Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another great one is gone

Let me take a moment to remember the great singer/songwriter Delaney Bramlett, who died yesterday at 69. He and his then-wife Bonnie and their band Delaney & Bonnie & Friends toured with Eric Clapton in 1969, and made a fabulous live album with him that was part of the soundtrack of my high school years. Both Delaney and Bonnie were powerful singers, and played with a great backup band including Carl Radle on bass and Jim Gordon on drums. Delaney wrote or co-wrote a number of popular songs from that period ("Superstar", "Never Ending Song of Love").

YouTube is not cooperating with me today, but the link is to a clip from a 1969 BBC performance with Eric Clapton and Dave Mason. (Dave Mason wrote "Only You Know and I Know", but Delaney and Bonnie's version is better.) I think the gentleman in the green sweater, on Bonnie's left, is Bobby Whitlock, a mighty soulful singer and keyboards player himself, who later joined Clapton in Derek and the Dominos. Although I wouldn't want to be fifteen again, I enjoyed traveling back in time for a few minutes while watching this clip.

Rest in peace, Delaney, and thank you for the music.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Carol - Written in 1946
Flocks feed by darkness with a noise of whispers,
In the dry grass of pastures,
And lull the solemn night with their weak bells.

The little towns upon the rocky hills
Look down as meek as children:
Because they have seen come this holy time.

God's glory, now, is kindled gentler than low candlelight
Under the rafters of a barn:
Eternal Peace is sleeping in the hay,
And Wisdom's born in secret in a straw-roofed stable.

And O! Make holy music in the stars, you happy angels.
You shepherds, gather on the hill.
Look up, you timid flocks, where the three kings
Are coming through the wintry trees;

While we unnumbered children of the wicked centuries
Come after with our penances and prayers,
And lay them down in the sweet-smelling hay
Beside the wise men's golden jars.
Thomas Merton

Friday, December 19, 2008

Exmas or Crissmas?

A Lost Chapter from Herodotus
by C. S. Lewis

And beyond this there lies in the ocean, turned towards the west and the north, the island of Niatirb which Hecataeus indeed declares to be the same size and shape as Sicily, but it is larger, and though in calling it triangular a man would not miss the mark. It is densely inhabited by men who wear clothes not very different from other barbarians who occupy the north-western parts of Europe though they do not agree with them in language. These islanders, surpassing all the men of whom we know in patience and endurance, use the following customs.

In the middle of winter when fogs and rains most abound they have a great festival which they call Exmas, and for fifty days they prepare for it in the fashion I shall describe. First of all, every citizen is obliged to send to each of his friends and relations a square piece of hard paper stamped with a picture, which in their speech is called an Exmas-card. But the pictures represent birds sitting on branches, or trees with a dark green prickly leaf, or else men in such garments as the Niatirbians believe that their ancestors wore two hundred years ago riding in coaches such as their ancestors used, or houses with snow on their roofs. And the Niatirbians are unwilling to say what these pictures have to do with the festival, guarding (as I suppose) some sacred mystery. And because all men must send these cards the market-place is filled with the crowd of those buying them, so that there is great labour and weariness.

But having bought as many as they suppose to be sufficient, they return to their houses and find there the like cards which others have sent to them. And when they find cards from any to whom they also have sent cards, they throw them away and give thanks to the gods that this labour at least is over for another year. But when they find cards from any to whom they have not sent, then they beat their breasts and wail and utter curses against the sender; and, having sufficiently lamented their misfortune, they put on their boots again and go out into the fog and rain and buy a card for him also. And let this account suffice about Exmas-cards.

They also send gifts to one another, suffering the same things about the gifts as about the cards, or even worse. For every citizen has to guess the value of the gift which every friend will send to him so that he may send one of equal value, whether he can afford it or not. And they buy as gifts for one another such things as no man ever bought for himself. For the sellers, understanding the custom, put forth all kinds of trumpery, and whatever, being useless and ridiculous, sell as an Exmas gift. And though the Niatirbians profess themselves to lack sufficient necessary things, such as metal, leather, wood and paper, yet an incredible quantity of these things is wasted every year, being made into the gifts.

But during these fifty days the oldest, poorest and the most miserable of citizens put on false beards and red robes and walk in the market-place; being disguised (in my opinion) as Cronos. And the sellers of gifts no less than the purchasers become pale and weary, because of the crowds and the fog, so that any man who came into a Niatirbian city at this season would think that some great calamity had fallen on Niatirb. This fifty days of preparation is called in their barbarian speech the Exmas Rush.

But when the day of the festival comes, then most of the citizens, being exhausted with the Rush, lie in bed till noon. But in the evening they eat five times as much supper as on other days and, crowning themselves with crowns of paper, they become intoxicated. And on the day after Exmas they are very grave, being internally disordered by the supper and the drinking and reckoning how much they have spent on gifts and on the wine. For wine is so dear among the Niatirbians that a man must swallow the worth of a talent before he is well intoxicated.

Such, then, are their customs about the Exmas. But the few among the Niatirbians have also a festival, separate and to themselves, called Crissmas, which is on the same day as Exmas. And those who keep Crissmas, doing the opposite to the majority of the Niatirbians, rise early on that day with shining faces and go before sunrise to certain temples where they partake of a sacred feast. And in most of the temples they set out images of a fair woman with a new-born Child on her knees and certain animals and shepherds adoring the Child. (The reason of these images is given in a certain sacred story which I know but do not repeat.)

But I myself conversed with a priest in one of these temples and asked him why they kept Crissmas on the same day as Exmas; for it appeared to me inconvenient. But the priest replied, It is not lawful, O Stranger, for us to change the date of Crissmas, but would that Zeus would put it into the minds of the Niatirbians to keep Exmas at some other time or not to keep it at all. For Exmas and the Rush distract the minds even of the few from sacred things. And we indeed are glad that men should make merry at Crissmas; but in Exmas there is no merriment left. And when I asked him why they endured the Rush, he replied, It is, O Stranger, a racket; using (as I suppose) the words of some oracle and speaking unintelligibly to me (for a racket is an instrument which the barbarians use in a game called tennis).

But what Hecataeus says, that Exmas and Crissmas are the same, is not credible. For the first, the pictures which are stamped on the Exmas-cards have nothing to do with the sacred story which the priests tell about Crissmas. And secondly, the most part of the Niatirbians, not believing the religion of the few, nevertheless send the gifts and cards and participate in the Rush and drink, wearing paper caps. But it is not likely that men, even being barbarians, should suffer so many and great things in honour of a god they do not believe in. And now, enough about Niatirb.

(from God in the Dock)
The Nacirema are a lot like the Niatirbians, yes? With all the hurrying, and all the lists we have made today, let's stop, take a breath, and be thankful that we are here for Crissmas, not Exmas.

Friday Five: Countdown to Christmas Edition

Songbird admonishes us:

It's true.

There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones.

So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.

OK, this IS easy. On my reduced schedule this year, most things are done. I still need to:

1. make fruitcake cookies (this will happen today)
2. make broccoli salad, twice--for a party tomorrow night, and for Christmas dinner, which we are NOT hosting
3. haul a large frozen turkey, which we did not use at Thanksgiving, to the home of our friends with whom we will be having Christmas dinner
4. wrap one more present for the Scientist, after it arrives
5. listen to my favorite Christmas music, rest and consider the Lord's coming

May the peace and joy of this season enfold each person who reads this...beyond all the sermon writing and last minute service planning; beyond all the cooking, baking, shopping, and wrapping; beyond the travel hassles; within and beyond the grief that this season heightens for many; may Christ be born anew in us all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter rest

Three weeks later. I'm feeling well enough now to treasure these last quiet, solitary days at home, which will be over all too soon.

The tree is finally decorated, and lovely--it is good company for me when I'm on the couch and Amie has retreated to the Scientist's closet to snooze. Between my convalescence and the Scientist's schedule, the naked tree sat in the living room for three days before we finally "dressed" it. We have spent most of this week decorating a little at a time, rather than the do-it-all-in-one-night approach we usually employ. What a pleasure to say hello again to each old friend as I take it out of the box--Santas, stars, and angels alike.

I collect Christmas angels. I didn't know that until the day, some years ago, I realized there were more than twenty on the tree. Each one reminds me of a particular vacation, or the friend who gave it, or a Christmas forty years ago. They probably number about thirty-five now, not counting all the freestanding angels arrayed on the oak buffet in the foyer. The Scientist said, "It looks like you've got all the heavenly host in here."

The Scientist is away, overseeing a clinical trial, but will return tomorrow night. Please pray for the patient who will undergo this experimental treatment tomorrow.

Shopping (mostly online this year) is done, wrapping is almost done. I'm waiting for one more book for the Scientist--a book about the Minoans, to accompany the tome on the Mycenaeans that has already arrived.

Not singing in the Christmas concert this year was hard, but getting to just sit and enjoy it was fun. The most beautiful piece was an obscure cantata that deserves to be heard more often, Ralph Hunter's Sing Noel. I can find only one recording, by Gloriae Dei Cantores. It's a thoughtful and creative medley of carols, but is seldom performed--in fact our choir director described our presentation as its "Southwest premiere". If it were better known, it would become a mainstay of Christmas concerts.

This afternoon's dilemma: will the pleasure of making fruitcake cookies outweigh the aches and pains that probably will follow? Maybe I'll wait and make them this evening. Maybe I'll just lie here on the couch and look at the tree for a while.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


That's how I've decided to treat the next six weeks...can't work, can't drive, can't do much of nothin' but I can take advantage of the time I've always wanted to have at home. This is how my typical weekday is shaping up:

7:00 get up, shower and put on fresh nightgown, have breakfast with the Scientist
8:00-12:30 check e-mail, blogs, etc. etc. and read on the couch (I'll share what I'm reading in another post)
12:30-1:00 sit up, make a sandwich
1:00 creep upstairs (slowly, oh so slowly, and backwards) and watch Northern Exposure
2:00-5:00 (after creeping back downstairs) take a nap
5:00-7:00 dawdle around, attend to Amie, put casserole in oven (Casseroles! Do we have casseroles!)
7:00-10:00 eat and hang out with the Scientist
10:00 and so to bed.

Not bad for now, but I think it will start getting old soon. Also, I probably won't need quite so much nappage in a couple of weeks. I am planning to use this time to read, certainly, but also to write; and I will be spending more time in prayer too.

Anyway, that's my day. How was yours?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mix and Stir Friday Five

As we enter the big baking and cooking season, Songbird asks:

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?
Although I enjoy fancy gadgets as much as anyone else who loves to cook, I have never owned a food processer. Between the KitchenAid mixer, its attachments, and the blender, I've never felt the need for one.

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).)
I would, if I had them!

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?(And isn't that color delightfully retro?)
My cherished KitchenAid mixer, which looks exactly like the beautiful blue one in Songbird's picture except that it is white, is about twenty years old and going strong. Of the three attachments shown in Songbird's picture, the dough hook gets the most frequent workouts at our house. The Scientist loves to make bread with the KitchenAid. I often use the impressive-looking shredder cone attachments (sold separately) for grating lots of cheese or veggies. After the little hand-held mixer that predated our marriage finally died a couple of years ago, I got a three-speed KitchenAid hand-held, which works like a little champ and does everything I need it to do.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?
Yes, mostly to make pesto--or this soup (adapted from Mariquita Farm), which is a great way to use up carrots:

Carrot and Cumin Soup
1 large onion, chopped
5 or 6 carrots, thinly sliced
3 T. olive or canola oil
1 tsp. ground cumin (or maybe just a little more, not too much)
1 tsp. salt
4 cups water or stock
Cook onion in oil until soft. Add carrots and seasonings and cook for a minute. Add water or stock and simmer for about 25-30 minutes, until very soft. Puree in blender (be careful!). While the soup cooks, toast about 1/4 c. chopped pecans in a 350 degree oven for about six or seven minutes--just until they darken slightly--and toss with a little melted butter. Sprinkle them on top of soup when serving. This makes about four big soup-bowl-size servings.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most?
I use a good old-fashioned balloon whisk for sauces or gravy, at least once a week. I don't know what I would do without it.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it?
I had to think about this for a while! All I could come up with, is the cheesecloth that I oil and use to cover and baste the Thanksgiving turkey!

P.S. I'm home taking it easy after dealing with some medical stuff, and won't be cooking or baking next week. Waaah!

How many people do you know who would be sad about that?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Five: Funny Papers

Thanks, PG, for this fun Friday Five!

After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!

1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child?
Well, I always read Peanuts, of course, but for some reason I liked following all of the "soap opera" strips too, and I still do. (A bit of trivia: when my parents sold their house and moved into an apartment, they wound up in Apartment 3-G.)

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone?
Nearly every day I laugh out loud at Get Fuzzy.
(ETA: Unlike me, Nachfolge took the time to show you why.)

3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you?

Which Peanuts Character Are You?

You are Schroeder. You are brilliant, ambitious, and brooding; you tackle tasks with extreme focus. People don't always interest you as much as other pursuits, though, so you can come off as aloof.

Find Your Character @
I don't think this is accurate, though. Maybe the "brilliant, brooding, and aloof " part. ;)

4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you?
Well, I think that many of the most popular strips have addressed the mysteries and foibles of the human condition with humor--and that's why we have loved them.

5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples?
They remind us of a time that seems to us now to have been gentler and more innocent, although it really was not much different than our own. Of the three examples given, Blondie is the only one that has become even slightly contemporary (e.g., Blondie now has a career, Dagwood has a computer on his desk). The gender roles in Dennis the Menace, for example, are preserved in amber, ca. 1955.

Bonus question: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print?
Oh, no, just one? How can I possibly choose among Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, and The Far Side?

And now a little story: The time: summer of 1990. The place: a quiet (at least it was when we came in), attractive little restaurant in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA, where the Scientist and I were vacationing after attending a friend's wedding in Tacoma. At a nearby table were two couples, one about our age (early thirties) and an older couple who appeared to be the woman's parents. The younger man spent the entire meal loudly haranguing his in-laws about matters political and social. Everyone in the restaurant received the benefit of his opinions. Finally they finished eating and left, and again the little restaurant was quiet. Our waitress rushed over, all giddy, and gushed, "Do you read
Bloom County?" "Used to," we replied. She nearly squealed. "That was Berke Breathed!"

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I cried last night during his acceptance speech. I couldn't help it.

Yes, we can.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Play it, Sam

(Hat tip to Singing Owl.)

You Are an Ingrid!
  • mm.ingrid_.jpg

    You are an Ingrid -- "I am unique"

    Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

    How to Get Along with Me
    • * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.
    • * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
    • * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.
    • * Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
    • * Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting!

    What I Like About Being an Ingrid
    • * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
    • * my ability to establish warm connections with people
    • * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
    • * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
    • * being unique and being seen as unique by others
    • * having aesthetic sensibilities
    • * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

    What's Hard About Being an Ingrid
    • * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
    • * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved
    • * feeling guilty when I disappoint people
    • * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me
    • * expecting too much from myself and life
    • * fearing being abandoned
    • * obsessing over resentments
    • * longing for what I don't have

    Ingrids as Children Often
    • * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
    • * are very sensitive
    • * feel that they don't fit in
    • * believe they are missing something that other people have
    • * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
    • * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
    • * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)

    Ingrids as Parents
    • * help their children become who they really are
    • * support their children's creativity and originality
    • * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
    • * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
    • * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed

    Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Animal updates

Amie went to the vet, who confirmed that she was suffering from a flea allergy. Two shots, two bottles of pills, and many $$$s later, she seems to be feeling better.

On a sadder note, our sweet office cat, Grisi, has gone to the Bridge. She went missing one recent morning, and after a search, two of my coworkers found her body, stretched out in a grassy area near our patio. There was no obvious sign of trauma, and I am sure we'll never know what happened to her. We buried her near the spot where she was found; we can see her grave from the patio. My friend D ordered a plaque that says, "Cats leave paw prints on our hearts", which we placed on her grave day before yesterday.

As I've said before, I come from a long line of dog people. Grisi was the first cat I have ever gotten to know. Some of us are still hearing "Meeow (feed me)" echoing down the hall. I felt honored that mine was one of the offices she would visit, even though I had to set her on the floor whenever she hopped onto my desk and walked on my papers! A couple of chairs in the building were hers and hers alone, and when she curled up and went sound asleep her little tongue would protrude, just like this:

Rest in peace, sweet girl. We miss you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekend rambles

The Piney Woods of east Texas contain a deep forest known as the Big Thicket. Over the past sixty years or so, logging and general development have taken a lot of it away. Recently, two bullies named Rita and Ike added to the destruction. Last weekend the three of us headed to Hardin County to see some of what was left. The state parks where we had hoped to hike are closed now (thanks a lot, Ike), including one that had just completed about $750,000 of post-Rita renovation. Fortunately, much of the Big Thicket National Preserve has reopened. There we found some broken and fallen trees, but they were absorbed into lush areas of great beauty, diversity, and solitude:

Cypress swamps reminiscent of my Mississippi Delta homeland.

Long trails surrounded by all shades of green, opening into meadows scattered with wildflowers.

Village Creek--we'll come back and canoe here another time.

Four of the five types of carnivorous plants found in North America grow in the Big Thicket, but the only one we identified was the pitcher plant.

"Bugs check in, but they don't check out!"

Here's the main lodge at the remote country B & B where we stayed, at the end of a long gravel road. We slept in the barn, which was a lot nicer than that sounds!

The owners of the B & B also have a small nursery on-site, with pick-your-own blueberries in season, and satsumas (like a tangerine) and Meyer lemons that we enjoyed picking to take home. We also bought a Meyer lemon tree, which grows well in this area and will be a nice reminder of our weekend in the Thicket. Flowers like this Confederate rose (actually a type of hibiscus) also grace the property.

I loved the way they start out nearly white and fade to dark pink, just like cotton blossoms...something else that reminded me of the terrain of my childhood.

Amie seemed to enjoy walking with us, since it wasn't too hot, and we ambled at her pace. However, we covered about four miles on Saturday, which was a lot for an old dog. Other hazards of the deep woods presented themselves: mosquitoes and fire ants for us, and fleas and ticks for poor Amie. We dusted and bathed her as soon as we got home, and I know there are no bugs on her now, but the poor girl has been scratching like mad all week. I read that dogs that are seldom exposed to fleas can have an allergic reaction to flea bites, lasting a week or so. We've been treating her with home remedies but I think I may have to take her for an allergy shot tomorrow. The Scientist and I have been scratching and brushing her all weekend, and when we stop she nudges our hands to ask for more.

This region is only a hundred miles or so from our home, but we felt as though we were much farther away. Except for the bug bites, we'd love to go again.

Catching up

It doesn't seem like two weekends ago that we had a great meetup with The Boy and his humans. We talked, barbecued, ate, and enjoyed a leisurely walk with all the dogs (including Otto and Cody, my MIL's dogs). The dogs got along, and the humans began discussing our next meetup (sometime after New Year's, perhaps). Here's another version of the photo the Typist posted:

Thanks for coming, y'all! In another couple of years we WILL do Galveston!

Always reforming

At least I hope I am. It feels that way this week. Being re-formed doesn't always feel good.

This morning for Reformation Sunday we sang a Bach cantata (number 118) that is usually translated "O Jesus Christ, My Life's Light", although the translation we sang was a bit different:

O Jesus, Lord, my light and life
My hope, my joy, my aid in strife
On earth my visit is but brief
And bowed am I by sin and grief.

This week I am comforted to have such a powerful aid in strife.

Lord Sabaoth His name
From age to age the same
And He must win the battle.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Still here

Lots going on, not much that's bloggable.
  • My MIL had another back surgery that we thought would be fairly minor. It turned out to be nearly as extensive as her surgery last Christmas, with several nights in the hospital and a stay in rehab (where she was moved today). Please pray that this will help, and for patience and lovingkindness for all....
  • Head cold and pinkeye. Don't worry, that's all I'm going to say about that.
  • People who no-show (twice).
  • Pastor Nominating Committee: Busy, interesting, exciting, unbloggable!
  • And finally, something that is both exciting and bloggable: this weekend we're seeing the Typist, the Alpha, and The Boy! Cannot wait!
  • Have a peaceful weekend!

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's a Johnny Appleseed Friday Five

Raise your hand if you know that today is Johnny Appleseed Day!

September 26, 1774 was his birthday. "Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.

As Johnny traveled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundreds of orchards, considering it his service to humankind. There is some link between Johny Appleseed and very early Arbor Day celebrations.

So, in honor of this interesting fellow, let's get on with the questions!
(I'm sorry the font is so wierd! Today's score is Blogger 1, Zorra 0.)

1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.)
I LOVE apple dumplings. Last October I posted my favorite recipe here.

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?
(Warning: this is sad.) We moved into our new house in December 1991, and the following spring we planted a pecan tree in the backyard, in memory of the baby we had lost in September 1991. That tree now towers over the house, is the centerpiece of the back yard and patio, and has given us wonderful pecans for many years. Ike took a lot of them this year, but he didn't get them all!

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?
I love roaming around the countryside with the Scientist, but I would not enjoy a nomadic lifestyle. I'm too much of a homebody for that.

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?
How about a family historical legend? Supposedly I had an ancestor who was attempting to manage the farm by herself while her husband was off fighting in The War (if you're asking "which war?" I know you're not from the South). Legend has it that a lone Yankee soldier walked up to the house, and the dog began to bark. He raised his pistol to shoot the dog. My ancestor appeared on the porch, aimed her shotgun at him, and said, "You shoot that dog, and I'll shoot you." Legend has it that he turned and walked away. Every Southern family has at least one story like that--I hope mine is true!

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he traveled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do?
Sometimes I sing a psalm, like the praise song set to Psalm 18:
I will call upon the Lord
Who is worthy to be praised.
So shall I be saved from mine enemies.
The Lord liveth, and blessed be my Rock
And let the God of my salvation be exalted
The Lord liveth, and blessed be my Rock
And let the God of my salvation be exalted

It helps!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm such a nerd.

Did you see the article today about how the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the penny will be replaced in 2009 with several new designs to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth? Very cool, at least to me. I collected pennies when I was a child, and kept them in a little display book. For a while I had a 1909 VDB that my parents brought me from a Memphis coin shop, but I took it out to look at it so many times that I finally lost it. (It was worth about $5.00 in those days.) I think I still have a 1943 penny, made of steel.

Anyway, the lovely "wheat ears" penny above, 1909-1958, was replaced by the (boring) Lincoln Memorial in 1959. As time marches on, there are fewer and fewer of these in circulation. A few weeks ago I picked up my change in the grocery store, and--lo and behold! In my delight, I showed the cashier: "Look! A wheat ears penny!" She gazed at it, and then at me, with a look of uncomprehending disdain (a look I've received quite often over the years). I didn't care. That little prize made my day.

So what good is a penny these days? Not much, and perhaps they should be discontinued. But in the meantime, I'll enjoy finding these commemorative editions. (You can laugh--it's OK. I know I'm a nerd.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Random post-Ike bullets

  • We're still fine, with electricity, good water pressure, and plenty to eat. Thank you, God.
  • Our only problem right now is scarcity of gasoline. The few stations that are open have extremely long lines most of the day. Early this morning I did slip into a station where I only had to wait behind one other car. There was a $20.00 limit, cash only, but that brought me up to about 5/8 of a tank. When the Scientist went by there later in the morning, he was only able to pump $5.00 worth before the pump ran dry! But we both should have enough for the rest of the week.
  • My supervisor has no power at home, and brought his sweet Cavalier King Charles spaniels to work yesterday and today. They follow him all around the building, and their tails wag in unison.
  • Our pastors came for the early service on Sunday, and then had to head home to deal with storm-related problems. We had a nice do-it-yourself 11:15 service, with about 40 people. We kept it short. Our deacon was the man of the hour, showing up with a cooler full of iced drinks. Most of our church friends still don't have electricity.
  • Reluctant to waste the water with which we had filled the tub, the Scientist brought my favorite 3-quart saucepan into the bathroom and turned off the water to the toilet. Yes, we've been bailing the bathtub to flush the toilet. He said, "The engineer in me wants to see how long the water lasts." It lasted until tonight.
  • Favorite Lurker spent two nights with us. Her deadbolted French doors flew open in the middle of the storm, and she sat on the floor in the dark with her back against them for more than two hours. She was exhausted when she got to our house on Sunday, bearing the contents of her refrigerator. After we ate her goat Brie and homemade date bars, and drank a bottle of wine, she had a hot shower and a good night's sleep in an air-conditioned room. Much better.
  • We went to the Scientist's lab on Saturday and Sunday for "mouse duty". The lab mice are in special sealed cages with filtered air, and can only survive for a day if the power is off and the lids are on the cages. They were all fine, and we moved them to another room where we could remove the lids and leave the cages open on top (they don't try to climb out, but busily scurry around the cage and through their little "enrichment" tunnels). Nocturnal creatures, they were quite active and seemed to be enjoying the extended "night".
  • 1.5 million people in metro Houston are still without power. Tens of thousands along the Texas and Louisiana coasts are suffering. Remember them tonight.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

All clear

We made it! Unlike 95% of the people around us, our subdivision has water and power. There was no damage to our house or to my MIL's house. We only lost a section of seventeen-year-old fence.

So much for this year's pecan crop:

...and next year's peaches. (This was our fourth peach tree since 1991, and I think we are finally ready to accept that we're not meant to grow peaches in this yard!)
And O my poor caladiums!
Like everyone else, we had a long and anxious night, but our area had only light damage compared to the storm surge areas on the coast, and Houston itself. You won't be seeing our county on the news. We went into the Scientist's lab today to check on the mice (they were fine), and saw less damage in town than we had expected to see. Many billboards were damaged, and a number of trees were broken or uprooted, but we saw little severe damage to buildings along the highways where we were. Only emergency crews are allowed downtown, so our views of the skyscrapers with the broken windows are the same as yours--on TV only.

Please pray for the many thousands who are without electricity, water, and in many cases, homes. Thank God the storm has passed.

P.S. I've been catching up on blogs, and I have to say I'm puzzled. How could there be so many people who were not waiting for a hurricane yesterday?

Friday, September 12, 2008


He's home! We are going to gather some stuff and go down to my MIL's house soon. I can't get a good wireless connection at her house, so I probably won't post again until after the storm (assuming I have electricity with which to post then,which is a big assumption). Thank you for your prayers.


He called about an hour ago. He had stopped for lunch! He should be here before long.

Impressive footage on TV of waves already slamming the Galveston seawall.

Turning on the TV and seeing Michael Chertoff: not a good sign.

Breezy here, with a light overcast.


He called just after 10:30. He's on his way and should have no traffic or weather problems at this time. I expect him by 2:00 or 2:30.

Sounds of sawing and hammering coming from next door. However, only one or two of my neighbors have boarded their windows at this point. Potential flying objects are all inside now.

Beautiful sunny day...a light, pleasant breeze has picked up in the past couple of hours....


Thanks for your prayers! We are far enough west of the projected landfall, and far enough away from the coast, that we are not in an evacuation zone. In our area, Fort Bend County, we anticipate sustained tropical storm-force winds, with possibly some Category 1-level winds. It won't be fun, but we should be all right. As far as water, food, batteries, etc., we're ready.

The Scientist intends to leave San Antonio mid to late morning, so he should be back by mid afternoon. I don't think the projected tropical storm winds will have materialized that far west by then, but please pray for his safety on the road. The evacuation has gone very smoothly--nothing like the nightmare before Rita--so there has been no need to make I-10 contraflow, which could have impeded his return.

I'm going to take Amie to get her arthritis shot before the vet closes. I'll update again later.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New week coming

Busy week ahead, but possibly less stressful than last week. I am pleased to report that I have increased my agency days to four and will be cutting my practice back to one day a week, if that. This should definitely lower my stress level.

Speaking of stress, have you seen Ike's latest projected path? The Scientist will be away later in the week, and it remains to be seen whether or not I will need to follow him...with my ailing MIL and three dogs in tow. We've been through a Category 3, and that was scary but managable. Right now I'm thinking that I won't leave unless it's going to be stronger than that. But I'm not thrilled about the idea of being separated from the Scientist during a hurricane.

Watching the weather report. Trying to remember to just BE.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Request from your Luddite friend:

If you receive a Facebook "friend" request from me, PLEASE feel free to ignore it. You won't hurt my feelings. I responded to one I received (setting up a Facebook account in the process) because I didn't want to hurt somebody else's feelings. So...since I have no experience with this sort of thing, can y'all please explain to me the advantages of participating in this? Do I really need another way to get sucked into the internet for hours at a time? I would appreciate all explanations and comments, pro and con.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Random rambling asterisks of the beginning of Labor Day weekend

...because I can't formulate a coherent F5 right now.

*Enjoyed the speech last night. I want one of those buttons that says, "My Heart Belongs to Hillary, But My Vote Belongs to Barack."

*I'm even more annoyed at the Republicans than I was yesterday. "Here, pick some random politician with two X chromosomes... OK, this one will do." I mean, I'm sure she's intelligent and capable, but the whole thing just brings out my cynical side.

*My friend Favorite Lurker and I had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants today...upscale interior Mexican. The duck enchiladas, the tiny goat-cheese cheesecake, and the little bitty chocolate mousse cake with the Mexican vanilla ice cream were out of this world. One of the things I love about this place is the fact that they make their own chocolate--they roast and grind the cacao beans themselves, so anything they serve that involves chocolate or mole sauce is outstanding.

*Coping with the realities of caring for an elderly dog: I got one of those black lights that you can hold over the carpet and it shows you where all the pee stains are. Quite impressive. Depressing, though.

*Really depressing.

*We have gathered all of our Gustav supplies (which mostly are our leftover Edouard supplies). Pray for the folks in Lousiana and Mississippi, but please pray for us too. Nobody knows just where this thing might go once it enters the Gulf.

*The Scientist had to travel for part of this week, and will be away part of next week too. Amie seems a bit more confused and distracted than usual when he's gone. (Me too.) It's so good to have him home this weekend.

*We're looking forward to a couple of events in October. Our previous jaunts with Amie have been so enjoyable, we're taking her with us for a long weekend in the piney woods of East Texas, in an area known as the Big Thicket. (We might even take her canoeing with us!) But the weekend before that, company's coming!!

*OK, that's enough rambling. Have a relaxing and restorative weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Five: When is the Fourth Friday Not the Last Friday?

It's Friday afternoon, Eastern Time, and this is your faithful Songbird with a calendar-related Friday Five. Due to some confusion with our dates, I'm stepping in today, although I am usually here only on the 5th Friday, when there is such a thing.

Here are five things to ponder about dates. I hope you'll play!

1) Datebooks--how do you keep track of your appointments? Electronically? On paper? Month at a glance? Week at a glance?
I don't fool around with those newfangled electronic gizmos. I have a professional week-at-a-glance planner, with each day divided into fifteen-minute increments. My clients' complete names aren't in there, for confidentiality's sake, but I keep up with all of my appointments that way.

2) When was the last time you forgot an important date?
I don't know! I'll have to ask the Scientist if he remembers a time when I did.

3) When was the last time you went OUT on a date?
Last Saturday night, to a great mom-and-pop Tex-Mex joint down the road. Isn't it fun to finally try a place you've driven past for years, and discover a new favorite? We enjoyed ourselves so much, we had no room to stop at the nearby paleteria for dessert!

4) Name one accessory or item of clothing you love even though it is dated.
In the early 80's, we and a number of our Houston friends all moved to California at about the same time, and would get together up and down the coast when we could. In those days there was a venerable old music store in San Francisco called Chickens That Sing Music. Some years later, after the store was gone, our friend George gave me his old Chickens t-shirt. I never wear it, because it's such a relic; I love to take it out occasionally and remember when we all were young adults, just beginning to make our way in the world.

5) Dates--the fruit--can't live with 'em? Or can't live without 'em?
I like them, but don't cook with them often, except to make my fruitcake cookies at Christmas. One of my favorite restaurants serves them stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon! Oh man, are they good!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Five: Fall Transformations

With a fine picture of a bowdark ball (bois d'arc or Osage orange, for you non-Texans) and a beautiful vase made from the wood of the bowdark tree, Mary Beth poses the pre-autumnal question:

For this Friday's Five, share with us five transformations that the coming fall will bring your way.
1. Choir break is over, and we are gearing up for fall. Some of our Advent/Christmas music is already in our folders! It will be here before you know it....
2. The long-awaited temperature change. Except for the ragweed, I love October in southeast Texas. I know summer is finally over when I feel that first hint of morning coolness, even though the temperature may still be up in the 80's in the afternoon.
3. On fall evenings, I finally get to wear my sweaters! Sweater season is so brief here, and all through fall and winter I have to resist the temptation to buy more.
4. The Scientist and a friend of ours will be teaching a new Sunday school class, Presbyterian 101. I'll help and sub as needed.
5. This is one I hope will happen this fall. I'm waiting to hear whether the agency where I work three days a week will have the funding to take me on for another day. If I can do that, I'll be that much closer to being able to close my practice. An unbloggable combination of managed care woes and frustrating office politics is deepening my desire to move on.

Bonus: Give us your favorite activity that is made possible by the arrival of fall.
Doing anything outdoors without being "wringing wet" within ten minutes! Fall (again, except for the ragweed) makes yard work, picnics, and hikes much more pleasant.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Old girl takes a tumble

My poor old Amie fell down the stairs last night! She was so thrilled that her daddy was calling her to take a WALK that she did a little dance, began to hurry downstairs, missed a step, and tumbled to the landing. We were horrified, but she got up, limping a bit, and insisted on going outside anyway. This morning she was still limping, and I took her to the vet to make sure she was OK. No serious harm done, but we are watching her closely, anyway.

Her arthritis seems to be getting worse, and sometimes we think she is starting to lose her hearing. (Other times we think she's saying, "Yeah, I hear you, all right--I just don't care.") She spends a lot of time in the closet now, not just during storms, and she has become a very sound sleeper. We're trying to keep her comfortable, and monitoring her troublesome liver enzymes. Her vet thinks she's in very good shape for such an old dog, so I pray we'll have her with us for a while longer.

I give up. It was a fun meetup.

I have been fighting with Blogger since this afternoon, trying to bring you this picture of Amy, her friend Jenny, and me (in the traditional RGBP stance) in front of a Santa Fe cafe last week. Photography is courtesy of the Scientist, who decided he didn't want to be in the picture. I have no idea why Blogger refuses to print this right side up (it looks just fine on iPhoto), but it has seen through all my attempts to trick it. So, Amy and Jenny, here we are, and we had a fine lunch...and if anyone knows how to fix this, please let me know! :)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Five: God Days of Summer

Thanks to dear PG for this cool Friday Five:

1. What is your sweetest summer memory from childhood? Did it involve watermelon or hand cranked ice cream? Or perhaps a teen summer romance. Which stands out for you?
I can't pick one. I remember long summer days roaming the neighborhood with my friend Joy, not coming home until supper time. I also remember going to the swimming pool and getting a big crush on an older boy named Philip (nothing ever came of that, of course). Singing "Under the Bamboo Tree" at camp, and high hilarity around the campfire when a girl got a bit too exuberant and her hot dog flew off the wire hanger on which it was being roasted, and disappeared! I'm laughing now, remembering that. You had to be there.

2. Describe your all time favorite piece of summer clothing. The one thing you could put on in the summer that would seem to insure a cooler, more excellent day.
Shorts and sandals. I remember a blue knit shorts set I enjoyed.

3. What summer food fills your mouth with delight and whose flavor stays happily with you long after eaten?
Wonderful blueberries and strawberries, along with other summer fruits. Cantaloupe and blueberries make a fine fruit salad, all by themselves.

4. Tell us about the summer vacation or holiday that holds your dearest memory.
Again, it's hard to pick just one. But I'm remembering a summer we went to Tacoma for a friend's wedding, then spent several days roaming around Seattle, the San Juan Islands, and Victoria, BC. Everything in Washington was green and lush--so different from summer in southern California, where we were living at the time--and Victoria was clean and neat, with flowers everywhere. I would love to go back to all of those places some day, especially the San Juans.

5. Have you had any experience(s) this summer that has drawn you closer to God or perhaps shown you His wonder in a new way?
A week ago we were hiking in the mountains above Santa Fe, enjoying the firs and aspens. The temperature was in the low 70's. It has probably been thirty years since I've been at an elevation high enough to walk among the aspens.

Bonus question: When it is really hot, humid and uncomfortable, what do you do to refresh and renew body and spirit?
Stay indoors in the AC, and read!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Calling all restless Presbies

Our Church Information Form has been posted. Email me if you know anyone who would be interested.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Who Am I

My friend Darlyne sent this to our fellow choir members. This is a church group from Oslo, Norway; they are wearing white gloves and are in front of a black light. The song is "Who Am I" by Casting Crowns. Enjoy.

"Warn't much to it" my dad used to say. Edouard brought our side of town a steady, drizzly rain (thanks, Ed) with minimal wind. Now at 3:45, the sun has come out. Looking out at our patio, I note that a few pecans appear to be our only loss. However, there are lots left on the tree.

Our office was closed today, and I'm taking advantage of this free afternoon by writing a report. (I dawdled around this morning, or I could probably have written two reports.) I've downloaded all of our Santa Fe pictures, and do have some to share, as well as thoughts on the conference and a meetup report! I need to get this report done first, though. More later.

Thanks for all of your weather-related prayers. So far I haven't heard any reports of serious damage or injury.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My God for the other life that you have given my Soul
I thank you.
For the tranquility that you have given my soul
I thank you.
My God--the night is coming. You will close my eyes
Before the dawn.
And I--then I will paint new pictures for you, of the new
Earth and a new sky.

Marc Chagall, near the end of his life

(The painting is his Le Paradis.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gone to Santa Fe!

Looking forward to a great conference, lots of carne adovada with posole on the side, an Over the Rhine concert, and a blogger meetup too! See you next week.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Note to parents:

1. When your teenaged daughter is sobbing on my couch, having just received a diagnosis of depression, that is not the best time to glance at her and say in an exasperated tone, "It's not the end of the world."

2. When your anxiety-ridden three-year-old is too shy to demonstrate to me that he knows his colors and can name the parts of his body, it does not help to encourage him with, "You won't show the doctor your knee? Next time she'll give you a shot!"

That is all. Have a nice day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Five: What's in a Name?

Thanks to RevHRod for this week's Friday Five!
  1. So how did you come up with your blogging name? And/or the name of your blog? My blog and I are named for my dear red heeler, Zorra, who's been gone nearly three years now. I used to tell the Scientist that if we ever had a place in the country I'd like to call it Red Heeler Ranch. I think this cyber-country place is as close as I'll ever come!
  2. Are there any code names or secret identities in your blog? Any stories there? Just my wonderful Scientist (Happy anniversary, sweetheart!). He really is a scientist, and so far I haven't been able to think of a better pseudonym for him (his suggestion is "Finger of the Illuminati").
  3. What are some blog titles that you just love? For their cleverness, drama, or sheer, crazy fun? I love the title of RevHRod's blog, "You don't have to listen. I just like to talk." And isn't that what blogging is all about?
  4. What three blogs are you devoted to? Other than the RevGalBlogPals blog of course! As I mentioned recently, I've followed Rob Rummel-Hudson's chronicles of his daughter Schuyler for several years now. Recently I've been checking in fairly often with some of my new Houston Chowhound buddies, especially neverfull and Anonymous Eater.
  5. Who introduced you to the world of blogging and why? That would be my friend QG, who thought my blogging would be a great idea...and kept telling me so, until I agreed!
Bonus question: Have you ever met any of your blogging friends? Where are some of the places you've met these fun folks?
I met an outstanding group of blogging friends last spring on a great big boat. May we all be together again (along with many more RGBP's) next spring for Big Event 2.0! In the meantime, Amy C. (soul and culture) and I plan to meet about two weeks from now, in Santa Fe!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Upcoming books

Well, it's late, I've been at an Asperger's/ASD workshop all day, and I'm having trouble thinking of answers for some of the FF questions. However, I just placed a big book order yesterday (went on line to order one book...30 minutes and many dollars later, I had ordered know how that goes), so let me share what I will be reading this summer. I'll report back later.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. My supervisor (another dog person) came into my office yesterday to tell me I HAD TO read this book. I read the first chapter online and was hooked. More later.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor. A neuroscientist's account of her recovery from a debilitating stroke. This one's had a lot of good press and interests me for professional reasons as well as personal, as does the next one:

Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison. Life as a person with Asperger's Syndrome.

Three Junes by Julia Glass. Some people whose literary opinions I respect have had good things to say about this one.

Getting On Message: Challenging the Christian Right from the Heart of the Gospel, Rev. Peter Laarman (ed.). I don't know much about this, but it sounded interesting. I bought it for $0.01 plus shipping, which is kind of sad.

Animal Rites: Liturgies of Animal Care
by Andrew Linzey. Linzey has written several books about animal rights from a Christian viewpoint. This one is just what it says, prayers and liturgies for various occasions and situations related to animals and human responsibility for them.

Have you read any of these books?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer highlights so far

In late May we spent a long weekend in the hill country celebrating a young friend's graduation, and took time to roam around Canyon Lake, go boot scootin' at Gruene Hall, and enjoy the local wildlife from the balcony of our country B&B...

...which certainly got an old ranch dog's attention!

Meanwhile, back home, the ixora and crepe myrtle in the front yard are enjoying the sun.

I have to work this afternoon, but because of a cancellation I get to enjoy dawdling around at home this morning.
How's your Monday shaping up?

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Word Association Friday Five

Hot town, summer in the city...
A little word association for a summer day, courtesy of Singing Owl:

1. rooftop
"When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face..."
(I'll show my age; the voice in my head just then belonged to Carole King, not James Taylor.
No, not the Drifters! I don't go back quite that far!)

2. gritty
Beach! Sand! Feet! Bathing Suit! Car!

3. hot town (yeah, I know it's two words)
Houston, of course!

4. night
Muggy summer nights in South Texas (or the Mississippi Delta), hoping to catch a little breeze as the temperature drops from 95 to 80....

5. dance
"Summer's here and the time is right
For dancin' in the street"
Sounds like a good idea!


We're celebrating tonight!

Stick a fork in it--it's done!
Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Late Sunday afternoon

Old friends came over after church. We grilled wild Alaskan sockeye salmon--Copper River, only available for a few weeks in the summer--on cedar planks, with a special grilled squash salad. The Scientist made sangria. The conversation was peaceful. I spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch, reading the paper, while my dear husband and sweet dog dozed nearby.

Aunt Icy's crinums are in riotous bloom. The dark red crepe myrtle by the front door is having the best year it's had in a long time.

No reports to write tonight. Only one more load of laundry. Not much to do but rest and read.

"Thank you, dear God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough."
--Garrison Keillor

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Guest blogger: Amie

Yesterday Mama and I walked to the mailbox, just as we usually do at midday, and as she was looking at the mail, a little dog ran up. He wouldn't go away, and I told him to get away from my mama! He wouldn't leave us alone, but followed us all the way to the house! I didn't like that At. All. Mama put me inside with the mail and then went to find him. He was racing up and down the street looking lost. He was so happy to see a kind person! His name was Sam, and he had a phone number on his tag.

Mama put him in the back yard and tried to call his humans, but they weren't home. Meanwhile, Sam didn't like being in our yard. He cried and cried! Mama phoned again, and was very relieved to get ahold of Sam's dad. Sam lives two blocks away, and he is very curious about the world outside his yard. Mama took Sam to meet his dad, who said, "Hey, buddy! Did you have fun?" Sam looked so happy to see his dad again!

Mama says the moral of this story is that I can't go outside without my collar any more, not even in the back yard. That's a pain, but I remember one night when I took a long walk without telling Mama where I was going. (All the humans had just set out their garbage, so I had a lot of sniffing to do. I wasn't lost! I knew where I was.) I was nekkid and nobody would have known where I belonged. When she found me about a block away, she was so relieved she nearly cried.
So everybody, wear your collars!

P.S. Last night I discovered that Sam had peed in MY sweet alyssum! Some nerve!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Five: Beach Trip

1. Ocean rocks, lake limps? Vice versa? Or "it's all beautiful in its own way"?
Any body of water is fine with me; as a teenager I enjoyed swimming in the oxbow lakes near my home town. But I really love the ocean for the sound of the surf and the breeze off the water, calming my spirit as I walk. If I have enough sunscreen, I can walk the beach for hours just looking for shells, watching the seabirds, and listening to the waves.

2. Year round beach living: Heaven...or the Other Place?
Oh, that would be heaven! Imagine a little cottage on a private beach...with a nice barbecue grill on the deck...and no jellyfish...

3. Any beach plans for this summer?
We had a great time taking Amie to Galveston about a month ago (see above). Alas, I suspect that will be our only beach trip this year.

4. Best beach memory ever?
Only one? That's impossible! Please indulge me as I share a few:
--Sitting under an umbrella on a Cozumel beach with Mid-Life Rookie. All was right with the world that day as we sat enjoying the breeze, admiring our catamaran, and watching some very happy people play volleyball in the sand.
--Another perfect day of snorkeling from a catamaran, sailing along the Na Pali coast on the north shore of Kauai. As we drew close to Hanalei Beach, we jumped off the boat and swam the rest of the way to shore.
--Exploring the rocky Oregon coast with the Scientist, fascinated by the colorful creatures in each small tidepool.
--Our many trips to quiet Point Dume, near Malibu, when we lived in California; gazing up at the mansions on the cliff and wondering which one was Bob Dylan's!

5. Fantasy beach trip?
Back to Hanalei, please Lord, someday!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Books read in 2008

As my MIL would say, I'm busier than a one-armed paper hanger, but thought I'd take a few minutes to share this list.

Schuyler's Monster by Robert Rummel-Hudson. Some years ago I began following Rob Rummel-Hudson's former blog, Darn Tootin', a source of often thoughtful, sometimes acerbic, occasionally obnoxious commentary on life, work, music, and the universe. After his daughter Schuyler was diagnosed with polymicrogyria, a rare cerebral malformation leaving her unable to speak, Rob became her champion and her voice. His accounts of life as Schuyler's dad are moving, often very funny, and occasionally heartbreaking. Several years' worth of his blog entries have been edited and compiled in this book. Highly recommended to anyone interested in children and families with special needs, or anyone who can testify that life is what happens while you're making other plans (I guess that would be all of us).

Christianity for the Rest of Us by Diana Butler Bass. Already being pretty sure that the mainline church was alive and well, at least in some quarters, I didn't get a lot of new revelations from this one. I may go back and look through it again.

Take This Bread by Sara Miles. A wonderful testimony to the Holy Spirit, who can choose and call anyone, anytime, usually to that person's amazement. I didn't get to participate in the RGBP discussion, but this book pushes and prods me to remember that there are no limits on God's faithfulness or on what God can do, not to mention the ways in which the thread of God's love and call runs throughout our lives, forming a pattern that is only clear in retrospect. This book is a keeper.

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Anne Rice. I finished it already! I could barely put it down. If you enjoyed Out of Egypt, you'll like this one too.

Two books by Buechner are still on the nightstand, as is A People's History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom by David Williams.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Summer meme

RevKim and QG have tagged me for this summer meme, that had to wait while we were spending a gorgeous summer weekend in the Texas hill country. More later (including deer pictures), but now to the meme!

1.) What first tells you that Summer is here?
The weatherman's prediction that temperatures will remain around 80 degrees overnight.

2.) Name five of your favorite distinctively Summer habits or customs.

-grilling (I grilled chicken legs tonight, with Stubb's rub under the skin)
-baking blueberry pies and peach cobblers
-making ice cream on the back porch
(Why am I always thinking about food?)
-going to the beach (well, that's not really limited to summer around here)
That's all I can think of...summer is about seven months long here, so it's hard to think of a lot of things we can only do in June, July , or August.

3.) What is your favorite smell of Summer?
-a big bag of ripe peaches!

4.) What is your favorite taste of Summer?

-see #3!

5.) Favorite Summer memory?

I don't know that I have just one. I remember day camp and trips to the city pool as a child...YMCA overnight camp for a two week session...lemonade stands...walking outside in the early morning when there was still the slightest hint of a cool breeze (but not for long)...
Summer was my dad's busiest time of year (he was an agricultural chemical consultant, and spent his summer days walking the cotton and soybean fields), so I don't have many childhood vacation memories associated with it.

6.) Extreme heat or extreme cold? Which would you choose and why?
Extreme heat, since it's what I'm already used to. As long as the A/C works, I'm fine. I've lived in the Sun Belt all my life, and can't imagine life in a very cold climate.

7.) What books do you plan to read for the season?

Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana is next on my list. I never wanted to read her vampire books, and it wasn't until I read Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt (highly recommended) that I realized how vividly she writes. Her descriptions of street scenes and crowds are almost cinematic. Frederick Buechner's Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons is waiting on the nightstand, too.

8.) How does the Summer affect your faith? Is it a hindrance or an ally
Life does slow down a bit (at least at church), which gives me a little more time to think and read. I hope that I will take some contemplative time this year and allow the slower pace to be a spiritual ally.

I don't think there's anyone left to tag for this one! But if you haven't done it yet, be my guest.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Five: Vacation Thoughts

Sally says: It is a holiday weekend here in the UK, and the weather forecast for much of the country is not good!!! But we can still dream and so with that in mind I bring you this Friday Five.

1. Getting ready for summer, do you use the gradual tanning moisturisers ( yes gentlemen you too can answer this!!!), or are you happy to show your winter skin to the world? I never use those because I wind up with orange splotches. I don't tan well, and spend most of my time covering up in the sun. But I love to be outside, if there's enough shade or a breeze to keep me cool.

2.Beach, mountains or chilling by the pool, what/ where is your favourite getaway? I enjoy the mountains, but I really love the beach if I can keep from getting sunburned. Just sitting by a pool is pretty boring after a while.

3.Are you a summer lover or does the long break become wearing?
...The long what?? I could use me some of that "long break" you're talking about. The sauna-like atmosphere around here in the summer gets old fast, but that's why God made central air conditioning, right? The best things about summer are the chance to go to the beach occasionally, and the luscious summer fruits that are among my favorite foods.

4.Active holidays; hiking swimming sailing, or lazy days? A bit of both. On an extended trip I enjoy being active but for a short break like this weekend I prefer to hang around and take it easy. We're seeing my cousin's new baby and going to the ballet tomorrow night, and grilling in our own back yard on Monday; that's as active as I plan to be this weekend.

5.Now to the important subject of food, if you are abroad do you try the local cuisine, or do you prefer to play it safe? I'm all about the local cuisine, and usually do a lot of research before we go on a trip. I want to eat where the locals eat!

No bonus this week unless you can think one up!!!

Well, I'll share our vacation plans; at the end of July we're going to Santa Fe for a week. I'm attending an outstanding conference called Creativity and Madness that is held there every year. In the mornings I'll attend fascinating lectures about famous artists, writers, and musicians and how their lives and struggles inform their work; a field trip to the Santa Fe Opera is part of the week! And I get CEU's for all of that! Then in the afternoons we're free, in Santa Fe! We did this about six years ago and had a marvelous time. And talk about the local cuisine...!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oddly familiar meme

Dogblogger tagged me for this one.

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
Each player answers the questions about himself or herself.
At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Ten years ago:
Ten years ago, I had just escaped from a job I hated (the only job I ever had where I would cry in the car on the way to work), and had started working in a group practice headed by a psychiatrist friend and three of his colleagues. That practice imploded about two years later, but it was a pretty good two years. I learned a lot about pain management, and enjoyed working with the other therapists and doctors in the practice.

Five things on today's "to do" list (we'll make this "tomorrow", since today's nearly over):
- Clean up the back yard (again!)
- Send my billing service a long convoluted email about an old account
- Review drafts of narratives that other PNC members and I have written for our CIF (Church Information Form, for non-Presbys--the document that prospective candidates will read to learn about our church)
- Confirm whether or not we will be attending the local Chowhound dinner in June
- Vacuum the foyer and the major dog zones

Things I'd do if I were a billionaire:
- Endow a scholarship at my alma mater
- Pay off our church's mortgage, including what we owe on the land adjacent to the church
- Upgrade local animal shelters...or something else related to animal rescue, I'm not sure what
- Give lots more to our favorite charities
- Travel wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, for as long as I wanted!

Three bad habits:
- Spending too much time on teh internets
- Getting into the candy jar at work
- Cussing

Five places I've lived:
- Greenville, Mississippi
- Memphis, Tennessee
- San Antonio, Texas
- Pasadena, California
- Houston, Texas

Five jobs I've had:
- Envelope stuffer
- Drug store clerk
- Day care center worker
- School psychologist
- Clinical psychologist

Five people I'm tagging:
This one went around, in a slightly different form, several months ago, and I think most people have done it. If you haven't, and you'd like to, consider yourself tagged!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Spring keeps springing

We are so pleased with how the landscaping in the front yard turned out. I love the bicolored gingers...
...on either side of the front door.
Meanwhile, in the back yard, some of the lirope (monkey grass) is starting to bloom.
After the pansies and cyclamen faded in the heat, we replaced them with caladiums... all their variety!