Sunday, November 30, 2008

I just love birthdays, especially when it's all about me, me, me! I set out this morning to collect 62 hugs, thank goodness, St. Philip's folks like to hug, but I lost count around 39. There were many more after that, so I probably got 62, at least.

Let's see, what else? The choir sang "Happy Birthday", my name was called during Prayers of the People, and my favorite part - I had lunch at Pan Asia with the dreamy Chickadees. We've got a Capricorn, a Scorpio, a Sagittarian, and a Leo, and we have the most interesting conversations. They even indulged me in a few minutes of political discussion, a very generous thing indeed, considering we're not all Democrats and Obama fans.
Both sons called after I got home this afternoon, and from them I learned that my gift, a new flat-screen computer monitor, is being shipped this week. Yeah! And there have been other sweet emails, cards, and phone calls, so once again, I've felt incredibly blessed and loved all day long.

The waiter who took the picture above was from Kosciusko and had been a drum major for Ricky Bishop's marching band at NECC back in the 80's. If you know about the 6 degrees of separation, you know that "if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is an average of six steps away from each person on Earth." In Mississippi, you rarely have to go beyond the first two steps to find a connection to a mutual acquaintance, friend or relative. He's also a massage therapist and offered to give me a massage if I would call him. How's that for happy coincidence?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

There's a chance of snow showers in the weather forecast for Monday. It's been a damp, gray 50-something here all day, and I've been cold, but realized when I took the dogs out that it's not as cold outside as it looks. I've felt blue and lonely all day, probably SAD, since I've suffered from that before, but not enough to get back on anti-depresssants, probably has something to do with Ricky and his family going back to Tampa today, too.

The sun should be back out tomorrow and it's my birthday, so going to church and seeing friends should lift my spirits some. Maybe I can have lunch with some of my favorite people, that always helps my feelings, too. Sometime soon I plan to schedule a full-body massage with my friend Margaret as a gift to myself from myself, but since she started doing hospital RN work again, I haven't seen her much.

It's a really good time to curl up with a good book, so I'm reading Women Who Run with the Wolves again. It's been years since I even looked at it, and the suggestion that I give it another read has come from a couple of different directions, so that's what I'll be spending spare time doing in the next few days, I'm sure. My copy is pretty well marked from the 90's when it was new. Different passages are appealing to me now, which just goes to show how we change as we age. For everything, there is a season. . .

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving came and went without my over-indulging in food or drink, major accomplishment there, due mostly to Adderall. I spent the entire day in the kitchen, something I haven't done in many moons, and that always helps to dull my appetite, plus the fact that nothing I cooked measured up to my expectations except the corn casserole and the congealed salad. My sister brought a Black Walnut Caramel cake for my birthday, which is not until Sunday, and even though it's my favorite dessert since childhood, I only had one piece. It was delicious, Betsy. Thanks.
Black walnuts aren't nearly as plentiful as they once were in the South, and I read somewhere that a blight took most of the trees out. I was surprised she was able to find any, but the small locally owned grocery store in her neighborhood had them.
Another delightful flash from the past occurred yesterday when Skip's ex-wife Courtney phoned to tell me she has the Oyster Dressing recipe I wanted and will email it. It was too late to do for Thanksgiving, but I will get around to doing it eventually. It was always my favorite dish of the many Thanksgiving meals we enjoyed in New Orleans when Skip's family lived on Webster Street, a couple of blocks from St. Charles Avenue and Audobon Park. Uncle Bings, his dad, always fixed that and I remember it longingly around this time every year. I realized after talking to her how much I would really like to get to know her better. She and her second husband live on a farm in Pennsylvania. She has a successful jewelry business, and makes frequent trips to arts and crafts fairs all around the country. The picture is from 1964 with their first baby Greg? Am I right about that? Or was it made later with another baby?
Update from Skip: Courtney and me around 1971 or 1972, and the child I am holding is Jonathan. We are living in Abita Springs and standing in front of our vegetable garden. So idealistic and caught up in the Civil Rights movement, protesting Vietnam War and not too far away from dropping out and moving ‘back to the land” in the Ozarks.
The picture below was made at Uncle Bings and Aunt Margaret's house during one of our Thanksgiving get-togethers, probably around 1958, when I was 12 and Skip was 18. Gosh! Was that really 50 years ago?!?

Also pictured from the left are my brother Paul with our cousin Becky, then Betsy with Skip's brother Bill standing behind her, then me and Skip.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My appetite for the political talk shows has diminished considerably since the election. In fact, my TV has had a good rest for the last three weeks. From what little I've seen, our President-Elect seems to be putting together a great cabinet and is ready to tackle all the challenges of the economic crisis. I don't like all this bailout business, but I don't think the alternative is good either.

Getting ready for company this week has not been as stressful as it usually is. I'm actually looking forward to seeing them. I've planned a dinner on Thursday that I think everyone will enjoy.

Roast Turkey and Dressing
Shoepeg Corn Casserole
Steamed Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Carrots
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Jack's Cranberry Apple Congealed Salad
Yeast Rolls
Iced Tea - White Wine - Coffee
Razzleberry Pie with Ice Cream
Caramel Walnut Cake
I just hope the turkey is thawed by the time I get ready to cook it. My friend Pam let me store it in her extra refrigerator, and I didn't transfer it from freezer to fridge until this morning, but according to the Honeysuckle White website, that should be plenty of time. We'll see. That website has videos showing exactly every step to make from freezer to table. The novice cook today has so much more help than my generation had.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Okay, let me get this straight. If you subscribe to the RSS feed or Atom, it doesn't register on the sitemeter. Is that right? So those of you who are subscribing don't show up as hits, and I thought you had quit me, but you haven't? Well, that makes me feel a little better. I'm not sure that's how it works, but that's what I read. Regular readers, if you're subscribing, please let me know who you are.

I've had a roller coaster Sunday. The music at church went really well, then I had a delightful lunch at Margarita's with several friends afterward. Tonight my feelings got hurt by a really close friend, so I've been vacillating between intense anger and deep, deep sadness, but another friend let me come to her house and cry on her shoulder, so I'll get over this rift in a friendship I thought was on more solid ground than it is. At 61, almost 62, I'm still naive about some aspects of personal relationships. Maybe one day I'll learn.

My dream this morning seemed to portend a menacing event would overtake me. I was trying to outrun it, but woke up before I escaped. So maybe I was warned?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christ the King Sunday marks the end of our long green season of Pentecost, and will be celebrated tomorrow by our choir at St. Philip's singing The Solemn Mass by Louis Vierne. From our Rector Tom Slawson's blog:

This special liturgy will be a Solemn High Mass for Christ the King Sunday, which means that it is going to be a little different from our regular Holy Eucharist. A Solemn – High – Mass commonly refers to a specific liturgy. Solemn, meaning the use of incense; and the sacred ministers who lead the liturgy: the priest/celebrant, deacon, and sub-deacon. High: referring to a sung liturgy with chanting and choral voices. Mass, of course, is the Eucharist. The ordinary of the liturgy (those elements that do not change from week to week) consists of the Kyrie (Lord have mercy), Gloria (Glory to God in the highest), Creed (we will be omitting the musical setting of the creed for this service), Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy Lord), Benedictus (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord), and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). For a Solemn High Mass, one composer would compose musical settings for the ordinary of the mass; this is what our choir will be singing.

This music is indescribably beautiful. I wish everybody I know could hear it. I looked for a video on YouTube to embed here, but the only ones they have are scratchy and incomplete. Sorry. At this site is a good version of the Sanctus sung by Duke University's Chapel Choir. It's one of those works that almost has to be experienced in person to appreciate fully. We had an extra rehearsal this afternoon to get it polished to perfection, and with the grace of God, it will be. (Our choir always leaves room for God's grace:)

I also learned from our rector's blog that our Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts Schori will be visiting St. Philip's on Jan. 11th. That's an event I don't want to miss!

I spent the morning cleaning out kitchen cabinets. Am I the only one who has things taking up space that expired long ago? The oldest item I found was dated 2003. Okay, I admit it... I'm a terrible housekeeper, but if you know me, you already knew that, didn't you? Anyway, it was a cathartic experience, emotionally speaking. Now if I could just do that with some of the other stuff around here that lost its freshness and appeal long ago. Oh well, one room at a time.

Friday, November 21, 2008

One of the journals I've kept for the past 18 years contains nothing but quotations that resonated deeply with me. It serves as my own personal prayer book, a resource I use in grounding myself when I feel I'm coming unmoored, or just as a devotional book to remind me who and whose I am.

Included in it are lyrics to hymns and other songs, scripture verses (usually rewritten in first person), prayers, poems, lines from movies, pictures of paintings by famous artists, magazine articles, etc. It's almost filled with the material I've gathered from various sources, only 4 pages are still blank. Some of it would not be inspiring to anyone but me, and most people would probably wonder about the kind of person who finds inspiration in some of these pieces. It's a key to my interior landscape, containing answers to questions I've asked and clues to riddles that have puzzled me. Most of it is in my own handwriting, everything from child-like printing to elegant calligraphy, which also says something, I suppose, of the frame of mind I was in when I wrote it. It takes about an hour to go through the whole thing, different pieces get skipped each time, and I always get to the end with an incredible sense of peace and well-being.

I got the idea to make this journal after hearing a friend talk about collecting similar items in a shoebox, and a day or two later, receiving this blank book as a gift from another friend. The time was right, it was meant to be. Unless it was weighty enough to make me pause and ponder, it didn't make the book. Maybe when I die, it will go to a family member or friend whose faith will be strengthened, hope renewed, attitude adjusted or curiosity satisfied. I hope it isn't tossed in the garbage, but eventually it will be, and that's okay.

I was reading through it last night when I came across this piece from Nelson Mandela's 1994 inaugural address. It immediately brought to mind our new President-elect Obama and the way he has inspired people throughout his campaign. See if you don't agree.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Benji posted another irresistable, precious picture of Pip. Can't wait to see them next week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Only in America would a woman, who has trouble putting together a coherent sentence, be offered $7M for a book on what it's like to be a colossal failure. Who in the world would buy this "memoir"? Do her fans actually read? Here's just one of her nonsensical responses when asked about her "new ideas" in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer last week at the Republican Governor's Conference in Miami. (Maybe Dubya made sense of it.)

"Gah! Nothing specific right now. Sitting here in these chairs that I'm going to be proposing, but in working with these governors who, again on the front lines, are forced to, and it's our privileged obligation to find solutions to the challenges facing our own states every day, being held accountable, not being just one of many, just casting votes or voting present every once in a while, we don't get away with that. We have to balance budgets and we're dealing with multibillion dollar budgets and tens of thousands of employees in our organizations."

That millions of Americans voted to put this person one heartbeat away from the presidency scares me. Not many things scare me, as I alluded to in last Thursday's post, but that thought sent cold chills down my spine. And that John McCain would put so little vetting into his choice of running mates only reinforced my belief that the man was not seriously wanting to win, or he's getting senile. How much more screwed up could our country get before McCain supporters realize, "We've got to change direction." The dumbing down of America has achieved dangerous levels. Lots of unwise decisions made under Republican mismanagement need to be reversed. I wouldn't know where to start, but I will pray every day and night that Obama and the Democrats do.

Time Magazine's cover this week may give us a clue on what is being expected of our President-elect.

From this cover story by Karen Tumulty: His top priority will be stabilizing the financial system, he said in an interview with CNN shortly before the election, followed by investing in renewable energy, universal health care, middle-class tax cuts and education reform. Then there are the other things he talked about at various points in the campaign: closing Guantánamo, withdrawing from Iraq, renegotiating trade deals, reforming immigration.

It's a good thing he's a young man.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I've had a busy, but enjoyable week-end. On Friday I ate lunch with George in Ridgeland at Sweet Peppers, and we visited for a couple of hours. Some people have trouble understanding my need for adult conversation, but this old friend from my hometown is not one of them. We had a table on their patio, which at 70* was ideal for visiting. Ain't retirement nice. Thanks, George!

Yesterday my friend Eugenie and I attended the Rankin County Democratic Executive Committee Meeting at the Library in Pearl. What a sweet, smart bunch of people! And what a thrill to be in a group where I didn't have to talk in guarded tones and could freely express my somewhat biased opinions and not worry about offending anyone. Plus, we were fed lunch, too! Now you know I enjoyed that.

Sue Livingston, one of the ladies in the meeting, gave everyone a copy of a picture she made in 2006 of Joe Biden when he visited with some other Mississippi Democrats. Pictured from left to right are Former Governors Bill Allain, Ray Mabus, Speaker of the House Billy McCoy, Vice-President Elect Biden, Former Governors Ronnie Musgrove and William Winter. I saw Mr. Musgrove and his wife Melanie today at Bon Ami, where I was eating lunch with my friends Yvonne and Cynthia. He did that politician thing of pointing at me, smiling like he'd recognized an old friend, and waving. I smiled and waved back like I, too, recognized an old friend. Hey, I learned to work a room from a pro; preachers do the same thing, you know? We used to ask Daddy, "Who was that?" and he'd say, "I don't know, but they looked like they recognized me, so I waved." Most of the time, he would actually go over and chat with them for a minute or two, but not always.

I did double choir duty this morning. In September, David divided us into 3 ensembles to sing for the early service once a month. November was my group's turn to do it. I thought it sounded unusually well-balanced and good. We got several compliments, but then anything is better than nothing, which is what the 8:00 crowd usually has, so I'm sure they really did enjoy it. We also got a superb breakfast as part of the gig, so I won't mind doing it again in Feb. and again in May.

I've got a 2 bedroom, 1 and a half bath townhouse for rent if anybody needs one, or knows someone who does.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For those of you who, like me, have been distressed over the Bush administration's disregard for our Constitution, there is a petition you can sign over at People for the American Way:

Dear President-elect Obama:
I urge you to uphold your commitments to restore constitutional rights and the rule of law. The Bush administration has run roughshod over Americans' civil liberties and its intelligence policies must be reversed, not continued.
The change you were elected to bring must include adherence to our core constitutional values: NO MORE torture... NO MORE domestic spying that violates Americans' rights... NO MORE excessive government secrecy... NO MORE gross violations of due process and habeas corpus.
A quick survey of the PFAW site gives you a realistic view of the uphill battle we face in prying power from the hands of those who very much wanted to convert this country's democracy into a theocracy. They aren't easily yielding the control they gained over the last 28 years, but thank God! their numbers are decreasing. Some are praying for the Rapture, convinced that Obama is the Antichrist. Some are buying more and more guns, afraid of some nation-wide insurgency of African-Americans, and some, like the cult-like following of Sarah Palin, are convinced that they can make a God-inspired comeback in the 2012 election.
The theme that runs through all their rhetoric is fear. How did these so-called Christians come to be so afraid? My Christian training included frequent admonitions of "Be not afraid." That simple advise is sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments. The “spirit of fear” mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV), is pushing people to do bizarre and cowardly deeds.
Maybe we should pray that all these people who are running scared eventually come to understand that “spirit of fear” that has seized them does not come from God? Maybe it's the part about "love" and the "sound mind" that has them so disoriented. To quote an anonymous comment I found online:
That there are people in 21st-century America who believe the Bible is literally true, who believe the Earth was created 6,000 years ago, and who believe that our lives today should be dictated by codes of conduct written by people who lived 2,000 years before modern medicine, electricity or equal rights -- and that these same Americans have influence in national affairs -- should infuriate anyone with a functioning mind. Fundamentalism is the antithesis of reason. Its adherents -- Christian, Muslim, Jewish or otherwise -- have been handed The Truth and cling to it, facts be damned.
Hopefully, they will come to understand, as the Apostle Paul reminded the Romans, there is no authority except that which God has established. It forced the Democrats to come to terms with the faith and family values that so many of us on the "left" embrace, and to incorporate those values into our political platform. Thankfully, it's more inclusive and more appealing than what the Republican base had to offer.
But it's not a morality that can be legislated. As a melting pot of such diverse races and religions, America will be a lot more stable when she gets the church and the state fully separated and each functions autonomously, according to our Constitution. If you believe this way, too, sign the petition, please.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I skipped the Water Lilies lunch today, just wasn't interested in leaving the house. We're having one of those cool rainy days when staying inside by the fire has much more appeal to me than anything outside. I had a repairman here working also, plus a puny puppy, so socializing had to take a back seat to the rest of it. Since Skip was here until 11:00, my need for adult conversation, which the Water Lilies usually satisfy, had already been met.

One of the things I showed Skip on the computer this morning was the number of hate groups that are located in his part of Louisiana. I found it on Southern Poverty Law Center's site, just click on Hate Group Map. Later I went to Wounded Bird and found out one of these groups has already made the news. Seems a woman from Oklahoma decided to join, but changed her mind during the initiation and was killed for it. There has also been an increase in gun sales since the election.

Please, People! Get a grip! You were lied to during the campaign by extremists who just wanted your vote. There is no need to stock up on semi-automatic weapons. I hope Homeland Security is monitoring these terrorist groups, too. They scare me a lot more than any talk of "sleeper cells."

I hope John McCain and Sarah Palin are satisfied. Since neither of them were from the South, I'm not sure they realized how seriously afraid some folks around here are to let go of the old Klan mentality. From this week's news:

The U.S. Secret Service has blamed the harsh campaign-trail rhetoric of Sarah Palin for a rash of death threats against President-elect Obama. Palin's remarks created a heated atmosphere at her rallies. The Secret Service told the Obama family in October that they had seen death threats against the president-elect rise dramatically during the same period that Palin made some of her most blistering attacks, associating Obama with terrorism.

Lord have mercy, indeed!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I awakened this morning in a state of high energy and efficiency, a most unusual occurrence around here. I'm one of those people who usually takes a couple of hours to be even coherent, much less brilliant, but today I woke up brimming with maximum physical and mental capacity and raring to go. I have no idea what made the difference, there's been no change in my routine, but today everything clicked.

I went to the Y with my friend Sandra, did deep water aerobics for an hour and a half, came home and got more done in a couple of hours than I usually do in a whole day. Very little of the confusion, bumfuzzlement, frustration and incoordination that I normally deal with daily. It was amazing. Seems I had one of these days last on May 22 when I described it as "all 8 cylinders working smoothly." Hmmm... almost 6 months ago... maybe it's a twice a year phenomenon. Whatever! I'll take as many as I can get and be thankful for them.

Maybe I'm just excited about Skip coming tomorrow, or the kids and grandkids coming for Thanksgiving. It does help to have something enjoyable to look forward to, doesn't it? I'm hoping Skip and I can celebrate last week's election since I feel like I was cheated out of a celebration last week, but that's a story for another day. I don't want to end such a happy day on an unhappy note. I hope the rest of you are well and happy, too.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I saw a map of the US Thursday night on Hardball that so excited me, I spent a large chunk of time tracking it down to get a copy. Turns out, it's a picture of all the counties whose 2008 results were more Democratic than in 2004. It's from the NY Times and is not a depiction of final results, just trends. (It's part of an interactive feature with lots more info.) Still, it's encouraging to this Democrat. Lots of folks were saying we were headed in the wrong direction. Looks like they did what they could to change directions. "Change we can believe in!"

The most gratifying part of it to me is that right in the middle of the reddest portion is a serious blue triangular dent representing a good bit of Mississippi that could spread by 2012. Just look at Alabama, Georgia, Florida - all bluer than they were 4 years ago. True, the final results map shows more red counties than blue, but just let Obama get this trainwreck of an economy cleaned up and see if our next election doesn't show results that look more like this. Yes we can!

Our dream group met today, then went to lunch together and celebrated Yvonne's birthday. She's the baby Episcopalian whose picture I posted last Sunday.

My firstborn also celebrated his birthday today. He was on his way to Cooper's team's baseball tournament when I called him this morning. I'm guessing there's nothing else that could have made his special day more fun except winning the tournament. Haven't heard how that went, but I probably will. The first picture was made when there were only 8 candles on his cake. Now there are 44! The latest picture of him that I have was made at Cooper's paintball birthday party in October when he was pretending to be 12 years old again, something he's still good at, I'm sure. Happy Birthday, Rick!

Friday, November 07, 2008

I found this over at Wounded Bird and just had to lift it. Not sure who to credit for the artwork on this image.
One of the encouraging things I heard at last night's RCFDW (Rankin County Federation of Democratic Women) meeting was that the pastor of Crossgates Baptist Church has a burden for the racism that has divided blacks and whites in our state. He is leading a prayer campaign in his church to resolve these damaging issues. I'm glad to hear it. Makes my tiny hometown seem downright progressive.

More news from Rankin County that shows why this pastor and his compadres are a mite late in their efforts. A coach and a bus driver for Pearl Schools "were disciplined for allegedly telling students not to say President-elect Barack Obama’s name." Unless their discipline was to get fired, it was insufficient, IMO. (I haven't heard, yet, exactly what their discipline was.) We need to have a zero tolerance policy on this behavior, and "Nip it!" as Deputy Barney Fife always told Sheriff Andy, "Nip it in the bud!"

And remember when I said Obama would make a good Episcopalian? (If he does indeed do this I plan to polish up my old crystal ball and hang out my shingle.) Look what I just found out (thanks to a round-about google that led straight back to Wounded Bird. Thanks again, GM!):

Barack Obama sought out controversial gay Bishop Gene Robinson not just once but three times during his campaign to become President of the United States, according to the The Times. Mr Obama sought [Episcopal Bishop] Gene out to find out what it's like to be a 'first'. Bishop Robinson advised the President-elect: “At the end of the day you have to decide whether or not you are going to be paralysed by threats and by violent possibilities or whether you just move on and do what you feel called to do despite the risk." (from Anglican Priest David Herron's site.)

One of the things we do right in the Episcopal Church is always, in our Prayers of the People portion of every Sunday's liturgy, to pray for "our president and those in authority over us." It has softened my feelings for Bush 43 some, not much, but some. (I'm sure my animosity would be more pronounced without it. He is, and especially since this week's election, a pathetic character.) The prayer, from our Book of Common Prayer p. 390, usually goes something like this:

For the peace of the world, that a spirit of respect and
forbearance may grow among nations and peoples, we pray to you, O Lord.

Response: Lord, hear our prayer.

For those in positions of public trust, especially our President George, our Governor Haley, and all other elected officials, that they may serve justice, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person, we pray to you, O Lord.

Response: Lord, hear our prayer.

Here's another of my favorites from p. 820 in our Prayer Book:

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world:
We commend this nation to thy merciful care,
that, being guided by thy Providence,
we may dwell secure in thy peace.
Grant to the President of the United States,
the Governor of this State, and to all in authority,
wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will.
Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness,
and make them ever mindful of their calling
to serve this people in thy fear;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.

Don't you just love the language of the old King James English? I do. I think that's one reason people loved to hear my daddy pray. He always used Thou's and Thee's, it sounded so elegant, so dignified. What was that old saying, and this is from my very rusty memory (if anyone has the exact quote, please send it): "Think how much better the world would be, if I saw the Thou in you and you the Thee in me."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"Cathy, I can't believe you aren't walking on air tonight! I expected to see you grinning from ear to ear, at least, and there you sit with a long face. Didn't you hear that Obama won?"

My Republican choir friend caught me looking deflated and had to rub it in. What she didn't know is that I'd just been in a conversation with another Democrat about the win of Proposition 8 in California. She and I were both hoping it would be defeated, but the wheels of progress turn slowly, and I believe that, in time, these discriminatory measures will all be a thing of the past.

Truth is, I spent most of yesterday, feeling very happy, despite the unhappy note on which it started. I really appreciate the encouraging words in emails and comments. My husband had a similar encounter with his best friend, who started a conversation with an epithet like the one I heard. After listening to his initial rant, I heard Mike say, "I've known you for almost 20 years and you've been my best friend since I met you. I know you are not an ignorant redneck, so why do you want to talk like one?" It stopped the man cold, and he admitted that he was actually glad to see Obama win, and he hoped McCain went back to the Senate to do his "Maverick" thing. Frankly, I think Obama should appoint McCain to lead a search for Osama bin Laden, since he bragged so often about being able to do find him.

I probably was not as excited about the Obama win as most people. I have known for over 4 years that he would be our first black president, I just didn't realize it would be this soon. While I was listening to his 2004 convention speech, I called Mike into the living room and told him, "You see that man right there? He is our first black president." (Was I ever inspired!)

"Who is that?" my husband asked.

"I have no idea, but that's him."

My crystal ball hasn't ever been clearer than it was that night, nor has it been that clear since. (Hey! Even a clock with a dead battery is right twice a day.) Good thing I don't depend on the gypsy in me for a living.

Too bad that clairvoyant couldn't have picked more responsible renters than we've had this year. I just found out that our renter in the townhouse across the street has moved out six months prior to the terms of her lease, so now I've got another empty house to clean, advertise and get rented.

The last huge renter problem I worked on (see the July 21 post) got resolved on Tuesday. The lady in the Centerpoint Corporate Office, that I referred this problem to, called to let me know that they are refunding the $452 I paid on the $915 bill. She apologized for their bungling of this matter, and decided, after a lengthy investigation, that I should be reimbursed for the whole amount.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

One of the most inspiring things I heard last night while channel-surfing was on the PBS Charlie Rose show from Bernard-Henri Levi:

Rosa Parks sat, Martin Luther King walked, Barack Obama ran, America flies.

That's when my tears started.

Obama's victory speech was a classic. I feel sorry for anyone who heard it and didn't feel inspired. Even more sympathy goes to those who are so bitter that they turned off the TV and refused to listen. I encountered one first thing this morning.

"Well, we've got us a baby-killing n****r!"

I listened to him rant about Obama's failure to stop partial-birth abortion.

"We, the Pro-Life and the Pro-Choice people, working together, can cut down on abortions, but we're not going to do it by outlawing abortions," I argued.

"It's not about cutting down the number of abortions," he admitted, "he's a _________" and again he repeated the epithet. "He didn't vote to ban partial-birth abortion when he could have!"

Aha! the moment of truth! An excuse to hate, that's all he wanted. He didn't care about the life of the baby, or the lives of any of the babies from unplanned pregnancies, or their mothers. A black man dared to stand up for the right of a woman to control her reproductive choices and my white neighbor hates him for it. Could it be he resents man's loss of control over women as much as he hates people based on skin color?

Then I grabbed his hoodie under his chin and got right in his face and told him, "Okay, I've listened to you for the last time. I don't want you to ever say that again in my presence."

Then I walked away, shaking, hurting, trying not to give in to hating this small-minded man with the shriveled heart (who proudly proclaims himself to be a Christian), trying to remember the prayers I looked up on Saturday, hoping I would get back in the house before the tears started. Thankfully, my dogs did their business quickly and I made it, but not before our paths crossed one more time in stony silence.

"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

11/6/08 Update: I found this prayer on Wounded Bird and borrowed it. Thanks again, GM!

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Book of Common Prayer] page 824

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's official. He's the winner! America voted for change, Barack Obama will be our next president.

President-elect Obama

Monday, November 03, 2008

One of the things I hope we as Democrats can accomplish with our new president and control of both House and Senate is to correct the flaws in our voting procedures. There is no good reason for any American citizen to be inconvenienced by long lines, malfunctioning machines, Tuesday as election day, identity checks, or anything else. It's totally inexcusable that in 2008, our citizenry do not enjoy the most modern, efficient methods available. Please, once and for all, let's fix this.

Then let's do some campaign reform. This one has been way too long, way too expensive, and way too dirty. There is a better way. Let's find it.

I'm volunteering tomorrow as a poll watcher, and have been asked to check the precincts in my area gathering the following data: time, total machines, no. of working machines, how many have voted, how many are in line, how long is the wait? There are eight places I'll be checking at least 3 times each during the day. This is a new experience for me, so it should be interesting.

Then there is a party tomorrow night of mostly Rankin Co. Democrats that I plan to attend and I hope to celebrate several wins, but nothing will affect me as much as Obama's win. I watched his final campaign video urging everyone to vote and it brought tears to my eyes. This moment in history has totally inspired me, and I'm so glad to have been a part of it.

I'm doing this for you, Dear Grandchildren, and I hope one day you understand how sad I am that the last eight years have left this country, her economy, her environment, her morale, and her reputation in such sad condition. Maybe we can correct some of that during the Obama administration. I want you to have the best because I love you. And I love America. We ALL deserve so much better than we have now.

6 PM Update: I just heard on the news that Obama's grandmother died today. How I wish she could have lived to see him elected and inaugurated. Really sad news. Thank you, Mrs. Dunham for giving us Barack. He credits you for so much of what we see in him today. May she rest in peace.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bishop Gray will be at St. Philip's today to confirm and receive new members. One of my new friends from the Dream Group is being received, which makes me feel like I had a tiny part to play in her decision. I always look forward to the Bishop's visits and sermons. In yesterday's Clarion Ledger he had a column in the Religion Section that I liked, so I'm posting the whole thing here. It was another of those serendipitous blessings I received after spending time with my unhappy neighbor.

We are a people quick to make judgments about motives, character

The Right Rev. Duncan M. Gray III

Special to The Clarion-Ledger

Next week our long presidential campaign will be over. As this country, collectively more weary than the candidates themselves, passes that civic milestone, serious and prayerful thought should be given as to why we seem incapable of a serious and reasonable debate about any matter of substance.

Each of the candidates promised a different kind of campaign, and yet as the campaign's finish line appeared over the horizon the emotions, not the mind, became the target of ads and the demonization of one another became the norm.

I suspect that these campaigns are only reflecting what we know to be the case in so many parts of our own lives. We have become a people quick to make judgments about one another's motives, sanity or moral character when we disagree with an action taken or decision made.

It seems as though it is emotionally easier, if not morally less mature, to discount the other as unworthy than to have to address our disagreements as two imperfect human beings, each struggling to do our best with less than perfect truth at our disposal.

On my desk is an old Vermont saying: "Don't attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance, incompetence or stupidity."

It's a pretty good rule of thumb by which to negotiate difficult moments.

But better, I think, is the apostle Paul's words that though one day the fullness of all things shall be revealed, until that day we all "see through a glass darkly" (1 Cor. 13:12).

We all have imperfect knowledge and live with imperfect choices.

How much better would our common life be if we sought less to find the soil on the soul of the other and worked harder to discover the image of God in the one with whom we most passionately disagree.

Update: Here's the Dream Group, the Baby Episcopalian is front and center. Welcome, Yvonne! I hope you enjoy your new spiritual home and find it as nurturing as I have.

Photo by Bob Rall or Jim Carrington, not sure which one made this shot. They were both shooting at the same time.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The best version of this jingle I've heard - "There's No One as Irish as Barack O'Bama." Thanks, GM! It's five minutes long, folks, but well worth every second. Enjoy.

Performed by Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys. I've transcribed the lyrics here with spelling errors aplenty, I'm sure, I wrote what I heard. If you know the correct spelling, please let me know.

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama
From the old Blarney Stone to the green hills of Tara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

You don't believe me when I hear you say
But Barack's as Irish as our own JFK
His granddaddy's granddaddy came from Moneygall
A village in Nofte well known to you all


His granddaddy's granddaddy was one Fulmuth Kearney
He's as Irish as any from the Lakes of Kilarney
His mam's from a long line of great Irish Mama's
There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama


He looks after his own a true son of St. Patrick
He chose as his mate Joe Biden a Catholic
Proddies Jews Muslims even the Dali Lama
There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama


Our Barack's a hero I heard 'em say
Fina Tequina it's the American way
He's Kilholland, Leongo, Nofish, Nuagrama
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama


A name is a name there's no doubt about it
Barack Obama's name we can shout it
Whether apostrophe or inverted comma
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama


Now you Hillary supporters don't you vote for McCain
And a VP needs brains so forget about Palin
With Cheney and Bush they are all ingorama
There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama


From Kerry to Cork to old Donegal
Let's hear it for Barack from old Moneygall
From the Lakes of Kilarney to old Kalamara
There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama


Tooral U, Tooral S, Tooral A, Tooralama
There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama
Tooral U, Tooral S, Tooral A, Tooralama
There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama

There is a slightly different version of this song at Pacifica Riptide, where I found out a new verse is sung each Sunday evening at the music sessions hosted by Shay Black at the Starry Plow in Berkeley. What I transcribed here (before finding the other) goes with the video. It's sung to the old folk tune for "Villikins and his Dinah."
After listening to my neighbor's racial, ethnic, homophobic, and misogynistic slurs today, I came home and tried to pray for him. It's at times like this I'm very grateful for our Prayer Book. Thank goodness someone went to the trouble to put into words the thoughts I have trouble expressing when I've been exposed to an overflow of such hostility. I'll be so glad when this election is over.

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then I opened my email and found this lovely message from a friend:

Dear God,
The lady reading this
Is beautiful, classy & strong and I love her.
Help her live her life to the fullest.
Please promote her and cause her to excel above expectations.
Help her to shine in darkest places
and love where it is impossible to love.
Protect her at all times,
lift her up when she needs you the most
and let her know that when she walks with you,
She will always be safe.

Reminds me of that old song - All night, all day, angels watching over me, My Lord... Well, it is All Saints Day, so maybe it's the saints and the angels watching over me. Thank you, Lord.