Quick Meme from the RevGalBlogPals – Reverend Mother’s Swansong

On Endings and Goodbyes (sniff):

1. Best ending of a movie/book/TV show
Movie: Dad….Wanna have a catch? (Field of Dreams)
Book: The ending to The Color Purple
TV Show: The ending of the second Bob Newhart Show – when he’s back in Chicago with Suzanne Pleshette’s character, treating the entire series in Vermont as a dream/nightmare. That man never ceases to make me laugh!

2. Worst ending of a movie/book/TV show
Movie: Any stupid Joan Crawford movie about a woman with too much power who pays with eternal loneliness
Second place: The Children’s Hour with Shirley McLain and Audrey Hepburn (blecccchhhh)
Book: Bambi’s Children (OK, so I’m a sap)
TV Show: The Sopranos (!!!!!)

3. Tell about a memorable goodbye you’ve experienced. I got a beautiful send-off my junior year in college from my church friends/prayer group in Middlebury before I left for Germany for Spring semester. I felt so incredibly loved.

4. Is it true that “all good things must come to an end”? No – most good things are eternal.

5. “Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it.” –Anne Lamott
Discuss.Bonus: “It isn’t over until the fat lady sings.” I’ve never loved this expression. So propose an alternative: “It isn’t over until the fat lady dates the great guy or the great gal if you swing that way….”


The age old debate

Recently I got into a non-debate with my daughter, “S”. I say it was a “non-debate” because she was wanting to engage me in one while I was rather engrossed in The War (the documentary by Ken Burns that’s been running on public broadcasting this past week). Anyway, she wanted to talk because she had a paper to write in her “Arguments” class on the topic of why our society views “faith” as a good thing. This is a tough topic for me. Let me tell you why.
For many people who are believers – or so it seems to me – they’ve made this basic decision. Maybe that decision happened as an end result of numerous experiences or internal debates. Maybe it was a flash of insight that changed their minds forever. Maybe it’s the faith of their youth from which they never departed. Whichever it was, many come to that place at some point. Then whatever internal dialogue they have, whatever discussions they have with others tend to assume a core belief.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that for a lot of us, myself included, the very existence of God, the very core of who and what we are can be shaken. Severely shaken. But we still start from a point of reference as one who at least at one time believed. For us, the angel is there to wrestle with even if for the moment we are just standing in the dark and whistling.
With my kids, I sometimes wonder if that was ever the case. Perhaps my lack of faith in them ever believing anything comes from their very strong stances – one after the other – with regards to religion and faith in general. So my response has been NOT to react negatively, but to simply ask that they remain open to the possibility. Sometimes that registers with them. Sometimes not. Some would tell me I am playing roulette with their souls. I think to attempt to force them to my way of thinking would definitely be that. (AS IF!!!)
The thesis of S’s paper was that faith should not be something we extol in others. Hope is OK; hope keeps us focusing on possibilities for change, but faith is something else again. She uses the recent debate among politicians and posits that one’s faith should be irrelevant to whether they do a good job. And I agree with her in principle. I do not agree that faith per se is the equivalent of moral stupidity or emotional laziness, although I’ve known times when I have reprehensibly hidden behind what I called faith to avoid examining the real issues in my life. But we know that is not real faith.
We didn’t have this debate, but it has stayed with me. I started thinking that maybe it wouldn’t hurt for her to read the works of far better minds than mine – the logic of George MacDonald, for instance? Or perhaps William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience? Although to a well read, definitely 21st Century college student like S might laugh at what James attempted to do in this book, I still think there are a lot of interesting concepts to consider. Especially the part about the hallmarks of a religious experience, only some of which I remember – such as numinosity? Sense of “other”? Awe? (read TERROR for me).
And then I remember two times in my life when I felt that I was having a brush with what I think of as the Raw Divine. As opposed to those times when one feels so close to God – as when you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, when you fall in love, when you catch a glimpse of the awesomeness of nature, when you experience the beauty of being in a caring community. One “Raw Divine” experience was kind and gentle. The other not so much. The first occurred when I was fourteen years old. It was late at night. I was supposed to be asleep, but was so depressed I couldn’t sleep. I remember just wanting to give up and asking God “if you’re there” to just let me die before morning (I was too chicken to kill myself!). Through my sadness, I felt a caring presence with me. A little factoid to file away for future puzzlement.
Two years later, I was on a school trip to Germany (we could do that a lot more cheaply back then). I was having a wonderful time. It was about 6:00 in the evening in the springtime. I was in Berlin, staying with a very nice family for a few days of our trip. I was to meet up with my classmates at the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche and was the first to arrive. If you’ve ever seen this evangelical church in Berlin, you will first notice that half of the church – that part that I think probably contained a bell tower and (I think) an altar area – had been bombed out during the last days of the war. In the rebuilding of Berlin, it was somehow agreed that the main portion of the church would be rebuilt, but this bombed-out part of the church would remain as a silent reminder of the war. The bombed out part has a lot of statuary in it, including a statue of Christ crucified, with the words on it saying, (if I recall correctly) “Es ist vollbracht. ” or “It is finished (brought to fruition).”

The sun was beginning to set. Shadows were being cast around me. Suddenly, in the middle of downtown Berlin, I remember silence. No one around. Just me looking into the eyes of this statue of Christ and seeing, experiencing utter darkness and loneliness and in the midst of this, the Presence of the Other. It scared the crap out of me. It felt more real than real. And I will never forget it.

It is possible that I just happened upon this group of statuary at a particularly unusual time of day. It may be that in my sadness and grief at fourteen, I was hoping against hope that I wasn’t truly alone. Of course as to the first experience. But with the second, believe me, it was NOT wishful thinking. I wanted to shake that experience off as soon as possible. I still don’t have any idea of what it meant, except that now as I think about it, I was viewing a statue that represented the absolute depths of Jesus’ sense of abandonment by God the Father – probably the most frightening thing in the universe!
I am NOT even trying to tell anyone what to believe here. These are my thoughts, informed by my experiences. Your spiritual path may be different – and it is equally important.
On the knitting front, I’ve been working on S’s endpaper mitts and today used my laundry time (we have a great setup – tv and couch in basement, knit while the wash goes – whoo hoo!) to work on a jacket pattern from Knitter’s – very simple, called JaspeRed – but I’m making it in a navy/yellow/lighter blue/green variegated Caron yarn called Shadows. It’s knitting up quite nicely. I really like this (acrylic!) yarn. Also started (for the third time) the “Moby Dick” to my “Ahab” of patterns: The Backyard Leaves scarf done for Scarf Style by Annie Modesitt. I took it slowly, and after one false start, have completed one pattern repeat. This scarf will be a Christmas gift for one of my kids. Pictures will not be shown for this until after Christmas:) for obvious reasons. Also cast on an Elann shawl/wide scarf in my first real laceweight yarn. I am so excited – it’s a nice, simple pattern called the Voyager Lace Stole. I’ll probably finish it some time in 2009, LOL!
When I’m done with this posting, I’ll probably do a little more work on the Cables and Os sweater – still in sleeve Slough of Despond…. but will post some pics soon – promise!
So, it looks like a bunch of summer projects will be hibernating as I switch back to my warmer winter and Christmas projects. Ah I love the seasons! And I so love this time of year. I guess it goes back to childhood and the wonderful fun holidays from Halloween to New Years Eve that bring us together:)
As for what’s gone on in life lately, I really enjoyed choir practice, and hopefully this cough will go away by tomorrow, so I can actually sing. All is busy and therefore relatively quiet. I’ve got a few busy weeks up ahead and am grateful for employment:) John and I are ships that pass in the night, but we do have an anniversary coming up next week – our 31st. Got word from a dear friend whose husband died three years ago that she’s been dating this wonderful guy whom her grandchildren love (an excellent recommendation:)! One of my dearest friends in the world is enjoying a weekend with her husband, son and new daughter-in-law and it makes my heart smile to think of them having a good time together -last night out to dinner and a show and today hiking in the woods. And the cherry on the sundae of life – I get to sing tomorrow!
And if I’m really lucky, my wonderful family will be together again for Sunday dinner. And if they’re lucky, my cooking will be OK:)
Good night, Angels!+

How ’bout dem Ohs?

Ok, sorry – looks like I lost a post. I was singing the praises of a terrific friend of mine and then for some reason – poof – I know it’s something I did – I think I hit delete when I was trying to edit it and then scrambled around a bit ’til it was too late to recover the material and that was all she wrote.
Just to give you all the pics that were on yesterday of the Endpaper Mitts the Second:

I’ve actually gotten some more done. These two colors (beige and sage) show the pattern far better and I have S’s approval, so that’s a good thing.

Yesterday was a good day – had Prayer Shawl Ministry, a relatively short walk with Nancy before pooping out (still dizzy from the food poisoning) and skipped knitting meetup, so I was home and watched the third or fourth episode of Ken Burns’ The War. It was riveting. Have taped it so if it’s on tonight, I’ll see the next part. It’s coming back next Wednesday, so don’t despair if you haven’t seen it yet. In the middle of all that, got ready for today’s court day, which was, let’s say, a bit of a challenge and I’ll say no more(AARRGGGHHH).

Well, this has to be brief (sorry) as I’m on my way to “kwar” practice as they say in Baldymore…

More tomorrow!

I know this amazing woman

At my point in life friends are a lot. My family means everything to me, don’t get me wrong, but this friend of mine has taught me more about unselfishness than any person I know. She is a joy to know and spend time with and a lot of fun, while at the same time seeing reality for what it is. It’s funny, she’s only someone I’ve really gotten to know over the last few years since joining my church choir, yet it’s hard to imagine life before knowing her. When I think emotional intelligence I think of Nancy. In fact, when I think about spiritual intelligence, I think of her. She is unafraid of thinking outside the box. I think that comes from years of working in a church and having the ability to interweave (sorry:)) the spiritual with work. Conversations with her are my incentive to exercise (I’m ashamed to admit, but I’ll take whatever works, LOL!). I don’t believe in eulogies for those who have passed. I prefer to speak well of the living and boy is she alive:)
OK enough of that mushy stuff. After finishing Eunny Jang’s Endpaper Mitts, my daughter, S., requested a pair. Here are some pics of the work in progress:

This last one is a bit more accurate in the coloring – sage green and beige. I am using the technique from the Philosophers Wool site’s video – keeping the long strands in back to a minimum -and it has revolutionized my fair-isle knitting! Wonderful!

Well to catch up a bit – Monday I had a wonderful walk with Nancy – went all around the lake in one go (she did not have time to stop and there it was, LOL). Yesterday, I was supposed to head out to Way Western Maryland for a visit and a treatment team meeting for a client. But it was not to be. I was felled by a bad crabcake. Oy…. I now know what they mean by the phrase, “food poisoning,” because I literally felt as though I had been poisoned. I am still feeling the effects two days later! I did make it to bell prax last night and sweat through it like a son of a gun – probably sweating off a low-grade fever or sweating out the toxins – either way is fine with me. Feeling much better today. In fact, I am late for an appointment, so off I go!

Auf Wiedersehen!+

Getting (Mo Betta) Organized

Happy Sunday – and it’s a lovely day today. And hot as blazes in the choir loft! After 15 minutes of our morning rehearsal, I was perspiring so badly, it was dripping in my eyes, LOL! That’s what happens when you get Indian Summer, two extra layers of vestments – black robe/white cotta – and menopausal me (who never really gets hot flashes, thanks be to God, but must’ve today) . Phew, it took a pile o’ water out of me, so much so that when I left church, I had to run to the nearest fast food drive thru for a diet soda – a large one!

Then I went to Target. I went to Target to see if there was a relatively inexpensive way to organize my knitting projects so that they are not an eyesore in our living room. I think I did it, with only a small bit of money, relatively speaking. Here’s the before picture:
Note the stacks upon stacks of bags. Not neat. Not particularly attractive.
Here’s the “after:” Not too shabby, huh? I kept four bags going – three for ongoing projects and one for storage because I think the fair isle pattern of the bag is pretty. Also wanted to use the Sheep and Wool Festival (2006) bag for projects, since it brings back such happy memories. Makes for a neater den/living room area anyway. As I finish a project in a bag, I’ll move a project from a box and it will be waiting for a new project to fill it (RIGHT).
Today John is bartending at the ballpark for the Redskins game. Betsy is watching the Ravens game here at home. And I should be getting some paperwork done for work, but oh no, I’m blogging instead, LOL. Later I will do some of that work. I will also be knitting. Apparently one of my daughters who does not want to be named on this blog liked Eunny’s Endpaper Mitts so much, she wants me to knit her a pair -but with two solid colors for better contrast. I’m using a Sage Green from my stash (good old Red Heart acrylic) and a Caron super soft beige color for contrast also from stash. Got her approval first, so it may just be a winner. But the Cables and Os is softly, rebukingly calling my name. Will probably work a bit on that first.
(Oh dear, how many of you have knitting that talks to you? I feel like that Vietnam Vet in this who’s the cook in this camp movie in which the canned food gives him advice.) +

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Let me start with the kinder gentler part of the day:)
Just to start things off, let me tell you I finished the Endpaper Mitts last night before toddling off to beddy bye.
I started my morning out going to visit one client in the Balto metro area, then hit the gas station for my next client visit some 50 miles away and raided the bank account to take another client out to lunch (sorry John – I’ll expense it). Anyway, I got lost in the far reaches of District Heights, LOL:) and ended up getting the GPS to show me a way through Bethesda – with D.C. in between. As I’m driving along I realize that I’m on Massachusetts Avenue and my next turn is for Wisconsin Avenue. Hmmmmm, isn’t that the neighborhood of the National Cathedral? But I’m not dressed for church. I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt, no makeup, hair all greasy, having just had a “catch” with a teenager with autism. And boy I did not look great. But as I passed by, I noticed most of the people who were touring there were dressed not much better than I. So… I couldn’t resist. I parked the car nearby and went in. I am so glad I did.
Funny thing, ex-Catholic me – I went to the coolest chapel – and it turns out to be St. Mary’s chapel- and lit a candle:) saying a prayer for someone I was moved to pray for. The National Cathedral is a beautiful piece of art in its own right. As it turns out, there was this amazing exhibit, called Dreamers & Believers – Cathedral Builders. It was fascinating and also, strangely enough, very very moving! There were pictures of the ground breaking in 1907 at which 10 to 15 thousand people watched the first piece of earth dug from the spot with a silver trowel (currently on display) and listened to President Theodore Roosevelt give a speech. History of the building up through World War II when construction was slowed, up to 1990 when it was finished and President George I and spouse were present.

The music of the Cathedral Choir played in the background (did I detect some Lauridsen???), and provided a moving backdrop to a touching experience. And the most touching parts of this Exhibit were the pictures of the everyday workmen and women who provided a labor of love in its construction. The stone masons were particularly exciting to see. And the gargoyles! What a hoot. There’s a hippie gargoyle and two caricatures of some of the stonemasons/artists. There were pictures of men who worked on its construction in the 1930s, being encouraged by the then Bishop. I found myself drawn to a picture of two of the men, one with his arm around the other – the taller one black, the shorter one white. In 1936! Cool!

Many crafters and artisans participated in this now century-long project. Women from around the country provided needlework for the altar cloths, the carpet runners, kneelers, you name it. One woman – I think her name was Schacher??? Schuchter? or something like that – learned needlepoint when she was 60 years old and for 25 more years provided some 30 pieces of needlepoint for the Cathedral. How’s that for a second career as a volunteer?
In total, the National Cathedral was indeed a labor of love, made possible by huge private donations from across the country. Woodrow Wilson’s remains are in a sarcophagus (for want of a better word) in one of the side chapels. There is a piece of moon rock in one of the many many stained glass windows. Tapestries line the walls of one chapel at least and the woodwork, stone carvings and other pieces of artwork are breathtaking. But it is still the Cathedral of the people, brought into being with love and hard work (and what loving thing isn’t hard work at one time or another?)
If you live near or are going to be in Washington, D.C. any time in the near future, I heartily recommend a visit to the National Cathedral – and this Dreamers & Believers exhibit. It made my day, anyway:) Seriously, I had a hard time holding back my emotions.
Then home, which was fine. The good news is, John is off from the hotel tonight. The bad news is, I am fed up with my stupid &)(*&)(*& phone and am waiting for Sprint customer service. I have had this Treo 700wx that has yet to properly sync with my laptop and it’s been 6 months of not getting any help from their customer support. Finally someone got on the phone. It ended up I was supposed to uninstall Outlook and Active Sync and then reinstall them. It still doesn’t work AARRRGGGHHH!!!!! A lot of money for something that doesn’t work properly. (Insert appropriate word-you-can’t-say-on-TV).
So I guess I’ll continue to use a paper planner and next time I’ll just get one of those phones that’s just, well, a phone – or maybe not, LOL:)
Well John’s home – he brought dinner and I brought the wine, so I think we’re set:)!+

Eunny Jang’s Endpaper Mitts

As you can see, I’ve made some progress since last night. I didn’t have time to put the last pic in this group online as I “published” my last blog entry. The Endpaper Mitts are made from yarns in my stash – leftovers from an attempted sweater in the 1990s and a pair of socks recently made. Because
the contrasting color is variegated, it’s harder to see the lovely fair-isle pattern. That being said, I rather like the colors I’ve chosen anyway. The drabness of the grey is offset by the bright blue/green hues of the sock yarn. It’s such a small project that it’s been fun and enjoyable and a little break from the Cables and Os sleeve that I have NOT progressed on!

If you click on the link for the title of this entry, you’ll find the pattern. It’s free – and the example on Eunny’s blog really shows off how a good contrast will show off the pattern better. You all should know I got this pattern from a link on Ravelry (Sorry LYNN!!!!) I cannot wait until the rest of my knitting meetup gets on. Unselfishly, I’d like them to enjoy what I’m enjoying. Selfishly, I’d like to see what projects they’re up to and if I can do something similar ;).
If you have read this blog enough times, you probably know these are for a friend. Duh. My hands and wrists are WAY too large for them. However, in the interests of full disclosure, I will say that the first one was “christened” by those of small wrists and arms in my knitting meetup – and it passed muster.
I was thinking about that knitting group today. And the whole concept of diversity as we often hear it. Sometimes I think the whole crafting craze is a way to escape from the real and often scary responsibilities of being a citizen of this world we live in. It’s a way to look at pretty colors and patterns and getting into some sort of Zen-like state (definitely not Maryland!) to shut out our troubles. Mindlessness that keeps us from the mindFULness we need to truly live. Okay, maybe this is too much philosophizing. But you know what? When a bunch of people get together and knit, often we talk about just those things. And our thoughts are all very different. And so are our races and creeds and ethnic backgrounds. But we share this thing we like to do together. And we come together over it and for a couple of hours a week put those differences aside. We trust just a little tiny bit more. How bad can that be?
On a more mundane note, after I last left you, dear one and a half reader, Danny’s former in-laws stopped by to drop something off. We chatted and had a nice conversation. Then they left and I was off to choir praxis – another high point of my week, LOL:) Unfortunately, I’ve had this cough that just makes me choke from time to time and doesn’t seem like much but won’t leave me alone. And after the long day I had yesterday, I was really really tired. I had a glass of wine when I got home, but it turns out I didn’t need that to relax. I don’t even remember hitting the old pillow. Anyway, this morning I had a very brief hearing, made a bunch of calls, sent a bunch of e-mails, cleaned up the playroom (big deal!) and hunkered down to work on the Endpaper Mitts. It was a lovely day, but I felt so weak and dizzy and just had to take the day off from walking because I didn’t want to walk alone and end up embarassing myself in a public park. At least I will hopefully get the EM’s done tonight and get cracking on those sleeves for the Cables and Os. So close and yet so far…..
Speaking of which, what is it about sleeves that makes me feel like a kid being kept after school? I think it’s because they are a substantial piece of knitting that usually (for me) occurs after the largest part is done. I think I may try knitting sleeves first for the next sweater I cast on. That way, I won’t have that stuck after school feeling, LOL!
Tomorrow I have at least two visits and probably a trip to the office on the agenda. And a lot of wash (please God) and if I’m lucky some flute prx.
Oh, and I almost forgot – I sent out my first Secret Pal package a week or so ago, just wondering if it all was OK and never having done this before and thinking how all of it was so mundane, but my “pal” e-mailed me to thank me and was ever so gracious and thoughtful to this newbie:) I am enjoying this. Got an e-mail from my Secret Pal who says a package is coming. So much fun!
As EZ used to say, “Knit on!”