Monday, March 31, 2008

Job 28:1-11

THIS is the passage I was trying to find earlier today...

"Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for gold to be refined.

Iron is taken out of the earth, and copper is smelted from ore.

Miners put an end to darkness,
and search out to the farthest bound
the ore in gloom and deep darkness.

They open shafts in a valley away from human habitation;
they are forgotten by travelers,
they sway suspended, remote from people.

As for the earth, out of it comes bread;
but underneath it is turned up as by fire.

Its stones are the place of sapphires,
and its dust contains gold.

That path no bird of prey knows,
and the falcon's eye has not seen it.

The proud wild animals have not trodden it;
the lion has not passed over it.

They put their hand to the flinty rock
and overturn mountains by the roots.

They cut out channels in the rocks,
and their eyes see every precious thing.

The sources of the rivers they probe;
hidden things they bring to light."

Requiescat in pace

My father was born in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, on Mother's Day, May 11th, 1916, my grandmother's first and always favourite child. He died in Pembroke, Ontario, this morning, March 31st, 2008.

This snapshot was taken by a sidewalk photographer in Vancouver, B.C., sometime before he married my mother (October 9th, 1942). As long as she lived, she had a figurine on her dresser, made of this picture, carefully cut out and glued to a jig-sawed wooden backing. They were married for over 63 years.

This picture dates to early 1945, after he was discharged from the RCAF, still wearing the regulation haircut! He is just beginning, here, to get acquainted with his first child, who was born while he was far away...and grew up to be me.

You can read more about him right here .

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What's going on in my world right now...

Dear friends,

This is going to be short. I would be glad of your prayers. My father, who is 91 and in the dementia unit of a nursing home in another province, appears to have had a stroke, is unresponsive and apneic (if that's the word) and not likely to live very much longer.

The consolations of theology (philosophy too for that matter) have their limits.


Friday, March 28, 2008

The Friday Five -- a Million Dollar Meme

Posted by Singing Owl on the RevGalBlogPals this morning:

"Lingering effects of a cold have me watching more television than usual. There appears to be a resurgence of the old daytime staple--the quiz show. Except they are on during prime time, and a great many of them offer the chance of winning one million dollars.

I think it started with Regis Philbin and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" but now we have a half dozen or so.

My husband and I started musing (after watching "Deal or No Deal") about what we could do with a million dollars. I thought I'd just bring that discussion into the Friday Five this week. It's simple. What are five things you would want to do with a million dollar deposit in your bank account?"

Actually I used to play this one with various of the Offspring Units -- we'd take whatever the Obscene Gros-Lot was that week, and say, "what would you do FIRST..." and so forth. We were always quite astonished by the moderation of our appetites, when we got done.

OK, a million dollars.
1. PAY YOUR DUES. 10% to the church -- 3.5 to the parish, 3.5 to the diocese, 3 to the national church. I don't know whether it should be a flat-out no-strings gift, or tied up as an income-producer. Have to think about that some more.

2. MORE DUES. 10% to the schools I went to -- 3 to my undergraduate college, 3 to my graduate school, 4 to my theological college. Actually, I might skip the graduate school, which isn't what you'd call HURTING, and send that 3% to the nearest Anglican theological college.

3. I think we're down to $800K at this point. H'mmm. I have three children. Again, I don't know what's best, kindest, wisest -- no-strings cash, or trust funds. (Speak up, offspring, don't stand there humming and hawing and scuffing your toes in the dirt!)

4. The remainder in good solid income-earning investments. And out of that income...fix my house...fix my yard...have the best parties EVER...and go back to Italy as often and for as long as I could manage!

I think that's it! Although I like LutheranChik's idea of the "Crappy Day Comfort Fund"...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Midweek again. Accomplished heaps of things yesterday. The Monday that started in such a leisurely fashion ended with a three-and-a-half-hour meeting of Vestry, about two hours of that was working through three complicated issues with the members of the Fabric Committee (fancy Anglican way of talking about -- the building!).

1. We have to replace two worn-out (and highly inefficient) boilers--very expensive, and time presses, lots of procedural things that need to be done RIGHT NOW if the new machinery is to be working before next winter moves in on us.
2. And the Committee presented us with a great long lovely unsorted list of "jobbies" of various scope, that might/could/ought to be done sometime in the next decade.
3. And then we got into the pros and cons of shedding our current cleaning contractor and replacing him with another.

And then we had all the rest of the agenda.

I didn't get home until midnight-plus. I felt like Mammy Yokum (if anybody left alive remembers her) after she had put the Triple Whammy on somebody: "Jes' roll me in the corner, an' throw an ol' gunny-sack over me..."

Yesterday -- riding on the Productive Tuesday Vibe! managed to type up all my notes from Monday night's meeting and do at least the first stage on everything on that list...sent off a bushel of emails to other folks, saying, "please comment on the attached and reply".
And then I had a long meeting with the TV production people about the when, and how long, of their shoot here. We'd had some debate internally about how much we might ask of them. I had decided to be Wildly Aggressive and ask for about twice as much as we hoped to earn (those boilers, y'know).

Now this proves you never know what skills you are going to be thankful for. The Rambler can read upside down. I could see the budgeted amount written in the producer's I kept my Big Bazoo shut, for once, and just let him offer it, as it was a good 20% higher than the Outrageous Highway Robbery I was about to propose.

So when we've concluded our business with these folks, we should be 10% on our way to our heating-system goal. This is such a help. Also my stock is very high at this moment with the Grandpas on the Fabric Committee--that doesn't hurt either!

And then I went and had an Easter communion service with about 15 folks in an auxiliary hospital.

Finally, it being Tuesday, there was Bible Study last night, Matthew 16: one participant who doesn't speak at all, and one who talks wildly and at random about anything and everything, relevant or not. Bit of a challenge, paedagogically speaking. Fortunately I'd had time to stop at the adjacent Temple of Teutonic Cookery and get well ballasted with Weisswurst and Kartoffelsalat on my way back from the hospital!

Peer group session this afternoon -- then home and HOUSECLEANING and TEA with the Daughter Unit! I have to set up my sewing machine soon too; I think that double-fold bias binding is the way to deal with the frayed collar and sleeves of my alb...stopped at a fabric store and got the wherewithal yesterday.

In the interstices I reflect, "They're all about to go on That Boat...'ceptin' ME...'tain't no ways FAIR...snif" -- never mind, we RISE ABOVE. Bon voyage, everybody. Calm seas. Good rest. "Clergy wellness" in abundance.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Monday...and reflections

A bright chilly day here. Melting in the sun, NOT in the shade.

Peace and quiet in the office. Listening to an audio of the Easter Vigil in another parish (family member about to read the Epistle) tidying the desk, sorting the paperwork, about to write my report for tonight's Vestry meeting.

Made a delightfully slow start this morning after a good night's sleep. Got up, ground some coffee, made myself a nice big mugful, back into bed with lots of pillows and Sunday's paper, which I hadn't had time to read -- took my time over the NYTimes crossword puzzle, with my coffee. Years back in some fit of diligence I bought myself a "bed desk" but seldom get to use it. Just right for crosswords, though. Looked at some book reviews and noted Ursula LeGuin's new novel, Lavinia. A favourable review. I have a bookstore gift card, I could treat myself to that one.

A leisurely bath about eleven, and so down to the church office in the sunshine.

Some great moments to look back on, from here. I was worried about the Good Friday children's walk, thinking perhaps it had come to the end of its life, all the "old kids" were heading downtown with parents for the inner-city Way of the Cross. But in the upshot we had FOURTEEN little children here at the church, most of whom had never done our walk before, hurray! it springs to life again!

Then a good-sized congregation for the Solemn Devotions. I know, I know, we're supposed to feed'em, not count'em, but ALL the numbers were up this year, and that is soothing... The Reproaches were well and truly sung. Reproachfully! This was the first year that the Daughter Unit undertook them. A pleasant challenge involved in being her Mom...that she stands at the end of the alto section of the choir, right next to the Rambler's prayer desk. The temptation is to sit and gaze at her all twirly-eyed with pride and admiration. I try to resist; mostly I manage it. Our Honorary Assistant, rather better provided with THEWS than the Rambler, was present and willing to tote the Cross (in a fit of ambition, the parishioners who put it together years ago chose solid four-by-fours...oof!), and moreover to SING while so doing, blessed be he.

We went together, Daughter Unit and I, to hear the Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil Friday evening; arrived early at the concert hall and sat near the entrance, watching for friends who had been was amusing and touching to see the numbers of clergy sidling in in mufti...plainly, needing to be part of a devotional experience that we were NOT responsible for! It was a very fine performance, very intense...a nice reception afterward and chance to visit with some friends I don't often see.

Sanctuary Guild did all the cleaning and polishing Saturday morning. Between leading the hourly prayers, I sat at my desk and relished the MHU soundscape. The Fabric Committee (old guys that fix stuff) were cutting holes in walls with their big reciprocating powersaw. (Don't ask me WHY!!!! They respond to strange atavistic impulses of their own -- il ne faut pas chercher a comprendre-- and I'm happy to leave them to it). Alongside the "RRRRRR" in the background, there was the clinking of washing-up in the kitchen, vases being scoured and polished, dusting and cleaning and polishing in the chancel and in the sacristy, a constant flow of conversation, footsteps to and fro, to and fro. And over and under and through it all, our assistant organist working the kinks and knots out of the organ accompaniment to the Hallelujah Chorus. The sound of the life of the Body. At least until the smell of furniture polish finally drove the poor man from the console!

Great special joy, part of the Easter housekeeping was the hanging of our brand-new white altar frontal. It is "modern and different." You know the rhetorical weight of those terms in Churchland!!! So we were braced for General Conniptions. But no, not a peep, other than murmurs of admiration.

Faithful parishioners arrived with muscle-power, newspaper, kindling, for lighting the Easter Fire (which involves moving the Sacred Fire-Pot least now we can use the elevator to manoeuvre the great awkward thing down to the front door, instead of trying to wrestle it down the staircase). And we got the fire lit. And we got the Paschal Candle lit. And we got it indoors in spite of the wind before it could blow out again. And the Rambler managed to find 3 discernibly different pitches for the "Lumen Christi" chant, coming up the aisle. Daughter Unit sang the Exsultet. Readers read readings. Bells were rung...with great zest.

And Sunday was great...all the way from unlocking the doors at 0730 to toppling finally into bed at 2300...

Christ is Risen, Alleluia!
He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

La Primavera

Friends, I think the spring, she has sprung.

The crows are back.

The geese are back.

And the Harleys are all lined up shining outside Tim Horton's coffee shop.

It's beautiful!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday

"I think we can, I think we can, I think we can..."
READY for tonight.
READY for tomorrow morning.
READY for tomorrow afternoon.
ALMOST ready for Saturday morning (cleaning'n'prayers with the Sanctuary Guild).
READY for Saturday afternoon (baptismal prep session)
READY for Saturday night and the Great Vigil (assistant is preaching).
Just Sunday morning's sermon to put together...and I have the constituent bits.

Pause to genuflect in the direction of the World's Greatest Secretary, who, on top of assembling 487 bulletins for four different services, did a mind-meld this morning with the retired gentlemen of the Fabric Committee and intuited where they had disposed of the props etc. for tomorrow morning's children's Way of the Cross. Which include (the props, that is) not just lantern and rooster and candles and basin and ewer and my most EXCELLENT corpus made of pillows and cardboard swathed in an old sheet -- but, most crucially, yes the pun is intentional -- the cross-arm piece to the child-portable two-piece cross that we solemnly carry around the church. The upright piece had been put in one place, the other piece carefully hidden among the scrap lumber in another place.

I have to go and buy matzoth and grape juice (WHITE grape juice) and hot cross buns for tomorrow morning's festivities. Also several pounds of the small sized solid-chocolate eggs in foil which are given to people at the end of the Vigil and at the end of the two Sunday services.

When I came to Most Holy and Undivided, it was the custom to put the children through a totally terrifying Way of the Cross, after which they were given chocolate eggs, bunnies etc. When I objected to both halves of this practice, word went out that I was clearly the Anti-Christ. MHU has survived, amazingly.

I don't expect to blog again until next week. Everybody -- a joyful and blessed and holy Easter!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday of Holy Week

Until today I hadn't really given any consecutive thought to the three, count'em, three, major sermons that have to be preached between now and next Sunday night (the Honorary Assistant is preaching at the Vigil on Saturday night, thanks be to God).

It is clear, though, that this is the year that all three sermons will rely heavily upon extensive quotations from choice Christian thinkers of the past. Sometimes Ma bakes her own dessert, but sometimes the family has to be content with "store-bought pie." And this is one of those times.

After all, what is the point of people writing all those marvelous reflections if nobody ever hears them, right? TRADITION!!! is our cry. The best I can do for our folks this year is to hand on to them what was handed to me, cf. 1 Cor. 11.

Eucharist last night at 6:30; members of the Sanctuary Guild who were present re-set the altar for me and OH! I was glad of it, and glad of them, this's Eucharist was 7:30 a.m. One other communicant. It sufficed.

Sitting here this morning, mesmerized by the unearthly glow of the top of my Bare Desk...I remembered that I had a meeting of the local Council of Churches at midday today. (DOWN, blood pressure! DOWN, I say!)

So I made a sensible approach to that challenge (made easier because I could find the minutes, and the agenda, and my other bits'n'pieces in good time before the meeting). I finished my coffee, I organized all my bills, and I set out on a nice rational round of errands: the bank, first; then Major Business Supply Store where I indulged myself in a new pen and new ink and neon-coloured new folders to put minutes and agendas in for off-site meetings, also new ballpoint pens for writing that doesn't require a fountain pen. (I like the Uniball SIGNO, BTW.) Also a refill for my ballpoint that is part of the pompous-glorious two-pen desk-set with the marble base. Well, my Daddy gave it to me. With my name on it. What can I say. There's a fountain pen in that ensemble, too, but the procedure for filling it baffles me and appears to defy the laws of doesn't get used much!

When I had purchased all these lovely things, passing up the beautiful journals and bound notebooks, but not without yearnings, I went to a sandwich shop and had a mildly healthful light lunch and worked the crossword in the freebie newspaper, and made a mess of the Sudoku puzzle therein, and arrived smiling at the Council meeting only ten minutes late, but before anything had actually happened.

And I sat in a shaft of sunlight and basked like a lizard, and while the fluff'n'dither went on around me, I wrote running outlines for all three sermons.

We had a good guest speaker also, a representative from "One Church One Child" -- just getting a toehold in Canada. A church-based organization to encourage families to consider fostering and/or adoption as ways of fulfilling their call to discipleship.

And we were OUT into the sunshine again before 2 p.m.!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Exciting bulletin

I finally did succeed in getting all the piles of paper off my ever-lovin' desk.

Well. All but over in the NW corner where the "To File" pile on the filing cabinet got beyond the angle of repose...there is a little talus slope of paper over there.

But that's all!

I am thrilled.

CBC Radio Two

Dear all -- this is a long post, today, but the article expresses better than I can the outrage shared among lovers of good music in this country. It's pretty self-explanatory, I think. "CBC" is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation...

No classical? Then kill Radio 2 and get it over with


From The Globe and Mail

March 13, 2008

I am almost too depressed about the planned "overhaul" of CBC's Radio 2 to even write about it. What's the point? We've all seen the writing on the wall for some time now, and resistance is futile: The CBC no longer feels there is any point to devoting an entire radio station to the more musically and intellectually complex style of music colloquially, though entirely inappropriately, known as "classical" (more on that tendentious terminology in a moment), because, according to its mysterious studies, no one is interested in that any more.

So, come September, there will only be "classical" music (God, I hate that term!) at midday on weekdays; the rest of the air time will be taken up with light pop and jazz. Yes, that's right, explicitly light: In an interview with The Globe and Mail last week, the executive director of radio explained that the station will be playing even more Joni Mitchell and Diana Krall. The executives have also proudly expressed their interest in playing more middle-of-the-road pop such as Feist and Serena Ryder. Yes, they are proud, proud to be brave purveyors of Serena Ryder and Diana Krall, the very best culture our country has to offer.

In other words, Radio 2 will become essentially an easy-listening station. It will play, aside from four hours a day when everybody is at work, the kind of verse-chorus-verse popular music that is likely to win awards at industry-created ceremonies - the Junos, the Grammys, the Smushies, the Great Mall Music Prize.

Sometimes there will be jazz; I'm guessing it will continue to be the Holiday Inn lounge jazz they already so adore. It's also pretty safe to say there will be no underground pop music, nothing noisy or electronic - unless they keep Laurie Brown's The Signal (surely they must, they must at least keep The Signal?) - and of course that will be only late at night so it doesn't disturb the imagined audience, an audience of the mousiest, nicest, middlest of middle Canadians.

Notice how the CBC has already won half the public-relations battle through its choice of language. It is wise, if it wants to dismiss exciting and abstract music that doesn't have a 4/4 beat, to call such music "classical." That word instantly relegates it to the past. "Classical" connotes that which is established, respected, stuffy - another word for "old favourites."

"Classical" is wholly inadequate in describing an intellectual tradition that has always thrived on innovation, on radical new interpretations, on defiance of previous traditions, indeed, of iconoclasm. When Arthur Honegger sat down to write Pacific 231, when Olivier Messiaen began Quartet for the End of Time, when Edgard Varèse ordered his orchestra to play along to tape recordings from sawmills, do you think they wanted to write something "classical?"

But even this conversation is pointless; it isn't even happening. It belongs to another world. I feel, when talking about these things, like a visitor to an isolated country where everybody believes the Earth is flat and the moon is made of cheese: No one is going to listen to me because every single one of my premises, my fundamental assumptions, is different from theirs.

I assume, for example, that the point of having a government-funded radio station is not to garner the largest possible audience; if that were the goal, and that goal were attained, such a station would be commercially viable and no longer in need of government support. I also assume that art and intellectual inquiry can sometimes be challenging and demanding of intense concentration, and that they are naturally not always going to attract lucrative audiences, and that this does not make them any less valuable, which is why governments in enlightened countries support them and provide access to them.

I guess I assume, too, something even more fundamental and even more fundamentally unpopular, which is that not all art is of equal value. Art that does not tend to follow strict generic conventions (such as, for example, the verse-chorus-verse structure of 90 per cent of pop music) is deserving of extra attention. Art unbound by formula tends to indicate the area where the best, the most original talents are working.

And this is not, I assure you, about the past; it is about the future. Art unbound by formula - music that does not have to accompany words, for example - is the art that will be remembered by cultural historians and will come to define our era.

A country with no public forum for such art, with nowhere for the less privileged to gain access to it and to intelligent analysis of it, is an unsophisticated one.

And furthermore, a radio station that is indistinguishable from commercial stations - other than by its fanatical niceness - will have no reason to receive government support. Why not just shut it down already?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday of Holy Week

Under some pressure, here...THINGS on the list in all sorts of areas.

Yesterday went fine, I think, despite a classic "Jesus died for this?" moment just before the service began. Never mind, he did...

The fresh palm branches were rescued from their newspaper wrappings in time to adorn the chancel banisters and be "divvied up" for the better waving during the Palm procession. None of the palm-waving children actually put anybody's EYE out during the procession, although their ambition to lap the choir had to be suppressed. Fortunately the Rambler is broad enough in the beam to block effectively in the narrow side aisles.

We sang all the traditional things -- "All Glory, Laud and Honour" down to "There Is A Green Hill".

The readers for the Passion according to Matthew did beautifully, including the new bass in the choir who was willing to read Jesus' part, and did so in the most moving Southern (Baptist, no less!) accent.

I shamelessly stole a thought from Towanda, upon whom be peace, as the hinge of my sermon: about being "found wanting"...and learning just to BE found wanting and sit still with that in Holy Week. There were big dollops of Evelyn Underhill also...

And my good and dear friend from 40 years back was in church -- she had been in town all weekend at a conference at Local University. Number One Son collected her from her B&B and brought her to church ... I think she last met him when he was three, perhaps? (He didn't drive, in those days....) They are now, in some sense, academic colleagues in that their areas of interest and expertise overlap, fruitfully.

We were able to go and have a nice brunch in Favourite Restaurant with all the family before taking her back to the airport.

Home again, and enough residual energy to make decent Sunday supper (salmon and rice and veggies), and to get the dishes washed, and the garbage and recycle all out to the curb before we turned in.

Good sleep and lots of it. Taffeta cat came to get me up for breakfast and we negotiated over the last of her "dreadlocks". It was matted so close to her skin that there really wasn't room to attack it safely with the scissors...but when she decided to stomp away in a huff I took the risk of just holding on...and she walked out from under it and left it in my hand, HURRAY! I think we'll celebrate by getting her a new brush.

Sun is shining, temperature is rising, the weekend snowfall is melting away...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

As others see us...

Grammarcat here is courtesy of our Honorary Assistant, who claims she reminds him of me. Fangs'n'all, no doubt.

Big sermon push happening here, baptismal class to teach this afternoon, and I want to get home early given our heavy snowfall yesterday and -- once again -- treacherous roads.

So this is all I can post today...enjoy! and a blessed Palm/Passion Sunday tomorrow to all!

Friday, March 14, 2008


I just fielded a phone call from a young woman -- a stranger -- who asked brightly, "Are you guys having any kind of a special service for Easter, next week????"

I'm afraid I laughed, right in her ear.

I am going home to kneel on my beads.

Friday Five...

Reflecting on how early Easter is, how early the switch to Daylight Saving Time has been, and how out of synch many of us are feeling as a result -- A fine Friday Five from Mother Laura over at RevGalBlogPals:

If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?

I've seen some great answers in other Gals' posts -- maybe Bach's Leipzig, Mozart's Vienna...or Regency England; or the first 10 years of the twentieth century, here in North America (if we could skip "The Hard Winter of Ought-Six" (it's a Prairie Thing). My problem is I keep remembering all the things we DON'T have to contend with, things like preventable illnesses, that darkened those times and places, and I somehow wind up thinking that "right now" is the best yet!

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?

Teleportation would be nice so that we could see the people we love oftener without leaving obscene carbon footprints!

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?

I find I remember my own past much more than I dream about the future; as somebody has already said, of course I have a lot more past than future at this point!

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?

Extreme cold temperatures, perhaps...

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?

I celebrate an additional daytime Eucharist MTW, at different times of the day: noon on Monday, early evening on Tuesday, crack-of-dawn on Wednesday.
The regular ten a.m. Holy Communion on Thursday, and then supper, footwashing, last Eucharist, stripping the altar on Thursday evening.
Children's Way of the Cross on Friday morning (our teens may go downtown to walk the inner-city one); Solemn Devotions at noon on Friday, Daughter Unit singing the Reproaches. [for personal enrichment, Serious Concert Good Friday evening -- the Rachmaninoff All-Night Vespers, concert version, i.e. NOT all night, but plenty].
A "Benedictine Morning" on Holy Saturday during which the Sanctuary Guild will clean house with hourly prayer-breaks and a potluck lunch to conclude.
The Great Vigil at 8 o'clock. LOW POINT of the entire season will be, again, lighting the Easter Fire in the Sacred Barbeque, and trying to keep the paschal candle lit in the wind. There will be wind. Trust me. HIGH POINT probably of the entire season (up to that moment) will be Daughter Unit singing the Exsultet for the first time. Wild ringing of bells at the Gloria (we ask people to bring handbells, cowbells, sleighbells, ornamental bells, school bells, whatever they have at home, and "let'er rip")...

Easter Sunday morning, two services, and the choir will sing at both. In between the services they will have a nutritious and sustaining breakfast, washed down with mimosas. The Gospel Acclamation on Easter Sunday is the Hallelujah Chorus. Yes, that one. Yes, all of it. And at the second service, full of breakfast etc., (not to mention the mimosas) I can't begin to tell you how much ATTACK the choir brings to this moment. Trumpeters, too. That will, indeed, be quite toothsome; a serious contender for High Point.

Then a mid-afternoon communion service at a seniors' residence.

And -- proving that I am irrecoverably base and carnal and irreligious if not absolutely apostate -- the real high point of the week, I fear, will be consuming the Easter Ham with the family chez Daughter Unit and SIL Unit...and collapse.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Gingerbread Rector...

...or, "Run, run, as fast as you can..."

~~ Happy cleaning session with Daughter Unit last night, tea and laughter, and a gratifying BULK of stuff went OUT either for garbage or rummage or recyclage (I don't care, truly). We tackled sheet-music, candles, gardening information, and the first consignment of (shudder) loose photographs.

~~ Then some focused TV watching -- a CBC documentary on "Life and Death in Kandahar" i.e. the military hospital and the people who work there and are treated there. I had hopes of seeing the people we know and love who are serving there, then realized of course this film was put together before their rotation began, but now by gosh I have "visuals" in my mind to supply the backdrop when we hear from them.

~~ and so, eventually to bed.

~~ awakened this morning by cat seeking further help with her coiffure. "Well I swan" as grandma would have said. Taffeta had done Good Work on the worst of her tangles yesterday while I was at work, and there were about three places that needed the scissors, so while I snipped at her she nibbled my wrist in an encouraging way. I think another couple of mornings and she should be tangle-free...not very "sightly," mind you, but a whole lot more comfortable.

~~ The rest of today: Holy Communion at 10, meeting with one of my Wardens thereafter, coffee with parishioners at 1:30, hospital visit at 3, wedding couple at 5:30, and an award ceremony featuring #1 Son at 7.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Some busy...

Up early this morning because I'd been asked to come and open today's meeting of City Council with prayer. (The World's Best Secretary suggested I look around at the alderpersons, say, "Oh, God help us all:" and sit down. I resisted the temptation!)
Downtown half an hour too early for anything, stopped at Denny's and took on ballast for the task ahead of me.
I didn't fall down the steps nor did anyone offer me violence -- sat with the City Chaplain through the protocol items at the beginning of the meeting and then skibbled back here to MHU to confer with people who want to shoot a television episode for a Major Network here (it's those Gothic arches, get'em every time)...we are considering it...they are considering it. Our unworthy hope is that mucho dinero will result. It's about those BOILERS...
I have hours of work to do in baptismal prep and wedding paperwork, and had best get at it.
Despite my onerous Civic Responsibilities (wrist to brow) I had time for a little more scissor-work with the Taffeta Cat this morning, left her reclining at the top of the stairs, arranging her comb-overs, or lick-overs.
And tonight Daughter Unit and I tackle another mare's-nest of clutter in the Ancestral Abode!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And for something completely different...

Earlier on I blogged a bit about our old cat, Taffeta. She seems to have weathered whatever kind of medical crisis plagued her during the winter, although she's a bit tottery on her legs, and quite possibly doesn't see very much or very clearly.

Unfortunately, what with old age and various kinds of debility, her personal grooming has gotten beyond her. And she is a silky long-haired cat, as you see from the picture above of her in her prime. Up until this year she's always been spectacularly tidy and soft...but now she's much troubled with tats, mats, and dreadlocks, especially on her shoulders and on her "lower back" near the base of her tail and down her hips.

Combing and brushing don't even begin to solve the problem. Cue the Rambler and her very pointy and thin-bladed old-fashioned nail-scissors!

When I began in a concerted way to try to cut out the tangles -- also in fear and trembling lest I cut HER, because some of these tangles are really close to her skin -- there was a lot of protest...hissing and biting and clawing and wriggling.

But much to my amazement, the old girl seems to have figured out what I am trying to do! (Maybe I've become a little more deft, too.) And this morning she hopped up on my bed and lay down in an inviting attitude, and purred with great determination while I got to work... So we actually cooperated, up to a point, and when she'd had enough she bit me, in that shot-across-the-bows, cease-and-desist kind of way, and we adjourned. (I've been bitten, once, by a cat who "meant it," and it's not the same experience at all, wow.)

But I am astonished. I do find it helps to talk to her while I'm snipping, and to stroke the unmatted bits in an encouraging way.

Poor old thing, though, she is going to be very bald about the bum when I get the job finished!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Heads Up, Everybody

Dear friends, You have GOT to read yesterday's post on THIS BLOG right now. It will make your Monday and it may make your week. Wow.

A good day to all!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Them Daylight Saving Blues

I came within a hair of forgetting to change the clocks last night. It had been a rather momentous and fraught kind of day -- especially in anticipation. ELECTORAL SYNOD (drum roll, thunder off...)...

In the upshot, however, we needed only three ballots, we were all done by three o'clock including a Eucharist and a very nice lunch break.

And I think we made the best choice among the eight candidates, the woman who is at present Rector and Dean of the Cathedral. She led both houses (clergy and laity) on the first ballot and increased her lead on the subsequent ones.

The Archbishop, who was presiding, preached well and helpfully at the Eucharist. And he quoted one of his long-ago mentors. "Anyone who WANTS the office of a Bishop -- DESERVES it." As a line, it got an excellent delayed laugh... And I think it reassured those of us who feel, anachronistically, that Profound Reluctance is a positive sign of "call." I have trouble with the "visibly ambitious."

Because we were obliged to sit in alphabetical order in our separate houses, I was cheek-by-jowl with some clergy I don't often get the chance to chat with, and that was very collegial and pleasant also.

Another happy aspect of the whole day was reflecting on the very appropriate hymn choices, during our worship AND as signals to reconvene before each ballot. Rather fun to consider what mischievous choices might have been made too! The punch line to the music came when we reconvened after the third ballot: the Archbishop invited us to stand and sing "three-ninety-nine" -- you could hear the murmur run around the congregation as people realized it was "Now Thank We All Our God" -- the musical equivalent of "white smoke"!!!

And the time change meant that I left home this morning in the lovely pearly pre-dawn, just before the street lights go out...

But I foresee Major Nappage this afternoon!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Signs of Spring Friday Five!

TGIF, and TG for the Friday Five!
Sally, at RevGalBlogPals has posted this for us this week:

I believe that if we look carefully we can see signs of hope all around us.... as for signs of spring... well you tell me....

What have you seen/ heard this week that was a :

1. Sign of hope?

Just a whiff in the air of patience, wisdom, goodwill...courage...

2. An unexpected word of light in a dark place?

Inspiring things in inward/outward, which comes by e-mail daily...

3. A sign of spring?

All the gutters are running with snow-melt in bright, bright warm sunshine today! and the running water has cut gullies in the ice-ruts in the parking lot. A little more and the ice in the river will start to break up too.

4. Challenging/surprising?

By this time tomorrow evening, God willing, we should know who our next bishop will be. It may be surprising. It's bound to be challenging!

5. Share a hope for the coming week/month/year....

Two hopes, maybe: one, that we solve our heating-system problem within the estimates and before the new onset of cold weather next fall; and two, that we find a way to embrace and integrate the newly-married and the newly-parents, and help them to make this THEIR parish too.

Bonus play... a piece of music/ poem guaranteed to cheer you?

Well -- at the moment the Rhapsody in Blue is my "get game face on and go to work" music in the car!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Yesterday was an epic of overlapping meetings -- leave one early to reach the next one, LATE.
A rush downtown in the morning to drop off critically important paperwork -- and to be told, "Oh this isn't the right format, there's a form you have to fill out" -- this, mark you, after we had worn our nervous systems to shreds trying to find mutually acceptable wording. NOWHERE on paper or online was "The Form You Have to Fill Out" ever mentioned. I guess it was A SECRET. However this cavil was overruled.

On to the next meeting with a stop at the Golden Arches (I know, I know...). This meeting --an ecumenical one-- was one of those where nobody can hear anything unless he or she has uttered it. And the modus operandi is Advanced Dithering. There were no minutes. There was no agenda, except a scribble on paper in front of the Chair.

One piece of paper was circulated -- a report on donations to the ecumenical Christmas-season charity, "No Room in the Inn." Within the organizing committee, donations are reported parish-by-parish; for public consumption, they are lumped by denomination. The NRII Committee had sent their report in the latter format to executive first for approval of release to general membership. Three members of the executive explained that to the remaining three, one at a time and then in unison. To which, I finally said, "SO MOVED." And they all moved away from me there, on the bench, as though I had blasphemed...and continued their antiphonal ditherings.

I am not patient. Not at all. And though I know I am overly task-focussed and not nearly people-sensitive enough....SHEESH, you guys!

After lingering in a few more Gumption Traps (the same ones, every meeting) we escaped and went our separate ways.

On to the next gathering, far side of the city, and a moment of sheer glee as I for once Guessed Right on how to make the best use of the new ringroad system here in Prairie Metropolis. I committed myself to what I thought might be the most appropriate exit and within a few hundred yards it dropped me right into the churchyard I was looking for...for our monthly area-clergy meeting. Too late for Eucharist, too late for lunch, but there was still coffee and "sharing" and it was comfortable amongst colleagues.

Off and away again at 3 o'clock over a much less accommodating route, to an auxiliary hospital/nursing home for monthly communion service. Big congregation -- twenty-two of us counting volunteers. MHU's faithful early-service organist provides accompaniment for our hymns at this hospital. Because he abominates the standard songbook, we often have at least one splendid warhorse hymn on a separate piece of paper.

There are days when I think I may just possibly have grown in the ministry. The hospital services paralyzed me when I started out. At this point, though, they look more and more like the treat at the end of the day -- especially a day like yesterday!!! We have a very brief and very very simple liturgy. Three familiar hymns. Distribution of communion from the reserved sacrament. And I read a little bit of the Gospel, and talk about it very lightly. I tell funny stories. I have been known to tell the whole plot of a movie (don't tell my Homiletics professor). I recount what the children said last Sunday during children's focus. And I share the peace with everybody, and I give everybody communion (all those who are awake, at least), and I TOUCH EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM before they leave! And look them in the eye! And SMILE!

Some things get easier. Thanks be to God.

And after supper my Daughter Unit came over for tea and we tackled one de-cluttering job...trying to keep the SSS at bay (Senior Squalor Syndrome).

Sat up late watching Rex Harrison and the luminous Kay Kendall et al. in The Reluctant Debutante. A decent night's sleep and most of the snow that fell overnight has melted away again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Never a dull moment here at the ol' pop-stand...

Yesterday was what you might call a full day. A pile of paperwork to get through, phone calls that urgently needed attention -- then an impromptu meeting of the Fabric Committee (bricks'n'mortar, not denim'n'lace), more deskwork, the knitting group in the afternoon...

Oh and the good souls on the Fabric Committee, after their meeting, went casually down into the basement to check on something or other -- and found that one of the two Ancient Boilers had given up the fight and was pouring water everywhere, creating the Black Lagoon in the boiler room. Our plan, which we had been contemplating with some tranquility, was to dismantle the two old boilers and remove them piecemeal from the boiler room and then install two new horrendously expensive high-efficiency heating units. We hadn't intended to start this week! But the Supreme Handyman, blessed be he, spent the rest of the afternoon and evening shutting down and removing Defunct Boiler, assisted by employees from his firm. Parking Lot full of panel trucks...

The tricky part was bringing the surviving boiler back on line and into operation. That too he managed. So we have heat, thanks be to God.

Late afternoon I went out and found a pizza to tide me over the evening's activities...came back to find Most Holy and Undivided surrounded by police cars. In their delightful jargon, there was "A Situation" further down the block. "So if you'd just go back inside, Ma'am, and stay there?"

I don't know whether it was a drug raid or what...but they hovered to and fro for a couple of hours before shifting the Brownies were able to gather for their Weekly Shriek-in as usual,and the clientele arrived for Christian Education, and I got home in time to watch a good part of the delayed tape of the UEFA Cup game.

After which, all I can say, in the spirit of Jane Austen's dear Emma, is this:


There. I feel much better now. Thank you all for listening...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Better now, thank you!

Thank you all for your helpful comments and STRENGTHENING affirmations after yesterday's deep gloom.

The sun is out again today...I spent a long time last night sitting up, reading -- trying to get ready for a retreat I am leading at the end of May...and beginning to feel quite excited about it.

And so far this morning I have four endorsements out of five for the re-wording of our recommendation to the Examining Chaplains. You know how they keep telling us to delegate? One of our committee members is an extremely adroit lawyer, and he just gathered up the fragments of our first attempt and wove them into something we could all sign in good faith without feeling that we'd been shafted -- or that we'd shafted our candidate.

And the dissenting committee member has sent me, spontaneously, marvelous promotional material announcing our Holy Week activities, full of positive ALLUREMENTS to come and take part in them. Her rhetoric in these doesn't make me wince at all!

I've just had a great long conversation with the stalwarts of our Fabric Committee about how to put together a long-range plan for the building, and how to get it approved and turned into a really good discussion...we reviewed a number of projects and eventually got to "tell us again what is the name of that box that we might get around to installing in the wall of the chancel to put the bread and wine into?" and when I explained it was an AUMBRY there was much fun and foolery about the distinction between "aumbry" and "hombre" -- "yep, that there's one bad aumbry, boys." Many of our older congregants are a lot closer to the protestant end of the Anglican spectrum than I am, by inclination. And this has now graciously become grounds for mutually understood teasing and "hoo-rawing"--which really is affectionate. So there was a lot of laughter. They are almost prepared to install an aumbry "just to please me" -- and so then I up the ante by expressing a tongue-in-cheek yearning for a pompous-glorious sanctuary lamp with rattly chains. Shrieks of mock dismay!

And best of all, I've had an e-conversation with T, who was recently being treated for postpartum psychosis, and for whom so many of the RevGals so kindly prayed. T sent me a doleful message saying she had lost her faith in God and in Jesus and in Holy Communion and so she has stopped taking communion and perhaps I would tell her she shouldn't come to church any more at all. She has a little boy by her first marriage, who is being prepared at his school for First Communion in the Roman Catholic church, and she's also dealing with his catechism-generated questions and observations. I kept trying to respond and not being able to do so, finally wrote a great long meandering reply late one night last week...and it seems, blessedly and graciously and thank you Lord, to have hit just the right note with her. We're going to have a visit, too.

So this is a good day (which, no doubt, the Lord hath made)!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday again...and a sad one...

It's snowing again and the footing is treacherous.

I've had a wedding-interview with a middle-aged couple, both previously married, one widowed, one divorced...a May wedding in view. The bride lingered after her fiance sped off to a medical appointment. She is a parishioner in a former parish of mine, also the site of her first wedding, too much deja vu in that venue for the second wedding. It was good to talk to her.

Other than the two of us, the building was "uninhabited," so when the doorbell was rung by a man I didn't know -- and a man of superficially sinister aspect -- I didn't answer it but let her out "by another way."

However the stranger at the door proved to be the piano-tuner (we have these moments), who very sensibly went back to his car and called me on his cell, so I apologized and let him in. He is happily at work on Big Piano. We have Big Concerts in the next two weeks...lots of piano to be played.

Our Parish Discernment Committee is struggling with the wording of its report to the Examining Chaplains...and I am struggling with the facilitation of the Committee. One of the Committee members is dissatisfied with...I guess it would be the candidate's rhetoric. We posed hard questions in the interview...and from time to time the candidate's answers were, approximately, "I don't know" or "I don't know, yet." These were particularly around the "what would you do when...?" hypothetical questions. And most of the committee thought (and I thought)-- fair enough, he's not a priest yet, he hasn't done an internship, this is the kind of thing you learn on the job. But the one dissenting member was hoping to hear him say, to every question, "Well, I'd have to pray about that" or "I'd have to ask Jesus what to do about that".

And the report has to do justice to all the responses of the Committee. How to be fair, without appearing to privilege one person's unshared concerns over the positive responses of the other members.

And I'm trying somehow not to say that the language she was listening for, that would be "evidence of a genuine call," sounds to some of us like the jargon, the cant, of a particularly repellent kind of hypocrisy.

So I am gravelled by this, and I don't know how to respond.

And we lost another soldier in Afghanistan yesterday, not just from the local garrison but a local boy. I didn't know him -- but I know who was there to receive his body at the base hospital.

Not a good day.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Saturday night...

Well this sermon won't say anything except "arf arf," I I have printed it off and will take it home and work on it a bit more with a pencil, and see if that stimulates thought. I almost typed "simulates thought" -- that would be an acceptable outcome too at this point!

It's going to be about John 9 as one comic episode in the Divine Comedy of salvation...and about "why it's so funny." I will thereby prove -- if nothing else -- that there is nothing so terminally boring as trying to explain why a joke is funny.

But I want to say something about the paradoxes of human senses and human knowing based on the senses, the communal nature of perception, even sense perception, the essential role of commitment, love, handing-oneself-over in real perception, and the way it brings us back over and over to realize that in the midst of our peering and peeking and staring and squinting we are first last and always SEEN ALREADY by the one who made us, redeemed us, sustains us, loves us...

That's about it!

"A quiet night and a perfect end..."