Saturday, December 30, 2006

Amie's adventure

This is our church's week to participate in Family Promise, which we do four times a year. Check out the link for details on this practical, faith-based outreach to homeless families. When our church has guests, the Scientist and I usually serve as overnight hosts on Friday night. This week we are hosting a hardworking single mom (who had to get up by 6:00 this morning to go to her job), her sweet teenage daughter, and her lively, happy five-year-old son.

Violent storms were in the forecast for last night (part of the same system that sent President and Mrs. Bush fleeing to the storm shelter on their ranch earlier in the day). Our precious old dog is terrified of thunder, and we hated to leave her alone overnight with a bad storm approaching. So, since Amie is gentle and well-behaved...we did what you might expect us to do...we decided that Amie would help us host last night. She's gone to church before, but not overnight!

I was touched by how thrilled five-year-old Lee was to have the chance to pet and play with a dog. Our sweet girl was, of course, very patient and tolerant (I only had to admonish him once that she was too small for him to ride), and, to his delight, decided they were friends and gave him several kisses. There was a lot to sniff and explore, but after everyone went to bed Amie settled down on her familiar bed next to our pallets, and was content.

The storms never came, or if they did we never heard them. But we were glad we brought Amie with us, just the same. And I know Lee was glad, too.

Monday, December 25, 2006

God With Us

Break forth, O beauteous heav'nly light,
And usher in the morning;
Ye shepherds, shrink not with affright,
But hear the angel's warning.
This child, this little helpless boy,
Shall be our confidence and joy,
The powers of hell o'er-throwing,
At last our peace bestowing.

A blessed and happy Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Come, Lord Jesus

We who must die demand a miracle.
How could the Eternal do a temporal act,
The Infinite become a finite fact?
Nothing can save us that is possible.
We who must die demand a miracle.

W. H. Auden

Saturday, December 23, 2006

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, ruler and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.

Friday, December 22, 2006

O Rex Gentium

O Ruler of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of humankind, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

O Oriens

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

O Clavis David

O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

O Radix Jesse

O Flower of Jesse's Stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

Monday, December 18, 2006

O Adonai

O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain; come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

O Sapientia

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.

(The first of the O Antiphons.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Five: Yuletide Favorites

1. It's a Wonderful Life--Is it? Do you remember seeing it for the first time?
I love this movie. I don't remember when I saw it the first time, but there was a memorable time: We were flying home from California for Christmas one year when the flight attendant announced, with apologies, that the in-flight movie had malfunctioned, so there would be no movie. No big deal. But in a minute she returned to announce that a passenger with a tape of "It's a Wonderful Life" had offered it for viewing--and that's what we watched. That whole planeful of people was in a festive mood by the time we landed.

2. Miracle on 34th Street--old version or new? Definitely old, and Ted Turner had better keep his colorizing hands off of it.

3. Do you have a favorite incarnation of Mr. Scrooge? My immediate thought was Mr. Magoo! But, to go in a completely different direction, some years ago we had the great pleasure of seeing Patrick Stewart's one-man show of A Christmas Carol. How could there be any other Scrooge after that?

4. Why should it be a problem for an elf to be a dentist? I've been watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for years now, and I still don't get it. Well, um, for some unknown reason I've NEVER watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, so I have no idea what this is about. After extensive research (meaning, I've looked at three or four people's responses), I'm inclined to go with Chicago Rev's theory.

5.Who's the scariest character in Christmas specials/movies? For me it was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol". If you are too young to remember that, imagine the one from the Muppet version as a cartoon. Now imagine seeing it as a hypersensitive six-year-old! Nightmares for weeks!

You don't think ANY Christmas characters are particularly scary? Think you're tough? Check out Will Smama's site, if you dare.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Brought to you today by the letter N

This is Mindy's alphabet meme: she will assign you a letter, and you think of ten things you love that begin with that letter. Go see Mindy if you want to play. My letter is N, and here's my list:
1. Nights at home, spent quietly with my little family (human and canine). Those are in short supply this time of year, and all the more precious when we do have one.
2. Night, O Holy. We are rehearsing a lovely choral arrangement of it for Christmas Eve (both morning and midnight), and have a wonderful soprano on the solo, who will sing it just right. My mother, who died in 1991, loved this song, and whenever we sing it I remember how much she enjoyed it. Like Dogblogger's Typist, I know something about trying not to choke up in choir.
3. Nuts, especially our own pecans. Try this if you're getting tired of sweets: Melt a stick of butter or margarine and add 4 tsp. Worcestershire, 1 T. garlic salt, and 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce. Mix well and stir into 4 c. pecans. Spread the pecans out on a rimmed cookie sheet or large flat pan and toast at 300 degrees for about ten minutes. Watch closely and stir occasionally; they can burn quickly. As soon as they darken, you can take them out. Cool on paper towels. I plan to make several batches of these for the neighbors.
4. The Scientist's 1999 Nissan pickup, still going strong at 108,000 miles.
5/6. Willie Nelson and Nanci Griffith. It's a Texas thing.
7. The Neverending Story, one of our favorite movies. A couple of weeks ago we watched it for the first time in about twenty years. Oh! That reminds me of:
8. Netflix!
9. News of faraway friends and family. I love reading all of those Christmas letters--really.
10. Me, usually. My name starts with N. I'm still learning to love myself.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

End of a brief era

Yesterday I attended my last meeting as an elder member of our Presbytery's CPM, or Committee on Preparation for Ministry. For you non-Presbys, this is the committee that shepherds and monitors the progress of inquirers and candidates as they move through seminary and ordination exams, toward being ready to receive a call. It's supposed to be a three-year commitment, but I've been there for four. I'm tired.

No one feels neutral toward the CPM experience. I would bet that someone reading this has just had a visceral reaction to the idea of CPM and now feels a bit less kindly disposed toward me because I've served on one. Seriously. I have read a sermon by one of our candidates that discussed the dark valleys God leads us through, including "sickness, death of loved ones, and CPMs."

I am well aware that--as PC(USA) materials advise us--that to these folks we represent the Church, "with the authority and power to ordain and not to ordain". And I have some other ideas about people's projection onto us of their experiences with withholding parents, etc. But I admit I was stunned recently when a candidate complained about how cold and uncaring we are, how critical, etc. That just doesn't match my experience of the people I've served with on this committee, their love for Jesus and for the church, their compassion, and their dedication to this shepherding task. The majority of our candidates have not given us that sort of feedback--in fact, a number have expressed appreciation--but the ones that have felt hurt are the ones I remember most clearly. Now, granted, some of them have been angry because we would not countermand parts of the Book of Order or toss PC(USA) polity out the window at their request. I think we have stuck to our guns pretty well at times when that mattered.

Gee, do you think I may have some issues to look at, too?

The vast, vast majority of the women and men whose progress I have been privileged to oversee in these years are intelligent, energetic, creative servants of Christ and the Church. They are the future of this denomination, and we are blessed in them. One is even a RevGalBlogPal! (Maybe more than one, for all I know!) I am glad I had this opportunity, and I have loved getting to know the ministers and elders with whom I have served. But frankly, it's time for a break.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fa-la-la-la-la, la Friday Five

1. A favorite "secular" Christmas song.
James Taylor's version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is nice. And Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph" always makes me smile.

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better): That would have to be "Mary, Did You Know?" Our youth choir sang it at our Christmas concert last year, and I think we were all boo-hooing by the time they'd finished. "The Child that you delivered/Will soon deliver you." No, it's not Donne, but it gets me every time.
My favorites choke me up, too: "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing", and hearing a boy soprano open "Once in Royal David's City".

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire: I did a postdoc fellowship in a large pediatric hospital. Secular Christmas music assaulted us over the hospital PA system for four solid weeks. Since disabling the loudspeaker in our department was strictly forbidden, we taped several inches of foam rubber over it, which helped a bit. But we still could not completely escape the Carpenters' version of "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays." From Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the traffic is terrific...Nearly twenty years later, it still makes me cringe.

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss. Hmm. If it were appropriately normed, perhaps it might have some utility as a verbal learning test.

5. A favorite Christmas album. Bruce Cockburn's Christmas is my very favorite. Second place would be a tie: the Chieftains' The Bells of Dublin and, although some of the arrangements seem a bit dated now, Joan Baez's Noel.

Later: I just went and read the lyrics of "Christmas Shoes", because I had never heard of it. Oh, ick.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Getting down with the sound

Sitting right up front in the chancel every week, the choir takes seriously our responsibility to set a worshipful and respectful tone for the congregation. No yakking during the prelude, no whispering, snorting or snickering during the service. Our resolve was severely tested at the end of today's service when one of the elders (usually a rather sedate gentleman) stood in the narthex, boogieing and shimmying to the postlude in an attempt to crack up his wife, who sits on the front row in the alto section. She maintained her composure, but alas, several of us did not. We will probably be chastised at rehearsal this week.

I never knew that Bach's Little Prelude in D Minor was such a rocker.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Five: Adventually

1. Do you observe Advent in your church?
Yes, and I love it. I'm kind of an Advent geek. I really try to observe Advent, and would be content (well, probably...OK, make it mostly) to sing no carols until Christmas Eve.
2. How about at home?
Not so much, except in personal devotions. We don't have a wreath or anything. The hardcore theology/liturgical geek in me would like to wait until Christmas Eve to put up the tree, but it is no match for the Christmas-loving romantic in me. (We generally do wait until around Advent 2.) Several years ago I came across An Advent Sourcebook, published by Liturgy Training Publications, and I highly recommend it both as a source of personal Advent devotions and a treasure trove of poems and meditations you can use at church or in small groups. Their Christmas and Easter sourcebooks are excellent too.
3. Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn?
I love the O Antiphons. Every year I tell myself I am going to make an effort to go to services at the convent/retreat center in town, or some other place where I can hear them sung. Maybe this year.
4. Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink?
Hmmm...because a baby is pink? No, that can't be it. Actually I think it has something to do with the festive nature of our waiting and hoping, mingled with the solemn purple (which also reminds of Lent, another time of waiting and repentance). I have some vague recollection of something about the Pope giving out pink roses...can't remember just what that was supposed to be about....
5. What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen?
Oh good grief, the ones for dogs and cats. Can we please not even call those Advent calendars? (said Ms. Crankypants Theology Geek) How about "Countdown to Santa" calendars? Come to think of it, there are plenty of "Advent" calendars for humans that fall into the same category.

Well, I'm off to pick up the Scientist for one of our much-loved evenings at the ballet. Tonight will be our last opportunity to see the fabulous Lauren Anderson (shown here with the equally fabulous Carlos Acosta) who is retiring after this season's round of The Nutcracker. Brava! We'll miss you!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A new Thanksgiving recipe

One tired couple
Two congenial family members
One luxurious B & B
One nearly-deserted beach

Rise late. Eat sumptuous breakfast. Spend the rest of the day strolling on the beach in eighty-degree weather.
Consider repeating annually.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Too cute (For dog lovers only)

Amie is generally somewhat reserved and sedate (except when she hears the word WALK), but when she is alone in the back yard, she loves to cut loose and roll, roll, roll. She is very reticent about doing it if either of us is watching. The Scientist took these pictures through the living room window, and I just had to show you Amie in mid-roll. Fellow dogbloggers (you know who you are), consider it a Thanksgiving present.

Ahhh! That's better!

We're headed for our favorite beachtown bed and breakfast tomorrow with the Scientist's mom and sister. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Delurking Week

Don't be shy! Leave a (hug) or a (o) if you can't think of anything to say! Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thankful, part 2

The "Friday Five" assignment is to list five people, things, etc. for which we are thankful. Here are some random impressions:

1. All the blessings that have come to me over the years as a part of the family of God--not just the blessing of salvation, with its present implications of healing and movement toward wholeness, as well as its "by and by" implications. That would be more than enough, but when I add the blessings of friends and community that I have known within the Body of Christ over the decades, and now even across cyberspace, I don't have language for my gratitude. I can only ask God again for help in living in a way that shows God how grateful I am.

2. The Scientist. Enough said (not really, but I'll restrain myself).

3. Good health. Freedom from pain. Five functional senses. All of my physical blessings.

4. A warm house, a full pantry, and interesting employment that helps pay for both.

5. Literacy. How impoverished I would be (in every way) without the ability to read.

It's hard to stop at five, isn't it? I must make it six and include the love and companionship of all my furbabies, past and present, especially the little blue heeler lying next to my chair right now.

Today I am especially thankful for the visit of our friends C and P, who stopped by for brunch on their way from Austin to Galveston to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. C remembers playing Candy Land at my house when she was five years old. I don't remember that, but I do have a picture of her eating ice cream at my seventh birthday party. We later suffered all the slings and arrows of high school together, and although our lives have taken very different paths, we have kept our friendship through all these decades. Happy anniversary, kids!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Taco time!

Dining solo tonight, I wanted to make a couple of egg tacos before dashing off to choir practice. Now, the only thing I don't like about eating egg tacos is that the picante sauce drips out, usually onto my lap. So tonight I had the bright idea to scramble it into the eggs. It worked beautifully! Try it!

If you're looking for profundity, you'd better go to another blog. If you just want a good quick supper, tonight I'm your gal. Off to choir!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mistaken identity

Our happy little home at "123 Blossom Court" is getting a much-needed new roof this week. We are having all the fascia, soffit and gutters replaced too. The past two days have involved the usual round of missing work, waiting around for workers who don't show, etc. Today we left before the carpenters arrived, but had been assured that they were getting supplies and would be there shortly. When I came home for lunch, I found that indeed a three-man crew had been busy all morning, up on extension ladders, pulling down gutters, tearing out the old fascia and soffit.

Around the corner.

At 123 North Blossom Drive.


Now, that house is for sale and unoccupied. The lead carpenter explained to me later that when he realized what they had done, he called the realtor, who then called the homeowner, who agreed that as long as everything was put back in place, he would be a happy camper. All I could do was laugh, and the lead carpenter laughed too. I don't think the other guys were laughing.

When I got home this evening, two men were working away at my house. The third was at the house around the corner, painting the new fascia he had just installed. He still wasn't laughing.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Five: What's red, blue, and purple all over?

1. Favorite red food
Does Erath Pinot Noir count? If not, I guess I'll say strawberries. Or cherry pie!

2. Tell us about the bluest body of water you've ever seen in person.
First let me show you.

This is Crater Lake, in Oregon. We made a wonderful trip to Oregon about four summers ago (where we sampled the aforementioned pinot), and Crater Lake was one of the highlights. I went through several pages of images on the Web before I decided that this was as close as I could get to the real thing--which is bluer than this!

3. It's movie rental time: Blue Planet, The Color Purple, or Crimson Tide?
Before I saw this meme, oddly enough, I was thinking about Crimson Tide this morning--the part where Denzel Washington has to make the decision to close off part of the submarine, knowing that a lot of the sailors will die, and as this is happening you hear the Navy Hymn. I don't usually enjoy this type of movie, but Crimson Tide was a good one.

4. What has you seeing red these days?
The same thing as always: animal abuse and neglect. Your local branch of the Humane Society or SPCA can always use your help. They're even happy to receive your old towels and bathmats, so don't throw those away.

5. What or who picks you up when you're feeling blue?
My two favorite life forms: the Scientist, and little Amie, who grins when she sees me coming and wags her stubby tail as fast as she can. Cuddling with either of them makes the world look a lot better. If I'm alone and slightly mopey, I like to get a glass of red wine and play my old LP's from high school and college, singing along with Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell ("Love came to my door/With a sleeping roll/And a madman's soul..."), Dan Fogelberg, and Laura Nyro's Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. After a while I go to bed. I learned when I was in college and often feeling overwhelmed, that things always look better in the morning.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post-election wrap-up

This morning I heard a story about a coworker's friend who babysat her young niece after school and into the evening yesterday because of a family emergency. Late last night when the child's mother came to get her, she lamented,"With everything that went on today, I never had a chance to vote."

Her daughter piped up, "We voted! We voted! Emmitt and Cheryl!"


On a different note, every election season reminds me of my service as a precinct judge when we were living in California in 1986. Earlier that year, news coverage of Corazon Aquino's election to the presidency of the Philippines had shown courageous poll workers who defended the ballot boxes with their lives. And the biggest sacrifice I made to work the polls was to be there by 6:00 A.M. How grateful I always am for our election process and our right to vote. May we never take that for granted.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My happy girl, 1998

This is my favorite picture of Zorra, taken when she was probably about three years old. We had had her for a little over a year at this time. This picture shows her unusual markings better than the one I posted a while ago. She's taking a break from demolishing an old bathmat, one of her favorite activities.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Friday Five: Nothing But the Tooth

1. The Tooth Fairy
She only brought me ten cents per tooth, but I believe that was the going rate in my neighborhood at the time. One morning I awoke to tooth still under the pillow! The Tooth Fairy had forgotten me! I wailed to my mother, and lo and behold, by the time I had finished breakfast, the Tooth Fairy had arrived. Her tardiness didn't bother me. (Now I understand how exhausted the Tooth Fairy often was by bedtime. It's a credit to her that she only forgot once, in all those years.)

2. Flossing
No, I don't do it every day. Yes, I should. Next topic.

3. Toothpaste Brands
Whatever is cheapest. Usually that's Aim or Ultra Brite. Toothpaste is toothpaste. The Scientist was always partial to Colgate until I told him it's one of the most expensive brands. Now he uses whatever I bring home.

4. Orthodontia for Adults
Why not? Maybe your parents couldn't afford braces when you were a kid. If you need it and want it, go for it.

5. Whitening Products
Thank God I don't remember this, but I was very anemic as a baby and had to take iron shots in my head! The iron caused my teeth to come in darker than the average person's teeth. Although I was always mildly self-conscious about it, I never did anything about it until my 20th high school reunion was on the horizon. I went the whole nine yards with the mouth mold and the expensive stuff from the dentist, and it was well worth it. My creepy-looking little plaster jaws broke a long time ago, but I still have the little plastic things that fit over my teeth, and use them occasionally.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Good sermon this morning about Bartimaeus's receipt of physical and spiritual sight. Years ago I heard a country gospel singer expound on Bartimaeus: "We always call this guy a blind beggar. He's not a blind beggar any more--he's a satisfied seein' man!" Amen!

Friday, October 27, 2006


Mindy has posted one of her great lists of things she is thankful for, which got me started counting my blessings. Right now I'm thankful for everyone who has so warmly welcomed me to RevGalBlogPals--this is such fun--and especially for your kind comments about my sweet girls. That really helped.

Another thing that helped was my realization, late Tuesday night, that although October 24 acquired a sad significance for us last year, this year it also marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of my first date with the Scientist! I wonder if we are the only couple who ever met in a Southern Baptist Sunday school class and later spent their first date dancing at a rock and roll club. Probably not!

I wish everyone who reads this could meet my amazing husband. I've never met anyone else like him. I agree with him and with our friend QG that "the Scientist" is a blah pseudonym for a not-at-all-blah person, but so far I haven't come up with anything better. (He says he would prefer "Finger of the Illuminati".) He really is a scientist by profession. He's also loving, loyal, funny, kind, a lover of books and of history, an adventurous travel companion, and an excellent teacher. He despises cant and posturing, but quietly and faithfully lives out the Good News in ways that make a practical difference in people's lives.

He has supported and encouraged me in every enterprise I've undertaken. When we met, he was intrigued but thought, "This won't go anywhere; she'll be leaving for graduate school before long." A little over a year later, we were married. A year after that, we struck out for California together. And the rest is our history.

When I think of everything for which I am thankful, he is always at the top of the list.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Little blue and big red

This is my favorite picture of Amie (little blue) and Zorra (big red). They were on our back porch enjoying some quality time with the Scientist's mom. Notice Zorra's characteristic "heeler slouch."

This picture is especially precious to me now that my big girl is gone. Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of Zorra's death. If I can stand to write about it, I will, but I think you will understand if I do not.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The nights have passed

When the Scientist is away, the only really difficult part is the moment when I get into bed and turn out the light. I lie there listening to the house's creaks and pops, and pray Psalm 4:8 (RSV), "In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for thou alone, O Lord, makest me dwell in safety." And the Lord does, and I sleep. When I wake, I check off another night. Two down, zero to go. Thanks be to God.

Amie misses him as much as I do. Last night I found one of his shoes in her bed.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Almost unique
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Makes me feel kinda special.

Among the other seven are a San Francisco stage actress and a Florida accountant.
But when I googled my name (come on, don't tell me you've never done it), the majority of the hits referenced the protagonist of a rather bohemian-sounding novel! Not my life at all!

In other news, the Scientist is out of town this weekend, cheering on his sister as she spars for her third-degree black belt in karate. He reported tonight that she had done really well except for the one board that would not break. OW. I have entertained myself by shelling pecans as I watched Chocolat (a really lovely film, even if you are not fond of Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, or the great Alfred Molina, which I am), and shifting into a baking frenzy to help supply a Fall Festival that was held by our church school today. We childfree types tend to steer clear of that sort of function, but I enjoyed baking for it. Banana bread, zucchini bread, apple bread, and orange bread. I told you it was a frenzy.

That's enough rambling for one evening. Enjoy your Sunday!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


On Friday night, we had the privilege and pleasure of going to hear Elaine Pagels speak on the Gospel of Judas. I have enjoyed her writing, and have learned from her insights in several Sunday school classes that I've either led or attended. If I understand her correctly, she theorizes that the author of the Gospel of Judas was writing in opposition/reaction to the intense emphasis on, or even push toward, martyrdom that was prevalent in the early church. I can imagine this author thinking, "Are these people insane? How will we spread the Gospel when we're all dead?"

We've spent some time at church this year looking at the Gnostic gospels (although Pagels no longer uses the term Gnostic to refer to them), in connection with the whole Da Vinci Code thing. That was a lot of fun, and reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading them when I was in school. When I led a session on the Gospel of Mary a few years ago, one of our friends asked, "Why are we wasting time studying about these heresies?" Uh, well, because they are fascinating (at least to me, and I'm the teacher), especially from a church history standpoint. How many different viewpoints there were in those first 200 years, among those who all called themselves followers of Jesus.

Pagels said that our word heresy is taken from the Greek word that means "choice". I'm still mulling over the implications of that, but I think that it has a lot to do with honest belief and people following what insight they have. Most people aren't deliberately contrarian in matters of faith, unless they are trying to provoke others to serious consideration of why they believe what they do--and to me that's a healthy sort of provocation. Of couse there are a few grandstanders who get a kick out of letting everyone see they are swimming against the mainstream, but that's not what I'm talking about.

As a firm believer in Providence, I believe that the way our "orthodox" beliefs about the person and work of Christ "jelled" over those early centuries was as the Holy Spirit intended. But I also believe that none of us has any right to claim that we know the whole truth about God, and once we get to heaven we will all see how wrong (heretical?) we were in many ways. Who God really is, is so much greater than any of our little concepts of God.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Five: Creature Comforts

This INFP likes people, but needs lots of alone time to recharge after being with too many people for too long. These are some things that help:

1. Comfort beverage: A mug of strong coffee, Illy if possible, with a little milk and sugar. Or, a chocolate milk shake the way my dad used to make them: Pack a tall glass with your favorite vanilla ice cream. Add chocolate syrup liberally. Fill in the cracks with milk. Stir, stir, stir, and eat with a spoon. I don't comfort myself that way very often!

2. Comfort chair: I have a comfort sofa in the living room, where I can put my feet up. An afghan that my mother-in-law made is nearby in case I want to bundle up.

3. Comfort read: When I'm in on-the-sofa-with-comfort-beverage mode, I don't want to think. A magazine will be just fine. Atlantic Monthly, Books and Culture, National Geographic, Oxford American, Cook's Illustrated, and Bon Appetit are within easy reach. If any of these makes me think too much (a constant danger with the first two), I'll switch to a Coldwater Creek catalogue.

4. Comfort television/DVD/music: For TV, sitcom reruns (The Simpsons, Mad About You) are preferable, but I don't usually have the TV on. Preferred music, lately, has been Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler's All the Roadrunning.

5. Comfort companion(s): When I'm in this mode, I'm content to be by myself. But if my Amie girl chooses to come and lie next to the couch, that's icing on the cake.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Semi-slow food

I really love to cook, almost as much as I love to eat. Songbird's recent post about slow food got me remembering graduate school, when I was often home studying in the afternoons and could simmer beans, or some elaborate soup, or chicken curry, for as long as it needed to take. I still cook like that on weekends. However, what I cook during the week falls more into the semi-slow category.

We recently joined a food co-op, and one of its pleasures is coming up with new and creative ways to use up things I probably wouldn't have bought on my own, such as pears (thanks, Milton), beets, and cucumbers. Tonight I picked what was left from the bones of a chicken I braised with pears and rosemary over the weekend (that was slow, and awesome), lightly steamed some co-op squash and broccoli, then opened a jar of alfredo sauce (that's the semi-slow part) and mixed all of the above with spaghetti (yeah, fettucini would have been better, but spaghetti was what I had). The Scientist is not a broccoli fan, but I told him to think of this as Alfredo Primavera, and he was fine with that. :-)

Incidentally, here's a plug for one of my favorite websites. If you love food, check out Chowhound. When I'm not commenting on a RGBP blog, you'll probably find me commenting there. Browse your regional board, and if you like to cook, browse the Home Cooking board. You never know what you'll find.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"Part Blue Heeler, Part Gift from God"

Go by Quotidian Grace's site and check out the video clip of the fabulous Skidboot. Whether you are already familiar with him or not, you're in for a treat.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Friday Five (a day late): Civic Duties

(Is it gauche to do the Friday Five on Saturday? I'll try to be more timely.)
1) How old were you when you voted for the first time? Well, I distinctly remember registering when I was 18, but I don't remember voting before the 1976 presidential election, when I would have been 20.
2) What was the contest at the top of the ballot? See above. I proudly filled out my absentee ballot for Jimmy Carter, under the watchful eye of the college registrar. (I think it was his responsibility to gather and mail the students' absentee ballots. He wasn't so watchful that he was observing how I filled it out.)
3) Can you walk to your polling place? No, it's at an elementary school a couple of miles away. But when we lived in California, our polling place was across the street from my campus and only a block from our apartment. In those days I served as precinct judge several times, which was mostly interesting and fun.
4) Have you ever run for public office? No, and can't imagine doing so. I like my privacy too much. That's why it took me so long to start a blog. :-)
5) Have you run for office in a club or school or on a board? In sixth grade, I ran for president of the student council. My opponent was a boy on whom I had a big crush. Inexplicably (at least to my adult self), I voted for him instead of for myself. I lost by one vote.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

An autumn pleasure

I am fortunate to work close enough to home that I can usually come home at lunchtime to happily eat leftovers, read the paper (only today it was the November Bon Appetit, which had just arrived), and entertain Amie. One of our favorite lunchtime and early evening activities this time of year is going into the back yard to pick up pecans. The Scientist and I planted our pecan tree in the spring of 1992, a few months after we built this house. The tree was about seven feet tall, a spindly little thing with a funny little fork in the top. Now it towers over the house. It bears a good crop every other year, which I'm told is typical of some varieties of pecan. This promises to be a great year. We've already shelled and frozen a quart of pecan halves, and the season has just begun.

The real Zorra (more about her later) loved pecans, and would rear up on her hind legs to pluck them from a low branch. The Scientist still laughs when he remembers watching us through a back window, me intently searching the ground, then suddenly looking up in exasperation at the big red dog happily going crunch, crunch nearby. Amie has just discovered that she likes them too. There weren't many last year, and if there had been, she would have had to compete with Zorra for them.

I already have visions of pecan pies, toasted and spiced pecans, all kinds of wonderful treats. But I'll save a few plain ones for Amie, too.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A little about Dr. Z

I am a clinical psychologist who mostly does evaluations these days (developmental disabilities, ADHD, assorted stuff). I don't consider myself a "recovering psychotherapist", because I think I probably will go back to doing therapy at some point. However, I have had to put that part of my work aside for now; a couple of years ago I realized that whenever I lay awake at night, I was thinking about my therapy clients. At some point, I realized I had begun to lose the ability to leave my work at the office. So I'm taking a therapist's sabbatical--I don't know how long it will be. I still think I may do something completely different when I grow up.

I probably won't talk much about my work on this blog--not because it isn't important to me, but because, not being a genius, I'm not confident of my ability to adequately disguise my clients' identity. Anyway, I think writing about people I love, church matters, books, music, theology, dogs, and food will be a lot more fun than writing about being a shrink.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Maybe it's about time

Several people have asked me recently, "So, where's your blog?" I guess I can't get by with lurking and commenting forever--plus I sometimes feel like I am taking up too much space in other people's comments sections and should go blather on my own space instead. So here I am, with fear and trembling. Please bear with me as I learn my way around Blogger. I'll be doing cool stuff like setting up links as soon as I learn how.

I just got back from a women's retreat that was sponsored by another church in our presbytery; ours wasn't organizing one this year, so these ladies graciously invited us to join them. I have a lot to think and pray about after this weekend, but what I want to report now is that we had a Friday night icebreaker that DID NOT UPSET THE INTROVERTS. Everyone had been instructed to bring a picture of herself as a child.When we gathered on Friday night, a list of the members of each small group was posted, minus the name of each group's leader, whose childhood picture was posted with her group instead. The leaders stood at the front of the room and we had to guess, from her picture, which leader was ours. Then in the group we all shared our pictures, which led to some more in-depth sharing later in the weekend. This was the least threatening icebreaker I've ever seen, and I think everyone enjoyed talking about the pictures. It was an excellent way to get people moving around and meeting one another without having the spotlight on any individual.