Friday, December 23, 2011

Reblogging - Grillards

There are certain foods that I cook by the TLAR (That Looks About Right) method. Grits, cornbread, greens, gumbo, grillards, vegetable soup, chili. I just cook them. So here is a TLAR kinda recipe.

Marinate about 1 to 1 and a half pounds of round roast/steak in red wine, Lea & Perrins, pepper and onion salt for a couple of days in the refrigerator. Cut the meat into 2 inch cubes and pound the meat until it's about a quarter inch thick. Pound using a rolling pin or smooth rubber mallet -- don't use one of those meat tenderizers, because they cut the fibers instead of loosening them up. Brown the meat off in a hot pan with olive oil -- searing the flesh, not cooking. Put the meat in the crock-pot. Saute now 1 large or 2 small onions, some celery and a bell pepper (The Trinity). Right before it's done, add in your garlic to taste (one clove to 5 cloves, crushed). Don't add too soon or the garlic will be bitter. Add this into the crock put when a little more than transparent. Since you are doing this right after breakfast, and since you either made bacon or sausage, add the drippings in the pan. Add a stick of butter or so until you have, uh, enough. Probably about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. Add flour in equal amounts -- from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. Cook this mixture until it is dark brown, stirring constantly. (This is called a brick roux.)

Add a can of tomatoes, diced. Then fill the can with wine and pour it in. Stir this mixture -- it will be very thick. Put it in the crock pot with the meat and aromatics. Cook in the crock pot on high for 3 or 4 hours, then on low for 3 to 4 more hours. IF it seems too thin, after 3 hours, make another roux and add it to the pot. It tends to thin as it cooks. It's done when it is a uniform brown color and the meat is falling apart.

Cook some cheese grits -- start with 4 cups water to 1 cup quick grits -- then put in a dash more grits. Fresh stone ground is best. Make sure you have a dash of salt in the grits. Cook covered, stirring frequently until it gets to the volcanic bubble stage. Cut the heat and add about 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream. Add a half a stick of butter. Stir until they are done, then add 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese and stir until melted.

Ladle out grits into a bowl until half full. Let them set up for just a little while. Then ladle up some of the grillards -- a more or less equal amount onto the grits. It should look like a pool of brown gravy on with a thin rim of grits around. Ummm....

Hot sauce on the side with salt and pepper -- a fresh green vegetable like snap beans or asparagus. Iced tea. Red wine. Fresh yeast rolls. Umm, umm. Yes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Morning Prayer - John 1

Hear us, O God, in your dear love,
Let our prayers rise to you above,
And help us, this and every day,
To live as truly as we pray.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Lord, I thank you for the faithfulness of your servants. I thank you for their committment and the grace and love that come from you through them. I thank you for that great cloud of witnesses that surround us -- the saints who are dwelling with us and those who have gone on before us. Thank you for friends, for those I know in real life and those I have met via the internet who minister to myself and each other, mostly unaware. I pray for those today who are sick and ill and suffering -- in spirit and in the body.

Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
Govern and uphold them, now and always.
Day by day we bless you;
We praise your name for ever.
Lord, keep us from all sin today;
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your love and mercy;
For we put our trust in you.
In you, Lord, is our hope;
And we shall never hope in vain.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Morning Prayer - Magnificat

Luke 1:26-38

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Morning Prayer - Psalm 139

Psalm 139
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Morning Prayer - Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

O Wisdom,
O Holy Word of God,
You govern all creation with your strong, yet tender care.
Come, and show your people the way to salvation.
(The great "O" antiphons.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Morning Prayer - Philippians 4

Philippians 4:4-9 -- The Message

4-5 Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

6-7 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come
among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and
the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
BCP - preface for Advent 3.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Morning Prayer - Lo! He Comes, With Clouds Decending

Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
once for our salvation slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Christ the Lord returns to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at nought and sold him,
pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

Those dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
gaze we on those glorious scars!

Now redemption, long expected,
see in solemn pomp appear;
all his saints, by man rejected,
now shall meet him in the air:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
See the day of God appear!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory;
claim the kingdom for thine own:
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.

Words: John Cennick (1718-1755), 1752;
as altered by Charles Wesley (1707-1788), 1758;
and then altered by Martin Madan (1726-1790), 1760

Monday, December 12, 2011

Morning Prayer - from the Book of Common Prayer

Watch, for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning, lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. -- Mark 13:35, 36

Psalm 41
Happy are they who consider the poor and needy!*
the LORD will deliver them in the time of trouble.
The LORD preserves them and keeps them alive,
so that they may be happy in the land;*
he does not hand them over to the will of their enemies.
The LORD sustains them on their sickbed*
and ministers to them in their illness.
I said, "LORD, be merciful to me;*
heal me, for I have sinned against you."
My enemies are saying wicked things about me:*
"When will he die, and his name perish?"
Even if they come to see me, they speak empty words;*
their heart collects false rumors;
they go outside and spread them.
All my enemies whisper together about me*
and devise evil against me.
"A deadly thing," they say, "has fastened on him;*
he has taken to his bed and will never get up again."
Even my best friend, whom I trusted,
who broke bread with me,*
has lifted up his heel and turned against me.
But you, O LORD, be merciful to me and raise me up,*
and I shall repay them.
By this I know you are pleased with me,*
that my enemy does not triumph over me.
In my integrity you hold me fast,*
and shall set me before your face for ever.
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel,*
from age to age. Amen. Amen.

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Morning Prayer - Psalm 145

Psalm 145

Refrain: Great is the Lord and highly to be praised.

1 I will exalt you, O God my King, •
and bless your name for ever and ever.

2 Every day will I bless you •
and praise your name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; •
his greatness is beyond all searching out. R

4 One generation shall praise your works to another •
and declare your mighty acts.

5 They shall speak of the majesty of your glory, •
and I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

6 They shall speak of the might of your marvellous acts, •
and I will also tell of your greatness.

7 They shall pour forth the story of your abundant kindness •
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, •
long-suffering and of great goodness. R

9 The Lord is loving to everyone •
and his mercy is over all his creatures.

10 All your works praise you, O Lord, •
and your faithful servants bless you.

11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom •
and speak of your mighty power,

12 To make known to all peoples your mighty acts •
and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; •
your dominion endures throughout all ages. R

14 The Lord is sure in all his words •
and faithful in all his deeds.

15 The Lord upholds all those who fall •
and lifts up all those who are bowed down.

16 The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, •
and you give them their food in due season.

17 You open wide your hand •
and fill all things living with plenty. R

18 The Lord is righteous in all his ways •
and loving in all his works.

19 The Lord is near to those who call upon him, •
to all who call upon him faithfully.

20 He fulfils the desire of those who fear him; •
he hears their cry and saves them.

21 The Lord watches over those who love him, •
but all the wicked shall he destroy.

22 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, •
and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Refrain: Great is the Lord and highly to be praised.

King of the universe,
you show the bright glory of your reign
in acts of mercy and enduring love;
raise the spirits of the downcast
and restore those who have fallen away,
that we may sing for ever of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayers for Charlotte, Anita, Margaret, Bill, Peggy, Lynn, Dale, Amy, Kay, Allison.  Glad thanks for answered prayer this morning!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Morning Prayer - Psalm 86

Psalm 86

Refrain: All nations you have made shall come and worship
you, O Lord.

1 Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, •
for I am poor and in misery.
2 Preserve my soul, for I am faithful; •
save your servant, for I put my trust in you.
3 Be merciful to me, O Lord, for you are my God; •
I call upon you all the day long.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant, •
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. R
5 For you, Lord, are good and forgiving, •
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer •
and listen to the voice of my supplication.
7 In the day of my distress I will call upon you, •
for you will answer me. R
8 Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord, •
nor any works like yours.
9 All nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, •
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wonderful things; •
you alone are God. R
11 Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; •
knit my heart to you, that I may fear your name.
12 I will thank you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, •
and glorify your name for evermore;
13 For great is your steadfast love towards me, •
for you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave. R
14 O God, the proud rise up against me
and a ruthless horde seek after my life; •
they have not set you before their eyes.
15 But you, Lord, are gracious and full of compassion, •
slow to anger and full of kindness and truth.
16 Turn to me and have mercy upon me; •
give your strength to your servant
and save the child of your handmaid.
17 Show me a token of your favour,
that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed; •
because you, O Lord, have helped and comforted me.
Refrain: All nations you have made shall come and worship
you, O Lord.

God of mercy,
who in your great love
drew your Son from the depths of the Pit,
bring your people from death to life,
that we may rejoice in your compassion
and praise you now and for ever.

Now it is time to awake out of sleep,
for the night is far spent and the day is at hand.
Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed,
for the night is far spent.
Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armour of light,
for the day is at hand.
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ
and make no provision for the flesh,
for the night is far spent and the day is at hand.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Morning Prayer - adapted from the Book of Common Prayer

O God, who wonderfully created, 
And yet more wonderfully
Aestored, the dignity of human nature:
Help me remember that daily.
At Walmart or the filling station,
At work or at play,
At school or at church --
Help me remember that
Each and every one of us is made in Your image -
Each of us contain a spark of that Diving force within us.
Grant that I may
Share that divine love and life 
Of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, 
Your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Morning Prayer -- A New Covenant

God, you said you would make a new covenant.
My heart lies waiting.
And time passes.
Where is this new covenant?
You pulled us out of oppression,
But why? Nothing changed except
We have become the oppressors.

You said that you had taken my Father and Mother by the hand
And led them out of their bondage –
But God, they were in bondage again before they left the room.

You said you would be our lover, our husband, our closest kinsman –
Where are you?
Your mountain is lost to me --
What obscures my vision?
I cannot remember your face.
It is lost in the mist.

My eyes cannot remember your face,
My flesh cannot remember the last time I felt your embrace.
My spirit cannot remember the caress of your love,
My ears cannot remember the sound of your voice.

You said that you would incise your law on my heart with a diamond stylus.
My heart lies waiting.
And time passes.
I would welcome the pain of your brand on my flesh, if I then would know that
You are there.

You said you would forgive my iniquity and remember my sin no more.
Have you forgotten me as well?
Valleys of dead bodies await your command or condemnation.
We lay here and rot.
How long do we have to wait, longing for something to live for?
When will you gather the dry bones together and breath life into the gaping skulls?
When will you take my bruised heart and write upon it your love?
My heart lies waiting.
And time passes.
--Theresa Coleman

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Morning Prayer - Celtic Prayer V

May you know that absence is full of tender presence and
that nothing is ever lost or forgotten.
May the absences in your life be full of eternal echo.
May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere which
holds the presence that have left your life.
May you be generous in your embrace of loss.
May the sore well of grief turn into a well of seamless presence.
May your compassion reach out to the ones we never hear
from and may you have the courage to speak out for the excluded ones.
May you become the gracious and passionate
subject of your own life.
May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words
or false belonging.
May you be embraced by God in whom dawn and twilight
are one, and may your belonging inhabit its deepest
dreams within the shelter of the Great Belonging.

John O’Donohue’s book, Eternal Echoes

Monday, October 31, 2011

Morning Prayer - Celtic Prayer IV

May you be blessed in the Holy Names of those who carry
our pain up the mountain of transfiguration.
May you know tender shelther and healing blessing when
you are called to stand in the place of pain.
May the places of darkness within you be turned towards the light.
May you be granted the wisdom to avoid false resistance
and when suffering knocks on the door of your life,
may you be able to glimpse its hidden gift.
May you be able to see the fruits of suffering.
May memory bless and shelter you with the hard-earned
light of past travail, may this give you confidence and trust.
May a window of light always surprise you.
May the grace of transfiguration heal your wounds.
May you know that even though the storm might rage yet
not a hair of your head will be harmed.

John O’Donohue’s book, Eternal Echoes

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Morning Prayer - Celtic Prayer III

May you listen to your longing to be free.
May the frames of your belonging be large enough
for the dreams of your soul.
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing
whispering in your heart that something good is going to happen to you.
May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.
May the mansion of your soul never become a haunted place.
May you know the eternal longing which lives at the heart of time.
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.
May you never place walls between the light and yourself.
May your angel free you from the prisons of guilt,
fear, disappointment, and despair.
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to
gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging…

John O’Donohue’s book, Eternal Echoes

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Morning Prayer - Celtic Prayer II

Blessed be the longing that brought you here and that
quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to befriend your eternal longing.
May you enjoy the critical and creative companionship of
the question “Who am I?” and may it brighten your longing.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and shelter your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the same sureness
with which your body belongs to the world.
May the sense of something absent enlarge your life.
May your soul be as free as the ever-new waves of the sea.
May you succumb to the danger of growth.
May you live in the neighbourhood of wonder.
May you belong to love with the wildness of Dance.
May you know that you are ever embraced in the kind circle of God.

From John O’Donohue’s book, Eternal Echoes

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Morning Prayer - Celtic Prayer I

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter
the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gifts and find the
courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may
anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles
that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret sympathy of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.

From John O’Donohue’s book, Eternal Echoes

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Morning Prayer -- St. John of the Cross and Mother Teresa

O blessed Jesus,
give me stillness of soul in You.
Let Your mighty calmness reign in me.
Rule me, O King of Gentleness,
King of Peace.

When asked what she says when she prays to God she said,
Mother Teresa is often quoted: "I don't say anything; I listen."

Trying right now to listen rather than talk.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Morning Prayer -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank Thee for this place in which we dwell;
for the love that unites us;
for the peace accorded us this day;
for the hope with which we expect the morrow;
for the health, the work, the food, and the
bright skies that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth, and our friendly helpers in this foreign isle [Samoa]...
Give us courage, gaiety, and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.

Bless us,
if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors.
If it may not be,
give us the strength to encounter that which is to come,
that we be brave in peril,
constant in tribulation,
temperate in wrath,
and in all changes of fortune and down to the gates of death,
loyal and loving to one another.

... Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Morning Prayer -- Frederick Buechner, Theology of Space

“Pay mind to your own life, your own health, and wholeness. A bleeding heart is of no help to anyone if it bleeds to death.”

"Holistic medicine is not a new concept. Socrates knew that it was important to treat the body as a whole when he wrote, “For the part can never be well unless the whole is well.” An old Indian saying states that the body is like a house with four rooms: a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual room. To be a whole person, one must spend at least a little bit of time in each of these four rooms every day. For example, food and rest satisfy our physical needs; learning about the world and using what we learn enriches our minds; and validating and coping with our feelings meets our emotional needs. Our spiritual needs must also be addressed."
From here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Morning Prayer -- Frederick Buechner -- The Odd Silence

Everybody prays whether he thinks of it as praying or not. The odd silence you fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of you as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the sky-rocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds you use for sighing with over your own life. These are all prayers in their way. These are all spoken not just to yourself but to something even more familiar than yourself and even more strange than the world.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Morning Prayer -- Frederick Buechner -- When you remember me

“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.
For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I'm feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I'm feeling sad, it's my consolation. When I'm feeling happy, it's part of why I feel that way.

If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone. "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well. ”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Morning Prayer -- From Augustine

I have learned to love You late,
Beauty at once so ancient and so new.
I have learned to love You late.
You were with me/ within me,
and I was in the world

outside myself.

I searched for You outside myself and,
disfigured as I was,
I fell upon the lovely things of Your creation.

You were with me but ...

I was not with You.

The beautiful things of this world
kept me from You and yet,
if they had not been in You,
they would have no being at all.

You called me;
You cried aloud to me;
You broke the barrier of my deafness.
I tasted You and now
I hunger and thirst for You.

You touched me and I am inflamed,
inflamed with love of Your peace.

Augustine, Confessions X, 27

Friday, October 14, 2011

Morning Prayer -- St. Clement

May Almighty God,
who sees all things,
and who is the Ruler of all spirits
and who is the Lord of all flesh

who chose our Lord Jesus Christ
and us through Him to be
a peculiar people -

grant to every soul that
calls upon His glorious and holy Name,

and sobriety,

to the pleasure of His Name,
through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ,
by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honor,
both now and forevermore.

From the end of Clement's letter to the Corinthians, adapted.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Morning Prayer

The sun that bids us rest is waking
our family members far away
Who, while we sleep are gladly taking
their turn to worship you and pray.

So be it, God, your reign shall never
like earth's proud empires, fade and fall.
Your reign endures, and grows forever
till all your creatures heed your call.

Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbors as myselves. I am truly sorry and humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me; that I may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

You sent a gracious rain, O God, upon your inheritance;
you refreshed the land when it was weary.
Your people found their home in it;
in your goodness, O God, you have made provision for the poor.
The Lord gave the word;
great was the company of women who bore the tidings:
"Kings with their armies are fleeing away;
the women at home are dividing the spoils."
Though you lingered among the sheepfolds,
you shall be like a dove whose wings are covered with silver,
whose feathers are like green gold.
-- Psalm 68:9-13

O God,
Your glory is your mercy:
Your mercy is glorious.
We wander away -- and your mercy follows.

Draw my heart to you.
Guide my mind so that I might guide,
fill my imagination so completely that I cannot imagine,
control my will so that I will be yours,
make me utterly dedicated to you;
Then and only then use me,
as you will,
use me to your glory
use me to the welfare of your people.
I have found my home in you.
Help me return and rest in you,
Help me be still and know that
You alone are God.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Talk Like a Pirate Day - the Text for the Week

When he be enterin' th' temple, th' chief priests 'n th' elders 'o th' people came to him as he was teachin', 'n said, "By what authority be ye doin' these thin's, 'n who gave ye 'tis authority?" Jesus said to them, "I gunna also ask ye one inquiry; if ye be tellin' me th' answer, then I gunna also be tellin' ye by what authority I do these thin's.

Did th' baptism 'o Johny-boy come from heaven, or was it 'o human origin?" 'n they argued wit' one another, "If we shout, 'From heaven,' he gunna shout to us, 'Why then did ye not believe him?' But if we shout, ''o human origin,' we be a-feared 'o th' crowd; fer all regard Johny-boy as a prophet."

So they answered Jesus, "We do not be knowin'." 'n he said to them, "Neither gunna I be tellin' ye by what authority I be doin' these thin's.

"What do ye think? A scurvy dog had a pair sons; he went to th' first 'n said, 'Son, be off 'n set the sails in th' vineyard this day.' He answered, 'I gunna not'; but later he changed his mind 'n went. Th' salty sea-dog 'o a father went to th' second 'n said th' same; 'n he answered, 'I be off, matey'; but he did not be off.

Which 'o th' a pair did th' gunna 'o his salty sea-dog 'o a father?" They said, "th' first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I be tellin' ye, th' tax collectors 'n th' prostitutes be goin' into th' kin'dom 'o God ahead 'o ye. fer Johny-boy came to ye in th' way 'o righteousness 'n ye did not believe him, but th' tax collectors 'n th' prostitutes believed him; 'n even after ye saw it, ye did not change ye minds 'n believe him.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Project Order from Chaos, Reflections for a Tuesday

I've long wondered what the purpose of all this downsizing really is - what the drive to do it consist of - where the drive comes from.

Part is sheerly reactionary. The amount of stuff to keep up with is overwhelming.  Bill and I have inheirted way too much stuff.  We have accumulated tons of furniture, clothing and knick-knacks just by passive accumulation.  Literal tons.  Tractor trailers full of it.  At a certain rate, we could keep up with the dissolution of the material goods.  But like Lucy in the Chocolate factory, eventually we could *not* keep up and we started shoving it anywhere it would fit. (  You can't keep that up indefinitely and it began to spill out into everyday living areas.  At a certain point, you have to go through it, making decision all the time.

In fact, that's the key to all this - making decisions all the time to keep, trash, donate or sell.  Every single item that comes into a house needs to either have a place made for it, or you have to make a decision as it's eventual disposal.

Right now, I'm fussing with books.  I have made a decision: I cannot think of purchasing a book - theology, fiction, coffee-table, whatever - without deciding either 1) which other book gets the boot or 2) how will I dispose of this book when I'm finished?  I'm purchasing more books on iBooks or Kindle just for this reason, although I do believe there is nothing that will replace the feel of a book in your hands.  

I did go through a phase of active accumulation, especially when we first married.  The house seemed so empty and what was not new was what I called "Salvation Army Reject" or "Early Married Impoverished."  Most of those furnishings have gone away, but I definitely spent a phase in my early marriage of accumulation.  I was trying to fill myself up with something - I guess I was mourning a bit the fact that I was no longer an independent adult, that I now had another person to think of.  I also was mourning the single life.  No one warned me about that!  And no one warned me about the loss of "self" that comes with having children and the fact that you are never alone again - no, not even to use the restroom!  I mourned the fact that I had to put my desires on the back burner for the greater good of the family.  It's really not as selfish as it sounds; most new mothers go through it.  But again, I began to purchase and accumulate to deal with these feelings.

I started accumulating again passively as my parents and grandparents died.  However, I didn't mind because the items reminded me of them - they were physical relics, memories.  Again, the stuff filled a void.

However -- stuff can't fill these voids.  Stuff can't replace that sense of self identity or self worth or dead loved ones.  Those voids have to mend on their own; and of course it can be filled by God.  Interesting that this society has made "stuff" equal to God, is it not?

Enough of this -- time to sort more books.  Of course, we purchased 6 yesterday so at least 6 must go out today!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Question of the Week

 (These are from John Wesley's questions that he developed to help people in his circle of influence come closer to Christ as they went over these questions and held each other accountable.)
Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

Follow the conversation on Facebook.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Project Order from Chaos?

Project Order from Chaos either went away or went light speed.  In January, I had decided to give away 4 items a day for a year.  I did well in this for quite a while, documenting all of it by taking pictures –well at least for the first couple of months.  I pressed on until June when God, the Bishop, the DS and the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church moved us.

Now, Project Order from Chaos has hit light speed.  There is no contemplation about items, no playfulness in arranging little pictures, no joking around and making puns.  We are big time serious about this thing at the moment.

I didn't realize I was just playing around with downsizing, simplifying and streamlining until I was thrown into this thing called "moving."  Now my task is to take the material that filled up one 1100 square foot parsonage, one 2400 square foot house, a storage unit and a few other odds and ends and make it fit into a 1400 (or so) square foot parsonage.  Big news here: it won't all fit.

I'm no longer having to make decisions about the *excess* of material, but having to make decisions on things I didn't think were excess.  For instance, I own two very complete set of dishes: (1) the dishes that I grew up with, whose very pattern brings me comfort and eases my anxiety (Berkeley by Syracuse, just in case anyone is interested) and (2) the set that Bill and I selected as wedding presents, registering at every conceivable department store and shopping for on our honeymoon (Folk Art by Pfaltzgraff).  There is no room in this house for both.  Which do I use?  Actually, there isn't room for all the Folk Art, just bits and pieces, as we own LOTS of it.  Right now and because it was in the Monroe parsonage, we are using the older set that I grew up with.  I love these dishes, but there is discussion in the family about swapping them out.  I am having to choose between the pattern I love and reminds me of my childhood and the pattern that I love and reminds me of this family.  I don't want to have to make this choice!  I'm always a both/and rather than an either/or.  

Of course, I could resort to some conspicuous consumption, donate/pitch/sell both sets and buy more, but is that really really and option? (NO)  Today, I'm sticking with convenience - I'd rather have the Pfaltzgraff (maybe) but the Berkeley is in the cabinets here already (and they match the kitchen (and you know that coordination of color in home decor is more important than functionality.))

So I’m a little stuck.  I’m going to play like Scarlett and think about it tomorrow.

Likewise, if we store all the stuff in the Loganville house and rent/sell it, I will have to do something with the piano.  I love my piano.  I miss my piano.  There are seasons in my life where I play it for hours.  I’ve named it Isaac.  It’s a real antique originally owned by my grandmother.  So if we rent/sell the Loganville house, I am going to have to move it to this house. (NO!  NO storage for piano.  It needs climate controlled love and care.)  However, the only place to put it is where I’ve placed my mother’s cedar chest.  The cedar chest is one of the few pieces I have of my mother’s in the parsonage.  It meant a lot to her – it was her first furniture piece that she purchased with her own money after going to work Southern Bell at age 18 and saving up for 3 years.  And it’s full of things that I don’t want to go away: Hairy the fur coat, the coverlet that my g’g’g’grandmother made, my fur muff from 1st grade, some of my children’s clothing from when they were babies.  So which goes away to sell or to storage?  I don’t know.

It’s not the excess clothing that bothering me, or the unnecessary books or boxes of pens and pencils.  I easily can go through and dispose properly of all that – it’s the things that one might consider heirlooms that I’m struggling with.

Now what?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Working too Long

OK, I've been working too long. Just read "Monogamy in the Age of Dan Savage" as "Mammography in the Age of Dan Savage." I know I must keep abreast of current topics, but I think it's time that I stop now.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Evening Prayer

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.
Wash me through and through from my wickedness
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.
And so you are justified when you speak
and upright in your judgment.
Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,
a sinner from my mother's womb.
For behold, you look for truth deep within me,
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.
Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;
wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Dearest God,
Your Son took on the form of a human and became humble
for our sake. He became a servant
for our sake. He humbled Himself even unto death
for our sake. He went not onto joy, but first suffered pain
for our sake. He walked the way of the cross
for our sake. He bears the dreadful curse
for our sake. He took on death just
for our sake.

God help me walk the way of the cross
Help me be a witness to the light
Help me speak of Your glory
Help me serve Your people
Help me live as you would have me to live.

Purge me of sin. Wash me and make me clean as snow.
For You. Amen.

Death and Taxes in Carlton, GA

Fiona kicked open the kitchen door and flung the grocery bags onto the kitchen counter.  Dripping with sweat, she wiped her hot sticky hair out of her face with the crook of her elbow, closed the door and sat with an audible “hff” in her desk chair. Her open computer jeered at her.  The letter she had to write … well, she wasn’t looking forward to it.

Dear Steve,

Let me follow up the phone calls this afternoon with a note.  

And tell you my side of the story, she thought.

I don’t think that anything is going to appear on the nightly news and the newspaper lady lost interest when she was able to call it “domestic unrest.” As I was not arrested for assault,  I think all will be well.

It started with a phone call this morning from Teena Davey when she called to tell me her grandmother had been shot in the hip with a waffle iron.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pictures of a Chaotic Life!

The shredded red chair is now blue!

The horrible ottoman is now a nice brown swirly.

Brass bells I rescued from the garage and my grandmother's nut bowl.

Half the garage, straighted.

Easter Sunday dinner at the parsonage.

Watching TV and Sorting My Life: Project Order from Chaos

I've been watching four different shows on my computer: "How Clean Is Your House?" from BBC, "Clean House" from Style, "Hoarders" from A&E and "Hoarding: Buried Alive" from TLC. I began watching them about a year ago, as I was thinking about my "Theology of Space" and how what dwells within is outwardly expressed. Since then, I've been deliberately cleaning up my space. Oddly enough, as I clean up the chaos that surrounds me, I have lost more weight. The "heaviness" of my possessions was (and is) being played out in my physical being.

There are certain things that strike me. First, my private areas are not necessairly the most cluttered areas. My bedroom remains pretty orderly (except for the overstuffed closets). I have no problem with too many shoes; I own a half dozen pair. I probably don't own enough shoes as I don't have enough fancy dress shoes. I just don't find them comfortable, so I don't have any. I don't own excessive amounts of makeup or clothing. And I will soon own less; I am paring down what is in my closet. I have excessive amounts of costume (and real) jewlery. I've been thinking about this; I believe I own it merely because I inheirted it from people that meant something to me. It's not taking up a horrible amount of space, so it's sorting and removal has not yet hit the "A" priority list.

The parsonage remains pretty tidy, as well. I believe everything in the parsonage remains tidy because each and everything in the parsonage was hand selected for it's purpose. Everything is in place and everything stays in place because everything in there just makes sense. It's not overcrowded, nothing there is "wasted" material. Everything is used.

The girls' rooms remain pretty tidy (in both houses) for the same reasons: everything is used, there is no space is wasted. They have been very good at eliminating excess - maybe too good. They have probably disposed of things that I may have kept, but it is their space and it is their decision to dispose of unnecessary items.

The public areas in the Loganville house remain moderately messy. I think it's an indication of things moving in and then moving out. The dining room and kitchen areas especially show this. Waves of material comes in, is sorted, cleaned, mended, discarded and then flow out to their designated places. These rooms never look the same from day to day.

The largest areas that remain unsorted, cluttered and just chaotic are 1) the sewing room, 2) the garage and 3) the basement. The sewing room contains all the stuff I have left over from my embroidery business. I have not been successful in getting rid of all it of because there is this lingering feeling that by disposing of it, I have admitted defeat - that my business endeavor was a failure. Objectively, this might or might not be true; that is how it feels. Also, there is years of accumulation from a series of sewing projects: cases of fabric, thread, old jeans to cut up, half done quilts and the assorted paraphernalia that goes with sewing. I have been collecting fabric probably for the large majority of my life. It needs to be culled down. There is also in the sewing room a large amount of paper that needs to be sorted and either filed or disposed of.

The garage also contains a lot of paper: financial records of people long dead, my mother’s genealogy work, and box after box of photographs and letters. This stash is what I have been tackling most currently. There is a lot of “grief work” that I have been doing with all this. I miss most of these people more than I can even express. I mourn them and at the same time I resent them for leaving it all for me to sort. Grief and anger; anger then grief again.

The basement contains some of the furniture that was in my parent’s house. The ottoman I recently had recovered is from the basement. The sectional sofa from my grandparent’s house (Heywood Wakefield) is in the basement as well. I purchased more material from OCHO (OHCO??) at $.75 a pound to have it recovered. As soon as we have the money, I will have the reupholsters come pick it up. I want to place it in my “new” sewing room – Kate’s room. I have a plan and I really want to stick to it. I will have to dispose of the majority of the stuff in the sewing room and mentally and emotionally, I am ready.

There are also some of my dad’s tools in the basement. These also will take time to look at, feel, sort and dispose of. I have my big desk in the basement; I haven’t had a place to put it since I was married. It is huge 6 foot by 6 foot square; the desktop alone is 36 square feet. Maybe I can put it in the garage when the garage is cleaned out. My glass working tools are in the basement, along with my glass – it has not been touched in 17 years. I want to do glass again. Perhaps there will be room for it again soon.

However the majority of the stuff in the basement is Bill’s responsibility. Things from his grandfather’s estate (mostly papers) that must be sorted and disposed of correctly. Other items that need to be evaluated and distributed between the three brothers. I know how stuck I have felt with my parent’s estate; I have tremendous empathy for him. This is not an easy journey. The emotional baggage can be so overwhelming.

I am planning on making sure my kids don’t have to do this. I know some has to remain, but I don’t have to burden them with tons of material. It’s going to take time, but I am going to pare down again and again until there is very little left.

This year, I have called my efforts “Project Order from Chaos.” May it be indeed so.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Termites and Old Letters

Since the discovery of termites has necessitated the removal of all the stuff from the right garage wall, we’ve been shuffling boxes around -- before I have had the opportunity to sort them. Bill dumped several in the Dining Room. They were mostly photographs, old tax returns, checks and registers, files from my Fernbank days and clothing.

Bill helped me move the shredder into the Dining Room and I have been happily shredding. I shredded all the unused checkbooks from four different accounts that have been closed for at least a decade, as well as all my parent’s tax records and returns from 1983 to 1990. I did find out that my sister had at least 5 jobs in those years. Del Taco, a travel agency, a gourmet food distributor, Rich’s (now Macy’s) and National Fundraisers. I had one -- the one at Fernbank Science Center. My “multiple job” stage was about 5 years before Amy had hers.

The next box contained all sorts of useful education material, however most (if not all) was woefully out of date. I removed all the paper from the file folders and made stacks of empty folders to use later.

The third box was much harder. I thought it contained photographs and there were a few there, but there was mostly correspondence from many years ago. I found my mother’s college diploma with her tassel. She had packed the folder full of all sorts of cards and the program from the graduation ceremony. It was dated May 28, 1961. She died exactly 40 years later on May 28, 2001. Soon she will have been gone for 10 years. The girls want me to take them to her grave on that date. We miss her horribly. My grandmother died in 2000 and so my mother never knew the pain of raising children without having access to abundant motherly advice. And my sister and I always had a Grandmama to go visit and to love on us. My children don’t know what it is like to have a grandmother. This makes me very sad.

The next layer down, I found a few pictures from very early in the 20th century. Only one was marked -- it was my grandmother Ruth Hilburn as a 7 year old child playing with a baby. I don’t know who that baby was; all the other pictures are just as mysterious.

Digging deeper in the box, I found correspondence of my Dad’s from the late 1940’s to 1950. He was out of the army by 1946 and had begun attending the University of Arizona in Tuscon. I found a letter to my Dad from his mother which I found amusing. She scolded him for spending money and encouraged him to find cheaper ways to travel from Tuscon to Atlanta. I also found papers from where he went back into the Army in 1950 (at age 31) to train ambulance crews for the Korean conflict. While he was teaching in California, he contracted San Joaquin Valley Fever. Most people suffer some flu like symptoms, but he was one of the few that had a severe case. He didn’t get any better.

After a few weeks, the Army doctors made the decision to operate and remove the infected lung. Daddy used to tell me that it was one of the first Thoracic surgeries attempted of this type. The doctors did not expect him to get better. He was shipped off to Atlanta to either to heal up or to die. I found dozens of cards that my Dad received the 9 months he was at Lawson Veteran’s Hospital in Chamblee. But what was heartbreaking was a paper bag and a large white envelope that he had scratched out some notes on. He was keeping a log of how he felt; how much pain he was in and what the doctors were doing. The pencil is fading and my father’s handwriting waxed and waned with his pain. I wondered why he kept the notes and if it was because he was lonely.

My father died in 1995 from complications of San Joaquin Valley Fever. He developed pneumonia and just didn’t have anything to fight the infection with. The doctors had expected him to die of the infection; I don’t think they expected it to take 45 years.

After I found his notes, I had to stop for a while. I get blue in the Spring of the year anyhow and this is not making things better. There is a part of me that wants to push on and finish what I have started; to get out the scanner and scan some of the pictures in, to design some scrapbook pages and preserve all this stuff. And there is a part of me that just wants to ignore it all (like I’ve been doing for about 10 years now.) I know what’s next is a box that contains all my Dad’s letters from WWII. I find myself simultaneously fascinated and reluctant.

So I’m shuffling boxes around. I have wanted to do this for years now. I suppose I should thank the termites for getting me started.

Lawson Veteran's Hospital in Chamblee, GA around 1945

Friday, April 15, 2011


I think I have five friends raising chickens this year. Not for show, but for the eggs and the chickens to eat. Most of these friends are living in very suburban areas and most are also raising vegetables in raised gardens. I’m all into fresh vegetables; but because of various and sundry reasons, I’m not growing a garden this year (mostly because I can’t get rid of the deer who eat my tasty little vegetable plants!) I am participating in a CSA box again, and we’ve been eating tender and delicious lettuce this month.

All this “back to Mother Nature” reminds me so very vividly of my mother. When she was a little girl, from age 4 up, she was responsible for the family’s chickens. She would tend to the chickens every day. My grandfather had a coop in the backyard of their very urban house in West End Atlanta. In fact, a lot of the people in the 1930’s in Atlanta had both chickens and what would later be called (during WWII) a ‘Victory Garden’ in their backyards.

They did it because food was expensive and labor was cheap. Food was hard to come by. My grandmother was a woman who never turned away anyone hungry. She prided herself on her cooking and on the bounty of her table. We had a running joke in the family about “eat aplenty!” because of cousins who would come and eat with my grandmother’s family and the dad would say “eat aplenty!” to his children. The unsaid part was “because we don’t know when we are eating next.”

When my great grandfather died in 1936, my great-grandmother moved in with my grandparents in a tiny little house off of Elizabeth Street. My grandmother was the oldest child of 9. Well, actually Gilbert was the oldest, but he died during WWI from Spanish Influenza. My grandmother Gladys and next oldest boy GT were the only ones who were married and independent. The house had 3 bedrooms, a dining room and a living room. My great grandmother slept with my mother and her younger sister. My mother’s three unmarried aunts slept in the second bedroom, my grandparents in the third and my three uncles slept in the living room. I don’t think the house had more than 1000 square feet. It had one bathroom but it was on a huge corner lot, so there was enough room for a large garden and the chickens.

One day an older and indigent black woman came to the house asking for food. She was all alone in the world, with no children and no family left. My grandmother fed her, gave her clothing and when she found out Vassie had no place to go, she made up the daybed in the Dining Room. Vassie lived with my family from 1938 until 1959. When my aunts and uncles married or joined the army and the house emptied out, Vassie got the third bedroom and my grandfather remodeled the bathrooms so that Vassie could have her own. I understand that my great-grand mother and Vassie were “as thick as thieves” and would sit elbow to elbow shucking corn or shelling peas. Vassie help keep the house, but as she grew older and her arthritis grew worse, she became my great-grandmother’s companion. Vassie died before my great-grandmother Belva and when she died, I think it broke Belva’s heart. Belva died less than a year later.

My grandfather worked for Southern Bell. He was a line-man and he help manage crews all over Georgia. There were times that my grandparents would leave the larger family in that house off of Elizabeth Street and travel to other parts of Georgia for a few months at a time. Exotic places like Moutrie and Macon. My grandfather would install long lines, test them and then come home. At one point, the line crews were going to be forced to lay men off. When the economy slowed down, there just wasn’t enough money. Men like my grandfather decided to take one furlough day a week to keep the 20 percent of their workforce who were targeted to be laid off working. That meant of course a 20 percent decrease in pay for everyone. It was a huge hit for my family. This was the reason for the vegetable garden and the chicken coop.

At one point, my grandfather chased a job all the way to the Sopchoppy river – to Apalachicola in Florida. There were some relative down there that they stayed with for a while, but when other jobs became available my cousins moved leaving my grandparents and my mother and aunt with no place to stay. My grandfather was sending home more money than he really could afford. They ended up living out of the Model T on the beach with no food, until my grandfather could be paid again. They lived on the beach for about a month. My mother would dig for periwinkles, my grandmother would search for cat-tails and daylilies. They caught hermit crabs and fiddler crabs. They survived until that paycheck. When there was money, they feasted and filled the Model T with gas and came home to Atlanta.

My mother never had a birthday party. There just wasn’t money. She never had birthday presents, new clothing or new shoes. She never could join Girl Scouts because there just wasn’t the money for the uniform or dues. She kept chickens and studied. When she was in High School at West Fulton High, she was not allowed to graduate with an academic diploma, but a “technical diploma.” She learned shorthand, accounting and typing. She had a piano she would play around on, but there was not money for lessons. When she graduated at age 18, she got her first job at Southern Bell. It was 1948. After a year of working as the secretary for the Engineering Department at Southern Bell, she applied at Georgia State College (now Georgia State University). It was known colloquially as “Lucky Street University” because it was located off of Lucky Street, not too far from where Martin Luther King Jr. was born.

Southern Bell was very forward thinking. They provided money for her to go to school. It took her 13 years to get her diploma, taking one class at a time at night. She graduated May 28, 1961. In 1964, my grandparents built their dream home in Marietta, Georgia on the land that had been in my grandmother’s family for generations. It had originally been deeded to Archibald McGarity as a part of the land taken from the Cherokee in the 1830’s. When I was a child, you could still see the remains of the log cabin that had been built by a Cherokee family and added onto by my family. My grandfather retired in 1964. He planted a huge garden for my grandmother, but they didn’t raise any chickens. He did raise some hogs and gave my dog Bear a good home. He died of a heart attack in December of 1968, as Apollo 8 was on its way to the moon.

I think of these things as I go through box after box of detritus from my grandparent’s house and my parent’s house. I found a box of cancelled checks from 1947 and I find myself unable to shred them. I don’t think I should keep them, but I can’t shred them. I have no idea what to do with them. I found checks where they paid on the mortgage for that house on Elizabeth Street. I found checks where my grandmother got cash to pay Vassie. I found checks where my grandparents tithed to their church – a real tithe of 10 percent of the gross. Even though they were not financially stable, they never stopped giving to the church. I found checks where they gave money to some of their brothers and sisters. Somehow shredding those checks seems like erasing all of them from my memory. I don’t want to forget their love and their generosity. I don't’ want to forget their struggle to survive in a world that looks much like the world looks today.

I think of the song “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and I think of the Great Depression. And I think I want to raise chickens.