Friday, March 31, 2006

March final report, Project Spectrum

It wasn't too hard to think of projects in the red/pink portion of the color spectrum, as they are my favorite colors. 
I finished the Turtleneck Shrug from Scarf Style earlier this week. To do it as written does take just over four balls of Rowan Kid Classic. I got gauge on the size 7s as asked for in the pattern, and I used the Magic Loop to save switching circs for the turtleneck.


After I finished the Turtleneck Shrug, I continued on my stashbusting progress by starting Aibhlinn from Knitty with some blush heather Wool-ease I had floating around. The slightly faded color works well with this pattern. Of course Houdini might have his own opinion. Unless I knit 20 inches today, I'll be working on this for awhile yet.

And lo and behold I got my hooks out again! I was inspired by The Happy Hooker, which has all sorts of adorable crochet patterns. This is the One Skein Scarf, down in lovely red Plymouth Encore, a one skein stocking stuffer from the Husband, who has clearly picked up on some of my color preferences over the years.

I looked through my stash and pulled out some yellow and orange things today, ready for tomorrow's start to the beginning of April in Project Spectrum. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Note to Eager Pastoral Care Student

from local religious institution of higher learning who wandered into the hospital room yesterday where I was meeting a parishioner for the first time:

the role of hospital chaplains is to a)ascertain whether or not the person in the hospital is receiving care from his/her own faith community b)provide pastoral care for those currently not receiving care from his/her own faith community c)provide resources for pastors in the community so they can provide the main pastoral care for the people of their faith community.

Making yourself part of the conversation failed on all three counts.

Please, when you see a pastor in the room, simply introduce yourself, ask if you can provide any assistance, and then leave. Move especially quickly when said pastor points out that she has just been introduced to said parishioner and is getting to know her.

The art and craft of pastoral care includes knowing when you are not needed or wanted.

Here endeth the lesson.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


One of the privileges of being clergy, one of the things that makes the heartache and the frustrations worthwhile, is the regular opportunity we have to walk with people in their lives, to get a glimpse, brief and small, of what goes on in people's lives.

Monday I had the honor of giving the invocation at a retirement ceremony for a former parishioner from my previous call who currently lives in OKC. The ceremony was at the Federal Building downtown

which of course replaces the Murrah building, now commemorated by the Memorial.

A military retirement ceremony always includes a biography of the retiree, which on the occasions I have attended, has led me into new insights about parishioners. How little we really know of each other in the pews.

Parishioners come and go, especially those in the military, who are constantly being transferred. It's a rare opportunity to spend some time with a family, then catch them later, wondering at the sight of children growing up, interests developing and maturing, careers flourishing and changing, sorrows and joys added.

When I started as a Eucharistic Minister, many years ago now, spending Sunday mornings as a chalice bearer, I noticed how, in the moment I shared with people and the chalice, how I felt I really saw people. When we share in distributing bread and wine at the table, I believe we have the opportunity to glimpse people as God sees them. For years, first as a lay person and now as a priest, I have found that on Sundays at the table, the struggles I have with certain people are in that moment wiped away, that God allows me to forget anger, frustration, annoyance and leave communion in its wake.

The challenge is to connect those moments at the altar with moments outside. Monday I was given one of those moments, and I am truly grateful.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

spiritually tested in the checkout line

The Book of Common Prayer has prayers for almost anything. For the military, for our enemies, for the President, for a diocese. . .check the section out between pages 814-841 and you can find a prayer for many situations.

Friday I needed one: "For the checkout line."

I find checkout lines to be an enormous test of my patience. It is where I am revealed as petty, needy, and childish. Especially if I get stuck in a line without magazines.

It's especially embarrassing to be on the way to a retreat (!) and find oneself getting extremely frustrated at the women in front of you in line who are clearly dealing with the challenges of age and physical infirmity. And who don't have the driver's license for the check they have just written, necessitating trips back and forth by the cashier and the manager.

Yes, it seems quite wrong to get pushy and say, "Get out of my way, I'm on my way to go be spiritual .

God of infinite patience, look with mercy upon those of us who have yet to learn that we cannot get a checkout line moving by our own will alone. Help us live in your time, that we may live into your peace that passes all understanding, in the name of your Son, Amen.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Planet RevGal

Songbird's Friday Five challenged us to name 5 things that would be on sale in a store that is all about you.

Planet Hazelnut would therefore include:

1) Yarn. Fiber. The implements to make things out of yarn and fiber. Nice people sitting around playing with yarn and fiber. Comfy furniture to sit on while playing with yarn and fiber. A fireplace to keep us warm while making things out of yarn and fiber.

2) Chocolate. Especially European milk chocolate with hazelnuts. Other chocolate regularly in inventory would include Jaffa cakes, Cadbury Fruit and Nut, Cadbury Flake bars, most anything by Lindt, most anything including toffee. British chocolate biscuits. For my inner Austrian, Sachertorte. (How much longer is Lent?)

3) Books. Which would also play into the whole comfy furniture/fireplace thing.

4) Maps. Travel books and guides. Helpful travel accessories. Walking sticks.

5) Friends and cats.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

a little fiber in the diet

Finished kool-aid alpaca, resting in the highly professional drying space: 
The results of a birthday conspiracy revealed:
  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

in for a tune-up

Although I didn't particularly take these on as a Lenten action, it did seem entirely appropriate during the early part of the week that I found a couple of very necessary people in my life: a spiritual director and a dentist.

Now one of these is much more fun to go visit than the other. A mere 20 minutes away from our home is a small monastery of Sisters of St. Benedict, out on the plains. It was chilly and rainy, with gorgeous clouds and that kind of dark sunshine you get mixed with rain. And the monastery cat gave me the full figure eight treatment. All good signs for a place I look forward to returning to again.

Tuesday's visit was much less scenic, although in the end a pleasant surprise. I seem to have found myself a genuinely friendly dentist with a gentle chairside manner (and big bay windows in front of the chairs--bonus). And the problem I thought I was having was much, much less than I feared (I was imagining abscesses and extractions).

A fitting bookend to a weekend of rest and birthday celebrations (and yes, photos coming soon. . .)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

the eyes have it

You may remember that the Houdini, he has the eye infection. Our various attempts at clearing it up failed, so he had to go visit the veterinary opthamologist. (No, really). This cat is getting more medical care than his humans.

The prescription? An antibiotic eye ointment (2x/day). Antiviral eye drops (4x/day). An oral antibiotic (2x/day).

Does anyone besides us see a problem here?

Houdini is smart enough that he started spending the morning under the futon, a particularly inaccessible location. So we started feeding them wet food in the morning and the evening, because he keeps hanging around until he's fed (once he's eaten, though, it's under the futon). Because mornings are when we've picked him up, plopped him in the carrier and gone to the vet. He's particularly anxious when one of us goes out to a car and returns to get something (a common occurrence). Because that's what happens when it's vet time, and the something is him.

So we hold Houdini down on the bed for his eye medication and on the table for the oral antibiotic. And we give him treats to make up for it (they don't, but they make us feel better). And Wilbur has now learned to associate Houdini's eye treatments with treats, so he makes a point of hanging around and doing the figure eight thing while we're giving Hootie his drops/ointment.

When we finally clear this thing up, we're going to have fatter cats for sure.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

a little dip of Project Spectrum

It's a rainy day. . .
What else is there to do?

Get four packets of Blasting Berry Cherry Kool-aid (on sale)and some cream-colored yarn. . .

Bring to a low simmer and let simmer until the water runs clear. . .

It even smells red in the kitchen.

(dyeing recipe from Melanie Falick Kids Knitting)

Friday, March 17, 2006

that'll blog moment #672,314

So the doorbell rings around 4:30 this afternoon. I go to answer it, only to discover the blond, pony-tailed guy who delivers our Chinese food on the other side of it. He's standing there with a bag full of food.

I looked at him and said, "um. . .we didn't order anything today."

He looked back at his order sheet and said, "oh, it is a different address. When I saw (insert name of street), I figured, I know who that's going to."

We really, really need to get out more.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

another Wednesday in the wilderness

We did part two of our time in the wilderness at Bible study last night.

We picked up our wilderness stories with Exodus 15:22, where the Israelites do such an about-face from rejoicing at God saving them from the Egyptians, to whining and muttering about not having any water to drink.

The section that really spoke to me last night was the next chapter, 16, which deals with the manna. The Israelites complain that in Egypt, at least, they were full of bread and meat. Then God provides manna and quail, just enough for everyone.

The New Interpreter's commentary set up a nice contrast between the false sensation of fullness that slavery provided (probably even some selective memory going on here), and the food provided by God. God gave them just enough, no matter who collected what, and provided for a rest day. The commentary contrasted that to the episode where the Israelites are sent to get straw for bricks--there isn't enough, they're set an impossible task, and they're not allowed to rest.

I think there are more Pharoahs around then we would like to think.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

another Lake Hefner sunset


(from last Saturday as I was driving home from Knit-in) Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 13, 2006

on how not to be welcoming

*Christopher has a post up at Bending the Rule this morning which reminds me of a practice I am not particularly fond of, that of publicly introducing newcomers/visitors during announcements at worship.

His story also reminded me of a very funny attempt at hospitality to which I was subjected a number of years ago.

I had some friends who were attending an Episcopal church, a long time ago, in a diocese far away. Let's call this church St. Elsewhere.

The husband of the couple kept telling me that the members of this church were somewhat overanxious about hospitality, to the point of pursuing him across the parking lot when they didn't stay for coffee hour.

One Sunday I happened to be passing through town, and I went to St. Elsewhere for the first time with the husband. The wife, who was quite pregnant (and one might mention had long hair of a different color than mine) stayed home.

All was normal until after communion. I had come back to the pew and was sitting and praying when I heard a voice from in front of me say (sort of hissing), "YOU never come to coffee hour." I looked up and she was speaking directly to me.

I looked over at my friend for help but he was so pleased that I was getting to experience first hand what he had been complaining about for so long that he was going to be of no use whatsoever. (In fact, despite his pious posture with his face down against the pew, he was clearly smirking). Finally I muttered that I had never been to St. Elsewhere before.

"You should come to coffee hour!" she continued, rather loudly. "We have cake."

By all means, welcome Christ in the stranger's guise at the door, and at the peace, after church, and during coffee hour. But I don't recommend chasing newcomers across the parking lot, and mistaking a non-pregnant short-haired brunette for a pregnant longhaired auburn woman and accusing her during prayerful meditation of never coming to coffee hour is right out. The offer of cake is not going ot make up for it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

this is your brain

on a new job.

I love my new job; it's my first chance to really be in charge of a congregation, even if it is an interim position.

But I've discovered that the energy to get up to speed in a new place has really also, well, made me stupid in other areas.

The last time I was in charge in a congregation, it was temporary--and it was a congregation I knew very well. This is quite different.

So there have been some stupid things that have happened. Things I have done, things I have left undone. Some I can't blog about, but the outward sign of my inward state was smacking the passenger side mirror off the car on the garage last week (mirror is now replaced, and duct tape remnants scraped off, to the tune of $$$, which, added to the $$$ for some power steering work and $$$ for an oil leak, also contributed to my spacey mood this week).

Lord, I'm slowly learning to accept that I'm not perfect, but if you could put my brain back together for next week, I'd really, really appreciate it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

wandering in the wilderness

Last night we began our Lenten evening program at St. C's.

When I was first thinking about a Lenten program, I was really stumped. I didn't know the congregation. I wandered around the local Cokesbury, came home with a plan, but it didn't feel right.

Finally, I tossed that plan and came up with the idea of five nights looking at stories about "the wilderness" in the Bible. (Right--five sessions for the topic of wilderness. Well, you have to start somewhere.)

We began last night looking at God calling Moses out of the burning bush on Mt. Horeb. (Exodus 3)

Some things jumped out at me in preparing this lesson (thank you, Terence Fretheim's commentary on Exodus in the Interpretation series).

The idea that Moses could have had a number of reactions to the burning bush (ignoring it, running away) but instead goes over to examine the bush because he's curious. Fretheim's point--curiosity leads to call.

The idea that God knew exactly what God was doing by picking Moses. He's not frightened by supernatural phenomena and he gets into long arguments with God--ergo, he's not going to be cowed by Pharoah and the appearance of pillars of cloud and fire aren't going to throw him off his game.

Above all, what jumped out at me on this reading was God continually referring to God's self as "I am the god of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac. . ." Other gods in various pantheons were gods of water, or fire, or death, or. . .gods of things. This God is a God of relationships. It's in God's own self-description .

Sounds like very good news to me.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

on Seabury crosses, continued

So after all our posting about crosses, I made sure I was wearing my Seabury cross when husband and I went yesterday to a meeting of the clergy of the diocese for a forum on the election of our next bishop.(Which, by the way, was much more enjoyable and fruitful than it might sound, and than I was expecting, although I had a splitting headache from all the flourescent lights in the dining room where we were corralled confined gathered.)

Another Seabury alum was there, with her cross, so we delighted in seeing each other's crosses and in discovering a new game. That if you run up to each other and press the crosses together, making zapping noises, you are imbued with superhero Seabury strength.

Or at least a lot of laughter. Which works, too.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I am so easily amused

by NPR weather.

Back in St. Louis, we had Ben Abel (or Able, I was never sure). He always signed off with, "I'm meteorologist, Ben Abel." After a few tries, one could say it along with him. While driving, "I'm meteorologist, Ben Abel."

Here in OKC, we have access to two NPR stations. The one out of Stillwater (home of Oklahoma State) proclaims on a regular basis, "The Oklahoma State temperature is. . ." They really make it sound like there's one official temperature for the entire state.

Like I said, easily amused (and kind of writer's blocked as well).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Monday meme

via St. Casserole--(thanks, St. C--I needed a writing prompt this morning).

Do you wear a cross?
Many days.

Is there a particular time or place that you consider wearing a cross? I wear one mainly at work, sometimes on days off.

Where do you wear it? I have a Jerusalem cross on a long chain that I wear as a necklace Sometimes I wear a seminary ring with the same Jerusalem cross on it.

What does the cross look like? It is a silver James Avery Jerusalem cross with the Trinity at the center and the initials of my seminary on the arms. On the back is the year of my graduation and my initials. I have another important cross that is an openwork crucifix that I wear during Holy Week.

Who gave the cross to you or did you choose it? The Seabury cross is given to us right before our graduation from seminary. A friend gave me the Seabury ring to celebrate me receiving postulancy (the first step in the Episcopal ordination proces). The openwork crucifix was a gift from a woman at the church I attended in Tucson. I was going through some difficult times and it meant so much to me.

Is this your favorite cross, if so, why? What does wearing a cross mean to you? I love the Seabury cross for a few reasons--the aesthetic (who doesn't love James Avery), its weight and length of chain (it's slightly heavy, I'm always aware that I have it on), and for who and what it reminds me of. When I wear it, not only do I feel aware of being a follower of Christ, but also that I am connected to Seaburians far and wide. And I am reminded of what was a very positive experience for me, the discovery of vocation. Thinking about the community and the Trinity on the cross is a real support.

When I wear the crucifix during Holy Week, it reminds me of what we're about that week, as well as connecting me to a particular wilderness period and the knowledge that those wilderness periods do come to an end, soemtimes in surprising ways.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

where's Wilbur?

  Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 03, 2006

practice makes imperfect

The RevGal Friday Five is about things we have practiced:

I have been so ambivalent about the word "practice" in my life.

There was practicing the piano with the scary semi-famous Hungarian woman of my childhood. And practicing at home. Somehow I never got to play anything I might want to play. Finger exercises, bleah. I'm glad now that I know how to read music, and pick a tune out on the piano, even with both hands, but years of my perfect pitch mother pointing out errors from the kitchen ("B Flat, Emily") really spoiled the word for me for a long time.

Choir practice, on the other hand, was a regular part of my life. Through high school, college and into graduate schools I had some positive choral experiences. Especially as a member of the Women's Glee Club at U of I. Practice led to good things--choir tours to San Antonio and New Orleans (we once got to sing for the American Choral Directors' Association national convention in San Antonio), parties with the Men's Glee Club, and our fine director, who kept us working and laughing. A dose of humor helps keep practice Spirit-filled, I think now, and redeemed from just tedium.

Regularly going to church--I never thought about this as a spiritual "practice." It was just part of my life, like breathing. I dropped out for a couple of years in college, but I couldn't really imagine my life without the Episcopal Church.

I am a walker by practice, although there have been times when I've fallen out of the habit. Thank you to Cathy for starting the 40 miles in 40 days Lenten discipline and inviting us to share it with her. The key to this habit is preparation--having the clothes and shoes ready to go.

Last Lent was the first time I had given up something in a long time--I gave up buying yarn, and I managed it, too, with one exception, when I bought some yarn at a booksigning for Debbie Stoller (archived somewhere in this blog). I already owned both Stitch 'n Bitch books and wanted to be a good guest at the yarn shop. I knew I had plenty of yarn and projects to keep me occupied! I was using yarn shopping as a crutch, and I knew it.

This Lent I've taken on the practice of giving up chocolate. This isn't a casual practice--I've become so aware of what power chocolate has over me. I'm smart enough not to try to give up all sweets/desserts at this time. I'm really learning the only way to do this is really to say "today I will not eat chocolate." Will I make it to Easter? Stay tuned. (Frankly, will I last until tomorrow?)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

things I'm up to, part 1

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I signed up for this a while back.  This month we are playing with pink and red.  I'm finishing up my burgundy turtleneck shrug and then I have four skeins of blush pink wool-ease for that Aibhlinn cowl from Knitty.  Why am I making all these cold weather scarves when it was 93 yesterday?  I have no idea.

ashes to ashes

Well. . .

our Ash Wednesday started off with a bang, or rather, sirens--

During our noon service, I noticed some parishioners come in late. After the service they asked if I had heard the sirens. Umm, no. Turns out their car had caught on fire on the way to church, and a call to 911 had produced a fire truck.

Ashes in the parking lot, ashes in the chancel.

I knew I couldn't fast for Ash Wednesday and do the things I needed to do, but I was determined to eat lightly. It was 90 degrees here yesterday, and about 4 p.m. I really, really wanted to stop at Braum's for a shake. I managed to get myself over to the local library instead until the feeling passed.

I am so glad Cathy had her brilliant idea about 40 miles in 40 days, because starting yesterday with a walk did help, although I was still completely spent by the end. Just enough energy to be a couch potato and watch "Project Runway."