Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Five: Creature Comforts

1. Comfort beverage
This one depends on what needs comforting and the time of year. Tea works most of the year; peppermint tea is my favorite for especially stressful times. I used to be partial to jasmine tea, but it doesn't sit well with me lately. Hormones! If I am in a situation where an "adult beverage" is appropriate, a thimbleful of Kahlua does the trick. But when I'm sick and coughing my lungs out and my throat feels like it's been sanded, I get out the Southern Comfort. If I have them around I add honey and lemon; usually I don't.

2. Comfort chair
I'm still looking for this. I end the day in a huge overstuffed leather chair, but it's not the ideal chair. I'm looking for a recliner that's not the size of a Winnebago.

3. Comfort read
Harry Potter - first thought. I also make sure I always know where my copy of Sue Hubbel's A Country Year is; no matter how many times I read it, it makes me laugh and cry both.

4. Comfort television/DVD/music
Forget TV - doesn't work for me. DVDs - Harry Potter again, and The Vicar of Dibley. Waiting for God is now coming out in DVD - that's another good one. Ok - I do like the Britcoms on TV and make a point to be done by 8:00 on Saturday night so I can sit and watch.

5. Comfort companion(s)
The furkids, especially the cats. Calico seems to know when I need her to get over her inate snootiness and just sit in my lap and purr. Bart is still a little young, but he makes me laugh, and that's a good thing. And yes, there are people in my life I can count on to be there when I need a sympathetic ear.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Five: Civic Duties
1) How old were you when you voted for the first time?
I was 21. I'm old enough that that's how old you had to be. I registered to vote the day of my 21st birthday; it was the only "rite of passage" that actually took place on that day.

2) What was the contest at the top of the ballot?
That one is easy. It was the year of a presidential election and it was Nixon vs. McGovern. I would have voted for Nikita Khruschev instead of Nixon. I was in grad school at the time and had to drive home - about a 2 hour drive - in order to actually cast my ballot. I never told my Dad who I voted for; it would not have made for pleasant dinner conversation.

I think that was the last election I felt really passionate about. Since then I really want a "none of the above" choice on the ballot most of the time. Most of the time I vote against the one I like less, rather than for the one I like more. At least on a state and national level. On the local level I know the people better and can make a choice based on my knowledge, rather than what the spin-doctors have told me.

3) Can you walk to your polling place?
Yes, but I don't because I'm lazy, and because I'm usually on my way to somewhere else.

4) Have you ever run for public office?
I once toyed with the idea of running for school board, but I'm too much of an outsider. Here unless your grandmother went to school with my grandmother, you're a newcomer. And getting 3 sympathy votes wouldn't do anything for my ego or my public image.

5) Have you run for office in a club or school or on a board?
I don't like being in charge of things. I sometimes get elected - but I try to avoid that happening when at all possible. And I absolutely refuse to be treasurer of anything. Every time I do, it ends up costing me money.

One of the advantages of being a pastor is that I can stay politically neutral. I have clergy friends who do put signs in their yards and attend fundraisers for candidates, but I'm not sure how I feel about that. The evangelicals clearly have no problem with not only publically supporting candidates but telling their congregations from the pulpit how to vote. I have worked on elections in my community, but I do things like promote candidate forums, and encourage people to think about the character of the people they choose; there's not even a hint of supporting one over another. It seems to me that this is another one of those tightropes we clergy are continually being asked to walk with no safety net.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Tuesday was the day when I noticed the shift in seasons. Our community choir had its first rehearsal of the Christmas music. That's a season marker in itself. But that meant driving home at sunset. And I suddenly noticed how clear the sky was, and how the frantic pace of summer growing season is starting to slow. And there was time to breathe and take in the peace of the evening. I watched the crescent moon work it's way toward the horizon, pondered the reason for a particularly green patch of sky, and waited for the first stars to appear. It's autumn.

When I was a child growing up in Connecticut, the season markers were the maple trees turning red, and the cider presses going into business. By this time of year we could expect the first light frosts, and we walked a little faster to get to school in the morning because it was chilly. Here in Arkansas we're not really past air-conditioning season yet, although we've had a few days where I could leave it off until mid-morning. The leaves don't turn pretty colors, they just get drab and fall off. Seasonal markers are harder to find - natural ones anyway.

How is it for you? Are there markers in the natural cycle of seasons that you look for? Or have we gotten so immersed in our calendars and Palm Pilots that we forget that the earth has its own rhythms? Are we always on chronos or is there space for kairos every once in a while?

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's Monday. It's my Sabbath Day. I usually turn off the computer on Mondays, giving my "beast of burden" the same leisure I would have given my ox or my donkey in Old Testament times. I try to give my car the same gift.

But here I am. I'm here because I woke up this morning nagged by a hundred little details that I never seem to have time to get to during the week. None of them very important, but none of them the kind of thing I want to get into when I'm not sure how long any of them will take. A lot of those details have to do with cleaning up computer files, updating information, that kind of thing - all innocent and simple until you try to do one with a time limit and/or a weary brain.

So because they were disturbing the peace of my Sabbath, I decided to attend to them. I feel better. I still don't know what I did wrong yesterday when I tried to scan some documents so I could get rid of the paper piles. It's not important. Today it worked. I got some important orders placed. I updated records. I deleted a whole lot of trash email. I feel lightened and enlightened.

Now I can enjoy the afternoon. I plan to occupy the sofa and read "Prince Caspian." In the evening I will find a DVD and knit on the prayer shawl I'm making for a friend who will become a first-time grandma next month. I'll cook something special for dinner, although I'm not sure yet what it will be.

I wonder when and how others enjoy Sabbath. Are there special activities you do on that day? Are there things you try to avoid doing on the Sabbath? What makes it Sabbath, and not just a day off.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I just realized it has been a week since i posted to my blog. I love looking at other people's blogs and reading what they enter on a daily basis. But as soon as I think about my own, I can't imagine what I would write. And this from a woman who makes her living by words. Although I learned a long time ago that it's not the quantity of words that counts, it's having the right word at the right time. That's the tricky part.

I have bought nothing but gas and groceries this week, even after making a shopping trip. I was looking for very specific things that I was not able to find, and so came home empty handed. And that was ok. As I drove I was thinking about 30DoN and trying to sort out where I stood between not following the spirit of the exercise at all and being so legalistic that any opportunities for grace get lost. Marva Dawn's idea of intentionality seemed a good way to come to a resolution. If I genuinely need the item, and have carefully thought through the purchase, done my research on pricing, and all that, and have the opportunity to buy it (sometimes that means waiting a while when you live in a small town), then it's ok. But browsing the shelves to see if there's something you might use, which you had not even thought about buying until you saw it - that's another matter.

It was difficult to go to Walmart for groceries and not cruise through the DVD's and the yarn. I always stop at those two places looking for bargains. The groceries were easier; I've been simplifying my diet over the past few months anyway, and I had a list, so I managed to get what I needed and nothing else. In fact, I've decided that for the rest of this year I will buy no yarn or fabric unless I have to have it to finish something already in progress (which only applies to fabric). I have enough yarn to probably last a whole year without buying, but eventually I'm going to want new colors to fill in the stash. And after my pilgrimage to Mary Jo's last month, I've got new fabrics to play with to keep me happy for a while.

Presbytery meeting this weekend means an opportunity to work on Caps for the Capital. (Go here to learn more about this.) I have 15 done so far, and hope to add 3-4 more to that this weekend. I'm resisting the urge to run out and buy a plastic box to store them in, which is what I do with things I make through the year to give at a certain time. I'll manage. I've also been working at using up my small bits of leftovers by making "ugly grannies" - granny squares made from whatever I happen to pick up next. I keep one box for the small balls of leftovers, and it was pretty full, so time to make up squares and empty it out a bit. I keep that project at the computer desk and crochet while I play games online. And I have a larger laprobe working made in sport yarn that was in one of the large lots I bought on ebay. Not my favorite colors, but it will help someone in the nursing home.

I did manage to get into the studio a little bit yesterday. Did a little hand quilting and got another block ready for when this one is finished. I got some Double Pinwheel blocks in a swap a few years ago. I'm adding corner triangles to them, making a 17 inch block, which is a nice size for quilt-as-you-go. Decided to hand quilt them, which I haven't done in a good long time. Will post a picture as soon as I get a block finished.

Today is laundry and bulletins and all the other things I have to get done since I'll be busy tomorrow. But having changed my Sabbath to Monday means that I'm not feeling put out about losing "my day off" and that makes a huge difference. Just another work day.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I've recently discovered 2 blogs that seem worth reflecting on here. The first is I got to this one through the other one that I'll mention in a minute.
People who are willing to do meaningful self-sacrifice always get my attention. Especially people who have to get a whole family on board with an idea. But having just recently paid off a mountain of credit card debt with money my Dad saved over his lifetime makes me realize that I have lived a terribly self-indulgent life since my divorce. And it's hard now to break that bad habit of buying every pretty thing that captures my attention.
But then I think of the people in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who lost not only their pretty things but everything they owned last year and who are living still with next to nothing. I don't want to even think about starving babies in Africa - I want to think about children here in my town who will not have a coat to wear to school when it turns cold. I saw a picture of Osceola McCarty this week - the woman who saved $150,000 from the money she made doing people's laundry and gave it away. People like that make me think.
So I'm going to join in the 30 days of nothing. I had planned several relatively major purchases this weekend; now I will have to decide whether waiting until October to buy these things is possible and desirable. And in the meantime, have a look for yourself.

The other blog I wanted to mention is This one gives me all kinds of things to think about. I've only begun to explore some of the linked blogs with this one. Things to do on the days when I'm not out spending money.

I got into the mood to look at my cross-stitch collection yesterday. I found a number of finished projects that just need to be mounted and framed, or made into pillows. I found a lot of small Christmasy things that need to be made into something. And a lovely angel - half finished - that begs me to put aside some daylight time to stitch. My eyes won't let me work on that fine detail and subtle coloring except with the very best light, but I don't want to let it stay unfinished until I'm too blind to sew at all either.

Also getting back to hand-quilting, the way I got into it, doing a small chunk at a time, the way I learned from Georgia Bonesteel 20 years ago. It feels good to be coming back around to the beginning again. And until my machine quilting improves a lot, hand quilting is still my most reliable way to finish a piece and have it smooth and pretty. I guess learning patience and perseverance is on my agenda as well.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I know my blog looks rather barren at the moment. Evidently I did something in the formatting when I put the pictures in that screwed up the way things went on the page. I never could figure out how to fix it properly, so it was easier to just delete the old stuff and start over with a new format. I can always put the pictures back in a new post if anyone wants to see them.

I just got home from a worship service to close a church. The three remaining church members were there, and they were properly surrounded by prayer as they were sent on their way. But there is a new church, a nondenominational Bible fellowship that has bought the building, so ministry continues. Many of that church were also there, so it was a good service, even if the building was warm and the hymnals old and mildewy. Still it is sad to see something that once was a glorious vision come to an end, especially knowing how many churches in my Presbytery are not far from the same fate.

And now the Sabbath begins. I've had a lovely bath with lavender scented salts. I can't remember if I've ever actually used the tub in this house. This may have been a first. In a few minutes I will light the candles to welcome the Sabbath, say the prayers, then head off to bed. There are lots of things I could try to get done before I light the candles, but I'm tired and my feet hurt. They will just have to wait until Tuesday.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Another Saturday, trying to wrap my head around the fact that tomorrow is Sunday and people will expect to hear something resembling Gospel from me. Groceries have been bought and put away, laundry boxes are humming, and it's only mid-morning. Panic can wait until after lunch.

Still haven't unpacked the haul I brought back from my pilgrimage to Mary Jo's. At the very least there's a new quilting hoop there that needs testing, and lots of pretty fabrics to pat again as I sort them into their bins.

I signed up for Linda Schmidt's "Elements in Fabric" class at Quilt University again. I tried it once before and found it too intimidating. But I'm itching to do something different, and this looks like a good place to explore. I've got most of the supplies - that was part of the intimidation before. And I'm thinking about paraments and stoles and how the "elements" might get worked into liturgical symbols. That makes the class more about exploration than about copying Linda's designs, beautiful though they might be.

I've also been following a really cool blog There's a piece of this called "100 Details for 100 days" that is showing the most beautiful embellishments for crazy quilts that you ever want to see. Again, making my fingers itch. So there may be some new things coming out of the studio before the end of the year.