Saturday, September 29, 2007

Good Therapy

When in despair, turn to nature. (And God, of course, and the two are well connected, as we know). This afternoon I packed a picnic, then son and I headed out into the nearby wilderness to sit and watch an elk herd. Old guys with huge racks, young studs with sharp spikes, cows, calves, adolescent elk. The whole elk gamut. Wonderfully funny-looking creatures on their spindly legs, they nonetheless appeared majestic roaming across a verdant valley as the sun set over the world's oldest mountains. Son called it "an elkstravaganza".

If you've never heard an elk bugle, put it on your list of things to do. Good night, all.

A Patrick Prayer

I'm not really much of a prayer-book kind of gal. The Presbyterians I grew up with did not have prayer books. We had Bibles and hymnbooks and that was sufficient unto the day. Then I hung with the Quakers for a number of years while sometimes sneaking into Episcopal churches. Later, I found myself delighted with the growing liturgical sensibilities of Presbyterians. But recently I've been more into silence and trees and secular poetry. Not so much the prayer books. However, I keep hanging out with all these Episcopalians online and getting saint days and angelogy and daily offices and such. So I got out my prayer book today (being much in need of whatever help I could find -- see below) to find this lovely little bit of celtic assurance. Enjoy.

(from a much longer prayer by Patrick of Ireland--389-461)

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Prayers, please

OK, I haven't really wanted to blog about this, because this isn't really an anonymous blog. But here's the truth: I don't like my boss. Actually, if this were an anonymous blog, I would say it more forcefully. I have never worked with a meaner person. But she's Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde, so she knows tons of people and they like her. Which is kind of beyond me, but now I'm stuck with a decision. Do I quit a job after 6 months in a new city where I don't have good contacts, as a single mom with no money in the bank? Or do I keep taking the abuse and hope that something will open up? You don't really need to answer that, but prayers would be appreciated.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mind the Gap

Went to opening night at the symphony yesterday, where my presence in the audience helped bring down the average age considerably. But that was in the audience only. Our conductor, (see photo) who is starting his 3rd season with us, is considerably younger than me. (His new wife was there tonight. She looks about 22). The first piece was by a composer younger than me by several years and the guest artist was a good bit younger still. Being the opening night, the conductor (who is not only young, but hot) introduced new members of the orchestra. The new oboeist looks approximately 13.

So, the audience made me feel young. The musicians made me feel old.

The first piece, Rainbow Body, by Christopher Theofanidis, won an international competition for new compositions when he was about 35. (He's an old man at 40 now and working on a new opera.) It was a lush, lovely piece. Jennifer Frautischi played Tchaikovsky's violin concerto in D to a standing ovation (two actually). She played with energy and drama. (And her dress was fab -- showed off her toned body very nicely, as she seems to spend almost as much time at Pilates as on her violin. Maybe that's what got all those old men to their feet). The second half was Elgar's Enigma Variations, which I found charming and beautiful. Mom said that was not her favorite Elgar, so I'm going to have to find some more of his stuff. We went to the pre-symphony talk -- always helpful for listening, I think -- and I was a little worried when I heard the Elgar was 33 minutes. I get restless with long compositions or long sermons. But the time flew.

Back to the age gap. Classical musicians have been worrying about graying audiences for a long time. And for those of us who have grown up moving to our music, it is such a different experience to sit very still for all that music. In fact, we didn't grow up sitting for much -- church, school, all the places a previous generation would have been expected to sit very still and quiet for long hours -- all changed in the 70s and beyond. A young couple sat in front of us -- he in the torn jeans and tee -- and were very affectionate with each other. You could see the uncomfortable responses on all sides as he sensuously kissed her fingers during the Tchaikovsky. My mom said after the first piece, "They need to get a bedroom."

It cracked me up, but brought to mind this whole audience age gap thing. At a rock concert touching would be not only fine, but expected. At the pre-talk the young conductor and guest artist joked about how some music gets old and boring for them after they've done it several times. Mom thought they were airing their dirty laundry and didn't like it. I thought it was authentic and interesting. But then, I'm part of the therapy generation where we talk about what we feel and think. My mom is of the "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything" school.

A final thought: I was startled by the abrupt beginning of the concert with the National Anthem. Has that always been done and I just don't remember? I could never afford going to the symphony in DC, where I would have expected the stars and stripes, but back in Rochester, I don't remember the Philharmonic starting its concerts that way. Can anyone enlighten?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Six years ago I was in a new pastorate inside the Beltway. I was walking through our decrepid building with our property committee chair feeling overwhelmed by all the repairs needed on it when news starting coming in. By mid-morning people were stopping in to pray. By mid-afternoon shell-shocked neighbors were walking home from their capitol hill jobs-- the metro system having been shut down, the evacuation routes jammed with cars-- making the long walk through the city to the Maryland suburbs in stunned silence. I remember the eerie silence broken by the mad rushing of military planes and helicopters flying over and over and over the skies. I will never forget that week.

One hundred and one years ago a young Indian lawyer in South Africa led his first non-violent civic action, fighting against discrimination in that land. Gandhi went on to be the last century's leading proponent of non-violence.

Two anniversaries on the same day. Violence. Non-violence.

"I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life, that you and your descendents may live."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Voting News

Just returned from the WNC State Fair and at the Democratic booth they were holding a straw poll for the primary. Our lot is not in keeping with Western North Carolinian Dems, it seems. Hillary had more votes than the rest of the candidates combined by a long shot. Edwards was next, Obama third. I cast the lone vote for Dennis.

In other State Fair news, I was reminded that I am really in the South, as the Sons of the Confederacy were well represented. Fair food seems to be the same across regions, however: funnel cakes, Sno-Kones and corn dogs. Which is weird, when you think about it. Here's the place we're promoting our region's agriculture ... wouldn't it make sense to have a regional diet based on that agriculture represented?

And have I mentioned that my son has discovered thrill rides this summer and can't get enough of them -- nor can they be dangerous enough? What happened to my shy kid who wouldn't even go on the kiddy rides two years ago? Now he's happy if he's barely strapped into a contraption hanging upside-down as far up in the sky as he can get while twirling in strange formations.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A New Challenge: The Cabinet

My friend, Laura C, suggested that all the current Democratic candidates would make a good next cabinet. Which made me think ... who would I like to see? Below are some thoughts, though not a full cabinet. We need more women and people of color. Also, I don't want to take too many of our best senators and representatives out of those roles. Discuss.

President: Dennis Kucinich
Vice President: Barack Obama
Secretary of State: Bill Richardson
Secretary of Defense: Wesley Clark
Attorney General: Andrew Cuomo
Secretary of the Interior: Barbara Boxer
Secretary of Labor: John Edwards
Secretary of Health and Human Services: Hillary Clinton
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Eleanor Holmes Norton
Secretary of Energy: Al Gore
Secretary of Education: Howard Dean
Secretary of Veterans Affairs: John Kerry
Department of Peace: Mike Gravel!

Fool Me Once ...

Y'all probably get all these MoveOn videos, but this one bears repeating, if only for the last line.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Australian humor

The Chasers explain how to dress if you're a terrorist in Australia:

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Political Choices: Discuss

OK, my left-leaning friends of the blogosphere. It is still 14 months before we elect a president, but the early primaries make the Democratic election only 6 months away. The mainstream media narrowed the field to two months ago. But I'm not buying it. What if this election really was turned by the grassroots, the internet generation, a nation full of people tired of sound-bytes and caricatured candidates?

Personally, I've gone from falling in love with Barack, to backing Bill Richardson, to giving Dennis Kucinich a good look, to even reconsidering Hillary (if only because we'd get Bill back into the mix and because my son thought it would be "amazing" to have a woman president). I'm still undecided. What about you? If you could vote next week for the person you genuinely wish could be president, not the person you assume is most electable (that was the cry that brought us John Kerry, lest we forget) who would it be?

Discuss. (If there are right-leaning readers of this blog, I'd love to hear from you as well!)

A poem

"Keys" by Nancy Henry

When things got hard
I used to drive and keep on driving—
once to North Carolina
once to Arizona—
I'm through with all that now, I hope.
The last time was years ago.

But oh, how I would drive
and keep on driving!
The universe around me
all well in my control;
anything I wanted on the radio,
the air blasting hot or cold;
sobbing as loudly as I cared to sob,
screaming as loudly as I needed to scream.
I would live on apples and black coffee,
shower at truck stops,
sleep curled up
in the cozy back seat I loved.

The last time, I left at 3 a.m.
By New York state,
I stopped screaming;
by Tulsa
I stopped sobbing;
by the time I pulled into Flagstaff
I was thinking
about the Canyon,
I was so empty.
Thinking about the canyon
I was.

I sat on the rim at dawn,
let all the colors fill me.
It was cold. I saw my breath
like steam from a soup pot.
I saw small fossils in the gravel.
I saw how much world there was

how much darkness
could be swept out
by the sun.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Since I Lost My Illegal Cable TV Reception

... when the guy came to fix my interent connection, I figured I could get this fabulous item and take care of multiple needs at once. I can pretend I'm still watching TV while seasoning my meal with salt, pepper and prayer.

Between this and the plastic Jesus on my dashboard, I think I've got most bases covered.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Out of Purgatory at last!

My four days without internet at home have finally ended, after 4 long technical phone calls and TWO FULL DAYS waiting at home for a technician who finally came at 3 p.m. on Sunday when I had just stepped out to buy groceries and spent two hours rewiring my house after which he told me everything was working perfectly and since I was about to be late to church I said "great" and headed out the door, only to come home to discover it was not working perfectly, but after TWO MORE very long technical phone calls, it finally is.

On the bright side, I did get some house-cleaning done and read all of last week's newspapers.

But now I have lots of blogs to catch up with. See ya!