Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Five: New Year's Eve

Singing Owl Says: "I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but it does seem a good time for some reflection and planning. For the last few days I keep thinking of Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Among other things, that seems to say that reflection is in order if we want to learn and grow.For some of us, this has been an incredibly difficult year; for others it has been a year of many joys. For all of us, there have been challenges and questions and there have been blessings and--maybe even an answer or two! As we say our goodbyes to 2010 and look towards 2011, share with us five blessings from 2010 along with five hopes or dreams for 2011."

Five Blessings
    Blessing Number One of 2010.....  I finally got to marry that man!
and with him came the multiple blessings of  his wonderful fun-loving family (note the rabbit ears!)

We had the resources to travel this year and we took some wonderful trips.  Our honeymoon of course included seeing RevGals in TX, and another trip later in the summer took us to see Soul Sister A in the South.
And of course where would I ever be without my Soul Sisters! Through thick, thin and all the way down the aisle, we are there for one another. They truly are one of my greatest blessings not just this year but every year. are good friends in of the true blessings of my life and one that I will never take lightly. (If you wonder why they all look a little silly...they are blowing bubbles!)

Hopes and Dreams
Well since they haven't come to be yet...those pictures are only in my mind.  2011 promises to be quite a year in our lives.  One that will hold many changes that are still in the planning and not yet in the "public" stage.  But what I am hoping....
  • health
  • happiness
  • peace
  • joy
  • prosperity
....and not just for us...but for everyone.  And my hope is that each of us can find ways to take seriously our part in making it happen, can take some small step every day to make the world just a little better place for all to live.
Happy New Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday on the edge of Christmas week....

It has been a very strange Advent.  It hardly seems possible that it's the beginning of the fourth, and last week, already.  I have not been in my church since Advent 1. The second Sunday I was scheduled for supply away and it was cancelled for weather, last Sunday WE Cancelled for weather, and yesterday I stayed home because I was personally a little under my own particular weather....and so it goes.  It's been strange in other ways, too.  I suspect it's partially the church  thing, but I'm feeling rather unprepared for Christmas in the sense of my spirit just not being ready. I feel rather disconnected from the whole business right now, a rather "going-through-the motions" sort of thing.

There are a whole host of reasons for this, I suspect.  I've alluded to the fact that there are some stressors in my work life right now that are making it less than a happy place to be eight hours a day five days a week.  I'm also feeling some stress in my church life that makes it a little harder than usual to be there, too. And there's that SAD thing that seems to have hit me harder than usual this year.  Maybe because winter seems to have come earlier than usual and with vengeance.  We have another 4-6" predicted for today.  It seems to never stop, and it's technically not even winter yet! It was our hope that this would be our last winter in the cold and snowy land.  We still hope that this is true, but I am less optimistic than I once was that we will actually be able to make a major move this year.  There are all sorts of reasons for this that have to do with technical rules and regs related to the licensure for my day job and how I was educated for it over ten years ago.  It seems that simply being educated for and having a license in a profession for a number of years in one state does not qualify one to obtain that same licensure in another. Oh if it were only that simple! So I'm feeling sort of glum about all of that right now.

And then there was the Lessons and Carols thing. Short story.  It got cancelled and I was glad.  Anyone who has been here for a while could not imagine that I would ever say that.  I could not imagine that I would ever be saying that.  But this year....yes. We have (well now it's had but that's another story) a new choir director.  He had his own ideas about things.  They did not include our traditional L and C but rather a much pared down version.  Somber Advent version.  Hymns, chants...from the Hymnal, lots of congregational singing.  All well and good I suppose.  But not our tradition.  He didn't ask, he just...decided.  There was to be but one rehearsal.  All that was needed really for this simple version.  It got pre-empted by a blizzard. So did the L and C. End of story. He's decided to step down after a very short tenure as CD.  It's ok.  He will stay as in the organist's rotation. That should work.

It's snowing.  It looks like that prediction is right on point. The cancellations are starting to come in. It will be a good day to catch up on end of year paperwork and maybe some much needed office cleaning. I have some really yummy leftovers to microwave for lunch, and a good book on my Nook to keep me occupied. The trick is to keep my brain busy and on task.  It likes to go off down dark little rabbit trails when left to it's own devices. So like a good minder, I must have things ready to keep it gainfully employed.

So begins the last week of the Advent that never really started. There's part of me that still wants to redeem it somehow. Get  out the wreath before it's all over. "Light the candles, banish the darkness" the small and ever-hopeful part of me says. Perhaps. Perhaps. I do know still where the box is stored.  It would not take so much to find it. One small act to beat back this gloom, one small defiance to claim this Christmas yet.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Five: Christmases Past

Jan says: "Tell us about five Christmas memories you have."

Well like all things in life, there are those Christmases that are memorable in their wonderfulness, and then there are those that hold memories for other reasons.....and thinking back there are far more of the former
  • I'll start with my best Christmas first Christmas with my sweet husband. We had been dating for a few months and I kinda had that feeling about this guy.  He was sweet and funny, cute and kind.  And he drove that hot little car!  Well Christmas Eve came, and I was, as I usually am on that day, helping my Presby friends get ready for their big annual community turkey dinner that precedes the evening service. R had mentioned that he might stop by after work.  And stop by he did! He arrived just as the prep was heating up, we were in need of an extension cord...he had one in the truck.  We needed someone handy with figuring out how to hook things problem, he was on it.  And the next thing I knew he was in an apron next to me scooping mashed potatoes and chatting up the diners.  After dinner and clean up we went together to my friend C's lovely service where I thrilled to hear his bass next to my soprano on the carols.  After a little lull it was on to my church to get ready for our late service.  There too he pitched in, folding the bulletins, changing the hymn board, passing out the candles, just generally making himself very useful....yep he was a keeper.  One of our college kids, home for the break was, typically, the first to note to her godmother after the service...."Oh, I see Rev. Kate's got herself a guy."  Oh and indeed she did! My friends tell me of that Christmas it was written all over me that I was a goner for him.  It's very clear that was the year I got the best Christmas gift ever!
  • This is one of those "oher ones." I don't remember why it was we moved on Decmber 21st. But we did. And everything that could go wrong pretty much did. Most of the promised moving crew failed to appear, it snowed (of course it did, it's Minnesota! It's December! Duh.) But it snowed a lot We measured it in feet as I recall. But we did finally get everything schlepped from point a to point b. And someone (perhaps it was me) insisted that there must be a tree. I was young and foolish. So on about the 23rd or 24th we went to get a tree. The pickings were slim by that point, but we found a tree, such as it was and hauled it through the snow, back to the apartment and....couldn't find the tree stand of course. So back out we went and got a new one. It was simpler. While we were out there we got some lights, knowing full well that finding ours was pretty unlikely at this point also. Back we went, into the stand, up with the lights and into the corner....fini! No ornaments, no trim. And I'm not sure we even lit it. But we did have a tree.
  • My first Christmas on the prairie.  I was sort of living in two places.  Here, but not really here.  Home was still in the big city, friends and family were there, but because of work, I had to be here.  Sad and lonely on Christmas night I fell asleep under the Christmas tree. I remember a friend comforting me and telling me that in years hence this would  become home and of course she was right.
  • Many Christmases have this memory for me from childhood....midnight Mass followed by hot cocoa and a new pair of pajamas.  My mom and I would walk to Mass a block away.  The church was always so beautiful, all golds and red, smelling of candle wax and incense.  There was no choir, but the organ was amazing and we filled the place with singing.  After church I always got to open the one present mom handed me (the pjs) while I drank my cocoa and then go to bed in the new jammies.
  • Another repeating memory from the past is my dad's Tom and Jerry's.  His recipe is lost in time.  No one has ever made them like him, thick and battery and sweet.  I got to have them sans alcohol as a kid and then graduated to the real thing as a grown up.  I bought the commercial ones and being sooo disappointed that they were nothing like his.  I can still see him in my mind's eye in the kitchen of our apartment with the big mixer working on his batter.  This was something that was all his project and they were great!
Addendum/Bonus...Well after all this thinking about those T and J's I had to go out looking on the Internet to see if I could fuind a recipe that sounded like it might approximate Dad's...and this one sounds like it might come close.  I think there may have to be a taste test this weekend. After all I do own a set of those cute little mugs!
Tom and Jerry

12 eggs separated
3.5 lbs sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat egg yolks with 3lbs of sugar and nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves until thick and light
Separately, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form
Gradually beat in remaining sugar into egg whites
Beat egg whites until stiff
Gently fold egg whites into yolks.

To make the classic Tom and Jerry:
Preheat a 6oz mug with hot water and drain
add 1 HEAPING dessert spoon of batter mix
add 1/2 oz JAMACAIN RUM and or/ 1/2 oz good BRANDY
add hot water to taste

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Five: December Survival Guide Edition

kathrynzj says: "Whether a RevGal or a Pal most of us in this cyber community have enhanced responsibilities during this time of year. We also have traditions - religious and secular - that mark the season for us in a more personal way."

For this Friday Five please let us know five of the things that mark the season for you.
  1. Light.  Whether sparkling on trees, lighting the dark winter night or glowing from our candles in the sanctuary as we sing Silent Night, it's all about the light.
  2. Music.  From the glorious and sublime (think Handel's Messiah done well) to the sappy and sentimental (the Charlie Brown kids caroling),'s all Christmas
  3. Music...subpart 1a...Lessons and Carols.  Very special and sacred part of the Christmas tradition at our little church.  Bittersweet this year for more than one reason. Likely a blog post to come.
  4. Must. Surprise. Someone.  There has to be something, somehow every year that has that element.  Some gift, some activity, something I can pull off that has an element of surprise and hopefully joy and whimsy
  5. Feeding people. Whether it's a meal or cookies at home, or helping my Presbyterian friends with the Christmas dinner, it's just not right unless someone gets fed!
And the bonus? Tell us one thing that does absolutely nothing for you.
That would have to be the GIANT tasteless conglomerations of decorations people put together that light up the countryside for miles, don't go together in any meaningful way and seem to just exist to be bigger than the next guys.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

To Dream Perhance to....Panic?

I woke up twice last night just short of panic.  This has not happened to me for a very long time. So long that I had almost forgotten how very bad it feels to come out of sleep gasping and disoriented.  I think I was having nightmares, but I don't remember.  There was something about a snake and, the second time flashes of bright colored fabric. But what it means...who knows?  I have never even really been quite sure what school of dream theory I subscribe to.  The random flashes of the synapses, that we, makers of meaning that we are, simply must put story to?  The "digestive system" of the brain, working through the flotsam and jetsam of the day, putting it in order and figuring out where and how amidst the options available to store this feeling or that memory? An arcane and magical set of symbols, tapped deeply into the collective unconscious or some other deeper Knowing that helps us connect, if we are willing to attend, through our dreams to deeper and greater truths?  Or all of this...or none?

All I know for sure is that it is not a nice way to start the day.  However, it does feel, as we say in my biz, rather "mood congruent" for the way of things of late.  The last time I had these nasty night panic things, as well as waking anxiety at the level I'm now carrying it, was during my internship.  Those were twelve long dark months that I'd never wish to live through again.  I'd like to think that I am personally a lot healthier now and have a lot more going for me in the coping skills department, as well as a rock solid support system and safety net par excellence.  But I also know well my vulnerabilities.  This generally is not my favorite time of year.  It's cold, it's dark and people often demand cheerfulness of a level that I just can't quite muster. It's pretty much taking what I have to get up and get here, be here.  And I am practicing some restraint (the filter posts to the contrary), which takes even more.

I note that I am still capable of gratitude and I consider this a very good sign.  Small things that really are not so small...R's knowing when all is not well, coffee in the bloodstream, the waggy Maggie in the morning kitchen....the small Voice that reminds me..."it will pass, it will pass." The knowledge that there IS a cruise out there somewhere with my name on it, and that this time next year......anywhere but here....these things help too.  But today is a darkish one.  And I am plodding through.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Filter Failure (again)

Well I lost my filters again. Yes it was another meeting.  This time it was my peers and direct supervisor. (Last time I lost it with the Executive Director!) Maybe I should not be allowed to attend meetings.  Or should be required to be muzzled prior. I used to be so good at this "sit quietly and keep your counsel" business. But lately....things just spill out of me. They are true things.  They are honest things.  But they are not always prudent things to say, nor are they always said in the, shall we say...."nice" way. I'm afraid my feelings are pretty apparent...and they are not the "nice feelings" either.  I'm angry, frustrated, agitated and incensed.  I'm tired of people who have never been "in the shoes" saying how it it is and how it must be.  I'm really sick of people with no vision and no sense of mission disrespecting and discounting my education, skills and experience, but even more importantly, the lived experience of the people we are here to serve by micromanaging and setting up silly petty rules that exist only because "the consultant says" they should and only the bottom line counts more than anything else. (Yep, last time I checked I still worked for a non-profit.)

So I am praying for patience and a greater sense of discretion (or a big roll of flesh colored duct tape).  The little numbers in the counter to the right are significant.  The Next Great Adventure cannot begin until this one has run its course.  There is a commitment to be kept and I cannot afford to do anything really egregious.  My work here is not done, either.  There are people with whom things are still to be accomplished in our time remaining. So one day at a time. Breathing and praying and....skipping meetings? Maybe I need to find that goat again. Or another lovely animal that I can hold and not allow to be "got" by the powers that be. I am open to suggestion at this point.