Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Meaningful Connection??

Okay, maybe I'm slow and everyone else has noticed this already: I'm reading the Chronicles of Narnia to my kids. We started The Magician's Nephew last night, (reading it in its original place in the series, not in the starting position where the present small minded, linear thinkers at Scholastic have placed it.) Anyway, we read the first place where main character Digory is introduced and my son exclaims, "Oh! Digory! Just like Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter!"

Duh! I'd completely missed that. Is it just coincidence, do you think? Or is JK Rowling hinting at some deeper meaning?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Adventures in packing

Crunchy granola moving-with-kids advice:
Involve the children fully in the process of sorting through their belongings, deciding what to move and what to donate to an appropriate charity such as Goodwill. The children will be amazed to discover exactly how much they own and how few of their many toys they actually play with on a regular basis. This can be the beginning of an ongoing conversation about your family's attitude toward possessions . . . .

"How about this stuffed dog for the give-away box?" (holding up fuzzy dog that has been squashed in the bottom of the stuffed animal bin for a year at least)
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not Fluffy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"What about Clue, Jr.? You never play Clue Jr"
" We do SO play it! We played it with Alexis last time she babysat us!" (Alexis left for college in the fall of 2004)

. . . As unidentified, moldy, greyish blobs are lobbed toward the trashcan---
"But those are my Playdough creations!!!!!!!"

Reality Based Moving-with-kids advice:
Always sort through the childrens' belongings while they are away at school. Be ruthless. Throw away any toy that has not been played with in recent memory. Toss all art projects that have hung around longer than three months. Chances are the children will not notice, but if they do you can always blame the moving company.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Misheard Lyrics

Once or twice a year one of the columnists in The Oregonian does a column on misheard lyrics: you know, when you misunderstand the lyrics to a popluar song but don't realize it until much later when you see the words in print, hear the song again through a better sound system or--most embarrasing of all--when someone points out to you that the words you are belting out are not the real words to that song at all.

For instance. My brother, as a young boy, believed that the Rupert Holmes song Escape contained the following lyrics:
If you like Pink Enchiladas
And gettin' caught in the rain . . .
He also heard Foreigner's Hot Blooded as
I'm hot blooded! Chicken of the Sea!
I've got a fever of a hundred and three!

Perhaps it was the factory issued stereo system in our parents' car because, until I was in college, I believed that Cat Stevens had a song that went
Be strange! Sound it louder: I wanna be strange!
Be strange! Take this Country! I wanna be strange!

When I confessed this comical misunderstanding of Peace Train to a seminary friend he nodded sagely and explained that this indicated what would be for me a life-long tension: my eccentric, bohemian urges striving against my love for tradition and the comforts of convention. He may have pegged it just right, or it could have been that not quite seminary supported substance we were enjoying at the time. . .

My favorite mishead lyric, though, is from Joy to the World. As a child I believed the chorus went:
and Kevin and nature sing, and Kevin and nature sing, and Kevin, and Kevin and nature sing.
Kevin was the teenaged son of my mother's good friend. To this day when I sing that carol the image that flashes on my inner eye is of Kevin standing in a green field singing his heart out. God bless you Kevin, wherever you are.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The world is not a safe place

We've been advised not to allow our kitty outside in our new town in CA. Apparently housecat is on the local coyotes' list of favorite delicacies. We were discussing this last night at supper--trying to figure out if coyotes are really any more of danger to Kitty than the busy street on which we now live which she has surrvivied for the past six years. This led to a discussion of other possible dangers we might encounter in our new home: scorpions and earthquakes for instance.

At one point my eight year old son threw up his hands and yelled, "I'm just SICK of all these dangers in the world!!!"

I'd have to second that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cross Post from PCUSA Bloggers

The Presby blog ring poses the question: How long have you been Presbyterian and if you weren't Presbyterian, what would you be instead??

Fill in with your own affiliation and answer the question either in the comments here or at your own place.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Do I need to hire image consultants?

I remember being vaguely amused in the past when the punditeratti nattered amongst themselves about whether one or the other of our new presidents was acting sufficiently "presidential". Who cares? I thought. What a dumb thing to blather about.

I'm feeling a bit more sympathetic right now. At least toward those new presidents who had to run this gauntlet. Vague rumors have reached my ears that "people" in the congregation where I will begin serving in six weeks are expressing the hope that I will take charge immediately, be decisive, sort out some issues that have gone unresolved waiting for the new head-of-staff's arrival. In short some "people" appear to want me to waste no time beginning to act presidential.

Sheesh. As if a girl didn't have enough to worry about already. Here's the thing. Or rather, here's the dilemma. I feel a bit credibility challenged already. I'm the first female head-of-staff for this church, the youngest in quite a long while, and I'm coming to this having most recently served a really small church. The temptation is to charge in like Xena Warrior Princess and slay all the doubters. But I'm not sure I could really pull that off--and that's probably a good thing. That's really not the kind of pastor I have been or would want to become.

But are "people" willing to wait for the more subtle, collaborative leadership style I prefer to take hold? Or will the congregation's punditeratti shake their heads and pass judgement?

Yikes. Good thing the only image we are really supposed to focus on is the image and likeness of Christ, huh?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Yet another shoe story

Today my husband called me mid morning from work and told me to go look in our closet. "See my pair of loafers?" he asked.

"I see one black loafer and one brown loafer," I replied.

"Exactly. I'm wearing the other black loafer and the other brown loafer right now. I just noticed," he responded.

This time I blame the rain we've been having in Oregon. It's been so dang dark in the mornings that even with the light on you can barely see to get dressed properly.

I'd say this sheds a whole new light on God's command to Moses, "Take off your shoes!" God may have intended this as a command to abandon the confused mind that either pays too much attention to externals or is too distracted to pay attention to something as basic as getting dressed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


We finally went to see the Narnia movie yesterday. What with all our travels, etc. we just hadn't made it to the theater yet. I'd say it was pretty well done, though not knock-your-socks-off fantastic.

It did bring back to me my one BIG quarrel with the CofN, the fate of Susan. If you've read the whole series, you'll recall that in The Last Battle it turns out that Susan has turned her back on Aslan and Narnia. She's into nylons and lipstick and says that Narnia was all a children's fantasy that they must get past now that they are on their way to full maturity.

This infuriated me as a young adolescent girl who was just getting interested in nylons and lipstick myself when I first read TLB. Susan was my hero! The big sister just as I was the big sister. The cracker jack archer. The brave warrior. The wise queen. It seemed to me the height of cruelty to set her up as a heronine and then yank the rug out like that.

It turns out that I'm not the only one who noticed this problem. Apparently someone has written an "alternative" story in which Susan becomes a feminist professor of the shrill. politically correct sort and Aslan has rip roaring good sex with the White Witch.

Well. That probably works just fine for those who don't like the CofN much anyway and are only too willing to see C.S. Lewis as a stodgy old Victorian Fart with nothing of value to say to anyone about anything. But what about those of us for whom the CofN were a valuable part of our formation as children, who still count ourselves Christians, who are willing to take a critical look at C.S. Lewis but aren't ready to toss him onto the trash heap as totally worthless?

I'd like to read a story that takes a look at what happens with Susan after her whole family is killed in that train wreck. How do her experiences in Narnia come into play as she wrestles with devestating loss? I can't believe Aslan would let go of her completely.

After all, Once a king or queen in Narnia--always a king or queen in Narnia.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Necessary Losses

We have experienced the first lost tooth in our household. Interestingly enough, it was my six year old daugther, not my eight year old son whose tooth was lost. He's taking it pretty well. I had feared it might be worse--with him EVERYTHING is a competition and it has been a source of great consternation to him that all his friends have lost teeth while he has not. The dentist assured us that, according to the x-rays, all is well: there is a wide range of "normal" in this and my son just happens to be at the older end of normal. He does have a tooth that is loose, so it won't be much longer for him.

I have a feeling this could be the shape of things to come. The kids are just two years and three weeks apart. Girls mature faster than boys, and girls on my side of the family tend to hit puberty early. I can very easily imagine a scenario in which little sister is taller than big brother for a year or so. I guess we will cross that bridge when/if we get there. My husband's sisters hit puberty at the late end of normal, so maybe she has those genes instead.

BTW, what's the going rate for Tooth Fairy deliveries these days?? When I was a kid, I got a quarter in most cases, a bit more if my grandparents happened to be visiting. However my kids are reporting that some of their peers receive five dollar bills. Now, I know inflation is rampant. I could believe that the TF's going rate could have quadrupled since my young years--but $5???
Are there regional variations? Premiums for first lost teeth and molars?? Please advise.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Rule of 4

Katherine tagged the RevGals for this meme--so if you haven't read hers, consider yourself tagged.

4 Jobs I have had
A long and distinguished career as a babysitter
Donut dipper in the breakfast line at my college dining hall
Library assistant in middle school, high school, college and seminary. If I hadn't gone into ministry, I would probably have been a librarian. I still have to rein in my tendancy toward "pastoral care through prescribed reading". It works with only a small percentage of bookish people.
Temp as an office worker at Ralph Lauren for a month post seminary/pre first call.

4 movies I could watch over and over
The Wizard of Oz
Marry Poppins
Monty Python's Holy Grail
The Turning Point

4 places I have lived
Athens, Greece
Zagreb, Yugoslavia
Cambridgeshire, England
New York City

4 TV shows I like
MASH reruns
Mustard Pancakes
News Hour on PBS
Antiques Roadshow

4 places I have been on vacation
Lots of places in Europe
My own backyard
Visits to family (Gulf Coast) and in-laws (Iowa)
Fremont, Ohio-every summer of my childhood to visit my grandparents

4 Websites I visit daily
Northumbria Community

4 favorite foods
home made cookies of almost any kind
fresh, hot bagels
shrimp curry
pesto at mid summer peak basil season

4 places I'd rather be
Done with this upcoming move!!!!!
My grandma's house (grandma dead these 11 years, not going to happen)
Hanging out with old friends

4 people I tag for this meme
See beginning of post . . .

Thursday, January 12, 2006

And the sky is grey . . .

Well--me, my shoes and my family surrvived our "on display" weekend down in California and have returned to the grey skies of Oregon, at least for another month. I must say the incredibly rainy weather here is conspiring to make the thought of leaving Portland less regretable than it might otherwise be.

Can I say how much I dislike gushy events where everyone hugs you? No, I take that back. I like them for about fifteen minutes and then I've had enough. I have just enough 'E' energy to last that long and then I want to be done. So after dinner with the new session, brunch with the new staff and reception with the new congregation, I was Totally. Trashed.

My kids were amazed. "Are all these parties really for us?" I explained that yes, they were, but that this state of affairs would not be permanent; life in California would not be one big party after another, but would soon settle down to approximately the same routine they have now.

We found a house to rent. It has an actual lemon tree in the backyard. This also amazed the children who have never seen lemons anywhere but in the produce section of the grocery store. I pointed out to them that the apple and hazlenut trees we have in our yard now would seem just as exotic to someone moving to Oregon from California, perhaps. Clearly, they have a lot to think about.

I'm trying not to be too terrified by the whole thing.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Another Shoe Story

Thanks to all of you for your good fashion advice. I'm now the proud owner of a new pair of black pumps.

This whole episode reminded me of another shoe epiphany in an earlier job search. I was fresh out of seminary and interviewing at a church in a gracious southern city. After preaching in a neutral pulpit, the nominating committee and I met the Senior Pastor and Interim Associate of the church for which I was interviewing for lunch at a nearby restaurant. The Interim Associate was enduring paroxysms of mortification and embarrassment. Turns out that during the service, she looked down at her feet and discovered to her horror that she had forgotten to switch from her blue pumps, (which matched her outfit), to her black pumps, (which matched her pulpit robe), before worship started.
"There I was up in front of everybody with a black robe and blue pumps!," she wailed.

I sat very quietly nibbling my salad. Just weeks before I had looked down at my feet during church and realized that I had somehow managed to leave the house that morning wearing one blue pump AND one black pump. I thought this was so funny I pointed it out to everyone during coffee hour.

"If this is the kind of place where you have to go through multiple costume changes on Sunday morning to make sure your shoes match your top layer of clothing, I wouldn't last a week," I thought to myself.

Later that week I got a call from my committee letting me know they had chosen another candidate. I wasn't all that sad.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sermon or Shoes??

So this weekend is the big weekend. We go down to California for me to preach to for my congregation-to-be, for me to meet the people, the staff, the church officers. Then the next day I get examined by my would-be new Presbytery to see if I am orthodox enough for them.

So what am I pondering? What weighs heavily on my mind? Shoes. During the past six years of small church ministry/mother of preschoolers time, my shoe situation has deteriorated drastically. I have some black pumps my mother bought for herself then decided she didn't like, some blue pumps I bought to wear to a friend's wedding in 1993, three pairs of variously colored flats that another friend gave me when she cleaned out her closets, two pairs of sneakers purchased at rummage sales and some sandals ordered through the overstock catalogue from Land's End. And some very, very old Birkenstocks. It's baaaaaad.

I need to write a really kick-ass sermon for this Sunday, right? But part of me is saying, "Sermon, Shmermon . . . you need to hit the mall, girl or you are going to really embarrass yourself." There's really not time to do both.

What's a RevGal to do??

Monday, January 02, 2006

We're Back

We arrived home safe and sound, though struggling to fasten our jeans after a week of being fattened by good midwestern holiday cooking. My mother-in-law was, for many years, in charge of the kitchen at the Catholic school in town. Before that, she cooked daily for a family of 12. Now that she is retired and a widow, she gets to use her considerable gifts for quality, quantity cooking only rarely. Thus, when the extended family arrives in town, she really kicks it into high gear. Actually, she begins weeks ahead: dozens of cookies baked and frozen. Ditto sweet rolls and danishes. Then there is the applesauce, salsa, pickles, jam, etc. that were put up last summer. And the gallon drums of caramel corn. And, and, and . . . .

Then, good German/Luxumbergers that they are, the family cannot marry, bury, or celebrate a holiday without large quantities of beer.

We are on a bread and water fast for the foreseeable future, or at least until I can wear my regular clothes and breath at the same time again.