Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Yesterday was one of the better days...

The usual morning routine involves one of Prairie Metropolis's two daily papers: Headlines, obituaries, comics, daily Sudoku, Today's Crossword, NY Times Crossword, and then off to work.

Yesterday morning, all of the above plus the Asimov Quiz, the Jumbles, and the Scrabble words, just one after the other, "bif boum tschrac" as it says in the Asterix comics.

From which it is to be inferred that the Rambler got Enough Sleep the night before.

Under these conditions, the Going To Work/Getting Game Face On music in the car is Carolina Shout (the immortal Thomas "Fats" Waller, who else).

Today, not QUITE so peppy, but all right.

And I hope y'all are all right, too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

odds and ends of Tuesday reflections

What every parish needs, is an IT guy known to his friends (including the Rector) as "Mad Dog"...I'm just sayin'. It adds such cachet to the Rector's Report. "And on the following week, Mad Dog Jenkins came by and adjusted all the security monitors on the doors..."

What is it with people, that they figger they are entitled to tell the preacher what to say at a funeral?
Either what to say about the deceased: "Bob is going to talk about his business, and Earl is going to talk about his golf, so we'd like you to explain how important he was to the church..."
Or, "We'd like to keep this really a celebration of life, so we don't want you to talk about death, it's so gloomy and morbid. And please don't say too much about God..."
Or -- and this is the one that really gets me (and it's happened more than once):"Grandma and I have always been people of faith but nobody else in the family is, especially not my father/mother/brother/husband, so I'm sure Grandma would be very pleased if at her funeral you could really emphasize how important this is." (Variant: "and in your sermon we'd like you to point out how essential it is for everyone to have a Personal Relationship with Jesus")

What do they think I'll say? "Either straighten up and fly right and start going to church and tithing OR YOU'LL NEVER SEE YOUR GRANDMA AGAIN"????

Crass, crass, crass, crass.

Days like this, I'm tempted to get Mad Dog to wire the pews...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

the Friday Five -- a wee bit late!

We've been asked this week what five things we absolutely, positively, cannot leave home without...interesting stuff -- because that list has changed so radically since I began travelling on my own and/or as wagonmaster of the expedition...formerly there would have been several dozen DIAPERS high up on the list! Not no more, however, hurray.

All right now. Some of these could be seasonal--i.e., when I go on retreat (always in the winter), I won't leave home without my wheat-bag ("Magic Bag" if that's how you know it).

But for summer-holidays travelling, and we'll assume it's by car... In my bright yellow travel knapsack I will have:

1. Maps and AAA tourbook of the area/s I'll be in. Also a Backroads Mapbook if applicable. That's just one thing because it's all navigational, right?

2. Camera and film...and binoculars (all optical, therefore = "one" also).

3. Bird books (also plant and animal books for the area -- if I have'em).

4. Journal and PENS and INK.

...and in my rations-box/cooler I will have:

5. instant coffee, tea bags, instant oatmeal, energy bars, mug/bowl/spoon/knife/can-opener (with a bottle opening feature).

A side note: when I went to Italy I did not take a camera at all...not wanting to see Italy through a viewfinder, and being uncertain of my ability to keep track of a camera anyhow(mind you I bought $120 worth of postcards).

Instead I took a little sketchbook and some pencils. Not because I can draw, but because I can't, and I know it, so I can skritch and scribble away in the sketch book without any expectation of achievement AT ALL. And now at home when I look at the results...although nobody else might have the faintest notion of what the original looked like...I'm right back where I was when I was not-drawing what's on the page.

Is that COMPLETELY strange?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

oh my goodness

Wow -- I've been given a beautiful award by Prairie Light--and I thank her very much indeed for this honour -- I hope I can figure out how to post the illustration and the link...Arte y Pico will explain the origin of the award...

Now, fingers crossed and tongue protruding between clenched teeth, here are the rules governing the award:

This is a traveling award for creative blogging, and the rules stipulate that that honoree picks five new awardees as stipulated in the following rules:

1) Pick five blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, in no matter what language.
2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3) Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4) The award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award -- which is here So, though it was difficult to choose just five, there being so much creativity out there (as evidenced by the fact that so many of you are already sporting this lovely lady) I present this award to the following bloggers:


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Meme, glorious meme...

I've been double-tagged for this one -- thank you Sisterfilms and Chorus -- so here we go!

Here are the rules:

1. List these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog.

a. The first four schools I attended were the one-room variety, with total enrolment ranging from six pupils to about 30. Two of those schools had no indoor plumbing.

b. I hate competing, but I hate losing even more.

c. I remember learning to read from the Corn Flakes box when I was four years old.

d. I've sailed the Inside Passage route from Vancouver to Alaska three times, round trip -- on business, every time.

e. I have taught English Grammar and Composition to engineering students (and lived to tell about it).

f. I love to cook for BIG groups of people...25-40, say.

g. My best and happiest times are bringing people and text together. Almost any text, almost any people.

There! I'm not sure whether those are of interest, a-tall, but so it is; they're not actionable either so far as I can tell!

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

All right now: I tag...

Shoeless Seminarian;
Knit One, Purl One, Preach One;
Kate Morningstar;
Snow on Roses;
Leave it lay where Jesus flang it;
Parish Perspectives;
Mercenary Presbyter.

Whew! Enjoy, friends!

***Mercy! It appears that this is Post #200!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

what lifts the heart

The ladies of the Sanctuary Guild had a fistful of flowers left over from the altar flowers on Sunday and I came back to my office to find one of their little brass vases on my desk...sporting a couple of stems of fuchsia-coloured carns, a big fat magenta Gerbera daisy, and a spray of...maybe it's statice? this is fresh and tender but it's one of the flowers that also dries well. Very cheery.

And the potentilla bush that Daughter Unit gave me a few years back is in bloom by the driveway. It's PINK...had made a few pale blossoms earlier but now it's in full flower with intense colour.

There are volunteer poppies coming up in the gravel of the far end of the driveway, very chipper. They blow in from the neighbour's yard, which is a blooming bower. Mine -- more "The Unpleasaunce."

reflecting on flower names...Daughter Unit and I have a highly specific aphasia about them. She can't remember "potentilla"; and I can't remember (just a second here)... "portulaca." I look at the latter, and I think..."polycarp? no, that's a saint... pocatello? no, that's a place in Idaho"...and then I stick, for some time.

I'm sure in terms of brain (mal)function, this inability is related to the inability to remember that it's crushed pineapple I've gone downstairs to the pantry to fetch...

Monday, July 21, 2008

catching up on Monday

I am claiming the privilege of the 'Ukrainian calendar' here this do my Friday Five on Monday.

1. So how did you come up with your blogging name? And/or the name of your blog?

Well, I used to think that if I had a CB handle (yes, I go that far back) it would be Crimson Rambler...Crimson for happy "alumnious reasons" and Rambler because of my nomadic childhood and continuing love of travel; and knowing that a Crimson Rambler was a rather attractive rose also helped. I didn't know until told by I'm still me that there is another kind of Crimson Rambler, a variety of morning glory. (Thanks for the seeds, Me! Not yet planted! but greatly appreciated...). The only other "handle" that really appealed was "The Dalai Mama" but to use it would have been to pirate someone else's idea.

2. Are there any code names or secret identities in your blog? Any stories there?

Code name for the parish -- Most Holy and Undivided -- is actually pretty transparent; parishioners and family members aren't identified except by initials (not always theirs) or by "Unit" names...the cat, however, has been "outed" by her real name, which is Taffeta.

3. What are some blog titles that you just love? For their cleverness, drama, or sheer, crazy fun?

I am awed by bloggers' wit and ingenuity in this respect: "Leave it lay where Jesus flang it";Tales from the Shoeless Seminarian; "Where am I going...and why am I in this handbasket?"--and a MYRIAD others!

4. What three blogs are you devoted to? Other than the RevGalBlogPals blog of course!

Familial blogs -- of course -- and a great many RevGal individual blogs. Check the blogroll! (I'll update it one of these days -- carrying a bunch more on bookmarks at the moment.)

5. Who introduced you to the world of blogging and why?

Colleagues and parishioners sent links to individual posts -- I think one of the earliest was to something Cheesehead had posted; and a year ago or more the Daughter Unit, seconded by her brothers, began on me, "MA! you need a blog!" -- so around the end of September '07 I gave in, she set up my template and got me started. (And three months later she had a new tune: "MA! have you applied to RevGals yet?" -- the story of my life!!!)

And I am unceasingly grateful to her/them for the encouragement (aka incessant nagging) -- and to my blogging acquaintances. WHAT a blessing. It's also been fun saying to other women in ministry, including seminarians -- "Take a look at the RevGals..." and hearing their delighted responses!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Crimson Rambler by Philip Leslie Hale
Crimson Rambler

*(not ACTUALLY Crimson Rambler)

Pentecost Ten

PENTECOST TEN – preached at Most Holy and Undivided, July 20th, 2008.
We begin this morning with the famous dream vision of Bethel. And the key sentence, the one that jumps out, is “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!” Why is this crucial? because Jacob is above all a “knower” – he is making his way by being smarter-than-everybody … his brother, his father, his uncle Laban… and this admission that he has NOT known is one moment of -“metanoia” – the moment of turning around. The other one comes later – they are like book-ends at either end of his experience of exile in a foreign land – the other one happens when he is on his way home again. But this is a starting place…the acknowledgement of NOT KNOWING something very, very important. It colours what comes later, too. Stay tuned. This story gets more and more interesting as it goes along. Jacob is an entire rascal, and he's had to remove himself from his family because of it, and yet he is the chosen instrument of God’s purpose for Israel…a great conundrum.
The Psalm is a kind of response to it…the tension between knowing and being known…and the conclusion might be no more than a shrug – “God knows [so I don’t have to]”… but beyond the commonplace that God knows all about us, and there’s just NO getting away from him, comes the plea that God’s knowledge of us will be applied to our good. We don’t know God, and we don’t know ourselves: “Search me out, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my restless thoughts. Look well… and lead me.” If we were to translate this…”I have no idea whether I’m doing the right thing or not. You know. Please take a good look, and tidy up and re-direct as necessary.”
What an amazingly liberated and liberating way to pray, to think about one’s conscience…”God, I’m depending upon you to put me to rights…because it’s your responsibility.” And at the same time the ultimate expression of obedience…literally we say, “I cannot call my soul my own – HURRAY!”
And then, in this context, we hear St. Paul… what does this mean, this set of Hebrew experiences and insights and expressions? It finds its meaning in Jesus Christ, and its meaning for US is that we stand before God in exactly the same place as Jesus Christ…that God looks at us with the same love, the same cherishing, the same delight, that he takes in his #1 Son. All of us. It’s important to know that the term “children of God” was fairly loosely bandied about in the ancient world. That’s why Paul goes on at the length he does…and the spirit is within us – remember that that is the spirit of GOD, the Holy Spirit, as we glimpsed last week…it is not only our Advocate, and our Comforter, but our Coach and Prompter in prayer – if you can imagine the Holy Spirit saying in our ear, “Psst, try saying THIS to God…” and making little encouraging noises .
Now what does this have to do with the state of the world around us? It gives us a place to stand in order to UNDERSTAND, the parable of the weeds of the field… and the general messed-up-ness of everything, sometimes including ourselves. [anecdote of church sign. Again, we have a sentence expressing the central insight: “an enemy has done this.” OK, fine. But what do WE do now? We see through the trap… set for us by “that which is NOT OF GOD.” – the existence of evil/harm/suffering/sin/wickedness in the world which IS God’s. it is a kind of Catch 22 trap… [“weeds” is kind of an inadequate word, here, as I understand it; this was actually a plant that appeared to mimic the wheat quite closely but was very toxic… discussion the other night about various kinds of apparently wholesome foodstuffs that can make us miserably ill if we don’t recognize their presence in what we’re eating!] We can see ourselves as harmed/trapped by the action of “the enemy” in two ways… either the weeds grow up and spoil the crop, choke out the good wheat or poison the reapers; or in our indignation we ourselves spoil the good wheat by tramping about in it trying to root out all the weeds by our own efforts.
But that perceived trap is only real if we forget our other experiences, the moments that our other readings have brought together for us this morning. The experience that is Jacob’s moment…of suddenly realizing that we have been in the presence of God all along—AND WE STILL ARE. And of knowing that God perceives what is good and what is bad in a way, and with a completeness, that we will never be able to attain in this life—AND HE’S STILL DOING IT. And of recognizing that this mixture of what is wholesome and what is harmful is not just the reality of the world; this is the reality of our own selves, where only God can pick apart weeds and wheat—AND WILL KNOW WHEN AN IF IT’S RIGHT TO DO SO--.Thanks be to God because our own desire to rip, tear, and uproot is so unsupported by knowledge, understanding, vision. Particularly troublesome in the church – we can make it perfect by just rooting out all the people whose opinions, manners, customs, style, thinking, don’t match our precious own. Especially troublesome at the moment – when patience, forbearance are particularly difficult and challenging...a time of groaning for many people on every side of every issue.
QUOTE from Bishop Mwamba: "Let us then straight, gay, liberal, conservative, moderate, Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, traditionalist, Africans and Americans, Asians, Europeans get into each other's worlds and be enriched in the discovery of our oneness in Christ and together enlarge God's kingdom of love where everybody has a seat at the table."

"Let's beware of excommunicating each other here on earth. For we shall find in heaven we are still bound together at the table of Christ's love. Archbishop Akinola sitting next to Bishop Gene Robinson for such is the kingdom of God."

God is in the place, and we do not know it; seeing what we do not see, knowing what we do not know, doing what we cannot do, loving what -- and whom -- we cannot order that all his beloved may shine like the sun, and his whole creation come to its fullness in the light of his glory. Thanks be to God.


bulletins from the front...

War a l'outrance continues against the
Rodent World. By the way, I have reamed out the only hitherto un-emptied zone in my desk, the big "miscellaneous" compartment meant to house the typing-shelf, now harboring all sorts of obsolete items...and in so doing, found a whole new dimension of meaning in the term, "mouse pad." ("EWWWWWW...")

I have had a very happy wedding interview with an out-of-town couple...

I have received multiple cardboard boxes of archival materials belonging to the Council of Churches -- AND found a place to put them.

I have enjoyed my bagel and coffee...

Sermon time...

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Fighting the Mouse Wars today. Emptying the desk and scrubbing all the drawers etc. with disinfectant.

Not just "a" mouse, more an infestation.

Good side -- throwing out a lot of things! I'm hoping momentum will carry me forward to some more overdue cleaning up in this work space!

But in the meantime, there are distinct moments of IIITBTW, WDIL...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

and he's back, folks...


We woke up this morning to the rumble of thunder, not so usual at that time of day. It has been raining steadily since first light.

Lunch out with friends yesterday, a treat...and a minimum of ecclesiology involved!

Letters to write...proper pen'n'paper letters to write...and phone calls to return.

Question arose in recent conversation re: the place of etiquette in clergy formation. I mean the basic, "this is a knife, and this is a fork, take one in each hand" kind of stuff; "this is a parishioner approaching the front door of the Rectory; and this is what you say when you open the door."

The question arose in terms of different generational preparednesses for the day-to-day stuff of parish ministry...and how the gaps, where they appear, are or are not dealt with in seminary, in internships...

What's your experience? What's your thinking?

(My interlocutor and I also talked about professional self-presentation in terms of garb and grooming; the things that people need to be told...and sometimes aren't...)

Monday, July 14, 2008

aha, an epoch

...if that's the word I want...

After two good and lively services yesterday, and the obligatory Sunday afternoon coma (aka "dark spell" as in "I feel a dark spell coming on"), Daughter Unit and I had our first ever MEET UP with another blogger! Much joy and much much good talk and many points of contact and common experience, hurray. And lovely dinner (Thanks DU!) A life-enhancing evening in every way.

And I've written "macrame" on a post-it note and stuck it to my bookshelf in case I need a giggle anytime soon. (Sorry, you had to be there...)

A propos of the specifics of clergy-wellness-nappage on Sunday afternoons... what's your norm? Bed or couch/sofa/chesterfield/chaise longue/other? Blanket/duvet/afghan/other? Cats/dogs/other? (I knew a woman who used to nap with her--sizable--pet box turtle, but let us not dwell upon THAT); NASCAR? MLB? Soccer? old movies? mindless action movies with Clint Eastwood et al. blowing up stuff? Tea/hot chocolate/Ovaltine/single malt/other?

Pray do tell.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

egads, a leitmotif

It's always interesting, sometimes a bit of a shock as well, to LISTEN to the lections read aloud by other people after however long I've spent wrangling with them during the week ... the "lines" that jump out of the undergrowth are amazing.

And the great line this morning -- I didn't preach on it, but it would make a terrific office-wall decal -- was Rebekah's complaint: "If it is to be this way, why do I live?"

It just applies to SO MANY situations...

I'd like an anthology of utterances in which the people of God blow raspberries at the whole shebang: e.g. Jonah, "Yea, I do well to be angry..." and so forth.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just for fun!

The Reading List

OK -- this comes to this blog by way of The Owl's Song--thanks, Owl! And I've seen it on a number of other blogs already this morning.

The instructions are to cut and paste it into your blog, and "embolden" the titles you've far!

Comments welcome! (Comments irresistible, I suspect). Enjoy!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Hmmm, for a total of 62 out of 100. (I have NO life...) Some I'd have left off this list also; and where's the Willa Cather? and why isn't there more of George Eliot? And where is Mauriac? and Bernanos? and Goethe for crying out loud? and Dante? and Defoe? and Walter flippin' Scott? and Margaret Laurence? and...
OK, time for lunch and a cooling-off period!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

enough good news for at least a week

The first of the current crop of babies made his appearance four weeks early last week, but all is well, and all manner of thing is well, and we rejoice. Henry, his name is to be. It's been some time since we baptized a Henry!

And T., who has had such a savage struggle with postpartum distresses over the last year, has been appearing quietly in church with her husband and children for some weeks now.

And on Sunday, she shared Holy Communion with us again.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Panic averted (narrowly)...

Alternate Title: WHERE does it say, in my terms of reference, that it shall be the Rector's responsibility on Sunday morning between services to locate supplementary "bathroom tissue" for lifelong members of the parish...when the holders in the washrooms are empty...

...and when the BT (or "TP" if you prefer) has been cunningly and craftily hidden in a supply closet, whose door bears the label (at least 15 years old, this label), "SUPPLIES -- rock salt, paper towels, toilet paper"?

I'm just askin'. I don't remember that part, in the ordination service.