Thursday, May 31, 2007

Power of Poetry

I copied out this poem for a friend at church who's going through a rough time. Even though William Blake lived two hundred years ago, he spoke to my own issues, as well as to my friend's ... and perhaps also to yours.

On Another's Sorrow by William Blake

Can I see another's woe
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! Never can it be!
Never, never can it be?

And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear,

And not sit beside the nest,
Pouring pity in their breast;
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant tear;

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
O, no! Never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

He doth give His joy to all;
He becomes an infant small;
He becomes a Man of Woe;
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh
And thy Maker is not by;
Think not thou canst weep a tear
And thy Maker is not near,

O! He gives to us His joy
That our grief He may destroy;
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's in a Name?

As the kids and I strolled through the cemetery yesterday, I was struck more than ever by the tradition of names in our family. As I read the headstone of my great-great-grandparents on my grandfather's side, and as I gazed at my great-grandparents' and grandparents' markers, the tradition of the names "Mae" and "Edwards" came to me more forcefully than ever.

"Mae," an English name, is a derivation of "May," named for the month and also is a common name for the hawthorn flower. "Mae" was the middle name, later adopted as the first name, of my great-great grandmother and my maternal grandmother (whose first names were Sally and Blossom, respectively; who can blame them for changing to "Mae"?), and was the middle name for my maternal great-grandmother, Lela. (What a card she was!) "Mae" is also my mother's middle name, as well as mine and E's as well. My mother's cousin gave "Mae" as the middle name of his daughter (who is younger than E). So this simple name of (arguably) the most beautiful month of the year traces its way through at least six generations of women in our family. As I do my genealogical research this summer, we'll see if it reaches even further back.

Another name that was prominent yesterday in our family plots was "Edward," an English name meaning "happy guardian" or "favored son." We discovered the first name "Edward" on my great-great grandfather's tomb yesterday (and my research has revealed it was his father's first name as well), and it was also the name of my mother's great uncle, nicknamed "Uncle Ebby." "Edward" is my grandfather's and my uncle's middle name, and we gave it as a middle name our youngest son, B, in honor of my grandfather. (B was born on Pearl Harbor Day where my grandfather played a key role.) "Edward" is a common name, yes, far more common than "Mae," but it's indicative of our family's British heritage and history.

So what's in a name? Memory, history, association, tradition, and love of family. Walking through a beautiful cemetery on a sunny afternoon with one's children and sharing memories of those who have gone before. Laughing over a great-grandmother's signature phrase and retelling a grandfather's corny jokes to a new (and appreciative) audience. The continuation of family story and history from one generation to the next, a precious thing indeed. And it all begins with a name.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day

We stopped by Greenwood cemetery this afternoon, the day after Memorial Day and the day before my grandfather's birthday. It's always an important day for me: to stop and remember my uncle who was killed in a plane crash at age 31, my maternal and paternal grandparents, my great-grandparents, my great-great uncle, and my great-great grandparents. I tell stories about these people to my kids so that even though they're no longer here, my kids will have memories and stories to pass down to their families. That's also why I want to work on my family's genealogy this summer.

Before the cemetery trip, all six of us watched a matinee of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World'd End. It had excellent parts and extremely stupid parts; I suppose the good parts outweigh the bad parts overall. It was enjoyable nevertheless and worth the price, I suppose, even for six people. At nearly three hours, it was a bit long and definitely needed some judicious editing. But it was still breathtaking and funny at the same time: the mark of a good movie.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday in Whitsunweek

The Collect:

Send, we beseech thee, Almighty God, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that he may direct and rule us according to thy will, comfort us in all our afflictions, defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

I won't type out the Epistle and Gospel readings for this second day of Whitsunweek, but here are the verses:

Epistle: The Acts of the Apostles 10:34-48
Gospel: St. John 3:16-21.

So why is Pentecost called Whitsunday in the Anglican Church? Let's talk a little about Pentecost itself first. It merely means "50," and refers to 50 days after the Passover. It was considered to be the Festival of First Fruits, the best that we can give to God. And on that day that the Jews were to dedicate their best gifts to God, He gave them a most amazing gift: Himself, dwelling within the believers of Christ.

Spring brings new life: new life in nature, with flowers and the birth of baby animals, and new life in Christ as well. From the Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity's excellent weekly Beadle's Report of May 27: "In ecclesiastical calendars Pentecost is the seventh Sunday after Easter and closes Eastertide.... in ancient times neophytes were baptized at this time. From the white garments of these converts comes "Whitsunday," an English name for Pentecost."

The Beadle continues, "In the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898) {we are told] that the origin of the term flows from Wit or Wisdom Sunday, the day when the Apostles were filled with wisdom by the Holy Spirit."

So there are the two possible explanations behind the Anglican term "Whitsunday" for Pentecost. Either way, we give thanks to God for the gift of His Holy Spirit that leads, comforts, and indwells us.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pentecost, commonly known as Whitsuntide

I had the opportunity between services to remind Pastor Stephen that today is Pentecost Sunday. The Anglicans refer to Pentecost as "Whitsuntide," which I'll define more clearly once I receive the weekly Beadle's Report from Alpine Anglican in my inbox. Hap's explanation will be much clearer than mine, plus we have all of "Whitsun Week" to celebrate anyway.

The Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (to be prayed daily throughout Whitsun Week):

O, God, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle reading is from the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, starting at the first verse (from which I'm including only an abbreviated text):

When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance....

So today is the day in which we celebrate the coming of the "Comforter" which Jesus promised His disciples before His passion, death, and resurrection. And in those dark hours between Jesus' death and resurrection, I'm sure that His followers desperately needed comforting! Their hopes for a Messiah who would overthrow the oppressive Roman government seemed to be crushed. Their plans for an earthly kingdom, ruled by Christ, were gone.

The Gospel reading for today comes from the fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, starting at the fifteenth verse; I'll only include small portions of this long section just to show what Jesus stated concerning His Holy Spirit:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth....

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid....

So, on Pentecost, when the believers were gathered together in perfect unity [may it be so in Thy Church once again and forevermore, O Lord!], they received the "gift" of "comfort" that Jesus had promised to send them after He left His earthly life behind and ascended into heaven. Now we, too, can share in this gift of God's Holy Spirit as He indwells us, leads us, advises us, comforts us, and assures us of His great, perfect, and all-encompassing love for each and every one of us. In *NO* way do we deserve such a gracious gift, but He gives it to us despite our failings, our weaknesses, our waxing-and-waning faith.

He keeps His promises. He loves us. And we especially thank and praise Him on this day as we celebrate His gift to the early church and to each of us who believe.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Book Recommendation...

I've been working slowly at this book for over a month, and today I finally finished it in a long reading session that pushed through chapters on Joseph, the Ugandan Martyrs, Aloysius Gonzaga, and Mary, plus a concluding chapter.

Fr. Martin weaves historical lives of holy people (not all are "official" saints of the Catholic Church) with his own spiritual experiences as a Jesuit in Jamaica, Africa, Italy, and inner-city Chicago and Boston, in the latter which he worked with inner-city gangs, as a prison chaplain, and in AIDS and other hospices. He relates his own autoimmune issues that have limited his physical ministry but have deepened his faith and his contemplation of the goodness and sovereignty of God.

He looks upon these saints as "companions," or "fellow-pilgrims" on the Christian Way. They have inspired him, provoked him to "love and good deeds," surprised him, and comforted him as He continues to serve and please God. He tells their stories with affection and with delineation between established fact and legend, weaving his own transparent and oh-so-human experiences with each saint he discusses.

My Life with the Saints is a book to read slowly, meditatively, and creates quite a reading list by its end. I now want to follow up with readings by Thomas Merton, Vita Sackville-West's biography of Joan of Arc, Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises, and Chesterton's biography of Thomas Aquinas. So, thank you very much again, Carmen, for sending me this book. It's a treasure-trove of spiritual insight and encouragement: just what I needed!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Another Anglican Moment

This morning Friday's Healing Service was cancelled as Father Acker and Alice were out of town on family business. It was a good week for me to miss since I was still exhausted from yesterday's art contest and Wellness Fair; it was nice to sleep in.

Today Keith took all four kids with him to work and gave me a couple of hours at Starbucks to write. I started out my time with one of my favorite books, John Baillie's excellent little treasure, The Diary of Private Prayer. An Anglican who doed in 1960, this little classic has taught me so much about prayer; it's set up as a page of morning and evening prayers for 31 days, plus special morning and evening prayers for Sundays. So one can pray through the book each month, and the prayers never get old or worn. His prayers have a global and confessional aspect unlike anything I had ever prayed before. It was first recommended to me by my online friend Karen, and I've either recommended or given it to at least a dozen people. It's a precious book of prayer with its basis in the Book of Common Prayer.

Eventually I will have to get a hardcover copy as my paperback is getting rather worn and yellowed. If you don't have a copy of this little 135-page book, I can't recommend it enough. It was the perfect way, along with the Psalms for the 25th morning from the Book of Common Prayer, to start another writing session on my testimony which I will be weaving throughout my book as a unifying and personal factor.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Plans and Hopes for Summer...

Don't get me wrong -- I love teaching our four children at home, but it does eat up the vast majority of my time. Not that I'd have it any other way, mind you, but I have so little free time during the school year that I always look forward to summer as a time to relax, rest, and perhaps make some trips to my parents' place at the beach. I do still have to make some decisions about textbooks and curricula for our eleventh year of homeschooling, and I hope to get that all nailed down by the end of June.

But, homeschooling aside, this summer I have plans. Judith and I and our creative arts council will be busy with our "Taste of Art" summer series where kids in grades K-8 will receive excellent arts lessons in music, writing, woodworking, and watercolors for minimal cost (scholarships for those who can't afford even $3 for a two-hour lesson). The program will take place on Tuesday afternoons in July. Judith and I are co-teaching the writing sessions which will be taught in two different areas in the backcountry, plus we'll be helping out with the other artists as they teach in our town.

Judith has also volunteered to help me with a garden area in our yard. In our front yard, we have this very sunny spot where the lawn dies first, where it's just plain ugly. It's the perfect place to create a lovely spot to enjoy the view of the meadow, to soak in the sunshine, and to surround myself with beautiful flowers. So that's another project for this late spring/early summer: one that will aid my creativity in having a lovely place to write.

In addition, I have some leads on my family genealogy project. I will devote some time and energy to that job as well. Finding and copying that Master's thesis on my family definitely will help, but I will have to go back further generations. It will be an adventure for sure.

Plus, my dear friend Kitty and I have an idea for a literary-type small group at Lake Murray; we're still working out the details. I'm really excited about this group; I've wanted to do something like this for quite a long time but haven't had the courage or the physical strength to go forward with it.

I also am slated to be our creative art council's Featured Artist for October which means that I'll definitely have to cobble some poetry together, smooth out some (VERY) rough drafts, and work out some ideas that have been floating around but are not pinned down yet. I really need some feedback on improving my poetry; I have several accomplished poet friends but not really the situation to lay my work out before them for feedback and ideas for improvement. Having some feedback at the last Ad Lib retreat from two writers who edit a literary magazine was so helpful; feedback truly is a necessary ingredient in successful writing of every genre, but especially for poetry.

But besides all these projects, I really want to work on my articles on church practices. I have some ideas for the direction these can go, and I'd really like to be able to collect these later into chapters for a book. This project is the main area I wish for my energy to go for the next few months. Summer is really my only chance to devote a chunk of time and energy into a major project, and this one is so close to my heart; it's a deep passion of mine. I truly desire to end up with something publishable, but I need a very personal angle to balance the research. So I continue to pray, to ask for the Lord's leading. May He bless what He has given me a passion for: understanding and acceptance between Catholic and Protestant brothers and sisters.

I do know that, realistically, I won't get half of these goals done this summer; it's an enormous undertaking for a time period of only two months. But I'm looking for PROGRESS: to make some significant headway in the articles/book project, to do well with the Summer Art program, to nail down the homeschooling for next year, and to get a little done in the other areas.

I also realize that I do need to take time to truly REST during these short months; as homeschooling does really drain me of so much time and energy, I NEED to replenish my stores by just sitting on the beach with my toes dug into the sand, reading the final Harry Potter novel. Rest is indeed a necessity, but I hope I can also make some progress in these plans and hopes for this summer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007



And well-deservdly! He's come the farthest, danced the best, and been the most consistent of the dancers.

We've like Laila, and we've enjoyed Joey, but Apolo has triumphed. E and I let out screams that frightened the dog and woke the boys.

Screaming again: "WOO-HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" "YAY, APOLO!!!!!!!!!!"

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Finals!!!

E and I watched the Dancing with the Stars Season 4 Finals tonight. I was absolutely spellbound by Apolo and Julianne's freestyle performance - I was actually in tears (of relief, I think) that they had done so well. How can a breakdance make me cry? I don't know, but it's been an amazing season, and I'm counting the minutes until tomorrow night's final. We usually watch House and record Dancing's Results, but we will probably have to record House and watch the Final Results. Definitely, I think.

So we gave Apolo my five online votes, and E is going to vote also from Keith's computer. GO APOLO!!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday after Ascension Day

Today's Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

O God, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

As we discussed the 20th chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel in Sunday School at Lake Murray this morning, I mentioned the verses from Ascension Day as a parallel to what Bill was teaching about how the disciples, as they squabbled amongst themselves as to who would sit at the right and left of the throne of Jesus, didn't comprehend that Jesus was not to be an earthly Messiah. (At least not until His Second Coming, but He explains that much later....) The disciples were looking for someone who would free Israel from the rule of Rome, and instead they heard Jesus' parables about "the kingdom of heaven," and they just couldn't wrap their brains around what He was trying to teach them about His Kingdom. In Acts 1, the reading for Ascension Day, the disciples were gathered together with Jesus just before He ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, and they asked, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Even as Jesus was being lifted in the cloud, they were STILL looking for an earthly kingdom, an earthly Messiah, one who would free them from political oppression. What they got, but didn't necessarily understand, was a Messiah who freed them from their own sin as well as from original sin -- the sin that has been inherent in personkind since Adam and Eve ate from the apple in Eden. Christ freed them spirtually and emotionally, not politically.

Their confusion gives me hope. Why? Because if these guys who were hanging out with Jesus for three years, listening to all of His teachings, witnessing all His healings, watching Him day and night -- if these guys didn't always understand all the dimensions of Christ and His teachings, then I don't feel so bad when I can't wrap my mind around certain aspects of theology. And what do we do when we can't understand Jesus, can't understand God?

We trust. We walk in faith toward what we do comprehend. We wait for His spiritual revelation. We put it in the "mystery" category and know that as St. Paul so effectively states in his second Letter to the Church at Corinth: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (2 Corinthians 13:12, King James). So in heaven we'll finally know all that is "mystery" in this life, whether that be regarding God, human relationships, events in our lives -- we SHALL know it ALL. That verse from 2nd Corinthians is one that I love and look forward to. Woo-hoo!

And when Jesus left earth and rose up to heaven, He promised us a very special something: the Holy Spirit. The Comforter. We'll celebrate Pentecost next Sunday: the day when the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples in the Upper Room. And am I ever looking forward to this celebration!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday's Simple Pleasure....

$1.29 worth of joy sits on my front porch, waiting for me to truck it around to the back garden and plunk it into the ground. I'll dig it a little home between two tall hollyhocks, remove it from its 4-inch pot, tickle its roots, and fold it into the earth. This little tuft of green and purple is one of my favorite plants, Mexican Heather, which I bought at Rite Aid yesterday. It will grow to be a lovely, large plant, blooming prolifically all summer long, and well into the fall.

If I carefully tuck it in with pine straw next autumn, I'm hoping it will overwinter well and be around for years of growth, bloom, and pleasure. All for the remarkable price of $1.29. Now that's a simple pleasure.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday's Anglican Moment

Above is the icon of Jesus that graces the front of tiny Victoria Chapel where this morning we celebrated the second day of the Ascension Octave (eight-day observance).

The Collect for Ascension Day is prayed on each day of the Octave, and we prayed it together this morning also:

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Preface for the Octave of Ascension, which is said after the various prayers in the liturgy of Holy Communion, reads thus:

Through thy most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who, after his most glorious Resurrection, manifestly appeared to all his Apostles, and in their sight ascended up into heaven, to prepare a place for us; that where he is, thither we might also ascend, and reign with him in glory.

So after the Octave of Ascension is over, Pentecost (or Whitsunday, as the Church of England cals it) will be just two days hence! It's also one of my favorite Holy Days, another one that I wish the evangelical churches took more notice of. The Church Calendar is such a cool thing, especially as it points continually to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus! The Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday is observed. Then we'll return to the days of Ordinary Time which round out the Church Calendar, until Advent arrives in late November. Oh, there will be saints' days to remember and observe, but the Holy Days will be done once Trinity is past.

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer numbers Ordinary Time by how many Sundays each week is after Trinity ... 15th Sunday after Trinity, etc. It gets a bit confusing for a newbie like myself to keep track of which Sunday is which, but at least this year Father Acker gave me an Anglican calendar with the Sundays in Trinity clearly numbered; last year I numbered them myself on a secular calendar so I wouldn't get too lost.

But I don't want to get ahead of myself; we are celebrating Ascension now and Pentecost and Trinity soon!

So a Blessed Ascension to you all, and for six more days....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What is Today?

It's Ascension Day. Yep, forty days after Easter, according to the first chapter of the Book of Acts, Jesus ascended up into the clouds after telling His disciples:

But ye shall receive power,, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (From the Epistle reading for Ascension Day, 1928 Book of Common Prayer)

Another cool thing about Ascension Day, besides the promise of the Holy Spirit, is that two men in white appeared to the disciples and said to them:

Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (1928 BCP again)

So that's how Our Lord is returning. From the clouds. In glory.

I would love to see Ascension Day celebrated in more evangelical churches. It's such a wonderful image of the power and might of Christ, ascending "to the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the death, Whose kingdom shall have no end..." (Nicene Creed, 1928 BCP).

So imagine it. Envision it. And celebrate the power and glory of the Lord our God.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Semi-Finals of "Dancing"....

So here are the Season 4 Finalists in "Dancing with the Stars," with photos placed in the order in which I'd like to see them win:

Apolo and Julianne -- what a wonderful couple! I disagree with Len's assessment of their cha-cha-cha; I thought it far better than Leila's Egyptian quickstep and Ian's Elvis jive. It was technically perfect and to grade it down on taste alone seemed a bit shabby to me. However, 59 out of 60 possible is nothing to sneeze at, and we're really pulling for this young couple to walk away with another (albeit ugly) trophy for Apolo's collection. They received all five of my online votes.

Joey and Kym did a bang-up job on both their dances. Their showmanship is hard to equal, and their creativity seems to have no end. But I don't think they have the fan-base that Apolo and Juli have; we'll see. They are great -- this competition is truly anyone's to win.

As much as I love the Bangle's "Walk Like an Egyptian," I didn't care at all for Leila and Max's actual quick step. I much preferred their sexy cha-cha-cha which showcased Leila at her very, very best. She does the Latin dances so well; she moves smoothly across the floor with confidence and ease.

So I'm hoping for Apolo and Julianne to win, but any of these three dancing pairs are worthy of the title and the ugly trophy. It was a truly amazing Week 9 semi-finals, with only three scores out of twenty-four not being a perfect "10." Watch the semi-finals on if you haven't already; it could be the most enjoyable 90 minutes you've ever spent.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Today I added a banner to the blog here; I saw it on a friend's photo blog and stole the idea. has been dear to my heart for several years; Bono of U2 is behind the organization which is explained below, in a blurb from the site:

The ONE Campaign is an effort by Americans to rally Americans – one by one – to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. ONE is students and ministers, punk rockers and NASCAR moms, Americans of all beliefs and every walk of life, united to help make poverty history.

The ONE Campaign derives its name from the belief that allocating an additional one percent of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the world's poorest countries. We also call for debt cancellation, trade reform and anti–corruption measures in a comprehensive package to help Africa and the poorest nations beat AIDS and extreme poverty.

So if you feel so led, click on the banner and check out the site. I believe that we as Christians need to have a global vision to spread the Gospel not only via missionaries but also through service to our brothers and sisters throughout the world. As St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Our actions as followers of Christ say far more than our words do. Let's preach the gospel by serving those who are suffering across the globe.

From U2's song "One":

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

At church I was presented with a bag of Dove chocolates and a refrigerator magnet, gifts from our church to all the mothers. We also experienced a sermon on "Mary, Mother of the Perfect Child." After chatting with friends, we ate our usual post-church Taco Bell lunch, then stopped at two fabric stores and the pet store on errands. I asked if we could also stop at Summers Past Farms on the way home, so we strolled the gardens, listening to hymns played live on guitar and meeting up with friends from church. It was far too crowded to take photos there today, so these are from Friday.

When I got home, I watered the garden and planted the three six-packs of flowers (cosmos, dianthus, and salvia) I had purchased at Summers Past on Friday. Then I sat out in my beach chair on the lawn, reading about Dorothy Day in My Life with the Saints and sunning myself. Keith made homemade gluten-free pizza tonight for dinner and dark chocolate mousse for dessert, which we enjoyed while watching the Survivor Fiji finale. E gave me some lavender bath salts, bath beads, and lotion, and T made me earrings at church. On Friday I spent my birthday gift certificate from my Secret Sister at Aubrey Rose Tea Room where I bought a small "green Betty" teapot for every day use and a warmer (put a tea light underneath to keep the tea hot in the pot). So I was assured of receiving at least one gift on Mother's Day.

My own mother spent the day sitting on the beach in Waikiki, so she had a lovely Mother's Day; before my parents left, we had given her Plumeria products from Bath and Body Works, her favorite. Besides, one can't get better than a Mother's Day on a Hawaiian beach!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers I know who inspire me with their love and care and wisdom as we love and serve and teach and encourage our children, whatever their ages!


We've been rooting for Yau-Man in this season's Survivor Fiji. He has impressed us greatly with his humor, intellect, grace under pressure, kindness, and skills with both people and the games. Yau's joy when finding the immunity idol, his aid in helping Earl find one as well, and his weakness being his strength all endeared him to us. He has always played to his full potential, and to see Dreamz go back on his word so completely tonight angered us beyond words. Keith and E were sure Dreamz would keep his word and give Yau-Man the immunity idol he promised to give in exchange for the brand-new truck Yau-Man gave him, but I was sure Dreamz would renege. Even though I expected Dreamz to go back on his word, I was still exceedingly angry when he did so. Here's Dreamz, who works with children and claims to be a Christian and says he wants to teach integrity to his own son and other kids, and then he not only keeps the immunity idol he promised Yau-Man for himself but also keeps the truck Yau Man gave him! How unbelievably crass.

All the way through while we were rooting for Yau, we said Earl was our second favorite. When Earl also voted for Yau, we were extremely disappointed, but Yau would have won against Earl, according to a poll during the Reunion Show, so Earl did win the game by his ploy. Earl is an okay guy, but Yau was our MAN! He definitely should have won; he played the game SMART, despite age and size and lack of strength; his only mistake was trusting where he shouldn't have, which was a common downfall as Dreamz pretty much double-crossed everyone at one time or another this season.

We love Yau, MAN!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday's Simple Pleasure

As E and I ran into the library briefly yesterday to pick up a book, Sherry our head librarian told us about a new event in our small town library: a monthly "Chick Flick." And the very first one was to be that very night, with Music & Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore being the featured presentation. And the fee to attend: a snack to share.

E and I loved the film when it first came out; we'd seen it in the theatre for my birthday in March. So, armed with a bag of baby carrots as our snack contribution, we ventured out "on the town" on a Friday night to find the library's community room full of women who had brought serious snacks: strawberries to dip in melted chocolate, white-chocolate macadamia-nut cookies, M&Ms, popcorn, lemonade, trail mix, etc.

All the women agreed that we MUST do this twice a month, at the very least. Next on the dock: The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz.

So my Simple Pleasure of this week: watching a movie with my neighbors, laughing and eating chocolate together, and Hugh Grant's corny, bootie-shaking, 80s-era music video....

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday's Anglican Moment

I was thinking that on Fridays I could post something that I'm learning about the Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer, etc. It's handy to do so on Fridays after spending Friday mornings in the single pew at Victoria Chapel for Morning Prayer at 9:15 AM and Holy Communion at 9:30. (If anyone local EVER wants to join me, please let me know!)

In part of the Holy Communion service, the priest prays this prayer, one that strikes at my heart every time I hear it:

And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us and we in him.

Of course, we can understand from which Scriptures these words of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer are drawn. As these allusions from Romans 12, John 6, and other Scriptures are intoned, I always, always find this to be one of the most uplifting portions of the service. To offer myself, poor and wretched and sinful, up to Him who is perfect and holy and just, seems so impossible. Yet I feel His heavenly touch on my spirit as He overlooks my poor state and claims instead, "Yes, you are worthy to worship. Yes, come to My Table and Taste and See that I AM. You are worthy because I AM."

Who would want ME? Me, with all my faults, all my hangups, all my sensitivities and pride and selfishness?

He does. He does indeed. And I offer myself to Him with all gratefulness and thankfulness and a tiny, tiny sense of the immensity of His grace.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Totally Unfair!

Rachel, Carol, Carrie, myself, and Becky

A certain SOMEBODY who also attended our first Internet retreat at Julie's home in Ohio e-mailed this "blast from the past" right after the Topsail retreat.

With the exception of having met Julie previously, this retreat was my first time to actually MEET all these women I knew so well online. With Nikki's help, I dragged an 18-month-old B across the country as he was still nursing five times a day. In Columbus, we met up with Becky at the airport, rented a car, and drove from the capital of Ohio nearly to Cinci where we met up with other women whom we knew at a heart-level, mind-level, and soul-level, but had never seen "in real life."

When we all were assembled in Julie's cheery kitchen, humuus in hand, there was this strange silence, as if we were disconcerted by finally meeting these women in the realm of physicality rather than in the typed word and expressive emoticon.

Well, there wasn't an ax-murderer in the bunch, and we spent the weekend joyfully "hoofing it" in Julie's backyard as Becky taught us Victorian dances, talking, reading poetry together, sketching, talking, watching Les Mis and U2 videos, talking, drinking wine, consuming chocolate, talking, and staying up most of the nights ... talking.

So thanks to Karen, for sending us this "blast from the past" and noting that our eyeware has definitely changed for the better over the past six years....

"A Taste of Art"

I am so excited about our Mountain Empire Creative Arts Council summer program for kids! It's called "A Taste of Art," and we will run it on Tuesday afternoons in July in both our town and another town east of here. Each venue will have four different "Tastes" of art, one each week: Teri will be teaching music; Judith and I writing; Artie woodworking, and Myrna and Margo watercoloring.

Here in the backcountry, art is considered "not essential" by the school district. And being the least funded school district in the entire state of California, money DOES get tight. In our town, Myrna, myself, Pam, Sheri, and many others have volunteered in the school as Art Docents, giving the students at our elementary school six weeks of weekly art. It's not much, but it's better than nothing, and nothing is what the kids east of us get in the way of art. Nothing.

So we want to whet the kids' "appetites" with a "Taste of Art." Perhaps they'll be able to develop their talents as they grow older somehow, but we want them to sample, to try, to experiment, and to enjoy ART as an expression of the beauty of the human spirit.

It will be a very busy July, and July is the only month I'll be completely off from homeschooling. But it will be worth it -- the kids will get to experience ART as part of their summer down-time, and that's always a good thing!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Spring and Summer Movies....

Aaaah, what a 2007 this shall be for the movies! Spiderman 3 is already out, and Pirates 3 is coming out at the end of the month. Woo-hoo!

Then in July, Harry Potter! Can't wait for that one -- I'm drooling!

So we'll have to budget lots of money for movies this year ... they're all sequels, but all greatly anticipated ones.

Movies, here we come!

Monday, May 7, 2007


We love watching "Dancing with the Stars" and guess who's our favorite? We love watching Apolo and Julianne! This week they walked off with the highest scores, despite Len's picki-picki-pickiness about their going too fast on one dance, and he gave them an 8 when the other two judges gave perfect 10s.

These two young people seem so wholesome and are having so much fun together, like brother and sister. And despite Julianne's youth (she's only 18), she really knows her choreography! To take a speed skater and turn him into a ballroom dancer ... it's simply amazing!

Our fingers are crossed for Apolo and Julianne this season, the fourth for this show, one we've watched from Day One, aqnd one that's sparked E's own passion for ballroom dance.

Sunday Meditations....

I've been reading a wonderful book that my friend Carmen sent me for my birthday. It's a great study of the saints of the Church, written as a sort of spiritual biography. My Life with the Saints by James Martin is a sometimes humorous, always insightful and intriguing look at the saints who have affected his spiritual life the most.

Thus far he's discussed Thomas Merton, Saint Therese, Joan of Arc, and Saint Ignatius. I'm enjoying learning more about these people of God who have walked the pilgrim pathway ahead of me, of whom I can learn and take their lives as examples of ones lived fully for God, despite sins and shortcomings.

I find their personalities intriguing, as Fr. Martin lays out all their spiritual gifts as well as their humanity, their foibles, their idiosyncracies, which make them all the more endearing to me. As they point unrelentingly to Christ in how they lived their lives, they encourage me to love and serve Him all the more devotedly.

So I'm very much enjoying this book ... will write more later as I keep on reading....

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Group Photos from Topsail

By their Lamp Post signatures: Carol Ann, claire, Dancingirl, halvolady, Rachel, mukhorty, Katrina, Eclecticarrie, 2nd Opinion, Susanne, Lauraliz, Lawgirl, 7of9, dali

12 states were represented at the Topsail retreat (in no particular order): Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Illinois, Georgia, Oregon, and California.

Saturday's "Simple Pleasure"

Tea. Not Lipton. British. Smooth. Fragrant. Slightly sweet without adding sugar. Sipped hot and steaming from my favorite cups. Pleasure personified.

I adore Taylors of Harrogate Teas (established 1886), packed in Harrogate, England. I usually drink their decaffeinated tea, but on Sundays I allow myself a cup of their extra smooth and fragrant Scottish Breakfast as a special treat. Their tea isn't cheap ($7.50 for 50 teabags), but as it's the only thing I drink besides water, it's an indulgence that I don't feel terribly guilty about.

I buy my tea at a cute little shop in La Mesa called "All Things Bright and British," where the cheery gray-haired women working behind the counter speak with lovely British accents and always call B "love" as they offer him a shortbread "biscuit." I have a very difficult time resisting Walker's Shortbread in its distinctive red plaid wrapper; I usually buy just two small cookies for 99 cents and reluctantly walk away from the large tins.

So tea and "biscuits" straight from Britain: one of my favorite Simple Pleasures.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Topsail Retreat.... (very long)

I set off at 6:30 AM PST in San Diego and landed in Raleigh/Durham at 6:30 EST. As I was wheeled off the plane, Carrie was right there waiting for me. It was so lovely to see her smiling face and get hugged, Southern-style. She drove me to her lovely home only 15 minutes from the airport where I reintroduced myself to her great kids and later, her wonderful husband. So after an evening of much great conversation, Carrie and I drove to the airport and met a smiling and joyous Carol. When we got back to Carrie's, Carol and I immediately went to bed in the girls' room, where we talked into the night until almost 3 AM.

The next morning, we were in Carrie's van and starting the three-hour drive to Topsail Island by 9:15. We were talking so much that we missed a shortcut and got a bit confused by the Google map. But Carol navigated us well, and despite waiting for the drawbridge over to the island for 15 minutes, we found our way to Paula's GORGEOUS three-story beach house by 12:15 PM, just in time for lunch. There we met up with the other eleven ladies who had arrived the day before: Paula our hostess, Becky, dali, 7of9, Donna/Lawgirl, Karen/2nd Opinion, Rachel, Jess, Katrina, claire, and Laura. Claire and I roomed together on the first floor due to our health issues so we wouldn't have to tackle the stairs.

The talk was instantaneous. The view was so lovely; the beach visible from the bay window, and the weather was gorgeous. 7 and I discussed how much we missed Vera while dali worked on a lovely pastel of the beach. Cameras popped out at every moment as ladies snapped photos for 365 blogs. Several went for long walks down the beach, and others sat chatting in the sun. Much chocolate and a nice amount of wine was consumed, as usual. The ones not here were sorely missed, but we enjoyed those who were present. 7 made us a lovely dinner of grilled chicken, rice, and green beans. Later we did a personality quiz from a 1927 book called I Got Your Number with Paula calling out the questions. The wording was hilariously frank as 7 read the perceptive but caustic results. Much laughter ensued as Rachel couldn’t find a description that fit her and Karen found that she was “savage.” I was found to be “timid” and “loyal” in both of my closest matches. After the personality quiz, we proceeded to the white elephant books. Everyone had brought a wrapped book (I brought [u]Middlemarch[/u], which I call “Middlecrawl.”) At one point, I had an early Anne Lamott book in my hands, and then later a selection of books on the British Isles, but I ended up with a 1930s biography of the Brontes. Now that I have three biographies of that family, I suppose I ought to read one sometime. Much laughter ensued as books were opened, snatched, and stolen. Then Karen presented a film version of a staged production of Sondheim’s [u]Into the Woods[/u] which presented fairy tales musically and with interesting moral twists. A few of us stayed up talking until after 2 AM.

The next morning (Saturday), we were treated to a real Southern breakfast, and I had my first experience with grits which I liked very much. So grits, biscuits and sausage gravy, eggs, and sausage patties, made by Paula and Becky, started off our morning. Then dali, Paula, and 7 got out the earring-making beads, pins, and hooks. Dali, 7, Jess, and I were the main earring factory, with Carol laptopping a spiritual gifts survey with dali while we worked. Others (Becky, Rachel, Donna, etc.) stopped by the bead table and made a few pairs. I ended up making wooden earrings for Karen and black-and-whites for someone else (I forget for whom). I created two pairs for me and several pairs for others not present. I think I made about eight pairs all together, as did 7, Jess, and Dali as we chatted away the time. We earring stalwarts even stayed home from a restaurant scallops lunch in order to keep working. I called Vera partway through, and 7 had a chance to chat with her, too. At one point, Katrina and I took a short walk down the beach with our cameras, snapping photos of shells, the beach house, etc.

Later, we all piled into three vehicles and drove to a local hangout called The Green Turtle. I was in the front seat of Carrie’s van, and as we drove around, trying to find the restaurant (with a bit of backtracking), she regaled us with a Southern-mountain accent and monologue that had me laughing so hard that I was gasping for breath and begging her to stop, please! We also passed a couple signs that claimed that everyone should visit “Dr. Rootbeer’s Hall of Foam.” (I was amused, never having heard of a “Hall of Foam”!) We found The Green Turtle at last, and the proprietor insisted on shaking all of our hands as we entered. Immediately after ordering a lot of shrimp baskets and other seafood, Carol, 7, dali, and I walked outside the restaurant and around to the deck, where we took some great shots of both the scenery and of each other snapping photos. Dinner was very good, and it was amusing that the introverts had somehow managed to take the middle of the long table while the extroverts took over the ends. So we introverts listened to great conversations on either side and took part as we felt comfortable.

We then exchanged our white-elephant gifts, going in order from eldest to youngest. Much laughter, of course, especially as Carrie told the story about her phallic-shaped salt and pepper shakers she received as a wedding gift. Laura kept my British tea towel, and I got Carrie’s bookplates. Again, much stealing, swapping, deal-making, and laughter. Later, a contingent of women got into the jacuzzi and talked while others sat inside and chatted. Some were filling out Meyers-Briggs questionnaires, and I went outside with dali to chat with Rachel at the spa. Rachel was talking about how it is to be a “P” on the scale and very seriously stated something about how everyone seems to view your “P-ness,” which of course sent dali and I off in gales of laughter at Rachel’s “faux pas,” the second phallic reference of the night. Again, I stayed up past 2 AM, trying not to wake claire as I sneaked into bed.

After a quick breakfast, Katrina and I took another walk down the beach with 7, snapping photos again while Laura, Karen, and Carol braved the very cold ocean. (I have a great photo of Carol in the ocean, but she begged me not to take it, so I won’t publish it, even though she looks lovely in her swimsuit.) By noon, several of our number had to depart: Becky, Paula, Jess, dali, and Donna. Later, claire, Carol, Katrina, Carrie, Karen, and I (with my lame voice hidden behind their lovely voices) sang acapella hymns, including “A Mighty Fortress,” and my favorite, “Be Thou My Vision.” Later on, claire, Katrina, Karen, and I were sunning ourselves on the back deck while singing John Denver tunes and some classic songs, including my recent favorite, “Bridge over Troubled Waters.” Carol, Karen, claire, and I tried the jacuzzi, but it was a bit too cold and we didn’t last long. After a wonderful dinner of chicken chili made by Carrie, we settled down to watch [u]Elizabethtown[/u], after much debate as to movie choice; after all, we had over a dozen to choose from! I headed to bed at the early hour of midnight, and claire and I had a chat before bed about our health issues.

I felt horrid when I woke up the next morning, nauseous and dizzy and weak. Part of the problem was jumping out of bed waaaay too fast and blacking out for a minute or two. Another part was consuming a lot of foods my body wasn’t accustomed to over the weekend, especially sugar. Claire fed me and someone (don’t remember who) helped me to the van, and off Carol, Carrie, and I went, leaving Topsail at 8 AM in order to get Carol to the airport in time for her 12:30 flight. Carrie and Carol chatted the whole way while I listened and rested. After hugging the stuffing out of Carol at the curb and saying our goodbyes, Carrie introduced me to the wonders of Chick-Fil-A for lunch. We went back to her home, and I had the opportunity to chat with her kids and with her. She is such a warm and lovely woman, and I just admire her mind and her heart. Back to the airport we went three hours later, and Carrie hugged me as we said goodbye. It was hard to leave; I really wanted to get back in her van and go right back home with her!

It was a lovely, healing, time spent at Topsail with the very lovely ladies of the Lamp Post. I only wish that the entire group could have attended – it was the only thing that could have improved this beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Still Recovering...

I'm still very tired and very busy after the retreat in NC. It was a lovely time of creativity, nature, good conversation, and tons of chocolate.

This week I have stuff on every day: chiropractic appointments, Bible study, creative arts council board meeting, doctor's appointment, and homeschooling, lots of homeschooling. I should have gone in for chelation this week also, but will have to go next week.

My time has been taken up with my photo blogs lately, so check out both of them (see sidebar on left; the 365 blog will lead you to the 365 Extras which contains the majority of retreat photos).

I'll be back soon to discuss some of the many ideas roaming around my mind presently....


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