Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's Almost Christmas Friday Five!

As I told the RevGals, I have debated with myself for weeks about today's Friday Five.
  • Self 1: It should be deep and theological.
  • Self 2: But it's almost Christmas, it should be fun and warm and sweet.
  • Self 1: But your last Friday Five was sort of silly. You should show your more serious side.
  • Self 2: You worry WAY too much!
So after consulting with Soda Chicky, I went playful, pals o' mine! I love stories, so I hope you'll tell some about your favorite Christmas memories.
  1. What was one of your favorite childhood gifts that you gave? It wasn't really a childhood gift, more of a young adulthood gift. I made some water color note cards for my mom. I knew it was a good gift when she rationed them out for only very special notes.

  2. What is one of your favorite Christmas recipes? Bonus points if you share the recipe with us. One of my favorite Christmas recipes is something Mountain Mama makes called, "Sandwich Cookies." I think it came from some really basic cookbook. You make dough the consistancy of pie crust with flour, butter and cream. After rolling the dough out, you cut little circles, flip them in granulated sugar and prick with a fork so they don't puff up too much. Mountain Mama uses an old teaball to cut out the circles. It works best. After baking the cookies you make sandwiches with great frosting: butter, powedered sugar, a little cream and a tiny drop of color. When they're all done, you find that they are best eaten in one bite. If you try to bite them they crumble all over your clothes. They are the best. Papa Joe once left them as a "tip" for the housekeeper when we were having Christmas on the road. They're that good.

  3. What is a tradition that your family can't do without? (And by family, I mean family of origin, family of adulthood, or that bunch of cool people that just feel like family.) Many years ago, Mountain Mama got tired of writing "Love from Mom and Dad" on the gift tags of presents given to me and my sibs. (We didn't do Santa Clause at our house.) Instead she would put down the names of fairy tale characters, tv people, movie stars, book characters... Some times the names were clues: Miss Goody gave a pair of two shoes; Pele gave a soccer ball; Julie Andrews gave the soundtrack to "The Sound of Music." Sometimes the names were just silliness. The Chick is adament that the tradition continue. And really, I hope I get at least one gift from Billy the Brownie!
  4. Pastors and other church folk often have very strange traditions dictated by the "work" of the holidays. What happens at your place? When we were still a parish pastor's family, the tradition was that all three of us went to church on Christmas morning. (It is still my favorite service.) Bug Man would always vacuum. Soda Chicky would help with ushering or acolyting. I found that this quieter, smaller service was the time when I could most tune in to the joy that really is Christmas.
  5. If you could just ditch all the traditions and do something unexpected... what would it be? I think it would be truly glorious to go to another country and experience the week around Christmas. What's it like in Paris on Christmas Eve? Or Jerusalem on Christmas Day? Or London on Boxing Day?

Blog Pals, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

The Delinquent Blogger

So when your blogging friends ask where you've been... it's clearly time to get back on the keyboard! I have been busy with work stuff, home stuff, holiday stuff.... blah, blah, blah. No real excuse. Perhaps I've had nothing to say. This is also a possibility.

Next week I am going on an actual vacation. BugMan, Soda Chicky and I are flying to see Mountain Mama and Papa Joe. We leave on Christmas Eve Day and come back on the 30th. This is the first vacation I have taken since starting my latest gig. I have five weeks of vacation time due me and I will manage to eat up three days of it. This is silly! And the vacation is so overdue. I can feel myself yearning for the wonders of laziness. Days of it in a row! I have no need to see sights or be entertained. I just want to hang with the family and enjoy the thrill of NO WORK!

So, one more day of work and then a couple days off to do last minute shopping and packing. Hopefully we won't get trapped at Midway Airport on our way west. Papa Joe is sure we'll get trapped on the way back. But hey! It's all part of the holiday!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

WinterSong: Book Talk for the Rev Gals

To participate in Monday's Book Talk or to learn more about the authors of these pieces, go to my post on RevGalBlogPals. We're discussing the book WinterSong by Madeleine L'Engle and Luci Shaw.

After Annunciation

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There'd have been no room for the child.
- Madeleine L'Engle

Winter Nights

Your father, when he died,
left this thing behind, his head thing,
he called it - a square
of knitted wool, beige, blue,

to tuck around his head,
like a small rug. I finger it
now, (the stitches like
his body cells, like all

the intricate minutes of his life),
almost the way I fingered it
growing on the needles
knitting for him a meager defense

against those Illinois nights
in December when he'd wake
with a headache
from the cold. Afterwards

I slept with it hugged
to my chest like a stuffed
animal - a brief blanket for
my heart, a comfort. like him.
-Luci Shaw

That Tiny Flame

I think of James Clement (in The Love Letters and Certain Women) telling of the making of cider in the winter, when it is put outdoors to freeze. In the center of the frozen apple juice is a tiny core of pure flame that does not freeze. My faith (which I enjoy) is like that tiny flame. Even in the worst of moments it has been there, surrounded by ice, perhaps, but alive.
- Madeleine L'Engle

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Winter Concert

Tonight was Soda Chicky's high school Winter Concert. At 3:15 the Chick called to say that she needed to be at school at 5:45pm. I said, "I can't do that." I said, "Call your father." When contacted, the Bug Man said that he was in the Little State across the river and there was no possible way he would be done killing pests in time to get her to the school. So I adjusted.

I told the Chick that she and her friend Barnum had better be ready to go when I walked in the door. (Barnum's mother a lower GI thing going on and couldn't make the drive. Been there. Empathize deeply.) Aside from putting on earrings, they were ready and away we went.

The high school is a definite "Main Line" institution. (You drive through the campus of a hoity toity famous women's college to get there. You guess which one...) I usually feel under dressed and outclassed, but that's life.

The concert was the Jazz Band, Concert Band, Orchestra and four choirs. A long night... I enjoyed most of it but was fascinated by the selection of music. There was lots of Christmas music both sacred and secular. There was non-Christmas sacred music. There was a long piece from The Pirates of the Caribbean. But no Hanukkah music! There are a lot of families at the school celebrating Hanukkah this week, but no Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel! The choirs are doing a combined concert with the local middle school next week at one of the local synagogues. I asked the Chick if there would be Hanukkah music then. "Not from our choir." Hmmmm...

Waking up with Arthur

At 6:45am Soda Chicky leaves for school. She hollars that she's leaving, which really means, "Mom, if you don't wake up now you have nobody to blame but yourself." I turn off the alarm and look for caffeine. After watching the first half hour of the Today show, I turn to PBS and watch Arthur. The Chick hasn't watched Arthur for a few years, but I keep watching. Why? Oh why? There is no intelligent, adult reason, I just watch Arthur. It's a secret pleasure or at least it used to be. Anyone else out there still watching the shows their kids are now too sophisticated to view?

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like the Friday Five!

This week's Friday Five comes from Wills Mama. She says, " I know, I know.... pretty grumpy for November but why not get it out of our systems now so we are free to enjoy the rest of the festivities."

Please tell us your least favorite/most annoying seasonal....

  1. dessert/cookie/family food: This would have to be any cookie that looks good, but tastes bad. Stale is bad. Hidden coconut is bad. Candied fruit is really bad. But the worst is something that should be a chocolate treat but turns out to be yucky tasting!

  2. beverage (seasonal beer, eggnog w/ way too much egg and not enough nog, etc...) Real eggnog is kind of nasty in my book. On the other hand, the store bought kind with a little something to warm it up- good. And if you can mix it up with some good vanilla ice cream and a little warming agent- real good.

  3. tradition (church, family, other) Sunday School Christmas Pageants when the kids are paraded around just for the Kodak moments. Or when the rehearsals involve middle aged women yelling at little kids who are BORED.

  4. decoration: Santa and the baby Jesus in the same venue. Santa does not belong in the manger scene. Jesus should stay out of the sleigh.

  5. gift (received or given) How could you have a least favorite gift? I sometimes wish they hadn't invented gift cards. I know that Soda Chicky likes the shopping part, but it means that the gift giver doesn't have to use their imagination. I like the creative part of gift giving. I love when the gift I've received reflects thought and care.
  6. BONUS: SONG/CD that makes you want to tell the elves where to stick it: I really think that Santa should stop running over the reindeer. Also, I want sacred music to stay away from commercial products.

Oops! Grandma got run over by a reindeer! Thanks for helping me see the error of my ways, Songbird. As you will read in the comment below, I have Santa issues.

So that's my list. That wasn't too grumpy, was it?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blogging Buddies

So I got to meet Lutheran Flavor in the flesh today! This is the second time I've met a blogging friend. And on the same afternoon there was a piece on NPR talking about virtual friends and why "Seinfeld" was such a good show.

The premise of the essay was that "Seinfeld" although its characters could be fairly unlikeable, showed a group of four people who always stuck with each other. They were friends through thick and thin and even thinner. The writer suggested that this something we all long for, but that we can't find the same thing with our virtual friends.

He makes a good point. You can only have virtual coffee with your virtual friends. And yet, I have remembered Lutheran Flavor in my prayers. I have listened as she has discussed her calling and vocation. And I care about what happens to her next. Meeting her in person was a bonus!

Perhaps blogging friends and real time friends are similar in that, the depth of the relationship depends on how much you share. And how much you care. Granted, it's not the same kind of friendship, but blogging buddies- I am ever so thankful for you!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Five: After the Tryptophan

The Friday Five is all about the day after Thanksgiving.
  1. Did you go elsewhere for the day, or did you have visitors at your place instead? How was it? We spent the day at home. The Tin Man joined us for dinner after he spent the day working at Starbucks. Yikes! We had a great time and Soda Chicky was delighted that her "Pretend Brother" could join us for dinner.

  2. Main course: If it was the turkey, the whole turkey, and nothing but the turkey, was it prepared in an unusual way? Or did you throw tradition to the winds and do something different? Since there were only four of us, we had a turkey breast. I had bought three legs because they DON'T SELL NECKS at our grocery store. What's that all about? So two of the legs went into making stock for the stuffing and gravy. The third leg was devoured by the Chick. ........................ My family of origin never had turkey. Papa Joe and Lil Sister 1 don't like it. As a result, we always had home made Cornish pasties. A meat pie made with potatoes, onion, rutabega and ground beef. Slathered with butter it is the best! Today I will make it in honor of MY Thanksgiving tradition. Yesterday was the Bug Man's day!

  3. Other than the meal, do you have any Thanksgiving customs that you observe every year? No traditions in my family. My grandmother however, has a tradition of making chop suey the night before and then in days gone by, the grandkids who were present would make a Christmas ornament. We never lived nearby so I only made one ornament when I was about 19. It is still one of my favorites made out of popcycle sticks. It's a sled.

  4. The day after Thanksgiving is considered a major Christmas shopping day by most US retailers. Do you go out bargain hunting and shop ‘till you drop, or do you stay indoors with the blinds closed? Or something in between? I have no desire to shop but the Chick and four of her friends are going to the local mall. I think I'll unload the dishwasher and take a nap.
  5. Let the HOLIDAY SEASON commence! When will your Christmas decorations go up? I'm not really sure what we'll do. This year we are going to visit Mountain Mama and Papa Joe for Christmas. Plus, our tree is seven feet tall and our new living room is not that tall. (I'm 5'5" and I can put my hands flat on the ceiling.) We'll probably do a little decorating in the weeks to come. But no full fledged whoop-dee-do this year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

You've got to be kidding!

I was reading the latest Bed, Bath and Beyond flyer and I could hardly believe this was a real thing! It seriously made me laugh out loud.

MANGROOMER™ is the essential do-it-yourself electric back hair shaver for men. The unique design enables a man to remove unwanted back hair by himself in the privacy of his own home or while traveling. It's quick, easy and painless. The fully extendable and adjustable handle locks into place at various lengths to reach the most difficult portions of the middle and lower back. Its sleek, lightweight, compact design folds completely flat and opens to 135 degrees for instant use. The large 1 1/2" cutting edge blade enables extremely close and smooth results without the potential of ingrown hairs. Measures 9 1/4" L x 2" W x 1 1/2" H. Uses two AA batteries, not included.

I suppose it's better than getting a wax, but do men really worry about this? And why?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Is anyone surprised?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.

The Friday Five

This week Sally has posted the following:
I am looking at the possibility of finding little gaps in the day or the week to spend in extravagant unbusyness ( a wonderful phrase coined by a fellow revgal)... So given those little gaps, name 5 things you would do to:
  1. to care for your body: I've been having troubles with an old shoulder injury. (I broke my humorous two years ago decorating the sanctuary for Christmas Eve. Hospitals are a very strange place to be when you're supposed to be preaching.) Scarecrow has suggested I call the doctor. The Bug Man says I have arthritis. If I am smart, I'll take time this week to do the physical therapy exercises from two years ago... But what I'd really like is a massage.

  2. to care for your spirit: I need a vacation! I need some solitude. Hopefully I'll get some after Christmas.
  3. to care for your mind: I read a WHOLE book last weekend. The Children of Henry the VIII. I need another good book to read to get my brain going.
  4. to bring a sparkle to your eye: A nap might be good....
  5. to place a spring in your step: See number four.
Enjoy the time to indulge and dream.... and then for a bonus which one on the list are you determined to put into action? I think I'm most determined to do number one. Plus, I really need a haircut. If I don't get THAT done before Sunday morning I may go completely nuts!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Elvis has left the building!

Let me begin by saying that I am not making up any of this. It is too strange to be a fabrication!

In 1993, the Soda Chicky was only 6 weeks old. My family of origin had all arrived at the outskirts of St. Louis to celebrate the baptism of the Chick and her slightly older cousin. (Lil Sis #1's boy-child who is four months older.) We travelled one afternoon to Wright City, MO to have lunch at the Ruiz Castillo, home of some of the best green pork chili nachos you'll ever have. On the way to or from, Baby Sister noticed that there was possibly the tenth or eleventh wonder of the modern world in Wright City- The Elvis Is Alive Museum.

The people in the photo are not my relatives but they are standing at the place. We paid our money and went in. After all, it's not often one gets to see proof that the FBI, the CIA and Nixon were all in on some plot to fake the death of a rock and roll icon.

The museum was housed in a double wide trailer with an add on. It was hoaky, repetitive and silly. But this week the Associated Press actually reported that the museum was closing.

Bill Beeny, the 81-year-old proprietor of The Elvis is Alive Museum, said he has placed his Elvis Presley memorabilia on eBay in hopes that someone else will take up the cause. His collection includes photographs, books, FBI files, replicas of the Cadillac the King drove and of the casket and gravestone from his 1977 funeral, even a painted Elvis head.

Beeny, a self-described "western Kentucky hillbilly" Baptist minister who wound up in Missouri 50 years ago, is selling the contents of his roadside attraction, a transformed coin-operated laundry 55 miles west of St. Louis that he opened in 1990, to satisfy something else that drives him.

"I have a burden to help people," said Beeny, wearing the penciled dark mustache, long sideburns and slick black hair of an Elvis aficionado. "Someone else can run, will run, the museum. No one in the whole county is doing the job I intend to do."

Beeny wants to put his energy into serving the needy in rapidly growing Warren County by providing child care, senior services, a food pantry and counseling for the addicted.
Beeney said he'll miss Elvis, "but life has its changes. You have to let go."

He hopes someone will buy the collection and open a new museum dedicated to the theory that Elvis lives — although the look and feel of Beeny's place could be hard to duplicate.
Outside, a 16-foot sign of a rhinestone-belted Elvis holding a microphone dominates an otherwise humdrum small-town landscape. A replica of Elvis' old Cadillac that hasn't been started for years is parked out front.

Inside the small museum, signs in large, bold letters and exclamation points scream out, "FREE MUSEUM," "SEE FUNERAL ROOM," "10 REASONS WHY I BELIEVE ELVIS IS ALIVE!" and "DNA PROVES ELVIS IS ALIVE."

Visitors wind their way around a casket, complete with a mannequin that doesn't look anything like Elvis, hundreds of photographs and yellowed news clippings, and a poster of the famous photo of President Nixon and Presley from 1970.

Visitors can hear what is said to be a tape recording of Presley's voice, supposedly copied off a telephone answering machine six years after the funeral, as well as see piles of documents that Beeny said are FBI files proving Presley's involvement with federal authorities.
Beeny, who had been only a nominal fan of Elvis Presley, started to doubt his death when customers at Beeny's former 1950s Cafe in Wright City asked questions that couldn't be answered.

Beeny said he eventually showed that the tissue samples of Elvis he says he obtained from a Memphis doctor did not match samples he says were taken from the cadaver "purported to be Elvis." Beeny later wrote a book, "Elvis' DNA Proves He's Alive!"

He also claims Presley had good reason to disappear: He's in the federal Witness Protection Program for assistance he provided federal law enforcement authorities.

David Beckwith, a spokesman for Elvis Presley Enterprises, which manages Graceland, the King's estate and mansion in Memphis, Tenn., said the company has no comment.

So if you ever get to Wright City, Missouri- you can still stop at Ruiz Castillo and order the nachos. (They also make a great chile relleno.) But unfortunately, you won't be able to check out Bill Beeny's museum and his assertion that, Elvis is alive!

Friday, November 02, 2007

This must be the day for interview questions!

My friend the Lutheran Zephyr was recently interviewed by a fellow blogger over at The Heart of a Pastor. He then offered to interview another blogger. I jumped at the chance because I was curious as to what LZ might ask me. So here are the questions.
  1. You are ordained and currently serving in a "specialized" call. What do you miss most about the parish? What I miss most is other people's kids. I miss doing baptisms. I miss being hugged about the knees. I miss having kids ask me important questions about life and God and everything else.

  2. What do you like most about your current call? Grown up kids asking me questions and really wanting to hear the answers.

  3. What is the most important thing you learned in seminary? Tell the truth and live God's love in word and deed.

  4. What did you not learn in seminary that has been most helpful for your ministry? Technical stuff. Practical stuff. Budgeting. Creating a website. How to buy a copy machine.

  5. If you were not a pastor, what can you imagine yourself doing? Being a teacher.

  6. You've moved a few times in your life. Which place that you have called "home" is your favorite, and why? Colorado. As much as the Bug Man misses Missouri, I want to retire in Colorado.

  7. Bonus Question: Please ask and answer a question you would like someone to ask you. Would you like to go to a dinner and a movie? Yes.

For anyone interested in being interviewed, here are the rules. You have to post these at the end of your interview response.

1. If you are interested in being interviewed, leave me a comment saying "interview me."

2. I will respond by posting 5 questions for you. I get to post the questions.

3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment, asking to be interviewed, you will ask them 5 questions.

Friday Five - All About the Interview

This week's Friday Five is about interviews.

1. What was the most memorable interview you ever had? Well this is a challenging one... Would it be the time that the manager of Waldenbooks asked me if, since I had worked at a church camp, I would be disturbed by having to sell Playboy? Or would it be the time the call committee expected the Bug Man to participate in the interview and actually asked him questions? Or maybe the one when I fully expected that there would be at least an hour of questions and instead they offered me the job.

2. Have you ever been the interviewer rather than the interviewee? If so, are you a tiger, a creampuff, or somewhere in between? I tend to be a creampuff during the interview but a tiger when I'm looking at resumes.

3. Do phone interviews make you more or less nervous than in-person ones? Phone interviews seem to be less intimidating but there was a time when the interviewer completely spaced the call and I waited for an hour. This was followed by a comment from a loved one that this "was probably a sign..."

4. What was the best advice you ever got to prepare for an interview? How about the worst? Best advice... being nervous will give you an edge. Just be yourself. Worst advice... can't think of any.

5. Do you have any pre-interview rituals that give you confidence? No. Just the usual self doubt and nausea.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treating at Tiffany's

Soda Chicky was determined to go trick or treating tonight. She wanted to be "something real." I was never quite sure what this meant except that she rejected some of my more creative costume ideas.

On Friday I took her to the doctor because she had sinusitis. We bought some scrubs at the medical center pharmacy, thinking she could be a crazy doctor. A little fake blood. A fake knife. But after a few days this idea was rejected. (Of course there is no returning the scrubs...)

The Chick has a little black dress that she thought might be the basis of a costume. We decided she could wear her "Audrey Hepburn" sunglasses and a french twist- a costume was born! And then I realized on my way to work... I was going to dress my daughter up as Holly Golightly! Fortunately, she probably won't be watching "Breakfast at Tiffany's" any time soon, so she just thinks she was cute while asking the neighbors for candy.

And if like the Scarecrow and GinnyLee you are too young to remember who Holly Golightly is.... let's just say that you don't want your 14 year old to follow in her occupational footsteps.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Details of the Last Supper

As of this weekend, you can now view DaVinci's The Last Supper in 16 billion pixels. Now for art historians this is a big deal. Even for those have only a passing interest it's kind of cool to look at the close ups of paint and brush stroke. But it seems that this wonderful advent in technology, meant to help artists study the painting, has led to more goofiness over the DaVinci code.

The figure above has never seemed very feminine in my estimation. And if she was really Jesus' favorite gal pal, would Leonardo have painted her in this manner. Doubt it. Plus, The DaVinci Code is a novel! Fiction! Yikes!

Some guy has done studies to prove that the Mona Lisa once had eyebrows. Give me a break. Why can't we just enjoy the art and marvel at the technology rather than getting all wiggy about some big secret? Sheesh!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Friday Five: Celebrating Halloween

This week the Friday Five is about celebrating Halloween.

1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child? When I was a little girl we weren't home for a lot of Halloweens. My dad managed the LA branch of what was then the Lutheran Church Supply Store. Later it became Fortress and now Augsburg Fortress. Every year for eight years we went to the Lutheran Church Women's annual convention held near Monterey at the Asilomar Retreat Center. It was much better than trick or treating! We got off from school for the week. Hundreds of "ladies" watched my sisters and I grow up. They brought us treats, took our picture and generally fussed over us. One memorable year Papa Joe asked us to each read a book. Then he put us on stools on a stage (see below) in front of hundreds of women and interviewed us. We gave our book reviews and of course, Dad sold out of those three books in a flash.

I think if you asked my sisters we would gladly trade a big bag of candy for a week at Asilomar any time.

2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do? We don't overly fuss. There's way too much candy and decorations are usually to a minimum. Soda Chicky still wants to dress up. "It's free candy, Mom!"

When I was in the parish there was always a night of youth ministry that required dressing up. I kind of miss it.

2 again... Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else? I would rather not eat it if it's red cinnamon. Caramel by all means and if it has salted nuts and chocolate- even better!

3. Do you do Jack O'Lanterns? Any other ideas what to do with them? Sometimes... One year when I was in seminary and feeling very "Less is More" I cut up the pumpkin after Halloween and froze the pulp. We had pumpkin soup and later a fresh frozen pumpkin pie. I prefer the canned to the real stuff.

4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures. Nothing worth taking pictures of.

5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring out an alternate personality? I love dress up! Always have. Dressing up tends to bring out the comic actress that lies somewhere beneath the skin.

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones. I love your basic Betty Crocker apple crisp with some pecans thrown in for fun. Then serve it with really expensive vanilla ice cream and the richest caramel sauce you can come up with.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just Curious, I Guess...

I haven't had anything in particular to say in the last few days. (My family would find this odd.) But there are a few things I am just curious about.

I saw an elderly woman crossing the street yesterday using a sponge mop as a cane. Was this her normal walking stick? Or was it just convenient as she needed to take the mop somewhere? And if it's option two, where on earth would she need to take this used mop? She had no bucket....

Why do people persist in thinking that Pseudo Grandbaby's dad, the Scarecrow, is babysitting? He's not babysitting, he's parenting. Nobody ever asks me if I'm babysitting for PG. When will people finally figure out that fathers are parenting and not providing some sort of unusual service for their spouse?

Why are shows like Entertainment Tonight spending so much air time on the fact that Marie Osmond fainted on Dancing With the Stars? And why does the Bug Man find these stupid shows so entertaining? If we had learned that Marie was seriously ill- well that might be a news story. But the woman is simply tired. She's doing this physically draining show, touring on the weekends, she just got divorced and she's got eight kids. No wonder she passed out! She needed a nap!

Why are Kristin Chenowith, Swoozie Kurtz and Ellen Greene co-starring on ABC's Pushing Up Daisies? These are three extremely talented stage actresses. Award winning, acclaimed and all that jazz. I suppose time will tell if this was a good choice for these three. It just seems a little strange is all.

Chenowith plays Olive Snook, a waitress at the Pie Hole, as well as Ned's neighbor, Olive is a tenacious sprite. Her can do attitude can do anything, except win the heart of the Pie Maker. She must settle for the company and affection of Digby, who relishes her caring touch. (BTW, Ned is the lead character, bakery/restaurant owner, who can bring people back from the dead by touching them.)

Kurtz is Lily Charles, formerly one half of the renowned synchronized swimming duo the Darling Mermaid Darlings, Chuck's aunt is now a one eyed shut in with a glib, grim outlook on life. After Chuck's father died, Lily and her sister Vivian moved into Chuck's house to take care of her. Lily and her sister share matching social anxieties and a love for fine cheese. (BTW, Chuck is a girl and the Pieman loves her. Oh and she used to be dead.)

And Ellen Greene portrays Vivian Charles. The other half of the renowned Darling Mermaid Darlings, gentle and moony Vivian does not enjoy being touched. The more "artistic" of the sisters, she and Lily share a love of fine cheese and a fear of the outside world.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Friday Five: Homage to the Top Chef!

This week I have the privilege of writing the RevGalBlogPals Friday Five. I thought about doing something cosmically theological but went with silly instead. Here it is...

This Fall my family has been energetically watching Top Chef on the Bravo channel. My teenage daughter watches with the dream of some day being a chef. My husband watches because he loves reality shows and I mean, really loves them. Plus the whole competition thing really works for him. Me, I love cooking and good food. Every so often I get an idea from this group of talented young chefs who are competing for big money and honors galore.

The winner for this season was Hung. Not the fan favorite, but he won fair and square. In his bio, he says if he were a food "I would be spicy chili - it takes a while to get used to, but once you eat it you always come back for more!" With that in mind, here is this week’s Friday Five.
  1. If you were a food, what would you be? Mashed potatoes with a little horseradish and sour cream stirred in. Pretty ordinary stuff but every so often, a little surprise.
  2. What is one of the most memorable meals you ever had? And where? My parents and I were on holiday in Paris. (They paid. Thanks, Mom and Dad!) We went to a Basque restaurant and had the most wonderful meal. My first course was a small canteloupe filled with port. The entree was fabulous veal with a sauce. And dessert- chocolate. Nobody shared tastes with anyone, it was all so good! However, Mom and I think the reason the owner kept hovering was because Dad ordered calf brains. He insists it was not, but the word for rice and the word for brains only differ by one letter. And Dad did NOT get any rice.....
  3. What is your favorite comfort food from childhood? Corn chowder or creamed tuna on toast. (I know it sounds strange.)
  4. When going to a church potluck, what one recipe from your kitchen is sure to be a hit? My mother's recipe for fudgy brownies
  5. What’s the strangest thing you ever willingly ate? Chocolate covered grasshoppers.

Bonus question: What’s your favorite drink to order when looking forward to a great meal? If it's Italian: campari and soda with a lime. If it's steak, a martini with 4 olives.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Stages of Life

Pseudo Grandbaby is going through a new phase. At almost five months he is totally into oral stimulation. (Freud would be so proud!) He drools, he sticks out his tongue and he can almost blow a good raspberry! Everything goes in his mouth. His thumb, my thumb, your thumb. The postcard from Tanzania that Auntie Amanda sent. The FedEx envelope that looked so good with all that red ink! The antlers on his toy giraffe. It all gets covered with drool. And if the chewing comes too soon after having his "elevensies" then sometimes there's more than drool covering things! It's been a long time since the Chick went through this whole process. I'd forgotten that there's a reason that desperate parents let their kids chew on the car keys when they're standing in the grocery line. Recently we found that clerical shirt tabs are not a bad chew toy. PG can hold it himself and it has a pleasant bendiness to it. Do you suppose there's a market out there for such things? Hmmm.....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Those Ugly Shoes You Had to Have!

For two years Soda Chicky has been asking for a pair of Uggs. She's been dramatic, subtle and earnest in her requests depending on her mood. The Bug Man and I finally agreed, with certain stipulations, to buy her a pair. We headed off to an outlet place where we had seen them before, but no luck! The only Uggs to be had were either too big, too small or some goofy metallic color like the ones pictured here. With much sighing, we got back in the car. As luck would have it, we found ourselves in front of The Walking Shoe Company. They carry Uggs for men, women, children and even babies. They have Ugg boots, Ugg slippers and even Ugg flip flops. But only one pair that the Chick liked in her size. We bought them.

After we got home, I wondered why she wanted these, by definition, Ugg-ly shoes? Why are all these teenage girls wearing shearling lined boots with shorts or leggings or whatever else strikes their mood? I just didn't get it.

The next day, I was looking at The Walking Shoe Company catalog and it all made sense. This company sells Earth Shoes. Yes, Earth Shoes! The ugly shoe I HAD to have when I was the same age as the Chick. Mine were uglier than these. Tan suede with laces. They were goofy looking but very comfortable and I HAD to have them. After months and months, my parents got them for me. At the time, we lived in Southern California and Earth Shoes were all the rage. Before my pair wore out, we moved to Colorado where nobody had ever seen such funky shoes. But I still liked them.
Nowadays I'm looking for comfort first and fashion second when it comes to shoes. The Chick thinks I have this backward. But fortunately for her, her new shoes, while trendy, are also incredibly comfortable. (They should be! They cost enough!) I did buy a pair of shoes for myself this weekend. Dansko heels. They are very comfortable but still cute. Stylish even. Now the only problem is the Bug Man says that when you buy a new pair you have to toss an old pair. Poor man! He just doesn't get this shoe thing, at all!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Now the Feast and CELEBRATION!

This has has been one of my favorite settings of Holy Communion for years and I am amazed that the Hymn of Praise still brings me such clear joy. In searching out Marty Haugen's name on YouTube I found this wonderful presentation of the hymn of praise on Lutheran Husker's blog site. What a joy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The May Day Flowers

There once was a little girl with big brown eyes. She had short brown hair which her mother called "a pixie cut." The little girl wasn't sure what a pixie was, but she dearly wished that her mother would let her have long hair. Long hair that you could curl and tie up with ribbons.

The little girl was four years old. She lived in a big white house at the top of Strawberry Hill Lane with her parents and two little sisters. Her littlest sister was only a baby, barely a month old. She was a very sweet baby who for now, was taking up quite a bit of her mother's time. The other sister was just turning two. She too had big brown eyes but she had lovely blonde hair that hung to her shoulders.

One Saturday, the girl with brown eyes went out in the yard to play. Her little sister went with her and together they chased about blowing the heads of dandelions. As they watched the clocks drift off in the breeze, the little girl began to wish there were other flowers in her yard. The day before she had learned all about May Day. The class had made little May baskets out of construction paper to hang on the doors of their friends. The teacher had said that sometimes people would also give flowers to their friends to celebrate the first of May. The little girl thought this sounded like a marvelous idea! She and her sister would pick a bunch of flowers for their mother. But where would they find them?

Mother had always said that the girls must stay inside their yard. They must stay inside the fence that surrounded the yard. The girls walked along the fence line hoping to find flowers on the edge of their yard. All of a sudden, they found an opening in the fence. The girl with the brown eyes couldn't remember seeing this opening before. She thought about this very carefully. Mother said to stay inside the fence, but they weren't going outside the fence, so this must be a doorway into another part of the yard that they had never seen before.

The older girl took her little sister's hand and through the opening they went. The little sister wasn't too certain that this was a good idea. But her big sister assured her that they were breaking no rules and as long as they stayed together, they would be fine.

As they went through the opening in the fence they passed through some trees into a clearing. There were flowers everywhere. A whole garden of flowers to pick and choose. As they walked through the garden they saw other houses that they couldn't remember seeing before, but on they went. After all, they were in their own backyard.

The two girls picked handfuls and handfuls of flowers. Red and pink and yellow- even blue. They tried to be careful and not cut the stems too short. This would never do for Mother's beautiful bouquet! When their arms were fairly laden with flowers, the two girls turned back to go home. They made their way back through the trees and the opening in the fence and hurriedly went to the back door.

They rapped on the door and beamed as their mother came to answer. "Happy May Day!" they shouted. Their mother looked stricken. "Where did you get those flowers from?"

"From the back yard," said the girl with the big brown eyes. Her little sister kept quiet, knowing that they were in some kind of trouble. And after all, she was just two years old and not expected to speak for the group.

"But we don't have flowers like that in our yard," said their mother. The girl explained about the opening in the fence and the marvelous gardens in the secret part of their yard. Her mother still didn't seem happy, which confused the girl because the flowers were so beautiful.

"Honey, that's not our yard. That's a gate that goes out of our yard into the neighbors' yards." The little girl was sure there must be some mistake. But Mother explained as she walked out to firmly shut the gate.

That Sunday, the flowers picked by the two little girl were placed on the altar at church. Mother said she wanted to share their beauty with the rest of their friends, but the little girl suspected there was more to the story.

Friday Five: All about the B-I-B-L-E!

1. What is your earliest memory of encountering a Biblical text? I'm not really sure, but I have to say that "The Good Shepherd Bible Story Book" was probably the source. The cover was Frances Hook's illustration to the right. My mother would come into our room and sit on the end of one of our bed's. (We took turns... bed 1, bed 2, bed 3...) Then she would read us one of the stories before we said our prayers and went to sleep.

2. What is your favorite biblical translation, and why? The NRSV is my favorite for its scholarship. Sometimes I miss wording from the RSV because it was the translation of my childhood.

3. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Your favorite verse/passage? See what love the Father has for us that we should be called children of God- and so we are." I John 3:1. I also am especially fond of Jonah and the gospel of Mark.

4. Which book of the Bible do you consider, in Luther's famous words about James, to be "an epistle of straw?" Okay, so first of all I want to defend my man Martin. This is from a longer article by James Swan

"... this quote only appears in Luther's original 1522 Preface to the New Testament. After 1522, all the editions of Luther's Bible dropped the "epistle of straw" comment, along with the entire paragraph that placed value judgments on particular biblical books. It was Luther himself who edited these comments out.

It is true Luther had a contextual problem with the content on James. He saw a contradiction between Paul and James on faith and works. Some conclude Luther missed the harmonization between these two Biblical writers, but this isn't true either. Luther's great biographer Roland Bainton pointed out, "Once Luther remarked that he would give his doctor's beret to anyone who could reconcile James and Paul. Yet he did not venture to reject James from the canon of Scripture, and on occasion earned his own beret by effecting reconciliation. 'Faith,' he wrote, 'is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith' " [Here I Stand, 259].

Having said that, I really think that if you are patient and if you are willing and if you are kind- all of the books make for good cradles for Christ.* All of them have something to say about God's goodness and grace.

5. Inclusive language in biblical translation and liturgical proclamation: for, against, or neutral? I learned this one best from my dad who once said that if the language used for proclaiming the Word made someone feel left out of the good news, then we need to make a change. I am for inclusive language by all means. But I am also for serious scholarship, accurate translations and language which calls to mind all of the wonders of God. Inclusive does not mean deadly dull and neutered.

Bonus: Back to the Psalms--which one best speaks the prayer of your heart? Like a lot of Lutherans, Psalm 46 has a special place in my heart.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

After a long dark period, I found Psalm 13 which spoke to something in my soul.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes....
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

And then there's 150. A shout and dance and join the band kind of song!
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

*Another Luther quote which says that the Bible is the cradle in which we find the Christ child. It is the book in which we find God's Word.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


We had our IRS audit today. Bug Man hates to be late, so we were 45 minutes early for our 8:30am appointment. But we didn't hit traffic! (Of course not, everyone else was still drinking their coffee at the kitchen table.)
Since I am the one who does the taxes and keeps the books, this was scary for me on two levels. 1) What would the IRS say and do and 2) what would the Bug Man say after we left the audit. Last night after we had our goodnight kiss he said, "If it goes well, I'll buy you lunch. If it goes bad, you buy lunch." When the two hours were over, the auditor said Bug Man had to take me out. Shwoo!
I still have papers to collect and fax to the IRS, but it's nothing I can't get together. The relief was such that we both took long afternoon naps. To everyone who kept their fingers crossed and sent up a little IRS prayer- thanks ever so! In talking to the auditor it was interesting to see how boring we were. She told us of a "horrible incident" that took place in her cubicle earlier this year. As the couple was providing her with paperwork, it came out that the wife had been forging W-2 forms in order to trick her husband into thinking that she had a job that was taking her out of town. In actuality there was another man in the other city and no job. Yikes! Neither the audit or the marriage turned out well.
I will sleep much better tonight. And thankfully, the Bug Man will be right there with me. Oh, and when we got into the restaurant this afternoon, he forgot his wallet. I bought lunch. But it's okay, he knew the truth! ;-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Re-arranging the Furniture

So I changed the cosmetics of my blog. I'm not sure it's what I wanted, but I was bored with green. (It's the long green season, don't you know!)

The need to recolor the blog made me remember stories a friend used to tell about his mom. When he was a kid, you never knew when you might come home and find that mom had completely switched the living room around.

I decided it was genetic. He grew up to be a pastor with a modular chancel platform and "flexible seating". You never knew when you might come into worship and everything had moved.

Hooray for the Big Burrito!

Back in the 1990's Little Sister #1 and I went to this little Mexican restaurant in Denver. It was kind of cute. Corrogated metal was on the walls. Stacks of supplies were part of the decor. There was very little seating available. We sat at a counter that faced an exterior window eating the hugest burritos I had ever seen. The food was great and the line for lunch went right out the door.

Fourteen years have passed since the first Chipotle Grill opened and now it is a huge chain. But up until now, there was no Chipotle in my city. This was not a crisis but I did experience withdrawal. In my last city, Adventure Girl and I would declare it was "big burrito day" at least once every ten days. This was especially important when the midweek children's ministry would be serving boxed macaroni and cheese or hot dogs cut and boiled to look like octopi. (It does nothing for the hot dogs, at all!)

Well, I am glad to announce that Chipotle has finally made it to the home of the Liberty Bell. Half way home I spotted the bright lights on a new location. I can hardly wait to step in the door to order a Carnitas burrito (pork seasoned with thyme, bay leaves, juniper berries and freshly cracked black pepper - seared, then braised for hours) with cilantro lime rice, black beans, cheese, sour cream and the medium heat corn salsa. Yummy!

What do the acorns say?

Will Smama recently posted photographs of the acorns that completely cover her driveway. There was considerable posting related to the hazards of getting a twisted ankle on said acorns, but nothing about the impending snowstorm!

According to yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer an abundance of acorns on the ground is a sign of a hard winter. Or more appropriately, it's an old Farmer's Almanac kind of sign. The Inquirer tends to depend a bit more on meterologists.

Only time will tell if the acorns are right about this coming winter. October has been unseasonably warm in this part of the woods. But just in case, I'm going to start looking for a nice pair of warm boots!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Little Black Dress

Well, Soda Chicky and her friend Chatterbox left earlier this evening to attend the Bat Mitzvah of Flying Monkey. The girls looked stunning. Far too grown up for a couple of fourteen year olds heading to synogogue. The Chick is wearing "a little black dress" with spaghetti straps, an empire waistline with rhinestones at the waistline. Looks better than it sounds. I put her hair up in a chignon bun and she had black hose and some sweet slingback shoes. Chatterbox had on a similarly designed dress in a lovely shade of fuschia.

They will return late tonight after having way too much fun. These events usually mean a bag load of stuff comes back with the party goers. Monogrammed sweatpants, socks, photos, things that light up and glow in the dark. We spent less on our wedding and honeymoon combined. And we went to Europe for two weeks!

The big worry early on was whether or not Chatterbox would be able to break her Ramadan fast before the food was served tonight. (This is an eclectic group of girls.) Fortunately, the sun set before the service was totally over. They will party with no hitches.

When did they get so grown up, though?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Black is good. Red is bad.

My friend Megan is off in South Korea this year teaching English. I love reading her stories and knowing she is safe and sound. (Hooray for technology!) The following story was so dear and funny, I just had to share it.

So one funny(ish) story. Last week I was told of an old Korean superstition (that people and kids today still take seriously) concerning red ink. It is said that if you write or somebody writes your name in red ink... a death wish is laid upon you. So one day (three weeks ago before I knew about this) I was handing out new green workbooks to my students and asked them to write their names and classroom at the top with my marker. All I had was a red marker. The kids were all "No teacher" "Teacher No".... that's as far as their limited English could take them. I thought that of course they don't want the red because it doesn't match the green. So through the "Teacher No Red"s I said "Yes, red!" And then I got annoyed and made them write their names in the pen... I JUST PUT A DEATH WISH ON MY STUDENTS!! So when I heard about the superstition I was soooo ashamed once again at my ignorance. But evidently the students don't hold it against me because they don't seem to hate me...

Friday Five of Thanks

This week the list is simple: five things you're thankful for.
  1. The Bug Man called me this morning to say he loved me. This is unusual for a man so very practical. (Although he did say he'd be late getting home from work. But on the other hand, he suggested ordering a pizza for dinner.)
  2. Soda Chicky is starting to enjoy school again. Finding her place in high school, with her friends at other schools has been hard. She seems to be settling in after a tough few weeks. I am thankful she is more adaptable than her old mother.
  3. That I have work that I enjoy and colleagues who make the day blessed.

  4. That my parents are still having fun in their retirement. They make it look so good!
  5. That I didn't run out of gas on the way to work this morning. I ignored the little red light and just kept on going. Definitely gotta get gas before I go home though. Bug Man hates it when I call and tell him I've done something really stupid. Sheesh! ;-)

For all these things, dear Lord, thank you!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tag! You're It!

I was tagged by the Dog Blogger. This one comes in sets of four. They're a collection of strange little tidbits.

Four jobs I've held: Avon Lady, Babysitter, Weekend Housekeeper in the dorm (disgusting), LCA Youth Staffer.

Four films I could watch over and over: The Americanization of Emily, Crossing Delancey, Indiscreet, Charade.

Four TV shows I watch: reruns of The Gilmore Girls, Ugly Betty, Dr. Who, Top Chef.

Four places I've lived: Ava, Missouri; Canoga Park, California; Aurora, Colorado; Aurora, Illinois.
Four favorite foods: bread with real butter, peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, curry, steak.

Four websites I visit every day: RevGalBlogPals, AOL, my bank, Internet Scrabble Club.

Four places I would love to be right now: Woodland Park, Colorado; Paris, France; Monterey, California; Holden Village, Washington.

Four names I love but would/could not use for my children: Amy (it was already taken), Jacob (my colleague said, "You would name your child after The Deceiver!?!), Jack (it would sound bad with our last name), and Hepziba (fun to say, but not a good name for this century).

Lutheran Zephyr, Pink Shoes, Wills Mama, and Songbird- consider yourself tagged if you haven't already played this one. And if you don't feel like it, no problem!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Oh dear..... now what?

So Britney has to surrender the kids to her ex-husband. I must admit, I am not a big Britney fan, but I feel bad for these kids and all those who love them. These photos are going to follow these boys around for a very long time.

What bothers me the most is that this is a top news story. I don't really need to know the ins and outs of Britney and Federline's legal actions. I don't need to know if the latest 12 step program was successful. I don't want to know that Britney has issues with her employees.

I wonder if I would care more if I liked her music more. I'm not sure. I do know that it seems like People magazine has been less fun to read since so much ink is dedicated to Paris, Lindsay and Britney. I'd like to read about some older people.... Older people who don't carry lap dogs around in their purses. Older people who are relatively healthy. Older people, you know, ones born before 1980!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Grandpa Stan

Today on NPR someone was talking about telegraph operators. My grandfather was a depot agent for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad. He lived and worked in towns in western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. Among the interesting things in my grandparents' basement was an old telegraph key and a number of strange looking glass jars. They were actually telegraph insulators and apparently are a collectable nowadays.

Because Grandpa was used to typing out telegrams, his letters to us were always in all caps. ALL CAPS. It wasn't screaming in those days, just a way to expedite getting the message through. The letters frequently came on railroad note paper used to relay the messages sent to the depot. I still have a few in my old jewelry box of treasures.

Grandpa was also a banjo player. He almost missed the birth of his second child because he was out playing a gig. It was a way to make some extra money and he loved entertaining. At the wedding of his youngest daughter (a 25 year span from eldest to youngest) I remember he played a number of his own creation, "The Lutefisk Rag." Old time jazz with a distinctly Norwegian sense of humor.

As a little girl I always wanted to play with the telegraph key, but somehow felt it was too special for me to use as a toy. I wonder now if I had asked for lessons, if Grandpa wouldn't have taught me the tapping magic of the Morse code.

I also used to wait and wait for him to play the banjo. When we would come for our annual visit, we were almost guaranteed a small concert. And if he came to see us, the banjo usually made the cross country trip. As much as I wanted to hear my grandfather play and sing, I would rarely ask him to play. I though it was an imposition. How silly! The man was born to entertain! I imagine he was just waiting to be asked.

The songs were always fun. "Five foot two, eyes of blue.... has anybody seen my gal?" Stuff from the 1920s or things that he sang with the Glee Club. He had a wonderful tenor voice.

My grandfather died when I was in college. It was 29 years ago this September. My grandmother, a spritely young thing of 97 continues to amaze us all with her energy and vitality. Ah, but we miss that banjo player.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A 6 year old sermon... for next Sunday...

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were a little kid? Did you want to be a fire fighter and slide down the pole in the firehouse? Did you imagine yourself riding on the hook and ladder truck? Did you want to be the one who rode up front, a Dalmatian at your side as you sounded the siren and raced to help people in need?

Did you want to be teacher? Surrounding yourself with invisible students or stuffed animals or younger siblings - giving them assignments and reading to them in that upside book way that only teachers have?

Did you picture yourself as a famous athlete? Did you practice your swing? Did you practice your autograph? What would it say on your baseball card?
Or were you a famous singer? Crooning into your hairbrush and practicing your moves in front of a full length mirror?
What did you want to be when you were a kid?

My guess is that whatever you imagined yourself to be, you weren’t too worried about the paycheck. Your dreams were based on adventure... or fun... or modeling what mom and dad were doing. Your ideas of what you wanted to be when you grew up had more to do with joy than they did with money. You wanted to do something that made you happy. It’s only as we get older that we begin to concern ourselves with thoughts of career and salary. When you’re a little kid, your dreams are about fun and excitement. You race inside from a day of discovery to announce to all who would listen, “Look what I can do.”
And a weary grown up voice asks, “And how much an hour do you think they’ll pay you to do that?”
If you’re young enough, the answer is, “Who cares! A hundred dollars! A million dollars! Does it matter? Look what I can do!” But if you’re older, you begin to think- hmmm…. "How much money can I make?"
All too often we measure the worth of an accomplishment by what it can earn us. We forget that there are other standards that can give our lives value and merit.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul calls his young friend to see what is really important in life. Remember, he says, “we brought nothing into this world and we take nothing out... And the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
Instead of worrying about paychecks and investments, Paul directs Timothy to pursue righteousness and godliness. Faith and love. Endurance and gentleness. Paul calls Timothy to measure the success of his life not in monetary terms but by how well he has served the gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ. Because that is where his true joy can be found.
Paul ends his letter by saying, “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”

In our gospel for today, Jesus is sending home the same message. He tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to the Pharisees, whom Luke describes as “lovers of money.” And Jesus want all of us to understand how wealth should be used. It’s a lesson not on the evil of money, but on priorities.

In today’s readings we are confronted with an important question, and it is not “Are you rich or are you poor?” as if one or the other would make us a morally better than the other.
The question is not “How much do you have?” but “How much do you care?” And the Lord is very clear in saying, that the message he is bringing is the same one that God has been promoting since the days of Moses and the prophets.

God is on the side of the poor, the outcasts, the prostitutes and tax collectors, widows, orphans, lepers, those whose bodies are twisted and those who cannot see. God cares about them and wants to gather them in to ease their pain and sorrow. And Jesus is calling us to care about them as well.

We are invited to be concerned with issues of justice and righteousness. We are to be sharing what we have with those who are in need. We are to care for the Lazarus at our gate. His welfare is to be our concern. And in caring for those who are in need, we are teaching Christian behavior to those who witness our deeds of kindness.

One of my favorite church songs from childhood says, “God loves a cheerful giver, give it all you’ve got. He loves you when you’re happy, and he loves you when you’re not.”
But I have never found that giving does anything but make you cheerful.

When we were kids, we dreamed of a happy grown up life. A life of adventures and new discoveries.

We weren’t worried about the market. Or our IRA’s. We weren’t too concerned about what kind of salary we’d make. Or what the boss might think of us. We just wanted to do something that made us happy.

Having made it to the grown up world, I have found that what makes me happy, what gives me joy, is serving God. And being in community with his people. Each of us, in our daily lives, have the chance to find our happiness in living the love of Christ. Each of us meets people every day who are yearning to find the life that really is life. Each of us has the chance to cheerfully give and share.

It’s not what you earn that brings you joy, it’s what you do with it.

Remember, it’s not how much you have, it’s how much you care.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Birds!

This afternoon as I was sitting outside wondering just where, oh where the cat had gotten to, a flock of crows was circling and landing in the cemetary. I suspected that this was a sign that Timothy was not around. Although those big birds could probably have done him a heap of harm.

I have never liked crows. When I was about four we lived in a house at the top of Strawberry Hill Road. Ours was the only yard on that part of the street and it was the logical place for birds to land. My mother had sent me outside to play. At the time she had three children, I was the oldest. I am sure she just needed SOMEBODY to go do something else while she was dealing with diapers and breastfeeding and all the rest.

But those birds SCARED me. To a little girl, they looked huge! And to a little girl it seemed that the birds were not looking for seeds or bugs, they were looking for little girls to attack! I can remember standing at the front door unable to get in. I am quite sure that my mother had not locked me out, she's not that kind of person. But I couldn't get the door open and I was being attacked by malicious, evil, big black birds! Eventually she let me in. I'm guessing she was in another part of the house or running the vacuum or something, but I was being attacked!

Even now I am not inclined to watch showings of Hitchcock's "The Birds." It gives me the willies! In its article on Tippi Hedren, Wikipedia says,

For the harrowing final attack scene in a second-floor bedroom, filmed on a closed set at Universal-International Studios, Hedren had been assured by Hitchcock that mechanical birds would be used. Instead, Hedren endured five solid days of prop men, protected by thick leather gloves, flinging dozens of live gulls, ravens and crows at her (their beaks clamped shut with elastic bands). Cary Grant visited the set and told Hedren, "I think you're the bravest lady I've ever met." In a state of exhaustion, when one of the birds gouged her cheek and narrowly missed her eye, Hedren sat down on the set and began crying. A physician ordered a week's rest, which Hedren said at the time was riddled with "nightmares filled with flapping wings".
I hear you Tippi! And that's my silliness for the day. The cat's at home. The birds have gone to roost. Bug Man is watching football and calling his mom. Soda Chicky is home from church choir practice and has plugged back into her Ipod. All is right with the world.

The kitty came back!

Well, it took him about 22 hours, but Timothy found his way back home. Bug Man said, "I let him slip out and locked the door, but he found his way back!" Such cynicism! The man would have been much sadder than he lets on if the cat hadn't come home. Currently Timothy is wandering around the house crying. He's a goofy old man but we do love him.

Where are you, Timothy?

Our cat has gone for a walk-about and I'm not happy about it. Timothy is a house cat and not completely suited for neighborhood wandering. Somehow he got out last night and he was sneaky about it. It's probably my fault. I was grilling dinner. It was dark and I must not have pulled the screen door shut on one of my comings and goings.

We have had Timothy for ten years now and we've gotten used to him. He's gone on wanders before but not in this neighborhood. We live on a busy street and as I've said before, our backyard is a cemetary. He could be hiding just about anywhere. I am hoping he will come home soon, wagging his tail behind him. But he's an older gentleman and he might not find his way back. Will he remember which house is his? Plus there's that whole big metal car versus little gray cat thing that worries me.

When he has gone missing before, he's come home within 24 hours or so. It's about hour 20 now, I'm hoping he's remembering that this is where the easy food comes from. Sigh....

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Friday Five - What a Mess!

This week's five from the Rev Gal Blog Pals is on clutter. Or maybe it was on neatness? Hmm....

In looking for a piece of clip art, I found this interesting church sign. I don't know where this church is or really what the sign is supposed to mean, but it sure is interesting what you can find when you google!

1. Are you a hoarder or a minimalist? A hoarder. It makes my husband very crazy. The thing is, we still have some weird stuff of his hanging around too. He hoards, just not as much.
2. Name one important object (could be an heirloom) that you will never part with. Can't think of a thing. Under the right circumstances I think it's all up for grabs.
3. What is the oldest item in your closet? Does it still fit??? My baptismal gown and not hardly. Handmade by my mother and very simple, but very long. Soda Chicky looked very sweet in it at 6 weeks.
4.Yard sales- love 'em or hate 'em? Hate holding them. Hate going to them. Mostly I hate it when the neighbors have them because then the Chick wants to go and buy someone else's junk when we have plenty of our own. Thank you very much!
5. Name a recycling habit you really want to get into. We recycle our papers but we have not found an effective way to recycle our plastic and metal since moving to our new address two years ago. In our former midwestern location, the local township picked up all paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metal for free. Garbage on the other hand, you paid for by the can. So it paid to recycle, literally. Here our trash is picked up from a commercial dumpster and since we rent from our church, there is no provision for the residential recycling company to pick up from our house. Basically, I have to find a way to be less lazy about the whole business.
And for a bonus - anything you want to add.... When I was a grade school kid in Southern California in the late 1960's and early 1970's, we had newspaper drives. Everyone brought their papers. The class with the highest stack of papers won a prize. The goal wasn't to recycle but to earn money for the PTA which sold the papers. Now when there are paper drives, it's not about class parties but the environment. Interesting how things change.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Q: So what is "mono" Mom?

A: Infectious mononucleosis is a contagious illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus that can affect the liver, lymph nodes, and oral cavity. While mononucleosis is not usually a serious disease, its primary symptoms of fatigue and lack of energy can linger for several months.

Soda Chicky went to the Shore last week with her friend Beach Baby. She came home with a lousy cold and Beach Baby is now home in bed with mono. I have caught Soda Chicky's cold and now I wonder if we are all looking forward to four weeks of fatigue.

I don't have time for fatigue! The Chick has too much homework to get mono right now! I was hoping she'd wait until her freshman year in college to catch this thing!

So for now we'll watch and wait. Chicky hates giving blood so that might keep her from admitting to serious illness... Hmmm.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

47 ain't so bad!

So today was my 47th birthday. Mountain Mama and Papa Joe called me from Germany. It's become a bit of a tradition. They've been in Germany on my birthday for about the last five years. The calls are always short but sweet.

Soda Chicky made me a chocolate chip birthday cookie. It was covered in gooey frosting and totally dear of her. The Bug Man went to bowl with the team tonight so the Chick and I ordered take out Chinese since neither of us wanted to celebrate my birthday by cooking. She and her father gave me a really nice gift- a certificate for multiple spa treatments. I hardly know what to do. Massage? Pedicure? Facial? And I feel no need to share the wealth with the Chick. Mine! Mine! Mine!

The sisters called as did Adventure Girl, the mom-in-law, and sister-in-law. It was a quiet kind of birthday. Went to work. Came home. And really, that was good. I was told I didn't look my age. And that was nice, although I'm not sure what 47 is supposed to look like.

As a kid I always wanted a certain amount of fuss. Not so much as to make my introverted self feel embarrassed, but enough to make me feel special. The nice thing about adulthood is that it doesn't take much to feel special. A cookie with a half can of frosting, a musical card from the hubby and more than my fair share of phone calls. 47 ain't bad at all, at all!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Shooting stars and watching Jupiter

For years, Adventure Girl and I have travelled to places where you might see a shooting star. These trips were usually taken with groups of Lutheran teenagers, but sometimes we were actually on our own. The thing is, Adventure Girl would spot shooting stars with very little difficulty. I would look over the top of my bifocals and hopefully wait for a flash in the sky. As soon as I would look away or go inside to use the bathroom, Adventure Girl would spot something meteoric. I would always miss it. But now, I don't feel so bad!

Every Monday morning on WHYY, the local PBS radio station, astronomer Derek Pitts does "Skytalk". His reports are usually pretty interesting: telescopes, space adventures, scientific advances and this morning... shooting stars! Shooting stars are actually bits of space junk about the size of a grain of sand. Something about the chemical interaction creates the spark, but then, the trail is only the width of a pencil lead!

If I was in a more preacherly mood, I might make something of all this. However, I am just feeling that maybe it's not a surprise that I haven't seen these shining wonders. What is amazing is that we get to see them at all!

On the other hand, I have been watching Jupiter for the past several weeks. It is shining big and bright just over the rising moon. When I sit on my front porch, it is positioned neatly over the bell tower of our church across the street. So cool! And Soda Chicky was impressed that I could point it out to her.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hungry folks

The Bug Man and I went to serve dinner at the homeless shelter tonight. Chicken, broccoli and noodle casserole was the main dish. Chocolate chip cookies for dessert, but only two per person. Things went well, but we forgot to bring along some aluminum foil. I hadn't served dinner at the shelter for a while so I didn't think of it. Unfortunately no one else thought of it either. It made me feel bad that we didn't have any. It's probably not a big deal, but folks sometimes like to wrap up some of their dinner for later. The whole thing made me think about choices. In my cozy little house with it's too full freezer, I can choose what to have for dinner and when to have it. If I want a second glass of juice or a third cookie, I can do that too. I think choices are one of the luxuries we forget about. We forget to be thankful for the fact that we have options. And the lack of options can make one feel so desperate. It's a hunger that is much harder to fill.