Monday, April 28, 2008

Family ties and funeral food

My dear cousins are here, from Tennessee and Alabama. The last time I saw either of them was at their daddy's funeral, eight years ago. Their aunt (on their mother's side--not related to me) "went on" Friday night, at the age of 89. Most of her children and grandchildren live here, but I've never known them. Last night her daughter graciously welcomed the Scientist and me to her home, where the usual Southern "everybody bring food and sit around and eat and talk" funeral-related rituals were in progress. What a lovely family--I came away with a whole group of "kissin' cousins" (and yes, we did). Tonight is the visitation and tomorrow is the memorial service. My cousins are coming to stay at our house tomorrow night before flying home on Wednesday. Think we'll get any sleep?

Why does it take a funeral to get cousins together? There've been weddings, too, and new babies, but it seems a funeral is the only event that spurs everyone to travel. And as always, the laughter that comes from being together and sharing memories flows as freely as the tears.

Just for the record, there was not a scrap left of my broccoli salad.

3 c. broccoli florets, blanched with a little water in the microwave for three minutes then drained
15 pieces of very crisp bacon, crumbled
1/4 c. red onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. chopped pecans
2/3 c. raisins (I bet golden raisins would be good in this)

Toss these together and mix with this dressing:
2 T. sugar (or Splenda)
3 T. apple cider vinegar
1 c. mayonnaise

Don't save this for an occasion--share it with your loved ones any time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The dread day approaches

OK, this is a rant, and will be something of a downer. Just let me get it off my chest, thanks. This post struck a nerve. (I did thank Jan for "getting it", which many people do not.)

Mother's Day is fast approaching. Mother's Day is not fun for everybody. In fact, it is so fraught with baggage I wonder whether it's much fun for anybody. Pastors, if you must mention it (and I realize you must), please don't make a huge to-do over it. My mother died in early May, and the very next Sunday was Mother's Day. That was 17 years ago, but every Mother's Day I relive it.

Another thing: I have some lovely memories of my mother, but not everyone's memories are pleasant. Enough said.

And then of course, some of us never become mothers. If you feel you absolutely must hand out carnations at the door after church, please admonish your ushers not to do what once was done to me--an usher handed me a flower and GRABBED IT BACK upon realizing that I didn't have children.

Now, I'm reluctant to skip church just because it's Mother's Day, but if you look for me after the service you'll find me busying myself in the choir room or around the sanctuary until the flowerfest is over.

Well, I deal with Mother's Day every year, and--despite all this ranting--by now it's more of a minor annoyance than a major trauma. I bet you've already noticed that this year it falls on Pentecost. Now there's a good place to put our emphasis that day. My red shoes are ready!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back yard, April afternoon

The pansies we've enjoyed all winter are beginning to fade, but they aren't finished yet.

My supervisor, taking a break on the patio.

A "Red Sister" (cordyline terminalis) recovering nicely from frost damage.

Aunt Icy's day lilies (crinums, really) have found a new home in this bed, but they won't bloom until June. But this time next month...
...peach cobbler!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Five: For Just 24 Hours

Poor RevHRod is wondering:

Yesterday I had the 24 hour flu. I had been told by the people who had it first that it really was a twenty-four hour bug. And so while I dealt with all the blech of the flu, I kept reminding myself that morning would come and I would feel a lot better.

This is certainly a strange way to start out a Friday Five but it made me think about what I might like to do if I knew it would only last for 24 hours. There are no reality boundaries to these imaginings. So here are the five things for you to consider...
  1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do? I would re-lose the 17 pounds (and make it 20 this time) I lost three years ago and found again last year! I'm working on it, but it's going to take a lot longer than 24 hours!

  2. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go? I might go back to Portland, Oregon--such a beautiful city. But really, 24 hours isn't long enough to go anywhere.

  3. You get to do somebody else's job for a day...Wouldn't it be fun to run a doggie day care? I wouldn't even mind cleaning up after the dogs--I do that all the time anyway!

  4. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space...I want to be with my dad again. If I could I would go back to the fun-loving dad I remember from my childhood...the one who laughed for joy at family gatherings, who took me fishing and put me to bed at night with funny stories about bullfrogs and growing up on the farm...many years before I could imagine how Alzheimer's would take him away, a little at a time.

  5. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick? I've seen enough of cancer to know I'd gladly accept the power to cure it, if I could. But the power to heal human heartache is one I would like to have, too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Five: Moving

Mother Laura says:

We are right in the middle of a move--only twenty minutes away, but we're still a mix of busy, excited, nervous and surprisingly full of grief about what we're leaving, for me at least. So this week's Friday Five asks about your experience of the marvels and madness of moving...

1. How many times have you moved? When was the last time?
I lived in the same house from birth to age sixteen. Then my parents, who were nearly sixty, decided to move to an apartment. In our small town there weren't many of those, and while waiting for some new ones to be completed we moved three times (in the same town) during my senior year of high school, and even lived in our church's manse briefly. After college, let's see...two apartments in San Antonio, five in Houston, two in California, a duplex back in Houston, then in 1991 we moved into the house where we live now. I realized the other day that in a few more months I will have lived in this house longer than I lived in my childhood home. The Scientist and I hope we can stay in this house for many more years, until we are ready to, as we say, "go to The Home". (i.e. the old folks' home--that's what my dad called it)

2. What do you love and hate about moving?
I can't think of anything I love about it, although the excitement of the new is a good thing. I loathe packing and hauling, and most of all I hate leaving old friends behind.

3. Do you do it yourself or hire movers?
We hired movers for our cross-country moves between California and Texas, but otherwise we have always moved ourselves with the help of friends. Alas, I don't think all of our stuff will fit into a few hatchbacks anymore.

4. Advice for surviving and thriving during a move?
Eat regularly, and not just junk. Drink lots of water. Mark a couple of boxes with crucial stuff to be opened as soon as you arrive. In fact, take those boxes with you in the car.

5. Are you in the middle of any inner moves, if not outer ones?
Yes, I am trying to figure out my next move! Is this the year I follow through with my application to the three-year training program for spiritual directors? After my service on the PNC is over, what else is there at church, at Presbytery, at work, that I should say yes to, or that I need to leave behind?

Bonus: Share a piece of music/poetry/film/book that expresses something about what moving means to you.
In our travels, the Scientist and I have identified a number of places where we are sure we could build a satisfying life if we ever had to move (Austin and Little Rock come to mind). We had seven good years in Southern California, a place where neither of us had ever thought about living. I believe we could build a good life anywhere, as long as we are together. So the old Billy Joel song, "You're My Home" is most applicable. Long as I have you by my side/There's a roof above and good walls all around...I need you in my house, 'cause you're my home.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Guest blogger: Amie

This morning my mama and daddy met some of their friends for something called a CROP walk. I stayed home because they didn't think I would enjoy walking that far. But while they were there, they made a new friend. This is Ruby.

Ruby's mom says that when they met her, she was skinny and very, very hungry, and so sick that she had no fur on her backside. Now she is one of the sleekest, shiniest, happiest dogs you could ever meet. Ruby loves her people, and they love her.

I think Ruby has been blessed, like Sister and me. I bet she is thankful, too.

(Now Mama has two beautiful friends named Ruby. But the other Ruby only has two legs.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Seeking new dreams

During our first group session at the BE, our lovely facilitator Mary Marcotte passed around a stack of cards, each of which contained a single word. She invited us each to take one, spending time throughout the weekend sitting (or walking) with that word and allowing the Spirit to reveal its significance to us.

My word was "dream", and indeed I've had many dreams throughout the years. One of my biggest dreams, having children, was not fulfilled. But everything else I dreamed of at fifteen, eighteen, twenty-five, thirty--loving husband, education, professional achievements, nice house, travel--has happened. What do you do after your dreams have come true?

In recent months the Scientist and I have spent some time talking about our retirement--where we might live, what we'd like to do. But I'm only fifty-two! I don't believe God wants me to sit complacently on my behind for the next ten or fifteen years, thinking, "Gosh, I sure have a nice life." It seems that I have reached a plateau from which, theoretically, my life could putt along much as it is now, but surely that would be a waste of many productive years. I'm busy with home, work, and church, but something needs to change if I am to keep growing. Right now I have no idea what that would be. It's time for some new dreams, especially some that aren't all about me!

God, show me your dream, and help me to make it mine too. I fear that, whatever it is, it will require more exertion than I want to expend at this time of my life. So I pray for inspiration, and for your holy energy to fill me and set my feet on a new path. So may it be.

Until I have time to write:

Our ship, the Fantasy, docked behind her sister ship, the Ecstasy, at Cozumel.

Two views from Lido Deck, starboard aft:

Every night the cabin stewards left towel animals on our beds. Mid-Life Rookie and Dogblogger enjoyed this cute puppy.

What's a sailor without a tattoo?

Carnival Fantasy: Home of the Ecumenical Disco. (Vegas rules apply.)

RevHRod: Lutheran down to her toes!