Tuesday, February 27, 2007

BAM! Kerchunk!

That, friends, is the sound my 20-year-old gas dryer made on Sunday night. Fortunately it was holding the very last of five loads; unfortunately, it had just started. Incisive diagnostician that I am, after I detached my fingers and toes from the ceiling and resumed breathing, I thought, "It finally threw a belt." And so it had.

Being married to a handy person is a great blessing. I think one of the minor reasons why I married the Scientist is that he can fix anything, or at least is willing to try. He dismantled the ancient dryer, discovering the busted belt, a prodigious amount of lint, a front door key that went missing two years ago, and $1.63 in change. Thank God for him, and for repairclinic.com (if you are handy, or live with someone who is, this is a wondrous website). Our new dryer innards are on the way.

Anyway (Still with me? Still awake?), all that is to say, that that is why we walked down to my MIL's house late at night with a load of wet laundry, how we got sucked into watching the Oscars instead of simply drying our clothes and going home at a reasonable hour, and how I wound up staying up until 12:30 and stumbling around like a zombie all day yesterday. The only time I wasn't thinking "do not lie down...do not close eyes" was while I was with a client. As soon as my client left, I was sleepy again. It felt great to go to bed on time last night.

Oh, and my client. I have a marvelous new referral source: the local Catholic Archdiocese. When I served on CPM, and used to read my candidates' psychological evaluations, I envied the psychologists who got to do that work. Then several months ago, a colleague who has been doing a lot of these evals for the Archdiocese introduced me to the priest who is in charge of the Office of Vocations, and to my delight he has sent me four candidates this month.

I love talking with these men. Some are mature in their faith and in their personal lives, self-aware, filled with love for God and the church, and I think they will be wonderful priests. Others are more in the inquirer stage, still finding their way, wondering if this still small voice they've been hearing could really be God's. I've been a little surprised how frank they are willing to be about their sexual struggles and their feelings about celibacy--but they realize that's one of the big things we need to discuss. Family of origin issues, childhood trauma--it's all there, and most of them seem willing to take a closer look at the impact these things could have on their ministry. I feel so privileged to meet with them, and pray that they will gain some useful insights from their evaluations. Healthy clergy, equipped to lead healthy churches, is my prayer--for all of us, not just the Catholics!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hold your applause

Is anyone else still annoyed by applause in church, or is it just me?

98% of the congregation applauds whenever the children's choirs "perform" for the "audience". Doting Moms and Dads may feel that little Murgatroyd will be crushed if his effort is not applauded. I say it's time to teach little Murgatroyd the difference between a worship service and a school assembly, not to mention teaching him who the Audience really is.

Please take a look at this. I can't say it any better than that.

Sincerely yours,
Old Cranky-pants Church Lady

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Five: Tourist Edition

1. What is one place you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit? (you can be vague to preserve your anonymity if you like)

The drive into downtown Houston from the airport is hideous--freeways with no vegetation, used car lots, and billboard after billboard advertising "gentlemen's clubs"--and could easily lead visitors to think that they have arrived in the world's ugliest city. So I love to take first-time visitors through the beautiful old neighborhoods near Rice University, and to one or more of our wonderful museums, particularly the Menil Collection or the MFAH. Not to mention our fabulous restaurants!

When we lived in Southern California I got so tired of taking visitors to see the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose, I finally rebelled and told the Scientist he could take them without me from then on. But he was sick of going there too, so that stop disappeared from the itinerary....

2. When visiting another city or town, do you try to cram in as much as possible, or take it slow and easy?

It depends on whether we've been there before, and how much time we have. There are usually a few "must sees" that we fit in, then we try to leave some time to just wander around and explore.

3. When traveling, where are we most likely to find you: strolling through a museum, checking out the local shopping, or _________?

Museums, definitely. After that...it is really pathetic how much I am all about the FOOD. I start my Chowhound and Slow Travel restaurant research months in advance. We are not big shoppers, but like to find one or two very nice things that will always remind us of the trip. (like our wild goose wall hanging from Iona, or our handwoven sea grass basket from Charleston)

4. Do you like organized tours and/or carefully planned itineraries, or would you rather strike out and just see what happens?

Somewhere in between, depending on how familiar we already are with the area. We went to Scotland with a large group of church friends, and although we had a delightful trip, we felt like the stereotypical American tourists, rushed along in a big herd. The two days we hiked in the Highlands and strolled along Loch Tay by ourselves were much more relaxing. In April we are going to Italy with a small tour group (14 people) that will provide a balance between following a scheduled itinerary and being able to wander off by ourselves when we want to.

5. After an extended trip, what do you find yourself craving the most about home?

My own bed--and waggies and doggie kisses from Amie!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New babies

I come from a long line of dog people. Nobody in my family has ever had a cat, or wanted one. I'm mildly allergic to cats, and I know nothing about them. But now I'm finding out how sweet a kitty can be.

Several formerly feral cats live on our patio at work. Through the patience and love of all the cat people in the office, Casper and Grisabella now trust us and will come stroll through the building, meow hello, and let us pick them up and cuddle them. We had Casper spayed, but neglected to provide that service for Grisabella. Recently she has been getting rounder and rounder; as the vet had said (very early on) that she was not pregnant, we were worried that she might have a tumor. On Friday her "daddy" at the office took her back to the vet, who stated that indeed she was very pregnant! Sometime over the weekend Grisabella had five kittens! Three are black like the cat we think is the father, and two are gray tabbies like their mama.

We have kept them sheltered on the patio, but the forecast tonight is for temperatures in the high twenties. So late this afternoon we waited until our supervisor had left the building, and we stealthily moved Grisi and her babies into an empty office to spend the night! We were afraid the move would agitate her, but to our relief, she ate some supper, then settled down with the babies and began to purr.

I don't work in that office on Fridays but will have to call and see how they fared. Grisi's "daddy" arrives at 7:30 and will be able to get them all back outside before we are discovered!

If you know anyone who would like a kitten in about eight weeks, and can come to Houston to get it, let me know!

Update: I am told that Grisi and her babies had a warm, peaceful night, and settled comfortably back on the patio this morning.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gargoyle in love

How cool is this?

I am now the proud owner of an original SpookyRach gargoyle. How's that for a Valentine swap? All I sent her was some dumb fudge. On the back she wrote, Love is Blind--or--Love Is a Blind Gargoyle?

I'm taking this to the office tomorrow! That ought to spark some good discussions!

Thanks again, Rach! Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cozy, chilly Saturday

It is chilly and gray outside this morning. The Scientist is off Habitating, Amie is downstairs guarding the front door (actually, she's asleep, but she is at her post), and I am enjoying the afterglow (afterbuzz?) of having gone and worked out pretty hard this morning, followed by a great big mocha latte from a cheerful little locally-owned coffee house down the road. I can smell the aroma of tonight's crockpot Mexican turkey thighs, and life is good.

Of course I need to get to work. I have FIVE testing reports to write today. There is a case worker who is expecting ALL of them on Monday. However, these are simple reports (unlike some) and if I nail my bottom to the chair, and turn off the wi-fi, I can knock out each one in about an hour.

Are you familiar with Freecycle? It is a network of community groups that connect people who want to get rid of useful stuff they no longer need, with people who can use it. I just joined our local group this week. Later on today, a young woman with a one-year-old son is coming to pick up a baby gate that we used for a few months when we brought Amie home (she and Zorra were not very pleased to meet each other, and we had to keep them separated for a while). It's been sitting in my closet for two years, so I'm glad to get it out of here. So anyway, I guess I'll hang out, write, and wait for her to call. I miss the Scientist, but I'm grateful for the peace and quiet of my home today.

What are you up to?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes

Our preaching text this morning was Luke 5:1-11. As you probably know, in the NRSV verse 10 reads "...you will be catching people." The parishioner who brought the children's sermon today began with that text, then proceeded to tell the children extemporaneously how Jesus would make us "fishers of men." She said that several times. Finally after about the third "men", a little girl spoke up, "But what if they're GIRLS??"

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Friday Five: ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

1. Share, if you wish, the biggest change you experienced last year.

2006 was a year with no drastic changes, that I can recall. I'm at a point in my life where that feels like a good thing! I am making some changes in my practice because of the frustration of fighting with managed care companies, the stress level, and the general boom-or-bust nature of a small solo practice, especially for an introvert who would rather eat a bug than have to develop a "marketing plan" and "market" myself to doctors, etc. I've been here long enough that word of mouth referrals can keep me busy one or two days a week, and with my regular (and less stressful) half-time job, that's all I need. I have friends who work their butts off to develop a full-time private practice, but that has never been my goal.

2. Talk about a time you changed your mind about something, important or not.

Well, I changed my mind about blogging! I couldn't imagine putting my meanderings out on the Internet for anyone to see, but here they are. Most of the time it's been fun.

3. Bishop John Shelby Spong wrote a controversial book called "Why Christianity Must Change or Die." Setting aside his ideas--what kind of changes would you like to see in the Church?

The Church, at its basic level, is the community made up of individuals who are in relationship with Jesus Christ. For it to grow, each individual within the Church has to pray for help to get serious about that and to be open to what the Holy Spirit is telling her or him to do in at least three arenas--personal life, as a member of the faith community, and out in the larger society. The only way for me to do that is to seek the Spirit's guidance through prayer, Scripture, and the counsel of people who know me well and whose godly judgment I trust. If following God, and becoming more like Christ, is truly the desire of an individual's heart, God will honor that desire. And then a church full of people who are dedicated to Jesus and who really understand that that involves serving one another and seeking to meet the needs of the community, is going to grow.

So understand I am not just talking about a personal or pietistic thing, but that is where it begins. Sometimes church feels like a little club where we go to make business and social contacts, and act nice. It's not about acting nice, it's not even about doing good deeds (in our own strength). It's about the power of the Holy Spirit, and unless the church is made up of people who love God and seek to know and follow God, it will go nowhere.

4. Have you changed your hairstyle/hair color in the last five years? If so, how many times?

Not at all! Boring, huh? Sometimes I tell my stylist friend, "A little shorter this time", but I don't tell him that's just so I won't have to come back so soon. I stopped coloring my gray hair years ago, because really, once you start, when do you stop? It's OK. I have earned every strand. And maybe some day my hair will look like Emmylou Harris's (snort, guffaw).

5. What WERE they thinking with that New Coke thing?

No idea. It tasted way too much like Pepsi for this Southern gal. Classic Coke forever!

Thank you so much for your prayers and good wishes. I feel fine now, but believe me, it was rough sailing for a while. The Scientist is fine too.