrangements before the service started and more during communion. Then afterwards, in the ampitheatre, they entertained while we enjoyed "dinner on the ground." For offertory, the choir did the Moses Hogan arrangement of the old Spiritual, "Ride on, King Jesus," with James Martin doing the solo.
Goat Roast attracts as many people to St. Philip's as Christmas and Easter, so it is very effective community outreach. I'm glad, though, that it's only once a year. The rowdy, noisy atmosphere it creates in our normally quiet, peaceful sanctuary is very un-Episcopalian, and I, for one, am always relieved to come back in the next Sunday to find worshippers on their knees praying quietly, reverently, and our classical pipe organ and anthems.
BUT this dignified bunch can have more fun than most, especially when there is bluegrass, BBQ and beer involved.
These are a few of my favorite things, too, Tom.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some of the more interesting articles I've followed on the internet this week include the Barna Report concerning the decline of the organized Christian religion in America in the years to come. Seems the next generation has had it with our churches' hypocrisy and in-fighting. Are the chickens coming home to roost? (Art by Nicola Leader)
Then there is the speculation about that unannounced Democratic candidate Al Gore, especially now that he's won the Nobel Peace prize. I think he would be a great president, I would definitely vote for him again should he decide to run, I think a Gore-Obama ticket would be unstoppable, but I just can't see him ever wanting to rehash the 90's or compete again with the Clintons. I'm afraid the race would get awfully ugly between him and Hillary. He's too smart and he's fallen out of love with politics, so I just don't think it will happen. Admittedly, the most gratifying remarks I've read or heard are from those who now regret their support or celebration of the Supreme Court decision in 2000.

What? More chickens?

Another retired general spoke out this week against Bush and the catastrophe called the Iraq war. "If some of America’s political leaders were in the military they would have been relieved or court-martialed long ago," Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez told a gathering of military journalists.

No question which side of the fence the chickens are on here.

If you need your faith restored in the "kindness of strangers," watch this video, or at least, listen to the audio. Amazing! And if you haven't checked "organ donor" on your driver's license, please do that ASAP. Thanks to the Bryant Park Project for this inspiring interview.

No chickens in that story!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday was a busier day than usual for me, and I came in around suppertime mentally and physically exhausted. Pam, Jean, and I had a hard work-out at the gym in the pool, then I spent the afternoon with our attorney trying to remember the details of banking transactions of the past 5+ years, finalizing the petitions we need to file, and making sure every exhibit is accurate and complete. By the time I left I felt a little like Winnie the Pooh when he said, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me."
Mother's financial affairs fell into my lap by default after it became clear that she wasn't able to keep up with it. Then after Mike had the stroke, I wasn't able to keep up with it very well either, but did manage to get her bills paid, keep her house rented, and get her qualified for Medicaid. Rather than filing everything neatly so that it would make sense later, I tossed everything into a file box so it wouldn't get lost. Those of you who know me well know that my talents are not in bookkeeping. I liked Sam Walton's ESP (error some place) method, even though his cushion and mine were in different leagues altogether.
Finally, I had the pieces of about 5 different puzzles all jumbled together, and I've had to go back, try to sort them all into separate piles, arrange them chronologically, and with Roger's help, write a narrative about how and why we did what we did in a way that will satisfy the judge so we can finally get to the point of dividing the assets that are left. Reconstructing complete pictures of different bank accounts, CD's, IRA's, Stock, insurance and rental property was the nightmare I dreaded facing, but I did, and now it's 95% resolved. Thank the Lord, and Roger, hallelujah!
My brother and sister were not involved enough to know the details of any of it. If I had dropped dead and they had had to pick up where I left off before yesterday, they would hate me for the rest of their natural lives, but now they will appreciate me and be dazzled by their sister's brilliance. God help me not to leave Ricky and Benji with such confusion and chaos.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

We found Mick's hunting trophy this morning on the back porch next to the door, a beautiful, unlucky little goldfinch who became the latest victim of our killer cat whose cunning and stealth have only improved with age. I agree with Rebecca West who said, "Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds, he would have done better to preach to the cats." My mother never liked cats because for years she kept canaries. Had she found the dead finch, she would have scolded the "bad, bad kitty." I was rather amused to watch Mick do his little macho strut when he came in, and give the dogs a condescending "Hrmph! So what have you guys done to earn your keep?"
Mike went to the fair this afternoon with two other "O-bees," then called to tell me he is spending the night in Terry at Ron's house. I've had a relaxing day, spent the morning at the gym with Pam and Jean, then came in, read for a while, went to the nail salon, went shopping for a short while, came back home and sat on the cool, but sunny back porch and painted, walked the dogs, and will probably turn in early tonight. This early fall weather is perfect for sleeping with the windows open, something I enjoy more when Mike is not here. Only trouble is the dogs pick up every single scent and sound if the windows aren't closed, and loudly alert me to what they must imagine is danger, or out of the ordinary, their way of earning their keep, I guess.
He's having an echocardiogram and an MRI done next week as precautionary measures. He had a couple of middle-of-the-night fainting spells when he got up to go to the bathroom. I was able to get him up after the first collapse, then he fainted again in my arms. It was almost three weeks later at a regular check-up that he told our family physician about it.
Of course, I had tried to persuade him to report it earlier, but he refused. I probably should call 911 for an ambulance if it happens again, but he was easily revived and refused to cooperate with any of my suggestions, except getting back in the bed. Sometimes I feel damned if I do, and damned if I don't, never knowing for sure if I've done the right thing. The doctor thought his blood pressure probably dropped low enough when he urinated to make him pass out, which is not all that uncommon with some people, even though it's never happened to Mike. His normal BP is on the low side of normal. It seemed to scare me more than it did him.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Our instructor for water aerobics today was Libba, a Methodist minister's wife, who was a much better match, IMO, for the middle and older seniors in the class. Our 20-something matchstick instructor is out of town for the week, and while I enjoy her classes, too, I felt we got a better work-out with the older lady. That sounds like ageism in reverse, and I guess it is, but today's instructor inspired more confidence in me. "If she can do it, I can, too," I thought, which is not always the case when the younger woman leads us.
10:55 pm. Choir rehearsal tonight was arduous and I was so hungry when we finally finished. Thank goodness, Judy had a delicious supper ready when we got to her house. It was her hubby's birthday, but rather than birthday cake, he wanted banana pudding, and it was delicious. Our entree was beef tips over rice with salad and a delicious toasted bread. I drank too much wine, but was not too inebriated to drive home. She was gracious to send a bowl of the banana pudding home to Mike when I told her it was his favorite dessert, too.
I rescheduled my appointment with the attorney who is handling Mother's affairs. We have to formally close the guardianship before we divide the proceeds of her estate. I'm still feeling very ambivalent about whether I want to keep the real property in P'ville or sell it. There are so many repairs and improvements I want to make to this house, so if we sold that property, I could afford to do the work here without having to borrow money, but I don't want to let go of the home there. I'm back and forth every day on this issue and wish I could make a final decision and feel some peace about it. Prayers and/or advice anyone?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Seems I stepped on some toes by calling people idolaters - those who are particularly fond of their Bibles. All I can say is, if the shoe don't fit, don't wear it! One of my readers even quoted a famous Archbishop of Canterbury:
"If there were any word of God beside the Scripture, we could never be certain of God's word; and if we be uncertain of God's word, the devil might bring in among us a new word, a new doctrine, a new faith, a new church, a new god, yea himself to be a god. If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or in the synagogue of Satan."
-- Archbishop Thomas Cranmer 1489-1586
With my knowledge of church history, theology, and hermeneutics being quite limited, it would be difficult for me to take issue with the Rev. Mr. Cranmer. As a Baptist growing up, I was taught, and still believe in, the priesthood of every believer. I also believe that a person's faith is a very personal matter. I also believe that God continues to speak, to reveal, to lead those whose hearts and minds are tuned to his. To limit God's revelation to the words printed in any book seems to make a very small god of The Deity who creates, redeems, and sustains us. To quote another wise blogger:

"...the key to Anglicanism as via media as I understand it. We have few guarantees and lots of approximations. We must live more by faith and not overly by sight. Absolute certainty alludes us on so many things and we must live with a certain degree of existential angst, which is mete and right and proper in my estimation, for certainty makes a claim that we have arrived, that we've gotten God all sewn up, so all is safe, secure, and comfortable. The Kingdom of Heaven, however, is not so easily tamed or contained."

So for those of you who are so in love with the tree that you can't yet appreciate the whole forest, I pray that you will continue to study the tree until your vision can behold the beauty of the woods in which it lives.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

This article came to my attention via email, and since it has long been a pet peeve of mine regarding some Christians and their Bible, I thought I would use the Rev. Gushee's column in its entirety. It was in the Oct 4th edition of the Palm Beach Post.

Inflexible belief in bible's words misplaced faith
By Steve Gushee
Special to The Palm Beach Post
Thursday, October 04, 2007

Idolatry is the problem. The faithful are the idolaters and, Mirable Dictu, the bible, is the idol.
That phenomenon triggers much of the chaos in the three great religions of the book. The turmoil often spills over into the world as prejudice, intolerance and violence.
Idolatry is worshiping as god something that is not god. It is the worst of sins. The worst of idolatry is worshiping the bible. Countless millions do it.
Large numbers of the faithful in each religion want to honor their scriptures as the word of God. Many read the books literally, as if God has spoken the exact words, set the type and bound the spine. They refuse to use any cultural, historical and reasonable factors to discern what the authors actually intend.
These biblical purists insist that to question an iota of scripture is to doubt God, blaspheme his holy word and commit the most grievous sin. The words of the bible cannot be changed, modified, interpreted in any way.
The result is that the precise details of a book filled with poetry, drama, history, myth and the social, economic and political mores of a very ancient culture written over hundreds of years and translated many times become the inerrant guide to the 21st century.
As a result, the Episcopal Church is on the brink of breaking apart over issues of human sexuality condemned in ancient Rome. Climate change divides Evangelical Christians beholden to the Book of Genesis written more than 3,000 years ago. Muslims debate the meaning of Jihad used to define seventh-century spirituality. Jews argue over ancient real estate decisions in the Torah, and Catholics debate the authority of the Pope and the precise words of Jesus.
Each dispute is rooted in biblical idolatry, less about the subject under discussion than about how to be faithful to a book.
Idolatry is the worst of all sins because it is the worship of a man-made god made manageable. Many of the faithful have put God in a book, be it Torah, New Testament or Quran. The deity is then under the control of the keeper of the book.
Alan Watts, a renegade theologian of the 1960s, once suggested that every church once a year ritually burn the Bible in the midst of worship.
That would remind the faithful that the Bible is not God, but a mortal means of pointing to the One Who is God.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

One of the most disturbing TV programs I've seen lately was Bill Moyers' Journal last night on MPB. The video and the transcript are on the website. Most of the hour was spent discussing Christians United For Israel, or CUFI, and their calls for the bombing of Iran.
These fanatics scare me as much or more than the Islamic Jihadists, mainly because some of them live in my neighborhood. These people who want to base our nation's foreign policy on Armageddon and the Antichrist (a man who promotes peace, they believe) have got way too much influence on Bush and other government representatives, IMO.
Headed by a televangelist from Texas, the CUFI's seem duplicitous in their objectives - support Israel long enough to get Armageddon started, then leave the Jews to perish in eternal damnation while Jesus raptures this segment of so-called Christians to heaven.
MY, MY, my! And they will know we are Christians by our love?
Not all Texans are tilted too far to the right. This gem was in today's paper:
DALLAS — A former Southern Baptist missionary who got
her start as a church secretary is likely to become the first woman president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. If Joy Fenner wins the election as expected at the end of this month, it will widen the gap between the conservative Southern Baptist Convention and the moderate Baptist General Convention of Texas, which has been distancing itself from the national denomination for years.
The group that remained loyal to the SBC is known as the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, which formed in 1998 after it became clear that moderate and progressive Baptists in the state were wandering off the path prescribed by Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson. Dr. Patterson now heads the Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, which just started a homemaking program for pastors' wives to reinforce what the school president calls biblical family and gender roles.
This graduate school for ministers recently sent packing its only female professor who was teaching male students in the school's department of theology. The seminary's board chairman said hiring a woman to teach men theology had been a "momentary" lapse.
MY, My, my! By our love, indeed!

Friday, October 05, 2007

After 4 days of water aerobics at the gym this week, I decided to be worthless today, stay in my pajamas, do nothing. Pam and Jean have gone to Pensacola for the week-end to celebrate their family's October birthdays. I'll have to wish my October babies Happy Birthday here and over the phone. I'm planning a trip to Tampa on Nov. 2, and we'll celebrate Fall birthdays while I'm there. Mary Ann is 42 tomorrow and Ricky will be 43 on the 8th of Nov. You kids are not kids anymore! Happy Birthday, Mary Ann!

My plans for the week-end were to do a little cooking and housecleaning in preparation for Laura and Sarah's visit next week, but I learned they've had to cancel. Laura just started a new job at NPR on a brand new show, The Bryant Park Project, not carried on MPB, yet, but I'm going to request it. I listened to today's show online and was immediately hooked. It's hosted by one of my favorite TV personalities Alison Stewart, who fills in for Keith Olbermann a good bit on MSNBC's Countdown. She and co-host Luke Burbank have a news show that is more conversation than a straight newscast. It has reports and interviews of several newsmakers. and a cool website where interaction with the show's hosts is provided, and a blog. Congratulations and good luck on the new job, Laura!

While surfing the NPR website, I found some Rabbit Ears Radio stories available on CD in the NPR shop, not nearly all of them, but several. I wonder what happened to the original program hosted by Mel Gibson and Meg Ryan? We had a whole set of cassette tapes, which we recorded for Bonnie, wonderful narration by well-known actors, accompanied by famous musicians. Seems we gave them to Clay. I would think there is still a market for the recordings of these classic tales, especially since the original fans of the radio show are old enough to have children of their own.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Cooper!

Eleven and Revvin'!

Vroom! Vroom!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Is there nothing on your radar these days but the controversy in our church and its bishops?" I was asked tonight by a choir friend who checks my blog about once a week. "What happened to all that outrage about Bush and the war? Did you see where he vetoed the bill for increasing medical benefits for children?"

Yes, I did see that, but was I surprised? Not one bit. I've never seen a president so out of touch with the majority of people he supposedly leads. At the same time he's asking Congress for $200 billion more to continue his war in Iraq, he's vetoing a healthcare program for needy kids here at home that costs just a small fraction of that.

It will take only 15 Republicans to join with Democrats to override that veto, if they can find their backbone and stand up to this warmonger. I'm sending our senators and representatives a message to stand up for basic decency. What a pity that we have to remind them to do what they were elected to do!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The clearest explanation of our church's current controversy is explained in this 6 page handout furnished by Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburg, or PEP. It's an unemotional, very objective document that cleared up a couple of questions I had, a good resource for those who are interested.

On another website I found this image created by a former Southern Baptist of Alabama, who came out of the closet over 3 decades ago and went on to have a successful marriage and career, and who became a leader in the campaign for full inclusion in the Episcopal Church. It's not pretty, but it's true.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why a person's sexual orientation can either criminalize or legitimize that person's relationships. Why should a heterosexual person be given an automatic pass on just about any personal or public involvement, as long as they are known to be straight, and a gay person's relationships are all suspect? As Mr. Kelley said of Father Mychal Judge: He would ask simply, "Is there so much love in the world that we can afford to discriminate against any kind of love?"

Dear Friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7