Saturday, July 30, 2005

Are you lonely tonight?

I suppose I am. I'm in a stranger's house (rented for the week) with the kids and the husband gone to the EAA museum -- we've had wave after wave of people in the house this week. All men. The testosterone levels were/are high. I am ready to go home. I want to watch movies that don't have any bombs going off or any airplanes. Nothing about WWII either. I want a chick-flick.

What's new in your life?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

From Oshkosh

Sheet Music for Hail Columbia found here -- and image of an original piece from around 1898. Which I think is just too cool.

A midi file can be found here.

And here is a picture of White Knight and Spaceship One landing at Oshkosh on Monday. I have a lot of pictures to post, but no way to get them online at this time. I am depending on internet cafes and the computer at the house we are renting. The EAA website is a great site for information about the show. Check it out here. Tonight Harrison Ford is going to speak at the Theatre in the Woods. Should I go?? Hmmm... Let me think.

And today I am meeting IRL another blogger (a RevGalBlogPal). Oh, boy, I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hail Columbia!

Yesterday and today I have stood in the presence of some giants of aviation and within a foot of Spaceship One, which is the first independent spacecraft to reach the outer bounds of space. This morning I watched on television the launch of the Discovery and was strangely anxious. I have followed the space program since a child -- I wanted to be an astronaut. I have a wall covered with original photographs of many of the great moments in the history of NASA. I cheered on a close friend when she applied for the teacher in space programs so long ago -- she made the final ten and we consoled her at the death of her friend Christa. I remember that day so vividly -- as well as the day that the Apollo One caught on fire. I remember the shock and sadness when I watched and realized that Columbia was not going to be landing.

After the Discovery took off this morning, there was a call for a moment of silence for the crew of the Columbia and then they played this song.

Hail Columbia, happy land!
Hail, ye heroes, heav'n-born band,
Who fought and bled in freedom's cause,
Who fought and bled in freedom's cause,
And when the storm of war was gone
Enjoy'd the peace your valor won.
Let independence be our boast,
Ever mindful what it cost;
Ever grateful for the prize,
Let its altar reach the skies.

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Immortal patriots, rise once more,
Defend your rights, defend your shore!
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Invade the shrine where sacred lies
Of toil and blood, the well-earned prize,
While off'ring peace, sincere and just,
In Heaven's we place a manly trust,
That truth and justice will prevail,
And every scheme of bondage fail.

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Behold the chief who now commands,
Once more to serve his country stands.
The rock on which the storm will break,
The rock on which the storm will break,
But armed in virtue, firm, and true,
His hopes are fixed on Heav'n and you.
When hope was sinking in dismay,
When glooms obscured Columbia's day,
His steady mind, from changes free,
Resolved on death or liberty.

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Sound, sound the trump of fame,
Let Washington's great fame
Ring through the world with loud applause,
Ring through the world with loud applause,
Let ev'ry clime to freedom dear,
Listen with a joyful ear,
With equal skill, with God-like pow'r
He governs in the fearful hour
Of horrid war, or guides with ease
The happier time of honest peace.

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

As Robert Crippen said "There's heavy grief in our hearts, which will diminish in time, but it will never go away and we will never forget. Hail Rick, Willie, KC, Mike, Laurel, Dave and Ilan. Hail Columbia."

Ever mindful what it cost;
Ever grateful for the prize,
Let its altar reach the skies.

Hail Columbia, indeed.

(Note: Hail Columbia is our first national anthem.)

More here.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Dragon Update

The local membership of the S.A.S.D. (the Secret and Ancient Society of Dragonologists) have discovered that one of the dragon eggs under the dining room table has hatched. The infant Dragon appears to not be of North American stock, but a red and green Northern European Forest Dragon. The local explorer of the S.A.S.D. is observing the behavior of the mother and baby dragon. The raw flesh and bone were consumed, as well as two Barbies and two lions from the meat compartment. The infant has been named Smauglybob. It appears to amuse itself by setting things on fire and chasing the sparks and soot that rise from the fire. Here is a picture of Smauglybob and explorer Entropy.

Seriously, I am going to work on my project. It's due, um, really really soon and I have to work on it. Really.


I have a lot of ephemera in my life. Things that are mine and clutter up my life, things I want to hang onto, things that remind me of events that have a special significance. Things like my youngest daughter’s silky curl from her first haircut and my eldest’s first printout of “computer art” when I taught her to use MacPaint. And I own a lot of ephemera that I have inherited from parents and grandparents and greatgrandparents. I own the muzzleloader that my great-great grandfather Larkin used in the Civil War. I have some of the Confederate money with which he was paid.
I image what it would have been like to have lived at that time when I hold this money, and the hands that it has passed through. I know the stories – how he and his bride had a hardscrabble life.

Her name was Margaret Ann Davis Spinks and she was a young widow – she was born in 1840 in Cordele Georgia and rumor has it that she was part Cherokee Indian (in fact, her picture looks quite Indian). She married Garrett Spinks in Newton County – Conyers area in 1857. They had a baby in 1858 that they named Indiana Spinks. Garrett died around 1859 –my cousin said that Aunt Ethel said it was “lung fever” that he caught while on maneuvers. She met Larkin Pendley in church (at Stamps Chapel) and they were married in 1861 on January 25 in Stamps Chapel. James Hiram was born on June 8, 1862. By this time Larkin had purchased some land just outside the city limits of Conyers and had built a log cabin. The deed was never recorded – or if it was it has never appeared in the Federal records. He went to war, leaving Margaret with Indiana and James in that little log cabin. She struggled to get by and my Aunt Nellie told my mother that Indiana was badly burned by falling into the fireplace and had a bad infection, but she recovered, although she was badly scarred on her right arm.

When Larkin surrendered, it was somewhere outside of Savannah. The Union allowed him to keep his weapons, although they took what provisions that he had. It took him almost 3 weeks to walk home – he had no provisions, he was barefoot, had to beg for food and forage along the way, sleeping in ditches. When he got home, Margaret was just holding on – he planted crops and tried to make it as a farmer. They tried to register the deed, but could not pay the taxes (taxes were high during the Restoration) and lost the land. Larkin stayed on the land as a sharecropper. They had a couple more children, but Larkin died in 1875 – he and his young son John walked into Conyers to purchase a hatchet and while standing at the counter he had a “fit of paralysis”. They carried him home and he died two days later on March 27, 1875, leaving Margaret a widow once again. They buried him in the back yard of the old Whittaker place in an unmarked grave, as Margaret could not afford to purchase a tombstone.

Margaret struggled on living what my grandmother called a “hardscrabble life”. James Hiram took up the farming responsibilities and married Rebecca Chaffin in 1887. They had several children – but Little Jim that was killed by rifle Larkin carried in the war. Big Jim and Little Jim went hunting when Little Jim was 13 or so and as he held up a barbed wire fence for his father to go under, Big Jim dropped the rifle and killed Little Jim. It was years before Big Jim could look at that rifle – he gave it back to his mama. Big Jim and Rebecca had a total of 10 children, 7 of which lived to adulthood. Margaret had been “run off the land” by the Yankee who bought it – and he tore down the log cabin and built a big frame house that is still on the property today. She moved in with her son Big Jim in 1887 – along with her two daughters, Elizabeth and Nellie. Elizabeth married locally to a man named Joe Carter, but Nellie married a Swiss man and they moved to Slidell Louisiana. Margaret kept the few possessions she had from her marriage and treasured them. She never remarried.

By the time Big Jim and Rebecca had been married for 13 years, she decided to go live with her daughter Elizabeth and Joe Carter. Big Jim’s house was small and there just wasn’t enough money or room. That was about 1900. My cousin Lizzie has (or had) a letter from my aunt Ethel written in 1941 telling about that time. She decided that she could apply for a widow’s pension, and did so. Ethel said that in 1900 all Grandma Margaret had was the clothes on her back, her sewing box, a rocking chair, the rifle, the knife, a pistol and a bunch of papers and confederate money. Elizabeth and Joe had several children. Joe died young around 1912 and by that time Big Jim’s children had grown up and moved out – the oldest living boy, had moved out on his own (he joined the army) and my grandfather was around 20 years old and Margaret moved back in. The rifle then was given to my grandfather (Papa) along with Larkin’s other possessions and all the papers. Margaret moved back in with Elizabeth when it became apparent that Elizabeth would not make it on her own. In 1916 both Margaret and Elizabeth died of influenza and because Big Jim was so poor, he could not take in all the children – they were placed at the Georgia Baptist Children’s home (at the time it was where Hartsfield International is now.)

All these pieces of ephemera – little bits and pieces of lives that have been lived to their fullest and now all but myself and my children have passed away. I write down what I remember – but there are things that are lost forever. Here’s a picture of Granny – I don’t really know who she is. All I know is that my Daddy loved her very very much and missed her all of his life after she died. I have a little “clucky chicken” that she called her chickens with back in the 1930’s.

It makes me think about the transmission of the gospel. I used to think that 30 years or 50 years or even 100 years was a long long time to write things down. I don’t think so now. Memory really does last that long. And it’s a basic human urge to write it down or tell the stories so that one can remember. And so that your children can remember. I wonder about the Grail – I am sure that it existed and that someone held it in their hands and remembered. Where is my Grail? I think I want to find Stamps Chapel and I want to preach there, surrounded by the memories and ghosts of the past. Preach to my children and into the future.

The clucky chicken

The rifle -- a 1863 Enfield Tower (made in the Tower of London). It has 5 kill notches and a "W" carved in the stock where Walter Daniel started to carve his initals into his granddaddy's rifle.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Central Wisconsin

Does anyone have any idea about what to do and where to go in Central Wisconsin? I've found the Frank Lloyd Wright tours in Madison and the Jelly Belly Factory Tour. What else?

Just too rich

Examine this screen shot of Lakewood's website.

Do you see it? Lakewood -- in the area of Missions and Local outreach "Need Content."

What a fantastic commentary they have provided on themselves. They need content. Maybe the Champions don't need the homeless to fulfill themselves. (Anyone else notice that the "Champions" are meeting in a ex-sports arena?)

Hattip to Jim at WabiSabi.


A new (to me) RevGalBlogPal -- welcome to Susie at Nueva Cantora: A New Song.

Idaho becomes Megachurch

In 12 short years, Christian Family Center, a church of 8,500, has purchased large swaths of cheap Idaho land with surplus tithes and effectively taken control of the state.

Story here.

A real hot potato in ecclesial circles, most think that it is a half baked idea...
I do like the idea of a pasture pastor. He must be a man outstanding in his field.

Never ever ever

get caught in the City of Lawrenceville speeding. The ticket is going to be more than I spent on groceries so far this month. Ouch! I was going to contest, but I understand that there is little chance of winning. I turned off a major highway onto a secondary road -- the speed limit sign had been hit and twisted around. It was still readable ... sort of. I was going 20 miles over the speed limit.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


It's a webring -- check it out on the sidebar.


I'd like to extend a welcome to Lorna from Open Pulpit at the Heavenly Train. Another to add to the RevBlogGalPals. Has anyone complied a list?

I am updating my computer and software (installing Tiger, iLife updates and a new 80 gig hard drive (goody, goody!)) -- while doing the laundry (updating the softwear (ha!)) and supervising kids. I keep losing track of what I've done and not done. I may lose connectivity for a while -- goodbye, dear friends as the computer and I enter the void...

Seriously -- I may go on a blogging fast for a week (starting on Sunday) b/c I have a project I have fallen way behind on. This blogging stuff takes so much time.

And here's another link -- Transmit your blog into space. Really. Blogs in Space. Why limit you readership to just this planet? Send it on out to the aliens.

Songbird suggested a Webring. I'm working on it -- RevBlogGalPals. You will need to paste some code at the bottom of your template. I'll update again as soon as I have more information.

I will need about 24 hours for the Webring software to recognize that I do indeed have the code correct on my site -- and then I can start the Ring and become the RingMaster. (Echoing through my head right now "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." Eh, not exactly right. We are bound together with bonds of Light.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

trivial stuff

36 years ago today, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Seems like half a lifetime ago because, uh, it *was* half a lifetime ago.

Logic by a 9 year old, overheard in the living room, during a thunderstorm:
You should not wear doorknobs on your hat or head during thunderstorms because they would act like lightening rods.
Mars wouldn't have hurricanes because Mars has no water. There used to be water on Mars, but not now. But there are two minerals on Mars that can be only created by water. Therefore, Mars used to have hurricanes.
Umbrellas should not have metal in them because you might use them in a thunderstorm and they will act like lightening rods. Nor should they be topped by doorknobs. Never put doorknobs on your umbrellas.
Umbrellas would be safe to use on Mars, but they have no water and you wouldn't need them.
NASA tells us using the machines Spirit and RAT that there is no water on Mars. They have duststorms on Mars but no rain. Therefore there is no thunder on Mars. Thunder sounds kinda like Daddy's digestive system, but bigger.
There is some stuff I don't know and I know some stuff that I don't know where I learned it from. But I know it.

By the way

All you lectionary types, I am the page sponsor for the Romans text this week at

I did it to honor my mother -- whose life verse was Romans 8:28-31. She taught me that. I found out later that it was my grandfather's life verse, as well. I found a typewritten testimony in his old Bible -- it's one of my cherished possessions. It's probably one of my life verses, too. It's taken on new meaning recently -- as I explore what it is to be called.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

*I* am the called. That still sounds so strange to me, but I have always been called. Not always to ordained ministry, but called. I am the called -- I am justified and will be glorified, not through what I have done but by who I am -- a beloved child of God. And this glorification will be more than good makeup and teeth whitening. I am being shaped into the image of his Son. And what more can I say? All the threads of my life, the light and the dark, all these threads will be interwoven together to make something beautiful -- a tapestry full of pattern and grace. The dark bits are full of hurt and pain and the light bits seem to not quite be enough at times. Yet it is in the interplay of light and dark that the Image is to be found. God has given me eyes to see the pattern at times -- but it takes perspective and distance. When the eye is too close to the tapestry, single threads dominate. Time and perspective and distance.

What can we say? The artist of this tapestry is always at work -- and He know what the pattern is. All we can do is endure the dark times, hope for the times full of light and grace and know that God is with and for us.

If God is for us, who can be against us?


We have recently discovered that our home is infested with dragons. Thankfully, the local branch of the Secret and Ancient Society of Dragonologists (S.A.S.D) has discovered their lair under the dining room table. Dragons are becoming increasingly rare in these parts of Georgia and so the intrepid explorers are very interested in conservation and preservation of natural dragon habitats. However, I did reclaim certain items from the lair -- my wedding rings and my watch among others. The dragons that are living in the dining room seem to have an affinity for glittery things. I will allow them to nest with the costume jewelry and silverplate. Oddly enough, they also have an affinity for things ecclesial. I have removed the communion cups and plates from the lair, along with the reversible stoles and a surplice. One must wonder why this strange attraction to things "churchy" -- could they be Christian dragons? Nonetheless, I will allow the stack of Bibles with gold glittery edges as long as the dragons continue to treat them respectfully. Perhaps they are literate dragons.

There are three eggs in the nest -- they look rather like balloons covered with paper maiche and tempera paint. This could be protective coloring so that the eggs can lay undisturbed. I must assume that this is a breeding pair of dragons. The local chapter of the S.A.S.D. is pleased that the species will continue. An offering of raw flesh and bone* was placed on a convenient rock to allow the mother to feed the young as soon as they hatch. We will be watching and drawing in our journals to chronicle these unfolding events.

Loot recovered from the Dragon's Lair. One must wonder why dragons needed the thread and needles -- do they have mending? And an open hymnal -- open to 'The Lone Wild Bird in Lofty Flight.' Is this evidence that dragons are related to other flying species? Could they actually be avian?

* made of quilting batting stained with food coloring and sticks painted white.

Find out more about Dragonology here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'll admit it -- part two

I'm off to drop the kids off to camp again this morning -- humbled a little. Perfect Wife and Mother stopped me picking up the kids and said "Can I call you in a little while? I've got something I need to talk about." I've always thought it was funny -- public conversations will cease as soon as I walk into a room and then in private people tell me the most extraordinary things.

My envy was misplaced and I feel a little worm-like right now. I may not be a super-model or even well groomed, but I am doing what I was called to do.

"For vexation and rage kill the foolish person; jealousy and indignation slay the simple." Job 5:2

Monday, July 18, 2005

I'll admit it

I'll admit it -- Mondays are not my best days. Sundays are so very long -- up early, grumpy kids, getting things in place, three services, 6 Sunday School classes to oversee, acolytes to round up, taking care of the communion stewards once a month and during the school year, other classes to teach. Sundays are long. I got up today to take the grumpy kids to the local high school for drama camp. The loving husband woke me up for the second time and said "Hey, you've got 30 minutes" or something of the sort (my brain wasn't exactly functioning at the time.) I got the kids up, fed and watered them, got them dressed. I looked in the mirror and saw my mother staring back and switched off the bathroom light. The bags under my eyes looked like I was packing for Europe.

The kids and I made it in plenty of time, but I ran into Perfect Mother and Wife. She was groomed perfectly -- the hair had been recently done by a professional (we can get the good stuff in this part of Atlanta). Her makeup was incredible. Her teeth had been recently whitened -- her figure looks fantastic, even after 4 kids. She is so disgusting. She babbled on about how well her kids did on their testing and how her eldest will be graduating at 16. She of course homeschools and her kids are so very well behaved. The get themselves up at 6:00 to start their school at 7:00 after bathing themselves (without prompting) and feeding themselves a hot breakfast. I think I am getting nauseous. We chatted for a minute and then she dismissed me with a flick of her hand to talk to someone higher up in the food chain.

I got in my car after being dismissed and looked at myself in the mirror. I've gained an additional 30 pounds in 18 months -- I've moved from plump to frankly fat. My eyebrows look like two caterpillars. I have coffee stains on my teeth. I cut my hair myself a couple of weeks ago and I have a few scragglies. And I have a pimple -- nestled between two incipient wrinkles. Where did that golden decade go between pimples and wrinkles? It's not fair to have both!

I used to have thermometers that you could paste on the kids' forehead and the heat from their body would darken the spot under the correct number. Dark blue spots, as I remember. If I had a jealousy-o-mometer, my dark green spot under the word "screamingly envious" would be so dark as to be almost black. Sigh.

Then when I picked up my kids this afternoon, I remembered that last week at VBS another "Perfect Wife and Mother" in our church was also a driver. Yet when queuing up for rides, my car was always full and hers wasn't. I remember one of the kids saying to Chaos "your mom is So Cool" and "I can really be myself around your mom." I also heard that I was interesting and that they knew I loved them. I suppose that’s really the measure of a person. I think I'd rather be interesting. I just wish I could look good doing it. I think I’ll skip the chocolate and go get a pedicure.

The real me behind the pulpit. Short, so that I look like a talking head on the pulpit. With double chins.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Blogging World

has moved on without me....
A week without blogging and I am so far behind!

Yet, I pause to take a test

Want to Get Sorted?

I'm a Gryffindor! Yes!

I now go to read in Bloglines -- I need to weed a few blogs out -- I'm reading 165. Too many. I think I'll cut some of the Political stuff -- Who needs politics? I'm going to cut the knitting stuff and some of the embroidery ones. I just get blogged down.


VBS is over for another year -- we are all tired, but it's a really good tired. Fun was had by all and they even remembered the God points.

Entropy wanted to use my camera. Here's catblogging from a 9 year old who doesn't really understand photography.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Pilot System

I pile it here, I pile it there. Mostly books.

3 of such stacks. Perhaps 20 in total?

My heart is saddened

and I am grieved. 17 children are dead at a Toy give-away in Iraq. I have sent many packages full of crayons and beanies. Perhaps my meager offerings were used -- and then a bomber took it all away.

I just don't have words for it today.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


this week -- light blogging.

I've been with the 6th and 7th graders. We went bowling yesterday -- lots of fun.

We're either climbing Stone Mountain today or going to the movies. Again lots of fun and a few good God Moments thrown in.

Later, gator.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Do you know that excited scream? The one that girls screamed when they saw the Beatles? or Mick Jagger?
Here is that scream -

Bishop Willimon has a blog - yes!!

Will Willimon's Blog- A Peculiar Prophet.

And it's open for comments!!

Here's the question:

Do I dare?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I relate to Rebecca

I've been reading the lectionary text for this week -- and since we are in the midst of a Genesis series, I've read and re-read the Jacob and Esau story. My friend Dave thinks about the sibling rivalry. I dwell with Rebecca -- the mother of the twins. She feels the fighting of two possibilities within her. The verse reads:

Genesis 25:22 The children struggled together within her; and she said, "If it is to be this way, why do I live?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.

She is ready to give birth to two children, each an individual with his own possibilities and opportunities -- two opportunities to love and nourish. Yet she doesn't give them equal time -- she plays favorites and chooses the scholar. One will be stronger than the other, one will rule.

Thing that make me go "Hmmmm...."

Friday, July 08, 2005


Experimenting with the b/w filter on the camera. I kept trying to get a hightlight in the eyes -- didn't quite do it. Also playing around at doing a macro with the 70/300 lens -- which at the digital multiplication rate turns into a 112 mm focal length. Any closer than about 5 feet, the Autofocus wouldn't autofocus. I am going to have to invest in a really good (Nikkor) wide angle with the aspherical corrections -- maybe even a 18 mm focal length.
This is her usual look now-a-days "Stupid human, get out of my face."

Proper 10 Ordinary 15 A -- Pastoral Prayer

Dearest Lord, we thank You for this day. We thank You for Your word that is always a lamp that gives us light wherever we walk. We give You thanks for Your teachings and writings – let us always respect them all, and help us use them to guide us in all that we do. Your teachings and the example of Your life will always be our most prized possession and our source of joy. Help us to obey Your laws forever, and live by the example of Your life no matter what.

Lord, like Rebekah we have things that struggle together within us. Like Rebekah we ask "If it is to be this way, why do I live?" Like Rebekah we come to inquire of You. We listen for Your voice. Speak to us today – through Your Word, through Your Spirit and through the lives of the believers around us. Like her sons, sometimes we do deceitful things, foolish things. We confess that we have sinned -- we have sinned against You and each other -- in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have failed to do. We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent.

Lord, we ask that You have mercy on us and forgive us; so that we may delight in Your will and Your laws, and walk by the light of Your Word forever. We know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And we know that the Spirit dwells in and among us and gives us life.

Lord, You know the things that fight and struggle within us. You know the places where our soil is barren. You know the burdens that we bear. You know where we are hurting and need healing. You have heard the names we have spoken here today -- You know those who are suffering and have felt loss this week. Look with love on our sorrows, comfort us with Your goodness, and give us peace in our mourning. These things we pray in the name of your son Jesus who taught us to pray saying: Our Father...

Sheer Boredom

and a little insomnia cause me to search in the Atlanta area persons with the last name:

Red -- 240 numbers listed
Orange -- 6, including one Julius Orange
Yellow -- none, but a Yellowhorse and a Yellowday (appropriate in Atlanta in April)
Gold -- too many to list
Green, Greene -- ditto
Blue -- 76 person who are blue
Purple -- 5 in Georgia, none in Atlanta
Violette -- 1 in Atlanta
Black -- too many to list
Brown -- too many to list
Grey -- too many to list

Christmas -- 98 in Georgia including my friend Mary
Easter -- 40 in Atlanta

I need a good book....

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


for Michael at Blogging Idiot

I was feeling recursive.

I am saddened by the demise of the solar system

I am saddened by the demise of the solar system. Oh, not the planets up in the sky, but the model of the solar system that hung for a couple of years from the light over my kitchen table. I placed it there along with the plastic airplane mobile when Entropy brought it home from school, marked with an “A.”

My mother in law had died in November that year and then four days later her father died from the shock of outliving all his children. There was all the activity and confusion in the house from planning trips and a funeral, then another trip and a memorial service that turned into a double funeral. And then a great quiet. After my mother in law died, I went to the nursing home to give her father the news. I sat next to him and put my arm around him. I spoke those awful words to him and he said “Oh” and he deflated. I could feel him shrinking down next to me – just “Oh” and an exhalation. He put his head in his hands and after a long silence where I could feel his breathing as if it were my own he said “I thought she would come through this.” Four days later he died of a broken heart.

There was much sadness that year – it was only 18 months after my mother had died and now we had two more deaths in the family. My father in law came to stay with us around Thanksgiving and he looked deflated, as well -- and a little lost. The second day he was with us, Chaos and I had to go to school but Entropy had a slight fever and was going to stay at home with Granddaddy. I knew she had her solar system project due the next day so I left a chunky pink plastic coat hanger, some yarn and my craft box for them to use.

When I got home Entropy was sitting on Granddaddy’s lap gluing the last label on her solar system. It was a work of art – it had taken them all day. Each pompom ball or bead had been selected for the correct size and color and labels had been carefully written in her best first grade handwriting -- “Sun” and “Earth," "Mars" and "Jupiter." But the most beautiful work of art was done in my father in law’s spirit. While holding his grandchild and working with her on her project, he regained a little sparkle in his eyes and a little color in his cheeks. He had become a little less stooped and a little less grey.

The solar system fell off the kitchen light fixture a while back and the threads and yarn became all tangled. I put it aside on the kitchen buffet to repair later. While hanging up some clothing a few minutes ago, I realized that the chunky pink hanger I was placing my denim shirt on had remnants of yarn – it was my solar system. Someone had cut off the planets and put the hanger back onto hanging rack. I will miss my solar system, but perhaps its time has come – and gone.

Not thinking much

I'm not thinking much right now. It's a combination of summer heat, kids in the house 24/7, a mid-summer cleaning frenzy but I think mostly it's because of the number of deaths and funerals in the last few weeks. I just got word of another cousin's death at the age of 46 from cancer. I am attending a funeral this afternoon for a church member. It seems for the last 4 weeks I've been at a Wednesday funeral. I'm just numb right now. So if I haven't commented on your blog recently, this is probably the reason -- I just don't have any words right now.

I am going to spend some time cleaning the house and cooking good meals for my family. There really is something symbolic in my cleaning -- I am literally getting my house in order. I am also spending time petting on the children and cat, walking for my health, reading those books I really meant to read and cooking for long hours. Last night I cooked a full southern meal -- baked ham, butterpeas, fresh corn, white half-runner green beans with little red potatoes on top, a baked mac and cheese, cornbread, fresh home-grown tomatoes and strawberries with whipped cream. Tonight I am going to make a vegetable soup with some of the leftovers -- after I have my breakfast of cornbread in sweet milk.

I took my camera to the 4th of July fireworks at the mall -- but it was raining, we were too far away. Here's what I got;

It took us at least an hour to get home:

But the best shot of the night was the kids' umbrella in the headlights:

And here is the obligatory kitty cat picture:

Monday, July 04, 2005

Long Personality Test

Found here.

I wondered about posting this -- maybe TMI. Nothing too surprising -- except the way that this test measures extroversion places me as an extrovert -- whereas I believe I ride the line between introvert/extrovert. This test doesn't seem to measure for need for time alone -- of which I have a large share. And I am more cautious that I believe, perhaps as a result of working in the ministry. I already knew I was totally unorganized. And I need work on the "neurotic" aspect of my personality -- the ways with which I cope with stress and emotional overload probably need work.

This report estimates the individual's level on each of the five broad personality domains of the Five-Factor Model. The description of each one of the five broad domains is followed by a more detailed description of personality according to the six subdomains that comprise each domain.

Activity Level..….........67
Your score on Extraversion is high, indicating you are sociable, outgoing, energetic, and lively. You prefer to be around people much of the time.


Your level of Agreeableness is average, indicating some concern with others' Needs, but, generally, unwillingness to sacrifice yourself for others. The modesty thing really is not surprising -- I am understanding that there is humility and false humility. Knowing what you do well and what you do not do well is not immodest -- and can be the definition of true humility. It can be perceived as arrogance if you are not sensitive to the other person's feelings and do it in a way that degrades them as a person. I wonder if the low sympathy thing is from being burned too often by people at places like the food bank or homeless shelter -- and I distinguish between sympathy and compassion. No room for that distinction here.


Your score on Conscientiousness is average. This means you are reasonably reliable, organized, and self-controlled.


Your score on Neuroticism is average, indicating that your level of emotional reactivity is typical of the general population. Stressful and frustrating situations are somewhat upsetting to you, but you are generally able to get over these feelings and cope with these situations.

Artistic Interests............87

Your score on Openness to Experience is high, indicating you enjoy novelty, variety, and change. You are curious, imaginative, and creative.

Comments not working

On blogger, again. So here's a comment for St. Casserole.

I love real china and silver. And iced tea with crystal glasses is so very special. We purchase the "good stuff" and then pull it out only on special occasions. The older I get (ancient now, I assure you =o) ) I realize that every occasion is a special occasion. I have been to 5 funerals in the last 3 and a half weeks and will be attending another on Wednesday. The people varied in ages from 18 to 93 -- with every age and station in life in between well represented.

So, go ahead and use the good stuff. There will never be a better occasion. Yes, it may break and you may have to polish the silver afterwards. I use my good stuff all the time -- even if it is to eat pizza in the living room with the family. I suppose it has to do with my sacramental view of our time at the table -- and my obsession with the "Last Supper" images. Life itself is too fleeting and ephemeral to *not* use the good stuff.

An aside:

Of course, the Loving Husband who is usually the person to wash up says "use disposable... life's too short to spend washing dishes..."

Combine the two and it's "use the good stuff and then throw it away..." Hmmm.... I don't think so.

Curried Chicken Casserole

I was reading at St. Casserole's place about her Presbyterian lunch. The casserole sounds great. I use a spinach, rice and chicken casserole as my standard, as well.

Curried Chicken and Spinach.

3 to 4 cups Cooked Chicken, cubed
1 can cream of something soup (I've used Celery, Chicken, Mushroom and Asparagus. Any flavor works.)
1 1/2 cup Mayo
2 packages frozen Spinach
2 cups Minute rice with 2 cups water and salt or 2 cups of cooked white rice
2 cups Cheddar Cheese
Curry powder

In large baking dish (I use a 3 quart Cornflower Blue Pyrex covered casserole) layer the rice (if using Minute rice, mix salt, water and rice) then the strained defrosted spinach (or if using fresh spinach, wilt briefly in a pan on the stove). In another bowl mix together the can of soup, mayo, salt and pepper and curry powder to taste (I have been known to use a lot of curry -- I like it a little hot.) Fold into this mixture the cubed chicken. Layer the chicken mixture on top of the spinach. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. For the last few minutes, layer the cheese on top of the chicken -- until cheese is melted. If traveling somewhere, I usually do the cheese thing at the last minute. When removing from the oven, sprinkle with paprika. The layers are better when done with integrity and are relatively thin. I usually serve this with a fruit salad -- and could be served with a chutney (sweet mango works well).

I have varied this recipe wildly -- canned spinach does not work. The sauce is good if you start with a white sauce with some chicken broth, no mayo and add in some cheese and sherry. I've done it with very little curry, ham and swiss cheese.

Any other classic chicken casseroles out there?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Romans 7:15-25

Romans 7:15-25 (The Message)

I've thought about this passage -- and the Message states it so well. The influence of sin, the influence of this world, the influence of self and ego pull me so off balance that only with God can I do anything.

15 What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. 16 So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.

17 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! 18 I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. 19 I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. 20 My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21 It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 22 I truly delight in God's commands, 23 but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Friday, July 01, 2005

I was not raised Methodist.

I was not raised Methodist. In fact, I am a Presbyterian by birth. The loving husband jokes that I was predestined to be Methodist. Our flavor of Presbyterian was very conservative – no women served on the session, women didn’t even act as ushers or count the offering. It was considered unseemly. And I will never forget the divisiveness of strong opinion between my Presbyterian parents, Baptist and Episcopalian grandparents and Pentecostal cousins. No Methodist in the mix at all until I married a Methodist. And as impressed as I was by the use of the casserole by the Baptists, the use of wine and cheese parties by Episcopalian Sunday Schools and the stiffness of the upper lips of the Presbyterians – I was amazed by the inclusiveness, the openness and the apparent unity of the Methodist church. I was befuddled and astounded that the Methodist church has two (count ‘em two) statements of faith in the Book of Discipline -- One from the former Methodist Episcopal Church and one from the United Brethren Church. And I was just as amazed by the fact that no one else was bothered by this. Unity seemed to be of paramount importance. It was the first time I had ever heard the phrase “agree to disagree” used peacefully and then watch the parties in question go and worship together and have communion in unity. Amazing.

However, the Methodist church is a big church. Big. 8 million or so in the states (is that correct?) Big. And as with a big ship, course changes occur slowly. Something of this mass and size cannot move swiftly. And just as well – course changes take a lot of energy and time. If the course is found to be incorrect, it could be a long time before the behemoth gets back on course. And little currents that swirl around this great ocean liner will not effect the course tremendously. The “God is Dead” issue of the 1960’s was, all in all, a little current in thought. The currents and eddies and whirlpools that occurred around woman’s ordination and unification in 1968 did change the course slightly, but the ship is really back on course – off to set sail and make fishers of women and men.

I have heard a lot of rhetoric around about homosexuality. About ordinations issues, lifestyle issues. Around 150 years ago there was a lot debate about slavery. 125 years ago, the issue was the Masons. 100 years ago, Methodist got all fired up about social justice. Each of these issues were sorted out, given sufficient space and time. And sorted out in a manner that gave God honor. I will state, right here and now, that I have faith. I have faith in God and faith in the system, faith that things will be sorted out. Yes, passengers may leave the cruise. Passengers may join up after we set sail. Yet the important part remains – are we going to be able to sit down to dinner together? At the table there will be descendents of slaves – and descendents of slaver owners. There will be Masons and ordained women -- and homosexuals and homophobes. I wonder if we can give this issue time and space -- and trust that it will be sorted out so that God will be given honor.

In the meantime, the table is set. Come, let us join the feast.

Here's a Thought

I have been thinking quite a bit about prayer. Thinking about it, talking about it, teaching about it and practicing it. My prayer life has been so much in my head recently -- and I have not been volunteering much at the homeless shelter or food bank recently. I wonder if cleaning my utility room, painting, buying a washing machine, gardening and in general cleaning up my external life is as much as incarnational prayer as is working at the homeless shelter. Yet I think of incarnational prayer as working for others -- not myself.

I'm so very good at working out the stuff in my head -- but much of life needs to be worked out with the hands. Sorting thoughts paralleling sorting laundry. And maybe even just sitting, quietly. Today, after an unusually bad thunderstorm, we were without power for a few hours -- it's light outside and beautiful and there is complete silence. No buzzing of the dryer, no whirr of the air conditioning, no sounds from the refrigerator. It was very quiet, except for the birds outside and the dripping rain from the eaves. The experience of silence was amazing. I realized how little silence exists in this world. I sat and soaked it up for a while. How can we really listen without that silence?

I've been watching little kitty. She really is sleeping a lot. Here's a picture of her slipping off the sofa, head first (asleep). The silence was broken momentarily.

Here's a picture of her after so goes back to the dozing. She's cracking an eye, letting me know that I'm bothering her.

And another one bits the dust...

Another blogger fired from his job.

Details here.

I read the posting and hadn't the foggest idea of whom and about which, but obviously the power-that-be did.