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 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..."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

a happy Sunday

Preached this morning at St. Curious on the temptations of Christ and what they say about the nature of God and the nature of a human being, and managed to set it in context with both other readings AND the Psalm. Once again...I thought I "had it covered" and then the latterly verses of the Psalm detonated in my hearing AS I heard them read at the early morning service. I got rather carried away, I'm afraid...
A light lunch with the Daughter Unit and then home to prepare a sustaining early supper, catch about an hour's sleep, and away with #1 Son to see a local production of Annie, featuring #2 Son. He reported with humorous chagrin of the audition procedure, that he was asked to do a dance routine and then cast as FDR: "Right, I dance like a guy with polio, good to know that." (I am old enough BTW -- and INCORRECT enough -- to miss the presence in the cast of characters of "the Punjab" and "the Asp"--anybody else remember them???)
I do try not to dote, you know, and to be fair-minded and impartial in my assessment of what I see on stage when the offspring are participating. FAIL. The little so-and-so can speak so as to be understood...and when he sings he sings on pitch. Both of which in my astigmatic opinion set him distinctly apart from the rest of the cast. In short, Ma is proud tonight.
And so to bed.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

middle of the day...

OK, I have said Morning Prayer, made a pot of coffee, drunk a big big cup of latte, vacuumed the living room, carried downstairs stuff downstairs, and brought upstairs stuff upstairs...made my bed, eaten two pieces of toast and peanut butter. Our beloved IT guy is in the offing, coming to put the finishing touches on the wireless internet here at Tether's End.

Sermon hanging fire a bit for tomorrow...but the focus will be the Gospel and the place of temptations in the good news of Jesus Christ, with some reflection on what happens when we read Scripture in the liturgy in the bosom of the community of faith...

Meantime, inevitably, more Olympics, interspersed with classic movies I expect. Anjd some housekeepery here and there.

I am leading a Bible study on the four passion gospels beginning this coming Tuesday night...and that takes some attention too.

Friday, February 19, 2010

First Friday of Lent

...mid-afternoon and overcast has moved in as the SUVs and Hummers assemble on our block...there is an elementary school just around the corner. When the Rambler's family moved in here 37 years ago...children walked to school in cheerful gaggles; now, almost all are personally driven, one child per vehicle. Twice a day, therefore, it is all but impossible to get out of our crescent--heck, to get out of my driveway--for about a half hour. Energy crisis? What energy crisis?

I have been helplessly watching Olympics. Most of these sports, if not all, seem to have Total Insanity as a prerequisite. Maybe not curling. But I wouldn't swear to that, either.

Still and all, they ARE engrossing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

and so, Thursday...

Trying to institute some sensible and useful Lenten disciplines into my life...I've started by resuming saying the offices twice a day...using my little Book of Common Prayer, white leather cover, Confirmation gift from my inlaws 45 years ago, God love them...and my white leather covered KJV, gift for my FIRST Confirmation (different denomination) from my most beloved Aunt. The two fit together nicely in a lovely "Bible case" (came up in our RevGal discussions last week, I noted)--tried to find an illustration but to no avail. Think needle-point angels. And the good soul who gave me that, bless her, has been gathered to her reward this week.

This has been a "let's just stay in our pyjamas" day. But I have done a number of useful chores and have a few more targeted before I turn in...some of the Grubby-Disgusting type and some Fun-treat type.

I'm pretty sure, though, that the deepest truest need of my soul at this point is a decluttered abode. Or at least it's in the top five.

It's been a very nice and peaceful day. Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

So last night I burned up some palm crosses -- about 16 of them amounted to maybe a tablespoon of ashes. Duly tamed ashes with about the same amount of olive oil from my pretty Cortona cruet. (Note to self: take care not to add balsamic vinegar from OTHER matching cruet by mistake. Not the same effect at all).

Shouldn't have started the process in the kitchen, though, the house still whiffs of smoke a bit. Finished up on the front porch.

We were ten for the morning service, followed by a lively and HIGHLY digressive Bible study, during which I attached the two dropped buttons to my cassock very successfully.

Then some collaborative office work, and a second draft of the sermon for Sunday. Unplugged toilet in women's washroom.

Cleaned up the last vestiges of the ash-imposing, hand-cleaning paraphernalia in readiness for this evening's service...drove home, had a nice cold sauerbraten sandwich for my lunch. Also salad (pauses to polish halo).

By the way I think I overdid it with the crushed gingersnaps to thicken the sauerbraten gravy. It was, well, rather FIRM. Think, "peanut butter." But tasty.

Have run one load of laundry.And had one nap, carefully restricted to one half-hour.

Time to do about an hour's blitz on the worst of the clutter with a view to freeing up space into which I can unpack books. And then, back to St. Curious for the second imposition of ashes, this time with hymns and all.

Also to infinite delight, first church pension cheque in today's mail -- w00t!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Annals of Retirement, continued...

This delight came in the morning email from a friend with the heading -- "too much time on their hands" which must be, I suppose, one definition of retirement. I'm not yet quite reduced to this level of boredom (or exalted to this level of creative skill, whichever).

Reflecting upon the great celebration of T-Fig just past and remembering the principle of NOT preaching outside one's own knowledge...
I was grappling, some years ago (first or second year at MH & U?), with what to say about transfiguration when I came upon or recalled an essay by an American surgeon turned essayist (Google is not helping me to retrieve a name here), who had written eloquently about the medical procedure of "transillumination" as a metaphor for what he hoped to achieve in his writing. This caught my imagination...evoking childhood play with a flashlight -- you know, you shine it through your hand, and if you're very brave you put it in your mouth and peer into the mirror, "OOOO look at that..."

So with fear and without any very specific information, I hauled it into the sermon. And a parishioner, Very Tall Doc, took me aside at the end of the service and with great care and delicacy dealt with my ignorance... explaining that transillumination is used, medically, to examine ONE part of the human body. ONE part of the ADULT, MALE human body, in fact.

It never fails. The only time I made bold to quote a phrase in an aboriginal language, there was a native speaker in the congregation.

Excellent, excellent conversation yesterday with a couple of fellow ecumaniacs -- one local, one "import" ... most encouraging and stimulating.

I have learned a wonderful new word, receiving a bilingual message this morning from, as befits the True North Strong and Free With, Thank God, an Olympic Gold Medal At Last: "Cher internaute," it began. That's what I am, I'm an "internaut" -- sounds much more intrepid than a mere "user," doesn't it?

And today... I am going to sew two dropped buttons back on my cassock. And then I shall find a suitable container, and some potting soil, and plant my nicely-rooted geranium cutting. Well, geranium "busting," actually, Nefertiti-the-Wonder-Cat having knocked the top out of my big geranium in one of her Wild Hurtles around the living room. But the broken piece did well in a jar of water on the window sill, so I have hopes of two gerania for the price of one.

And then I have a meeting.

And then I am going to attempt to cook my sauerbraten which has been "festering" in the fridge in its marinade since the weekend. I ate pancakes in a ceremonial manner at St. Curious on Sunday so I am exempt from that sticky ritual this evening.

And then I may have to find an apple and a nice sharp knife.....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

variousness, if not variety

Sunday evening, supper's behind us, Super Bowl's over, high time that I got back to my poor neglected blog.

This morning I preached and presided for the first time at my retirement/interim parish, St. Curious. The Rambler family worshipped at St. Curious for almost 20 years, but exited 15 years back when Crimson took up a curacy elsewhere. So there are people in St. Curious who have been friends for 35 years. Part of the challenge is not to look past the new members in search of the familiar and beloved faces.

I've heard the question -- how does 1/4 time work? first answer -- "beautifully" -- but I don't think that's the point. I give the parish one day a week = 3 blocks, or 3 units. I'd just as soon NOT take all three on the same day...but I'm careful not to allow them to fall on 3 separate days either, because THAT very quickly = full-time work. In addition to the "one day", there are the Sundays, by negotiation with the Rector; and we've worked it out that I'll preach when she's presiding, preside when she preaches, and take responsibility for both halves when she needs to be elsewhere, as she did this morning. And when there's a fifth Sunday in the month, I'll take it off altogether.

Oh the joy of NOT being in charge...just preaching, presiding, proofreading and pastoral contact; and limited involvement in Christian adult education.

Now St. Curious has been through a grisly, grisly time in the last few years. The rightly trusted and beloved Rector who was in office back in '95 subsequently moved on to another post, and the interim appointment was ... painful. No doubt, for the appointees as well as for the parish. And the leadership that followed on that period was NOT a good fit for the parish either...

so there is reassurance and consolation and encouragement and cheer-leading to be done over the next few months.

Hearts are high at the moment, I think. Pray for us.

Meantime -- Most Holy & Undivided is commemorating St. Arnold tonight, and giving thanks to God for the good creature commonly known as BEER...assisted by the presence of various junior members of the Rambler clan.

But not the matriarch. Sigh.