Monday, September 29, 2008

R.I.P. Taffeta

None of the cats we've harboured has enjoyed being transported in the car. So all such jaunts, punctuated by yowls of protest, have been tests of patience and fortitude (probably for the cats also).

True to precedent, the Taffeta-cat "told me about it" this afternoon all the way to the vet, every time I changed direction or thumped over a seam in the pavement.

At the animal clinic, while Dr. Nick was carefully explaining the options and uncertainties -- and plainly, giving us Time To Think It Over, there was a rap on the consulting room door and #1 Son Unit arrived to be with poor old fur-face at this critical moment.

[Pause to reflect, somewhat sentimentally, that when the Rambler first took a cat to Dr. Susan -- mother of Dr. Nick -- thirty-five years ago -- Dr. Nick and #1 Son were toddlers...]

When "we were all clear that we were all clear," it was very quickly over.

Dr. Nick carefully swathed Taffeta in a big bath towel, and slipped her back into her carrier.

And there were no yowls from the back seat as we drove away. Not even a little one.

Back at the ranch...

...returned to Prairie Metropolis late last night with what passed, at the time, for a "hoodling kind of roar." Northwest Airlines was doing its best, with the hoodling and roaring, at least.

The Rambler -- and this really is, "Where I came in, a year ago" -- has been away from home to the annual meeting of the North American Academy of Ecumenists (woot woot -- try explaining THAT ONE to US Customs, upon whom be peace). This year, not in Adjacent Prairie Metropolis, but in St. Louis. (= "LeWIS" I find, Judy Garland to the contrary notwithstanding, also W. C. Handy, and, most fondly remembered, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, she of the nephew, on an old LP of travel songs)

Are you still with me? Good.

It was a great weekend -- sumptuous accommodations, great presenters, good chats, lovely socializing, wonderful weather.

And a confessional moment; yesterday I cut church, not out of any distaste for United Methodism, heaven forfend, but just because it seemed like such a sin-against-locale NOT to go down to Laclede's Landing and look at the Big Muddy One. Such a treat, for the Rambler, to see a waterway that DOESN'T flow eventually into the Arctic Ocean!

So thanks to the Metrolink, I was able to do that; and also, of course, to take in THE ARCH. Sweet mother of us all. I remember when it was built (creak of rocking chair is heard in the background), but nothing photographic was ever adequate preparation for how big it is.

And the National Park Service, whom we love, were having Park Palooza with lots of Informative Exhibits, yet!

And a whole lot of the citizenry, wearing red T-shirts, got on the Metrolink, and got off, hollering, at Anheuser-Busch Stadium. From which the Trained Mind here infers that something of a baseball-ious nature was toward...

All in all it was a delightful time, but I am kicking myself that I didn't book off one of my remaining, dangling, weeks of holiday time, rent a car, and head south and west into Missouri to see what else there is to see including Places of Ancestral Origin. I was lamenting to this effect to the Nice Young Person from the Parks Service...and he LOOKED at me, and said, "But you're comin' back...."

Sigh. At the risk of being stripped of my maple-leaf patterned suspenders, I have to say... I have a huge great fondness for the Excited States of America.

Now we were warned, in conference, about NAIVE ROMANTICISM in our initial reactions to each other's ecclesial polity and practise. No doubt the same warning applies to nations.

And the Rambler says, "What of it?"
And answer comes there none.

I have to do a little work here, IRL, and then go collect the poor old Taffeta cat for her final visit to the vet. This is a sadness, but Daughter Unit will come with me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

well, well

Happy (first) birthday, dear blo-og,
happy birthday to-o you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

where I came in, or nearly

Outside the dining-room window this morning, a brisk 24 degrees above zero, Fahrenheit. A sparkly morning...frost on the cars, for the first time this year. And here we go again.

After yesterday morning's farce with the Lurking Pager, I have spent some hours this morning dealing with the desk-top. Trying not just to make big piles where there were little ones -- except in the paper-recycle bin! Which is gratifyingly fuller than it was!

Yesterday was on the whole a good one, but oh DEAR I will be glad when Wonder Secketry is back at her post. Please keep her in your prayers? Her recovery from surgery is taking longer...and is less "linear"...than we had all hoped. I don't think she's very strong, really...very prone to coughs and colds that hang on and on...

At any rate; I had a long counselling conversation with a parishioner in the morning; somewhere in there it was BORNE IN UPON ME that I was supposed to be at a Clergy Day on the far side of the city, and I'm afraid my reaction to that insight was, "Well, tough."

Then a number of intense phone conversations...and at 3:30 a "hospital service" where in spite of short notice (the administrator forgot to put our service in the monthly calendar) we eventually mustered about 20 souls for a "distribution of communion from the reserved sacrament" with Sunday's reading from Philippians and three hymns and some prayers and a couple of Mildly Amusing Anecdotes recounted by the Rambler. "Faith of Our Fathers," "Blest Be the Tie that Binds," and "What a Friend," all well received; and the good news of our Tall Physician's imminent return from Kandahar, praise God...and that seemed to be enough.

It comforts me to observe, that although I still tend to drag my heels a bit en route to these services, nonetheless they now constitute a high point in the day/week/month. When I began in ministry they were a Major Dread...and now I feel much more at home in my skin when I'm officiating. Of all the indignities that disfigure the disabled and/or incapacitated...he only thing that still throws me off stride, really, is drooling. I have to have a serious talk with my gag reflex, about that one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The up, the down, and the circular...

Arrived at church this morning in a clatter of conversations going in different directions..."artiste" departing after an early morning appearance on Breakfast TV; retired bishop waiting out his regular car-maintenance appointment...phones ringing, and so forth.

The Wonder Secketry is still on post-op rest at home.

And I am saying "Yes" and "Hello" and "Good Morning" and "don't mention it" and "that's nice" and "oh good" and "thank you so much" and "not at all" and "you're welcome" and "take care" in all directions, and I hear....


and I think -- "pager -- that's its 'you haven't looked at me yet' peep -- but when did it go off? I didn't hear it..."

And then.... I try to find it. Into the handbag, grope grope fumble, unzip all the little pockets. No pager.


Turn handbag upside down, everything falls out except...a pager.


Aha, turn to book-tote, fumble grope fumble, snatch out several overfull file folders, scrabble scrabble: nothing.


Fling down book-tote in disgust and commence digging like a badger in the midden of papers on my desk. Slam hand, palm down, on several suspiciously bulging "dunes" of odd bits of stuff. Nada.


Pause to catch breath and take thought. Check voice-mail box, retrieve pager message, and deal with it.


Allow brain to re-settle on its base-plate, and pick up phone, page self. (The problem was that the single "peep" didn't give me enough time to home in on where it was coming from.)

Sure enough -- pager uttered its full jolly yodel, AHA! Found you, you little....

Not enough to keep the mind alive, is it?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Of solace, and ospreys.

Allow me to introduce Pandion haliaetus, or the osprey, in its North American form.

I am very fond of ospreys. I like how they look, and how they fly, and how they fish, and how they go on fishing even when their prey are filched from them by (COUGH COUGH) bald eagles (sorry about that, but so it is).

I look for ospreys when I am on vacation especially in my favorite East Kootenays stamping ground. There is one stretch of highway where, in June, I saw at least a dozen osprey nests on nesting platforms or bridges -- and where, one morning, I saw three PAIRS of ospreys all soaring over the wetlands at once. Much joy.

Now. You must imagine one of my parishioners. This man has a great attachment to the movie in which Sidney Poitier plays the handiman to a convent of nuns in the desert (Lilies of the Field, perhaps?) He especially savours the line, "I done built you a chapel."

So he tends to show up here at the church saying things like, "I done bought you some paper towels"... It is now a received joke between us.

He has heard about my fondness for ospreys; and this morning he approached me with a paper bag, and a large grin, and said, "I done brought you an osprey."

And so he had. It is one of the Audubon Society stuffed bird-model series.

And when you squeeze its middle, it makes an ornithologically correct series of squeaks and squawks.

I am greatly comforted.

In which the Rambler confronts her ISSSSS-sues. Or some of them

It has been a very gruelling day, and I am feeling thoroughly gruelled. Also in deep need of re-gruntling at the first possible moment.

Wedding this afternoon at one. Guest officiant, good colleague, the bridegroom being his son. Gospel and sermon to be covered by moi. So OK fine, I can read the Beatitudes and then weave them together seamlessly with FIRST CHRYSANTHEMUMS as it was called at another recent wedding. I can even Rise Above the performance of the reader of First-Thirteen, there, in spite of her seizing the moment to weep loudly On Mike. Well if I'd been reading the intensely lame translation she chose, I might have felt like weeping too.

My powers of forbearance and Christian Meekness already in short supply after witnessing the rehearsal yesterday afternoon. I give good rehearsal, I think. I give DIRECTION. And I tried so hard to keep my big cake-hole shut at this one because I WASN'T the celebrant. But oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. So many things needed to be made clear, and weren't. Like what the photographer's limits were, where she would and would NOT be allowed to go.

And the celebrant, being father of the groom...had buck fever to a certain degree. So that when I had gospelled, and processed myself back up the aisle and actually into the pulpit, before I could utter, the poor dear man was into the "Wilt thou, Jehosaphat" and that pretty much put paid to the homiletic moment, there. SIGH.

Hilarity, less than totally suppressed, on the part of Daughter Unit and SIL, who were also present in the chancel, SIL as organist and Daughter Unit in charge of Schubert "Ave Maria" and "One Bread, One Body" during communion (and nicely too).

Anybody need a perfectly good like new sermon on First Corinthians?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A pleasant day...

Sunshine and nice temperatures again today, although more and more yellow is visible in the trees. We have only a few specimens that turn red in the autumn.

Took advantage of the weather, and a gap in the schedule, to pick up a to-go lunch and the Daughter Unit and HER lunch, and resort to one of the nearby riverside parks, to eat and chat (and make snarky remarks about the joggers passing by).

It's amazing how many of these simple, pleasant options there are in the day, and how few of them I've taken advantage of, over the years.

Planning to do, today, and phone calls to make, and some serious sermonizing on the horizon; a wedding on Saturday, services on Sunday, "and sermons in both of them," pace Fluellen.

A number of emails that urgently need to get written also!!!

and far more that need to be deleted...

My office is nice and warm and adorned with great sheaves of Swiss chard...again (or still)...I see what lies before me in the shape of supper!!!

Found a bargain yesterday in the way of Good Grub too. I'm partial to the unseasoned frozen chum salmon "chunks" that occasionally come on sale at 1.99 per each if you buy a quantity. Currently, thought, the outlet has the Dill Sauce and the Herb'n'Garlic variety at this advantageous price. So I bought 5 of each, which accounted very neatly for a $20 bill and gave me 10 suppers. Hurray for the toaster oven. Tried a Herb'n'Garlic one last night; 17 minutes at 425 degrees, just time to cook white rice and a vegetable. Very satisfying.

Celebrated Holy Communion this morning with my two stalwart elderly ladies. And then for a half hour we sat and "knat" -- rather I did, and M. (aged 90) reduced the un-knit remainder of my yarn from a Hideous Tangle to a neat smooth ball. And I discoursed on the snake-on-a-stick and the foolishness of the cross. This has to be the minimal Bible study of all time. But I can't think it's worthless when the 87-year-old says, "Oh, you make it all come alive."

Monday, September 15, 2008

OOOOOON the road again....

Not immediately, but soon.

I've just booked my plane tickets for St. Louis, MO, and the North American Academy of Ecumenists' Annual General Meeting.
Much to the amusement, or bemusement, or both, of the young travel agent: "And what is the purpose of your trip to St. Louis?" So I told her, and while her jaw was still sagging in disbelief, I added, "Plainly as you can see, we are going to tear up St. Louis in a big way..."

Then she didn't know what to say.

I am very excited, it is all new territory for me from Minneapolis on! Although one of my grandmothers was born in Missouri in 1892 or thereabouts -- down south -- I think the place was inundated in the '30's by the TVA, or so the family legends relate.

That grandmother came to Prairie Province with her parents, who were homesteading, in 1905. Her father, who was born in Memphis, had been a (very very young) soldier in the Union mother remembered him, said he was a very gentle and sensible man.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Downy Woodpecker...

In case they don't appear in your neck of the woods...this is what they look like!

huzza and hallelujah

Our "GODbook Group" met this morning at Most Holy & Undivided -- we were officially looking at some of the work of Sarah Coakley...and midway through our gathering I became aware of something quite wonderful on an entirely different plane.

Unlike King David in his dotage, we "GAT HEAT" ... and that with a minimum of sinister clanking and hissing.

The new furnaces are on line and working!!!

And not before time, as there has been hard frost several nights in the hinterland.

Brilliant sunshine today, and a ceaseless screaming of blue jays. 'Tis autumn. All around the church all summer long the side streets are elm-tunnels...they've begun to turn gold. I'll try to get a picture. We Officially Believe that Prairie Metropolis harbors the last great disease-free stand of American Elms in the whole world -- about 60,000 of them perhaps? (This may be pure Urban Myth, of course.) There's that wonderful period just mid-autumn when the trees above are gold and the leaves they've shed all over the pavement are gold too. I'll try to take pics...

And as I was driving in one morning this week, along the alley, checking that nobody had come to a bad end in the hinter-space behind the church etc., I caught a little blur of movement on the wooden power-pole on the other side of the alley. Not one but two little downy woodpeckers spiralling around and around and around the pole seeking what they might devour. There was no traffic so I could stop the car and watch them. A spirit-lifting treat.

Not preaching tomorrow, speaking of spirit-lifting boons of one kind and another!!!

I think I'll tiptoe over a couple of blocks and see what's doin' at the farmers' market.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Is anybody out there going to be at the North American Academy of Ecumenists in St. Louis (Clayton) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel September 26-28???
And if so, would you like to meet up?

The calendar

Remembering, this morning, driving in to work 7 years ago and hearing the news out of New York City on the car radio...with disbelief and then fear...
And remembering the reactions and non-reactions of the people around me...
The parish staff's surprise and bemusement when they were summoned to Morning Prayer...and the bafflement of the Women's Group, who met here that afternoon, when I invited them to prayer for our neighbours-to-the-south (we talk that way)...
The smirking response of a clergy colleague when someone in our group lamented this calamity befalling "innocent people" -- "Well, we know as Christians that none of us is innocent, don't we?" (and I didn't hit him. May it be remembered, I did NOT hit him.)
But there is, surely, a dimension of innocence in "going about one's business and not foreseeing harm" -- isn't there? Isn't there?
The offhand response of a senior family member, "Well, serve them right for building those towers so tall." Serve them RIGHT???
I keep thinking about the wait-staff in Windows on the World...who didn't make it out.
The resistance expressed at Most Holy & Undivided to the idea of prayers of lamentation...and prayers for protection against "the fury of our enemies"...why?

We used to say that for my generation our "marker" was "where were you and what were you doing on November 22, 1963?" but I think now we have a new one.

Sixteenth after Trinity, BCP

O Lord, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

a commemoration...

of Robert Wolfall, vicar of West Harptree, Somerset, in the diocese of Bath and Wells, who on this date celebrated the mystery of Christ's passion, death and resurrection in the rite of Holy Communion on Winter Furnace Island, just off Baffin Island, in the Canadian Arctic.

Vicar Wolfall was chaplain to the third voyage of Martin Frobisher to the Arctic.

This celebration was the first Anglican Eucharist on Canadian soil...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

all righty then

A very therapeutic Monday I spent...

Nearly all of it recumbent, either [re]reading Julia Spencer Fleming or watching NCIS, or sometimes in my ambitious moments, both.

Ready for the new week, and greatly relishing all the very good things that have happened amid the chaos and Anfechtungen of the last week.

Appearances on Sunday by a) clergy colleagues on vacation; and b) adult children of clergy colleagues...I find that so affirming...especially a comment by the latter..."Oh wow, as soon as Dad retires, we'll be here full-time; and we're bringing Dad, too..."

Dear good thirty-year friends are coming by in half an hour to take me for lunch also.

And thank YOU to the Gals'n'Pals for all the "stren'thening remarks" you posted on the blog since Saturday. I do feel greatly "stren'thened."

Discouragement is of the devil, always, and without exception -- right?