Tuesday, December 7, 2010

waking up routines.

another ten minute writing exercise.

Most mornings I wake up repeatedly from about four a.m. on. The house is chilly at night -- the thermostat is set for 65 F, so I don't stir usually until the programme kicks in and the furnace comes on. What happens next -- if I'm not getting up right away, I fumble about and find whatever I was reading when i gave up the night before. It's usually a magazine -- the New Yorker or the Atlantic; weekly, the TLS. In the morning, if I'm feeling alert, I take a look at the TLS crossword and see if anything shakes loose. Two or three times I've been able to find all the answers...but I don't usually get my entry copied and mailed in before the deadline. Delivery of the magazine is sometimes a bit erratic.

Among the reviews I enjoy especially reviews on memoirs, biographies, and works of theology. Since I retired I don't leap up and negotiate with Amazon.ca quite as readily when a book looks appetizing, but now and then I'll look for a title in local bookstores.

If I don't take on a magazine crossword, I'll look at one of the puzzles in my New York Times puzzle-a-day calendar. The easy ones are Monday and Tuesday, they get harder as the week goes on. But there are conventions and protocols even in the difficult ones. They help steer us toward solutions.

Before I get out of bed, usually, I take the morning meds with whatever is left in the bottom of the mug I took to bed with me the night before. Sometimes a couple of big fierce acetaminophen, depending on how much my hands ache.

Then it's time to check the windows...ice at the bottom of the panes means COLD; and time to listen to the household thumps and rustlings, is the shower free?

And somewhere in there, briefly, a little Morning Prayer.

Feet on the floor, shuffle into the moccasins, and head for the kitchen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

for the time being...

I've come to a kind of temporary decision about this blog; until further notice, I will try to blog daily but I will do so under the rubric of a "free write" exercise. I used to assign these when I was a sessional instructor (lowest form of vertebrate life) at Colourful U. Teaching English to "students with no known native language".

From time to time, though, I would teach a senior-level course in writing non-fiction prose, with a great gamut of students from the already-published, to the "barely passed first year survey, needs to learn more English".

This was NOT an English as a Second Language course, just to be clear about that.

And the best timetable of all was the intersession or summer session one -- 2.5 hours a day, every day, for six weeks. If you do ANYTHING for 2.5 hours per day for six weeks, you are going to get better at it. You flat out cannot help yourself. It's nature.

Used to start those sessions with a "free write" -- I would set an aphorism or a limerick or a definition or a contentious remark of some sort as a starter and say, "GO, just as hard as you can go, for ten minutes. Do not lift pen from paper. If you don't know what to write, write 'I don't know what to write' and repeat until something occurs to you."

There was some resistance to this gambit. Especially from young ladies of East Asian extraction, "No, no, Dr. Rambler, this is not correct, must first make careful outline of thoughts, then organize, then write..." Much minor-key moaning, or maybe keening, when I forbade them to write outlines in advance.

It's not a bad way to start to write a sermon either, I have found, since then. Stream of semi-consciousness, perhaps. At least, it gets the throat cleared. Or the mind snaked.

And this was a 10 minute free-write. I'll find a pic to head it up, and then sign off. See you tomorrow. Keep the faith. Try to behave yourselves.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Just sitting down with Mr. Ballantine and some nice supper only slightly charred, in time to enjoy the final scenes of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the 1935 version. They showed it to us when I was in high school...I remember it being quite the SPARKLIEST thing I had ever seen. And I was a bit bemused at Hollywood figures doing Shakespeare, especially Mickey Rooney and Jimmy Cagney. (the other similar experience was the film of Julius Caesar with Marlon Brando as Mark Antony... But now I have a little more appreciation of professional actors having a very good time with roles far from their usual range...

A pleasant day today, a stimulating meeting in the morning, lunch with Daughter Unit, and cheerful non-productivity from then on.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

to and fro

...across the city today.
Midweek Eucharist, with half a dozen women; then our Advent study; we are reading John Terpstra's "Two Couples, Four Voices." Last week, Joseph; this week, Mary. Next week, Elizabeth. Good strong coffee and nice apricot-date bread. Socializing from the Rectorial Dog, who is convivial by nature, but polite. He sits warmly on one's feet and rolls his eyes.

Then Fab-Rector and the Rambler tottered away for lunch. Italian, very splendid. We treated ourselves to extras thanks to a very generous soul who gave us a nice little Lunch Fund some time ago. The proprietor understands the art of making much of his clientele. We can stand quite a lot of this!

Home again...lots of work to do here in the house...did a little writing; and now time to chase some laundry, make a little supper, probably a large, crunchy, time-consuming SALAD after our big lunch.

Meetings tomorrow and lunch with the Daughter Unit.

Preaching Sunday. "Snakes," I say.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Good news! or gnus! (see above)

I am still alive...and meditating a return to bloggery. I have been many many many miles since the last post on this blog, and the effect of the cross-country to and fro reminds me of a jest of my youth.

For years my mother employed a wonderful Finnish woman as housekeeper. We learned that English as spoken by Finnish people has certain neat features...one was the tendency to drop an initial consonant (especially "T") preceding a liquid ("L" or "R"). Hence for our Aili, people who were moving about geographically were " 'ravelling"...

And I have been much 'ravelled in the last two months.

Isn't it odd that "ravel" and "unravel" mean exactly the same thing... Huh.

So to give you the gist -- in the last eight weeks I've flown to the west coast and back; I've driven into the heart of Central Canada, and back (8,000 kilometres roughly = 5,000 miles), and I've flown into Central Canada and back...

And thought, and thought, and thought...

More, anon.

It's good to be home.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

by the shining big-sea-water

After another good day's drive, PEACHY weather, really like summer...and despite having to move the clock ahead another hour, to Eastern Daylight...arrived before the sun went down. Since Tuesday I have traveled through Mountain Daylight, Central Standard (Rectilinear Province is funny that way), Central Daylight, Eastern Daylight...
Started out this morning with quite a good hotel-lobby breakfast (one of the options was waffles, no, real ones, batter in a dispenser and a big fancy waffle iron)...fruit and yogurt and coffee...briskly eastward with a mid-morning break for gas and a sandwich and a refill on the coffee; ate part of my sandwich in one stop and the rest late in the day by a very satisfactory kind of waterfall.
I also took heed of symptoms and stopped for a power-nap in the parking lot of a staggeringly ersatz "trading post", first making a tactful small purchase over the kind protests of the proprietor: "You don't have to buy anything! Honest! You can have a nap for free! Hey! We don't mind!"
And stopped at the excellent roadside sheep-farm and purveyor of all things woolly...always a feature of these cross-Canada drives.
Long theological Facebook chats with various friends.
Pleasant salad supper at a very old-fashioned diner just behind my motel.
It's philosophically interesting, travelling in this direction at this season, to be driving "into the dark" at the end of each day's stage. It's always been my fate, apparently, to live to the west of my work place -- sun in my eyes at both ends of the day, rising in the morning and setting in the evening. So in the evenings I've always been chasing the sun, chasing the light...but now I'm driving eastward, and the dark comes to meet me and my long shadow. A faint sensation of the end game, in all this.
It's a situation that makes the chain motel a very desirable destination. One thing you can say about the "Super Eight" -- it ain't shy. Unlike "Aunt Grannie's Lavender Hideaway Bide-a-wee B and B," it doesn't hide back among the big trees and the caragana hedges. No-sir-ee. Great big illuminated sign in primary colours, 25 feet high, "Come unto me all ye that are weary." And after dark in an unfamiliar town...that's a blessing too.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Back in the ever-lovin' pre-Cambrian Shield country.

A shorter drive today, an earlier start, and more stops to move around, stretch, assist circulation and digestion and so forth. Stopped partway along for a consultation with hostelry chain...and accomplished an internet reservation for tonight, in the upper left corner of Far Too Extensive Province...and lo! a nice room was all ready for me.
Feeling quite relaxed with a reservation in hand, I stopped for a proper good lunch, and then went to a major supermarket and bought nice fruit things for my cooler. The little 'bar' fridge seems to be standard hotel equipment these days...so I take advantage.
Excellent weather again. A simple route. Good road -- I made the choice to shift to the REALLY Big Road first thing this morning, or as soon as I could, thereby gaining the advantage of a divided highway.
Lots and lots of migratory geese, hundreds flying and thousands feeding in the stubble. Great happiness. And some little quail by the road down in Scenic Prairie River Valley.
Tomorrow, a shorter drive down to the Gitchi-goomi -- and a meet-up with Inner Dorothy, w00t!~!


Hello possums,

In brief, made it all the way through the Neatly Rectilinear Province Next Door yesterday, or almost, despite failure to plan ahead, failure to get out of bed on time, etc., resulting in hitting the Big Road East at the crack of noon.

I should have stopped three hours before I did (obstinacy). Wound up in Former Bootleggers' Shangri-La, fully provided with chain hostelries but unfortunately overrun with JUNIOR HOCKEY PLAYERS, and the Rambler was so played out she was glad to get the VERY LAST HOTEL ROOM in town, smokers' room though it was.

Nothing in hotel worked. But bed was clean and firm, bathroom was clean, water was hot (despite air in pipes from plumbing work going on, meaning all taps spat at users when turned on, AAAAAHHHH.)

I drove too far and for too long. Mem to self: quit before dark. I knew the highway was changing direction from time to time, the old Evening Star kept swinging back and forth across the windshield, but celestial navigation was never my strong point, so when I arose this morning and opened the curtains my first thought was, 'WHAT THE HELL IS THE SUN DOING OVER THERE????' Embarrassing. I was 180 degrees turned around.

Rural prairie province not as pitch-dark as you might imagine. Lots of powerful lights. But a curious desolation attached to them; a light at night should indicate, "Here be folk" and these lights mostly said, "Here be nowt -- folk all gone home"...industrial and agri-industrial facilities under blazing security lamps.

And the prelude to darkness was wonderful. All day as I drove -- not one cloud, not so much as the bigness of a man's hand, from horizon to horizon. But the "middle air" was accumulating a great stock of chaff-dust -- YES! There's corn in Egypt yet! and they are a-combining of it! -- so when the sun went down these masses of dust went all pink against the blue and the whole thing was quite NACREOUS if that's the word I want, and I think it is.

And just after sundown, passed through an 80 km stretch of major migratory flyway with huge briny lakes about six inches deep, full of tastiness for ducks and geese. Saw a lot of happy duck-butts along the way. And lots of geese. Snow geese in great clouds. And this morning in the Qu-Appelle Valley, quail by the side of the road also.

Am now in the Very Flattest Province of Them All, still pressing eastward. Expect to enter the rocks'n'trees zone before bedtime tonight.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

a quick update

up early this morning for a tryst with the ironing board...getting clothes suitcase-ready and ME-ready, trying to scry the weather in two cities, two provinces over three days, with about four different occasions at four different levels of formality (including one that needs the big ol' vestment bag, sigh).

Life somewhat intensified by the prospect of a second session of travel starting very soon after the return to Tether's End...what can I get accomplished in the interval, what HAS to be done before I go away (the second time, by car). For example, schedule exchange of all-weather tires for snow tires; I'd rather listen to them whine unnecessarily than find myself in the midst of the Great Flatness wishing I had them.

On the inter-tubes this morning to find out about Advance Polls for the municipal election...one more thing to schedule in for next weekend.

Taking the national Road Atlas with me on the plane this morning for some more detailed planning of when, where, how far, how many days. Also Bible (preaching next Sunday), also book (for review, due day after return).

Deciding NOT to take excellent dog book by Monks of New Skete (property of public library). I distrust my capacity to travel with a book that is someone else's property, and get it home again safely.

Much taken with the dog-training ethos of the New Skete community. Trying not to list the human beings I know who would be all the better for a "quick leash pop" from time to time.

Feeling a bit daunted by all that I DO NOT KNOW about the dogly realm, as I contemplate becoming a dog-person. I get the two basic principles, that most dogs who distress their owners a) haven't figured out who the boss is and b) haven't had enough exercise. I think I can do the "boss" part (snickering offstage from offspring etc). But two walks a day -- AND PLAY? Dogs need PLAY? They're not talking about cribbage, either, are they? Backgammon? Beggar-my-neighbour? Nah, didn't think so.

...it feels really, really, foolish, but I'm not at all sure I know how to play with a dog...

Back to the ironing board.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


We are getting another wee interval of sunshine and warmth today, after a severe frost last night -- ice on the windshield, ice on the grass and on the puddles at dawn this morning.

I had a cup of green tea last night at bedtime. Later I had some astonishing vivid although not unpleasant dreams. Temptation to assign cause and effect to that sequence, but I don't know.

As it was, got sufficient sleep, with one wakeful interval in which I sat up and read some more of the most recent TLS including a not-altogether-glowing review of Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind. "Pshaw," I say -- I like what she's saying and I enjoy the way she says it.

There is also a lengthy profile on Benedict XVI by Rupert Shortt, another writer I enjoy. I don't think it's altogether glowing either. But I'm saving if for later...thought I might doze off again midway through and I want to read it through at a sitting.

Interesting article on Jan Sibelius (review of a new biography) and the public status of the creative arts in Finland a hundred years ago.

What with one thing and another did not rise up with any exceptional alacrity this morning and getting out of the house became one of those "what can I safely omit doing" processes...finally decided that I must either eat my oatmeal a) in the bathtub (unwise) or b) in the car (doomed) or c) at my midmorning meeting. So I opted for c).

Then by way of the gas station and a fill-up, to the day's second meeting, good coffee and gingersnaps and good fraternization. Away again past the bank machine to check balances, to the discount bakery outlet, and home again in time to greet the piano tuner, who arrived shortly after the house-painter. They are friends but were not aware they were both engaged today in the upgrading of Tether's End. Joviality ensued.

Earlier in the week booked my brief trip to the Left Coast...trying to juggle family and friends and travel times...decided that I could take an awful lot of taxis for the cost of renting a car--so that's one less thing to worry about.

And the high energy moment of the week so far has been bundling registration material away to RevGalBlogPals Inc. for BE-4!!! Exhilarating!!!

Meantime there is earnest thumping and scraping outdoors, and earnest plinking and plunking indoors...happy sigh!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Sorry about the Little-Girl Scream, there, but the Rambler is en route to the post office to send off her registration for BE 4!!!!!!!

You may now resume your normal activities.

Monday, September 6, 2010

commentary on the statu in quo...

Found this, this week, in TLS in Hugo Williams' "Freelance" column.

The first half of your life you spend assembling loved objects for some imagined "This is it", but the "it" never arrives, because when you get there you feel more like getting rid of it. Is it because the old travel faster and have transferred their objects to memory, to lighten the load? Is it streamlining and simplification for a simpler age? Or could it be that we have started, in the gentlest way imaginable, to forget what these things were and what they once meant to us?

Books are the hardest things to get rid of because of their closedness and changeability. It isn't enough to hate a book for you to get rid of it: you might need it some time for that very reason.

That pretty well sums it up, I think...

An interesting weekend -- wisdom tooth got rowdy with me Saturday night, sleeplessness NOT a good foundation for preaching but church went well and the rush of preaching sidelined the face-ache and optical migraine and other petits maux pretty effectively.

M-the-Paint is here altering the colour--or rather, colours--of Tether's End, a happy end-of-summer project.

There will be SPORTS presently on television...ironing...and the book group meets this evening, we defy calendars.

Happy Labour Day all -- may you have the weather you need to do the things you want!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The last couple of weeks have been a good time for the Rambler...it's a cliche, maybe, to talk about "healing," but I certainly do feel more able to function and with more energy than for quite some time.

The trip south of the Longest Undefended Border in the World (!) was a great source of joy.

I should backtrack here a little bit, perhaps. When I was first able to read, we spent a lot of time with my grandparents, who subscribed to a lot of American magazines (because that's what there WAS, children, is why). They were ideal reading for a curious child: "Life" with wonderful photographs, "Look," "Collier's," and of course "The Saturday Evening Post," with plenty of fiction in every issue, terrific cartoons, Norman Rockwell covers, and all.

I was aware that we lived in Canada, and that south of us there was another country called the United States -- we were close to the border, and now and then visited a great-aunt near Seattle. But most of my awareness came from American magazines. And over time I came to the deep conviction that although the bits around the edge might be a bit dodgy, if you got into the very middle part of the United States, you would find that THAT was where the "Good People" lived. It was a pretty untested assumption, but comforting nonetheless.

And then I grew up, or at least got older, and became more worldly-wise, and dismissed that youthful impression with derision.

But every now and then I get to travel into the "very middle part of the United States," and am forced to admit, every time, "By damn, I was right in the first place."

Setting aside for the moment the stellar hospitality of my hosts in the Cheesy Bit of the Very Middle Part -- folks, they even let me cut up the lefse for the ordination dinner, I was so honoured -- just the experience of travel ... from the efforts of all at Teeny Municipal Airport, ticket agents, security crew, jet-bridge attendants, flight attendants, who all but threw me bodily onto a flight for which I turned up so late it was embarrassing...to the total strangers I encountered on the people-movers in Enormous Hub of Air Travel...I was flabbergasted, people looked me in the eye and smiled and said "hello there!" Friends, it's downright Uncanadian Behaviour. But I think I like it.

More, another time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday don't tell me what number

aka, "A woman is gotta DREAM."

Please note total absence of rainfall in this photograph.

Awoke to the gentle trickling sound of rain this morning at 5:45...shortly seguing into gentle roaring sound of wet-dry vac in the basement. This is very boring, I am not going to blog about it any more.

Much to be done today before take-off tomorrow.

I spend too much time trying to sort out the task-chains...every thing that needs doing comes with a great PROBOSCIS of prerequisites aka "But FIRST, I oughta..." until the whole living project begins to look a lot like gridlock, and "teh urgent" once again drives out "teh important" not to mention "teh fun," and so forth and so on.

The weather forecast is "light rain." Light rain, my Left Behind. The sky to the west is the unappetizing colour of a wet wool work sock.

Back downstairs to the levees.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

what, Thursday already???

Oops, missed a day there somehow.

The heat of the last few days has abated. Heavy solid cloud cover this morning with rain in the offing. Suspense...waiting to see whether the minor stopgap measures I've taken will keep rainwater out of my basement.

What's on the board for today? (yogurt yogued, overnight, as hoped for, and has been "jarred up" -- I suppose an intelligent woman would set it in the oven IN the jar it's to be stored in, right? Ok, next time) (cold coffee concentrate is ready to be filtered off).

Unload dishwasher and re-load, I think there is enough lying about to fill it already (blitzed the Science Fair projects on the lower shelves of the fridge in time to get the whole sorry lot out to the curb -- garbage day)...

The laundry's all done and the ironing also...I could pack my bag for the weekend...

Some surface clearing in the kitchen wouldn't hurt, and maybe a bit of baking, as "heating up the house" isn't going to be a problem today.

I've begun sorting OUT my clothes...after years of "shove it in the closet and snatch it out again"...and have discovered a latent luxury that I'm now going to enjoy...I have enough nighties to enjoy a fresh clean one every single night. Wow.

In the sorting process, beginning to fill a bag with stuff I'll not wear again. I should probably tackle my bureau drawers too...I could do that on my lap while I watch television in the evenings.

Meantime I am reading through the two most recent issues of TLS, and the new Anglican Theological Review; there are limericks in the poetry section, and I approve. Interesting article on potential convergence between Episcopalian systematics and the "Emergent" phenomenon. Haven't gotten into the review section yet in any thorough way.

Also floundering about among the bedclothes are Levinas, Beyond the Verse, very tough reading, it would probably be more,um, LIMPID in the original French; and Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven.

Trying to coordinate some travel plans for what remains of the summer -- and I'd like SOME time on the road before I have to have snow tires restored to Harriet-the-Echo!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

a quiet Tuesday

Not a very accomplishing day. I think if I can put my laundry in order and commence my packing, and get the kitchen tidy enough before bedtime, I'll have done all I needed to do. Tomorrow is also a day.

I'm away next weekend -- a foray to Wisconsin for an ordination...from Prairie Metropolis such excursions ideally begin with the hop to Minneapolis. There WAS an alternate route this time...Seattle, Denver, Chicago...I don't think so!!

Soon after I was ordained I found an extra-long garment bag, which I've used ever since for vestments: first my alb, and after I'd worn it threadbare, cassock, surplice, etc. For about the last five years it has been "non-zippered" and held sketchily closed with an array of safety pins. I want to take my vestments as carry-on baggage on this run, and the safety-pin expedient just doesn't cut it, I think.

So the other night I dug out a nail file and a pair of pliers and went to work on the zipper and managed (fingers crossed) to get the slider first opened up and then closed up again, so as to control MOST of the zipper (the remainder I have sewn together solidly). Happy sigh of accomplishment.

Oh yes! also riding in the vestment bag this trip will be a lighweight washable chasuble; it was a handed-down ordination gift from a Clergy Widow who had originally made it for her husband. Among the happy memories of my first year of ordination are a number of attempts by Clergy Widows to get "THAT cupboard" empty at last--as a result I was very well outfitted, far better than I could have afforded on my own. And now the chasuble is going to another new ordinand...and in HER baggage, to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. A comfortable thought.

And I have emptied three bags of books. Perhaps one more, this evening, in the intervals of laundry, ironing, and dish-washing?

As inspiration, I have printed the Puppy-Face seen above and posted it on the fridge...to remind myself of WHY I need to put the house in fit condition to harbour a big ol'dog.

Hoping upon my return to open up lines of communication with the nearest breeders of Gordon Setters. Most of the kennels I've looked up specify that they don't even arrange a breeding until they know they have takers for the hypothetical pups. I'm willing to wait, I think the breed is the better for this scrupulosity. It seems a bit odd, I guess, to set my heart on a dog I've never actually seen in the flesh...all I know is what I've read, and what I've been told about the Gordon my grandfather owned long before I was born! I don't want a dog to breed, or to show -- or to hunt!!! -- just a companion... and I love the setter shape and size...not sure I have the strength of character to tolerate the ditziness of an Irish.

I have friends with very well-behaved dogs who are a perfect joy, and friends with dogs which are Hysterical Monsters, so I'm approaching this project with some trepidation...must find my book about the monks of Skete and plumb its depths I guess!

and away we go, again.

{explanation of this image a bit later; bear with me, 'kay?)

I am now embarked upon my sixty-seventh year.

And perhaps I shall try to blog daily, for a while at least, as a discipline (which I sorely need).

Yesterday was a most marvellous birthday...in an introverted control-freak sort of style: a quiet morning at home with some computer time, a beautiful lunch out with the Daughter Unit, good conversation and a beautiful salad; some quiet contemplation of the backs of my eyelids during the afternoon; a light half-supper; a delightful gathering with the Wise Women of St. Curious to begin reading Ann & Barry Ulanov's Primary Speech together.

Home again, and a second half-supper (left over chicken and rice and Miscellaneous Sauce from Sunday evening)...some television, a snooze on the sofa, a few more hours' sleep properly in my bed -- and from 3 a.m. on, AWAKE. So: tea, and perhaps presently a little toast.

I am carrying about the recollection of several score birthday greetings on my favourite 'social utility' also -- and phone calls, and cards, and wonderful encouraging prezzies (including chocolate cake!!!)

And I am having a bit of a daydream. I like dogs -- well-behaved dogs. I haven't ever had a dog. I am now thinking a dog-shaped thought (assisted by Google). I am thinking about a Gordon Setter...(see pic above).

And now I am going to take my tea, and return to bed, and read some more Harvey Cox on Pentecostalism.

Friday, July 30, 2010

all right then...

Trying here to rebuild a sensible life.

And how many hundred times have I begun this in 65 years? (almost 66)

Never mind. Now is now.

So: I have managed to say Morning Prayer (BCP) every morning (except Sunday) for 10 days. Second Samuel and First Corinthians. My word. That David was a piece of work, wasn't he? This morning, the fate of Ahitophel. Reminding me to go back and read Dryden again. If I can find him in the tohu-bohu downstairs.

Then a list for the day. Any old list, in any order.


So far... I have had some breakfast and some home-latte, and cleaned out the vegetable bins of the fridge (OOG) and emptied the results into the compost bin, and then cleaned the fridge under where the bins sit (double OOG), and then it was no trouble to pry the kick plate off the bottom of the fridge and give it a good scrubbing, and so it goes;

Then I rescued a couple of peaches and put the kettle on and blanched them (and dealt with a brief mutiny on the part of the microwave, which doesn't always "answer the helm" as I'd like it to)...and managed to wrestle the skins off them and cut them off the pits....thumbs very uncooperative with this task despite extra-strength Tylenol. But now I have nice peach pieces in the fridge for the yogurt-granola parfait which will be either tonight's supper or tomorrow's breakfast.

Weather threatens to be stinking hot again today, so I retrieved three nice chicken breasts from the big box of frozen ones in the downstairs freezer...re-bagged the remaining contents and got that miserable awkward cardboard box out of the freezer. Gave the chicken pieces a preliminary thawing in the microwave (now docile again), and have them baking in the toaster oven -- being all green and energy efficient here folks!!! So then I'll have cold chicken "in hand" for the weekend.

Somewhere in there I made a bit of a meal plan for the next few days.

And fed the cat. Who has decided that she can eat Friskies Turkey'n'Giblets after all, just to please me.

And set out a jar of sun tea to brew. In the sun.

And looking at the not-improving yield of the vegetable bins, I decided I need to learn to make caponata. Thank you, Giada! so that's on the list for later today.

Oh yes, I cut up two large and incredibly convoluted red peppers into medium dice and put it all in the freezer...to bag later, will add colour and flavour to my dinner next winter!

Also on that list -- answer a couple of emails and then SHUT DOWN the laptop for the day; spend an hour on Sunday morning's sermon (leaning hard on Walter Brueggemann); strip and remake my bed and start the laundry for next week; clean the litter box; phone two friends; move an additional box of fabric and craft materials upstairs; start a cold-brew-coffee process (trying to complete it without getting coffee grounds in my ears!!!). Find a rational place for the new wet-dry vacuum and all its "giblets" too. Find a rational place for a bag of nice clean dusters/rags. Apply water and Miracle-Gro copiously to the exterior of Tether's End.

And possibly bike decorously up to the Public Library and read for a bit, in the A/C there...

And tomorrow is also, God willing, a day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a bulletin...

This will be brief, but I am easing back into regular blogging, I hope.

So this is a horticultural report. I DID go and invest in rose bushes...a "Cuthbert Grant," a "Hope for Humanity," an "Adelaide Hoodless," and a "Morden Fireglow" -- all of them RED. They are getting acclimatized and have made some lovely blooms but there is much about them I don't know...

Also flourishing -- a new rhubarb planting, next spring, OH BOY, I tell myself.

And I planted a small clematis, which sat perfectly immobile and unchanging for a month? six weeks? but is suddenly now putting out some new green shoots.

In the meantime the potentilla (pink!) has begun to bloom, somewhat diffidently (it is in a droughty corner of the yard).

And insdoors...a pothos and an oakleaf ivy hung up in the front window, doing well; four African violets, two finished blooming, one in bloom, one just coming on; a very small orphaned spider plant which just now seems to be really taking hold. But it won't require me to go and hunt out yet another macrame hanger for some time yet!

Also two ridiculously leggy geraniums...today may be the day I take a deep breath and pinch out all their tops and "start" them in water.

And the elderly amaryllis has come struggling up into view again (does this make it an EMERGENT amaryllis? no doubt)

And on the kitchen windowsill, a whole lot of basil that needs to be gently put into a more capacious planter -- I'm going to try to keep it over the winter as a houseplant.

Thistles and crabgrass all thriving too, alas. This yard still needs an awful lot of work. Some of which I hope to give it today.

Now I am going to go and roast a little beef chunk while the day is still cool and then I can have cold roast beef for sandwiches for a while. And I have sweet peppers to chop up for the freezer...and four nice really truly ripe avocadoes to make some guacamole.

And I've taken my meds and said morning prayer. Time for the 1/2 hour walk...

Friday, July 16, 2010


...AND...I'm back. Not that I've been away, but just in a personally unbloggable place for too long.

We live in a weird world, as you have probably noticed. The Rambler had to go out in search of a Wet-Dry Vacuum Cleaner this afternoon (declaring a temporary truce with Major Dept. Store for the purpose)... and charging out of the store with the very large box in her arms ("it isn't heavy, it's just AWKWARD") was momentarily stopped in her tracks by a tasteful display of the very latest thing in small appliances...an electric Martini Maker. Yes. Sheesh. And where is this taking our society, other than -- as Peg Bracken said, to "Fat Wrists for all"?

It struck me particularly as not that long ago I had visited the same local Retail Apotheosis (known to some as "Le Grand Mal[l]") in search of passport photos (YES! The Rambler is about to tackle the Longest Undefended Border in the World, pause for laugh)...

And in the afterglow of passport photos and a splendid conversation with the charming elderly gentleman who took them, it seemed appropriate to do a bit of a mall-crawl for the first time in years.

A new kitchen-outlet called Benix, having an intriguing sale, and browsing about the shelves I found some truly excellent martini glasses -- NOT acrylic -- very plain except for a tasteful gold something on the stem -- a bead? a bump? a lump? Aha, "knop" is the word -- and generously sized. So we bought two, not knowing when we might want to share a nice medicinal martini with a fellow martinist (thank you, Garrison Keillor).

Brought them home...and confronted the complete lack of cocktail shaker. Hmmmm. Soooo... put four big ice cubes in a Ziploc bag and beat the snot out of them with the old steak hammer, rejoicing in being a tool-using hominid -- the opposable thumbs are mostly downright hostile but by golly the frontal lobes are still snapping and crackling....

Tipped the fragments into a lovely clean glass jar, formerly containing pasta sauce, added 3 oz. premium single-estate vodka and 1/4 oz. dry vermouth (Martini's very own), put the lid on, and shook the bejeepers out of the mixture--tipped it all into one of the nice new glasses, added three olives, AAAAhhhhhh.

Must now go downstairs and play some more with the new wet-dry vac. The saleslady was most helpful: "I could put this on a dolly for you if you like?"
"No, I'll be fine, it's not that far to my car."
"Oh good, and if you walk fast and look mad, people will get out of your way, right?"

And I have some major eavestrough-tending on the Immediate Agenda...at present all the water on the west half of the roof is funneled directly onto the front porch (of course), whence it cascades under the concrete front stoop where the soil has subsided, and hence down the foundation to the spot where it comes in, into the storage space under the stairs (house is a bi-level)...so one mops and mops in a crouching posture. And for a change, one can stand up and concuss oneself on the floor joists.

Never a dull moment.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

a beautiful morning

...and much too long since I've blogged.

Wrestling with a lot of stuff...changing roles, changing health, changing resources both internal and external.

Yesterday tho' was a good and active day; lively conversation over fruit/granola/yogurt breakfast with a senior colleague in ministry -- inspired to come home and find a granola recipe, I've got the yogurt on hand heaven knows.

Then an hour's leisurely stroll through the "Gallery district" peering through windows at paintings. I think it is time for me to buy a painting. A great big look-at-me painting for my livingroom. Possibly two of them.

Back in my car just as all the galleries and other retail outlets opened for the day's business, making it a very cheap outing!

Then home to check messages. E-conversation with Daughter Unit. Lunch appointment. Drive over and park behind St. Curious and then walk VERY BRISKLY for fifteen minutes to rendez-vous with DU for delicious lunch and more good conversation.

Back to St. Curious and check-in with Fab Rector...and then drive purposefully to appointment with Siggy. Good unpacking of the month's doings. It's a place to celebrate things like feeling at home, feeling recognized, feeling welcome, feeling valuable.

Out of my appointment and the brave decision to trek out to Major Nursery and Greenhouse in search of the Hardy Canadian Rose.

Not sure what word fits here...hejira? long march? death march? Every single route between point A and point B is confounded with major road construction...and it's 4 p.m. Friday afternoon so everybody in the greater metropolitan area wants to be somewhere other than where they are. Whee!

Arrived. Parked. Walked the displays of annuals, perennials, indoors plants. Found a map, got re-oriented, and found the roses. Oh. My.

Bought a fine specimen of "Hope for Humanity" with the assistance of a salesperson who was heart and soul into the project. I am going back with $$$ in hand to buy a SWACK of these sub-zero roses for my own yard, you betcha.

Dodged about like a snipe to avoid the worst of the fouled-up roads; home; put rose bush in a sheltered place.

Made a ham and avocado sandwich and a very long vodka/tonic and spiked the latter with homemade limoncello -- inhaled the whole menu and collapsed on the couch and slept like a dead thing.

And today is also a day! Beautiful sunshine and cloudless sky and just a little breeze. A genu-wine prairie-fine day.

Meantime the inner reflections go on -- gifts for ministry, leadership issues, the missional nature of the church, the authority of the text, the words, the language--languages--of Scripture, the transmissibility of faith. Or not.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


with thanks to W who recommended this scholar as a favourite of mutual friend N (to whom thanks also) -- and thanks be to God for all concerned!

Friday, June 4, 2010

still here!

One Pink Tulip!

No time -- but this appeared in my tulip bed this spring! more anon!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

a poem

This came to me in email from inward/outward: A project of the Church of the Saviour:

At Fifty-Seven
I feel like I stumbled
down a hill of years, only
to land in a pile of my books.

Along the way, I cracked
like a Russian doll; finding
something smaller and more
essential inside every version
I've known as me.

And now, when all I know
bursts into flame each time
I try to give it away, I'm asked
what matters.

There's something perfect
in how we're worn; like sculptures
left for Spirit and wind to finish, the
film taken from our eye just as
our heart is exposed, one
crumbling into the other.

--Mark Nepo.

And that's all I know about it -- although "At Sixty-Five" would also fit, as a title, from where I sit!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the Amnesty ad that the Financial times wouldn't publish.

Please share this as widely as possible -- and a thank you to Good in Parts for the link!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Beyond Belief dep't.

A lengthy Saturday. And the end of a lengthy week with more than its share of aggravations. But they came alongside great compensations, and we're all still here and kicking.

Prairie Metropolis had its early-May blizzard in Tuesday. Monday--rain, v. welcome in itself, but Monday night it turned chilly with strong NW winds and then a screaming snowstorm: heavy when I woke up, and got steadily more IGNORANT through the morning.

Fortunately Harriet-the-Echo was still wearing her snow tires...got out of my driveway all right after I cancelled the cross-town meeting scheduled for early morning, off to St. Curious to work on preparations for Big Deal Fundraising Banquet on Thursday.

Meantime, Distrait Neighbour still lurking in ancient family van in the backyard as mentioned in previous post.

But when I came home Tuesday late afternoon, there was a surplus of tire tracks in the deep driveway snow, and I thought, "Ah! he has taken his van and gone away, excellent."

Alas, too many tire tracks. He had taken van out, brought van back, and instead of returning it to its previous nice dry nesting place aligned with the driveway...he had driven it into the deep snow in the middle of the yard and gotten it most well and truly stuck...and in its stuck state, he was attempting to change one or more tires.

Over Wednesday and Thursday , to my increasing distress and dismay, he continued to try to extricate it. And of course, when you're stuck, the Preferred Method is just to tramp mindlessly on the gas, right? And go on flinging grass and mud from under your wheels until you've gotten right down into the root systems of the Nine Poplars (major feature of the backyard at Tether's End, aka "The Unpleasaunce"). And until you've run out of gas.

But in the meantime -- an unexpected visit to Prairie Metropolis by Brother #3...nice meals together and lots of good talk.

And in the meantime, increasingly happy preparations with Fab Rector for the fundraising banquet, much assisted by Amazin' Secketry who clustered and organized masses of Unbelievable Donated Tat into Exquisite Gift packages for the silent auction. Joyful grace note: disposal of six, count'em, six superfluous baskets out of the Rambler pantry as containers for Exquisite Gift packs.

And the dinner itself was delightful. Every aspect was exceptional, and early in the proceedings there was a kind of corporate "click," a "tipping moment," where you could just feel the whole group deciding "RIGHT! This is now officially a Good Time, let'er rip!!!" Great food, great company, great MC, super-great guest speaker.

And the pre-prandial martini didn't hurt either, yum. The Excellent Elderly Ladies of St. Curious rejoiced that their very favourite expert martinist was on duty at the bar that night. "There is something about a martini," as Ogden Nash wrote, "...and to tell you the truth, it's not the vermouth. I think that perhaps it's the gin."

So that it was not too troubling, coming home on Thursday night, to find large clots of loose mud in the driveway (snow had meantime pretty much melted)...and the van gone...and the fence stove in, the picnic table shattered, and one of the garbage cans flattened and its contents strewn far and wide.

Friday evening and this morning, was back at St. Curious working on the Compost Project. Much much joy -- a big group working, Excellent Elderly Ladies sitting in a row of lawn chairs unfolding and opening black plastic bags; all and sundry shovelling compost from the giant heap into the measuring bins and bagging the contents and wheelbarrowing the bags to and fro. There was coffee, there was baking, there were dogs, all the jokes were funny and the weather was fine...we even had customers!!!

Excellent Son Units and Wondrous Grandson came together this afternoon and did a good deal of raking and shovelling and power-washing flung mud off the fences and the back of the house. Grass-seed is #1 on Monday's list of to-do's.

And I've dug the first dig-up of my front flower bed, preparatory, eventually, to a massive sowing of poppy seeds.

And the Rambler's tulips are in glorious bloom...

And tomorrow is also a day.

Monday, May 3, 2010


far, far too long since I've blogged...

I'd feel worse i.e. guiltier if I weren't aware of a general slackening in blog-energy among many posting folks.

At the moment -- Monday again -- second load of laundry on the go, one more in the queue, big basket of clean things, some of them requiring ironing, to get through before bedtime.

I am awaiting a phone-back from a housing agency...I'm researching potential beneficiaries of next year's homelessness campaign by the Council of Churches here in Prairie Metropolis. As the committee meets in about 4 hours...well, my info will be FRESH at least.

I have taken all my pills for the day ("And behold, there was a rattling")...I have unloaded the dishwasher from last night and begun the re-load process.

I have given my sourdough starter a shot of sugar, may get something baked a little later...

I have put together a big bowlful of yogurt-ingredients and set them in a warm oven to get acquainted with each other; will check on them about dinner time to see if they've "yogued" as desired.

Meantime took the remainder of my store-boughten yogurt and made a Tupperware container of Wiggly Pink Dessert.

Emptied the carton of Oldest Eggs and hard-cooked them for further developments.

In preparation for the yogurt-making, went downstairs to the pantry and was ruthless with the top two foodshelves--in the process found canned milk and thereby avoided an unnecessary jaunt to the supermarket. Brought upstairs, also, cans of cut green and wax beans, kidney beans, chick peas, toward an eventual four-bean salad after the manner of Peg Bracken, UWBP.

Read the Daily Howl...gnashing teeth in an encouraged sort of way over picture-story of clerical colleague and his 45 lb. weight loss ("We hates him, my precious, we hates him").

Eliminated about 50 emails from the inbox, and twiddled about on Facebook to no great effect. Greeted a couple of REAL friends, electronically, on their birthdays.

Yesterday was full...preached and presided at St. Curious in the morning, both services, the Rector being on R & R in the Pointier Bits of the province; home by way of grocery store, made substantial lunch for self and #1 Son with open faced hamburger sandwiches and vegetable accompaniments.

Napped...awakened by loud and prolonged ringing of doorbell...Near Neighbour on the doorstep begging permission to sleep overnight in his family's (old, somewhat rusty) van, parked for convenience' sake in the backyard here at Tether's End. Near Neighbour's indulgences in recreational chemicals have broken off all relations with every member of his family including wife and grown daughters across the street. Befuddled with sleep and surprise, gave permission. Regretting it.

Away in the early evening in considerable perturbation of spirit, see above, for ordination of Promising Young Person whom I took on pre-ord retreat Wednesday-Friday...a pleasant, restful, candid, conversational time. Nice service, REAL hymns (as opposed to Vapid Mooings), a sufficient turnout (in some respects -- certain constituencies need a collective head-slapping, but what else is new?)...excellent sermon by the Brand-New Dean, to everyone's enjoyment...and pleasant conversations following, until the Cathedral Verger turned the lights out on us in a marked manner at 10 p.m. As he was amply entitled to do.

Enjoyed watching --and hearing-- Daughter Unit and Wonder SIL and their accomplices augmenting the cathedral choir during the service, and relished the opportunity to admire DU's New Frock afterward -- said garment registering about 73.5 Hepburns on the Classic Fashion Scale. (Audrey, i.e.)

Slept fitfully ... woke early and piled up pillows and completed the crossword of the day in my NY Times Crossword Calendar (Mondays are easiest)...and then, feeling encouraged, finished off the TLS Shakespeare Acrostic. I had forgotten how much fun they are to do.

Time to go bash upon the laundry some more, turn on the shredder, generally fill-in the phone-call-expecting time as productively as possible!

Monday, April 12, 2010

here we go

I seemed to recall at some point this weekend that in the civilized i.e. pre-ordination world, Monday = Laundry. So I am prepared to implement that ancient ritual today and see what comes of it. Still chilly out...but sunny for a change.

Consulted the Social Utility this morning and was instantly contacted by young lady whose Mom has been co-ordinator of the Marriage Preparation programme at MH & U for 5+ years (and elsewhere for longer than that). Mom is a social worker who spends part of each year on contract work in the Arctic, where she is now. Yesterday she went skiing. She fell. She broke her hip. Marriage Prep is scheduled for this coming weekend...and the coordinator is trapped in...somewhere...in the former Northwest Territories... don't ask me whether it's "Nunavut" or "The-rest-avut" for I have never known which was which. Anyhow, she is one hell of a long way UP on your map of North America.

Actually she is to be medevac'ed to Our Nation's Capital today for surgery tonight...but in the meantime she is frantic through a fog of pain meds about this weekend's programme and the arrangements that remained to be made. Cuz she ain't gonna be there, friends.

Her daughter, TBTG, is in nursing studies in eastern Canada a short air-hop from her Mom's destination and can be there today to advise, comfort, and advocate.

So I have phoned Former Fab Curate (still Fab, but no longer my curate), and disrupted his day off, and named myself available to help next weekend IF and as needed...and now I am leaving him to it. Wonder Secketry at MH & U is the world's genuine expert on how these weekend deals run, so when she comes back to the office tomorrow I have every confidence in their combined ability to make it all happen.

Wonderful, wonderful ecumenical gathering on Saturday evening to hear Fr. Tom Ryan talk about the special gifts/charisms of four streams of Christian experience: Protestant, Anglican, Eastern, and Roman Catholic. I realized that few things -- still -- can make me happier than taking pages and pages of notes while somebody else talks good sense. I was tempted, a bit, to go home and completely re-cast the Thomas sermon, but instead I came home and went to bed...

And yesterday, I think, rocked. And then I came home and had a solid proper 2 hour nap in my bed, and got up and cooked a most excellent supper for self and #1 son, diminishing a number of the bulkier vegetable items in the fridge...and was even fired up enough to complete the kitchen clean-up before heading for bed!

Another ecumenical committee meeting this afternoon...and meantime the washer and the ironing board are "calling me..."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thomas et al.

(who's this "Al" character, anyhow?)

Ok this is the GIST of tomorrow's sermon. Or maybe the PITH. Preaching seems to consist mainly of GISTS and PITHS...some of mine are pithier than others. Sometimes they are so pithy, I could jutht thpit (OK, that's not original).

Here is Misnamed Thomas again, waiting for us to notice that he IS named in Scripture, and he isn't called Doubting, he's called Didymus -- Twin Thomas. And coyly, Sceripture doesn't tell us who his twin was/is. We hear all about Simon Cyrene's kinfolks, but not Thomas's double. And you thought this was an accident?

Thomas is not in the group when the group is visited by Jesus; why not? He was too sad? he was too distraught? his kid had hockey practice? No. Thomas was not there because the group needed him to encounter Jesus in their midst in a different way which would enrich, deepen, validate, GROUND their encounter with the Risen One. The story requires somebody to be out of step with the rest.
This isn't the first time Thomas has been wrong-footed -- not to forget he was the one of the whole bunch that got on board with the outrage of Jesus' explanation of what was going to happen at Passover. "OK, then, if he's going to get killed, let's all go get killed while we're at it." Not the words of a doubter. Not a skeptic.

Because Thomas is not a skeptic -- he's like Umberto Eco, who in dialogue with Carlo Cardinal Martini, douce man that he was, defended himself: "I am NOT a skeptic, Your Eminence -- I am merely NOT CREDULOUS." (cuz credulity ain't faith, right?)

I could digress here about 15 minutes' worth on how Thomas just keeps his screen door hooked, and then I would quote THIS in its entirety...

Easter Morning
William Stafford

Maybe someone comes to the door and says,
"Repent," and you say, "Come on in," and it's
Jesus. That's when all you ever did, or said,
or even thought, suddenly wakes up again and
sings out, "I'm still here," and you know it's true.
You just shiver alive and are left standing
there suddenly brought to account: saved.

Except, maybe that someone says, "I've got a deal
for you." And you listen, because that's how
you're trained---they told you, "Always hear both sides."
So then the slick voice can sell you anything, even
Hell, which is what you're getting by listening.
Well, what should you do? I'd say always go to
the door, yes, but keep the screen locked. Then,
while you hold the Bible in one hand, lean forward
and say carefully, "Jesus?"

But I probably won't.

The point is that the group needs the challenge of that wonderful moment when out-of-step Thomas says, "My Lord and my God" -- they still had the initial clutch-and-grab oh-good-he's-back reaction -- they weren't going to move off that place of comfort without Thomas's near-blasphemous blurt.

But then there's another piece of the story -- and I don't for one minute think that Jesus was "dissing" Thomas. The story is told to reassure people who were not part of the Old Original Galilean Veteran Marching and Chowder Society, and could never have been. Because we plant our foot as a faithful people on the reality, the factuality, of an event in time, but we have to avoid getting ourselves boxed into "back in the day," "you had to be there" thinking. So Jesus speaks reassurance to those who will not see and yet will believe. That would be US, my dear brothers and sisters. We haven't missed anything essential, by being "born out of time."

That's our comfort. But there's never comfort without challenge; and the challenge comes in asking "HOW" those who have not seen are blessed? They must be blessed by the witness of those who have encountered the Risen One. And this is where the rest of the disciples are, by implication, smacked on the head. Because their witness is not effective -- they don't say, "Jesus is Risen!" No, they say, "WE have seen the Lord!" and no wonder Thomas says, in effect, "Well, big whoop for you." Their witness has not yet made room for the gift of the Holy Spirit, which they received so casually on Jesus' first visit (reference here to the explanation by Peter in the Acts passage, that the Spirit herself is witness to the resurrection in and through those who are proclaiming it -- even the original generation who "saw it with their own eyes."

And that is our challenge -- so to receive the power of the Holy Spirit that our own witness will be effectual blessing to our neighbours.

I think that's all. Obviously I've got to peel it back a good deal.

I love Thomas, can you tell? He's right up there with Jonah among My Favourite Gnarly Friends of God.

Oh yes -- the "other" twin? I have a strong suspicion that Thomas is twin to each of us...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday, again

My question now is whether anything got done today...I have at least filled the waste-basket to overflowing and that has to mean progress. I can see the top of my desk, and the top tray of my in-basket. I have eaten a quantity of raw veggies by way of lunch, or whatever it was. And I have put together a great big pot of chili con carne, and eaten a bowl of it for my supper (and it was good).

There is a small stack of envelopes here to go to the post office tonight or tomorrow... and another stack of letters to answer and envelopes to address before I turn in. I've written a cheque for the insurance on the house.

The snow has just about disappeared again, but the wind hasn't much abated -- it's still buffeting the house and the trees in the back yard. We were supposed to have a sunny day but that didn't materialize, and the temperature isn't much above freezing even yet; I don't think the snow melted, I think it just sublimated for the most part.

I have to finish cleaning up in the kitchen, and empty the laundry basket... and there are some things I should be bagging up for garbage collection on Monday.

and preaching Thomas on Sunday...the comfort and challenge for us in that story.

I think I'll have a look at the Friday Five in the morning, perhaps.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

latenight bulletin

At present... we are having quite a violent snowstorm, very squally with winds up to 90 kph out of the west and northwest. The snow is coming in just about horizontal, although it's "almost rain." Major highways south of Prairie Metropolis have been closed by the police for the time being. The moisture will be welcome...especially for the "urban forest" -- our municipal trees are facing a critical summer after a series of very dry ones. I am thinking about getting some plastic buckets (I know! I should eat more ice cream!) to ease the transfer of household "grey water" outside to the trees and other parts of the Unpleasaunce here at Tether's End. But that is not going to need doing today or tomorrow either.

I had a long conversation this afternoon with a young theologian...gratifying in the first instance because we managed between us to carry out the tacit negotiations necessary to arrive at the same coffee shop at the same hour...after a minor "failure to communicate." And in the meantime as I was waiting for him, I had the pleasure of a conversation with Daughter Unit's Fave Fab professor-couple from her university days.

What else got accomplished today? Not very much. Tomorrow, tomorrow. There is a sermon in the offing...and paperwork to do...and before I go to bed, I must remember to write a cheque and put it in the mailbox for the milkman. Yes! I may have the last remaining door-delivery milkaman in the world.

Number 1 Son Unit has come in, found something to eat, and gone off to bed. I should finish loading the dishwasher and start it when I turn in... There should be some laundry done tomorrow...and perhaps it's time to warm up the shredder again...and tackle the paper mountain.

Time to take my Tylenol and do these last few pre-bedtime chores. Good night all.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

miduum of the triduum...

Taking a short break this afternoon for a nice grilled cheese sandwich with bread and butter pickles (internal to the sandwich, mmmm) ... a homemade latte ... a little desultory television...and then time to get changed and saddle up and go do a communion visit. Back to St. Curious in time for the Vigil tonight at 8...assisted by three other parishes, so the Rambler gets to ride the bench unless one of the visiting clergy sprains something vital.
It's been a good Holy Week at St. Curious -- Palm Sunday went beautifully including some slightly impromptu processing by children and choir, happy distribution of home-made palm branches (hooray for newsprint): then daily Eucharists Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; a students' supper Maundy Thursday followed by a mighty footwashing (on a scale hitherto unknown in those parts); children doing a fine and happy activity on Good Friday during the Good Friday devotions -- with a very good turn-out, mightily cheering to one and all.
A lovely interlude on Friday evening -- local small chorus has established the tradition of a "sacred concert" on Good Friday in the Fancy Schmancy Downtown Concert Hall; and this year their choice was the Brahms Deutsches Requiem; 30 some select voices and piano accompaniment. There was a good crowd including a significant number of local clergy--it is such a treat late on Good Friday to participate in something beautiful and reverent without having to DRIVE it!
And this morning an innovation, an Easter Egg hunt on the church grounds for children of the community, and thanks be to God there was no snow to contend with...contrary to ALL expectations (head-shaking, tooth-sucking expectations), there were at least 20 children in attendance and a whooping good time was had by all.
Just to ensure that the laughter never stops... Fab Rector at St. Curious was up early this morning and let out her Faithful Dog, who went out like the valiant creature he is and promptly found a skunk. They did not part friends. So on her schedule today also is the de-stinking of her mephitic hound (also self, house, clothing, etc. etc.).

Nobody has as much fun as we do, nobody.

And there were swans this morning, flying over the river...
Happy Easter, alleluia.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday again

The Rambler spent a good part of yesterday and most of an SOS pad cleaning the rings'n'pans on the top of her stove. They tell me there are such things out there as smooth-top electric ranges, but we don't put no trust in setch notions in these parts.

And then, this morning, inspired by the wonderfulness of it all, got up early and commenced upon Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits. Yes, I started a new 'starter' last week. Yeast had been in the fridge -- date on jar of yeast, "Jan 2008" but nonetheless it came up out of the flour and water just roaring and bubbling so ON WE GO. Out of buttermilk, but have the 'heel' of the last making of plain yogurt in the fridge, which substitutes just fine.

I can tell you it has been a long time since flour was the predominant note in the chaos that is the Rambler's kitchen.

First crisis -- WHERE is my pastry cutter??? Irony here is that kitchen clean-up since retirement disclosed that there were TWO pastry cutters floating about in the batterie de cuisine. Two. Now I ask you, expecting no answer, WHO in her right mind would have TWO pastry cutters? Disposed of one to Daughter Unit. And WHERE did I put the other one???

But it turned up after only minimal excavation and we moved right along to...

Second crisis -- the removal of about 25 pounds of mixed foodstuffs from the Sacred Place on the kitchen counter devoted to Rolling Stuff Out.

The previous inhabitants of Tether's End, here, had a series of nannies/au pairs, one of whom set a hot saucepan down on the countertop and burnt a big hole in the Arborite. So they replaced the damaged section with a Corningware SLAB...not only is it heat proof, but being non-porous and perpetually cool it is like a pastry marble that doesn't have to be moved, put away, hauled about, etc.

The rolling pin was not as hard to find as the pastry cutter had been.

And there are not-quite-a-dozen nice biscuits cooling on a rack. There were a dozen. Soon after they came out of the oven, #1 Son Unit came wafting up the stairs from his bedroom...

I have heated milk in my Enormous Black cup, and spiked it with freshmade stove-top espresso, and am about ready to contemplate the day.

Celebrated at St. Curious last night with one young lady and one elderly lady and great happiness. Shared with them Prudentius' Hymnus ad Galli Cantum. And now I'll share it with you.

Awake! the shining day is born!
The herald cock proclaims the morn:
And Christ, the soul's Awakener, cries,
Bidding us back to life arise.

Away the sluggard's bed! away
The slumber of the soul's decay!
Ye chaste and just and temperate,
Watch! I am standing at the gate.

After the sun hath risen red
'Tis late for men to scorn their bed,
Unless a portion of the night
They seize for labours of the light.

Mark ye, what time the dawn draws nigh,
How 'neath the eaves the swallows cry?
Know that by true similitude
Their notes our Judge's voice prelude.

When hid by shades of dark malign
On beds of softness we recline,
They call us forth with music clear
Warning us that the day is near.

When breezes bright of orient morn
With rosy hues the heavens adorn,
They cheer with hope of gladdening light
The hearts that spend in toil their might.

Though sleep be but a passing guest
'Tis type of death's perpetual rest:
Our sins are as a ghastly night,
And seal with slumbers deep our sight.

But from the wide roof of the sky
Christ's voice peals forth with urgent cry,
Calling our sleep-bound hearts to rise
And greet the dawn with wakeful eyes.

He bids us fear lest sensual ease
Unto life's end the spirit seize
And in the tomb of shame us bind,
Till we are to the true light blind.

'Tis said that baleful spirits roam
Abroad beneath the dark's vast dome;
But, when the cock crows, take their flight
Sudden dispersed in sore affright.

For the foul votaries of the night
Abhor the coming of the light,
And shamed before salvation's grace
The hosts of darkness hide their face.

They know the cock doth prophesy
Of Hope's long-promised morning sky,
When comes the Majesty Divine
Upon awakened worlds to shine.

The Lord to Peter once foretold
What meaning that shrill strain should hold,
How he before cock-crow would lie
And thrice his Master dear deny.

For 'tis a law that sin is done
Before the herald of the sun
To humankind the dawn proclaims
And with his cry the sinner shames.

Then wept he bitter tears aghast
That from his lips the words had passed,
Though guileless he his soul possessed
And faith still reigned within his breast.

Nor ever reckless word he said
Thereafter, by his tongue betrayed,
But at the cock's familiar cry
Humbled he turned from vanity.

Therefore it is we hold to-day
That, as the world in stillness lay,
What hour the cock doth greet the skies,
Christ from deep Hades did arise.

Lo! then the bands of death were burst,
Shattered the sway of hell accurst:
Then did the Day's superior might
Swiftly dispel the hosts of Night.

Now let base deeds to silence fall,
Black thoughts be stilled beyond recall:
Now let sin's opiate spell retire
To that deep sleep it doth inspire.

For all the hours that still remain
Until the dark his goal attain,
Alert for duty's stern command
Let every soul a sentry stand.

With sober prayer on Jesus call;
Let tears with our strong crying fall;
Sleep cannot on the pure soul steal
That supplicates with fervent zeal.

Too long did dull oblivion cloud
Our motions and our senses shroud:
Lulled by her numbing touch, we stray
In dreamland's ineffectual way.

Bound by the dazzling world's soft chain
'Tis false and fleeting gauds we gain,
Like those who in deep slumbers lie:--
Let us awake! the truth is nigh.

Gold, honours, pleasure, wealth and ease,
And all the joys that mortals please,
Joys with a fatal glamour fraught--
When morning comes, lo! all are nought.

But thou, O Christ, put sleep to flight
And break the iron bands of night,
Free us from burden of past sin
And shed Thy morning rays within.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In re: Ann Coulter, et al.

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.

About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

-- W. H. Auden, "August, 1968" City Without Walls

Monday, March 22, 2010


What have I done today so far?

I got up, I got my bath, I got dressed, I had a homemade latte and two pieces of toast, I took all my meds, I emptied and rationalized the contents of the messy plastic shopping bag full of miscellaneous plastic containers and lids, also recycled plastic bags (all good) -- moved some stuff into the box that will go to the foodbank later this week.
Unloaded the dishwasher and began to reload it.
Fed the cat. Watered and fertilized all the houseplants. (Moving steadily down the great chain of being here!). Worked a couple of crosswords in my calendar pad, and the sudoku in the newspaper. Read or skimmed most of the newspaper.
I assembled a sourdough starter to share with a friend (periodically I go out to the kitchen and beat it back into submission...)
I eliminated 40 emails in the inbox and emptied the deleted messages file.
Went out to the car and retrieved my bookbag, containing daytimer, just to verify I really didn't need to get out of bed in the first place today! Seemed a bit... circular!
I cooked some zucchini in olive oil and warmed up some of last night's chicken Veronique and couscous, for my lunch...nice!

What's yet on schedule...finish reading Take this Bread, which I'm REALLY enjoying, and reflect on it for a bit.
Re-read Christ on Trial and make some notes for the last class meeting tomorrow night.
Take Barchester Towers back to the library.
Drop by Superstore or some other emporium and purchase some towels for the Pedilavium next week.
All small stuff -- in order to avoid the Great Horrible Task of sorting out books, papers, files...

Reflecting a bit on the post-clergy role. Listening to colleagues at a clergy gathering last week... we were given -- yet again -- the Five Marks of Mission, and invited to list the ways we embodied them not just in our parish, but in our "life." I know that at least two of the clergy tables, the overpowering conclusion was that we HAVE NO LIFE apart from our parishes..."Life? Who he?" And that's not right. Not at all.
I'm enjoying LIVING in my house, for a start...not just treating it as the culvert I crawl into between bouts of work...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

another day.

Nothing accelerates housecleaning like the imminent prospect of house-guests, I think.

Brother Unit arrives tomorrow evening, and all, but ALL, tomorrow morning is taken up with a para-academic meeting--a bit difficult at this point to believe it will be worth the time it will take, but there it is.

So it's going to be an intense weekend...as I'm preaching and presiding at St. Curious on Sunday, with a parish lunch group scheduled for the noon time -- and have already arranged with Offspring to blitz the remaining belongings still back at MH & U on Sunday afternoon, with their help and temporary use of a suitable TRUCK. I hope that a couple of hours will allow us to vanish permanently into the middle distance, leaving not a wrack behind or at least, if we do leave a wrack behind, it will be a wrack belonging to MH & U, not belonging to me. I also have -- hurray -- a nice little cache of gift cards for Adjacent Steakhouse so am prepared to feed the office movers sumptuously Saturday evening...

Today is cleaning day and sermon day. Last load of laundry is in the washer. Have moved nearly all the bags and boxes of books off the entrance landing and stairs.

Part of the housework project at this point is dealing with the semi-perpetual Miserable Nuisances that have never been just quite nuisance enough to be dealt with yet. So this morning I found a tube of appropriately Savage Glue, and re-attached the magnet latch to the medicine cabinet door, clamped it with a clothespin until the glue dried, and voila, the medicine cabinet door now actually CLOSES. Civilization! wonderful!

Still on the list, serious application of vacuum cleaner to the premises and some mopping of hard floors. Bathroom and kitchen need intense cleaning too... and there should be a trip to the recycle depot.

I have added three elderly bowlfuls of pot-pourri to the compost bin, and am washing the bowls. (Pause to lie down and have the vapours...) It's been a considerable time since there was any "sniff" in any of them. (Note that the Rambler is now open to receive new consignments of roses for the concoction of new pot-pourri, sigh).

Got the bills paid and the car washed earlier in the week...led the third section of the evening course I'm doing on the Passion Gospels. Buoyed by a re-reading of Isaiah 55 from Sunday's lectionary, the group seemed a little more persuaded by the analogy between lectio divina and the eating of rich things like chocolate.

And for my bedtime reading I am midway through Finding Beauty in a Broken World, by Terry Tempest Williams...the making of mosaics, prairie dogs in Bryce Canyon, and now, ossuaries in Rwanda...

Back to finding a little beauty in my excessively messy world!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday all day!!!

Another brilliant day and mild enough that it may be safe, later on, to run Harriet-the-Echo through some lucky carwash somewhere... she is filthy all the way to the roof.

I am making a running start on the cleaning bee scheduled for this afternoon by gutting my kitchen drawers. So far, done the two little ones. The principle here is to remove the artefacts which are merely ARCHIVAL...as well as the long since completely useless.

For example -- do I NEED to store my bulky, awkward, used-annually-if-that jar-lifting tongs in the small drawer with the spoons, ladles, etc. that I grope for when I'm actually working at the stove? Answer comes, not at all.
On the other hand I have not relinquished the thought of doing something more in the pickles'n'jam department, one of these summers.
Hence~! tongs go downstairs and are stored out of harm's way in the big canning kettle, with the appropriate jar racks, spare lids'n'rings, etc.

By the way -- here's a linguistic question for you -- what do YOU call the flat-bladed tools that you use to lift and turn food that you are frying -- eggs, pancakes, hamburgers? (see picture above) Are they "lifters"? "turners"? "spatulas"? (I think there are geographic markers in the vocabulary here but I'm not sure!)

Part of the clean-up energy is also the fruit of purchasing a FOOD PROCESSOR yesterday (at an advantageous price, about 1/3 off)...and re-thinking pantry storage for appliances and serving pieces...still somewhat traumatized by the New Year's Eve stand-off with the elderly blender, doing its Danny Glover imitation, "I AM TOO OLD for CHICKPEAS"...it is silly to think I paid $90 for a tool to make hummus with...but every time I watch a cooking show, it seems that at some critically interesting and inspiring juncture, whirr whirr, a food processor is totally necessary.

Meantime Nefertiti-the-cat is having a heyday with the shopping bag I'm hoping to use to deposit relegated kitchen tools on the doorstep of Nameless Parish That Has Rummage Sales. Also having a heyday with the nice fat sparkling-wine corks I am removing from storage. Her mega-fun of the morning was trying to pursue a thrown cork without emerging from her shopping-bag cave...better than the circus, this one.

While I am in this Tomb Raider mood, I'll try to tackle the (shudder) drawer under the stove as well...

and presently I shall have a lovely read of Monk Habits for Everyday People in preparation for a session with university students tomorrow evening, on the virtue of STABILITY. "Stay in your cell, and your cell will teach you all you need to know. And while you're waiting, clean out a few drawers, eh?"

Sunday, February 28, 2010

closing ceremonies

Watching -- entranced -- the Russian presentation, some of it in Vancouver and much of it in many other places, all brought into one experience for the audience by technical means I can't even guess at.

Despite my inherent and ineradicable non-sportiveness... I have loved watching these Olympics... I have enjoyed the "human interest" stories, the courage of the Canadian figure skater whose mother died suddenly the day before her daughter performed; the courage of the Slovenian cross-country skier who slid off the piste into a 10-foot ditch, broke four ribs, collapsed a lung, and still won bronze (as did the figure skater). I have revelled shamelessly in the Canadian victories. I want to holler and blow horns, make loud vulgar triumphant noises in celebration.

I have taken great joy in watching the Canadian athletes and artists with their gold medals, singing the National Anthem. Not well, perhaps, not loudly, but by the Lord Harry when the national anthem is played, WE SING.

I loved watching the Mounties tromping to and fro in their iconic uniforms -- I love the women officers' little regulation hair-dos...

We had a minimum of truly annoying commentators on the Canadian Olympic broadcasts.

And we even saw some brilliant, amusing, touching, durable commercials...the Tim Horton's ad with the immigrant family arriving at the airport in winter; the Superstore ad about nourishing the athletes; the Chevrolet ads with the vehicles talking over their perspective on the games; the Royal Bank ads with the little bowler-hatted banker participating in all sorts of unlikely sports, in the great tradition of the deadpan clown.

Regrets? probably only that Canada 2 did not medal in the four-man bobsled. And perhaps that we have to be subjected to speeches in French by people who don't speak the language.

A very long day for the Rambler -- preached on the hen-and-chickens gospel at St. Curious at both services this morning, with Fab Bishop visiting and former Rector departing, potentially a very fraught occasion; then a reception, and then mid-afternoon a splendid 19th century Romantic piano concert, a parish fundraiser, in complete conflict with the men's hockey final...the turn-out was encouraging despite the external distractions... Some pretty swift updates via PDA at the Intermission, mind you!

I don't think bedtime will be long delayed tonight.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Five, Winter Olympics Edition

1) Which of the Winter Olympic sports is your favorite to watch?

I enjoy watching almost anything in which I don't have an emotional stake in who wins...until after it is over...because I'm convinced I jinx figure skaters, hockey teams, etc. I like watching curling, see below, because at least in curling nobody is likely to sustain a life-threatening injury, unless of course Rink Rage takes over and the curlers start lobbing the curling rocks at each other overhand... It does seem though that most of the winter sports have as a prerequisite the desire to fling oneself headfirst into the abyss... that said, I get a huge kick out of ski jumping, where at least, mostly, they stay right way up...or intend to. I have a personal though small stake in four-man bobsled this time around as I actually taught one of the team drivers, everything he knows. About Jane Austen. It wasn't a great deal; even then he was booking weeks off to hurtle downhill in various exotic venues...

2) Some of the uniforms have attracted attention this year, such as the US Snowboarders' pseudo-flannel shirts and the Norwegian Curling team's -- ahem -- pants.

Who do you think had the best-looking uniforms?

I liked both those uniforms actually...but there were some that were truly quite beautiful -- was it the Koreans that had the beautiful snowflakes on their jackets in the opening ceremonies? Not too impressed about the "Bermuda" shorts, I must admit. And those toques generally are kind of disfiguring...the various devices for lessening drag were interesting especially in speed-skating. Then there are the figure-skating costumes, and that's "a-whole-nother story" as we say.

3) And Curling. Really? What's up with that?

TAKE NOTE RIGHT NOW, I will take no guff from anybody about the sport of curling. NONE. Especially not from any citizens whose national butts are about to be kicked by the Canucks. I mean really... this is lawn-bowling/boccie/petanque on ice. What could be more reasonable? And how can you not enjoy a sport in which respectable middle-aged ladies, on all fours, on ice, scream, HARDER HARDER HARDER YES YES YES???

4) Define Nordic Combined. Don't look it up. Take a guess if you must.

Ok, it's skiing. My guess is downhill and slalom; I don't know whether cross-country is included. Maybe jumping as well. What the heck.

(There will be a prize for the best answer, but be aware, this is a judged sport.)

5) If you could be a Winter Olympics Champion just by wishing for it, which sport would you choose for winning your Gold Medal?

oh heavens...not crazy about snow, ice, cold, or leaping into the void in any sense... but probably one of the forms of skiing.

Friday, Friday

I may look at the Friday Five a bit later as the last few days have indeed been quite Olympic hereabouts.
Where I am AT, at this moment...I woke up betimes and turned off the alarm, I worked the hard Friday crossword (Thanks, friend!) on my calendar, I said Morning Prayer, two nice chunks of Ps. 119, Jacob's Last Will and Testament, the conclusion of the Passion in Matthew plus the usual 'common supplications.'
I have checked the email, lovely poem by Mary Oliver sent by inward/outward this morning; I have checked the Facebook, Olympic triumphing and weekend plans and pics of new babies (all good); I am contemplating writing a a snotty letter to the Times Literary Supplement--they don't often nod, but the editing has been a bit whoopsie in recent weeks, and in the last issue a reviewer (of Walking to America by Roger Hutchinson, which sounds fascinating BTW), describing the deaths--in Arizona--of two infants in this immigrant family, says, "the exhumation of their newly buried remains by hungry jackals marked the nadir."
But I'm having trouble starting a letter with some phrase other than, "Listen, clothhead... not jackals, nor dingoes either...we're talking KIYOOTS here, you post-colonial ninnyhammer." (See above, coyote howling in chagrin at being mistaken for a jackal)
You understand that next to defeating Americans in hockey, catching a Brit with her facts down is almost the very favourite Canadian thrill...
I have a memorial service to attend this afternoon...for an old, old lady, classmate, BFF, and sorority sister of the Rambler's late Mum. She was gathered peacefully to her rest out on the Left Coast, but there's a memorial here in Prairie Metropolis where she lived for sometime as befit that special creature known as an "Oil Wife." There was a foursome of these women, and I think there is now only one left...I'm a bit haunted by the feeling that I may be the only person left who remembers that they were friends! They scattered to the four winds after graduation in 1937...but were all great letter writers all their lives. Anyway, praise God for their mutually sustaining friendships over these many years.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

still here.

Internet connection is a bit uncertain this morning so I'll post now but as I haven't finished my first cup of coffee yet I can't vouch for eloquence or even coherence.

Yesterday -- I activated a new credit card and shared the glad news with PayPal (of such small triumphs...) -- next I'll drop a billet-doux to that effect on Amazon.ca and that should accomplish THAT.

Went to the bank, banked pension cheque, paid bills, which accounted for rather more than 1/2 of pension cheque, but no matter. Bills all paid, including a semi-annual one which allows me to feel, however hollowly, AHEAD OF THE GAME for the moment at least.

DROPPED IN at grocery store and raided the loss leader department for green grapes, toothpaste, and frozen chicken, all prudent purchases. Received in change a $5 bill and various bits of coinage (from the change dispenser, which always stimulates Daughter Unit to exclaim, "We won! We won!"

[ominous minor chords very softly in the background, hold the thought of that $5 bill, 'kay?]

BETOOK myself to unfamiliar Evangelical Post-Secondary Institution to suss out the venue for tonight's discussion group on the Four Passion Gospels and the method of lectio divina. (Keep me in prayer tonight, please!)(And don't forget the $5 bill. DID you forget the $5 bill, O Best Beloved?)

EXECUTED crafty driving manoeuvre and accessed Mega Building Supply store where there was so little difficulty in finding an omni-battery charger AND rechargeable 9 volt batteries (in aid of St. Curious sound system), that I took a little soul-refreshing paseo through the greenhouse. SIGH. Admired the orchids, however settled on a Pothos (yay) and a poor orphaned marked-down $1 African Violet to join the motley crew here at Tether's End.

PRESENTED myself at the cash-desk [minor chords, louder], where I paid for the electronics on credit card, but what the heck, it's only a couple of bucks, I'll just pay cash for the little plants, right? Using my newly-acquired $5 bill?

NOT ON YOUR LIFE. Please tell me, somebody, WHO would go to the trouble and expense of counterfeiting a $5 bill? A CANADIAN $5 BILL? Ok, Ok, I know, anybody who has figured out that $50's and $100's get checked at the till, $5's don't.

Except mine. Very assiduous young salesclerk.

We parted friends, me with my plants and funny money.

GNASHED my way up the freeway toward home, and decided on the basis of my being a PENSIONER, doggone it (= Poor Old Lady), and knowing perfectly well where I got it, that I would REVISIT the grocery store with my $5 bill and COMPLAIN.

Which I did. And they swapped it for me. Bless their hearts.

Expect me in future to scrutinize all paper currency AT LENGTH to the infinite annoyance of my fellow shoppers. And if they mutter too loudly, I may bite the loonies and toonies also.

High time for some lectio divina, I can tell.
.. opening with Morning Prayer, "O Lord, open thou our lips..."