Friday, December 30, 2011

looking both ways!

A simple Friday Five for a busy part of the year; indulge me by sharing two fives:

As you look back over 2011 share 5 blessings, they can be as grand or as simple as you like,if you year has been like mine they are probably a mixture!

As you look towards 2012 share 5 hopes- again, anything goes!

Five blessings, in no particular order:

1. Second Son's wedding, giving us the right to claim kin with a marvelous family, hitherto just friends.

2. Daughter Unit's return from her summer vacation, in an Expectant Condition.

3. First Son's launching into another scene of life -- and his father's practical and kindly and right-minded assistance with the process.

4. Ongoing ministry in a venue where everybody including me wants me to be;

5. AND...BE 4.0, and all that that entailed, starting with WARM, when I had forgotten what WARM felt like.

Five hopes/anticipations for 2012:


2. A proper garden, come spring.

3. Some long overdue house improvements, including doors and windows and flooring.

4. Better management of the available resources of time, energy, etc.

5. AND ... BE 5.0!!! (how many sleeps, now?)

Thursday, December 15, 2011


A little while back, FabRector, my excellent boss, gave me a beautiful bottle of port -- a couple of evenings ago I opened it, removing the cork (no screw-tops for us, friends) -- and discovered in the package a special replacement cork-stopper, with attached instructions for use (well, some of us find Tab A, Slot B, quite baffling).

The instructions included "The stopper cork should be soaked in warm water for at least one hour and wiped dry before use."

Fair enough. But then -- HOW? Have you ever tried to SOAK a CORK? I get a small dish, I fill it with warm water, I add cork, and "ploop" -- cork floats. No soaking happening here today. I suppose I could have found an empty bottle, filled it with warm water, inserted the cork, turned the bottle upside down...or some such device...but after 15 minutes of trying to persuade the cork to, well, SUBMERGE...I finally found a small narrow shot-glass, added water, and cork, and jammed a big avocado pit down on top of the works. Cork duly soaked.

And I was reminded of a recent FB post from a local politico whom I somehow contrived to "friend" in the last year. Even after nearly twenty years embedded in Freshman English, I have seldom encountered anyone so inadequate to the challenges of the English sentence, or English idiom (and as far as I know, it's the poor soul's ONLY language). Most memorable was his comment on a Member of Parliament whose most recent manoeuvre, he said, "had really sunk her goose."

So I offer that to you in case of Moments of Bleak and Drear in the next week or so -- feel free to picture a Member of Parliament, or even a non-legislator, attempting to sink a goose. The honking, the splashing, the flapping...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

the whole thing about... breakfast.

or maybe that should be "breakfaft," this season.

Interesting times, exploring the ins and outs of catering-for-ONE (plus, of course, Nefertiti the Wonder Cat) these days. And something of a revelation to realize I probably won't have to buy twenty pounds of any edible thing, all at one time, ever again.

I have been having some fun with breakfast, for sure. One of my semi-sordid Thrifty Tricks is to hit the Clearance Meat Bin at the local kind-of-wholesale place. (This is where I also regularly buy a kilo of fresh spinach!) Sometimes the Clearance Meat is bologna, or pepperoni, or otherwise only quasi-edible. But sometimes it is ham -- usually ham that has been unevenly or crookedly sliced. About two dollars the pound. It's vacuum-packed, in sturdy packaging, and freezes well.

The latest batch, upon opening, turned out to be what I call "McDonald's ham" -- ie the small slices just right to fit in an English Muffin. So I've been frying up 3 - 4 of these little slices at a time, teasing them around in the iron frying pan just until they caramelize a bit. This morning I thought they needed something more. So I nuked about a tablespoonful of big black raisins in a half-cup of orange juice, and de-glazed the pan with that, letting it cook down a bit. Ham with raisin sauce, hoo boy, some good.

My other recent purchase -- initially for specific recipes -- has been fresh jalapenos. Is there anything quite so cute and alluring as a fresh jalapeno, especially in a great big bin with a whole lot of others? "Here I am, and I am so plump, and sleek, and shiny, and green, and cheerful..."

This morning I thought I had better do something with the current jalapeno-in-residence before it got all wrinkly and reproachful. So I minced up about 1/3 of it, very carefully washing hands etc. afterward -- and I minced up about 1/3 of a small yellow onion, and most of a stalk of celery, and sizzled it all around in the omelet pan for a bit, and then made a 2 egg omelet (with a slug of coffee cream, 11%, in it)...dumped the mixed veggies into the midst of the eggs, folded it up, over and out alongside the orange-raisin ham (on a nice piece of brown toast to soak up the sauce).

And a glass of orange juice, and a big homemade skim milk latte.

I wouldn't say that the jalapeno made the omelet "hot" exactly -- more just kind of gently "incandescent."

I'm thinking if I can (and I do) chop up sweet bell peppers of various colours and freeze them as is, without blanching etc., I could probably do the same with jalapenos?

It was a great breakfast. But I don't think it constituted "fafting," exactly, by any definition I can retrieve. Sigh.

And on we go.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fafting and Prayer -- Advent Approaches

It's late, I've been napping since supper, now going to watch a re-run of NCIS: LA because I get such a kick out of Linda Hunt-- both her as an actress and her character -- and then turn in.

While I was back east for the Big Palaver mid-month I spent the night with friends. Going to these meetings is a conundrum for me -- our actual gathering starts early afternoon, which means that I either go down on "the red-eye", which I just cannot do any more, sorry, folks; or I go down a day early. That entails an extra night in a hotel. It bothers me to put that expense on the national church, even though I'm the only delegate on our side of the table from west of the Great Lakes.

Fortunately, close to the airport: a young couple, whose wedding I officiated, and their two little boys. So we had a fine visit, and I came away with a treasure -- a single volume of a set published in 1796 entitled A History of the Bible which my friends' church had decided to dispense with, in clearing the parish bookshelves. And it is hugely, unexpectedly, entertaining-- very scholarly, of its era, with very lucid explanatory notes and all sorts of lengthy citations from the Fathers and non-Christian ancient sources like Josephus, Suetonius, Diodorus Siculus, et al. I note, too, that although it's battered and somewhat "foxed," the binding holds together and the paper must be "rag," not the high-acid pulp product of a hundred years later -- still nice and flexible, however discoloured.

This volume begins with the "morning after" the Transfiguration -- which, says the author, took place AT NIGHT. Stands to reason, why would anybody schedule such a spectacular light show in the middle of the day? come on! At any rate, Jesus and his friends come down the mountain to confront the father with the lunatic/epileptic son, and the whole ministry of deliverance, including those nuisances which can "only be driven out by [drum roll here] fafting and prayer."

I know I'm getting old when I realize how much amusement I am getting out of something as simple as the "long S" in typography!!! And I'm led to think a little about what kind of a "Faft" would be truly appropriate to Advent practise. What shall I, must I, "abftain" from, to make room for hope, peace, joy, and even love?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Second day...

Awake a little before five this morning. The People's FM Radio plays interesting music until six a.m., after which Teh Stoopid takes over. So I lay and listened; got up a bit after six a.m. when the news was over and made a bit of a list for the day. It looked reasonable...and some of it even got done -- two loads of laundry, a run to the bank, and the Post Office, and two grocery stores. After which, it being payday and all, I treated myself to a (not very good) lunch "out."

Home, and got the groceries put away -- and that's ALL she wrote. Made a good breakfast and a light supper, and I'm finished for the day. Will watch the rest of Monday Night Football, and crawl off to bed.

Much intrigued by the discussion on what our theology says or fails to say about the animal part of creation -- the nonhuman animals, that is -- led me to reflect on some of the background reading I did "back when", preparing lectures on Black Beauty. I knew, I knew, that there were theologians in the background of Anna Sewell's work, and I was please to be able to trace the thread back to Horace Bushnell, q.v. In the process read some interesting notes on Calvin's theological references to animals (not to the impoverished references of CALVINISTS, to animals).

Recalling, in conversation with other RevGals, the doctrinaire objections to the Blessing of Animals in church -- summarized as "Animals don't go to heaven, because they don't have souls." Two thoughts, well, two utterable thoughts, always rose up in response to that: first that it's the Resurrection of the BODY we say we believe in, NOT the immortality of the soul, fine pagan notion though that is. And second -- that if a discernible soul is the criterion, a whole bunch of folks I encounter day by day had better look to their qualifications (grump, grump).

More and more I think that the secret to pragmatic success in parish life is the willingness to condone, flatter, echo, and cheerlead people's envy, contempt, and spite toward other folks. I am so weary of it. Hence, in part, the "Monday face."

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Advent One -- new church year, new season, new week -- old blogger!

Went gadding this morning -- celebrated an 11 a.m. Eucharist in a different parish -- saw a number of old friends and met some new ones. A personal treat, to celebrate according to the Book of Common Prayer, and to hear one of the city's premier organists at work.

Home with every intention of watching the National Classic this afternoon (The Grey Cup -- think Superbowl, think FA Championship, if you're in a different jurisdiction), but after a very good lunch indeed, napped all afternoon on the couch. Much appreciated by Nefertiti the Wonder Cat. Feel asleep right after the national anthem, woke up just in time for the Victory Interviews.

Already late in the evening, relatively, and not having done much to work off my lunch, I've had a bowl of jack-o'lantern soup, with various adornments -- a diced avocado, a slosh of cream, bacon bits, Thai sweet chili sauce -- and a small baked apple, and finished the latte I made before I fell asleep. Bedtime approaches rapidly.

Lots of unbloggables, of late. Too many people know who writes this blog. I was away from home to a Major Eastern Metropolis earlier this month for the semi-annual Big Palaver, and at a reception following our Major Anniversary Celebration, a complete and utter stranger walked up to me and asked, "Are you Crimson Rambler?" Signal for cookie crumbs to "go down the wrong way."

But perhaps attending to the blog daily is a useful part of the structure I am beginning to try to impose upon, or infuse into, my existence. Yes -- I know, I know -- at least every few months for the last thirty-plus years, I have determined to find/create/retrieve/obey some kind of structure, system, order, rationale ... but this is different (also a perpetual whine).

So all the domestic minutiae are coming under scrutiny...with some modest success.

And so is my theology...under the influence of old pressures removed and new pressures recognized.

Time to dismantle my "nest" on the couch, run the dishwasher, set out tomorrow's STRICTLY LIMITED task-list, and so to bed.

Catch y'all again tomorrow if we're spared.
And a happy and blessed Advent to all.

Friday, November 4, 2011

the Friday Five

kathrynzj asks us, this morning:

For today's Friday Five please tell us 5 things you like to do with friends. Are they local - do you hit a favorite coffee shop or nail salon? What about the friends who come in from out of town? Do you have a restaurant or museum you like to show off?

Well, this is a pretty easy five -- I think!

1. EAT. Almost anything, anywhere: here at home, there at their home, or OUT. (Not so much, DRINK, although there is a special asterisked category for "things with little umbrellas in them" while "seated in the shade at the wide end of a Big White Boat")

2. WALK. Even when much of the walk is more of a Determined Sequential Lurch, than a relaxed stroll.

3. TALK. IRL or in any of the variety of media that offer themselves (often combined with 1 or 2, above).

4. TRAVEL. On the road through favourite landscapes (viz. Pointy Bits of this and adjacent provinces, and elsewhere) -- or by other modes, see previous remarks about Big White Boats.

5. WORK (if all else fails and resistance proves useless)...this includes subcategories "COOK" and "KNIT" and a miscellany of other tasks.

most of these are stackable, one way or another, either sequentially or simultaneously.

And there you have it!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

CSI: Exodus, and Philippians, and Matthew...

Here is approximately what the good folks at St. Coffee are going to be in a position to hear tomorrow morning. It is notes only. But anybody who is stuck, FEEL FREE.

This morning’s readings, in the customary order in which we read them, struck me as being like one of the notorious television crime dramas in a way, where the story is introduced to us at a moment of crisis somewhere in the middle of the plot – then we have a flashback to carry us back to a previous situation, and finally we move through what we saw first, and all the action and the loose ends are neatly tied up just in time for the final commercial.

This morning, we need to start perhaps not with the Hebrew scripture, the Exodus reading, but with the opening of the Gospel story. One of my friends says, “it all starts the way a love-song might start: a man planted a vineyard” – we hear about an idyllic, perfect setting – then the music breaks, there is violence, accelerating and increasing, things go wrong and the wrong gets “wronger still” and at the very climax there is even a murder, with a corpse – we have everything here except sirens and flashing red lights.

But it all began with a love song, a song about a vineyard, a song anticipating and promising a feast – lots to eat, and lots of lovely stuff to drink, too. In some ways – I think – there is nothing quite as marvelous as making a feast for people you love, knowing that they will be delighted and gratified by what you have prepared, and will be happy. The act of doing that – like the act of putting in a garden, or planting a vineyard – means more than it is – it expresses a sense of connection, a relationship – let’s just keep it simple, here, and say that it expresses LOVE. But what happens when it goes wrong?

The story of God and his people, God in a relationship with people, does not start with the handing down of the house-rules. It doesn’t start with regulations – it starts with a love song, a setting that is not only a place but a promise of provisions – and that idyllic beginning is picked up in the Psalm, in the confident, glorious chorus of the opening verses (hard not to sing them) – “The heavens are telling the glory of God” – try not to lose your place, because we’re not quite finished with the Psalm.

I am hopping about among the readings because more and more as I untangle and reflect on Scripture it seems to me that the readings work TOGETHER – not just by simple repetition, or by simple verbal echoes, but because what is presented in each reading helps us see more deeply into the others. Kind of like ultrasound…it shows you more than you thought was there!

So things start to go wrong, in the love-song, and now we look at the reading from Exodus //the 10 commandments// now even here what we have is not just a handing down of rules: “here they are, memorize and obey these or you are in big trouble”…

The rules come second, as logical conclusions to something else – to what precedes them: “I am the Lord your God” – that’s not just God clearing his throat, you know – that’s God reminding them (and us) of what has already been discovered. “I am the Lord your God” which means that you’re my people, and I have done all these things FOR you, I have planted you a vineyard, I have brought you out of Egypt SO THAT NOW you are ABLE, CAPABLE of living like THIS – now if you don’t, of course, there are logical consequences (some of them sketched in), but the first thing you have to understand is that I have loved you and liberated you, and now you can live this way, you are FREE to live in this way, like truly free people: not having to steal, or lie, or cheat, or murder. BECAUSE I have done all these great things for you.

But we fail to get it. Over and over and over, we go back to slave-thinking, to a slave-perspective – the utmost ambition is to “get away with something,” to exercise the irresponsible power of oppressors, to BE oppressors; conniving, like the wicked tenants, in a way that inevitably means murder eventually.

So where are you and I, in this artfully told story? In the Gospel story, I think, we see ourselves in two lights. We may be the tenants; and we may be the outcasts.

We have to take the story seriously, altho’ Jesus was talking to the Jewish religious leaders, the “good church people” of HIS time. But we have to take it seriously for ourselves too – get ready for this kind of seriousness, because I think all the rest of Matthew between now and Advent 1 is exceptionally tough and gritty going//fire and brimstone//. So we must take it seriously, and not be smug or complacent about our “tenancy,” our “already” relationship with our God.

But then on the other hand, neither are we to be sunk into despair because we are not faithful tenants, or because we don’t feel like insiders, or because, just maybe, we think we deserve to be cast out. Now this is where Paul comes in//very artful// If we were watching a crime drama, Paul would be the guy in the lab, the geek who is fascinated by the theoretical aspect of what is going on, who gives us the schematic understanding of what we’ve just been told, he’s like the person who takes the back off the watch, and says, See? These are the works, the "innards" -- look at this story from THIS angle, from how we understand righteousness by LAW and righteousness by FAITH.. . and he’s excited by what this means, by what it has meant for him//and he's excited enough to use words a lot less dignified than ‘rubbish’//.

Someone has called this parable of the vineyard the most depressing parable in the whole Gospel. But Paul is here to keep us from agreeing with that assessment. Paul is here to say, “Keep going! The story may be over, but YOUR story is NOT over… Press on, and be hopeful and rejoice” //whether full of joy or bent double under disaster, a text for each of us.

So we conclude with rejoicing, because what we have been told about the patience and generosity of God IS wonderful.

We rejoice—maybe with just a little tremor in the voice, as we try so hard to remember that this is not just a story about avoiding a bad outcome; that the commandments we have heard are not just about what do we have to do to go to heaven – the creation, and the law, and the prophets, and the sending of God’s own son are about what we must hold in mind: our lives are about recognizing, and knowing, and loving the Lord our God, the owner of the vineyard. About knowing and recognizing and loving his beloved son.

And the consequence is that we remember to ask for power to do what all of creation does, what all of creation is for – and was for, and will be for // end of Psalm//The HEAVENS are telling the glory of God …may the words of OUR mouths and the thoughts of OUR hearts…

Friday, September 30, 2011

all day with Mary B...

I'm still working on the right mix of chores and dissipations for the days I have committed to spend with Mary Brown -- I did a lot of unappealing paper work last night, with the benefit of cleared flat surfaces to contemplate today... I have a mess of cookery to attend to -- a batch of yogurt, some fridge-cleaning-out, defrosting my freezer while stocks are low, IRONING.

And then perhaps I can spend some time sorting out my pantry shelves... and gathering up all the fountain and/or cartridge pens in the place and reaming them out and getting them running again... and writing a very tall stack of notes and letters to folks.

Somewhere in here there needs to be a sermon also! I am guest-preaching away from St. Curious on Sunday morning, among people I don't know at all -- so the approach to the text will take some pondering.

It is a busy and "fraught" time in Ramblerland...some of it unbloggable, and some of it not-bloggable-before-a-given-date. That date is now past, and so "now it can be told" that along about Easter, all being well in the meantime, the Rambler is going to enter into grandmotherhood..."with all that that entails." Marvelous birthday-present news that took me completely, but COMPLETELY, by surprise.

And in the meantime, the Rambler is now the sole occupant of Tether's End (barring Nefertiti the Wonder Cat). And THAT is all unimaginably new: from here on, NOTHING goes into that fridge that isn't in the Personal Meal Plan. It's a little hard to grasp that I probably won't ever have to buy twenty pounds of ANYTHING, ever again -- no matter how alluring the price! Also new: the sense that nothing, NOTHING in this abode has to be where it is, if I don't want it there. Startling, it is.

I'll come back later to do the Friday Five. But on the schedule now is some personal clenn-up (and "spackling"), some shopping, some bureaucracy, in the meantime contemplating a recipe for non-alcoholic-punch-for-250. My HOS, Fabrector, is getting married a week tomorrow. And I am in charge of PUNCH...this is an area of cookery where neither Julia Child nor Emma Rombauer has been any help at all, but I think I have found a recipe, and now I just have to think about container-for-transport: jam kettle, perhaps.

I also have to give some thought to roasting a turkey, preparing a Giant Pan (or two) of Delectable Stuffing, concocting a Hugeous Leafy Salad...and confecting an 8-cup Tomato Aspic (with shrimp). Others are providing the Brussels sprouts, the sweet potatoes, the pies (and more turkeys and stuffing and mashed spuds etc). Because next weekend is not only WEDDING, but Canadian THANKSGIVING (we like to get these things tidied away early, you see).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meet Mary Brown...

Marking, perhaps, I hope, I hope, a new stage in the ongoing battle with TIME.
Way way back, oh, ten years, maybe, a very savvy senior laywoman (with whom I served on a volunteer board) gave me advice about the creative and caring use of the daytimer, daily planner, write-on calendar, whatever YOU use to keep track of appointments and so forth.
I knew all about the 2/3 rule: “Don’t fill your schedule more than 2/3 full, you have to allow for the unforeseen that will come plucking at the hem of your garments while you are on your way to do something else.”
But my friend Phyllis taught me something else. “You take that daytimer,” she said, “and you look ahead a week or so to the first day when nothing is scheduled, and you draw diagonal pencil strokes all across it. Then at the top you write ‘Mary Brown.’ And Mary Brown is YOU. That is YOUR day. And don’t you dare encroach upon it when you’re getting calls and requests and invitations and so forth. And if anybody looks over your shoulder, and says ‘But what about Thursday?’ you can just say, ‘Oh no, that day is completely booked for Mary Brown, see?’”
Well, the Rambler knows good advice when she hears it, but she usually has to ADMIRE it for a while before putting it into effect. So yesterday was the first of what I hope will be a long happy series of Mary Brown Days.
The weekend was a full one. Exhilarating, and happy, and gratifying. But FULL. So it was good to take Monday as a day to follow my own behests, at my own pace.
What did I do? Well. I did everything in twenty-minute bursts, carrying my little twist-timer around with me. Everything, that is, INCLUDING looking at the computer (that’s part of the secret).
After her morning prayers, Mary Brown likes a high-protein breakfast – bacon’n’eggs, yup. Contemplated the ‘heel’ of my last pound of bacon and decided the two thin slices would be breakfast, the thick off-kilter last piece would go into spaghetti carbonara one night this week. So THAT is all accounted for, no waste.
Then Mary got all the laundry done, all but a set of sheets and pillow-cases that will need some extended soaking. Mary fetched indoors the super-giant empty vinyl paint-bucket (from last summer’s house-painting job) and has commenced scouring it clean for service as a washtub/soaking tub. Laundry all finished, another twenty minutes accounted for all the ironing.
Mary likes a nice tidy restful looking bedroom too, with no books and/or magazines among the sheets; that took another couple of twenty-minute blitzes.
We answered the e-mails that had been hanging out there. We responded to our phone messages. We went to the bank. We went to the dry cleaner. We went to the bakery outlet and bought ten loaves assorted, and scored on our frequent-buyer card.
Then we got all tidy and decently dressed and went to the university women’s club first dinner meeting of the season, and caught up with old friends and met some nice new ones. Watched a fascinating presentation on late 19th century, early 20th century, Tea Gowns from the University Collection. Worth and Poiret, oh my, oh my.
We came home at half-time; Mary doesn’t do late nights. So we wrapped up the day with a mug of tea and a little reading: the first lecture in Jaroslav Pelikan’s The Vindication of Tradition.
Mary is dropping by again on Friday. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The day after...

Home and having a Sunday "off"... unpacking, laundering, washing, throwing out, putting away... about to embark on the baking of a CAKE for family dinner tonight.

It was a great holiday. The return drive went smoothly; I took more breaks than I have usually done, and stayed reasonably alert, but omigosh, ruler-straight four-lane divided highway is NOT a stimulating way to end a long day's drive. Going the other way is much more entertaining as the highway climbs through a series of increasingly thrilling mountain passes.

The car went well -- there wasn't an annoying amount of traffic despite the season -- only a couple of stops to accommodate road construction. Gasoline in the mountains is up to $5 a gallon. Gulp.

I have some ambitions for the next time I make that trip -- some walks/hikes I want to be able to take, so there's some fitness preparation to be done over the winter.

And I think next time I will book the all-day Kootenay River raft trip too.

Meantime I need to do some map-work...and maybe invest in some of the large-scale topographical maps.

Pictures, soon.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Back again in the internet oasis and about to go back to the Falls and walk a little bit more ambitiously than the last time.

Another brilliant, brilliant day -- not hot, but the sun is v. assertive at these altitudes.

As always on holiday I make plans to revise the day-to-day when I get back to ordinary-level: purchase topographical maps, choose and fit the permanent car-picnic box, keep better records, REALLY find out how this camera works best...maybe this time?

Opened the curtains on the west-side of my motel room this morning to see the first light on the mountains across the valley. And what walked by, close enough to touch, but a very nice young white-tail buck...probably full of apple-sauce, bless him, there are a couple of derelict old trees in the next block. I admired him until he disappeared, then began getting day-ready, and there was a great uproar out that window, sounded something between a 'quack' and a 'mew' -- maybe most of all like a really annoying child with a new kazoo. Looked out again. Mrs. Whitetail went by, vociferating.

Got my opening-time dunk in the hot pool (102 F) this morning and then UP the delectable valley very briskly.

Lunch has been purchased, and I'm on my way again. Home tomorrow. Full of RESOLUTION.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


This is a quick update, I am having the first of the driving-breaks of today, having decided I will NOT drive longer than 90 minutes without taking a 15-minute stomp-around break.

I am stomping around, or rather, sitting in an internet coffee house, in the sparkling metropolis of Golden, BC. I am on my way to the Yoho Valley, and what is very nearly my favourite waterfall of all time.

Arrived at the Hot Springs last night after a 550 km drive (350 miles, ok?) which I stretched out to 7 hours, by taking 5, count'em, breaks en route. It was great. Weather was good, traffic was light, there was only a reasonable amount of construction and Offical Stupid on the road.

I saw a deer en route, and a young grizzly bear. He was ambling through an old "burn" area, minding his own beeswax as befits an Apex Predator. Looked glossy and well-fed.

This morning I left Favourite Motel Ever, and there was a mule deer right THERE at the end of the driveway eating leaves all as Mary-Oliver-ish as one could wish.

Farther up the road, kingfishers doing the Hopkins stunt, and even an encouraging show of ospreys, and lots of osprey nests. (I am very attached to ospreys.)

Nobody understands why I want to holiday in the Columbia Trench. But I was a little girl here, and I remember again that that was...sixty years ago. Sixty. How did that happen?

There is land for sale everywhere in the valley, and my mouth waters. My cheque-book, not so much.

I shall now pay this lovely young woman for a good cup of coffee, and the internet minutes, and go find a nice supermarket sandwich and some munchy vegetables for my lunch when I get to the falls.

I am having a TV fast, and reading, and reading...some Paintner, some Parker Palmer, some Rowan Williams...and P. G. Wodehouse, a great big omnibus edition of all his "clergy" stories. "Pills to Purge Melancholy" as Oscar Brand used to say.

Y'all be good. L8R.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Oooooooonnn the road ag'in...

So all inspired and fortified by an expenses-cheque in today's mail, I phoned the well-beloved Motel of Heavenly Comfort in the Place of Abundant Hot Water, and made reservations for four nights, and am away to the pointy bits of the province tomorrow morning, betimes.

I am taking a sack of books, (none of that there newfangled e-book stuff) and two swimsuits and a big flooffy towel. And my medium binoculars, but not the great big Field Marshal Rommel Special ones, and my camera, and maps, and various guides to flora and fauna, and like that.

And I am going to revel in my Old Coot's discounted admission to everything. and sit and soak my miz'ry along with all the other OCs.

I really am all but altogether packed, so maybe I really shall get out of the driveway before 8 am tomorrow. It is a good long day's drive, but the roads are good.

Looking forward to it all very much.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


As I've been recuperating, intermittently and spasmodically, from a variety of orthopedic nuisances, I find I have developed something between a mantra and a war-cry: "All it takes is a little RESOLUTION," I say, grinding my teeth and endeavouring to Step. Out. without limping or hanging onto things. Or falling down, for that matter.

And as I think about my blogging practice... I think that what I have to blog about, these days, mostly, is a nosegay of RESOLUTION, thus: to attain a more enjoyable level of health and fitness; to improve the comfort and beauty of a. the house and b. the yard; to become a confident dog owner; to do such ministry as I am called to do and capable of performing.

And that is the stuff of this blog, for the time being.

Today: some time in the church office, some minor correspondence, preparation for a service of house blessing for an old friend (this evening); a couple of restrained meals -- I am eating up savoury left-overs from the student supper on Sunday evening -- and the beginning of a total blitz attack on the clutter and grime of the kitchen. "All the way to the back of every cupboard and drawer" is our cry.

I was amused, in passing, to note how very very "Standard Supermarket Fare" my so-called "Mexican" cookbook (of 40 years ago) really is. Fpr example, no cumin, no cilantro -- but salt, pepper, Tabasco, Campbell's soup. Tentatively, I think it might have been more accurately called "Gringo-mergent." tasty, though, my goodness. Excellent left-overs.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Re: 29c coffee drippers...

...cuz enquiring minds want to know.

We are familiar, right, with the big 6-cup drip cones that rest atop coffee pots?

We are perhaps also familiar with the small 1 or 2-cup drip cones that rest atop coffee mugs?

And their form is that of a modified, slightly flattened, cone with a small aperture in the bottom, arising out of a kind of plate that is broader than the opening of the pot or mug, right?

and into the cone portion, you put a paper filter in the appropriate size, or perhaps a so-called "permanent" filter made of very very fine metal screening?

OK! Now imagine the mug-sized filter in a modified shape. Out of the base plate rises a narrow cylinder, oh maybe an inch in diameter and an inch and a half tall, open at the bottom. The top of the cylinder flares into a cone. Inside, where cylinder and cone meet, there is a fine plastic grating of very narrow parallel slots (it doesn't remove).
And there is a second piece to the whole apparatus -- a removable cylinder just slightly smaller than the one mentioned above; it too has a fine grating at one end.

The coffee grounds go into this smaller cylinder. It is then inserted into the base cylinder and twisted so as to "latch" (a Tab A, Slot B arrangement).

Water goes in the top of the cone. It drips through the grating in the cone, permeates the coffee grounds, and drips out -- quite slowly -- through the grating at the bottom of the cylinder.

Coffee is slower than with a disposable filter, and, depending upon calibre of grind, can be a bit muddy. But nothing is thrown away, except the coffee grounds (and they go in the compost).

OK OK, I'll take a picture. But not right away. And now, back to the sermon.

Friday, August 12, 2011

the Friday Five

Over at the RevGals' place, Terri posted the following, and asked us to list five gratitudes we recognize in our life.

The Place I Want To Get Back To

is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts bestowed,
can't be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named

(Mary Oliver, "Thirst", Beacon Press, 2006)

so here goes (only five?)

1. my possessions, privileges.luxuries -- as someone else said already, a house, a yard, a vehicle, clothing, books to read, food to eat.

2. the inheritance -- good genes, good health, good teaching, good models and examples.

3. today: sunshine, moderate temperatures, trees leafy in the backyard, geraniums blazing on the front stoop.

4. all the weird little bits of half-worn-out tin and/or plastic cr*p that make housekeeping so easy, that I reach for instinctively ...the cheese grater, the pastry scraper, the strainers, the dumb little 29c plastic coffee 'dripper' that doesn't need a filter insert...

5. more and more, the presence and witness and company of the RevGals.

Nefertiti the Wondercat says, "speaking of gratitude, how's the cat's breakfast coming along? Also the pothos is beginning to look a bit dry and weary. Just sayin'."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

just for now...

On Having Misidentified A Wild Flower
By Richard Wilbur

A thrush, because I'd been wrong,
Burst rightly into song
In a world not vague, not lonely,
Not governed by me only.

back later, I hope.

and here I am, after another good day. I made a pastoral call this morning -- getting mileage out of my new white blazer, and very happy with the effect of the white jacket over black clerical shirt and slacks...

Mrs. B and I had a mutually satisfactory time talking about the poetry we remember and how different it sounds to us in our "old age"...and how grateful we are to have been made to learn so much by heart when we were younger.

This led on to reflections on the pastoral and homiletic utility of English poetry in ministry to much they recognize, how much they remember -- I'm talking about things like Tennyson (In Memoriam and "Crossing the Bar") and Kipling and Browning and Leigh Hunt ("Abou ben Adhem").

It has been a very pastoral-visit kind of week -- this was the third -- and I have been writing thank-you notes, and I have a phone-call to make tomorrow -- then wallop the lections into submission for Sunday's sermon, and do the shopping and pre-prep for our students' supper on Sunday evening.

The sermon "series" is going well. I am working in part from Chrysostom's principles e.g. that Jesus ALWAYS knows EXACTLY what he is doing -- and that he is manoeuvring his auditory (sometimes a doubled one, disciples and crowd, or disciples and Syro-Phoenician woman) into seeing for themselves what they would resist if it were simply offered to them didactically. If there is a theme, it would be "Jesus is the Lord of Improv." (I have theatre-folks of great age and eminence in the congregation, and they leap about gleefully, within their limits, whenever I talk about the theatricality of the gospel stories. It is FUN!)

At the end of the day I had a good supper at home: a nice modest-sized piece of steak, a baked potato with a sliver of blue cheese, and a great wad of fresh spinach cooked helpless and anointed with balsamic vinegar. Introduced by a large bowl of salad -- as Peg Bracken said, it fills the stomach and tires the jaws, and that's all good.

Oh yes! a beautiful lunch with The Lady Father today, by way of celebrating BIRTHDAY!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


There’s a beautiful red streak in the western sky, fading fast – but bodes well, perhaps, for tomorrow’s weather. We had tremendous heaped up clouds by suppertime, and a few rumbles of thunder, but no rain to speak of. A convection weather phenomenon: Parkman talks about it in The Oregon Trail, and it was a feature of the first summer I spent in Prairie Metropolis. Cool brilliant morning, increasing dry heat all day, huge heaped cumulonimbus clouds in the west but dusk, a corn-cracking thunderstorm after dark, and “all is forgiven” sunshine again in the morning. What we get now seems much more erratic and extreme, but memory is deceptive, I know.

Today was sufficiently busy—a 15 mile drive to meet a parishioner for coffee while the home-care worker helped her husband get his shower – and we discussed the challenges and general awfulness of dementia…there isn’t much one can actually DO, but to say, we’re here, we love you, keep us posted, don’t lose heart.
Then back to St. Curious, a fast check-in with our secretary before she wrapped up her morning’s work – then took the summer intern out for lunch and we planned the supper for the student group next Sunday evening. It’s TACO TIME, folks. I wouldn’t for a moment pretend this is authentic Mexican cuisine – ahhhhh, fond recollections of Senor Frosty – but my recipes are all highly doable. They’re from a little coil-bound collection a friend sent after she moved to Mesa, AZ. I believe it was published by Arizona Highways…illustrations are charming little paintings of Ibero-Americans, doing domestic things.
So the student group will get tacos, chicken enchiladas, “Spanish” rice, multiple-bean salad (why stop at three?), a jelled lime-yogurt-cottage cheese salad, and ice cream and “Mexican wedding cookies” (a particularly airy kind of shortbread) for their dinner. We decided that starting with gazpacho would be over the top.
Before summer is over, I’d like to give them a “corn feed”… maybe we could include corn at the concluding BBQ. I’ll have to think about it some more. We grow very nice corn in Prairie Province – especially the peaches’n’cream bi-coloured kind.
And I wrapped up the engaged part of the day with a conversation with one of the Saints of the Lord whose ministry has been refugees, immigrants, the unjustly imprisoned (she’s a pillar of Amnesty International). Trying to find sponsorship for an Afghani family now in hiding in a neighbouring jurisdiction…
Came home and had a large salad; #1 Son dropped by to do some chores, and I drove him back to the house he is “sitting” this week – then made my own supper and am eating it in a leisurely way.
Another pastoral visit tomorrow, and then some serious nouns + verbs work on Sunday’s sermon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

birthdays, and so forth

Back at the blog...after a long hiatus.

I'm not sure why -- although I suspect I may have run out of "interesting" some time ago.

Today was a good day. Awake early -- between 3 and 4 a.m. -- and whirled around like Rambler-on-the-rotisserie for some time before I could get back to sleep.

Things to read were at hand -- a couple of New Yorkers and a TLS and a recent copy or Canadian Living -- also within reach I had the mug of tea I had taken to bed with me.

So eventually I managed what amounted to a night's sleep. And the morning was beautiful. Not a cloud, brilliant sunshine -- not too hot -- a lovely clean-rinsed feeling in the air. "Genu-wine, prairie-fine."

Up -- treated myself to a mug of coffee, and The Meds, and a cherry Danish (setting the tone of Untrammeled Self-Indulgence for the remainder of the day). Fed the cat, who was appreciative. Folded some laundry, and put it away.

Made myself tidy with a decent-ish dress and the New White Blazer, which seems more and more like an intelligent and timely purchase.

Went off and made a happy pastoral visit, returning a very handsome enamelled-cast-iron dutch oven to the kind lady who made chicken stew and rice for the gang who assemble on Sunday nights at St. Curious. She and her husband don't live all that far away. We had coffee and muffins and a couple of hours of good conversation all over the map -- family and work and ailments -- doggone, that tinnitus is a nasty plague...

Lunch had been on the schedule with a good friend from the last 35 years -- but good friend is down with a cold and a barking cough -- so I revamped the plan, and in sequence came home, checked mail and messages, off to the pharmacy and the clinic for the third and last of the Twin-Rix inoculations (keeping BE 5.0 in view!!!), scooted away downtown with a treat in view but the restaurant I had targeted closes in the afternoons ("is this any way to run a railroad?"), so instead of restaurant A + walk around at the fancy conservatory, I had restaurant B + brisk walk from car to meal and back again.

Off to St. Curious to check mail and messages; home; a nice home-made hamburger and a little potato-onion fry and about a bale of spinach salad.

And before dinner...a kind of a martini slushie.

All day long, delightful messages on email, facebook, and answering machine.

And that was birthday #67.

Good night, all. And thank you. Your friendship means more than I can say.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Love after Love -- Derek Walcott

Not preaching this week, folks, and I have nothing to bring to the breakfast table at the moment except a poem which has been thrust at me this week from a number of sources. I hope you find it as up-building as I do!

Love After Love

Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

sermon draft for Trinity Sunday.

This morning we are invited to move, imaginatively, from Creation to Commission.
Given the content of our readings this morning – and the official designation of ‘Trinity Sunday,’ we might be pardoned for inferring that the Great Commission, with which the Gospel reading culminates, is a commission to go and carry out indoctrination—heaven knows, it has been understood and implemented in that way, so we have to HOPE it is pardonable! In the light of the reading from Genesis, then we might think that this morning we’re hearing, “Here is a highly unlikely and indefensible tale about the beginning of all things, now your job is to get out there and make people [say they] believe it—or it will be the worse for them – and for you.” “Oh and while you’re at it, make them believe in the doctrine of the Trinity – did you see it zip past, there in the Epistle?”
So it’s tempting to linger on the doctrine of the Trinity, especially if we have a taste for confusing, contradictory, beautiful insoluble riddles—in traditional language: The Father is God (and all the God there is), the Son is God (and all the God there is), the Holy Spirit is God (a.a.t.G.t.i.), BUT – the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father…Lovely numerical formulas that will NOT be reduced to arithmetic…and a hearer may say: “But that makes NO SENSE” and the theologian sighs happily and says, “I know, but isn’t it WONDERFUL?”
And along about then, if we’re lucky, we hear a voice from the back pew or thereabouts; it goes something like this—“Reverend, what does this have to do with weighing trucks? Because weighing trucks is what I do, all day, every day…” – weighing trucks, or slinging burgers, or changing diapers, or processing applications, or marking assignments, -- you name it – and I’d like to know what this doctrine has to do with me.
The obvious answer is, “apparently nothing” – but the real answer is “everything.” It helps if we can grasp that the teaching about the Trinity, which sounds like a word game, is rooted in a charismatic experience of God, an encounter with God. Did you see the letter Canterbury wrote to the little girl in Scotland, who asked him who invented God? He explained that people didn’t ‘make up’ God – they met God, found God, experienced the presence of God…and then when they wanted to share that, to talk about what they had discovered, they had to think about it and put it into words, and—as RW said – they made up some ideas ABOUT God (some of them sensible, some not so sensible)…and these statements about ideas, ideas of an experience, were refined and defined and defended over a very long time in no-holds-barred debate.
The fallout from this process was that the things Christians agreed could be TAUGHT about God tended to become supreme in their own right, instead of being endorsed as just workably trustworthy sorts of things that could be said. They were, and are, subjected to tests though. One test of a doctrine goes like this: what kind of person, and what kind of community, will this idea produce if it is made an official teaching? That is one very useful test of the wholesomeness of church teaching /Gospel of Judas/. One of the ways of sorting the sensible ideas from the not so sensible ideas.
A second kind of ‘control’ over the ideas that we compose – the recollection of the inadequacy of ALL our words to capture and convey the essence of God completely (it has a name – it’s called APOPHASIS). You know how in our blessing we always specify that the peace of God passes our understanding? Well, EVERYTHING about God passes our understanding. Not just ours, but the understanding of the greatest saints, and the angels, and the archangels. What we CAN think will not do justice to what we have experienced, or to what we have inherited from the experience of others; and what we CAN say will not do justice to what we are able to think.
Now the result of this experience of inadequacy should be (too seldom is) a decent modesty and forbearance and grateful joy that God has generously allowed his truth and his glory to be approached, to be embraced, and to be communicated to any degree at all in human language (Levinas)…much less in a way that is trustworthy, that allows us to share it with each other…
And what have we to share, this morning? That at the very heart of God what we find is a relationship, a relatedness – a dynamic, creating, faithful connectedness that we have to call LOVE.
I heard two lovely provocative questions – conversation starters, I suppose – this week: the first one was “what would you do for love?” and when we roll that question around, we are invited to see that everything done by the triune God is done “for love” – creation, redemption, resurrection…everything, done for love – love holds the Trinity together – it’s sort of a centripetal force – but it’s centrifugal as well – it moves the persons of the Trinity outward toward the created world including us, and then, in a rhythm like rhythm of breathing, like the rhythm of the heart, draws us in also. (Are we beginning to get a clue about what our mission is?)
And the second question was this: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” The second question is like unto the first one if we remember that perfect love takes fear right off the board…and that this relatedness at the heart of what God is makes no room for fear at all, …but invites everything that is to come and share in the unending dance of loving and being loved.
Are we beginning to see what our commission to make disciples might look like? I think so… and we’re also invited to see that our commission is not about indoctrination, but about invitation; not about some kind of dedicated commando raid on the cosmos, but about the way we live our everyday working lives, the way we do every single thing we do… Even weighing trucks. With love. And without fear.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday, Monday, Monday...

Sun is apparent this morning, and has been since about 4:30.
I am continuing work on my personal recipe collection -- a bigger binder, proper (well, home-made proper) page lifter/category markers (I KNEW that those sheets of cardboard in panty-hose packages would be useful for SOMETHING), a heap of "off-size" things that have to be filed otherwise; and a smaller heap of pages that have to be restored and reinforced before they can go back into the binder.

Now I need you to imagine the three-hole punch... and its inevitable "confetti" ... and the Nefer-titi Cat ... as adjuncts to this whole process.

In the meantime I broke off and had some breakfast. Time for PARFAIT ("cuz nobody..." etc.). There is fresh yogurt (really really nice this time too. Trying to remember that genetics is important here, and to note what brand of commercial yogurt I used to start the process.); there are slightly senior fresh strawberries; there is some homemade granola in the bottom of the jar (augmented with 1/4 cup of biscotti crumbs, and about the same amount of home-made poppycock from a Christmas package). Oh ok, and about 2 Tbsp. of dark-amber maple syrup.

This blog is sounding awfully foodie lately. But I'm coming to suspect that most of my really important life-changing moments hit while I'm in the kitchen. And I'm going on a maxim from one of my brothers: "The more ya cook, the better ya look."

Later -- listening to Dog, the Bounty Hunter in the background, and worrying... somehow I omitted to name my children properly or choose the proper profession; so that they have never enjoyed the experience of hearing me holler, "GET'ER, Youngblood! GET'ER! Whoo-ee!!" I only hope they can forgive me.

Oh, and I found another whole stash of recipes, some of which I thought were GONE. So it's all good.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

peaceful Sunday

The Rambler is currently in charge of things -- in the Pickwickian or ecclesiastical sense -- at St. Curious, in the absence of FabRector on vacation (and attending a conference).
Interesting challenge this morning, though, in addition to the usual liturgical hurdles, homiletic tasks, pastoral demands.
Message from FabRector night before last, by way of Social Utility, that she has "received an offer of marriage." And said yes.
Now this comes as a surprise to exactly no-one. Including the Wise Wednesday Women of St. Curious. Who have been 'pumping' the Rambler mercilessly for details about FabRector's "beau." Mainly, about whether the Rambler APPROVES of this arrangement. Reassured on that count, they promised, "All right then, we'll get to work to WARM UP to him."
FabRector's "beau" managed to keep the good news to himself for a very brief period of time before making it public on Social Utility.
So now -- does the Rambler make an announcement this morning? or play dumb? and what if somebody says, "Hey! I hear..." What will be the tactful response?
Working on the principle that people need to be given the opportunity to Tell Their Own News, I opted for silence. So far, so good. We have Social Utilitarians among the parishioners, but not many.
If we can maintain this "lull" through the Wednesday morning get-together, we will be home free.
And then the wedding planning, shrieking with excitement etc., can begin in earnest.

Never dull, never.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday preachateria

I think today i'll make a post out of what is going on in my day hour by hour, and publish it when I finally give up!

9 a.m. thinking about sermon. doing my kitchen counter scrub-down routine. starting a new sourdough, using some senescent yeast (I hope). (THAT'LL PREACH) my neighbour is jack-hammering--he's replacing his garage, and has gotten down to removing the concrete pad, poor soul. furnace has come on, and we are glad. it's a grey and clammy sort of day. thinking thoughts about "NOW will you restore the kingdom to Israel???" and some contemporary versions of anti-imperium and/or Liberation Theology. I'm hearing an echo; is it just me?

10 a.m. playing on computer. conducting FB conversations with two out of town friends simultaneously. all very exciting. thinking about hymns for Pentecost on the 12th. hockey history on TV behind me, here in the living room. watched by #1 Son and hockey-fan cat. the Toronto Maple Leafs in their glory days, staffed by thugs from the mining communities -- some very familiar images from the Rambler's childhood.

11 a.m., television has moved on to British soccer, and thence to darts. neighbour continues to run the jackhammer. I have washed and applied polish to a large double handful of miscellaneous silver teaspoons and coffee spoons. have cooked and eaten 9 big mushrooms, fried, on toast (2 pieces). glass of o.j. also. elderly yeast has stepped up, sourdough is bubbling hopefully. still cuddling my original cup of coffee from this morning, now cold of course...if the Glycemic-Index diet-book says I can't have ANY coffee, and I'd ordinarily have three or four cups at least during the day...maybe just one and that one BLACK will represent good faith on my part? thinking about sermon some more, thinking about the "last sentence" -- thanks, friend -- I think it has to be the last sentence of the gospel, a good platform for an ecumenical pitch, a strong one. The oikumene as over against the imperium. Aha.

12 noon and we're on, at last, to tennis. enough, I think, of the professional sports. will now find something more stimulating, or turn the TV off altogether. neighbour is taking a break from the jackhammer. I need to assemble a baking dish of manicotti, and cook the filling for a prospective tourtiere. televisually, the choice seems to be John Wayne or Gregory Peck... either way, the Myth of Retributive Violence seems to be in good repair.

1 p.m. ok, have set a big bowl of yogurt in the oven-- time to find some soup for lunch...tremendous engine noises from my neighbour's yard, which might mean "Vehicle Stuck" but may only mean they are lifting the broken pieces of concrete into a truck.
something in the sermon about changing the direction of our gaze to be a witness to something -- what does that mean? doesn't it mean looking in a different direction? looking in a hard, confusing direction, carrying the lens of what we have witnessed...a persisting image on the inner retina. There. I think that will do it.

Almost 3 p.m. I have made a little spinach frittata for my (late) lunch. I am cooking up the filling for my tourtiere, and I have the ingredients out of the fridge to make the manicotti. In the meantime I hard-cooked a couple of eggs, which let me dispose of the carton (it will go to the food bank). Watching Cahill: U.S. Marshal -- well, no, treating it more like a radio drama... and will shortly get back to reading Katherine Paterson, The Spying Heart...and that will do for today...clean clothes ready for tomorrow, house in reasonable order, working on this week's grocery list.

Friday, June 3, 2011

the Friday Five

It's that time of year when the only new things on television are music/dance competitions (the 21st century answer to variety shows?). Yes, it's the season of reruns.

This week the clock turned back to last fall and the Glee kids went back to school and still got "slushied," and Michael hired his nephew on The Office, which was not something even he would be likely to repeat.

In honor of this annual Time Warp, please share five things worth a repeat. These could be books, movies, CDs, recipes, vacations, or even TV shows.

1. Television shows: How can any list not start with The West Wing? Great characters, great situations, and enough throw-away lines per episode to stock a whole season of any standard TV dramatic series. (Remember: "My God, King Lear is a good play..." -- "A verb would be good, sometime soon"...)

2. Books: Well -- I wish I could find a copy of Eric Mascall's Via Media; -- it can be downloaded from Google but only in the US of A, apparently.

3. Movies: A whole long list -- Song of the South--I missed one Very Anticipated showing of it the summer I turned six, because I woke up that morning with chicken pox...nearly broke my heart -- I should explain we were living in far northern British Columbia and a movie was a darn seldom thing, involving a projector and giant cans of film arriving by float plane from Juneau, very big deal indeed. But another great movie in that list was Carnegie Hall...and Kes, which is now available on DVD, worth seeing again.

4. Recipes: I wish I could recapture what one of my grandmothers used to do to a fried potato. And I wish I could recapture what the other grandmother could do with a chocolate cake, peppermint boiled frosting, and bitter chocolate topping...

5. Vacations: I would love to be going on a family driving vacation this summer... or taking a three-week trip to Italy with my children ... or planning to get on a big boat with a whole bunch of RevGals. Oh wait -- I am.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

a quiet Thursday.

At the end of the day, not displeased with what is now DONE...but boy, a lifetime habit of procrastination is hard to break.

But.... some bills got paid, some things got cleaned, some food and drink were prepared, some finances were put in order, some paper was abolished...some text was read, including some blogs...some phone calls, some internet chats, some television.

What's left? well -- run the dishwasher, iron a small heap of "flats", set a batch of yogurt, clear off my bed (I sleep in some of it, I pile books and periodicals on the rest); some notes to write -- and blog to post.

Happiness of the day was getting my registration form in for the BE 5.0. In the morning...will arrange to get the initial payment made via Western Union.

We here in the True North (Strong and Free) are threatened with rotating postal strikes, beginning at midnight tonight... I believe in organized labour, I believe in collective bargaining, I believe in the right to strike--I just wish they wouldn't exercise it when I have things to mail and time is of the essence. On the other hand, ordinary folks now make so little use of the postal service, I wonder what effectiveness a strike will have...or whether this may not be a case of "cutting their nose off to spite their face."

so...breakfast with a friend in the morning, and then Western Union, lunch with another friend, a session with my Siggy -- and some sermon work.

This may be the Sunday to make the pitch for ecumenism, taking advantage of John 17. Not sure yet.

I made a big batch of cold-brew coffee this morning...anticipating, perhaps, some warm weather.

Two or three issues of TLS await attention. In fact we scored TLS, the New Yorker, and Canadian Living all in one day's mail this week. Two parts ideas, one part recipes. Onward and upward toward the Perfectly Balanced Existence.

Reading Katherine Paterson's The Spying Heart, on writing for children.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday again...

A pleasant sort of a day, mainly at home -- after going in to celebrate the eucharist, and then lead the book study with the Wednesday ladies, and then bolting across town to an ecumenical executive meeting...emails let us down and we had not-quite-a-quorum, but enough to make a practicable plan for our next steps. And good coffee of a Netherlandish intensity, and sugar cookies alongside.

Home and some reading -- made some purchases for St. Curious, bought insect repellent, made some financial plans (short-term), completed the laundry, with just a small basketful of flat ironing to do in the morning.

And then my ambition kind of petered out. But somewhere in there I finished Charlotte Bronte, Shirley, which I've found a delight for its depiction of the collisions between the heroines and the particular personalities of the clergy. I infer that Charlotte Bronte was not impressed when her father's curates "dissed" Yorkshire customs and manners.

I have a bundle of periodical reading here also -- and a little chapbook from Ursula Le Guin, The Wild Girls, with an essay on reading and an essay on modesty, both of which are eminently quotable.

Fred McMurray and Joan Crawford on the TCM channel in Above Suspicion, which was a great book; and they're always fun to watch, but I think I am just too sleepy tonight.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

a poem I couldn't resist sharing, an echo from my previous life

Did I Miss Anything?

Tom Wayman
From: The Astonishing Weight of the Dead. Vancouver: Polestar, 1994.

Question frequently asked by
students after missing a class

Nothing. When we realized you weren't here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 per cent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I'm about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 per cent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring this good news to all people
on earth

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human existence
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

but it was one place

And you weren't here


Tom Wayman's works copyright © to the author.

Friday, May 27, 2011

the Friday Five

Thanks to Mary Beth who started us off on this Friday Five:

So, thinking about allergies:

1. Do you experience any seasonal allergies? Are you allergic to anything else?

I'm vaguely snuffly in certain environments and am not sure specifically why... probably, reacting to DUST (certain amount of DUST in the atmosphere here much of the time). But my almost total freedom from allergies is a blessing -- I suspect it forms part of a continuum including my Systemic Unawareness and Oblivion of a lot of what is going on around me.

2. What kinds of symptoms do you experience during your allergic reactions?

I do have one "contact" allergy with annoying symptoms. Walnuts -- unless they're perfectly fresh, and without an actual tree on the property, when are they EVER perfectly fresh??? -- make my tongue sore. Pecans, thankfully, do not.

3. How do you manage your allergies? (ie: medication, avoidance, alternative therapies, etc)

It's largely a matter of avoidance. I was married for quite a long time to a man with multiple allergies, particularly hay fever; he lived on a little blue pill called "Pyribenzamine" which kept him from sneezing his head off but also left him totally non-reactive to insect bites, stings -- and intolerant of people (guess who) who DID react to mosquitoes, black flies, etc. I took one of his pyribenzamines, once. It made my ears ring for 24 hours.

4. What is the strangest allergy you've ever heard of?

Members of my family have produced allergic reactions (hives and swelling of face etc.) to the presence of a viral infection, such as a cold ... it's called Quincke's Oedema (aka Giant Hives)...(you could look it up). And some folks have urticaria -- hives -- in reaction to extreme cold. One of my children is allergic to mandarin oranges -- satsumas -- and related citrus -- so citrus blends like Five-Alive are right OUT.

5. How do you feel about school and social policies that ban peanuts and other allergens?

I'm not sure. A college classmate died at a banquet where the chicken had been fried in peanut oil (this is almost 50 years ago)... an episode that pretty much framed my thinking ever after. But it distresses me when children are implicitly encouraged to identify themselves with their allergic reactions...and beyond that, my thinking is pretty much unformed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

a highly-caffeinated Wednesday...

Wednesday is a regular 1/2 day at St. Curious, but yesterday ran above and beyond. Normally we have a midweek Eucharist followed by a Bible study, or book study, or wide-ranging conversation, with the Wise Wednesday Women. Fab Boss and I usually take it in turn to celebrate at the Eucharist -- yesterday we changed horses in midstream because she wasn't feeling well.

Spent a happy hour or so with the ladies catching up on how we all were, and then looking at some variations on praying with rosaries, prayer beads, prayer ropes, and so forth. Some discussion of the Marian mysteries. It was all smooth until we got to the last two Glorious Mysteries: the Assumption, and the Coronation. Stern beady-eyed confrontation with WWW: "Are those two IN THE BIBLE?????" And much laughter thereat.

Then a very brisk five block walk to Campus Watering-Hole to meet #1 Son and celebrate his birthday over a tasty lunch. Not just any birthday, but a Big Round Number birthday. Oog. Some serious conversation about future plans -- concrete ones. We'll continue celebrating tomorrow night with sibs'n'spouses, dinner in the Family Abode, here, aka Tether's End.

What to cook, what to cook. I had a brief fantasy of replicating the menu that Her Majesty gave the Obamas, but I ran aground, mentally, on the Sauce Nantua. Mine would have to be a cheap-o knock-off made with mere shrimp butter, I think. Better just to give it up altogether then? But still thinking about the possibility of multiple courses -- maybe a cold soup, a salad, and a roast or chops or something. Still brooding on that one.

However! back to Wednesday. Brisk walk back to St. Curious to collect Harriet-the-Echo, and hurl myself across the city (including across the RIVER) to Monastic Establishment for a session of local Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue. The hospitable Monastic Persons entertained the group to dinner following our dialogue session. Sometime, somehow, I'd like to get a detailed look at them-there vows of poverty, I must say. It was a faint-dead-away menu. The Queen should be so lucky. We had roast lamb in profusion with more doo-dahs on it than I can remember or even identify but prominent among them were PINE NUTS...and all sorts of vegetable accoutrements variously roasted and caramelized and uniformly delicious. And for dessert -- does the term "frangipane" ring any bells out there? If not, just think "marzipan pie".

Some days it is good to be an ecumenist.

And then hurled myself back across the city for a meeting of Interested Church Persons to talk about the state-of-the-church, and the Covenant (p'too), and how the Rambler "got the call," and one thing and another.

Somehow I had had enough coffee by then that the needle was up in the MOTOR-MOUTH red zone.

Home at eleven p.m., and slept, after a fashion, and woke up still caffeinated to the gills...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

a peaceable Tuesday

Yesterday was a statutory holiday in the True North Strong and Free -- no, not a case of us jumping in and getting Memorial Day out of the way early -- Victoria Day, commemorating the Queen Empress, whose birthday was May 24th. So now it's the Monday-before, and makes a long weekend holiday in May, everybody happy. The signal in some places to "open the cottage" for the summer, or to "put the garden in" -- although hereabouts it's safer to wait until the first of June (for fear of late frosts).

Yesterday here, in this year of grace, however, was teeming rain nearly all day, not suitable for either of the classic activities, so the Rambler COOKED. All day long. I have been having a kind of crisis about food this week. Or an epiphany. Or one of those hey-wait-a-minute things.

Last week I spent a day -- Friday -- grocery shopping. I started with a warm-up run to the dry-cleaner to pick up a couple of garments, and then went, in turn, to a semi-wholesale outlet for one of the major supermarket chains; then to the bakery outlet; finally to a produce market of great repute.

The produce market is a joy -- good quality fruit and vegetables (if quality is not good, or price is exorbitant, they don't stock whatever-it-is) at spectacularly low prices, clean premises, knowledgeable staff. The bakery outlet is no problem -- I pick up a 'flat' of 10 loaves of bread, some sesame-white, some 'brown' of one sort or another, sometimes some English muffins or bagels; staff are friendly and conversable, prices make the trip worth it, especially on Wednesdays when Old Coots get a 10% discount.

But the Wholesale Club got to me, this time around, aisles and aisles of super-sizes of "fodder" -- I can't call it food. Candy, candy, candy, candy; chips, chips, chips, and soda-pop... but I think it was the four-liter jars of salad dressing that set off my gag reflex. Granted, this outlet supplies a lot of small restaurants. These aren't for "home consumption." But it oppressed me -- having just read the article on Pepsico in the New Yorker -- I couldn't help but think, "THEY'RE TRYING TO KILL US"... they do have fine big 3 lb. bags of baby spinach...but the proportion of real food to GLOP is way too low.

And when my shopping was done, I looked for a restaurant lunch for a treat...wound up in one of those buffet-carvery places, and alas everything on the hot table and most of what was on the cold table looked as if it had come straight from the wholesalers. GLOP predominated. Grease and sugar and salt. I wound up with a plate of undressed salad and a spoonful of cottage cheese! As I ate it, I looked at the clientele. And every single soul who came in, EVERY ONE, was morbidly obese.

Not only are they TRYING TO KILL US...I think they're succeeding... "Why," I ask, "will you spend your money for that which is not bread?" And answer comes there none.

So all this cooking, I think, was some kind of Protective Ritual. Momma don't 'low no GLOP around here. Not this week.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Edition

With kathrynzj's help, here is a Royal Wedding Friday Five:

1) Will you be watching? If so, is this your first royal wedding?

Watching, oh my yes. I woke up at 1 a.m., but realized that the next three hours (Mountain Daylight Saving Time) would consist entirely of variations on "OH ITZHAK this is SEWWWW exciting" ~~ a family-cherished line from the Three Tenors' concert in L.A., years ago ~~ so went back to bed with the alarm set for 4, and was up in front of the TV with Nefertiti the Loyal Cat in time to see Catherine enter the Abbey. Watched, on the CBC, until they closed the doors to the balcony.

NOT my first royal wedding but maybe the first one I watched right through? We had a cassette tape of Charles and Diana's wedding, including the encouraging whispers of the Archbishop to the couple, which I found very touching.

I do remember watching the Coronation on television in '53, and for me, also it was almost the first television I saw. Also in the Abbey.

I paid attention to Charles and Diana's wedding out of identification with the couple -- this time around, it's all about the officiating, the preaching, and the music.

2) The bride has chosen as her wedding cake a fruitcake. Where do you stand on this pastry?

I am really sorry that so few of my contemporaries apparently have ever encountered GOOD fruitcake. (The criteria are: don't stint on the candied fruit and don't stint on the BOOZE.) From where I sit -- nothing else IS a wedding cake. Ideally, it should have been baked and set to "ripen" before Advent 2010 and even so it would be a bit "new" at this point. It's a confection more than a "cake" -- and it's concocted so as to last virtually forever without spoiling or going stale. I like other kinds of cake just fine thank you, qua cake, but not for Christmas and not for weddings. Too....flimsy.

3) The dress code for royal weddings has not seen the same sad decline as that for most other weddings. If you could design your own royal wedding hat, what color would it be and what special decoration would it feature?

I guess at this season of my life the hat would have to be red! With maybe a nice silk rose. But I have very poor luck trying to find a ready-made hat to fit the size 8 head I came equipped with.

4) Any chance the Archbishop of Canterbury is using a Sustainable Sermon (tip of the mitre to the Vicar of Hogsmeade)? What would you tell the couple were you offering the homily?

I was sorry not to hear +++Rowan preach, but it was interesting to hear +Richard. I thought he could have preached better with the material that he had -- which I liked, both the quotation from Catherine of Siena and the quotation from Chaucer, which was gently mischievous.

Probably, though, until all memory of The Princess Bride has evaporated, glittering prelates should not begin their sentences with the word "Marriage," even without a lisp.

I think I would have been more likely than his lordship was, to have drawn helpful analogies from baseball.

And I am fond of the theology and the language of the Book of Common Prayer...which repays mulling over in memory. I like the idea of children "Christianly and virtuously brought up." I like the idea of "amiable" wives. I like "troth" -- "either to other".

5) Believe it or not, kathrynzj is getting up early mostly to see the wedding dress. By the time this post is up, the world will have seen it. Did you like it?

Very much -- it FIT, hurray; and otherwise, I'm with Martha on this one, SLEEVES, oh thanks be to God. If it starts a trend AWAY from the will be a great favour to one and all especially clergy who often have to stand one step above the couple, confronting more decolletage than is healthy (20 pounds of custard in a 10 pound basket...ewwww) And I liked the understated veil, understated bouquet, relatively abbreviated train, discreet tiara.

Friday, April 8, 2011

the Friday Five

Dorcas has given us this introduction to the Friday Five, over at RevGalBlogPals:

"Though I am from a non-liturgical denomination, I find myself longing for some of the expressions others of you may experience at this time of year. The same thing happens to me during Advent. At both times I am drawn to the symbolism of darkness becoming light, of longing turning to joy. One of my favorite things at this time of year used to be draping the wooden cross at the rear of our sanctuary with a dark purple velvet cloth and adding a crown of (ouch!) thorns--and what a lovely thing it was to see that same cross on Easter Sunday morning, draped in glowing white with a golden, jewel-studded crown added. Not being a pastor this year, I am missing some of the symbolism I always tried to employ. I may find a nearby Episcopalian or Lutheran congregation to visit at some point, actually.

Meanwhile, today I am asking for your thoughts on that movement from darkness to light. Tell us five ways in which you are anticipating, or your life is moving towards light, joy, hope--new things: new ideas, new hobbies, new people...and so on."

And here are mine

1. LIGHT -- just plan flat out candle-power. More light in the evenings, now at last more light in the mornings. A dawn worth waking up to see.

2. BIRDS -- There is a chickadee in my yard who has found two notes that please him, and bellows them early and late. I haven't seen robins yet, but their whooping and bragging is unmistakable. And the geese, bless them. They remind me of a long ago April a long way from where I am now (in every dimension)...stepping out into a lovely soft New England evening, I heard a tiny repeated sound...and there was a "VEE" labouring northward, so high in the sky they were at the limit of what I could see. [Pause while you picture the Rambler running up and down the sidewalk in short homesick bursts, crying ank-ank, ank-ank, ank-ank, don't leave me...well, no, not quite, but the impulse was there!]

3. GROWING GREEN The church garden at St. Curious is under the windows against the south wall. A lovely sun-trap. And there are all manner of bulb-things showing green -- and indomitable leaves from the hollyhocks, already as big as the palm of my hand. Poignant when we remember we can still have a killing frost any time in the next six weeks... And in the meantime I am confident that my tulips are reaching for the sky, and light, and air, against the south wall of Tether's End, their "igloo greenhouse" where the neighbour has piled the snow from his driveway all winter. It is melting away from underneath.

4. and so here and elsewhere, WATER -- running water, everywhere, on the sidewalks, in the streets, in the lanes, in the ravines, in the creeks. The best sound ever.

5. SPRING CLEANING accelerating the thinning and purging of bookshelves, closets, file cabinets, sordid little caches of this, that, and the other, all over the house. In honour of spring, and in anticipation of ...

5A. DOG and a very new and different engagement with time, place, energy, activity. S/He's not even a pup yet, just a notion...but this year, for sure, for sure.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a desultory sort of a day

Trying to put some kind of order into wht has gone on in my life since BE 4.0...let's see...

We came home on the Friday in good order, and then in a flurry of packing/unpacking I managed to fit in a piece of theatre -- Son Unit #2 in a local production, semi-concert style, of Jekyll & Hyde. There was really only one night I could go at all -- and that was Saturday. Other family were there so we had a chance to say "Hey" to each other before tottering off into the snow.

Up early on Sunday, that was last-before-Lent, or Quinquagesima, or T-Fig 1.0 -- was excused from the early celebration to convey Son Unit #2 and fiancee to the airport for an expedition to Germany and Austria. Caught up with the congregation in order to assist, a little, with a baptism...

Then back to the laundry big time and homework for the next jaunt which began Ash Wednesday morning early. Flew across the country into blizzard conditions and the contrasts with the week before were ACUTE. I had just got used to "Hola" and there I was back in the land of "Bonjour"...meditating on the beach at Tulum in view of "les gars" ice-fishing on the Lac des Deux Montagnes...just getting used to wallowing in luxury with 2100 other people and there I was with 11 others rattling around in a huge no-longer-in-use, eerily untouched and well-kept, Roman Catholic convent. A complete dearth of towel animals. Or mealtime flourishes with napkins.

Although I must admit when I went to lunch the first day without slippers, Sister Lucie pursued me with small nunny shrieks and a shopping bag full of hand-knit "pantoufles"...she didn't QUITE knock me to the floor, but definitely stood over me uncompromisingly until she had fitted me with a suitable pair.

I was in Montreal, for so it was, for a session of the national Anglican/Roman Catholic dialogue. Two other women -- both RC laywomen theologians, and very good ones too. The rest, clergy. Three bishops altogether; the other clergy (male) are for the most part teachers of theology, working actively in ecumenism. I think I'm the only "pure parish" clergyperson. I love these folks -- this is the second time I've met with them -- and our discussions are meat and drink to me. But oh good grief where are the points of contact between THIS koinonia and the one we enjoyed on the boat and continue to enjoy on-line?

One lovely lovely moment when, in discussions of communication and publicity for the great 40th anniversary celebration next November in Montreal, the Rambler brightly suggested that we should set up a Facebook page. "And they all moved away from me, there, on the Group W bench..." and looked deeply, deeply puzzled.

This anniversary celebration will be a service in Montreal in the "Oratoire de St. Joseph" atop Mount Royal, a kind of epitome-point for French-Canadian Roman Catholicism, with much architectural and liturgical splendor. And cardinals'n'them. I can hardly wait.

Oh and I had a wonderful conversation at the lunch table on our final day at the convent. A very large group of women, belonging to a local choir, were also at the convent for the day. The Rambler was in "her blacks" i.e. clericals, as one about to travel. There was whispered discussion and covert glances.

Finally the boldest of the group approached our table. You will have to imagine this all in the most elegant French (I can follow it, but I am slow to find the words to respond).

"Madame? My associates and I could not fail to notice that you, although a woman, are wearing a Roman collar? If it is not offensive to you, might one enquire why?"
"Certainly, it is because I am a priest in the Anglican church."
"AAAAahhh" (with noddings over her shoulder -- I thought, right, somebody in your group just won 25c on that one) "and are there many women in the priesthood, in your church?"
"Well, in our own diocese, at present, about half and half. And of course we rejoice in the minsitry of our SECOND feminine bishop."
"AAAAahhh. And would it be appropriate for one to felicitate you?"
"For the most part, certainly, thank you. On certain days, expressions of sympathy, perhaps?"
-- merry laughter on both sides. (And much mirth for the Catholic bishop sitting with me.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

an enquiry

Dear all,

I am wondering whether there are any plans or proto-plans just yet for a RGBP meet-up at the Festival of Homies?

No, alas, the Rambler is not going to make it to fact if I mention travel at all, FabRector looks menacingly at me. I have visions of her nailing my shoes to the floor. Or one of them, so I can only go 'round in circles. A liturgical innovation...

But one of our gals in this neck of the woods, not yet a RevGal, is planning to go, and it would be nice if she found some RevGal hospitality there, I think, upon arrival.

Let me know, if you don't mind, what if anything is up with this.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mon pays c'est l'hiver...

[tapity tap] OK, all together now, tous en choeur, mais pas trop fort...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

with love to all the Lutheran pals

This went by on another medium a few minutes ago and I couldn't resist it... a blessed Saturday, y'all!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thinking about the BE 4.0, all the whole time

and this is the best I could find...will never sing it again without seeing all your faces.

Corny as all get out, but doesn't it just get it said?

Monday, March 7, 2011

just a quick catching up this morning

The view from here, more or less, all day. I have four -- I think -- bits of writing to do. Starting with a 100-word bio of the auto kind. A hundred words? I can't clear my throat in a hundred words!!!

Then a re-work of my most recent Friday Five on "good things about Lent" for parish newsletter.

The real scary one is a summary of points made and refuted on "an ecclesiology of COMMUNITY" at a conference I attended three years ago -- this is for presentation at the semi-annual National Chat With Them Other Folks, starting Thursday.

And... oh yes, an order for Morning Prayer for that same Chat. OK, where's my BCP. "O Lord open thou our lips" and away we go.

SIGH...loved Morning Prayer at the BE. Despite the somewhat OVERWROUGHT decor in the initial meeting space.

I'll write the bio, I'll do the reading for #3, taper off with #2, back at #3 until it's done.

WE CAN DO THIS. Fierce'n'Fabulous! Right!