Thursday, October 05, 2006

Speaking Spanish

I studied Spanish from 7th – 12th grade. In college, I took all of my humanities electives as Hispanic literature courses (taught in Spanish). During my first grad school stint, I hung out with the International Student Association and shared an apartment with a woman from Honduras. I’ve also studied a little bit of French, but am better at reading it than hearing or speaking.

With all this, you’d think I’d be comfortable speaking Spanish. Yet, I have so few opportunities to practice that I get intimidated easily. I recognize that it is the intimidation factor as I become fairly fluent after a couple of beers. I learned this hanging out with the International Student Association and going to their parties. The lowered inhibitions allow me to speak without worrying if I’ve used the right tenses when I speak.

One of my professors who is preparing for an immersion trip to Guatemala, together with a woman from the dean’s office who is originally from Mexico, have begun reserving a room at the seminary on Wednesdays for lunchtime conversation in Spanish. I thought this might be a great opportunity for me to practice in a less threatening venue than the real world, so I went to check it out.

When I entered the room, K. from the dean’s office was there, as were S. – one of my professors this semester, M. another of my professors this semester, and V. – a classmate.

K. spoke Spanish (Of course! She is from Mexico.); S. knew some Italian, having lived 5 years in Rome, but no Spanish; M. was dragged in by S., but had studied Spanish for 3 years in Jr. & Sr. High; and I never quite got V.’s story.

J. – another of my professors this semester and the woman who set it up came in a little late, dragging along KD who we discovered was born in Puerto Rico. I have known him for some time, but was unaware of this tidbit. He always calls me “Cuz” when he sees me, (another story for another time), so when he came in I said, “Eh, Primo.” (Primo is Spanish for cousin.)

As we tried to speak, I could understand nearly everything that K. said in Spanish. I understood most of what KD said as well, although his accent was strange to my ears. S. spoke Italian, and I often understood him (because of similarities to French & Spanish and past attempts to read Italian), and sometimes repeated what he said in Italian back to him in Spanish. M. kept saying in English that he would never again follow S. into a room at lunch, and J. thought carefully about each word before she would say it, and therefore really struggled. She tried, but it was apparent she was working hard. V. did okay speaking, but had more trouble understanding, and she had to leave early to go to another meeting.

K. commented to J. that I speak Spanish very well. I told K. (in Spanish) that I become more fluent after a couple of beers. She responded, “No. Tequila es mejor.” (Tequila is better.) J. caught that and responded, “Not at school!” I responded, “Al otro lado de la calle.” (Across the street!)

K. told (still in Spanish, then in English) how last May her mother had called the office to wish her a happy birthday. She was not in at the time, and the secretary spoke no Spanish, and her mother spoke no English. About that time, J. walked into the office, and tried to speak with her mother, but they couldn’t communicate. Next, S. walked in, and in a mixture of English, Spanish, and Italian, was finally able to let K’s mother know that she wasn’t there.

By this time, we were all laughing really hard at the story, the conversations, the struggling, and M.’s reluctance to ever follow S. to do anything again. It was a lot of fun.

I don’t know about the others, but it was a great confidence builder for me. It was equalizing. Here I was in a room with three of my four professors this semester, and I was more comfortable with the subject matter than they. Our roles were reversed; I was instructing and they were learning.

And I continue to learn about self-image and the walls we build around ourselves. I don’t see myself as a person with a lot of walls, yet just last week I declined informing some folks looking for speakers of languages other than English that I knew Spanish. I know there are better speakers than I on campus, and I lack the confidence to place myself in the role of a translator. Maybe I need to reconsider. Perhaps I need to see it as an opportunity to hone my skills further. Maybe I need to take a little journey outside of my comfort zone.

Hasta luego,

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lunch with an old friend...

A few months back, I received a phone call from a friend from college. It's silly, really, his family lives here in town; I hung out with him and his wife in college - even sang at their wedding - yet I hadn't talked to them in YEARS! They even have kids the same ages as our kids! When we were planning our barnraising, I had an old email address, so I invited them. Surprisingly, the email address was still good, and Rob called me up to decline the invitation. But in the process we discovered that we work next-door to each other. Today, we met at the deli across the street.

Rob is a full colonel in the Army Reserve. He has spent a number of tours in Bosnia, and was in Iraq for a year. When we saw him last, he had just bought an airplane kit. Turns out that he has finished the plane and began flying it this month. Here's his site: Rob's plane .

It's so nice to catch up. We've all changed a lot, but really not so much. I saw pix of his kids. His daughter looks just like his wife. I forgot to bring pix of mine, so maybe next time.

Nothing particularly profound about this. Just felt like sharing. Later....

Friday, September 01, 2006

You Are A Fig Tree

You are very independent and strong minded.
A hard worker when you want to be, you play hard too.
You are honest and loyal. You hate contradiction or arguments.
You love life, and you live for your friends, children, and animals.
A great sense of humor, artistic talent, and intelligence are all gifts you possess.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Back to School Meme

1. What is your earliest memory of school?
Walking to school with my cousin Jimmy. My sister was the same age as Jimmy, but she refused to be seen with me. Jimmy actually introduced me to his friends and was very cool about his baby cousin.

2. Who was a favorite teacher in your early education?
My fourth grade teacher Mr. Hay was profound influence. He really cared about kids. I visited him every year while still in school, and many times after as an adult. I invited him to our ten year highschool reunion picnic, and when he showed up, he drew a crowd among my classmates. We all loved Mr. Hay. On the day we got lots of snow and school wasn't cancelled, we worked together as a class to build an eight-foot snowman on the playground. We had a class picnic at my best-friend's family farm. He encouraged us to write with weekly creative writing assignments. He read scary books to us in a sinister voice. He made us excited about math and science.

3. What do you remember about school “back then” that is different from what you know about schools now?
We NEVER had snow days! The first snow day we ever had was when I was a junior in high school. It just happened to be the same day as the funeral of the school board president's wife which was very well-attended. To this day, I believe that had more to do with the snow day than the snow did.

4. Did you have to memorize in school? If so, share a poem or song you learned.
2nd grade:
If Nancy Hanks came back as a ghost,
Seeking news of whom she loved most,
She'd ask first, "Where's my son?
What's happened to Abe? What's he done?"
That's all I remember. We had to memorize lots of pieces of the Courtship of Miles Standish in 7th grade, but that's all gone now.

5. Did you ever get in trouble at school? Were there any embarrassing moments you can share?
Never really got into any trouble. I was a good kid that everyone went out of their way to smooth the path for. I was very fortunate.

Once, while playing soccer with the boys at lunch, I was running along and my pants fell down. I stopped, pulled them up, and kept going, glancing around to see if anyone noticed. NO ONE DID! (Or at least nobody said anything...) One of those potentially embarassing moments from which I was saved.

Precious memories, how they linger!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Still waiting on the doors and roof, but definitely making progress!

Barn Building

Much of July and August has been spent building a barn! We had an old fashioned barn-raising on July 29, the day before Steve left for a week at Scout camp. Here's a picture from the barn raising. The guy in the pink shirt and the large white hat is my brother-in-law Daniel. My husband Steve is behind him, next to the guy in the white baseball cap.

We purchased a roast pig to serve to the 50 or so folks that came to help with the barn-raising. It was really pretty amazing. We invited people, and they showed up in droves! There were people from both of my new churches, friends from our home church, people from both mine and Steve's workplaces, and neighbors. A real community spirit prevailed. The people that we bought the timber-frame kit from didn't think that the barn could be raised without a crane, but we proved them wrong in short order. It was an exciting and joyful experience. Some people came just to watch, but they were the cheerleading section. Daniel chided them saying they should be chanting, "Rah, Rah, Team! Lift that BEAM!" More pictures from the day and before can be found at

During the next few weeks, the carpenters made great progress. Here are some before and after pictures from before and after my trip to Chicago. I've tried to get more or less the same angle on the pix.

More to come....(Blogger isn't letting me load all of them into one post.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five Musical edition

1. Describe the last play or musical you saw. (At least provide the what, when, where, and why). What was your opinion of it?
I went with my UMW circle from church to see "Menopause." The music was fun and the actresses were good, but my sem friend and I couldn't completely relate having not yet "gone there."
2. All time favorite play? Musical?

I absolutely adore Julie Andrews in both The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. Dick VanDyke ain't half bad in the latter, either. But truly, I enjoy just about any musical.
3. “The Producers,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Hairspray,” “The Wedding Singer”…all were movies before they were musicals (okay “The Philadelphia Story” was a play and then a movie, and they changed its name when it became a musical, but whatever). What non-musical movie do you think should next get the musical treatment?

Memoir of a Geisha. Has Our Town ever been turned into a musical? If not, why not? How about, "It's a Wonderful Life"? No. It could never live up to the movie.
4. Favorite song from a musical? Why?
"You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel. Why? The lyrics have long been a part of my personal philosophy: Walk on through the wind; walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone.
5. The most recent trend in Broadway musical revues is to construct a show around the oeuvre of a particular super-group or composer, where existing songs are woven together with some kind of through story. The most successful of these (“Jersey Boys” (The Four Seasons), “Mamma Mia” (ABBA), “Movin’ Out” (Billy Joel)) have made a mint, but many (“All Shook Up” (Elvis), “Hot Feet” (Earth, Wind and Fire)) have bombed. What great pop/rock singer/composer or super-group should be the next to be featured, and what might the story-line be for such a show?

Elton John, Harry Chapin, Cat Stevens all come immediately to mind. Storyline and plot? I have absolutely NO IDEA!

RevGalBlogPals also asked if I'd ever been in a musical. I've been in two in high school. Guys & Dolls and Camelot. Guys & Dolls was great fun! - I was one of the dancers (and I don't dance, but it fit the part). Years later one of the girls in my youth group was in the same musical, and I found a memento I had from 20 years earlier and passed it on to her. Camelot was a big disappointment because the new choir director chose leads for their popularity rather than for their talent and previous hard work in the choir. Bitter? Who? Me? Naaahhhh. I'm over it now.

I've done many other plays, too. Directed a production of The Curious Savage while in high school. It is a nice play with a good message, too. Basically takes a group of institutionalized people and depicts them as much saner and more caring than the "normal" people on the outside. Emphasis is on the little things we do daily that let people know that we love them...things like saying, "Take an umbrella, it's raining."

Enough nostalgia for one day. Thanks. This was fun.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A picture of "Blaze"

This is "Blaze," a modern-day circuit rider's loyal steed. No hay nor grain for this one, only a gallon of gasoline every ninety miles or so.

I tried to add this to my last post, but it just didn't happen. The cross and flame sticker has been added just below and to the left of the KimPossible sticker on the windshield.

How do you get better? Practice, practice, practice!

Alright, God sometimes has an interesting way of getting a point across.

For some time now I have been struggling with "praying out loud." Once upon a time, I didn't fear it, but in the last several years - maybe since I started seminary and hear so many people who are SO-O-O-O good at it -I've become insecure about it.

But NOW, I am responsible for pastoring two congregations, so I get to do it a lot. I especially have difficulty with the pastoral prayer and trying to incorporate the joys and concerns that have been shared. Both congregations are accustomed to these being included in the prayer.
For what it's worth, my very kind husband, who is usually quite honest, says he thinks I really do okay with the pastoral prayer.

Enter God, stage right.

In the two weeks that I have been in this appointment, four of my parishioners have been hospitalized for major health issues. I have visited, and I know they really expect a prayer before I leave. I try. I think I'm getting better at it, but I'm still fearful. Is this God's way of making sure I practice? Do the people I'm praying for/with really hear what I say, or is it enough that I'm present and attempting to pray for/with them?

Now, about those hospital visits.... All the visits this week were by scooter, and I even parked it in the clergy spot at one of the hospitals. The other two didn't have clergy spots, or I would have there, too. Sunday, I rode my scooter to both of the churches. Parked it in the pastor spot. One of the men who has only come back to church since I've been there (he didn't get along with my predecessor) came up to me before church started and said, "Is that your motorbike out there?" I said, "Yes." He said, "You are ALL right." Made me smile.

Actually, the scooter became a necessity this weekend. Steve had my van on a Scout trip, and the clutch went out on his car just before he left town as I was on my way to visit the hospital. He was able to drive it home, I had to make do with our remaining vehicles, none of which allow the transport of more than one passenger. Therefore, the kids were stuck at home. Friends picked them up to take them to church. They don't go to the same church as me, anyway. The scooter was the most convenient of the other vehicles, so I rode it to church. Now I remember why I got a couple of gaucho outfits last summer...for times such as these.

I've decided to name my scooter "Blaze." As I was riding between churches on a weekday in my first week on the job, I was thinking about the circuit riders of the old days, and how I was kind of doing the same thing in a more modern style. I thought my scooter needed a name like that you would give a horse. Someone suggested Blaze, and I do have flames on it, and added a UM Cross and Flame sticker, so Blaze it is!

Enough randomness. See you soon.

Friday, June 16, 2006

RevGalPals friday fiveZzzzzzz....

friday fiveZzzzzzz....

1. In what kind of environment do you sleep best? (e.g. amount of light and noise, temperature, number of pillows, breathe-right strip, sleeping in the buff, etc.)
Windows open, covered with sheet and quilt, but feet have to be out. Noise and light don't bother me unless I'm the only responsible adult in the house, and then I hear everything..

2. How much sleep do you need to feel consistently well-rested? Used to be seven hours, recently it seems like more. Ideally - seven hours at night and a mid afternoon nap.
How much can you get by on? Six or seven hours, but eventually have to catch up. I've done 3-4 per night for a couple of consecutive days, but then I have to crash.
What are the consequences when you don't get enough? Brain doesn't work as well. I get snippy with the family and look like hell.

3. Night owl or morning person? Definitely morning. My eyes close on their own after 10:30.

4. Favorite cure for insomnia - So far this has never been a big issue for me. Usually when I can't sleep it's because the brain is working overtime. Prayer helps for that.

5. To snooze or not to snooze? Why or why not? I do, but probably shouldn't. I always end up feeling more tired when I do get up than if I'd just gotten up the first time the alarm went off.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In the Middle of the Night

Makes me think of the Billy Joel song:

“In the middle of the night,
I go walking in my sleep.”

Nope. Not walking in my sleep. Awakened from it. Steve’s silly alarm watch went off at midnight in his dresser. He took it downstairs to see if he could disable the alarm feature. When he came back he said that he couldn’t get it shut off so he put it in the refrigerator. “The refrigerator?” “Yes, the refrigerator, not the freezer.” (Like THAT made a difference?)

As we settled back in, the dogs began barking on the back porch. Are those voices in the yard? Steve went downstairs to settle the dogs and to check on things. He was gone too long. An unusual light passed over the window…more like a spotlight than a car headlight. Were those voices? A police radio? I looked out the window. There was a man standing by the dog pen in the back yard. I spoke through the open window,

“Who’s out there?”

“Police Department.”

Yeah, I thought it was a cop.

I got dressed and went downstairs. Steve was watching the man outside. He also spoke to him through the window. Apparently the police had chased a burglary suspect through the yard and they were trying to establish a perimeter. Steve went up and got dressed in case he would need to go outside. We paced around the house for a while, leaving the lights off. I finally went back to bed about 1. Steve came to bed about 1:30. He said the policeman was still in the yard when he came upstairs. They were gone by morning. I don’t know if they caught anybody or not. I called our neighbor across the street this morning to make sure she was aware. She is always good about keeping us informed about such things. Turns out our next-door neighbor’s garage was broken into a couple of weeks ago. Had a minibike stolen. He thought it was somebody he had let into the house. He’s a single guy who tends to be really paranoid about things. He’s been broken into several times that I’m aware of. We haven’t had any problems. Neither has the neighbor I talked to. Weirdness.

I was supposed to have a dentist appointment this morning, but when I got there, they told me that the dentist had just called and he was stuck in traffic and didn’t know when he would be in. I could wait or reschedule. I rescheduled and rode my scooter on into work. A beautiful day for scootering and NO DENTAL WORK TODAY!


Monday, June 12, 2006

Dream Logic in the Real World….

“Did you want a sheep?” asked the scruffy old man seated at the table on the sidewalk outside the cafĂ©/deli.

“Excuse me?” (Maybe I misunderstood what he said.)

“Did you want a sheep?”

“Uh, no, sir, I don’t think I need a sheep.”

And I went into the deli... Who was this man? He appeared to be a fixture outside the store. Perhaps he was a farmer with sheep to sell. What an odd place to be looking for livestock buyers, here in this trendy neighborhood with its small cafes.

I purchased a sandwich and drink and went back out to await the rest of our group and to eat a little lunch before we took off on the scheduled scooter ride.

As I passed him again, he said, “Now you be sure to call me if you need any help!” I replied, “Yes, sir, I’ll be sure to do that.” I lied.

I returned to stand with the folks that had already arrived and ate half of my sandwich and drank my Coke. When I finished the Coke, I looked for a trash receptacle into which I could dispose of the empty bottle. I would have to walk by him again. Not too sure I wanted to do that! Suck it up, Kim. Just walk to the trash can and throw the bottle away.

As I passed, “I know you told the manager about me!” (Nope, not me.) As I returned, “That manager’s name is Shannon.” (Good to know).

Back with my own group, I pondered what to do with the remainder of my sandwich. It was a very good sandwich, prosciutto ham with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and fresh basil on good Italian bread, but with three to four hours of scootering ahead of me, the sandwich would be spoiled by the time I got home. I couldn’t throw it away – That would be such a waste. I resolved to offer the sandwich to the old man.

“Excuse me, sir, I have half a sandwich here that I just couldn’t finish. Would you be interested in it?"

“Is it Italian?” he asked accusingly.

(What was the correct answer? Is an Italian sandwich a good thing or a bad thing?) “Well, I just bought it in there, it’s the number three on their menu.”

“Then it’s Italian. Okay, I’ll take it.”

I handed him the sandwich and walked away. Later, I saw that he did eat it.
Recounting the story to some of my scootering friends later, they related some things he had said to them – things that almost reflected on their personalities in some obtuse way. Did his offer of a sheep indicate that he knew I knitted and that I had an Australian shepherd in need of a job? Steve suggested that perhaps he was some sort of oracle, like the blind man in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” The whole thing was like experiencing dream logic while fully awake. You know dream logic…where things that make no sense whatsoever seem perfectly reasonable. You step out of a house, walk across the street and encounter another familiar place that in reality is miles and years away.

So what does this mean? Steve thinks there is a sermon in it. I haven’t found it yet. Ideas?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sumner Singers NYDC Tour

How I spent my Memorial Day Weekend...

My daughter's school choir went on tour to New York City and Washington, DC. Since I had never been to NY, I signed on several months ago to go along as a sponsor. We (35 kids and 8 adults) had a BLAST! I shared a room with three teenage girls (one was my own), but they were very pleasant young women. We left KC at 7:15 AM on Thursday, May 25, flying to LaGuardia. One kid missed the flight and had to catch up with us in NY. Scary, but it worked out. We had lunch Thursday at Grand Central Station, and spent a lot of time on a tour bus with a guide pointing things out to us. We stopped at Ground Zero, and spent a great deal of time at Trinity Church across the street while we waited for the lost boy to show up at the hotel across the street. We then went to Chinatown for shopping and dinner. The evening finished with a sunset visit to the Empire State Building. We checked into our hotel in New Jersey about 9:30 that night.

Friday morning, we performed at St. John the Divine Cathedral. A beautiful church, but there was a lot of construction going on as they are still cleaning up following a fire several years ago. The cathedral is 2/3 done. Construction noise and tour groups going through made it a very noisy place. The people that stopped to listen (and the sponsors who weren't singing) said we sounded wonderful, but we could not hear each other at all. I could hear the voices of my daughter on my right and a bass on my left, and that was all. After that we went to the Lincoln Center for a formal group photo while we were still dressed up, changed clothes there, and got back on the bus for more sight-seeing. We ended up in Times Square where we were turned loose in pairs to find lunch and run around. Eileen and I had a nice lunch and she bought some t-shirts. We went to the Hershey store and loaded up on chocolate. Back on the bus and on to the docks. The fleet was in that week, so we got to go on an aircraft carrier. Not really my thing, but it was okay. Dinner was pizza, then some running around in Central Park, then we went to see The Lion King on Broadway. The $60 seats were tiny. One kid from my church really didn't even fit in them, and I had to turn my boats for feet to the sides to fit. But the show was absolutely magnificent! Words cannot describe the incredible costuming and set design. It was absolutely thrilling. Back on the bus and return to hotel in Jersey.

Saturday morning we checked out and loaded the bus. Drove to Liberty park to board the ferry. Ferried by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We had to stay on the boat because of our tight time frame. Then back on the bus for the long ride to Washington DC. Barbecue dinner at 5 at a marina near the Pentagon, then on to a 7 PM performance at a retirement facility for retired military and their spouses. They were our best audience for the whole tour! Cookies and lemonade while we visited, then back to the new hotel where we had some late night pizza.

Sunday morning, we performed for two services at Christ Church Episcopal in Alexandria. A surprisingly small church, I thought. But they did have a gift shop, and I bought a pewter cross and an apron that said "Have you hugged an Episcopalian today?" which I gave to the seminary professor I work for since she is an Episcopalian priest who I thought would get a kick out of it. She was pleased. We were supposed to go to Smithsonian next, but because Rolling Thunder (100,000 Harley riding veterans) was in town, the guide feared the city would be too congested, and we went to a mall instead. I was very disappointed. I've now been to DC twice, and still haven't made it to the Smithsonian! Next was a LOT of walking in Arlington National Cemetery, where it was very hot! We participated in a wreath-laying at the tomb of the unknown at 3:15. I was somewhat disappointed in this, as well, because our wreath stayed there all of five minutes before the next ceremony. Seemed rather shallow. Dinner was at Buca di Beppo, and there was a birthday party group in the same dining room as we were. We did a lot of cheering each other on, and it got pretty silly. After dinner, many of the kids were whining so much about their feet hurting (poor shoe selections for Arlington) that we went back to the hotel, and those that wanted to see more got back on the bus and we went to the WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, and Korean War Memorial. I had not seen the WWII or Korean Memorials before. They are relatively new. We did find the name of one of my Uncle's friends/cousins in the wall. I had forgotten about him (I never knew him), but Eileen remembered us finding my uncle weeping in a cemetery and telling us the story, and I was able to pull up his name from the recesses of my brain. This tour was the best of the whole trip because there were only 8 kids and four adult sponsors plus the tour guide. Made it much easier to keep track of everyone.

Monday, we checked out and flew home.

Whooooo! I'm still tired!

RevGalPals Friday Five

1. Favorite way to spend a rainy day
Knitting on a new project and/or reading a good book.
2. Favorite song about rain
Laughter in the Rain (What can I say, I'm old.)
3. Favorite movie featuring rain
I can’t think of any except “Singing in the Rain” and I don’t know that I’ve ever watched that one all the way through. Wait! Does "The Wizard of Oz" count? Isn't there a rainstorm before the tornado?
4. Favorite piece of raingear, past or present
Felted wool hat
5. Favorite word for rain
Sprinkle, mist, toad strangler(!?!)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Catching up

You are a Believer

You believe in God and your chosen religion.
Whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu..
Your convictions are strong and unwavering.
You think your religion is the one true way, for everyone.
Well, I decided to try this since a couple of my friends from seminary turned out to be agnostic. I pretty much agree with all but the last item. I figure there are many paths...Christianity happens to be the one that works for me.

Been a busy few weeks. Classes are done, as is the last flurry of assignments. I got the appointment that I was hoping for! Two small churches that are very close to home. I've preached there several times (preaching again this Sunday), and the people are great. I'm really looking forward to it. I start July 1.

Eileen and I are headed to NY & DC next Thursday with her school choir. I've never been to NY, so I'm as excited as the kids are. I no sooner get back, and I have to go to Annual Conference. Not gonna make much money in the next few weeks. Good thing the tax refunds just came.

Went to urgent care last night. I've had a backache for about a week, and a trip to the chiropractor on Tuesday didn't alleviate it. I had some other symptoms of a urinary tract infection, so I feared that maybe it was affecting my kidney. The doctor concurred with my diagnosis and gave me some antibiotics and something else that turns my urine bright orange. I know, TMI, but it's just kinda weird. This is my second course of antibiotics in less than a month, so I guess I better start hitting the yogurt hard to return some good bacteria to my system.

Scooter rally this weekend, and tomorrow is my 17th wedding anniversary, so maybe dinner with hubby if he's not worn out from hiking with Boy Scouts, I'm not too wornout from the rally, and I have finished my sermon prep for Sunday!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Old house musings - Mystery/History is fun

Saturday, we're going to a barn-raising.
Steve has been wanting a garage since we moved to this house. We actually paid way too much for an architect to design us one to go with the house when we first moved in, but ended up not being very satisfied with the design, and didn't want to throw any more money at that same architect to get it right.

We had told our friends that when we built our garage/carriage house, we would have a big barn-raising party. One friend said, "I'll be there to dance at your barn-raising." Alas, he won't. We lost him to mental illness that resulted in his death. I still say that Ken is the reason that we haven't yet built our barn...he can't be there to dance. We still miss him.

Steve went to one of the smaller local home shows last month and stumbled across a company that sells/builds timber frame barn kits. He really liked the looks of the options, and we have met with the builder and are waiting on his quote. They are hosting a barn raising tomorrow, so we're going to go watch how it is done. They will have food, but we'll probably take a picnic lunch anyway. Should be a perfect day for it. I'll take my knitting and some of my reading and figure out when I get there which works better for me. Looks like we may be having a barn raising ourselves sometime afterall. I know Ken will be there in spirit.

On other house related news, this past week Steve and I took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered another missing piece in our house's history. We have the full abstract on the property, and despite the various uses the house went through over the last 116 years, we are only the third/fourth owners. The house was built in 1890 (according to the tax records) by Harvey Stover (bio here: The brick mansion on the electric line is our house) . His widow, Dora, lost the house to the bank over repeated refinances in the early 30's. In about 1935, the house was purchased from the bank by the Carlson family. The daughter of the family married a man named Novotney (so she is kind of number 2 and 3, hence 3rd/4th), and that is who we bought the house from. Yet, our connection has always been closer to the Stovers. We have tried to be faithful to the character of the house they built, despite all its multiple uses over the ensuing years. When Dora lost the house, the court records said that she did not attend the hearing. We wondered if she had died during the process, or just gave up, or perhaps was unable to because of illness. We always suspected that the family members were buried nearby, and felt that a public cemetery a couple of blocks from the house was the logical resting place, but had never taken the opportunity to investigate it further. I had checked cemetery records at the public library, but the directory for the cemetery in question did not list the Stovers, and that was part of our rationale for not pursuing it further.

Yet, old cemeteries have always interested me. Steve and I took advantage of the nice weather earlier this week and included Bethel Cemetery on our walk. Lo and behold, we found the graves of Jacob and Elizabeth Stover, and of Harvey and Dora. Even though they were not listed in the directory, their graves are in that cemetery. We found that Harvey died in 1926, and Dora in 1941 - several years after she lost the house. We still wonder why she was absent from the hearings, but at least we now know she didn't die during the process. Some things we will never know, but these are some of the interesting mysteries to explore when you own an old house.

So, is it weird that I feel such a connection to people I've never met? I am even considering taking some irises or daylilies from the house over to plant on their graves. I doubt that anyone else remains to even visit them. I still wonder where Harvey, Jr. - who died at 18 months - is buried. Perhaps we overlooked a small tombstone. A reason for another visit?

Okay, back to work now.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The boys are back in town

Husband Steve, and son Aaron went skiing in Colorado over President's Day weekend. They left Friday morning, and got back late Tuesday night. It was Aaron's first time on an airplane, and I think he was as excited about that as he was about going skiing. Here's a picture of the two of them in Colorado:

They had too much fun. Here's another of Aaron:

Meanwhile, daughter Eileen and I had a good time at home. Friday night, after getting home from work and school, we frantically cleaned house for two hours as we prepared for a Sit & Knit at my house. A couple of people braved the cold and joined us. On Saturday morning, Eileen participated in Math Relays sponsored by the school district. She participated in four events, and although it wasn't a clean sweep, she received three Gold Medals (in Algebra, Data, and Number Sense) and one Silver (in Geometry) at the 9th grade level. Makes her mama proud, that one! We celebrated at Outback Steakhouse that evening.

We also attended three worship services in two days. We went to the Saturday night contemporary service at Church of the Resurrection, our own church Sunday morning, and friend Laura Guy's church, Living Water Christian ( on Sunday evening. Our conversations driving to the different churches were very interesting as Eileen read to me the list of things I was to watch for (for worship class) and we discussed the various aspects. She is the Alpha group leader for the youth at our church, and it has been very good for her and has caused her to think about things that are way beyond her fourteen years. I was really impressed by some of her insights and questions.

Meanwhile, with the boys gone, we broke a lot of the household rules like staying up late and eating in the living room. We did manage to "keep the home fires burning" for the boys. I have not been blessed with the fire-building gene, but fortunately Eileen got it from her father, and we were able to maintain until Tuesday morning a fire in the fireplace that Steve started on Thursday night. We had a great weekend!

I had a root canal on Tuesday and have been suffering since - welcome back to the real world! Well, not exactly the real world...the darvocet world.

Eileen and I get our turn in May. Eileen's choir from school is going to New York and DC, and I'm going, too. I have a few other fun trips planned, as well...a work-related conference at TanTara during Spring Break (good timing, huh?) and a trip to Chicago on the train in August to attend the UMC National Clergywomen's Conference. ( So far we have two in the room, and there is room for two more. Any interest?

So that's what I've been up to.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Roadkill - a knitted frog

At last some knitting content! That's what I set this blog up for, yet I haven't yet posted anything about knitting.

Someone on one of the lists I'm on wanted a toy frog pattern for one of her beginning students. Google search turned up very little. The question inspired me and I came up with this pattern. Knits up quick. I call it "Roadkill" because of how it looks when it is first knitted. Let me know what you think.

Flat Garter Frog
Use two coordinating shades of green, and knit two pieces, one in each color.
The lighter color will be the underside of the frog. The frog pictured is knit from Opal Crocodile sock yarn. Only half of the frog has been done in the picture.

Use an appropriate needle size for your selected yarn. If you wish to felt the frog, you should knit more loosely. If you wish to stuff without felting, drop down a needle size to create a firm fabric.

Row 1: K3
Row 2: INC1, K3, INC1
Row 3: K5
Row 4: INC1, K5, INC1
Row 5: K7
Row 6: INC1, K7, INC1
Rows 7-18: K9
Cast on 12 at start of next row
Row 19 : K21
Cast on 12 at start of next row
Row 20: K33
Row 21: K33
Row 22: Bind Off 11, K22
Row 23: Bind Off 11, K11
Rows 24-39: K11
Cast on 13 at start of next row
Row 40: K24
Cast on 13 at start of next row
Row 41: K37
Rows 42-29: K37
Row 50: K34, Place 3 stitches on holder
Row 51: Bind Off 31, K3
Row 52-66: K3
Cast on 3 at start of next row
Rows 67-69: K6
Row 70: bind off 6 and cut yarn
Repeat rows 52 – 70 on the three stitches placed on the holder at line 50 (you will not repeat row 51)
Place the two pieces together. Because it is done in garter stitch, there is no right nor wrong side, although it would be best to match up the cast on rows. Stitch together using the darker color yarn, leaving an opening where the mouth of the frog would be.
If you used wool, you may wish to felt your frog. Otherwise, stuff to the desired firmness. Sew mouth closed using contrasting yarn. Add buttons or googly eyes for eyes.

Friday, February 10, 2006

When it rains it pours!

I got an email from my pastor yesterday, and he asked me if I would be available to preach on March 12. He has planned a lenten series on Gandhi's "Seven Blunders" - the traits most spiritually perilous to humanity. They are:

Wealth without Work
Pleasure without Conscience
Science without Humanity
Knowledge/Education without Character
Politics without Principle
Commerce without Morality
Worship without Sacrifice.

Here is a link for Gandhi's grandson's interpretation of the seven blunders:

My pastor allowed me to select one of five (Knowledge {Dr. McCoy - Palm Sunday} and Worship {retained for Easter} were spoken for) so I chose Science without Humanity. As a recovering civil engineer, I am somewhat familiar with science. At least that is the reason I told myself.

So now I'm in deep. I have a few things that I've thought of for illustrations, considerations, etc. Among them: Thoughts I had while visiting Los Alamos while on my immersion last year (Thanks God for once in my life I actually kept a journal!); The Tuskegee study some years back (Needs more research - Only a vague recall of major ethical issues having to do with subjecting African American males to some sort of harmful medical or radiological testing without their knowledge or consent); experiences in mission and using "appropriate technology". I'm still looking for ideas...feel free to post.

I also need a scripture that fits. A Psalm would be good, then I could possibly use the exegesis for a class that I'm taking this semester. Again, any ideas would be more than welcome!

I've been finding some other friends blogs, and as soon as I get their permission I will link to them as well. I added links for Hipchickmamma and Deaconess_grrl. Never played with html before. I was really thrilled when it worked!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Couple of interesting quotes

I get quotes in my email. Still need to figure out a good way to save them for future reference, but here are a couple that spoke to me. Maybe something to develop further....

There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.
--Washington Irving (1783-1859) American Writer

Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength. -- Anonymous

Your thoughts appreciated.....

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Getting into preaching

Well, I survived my preaching class. I have intentionally used the word "survived" because that is how it feels. It met 5 hours a day, every day for two weeks. During that time, we had to read 5 books, write two papers - one 5-7 pages, one 15 pages, write and preach two 12-17 minute sermons, and preach two extemporaneous 5 minute sermons with little prep time. All scriptures for sermons were assigned, and the texts for the 5 minute sermons were assigned just before the break, and had to be preached after the break - 15 minutes prep time!

Don't misunderstand...I learned a ton in the class, but we all felt pretty abused. The professor was from another culture, and was promoting a style much different than that with which most of the class had experience. As she critiqued the sermons, she tended to harp on the errors (from her perspective) that she observed. It would have been enough to state the error and move on, but she would hammer on it for a good ten minutes or more. I felt so bad for the speakers that had to endure such abuse. One student ended the two weeks with bronchitis/pneumonia she felt was purely from the stress of the class. Running short or long of the 12-17 minutes was a guaranteed C or worse on the sermon. The professor said she "Loves preachers," but her behavior sure didn't show it.

It all made me very appreciative of one of the cultural phenomena of our seminary. There seems to be an unwritten rule among most of the professors that I have had that affirmation is essential. They seem to recognize that more can be achieved through positive reinforcement than through negative.

Well, I did come out of the class with two written sermons, one of which I preached for real this past Sunday, and one that I will preach next Sunday. I'm filling the pulpit for a friend who is leading a VIM trip to Bay St. Louis, MS. If you want to come hear me, send me an email privately and I can give you times and places. Hipchickmamma has suggested I post my sermons, but they're too long. I have translated one of them into Spanish as well, as I was told that one of the churches has a woman who speaks little English. I thought she could follow along and get a chance to "hear" (read) the sermon, too. She wasn't there. :-) But it was a good exercise. I've been needing to brush up my Spanish, and it really helped set the sermon in my mind. I'll probably do it again this week.

And I have decided I DO enjoy preaching. I wasn't sure before, but now that I have a few more tools instead of just the OJT that I've used before, the process is much more enjoyable. I got that much from the class.