Slipping one in before the New Year starts!

This week has been one of recuperation and rest.  I’d like to say I’ve gotten a lot done.  Nope. But I know what I have to do and it’s a bit daunting.  And I’m not even talking about knitting, LOL! A number of my friends have made predictions for 2009, some of them funny, some not so much.  I don’t dare do that – I don’t even know myself completely, since that is changing every nanosecond – so how can I even begin to get an idea of what’s to come?  And in the words of the immortal Stuart Smalley, created by the possibly-soon-to-be-Senator-from-Minnesota Al Franken, “that’s O….K…”  Thank goodness I don’t know what’s to come – because it leaves the number of possibilities at virtually infinite – and that’s a good thing!
Tonight, if I get myself together, I’m going to head next door and celebrate part of the New Year with my next door neighbors.  John will be working, although there are no parties scheduled at the hotel and the fireworks display has been postponed to tomorrow evening thanks to the incredibly high winds we are having (Thanks, Canada – I knew I liked ya:)!).  D and C who live in (ironically) DC, will be hanging out with friends and partying in DC.  Some of the “kids and grands” may come here to hang out with each other.  I’m not babysitting tonight for the first time in a long time and that’s really OK with me.  New Year’s Eve is a time for me to relax, spend a little time with friends and then hunker down to watch the boob tube, do a little knitting and have a glass or two of vino.  Tomorrow we’ll probably do the ham dinner and gathering with the kids.  
I have a few New Year’s resolutions – or perhaps better stated, some goals for the year. They are not majestic goals, but bit by bit, they might make life a little more meaningful:
In 2009, I would like:
* to be more present in the moment, to family and friends (OK, that’s the last new-agey one)
* to learn more Spanish
* to practice flute a little more
* to learn to play the violin correctly
* to eat in a healthy way
* to drink a little less
* to make my way through the Child Welfare Law and Practice Manual
* to improve my work and practice habits
* to be a better Grandma and Mom and, hell, even wyf
* to spend time with friends more
* to finish Stephen Ministry training and do the best job I can there
* to prayerfully consider what my next career steps will be
* to finish knitting and other projects already begun
* to use up my stash of yarn 
* to pay better attention at choir and bell practice
* to develop my prayer life
* to do the third year of EfM (well, it begins in Sept)
* to be a better friend

Oh dear, I’m already exhausted.  🙂 As for one of the above goals, I have made some progress on the Fair Isle Yoke Sweater.   You can also see a close-up of the yoke details so far. I’m starting to like this sweater and I think it’ll fit Nancy fairly well.  All that grey was starting to get on my nerves, but the fair isle fun part, though slow going, is fun.  I figure I should be done by our next choir rehearsal and I can give it to her then – within the 12 days of Christmas  – and in better time than her sweater last Christmas (which she got in February – yikes!).  
Do not be fooled by what appears to be hair rollers at the armpits.  They are merely stitch holders – and represent the little bit of stitching up I will have to do at the end.  I love these bohus-style sweaters.  There was a time I knocked one out for myself in the space of two weeks.  I must be falling down on the job:)
Well, dear 3.5

readers, wishing you all the blessings that God can give you in 2009 – and may She be with you ’til we meet again!

I know, Randy, but they called you amazing, too! I heard that Penn & Teller!

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I’ve got three quotes for you. I hope you’ll write them out and keep them in a prominent place for the duration of 2009. They’ll set the right tone for everything you do.

The first is from psychologist Abraham Maslow:

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.”

The second quote comes from choreographer Agnes DeMille:

“Dance in the body you have.”

The third is from historian Gerald Sorin:

“When Reb Zusye went to heaven, God didn’task him why, in his life on earth, Zusye wasn’t Moses, but why he wasn’t even Zusye.”

Rob Brezsny’s astrology newsletter

Merry Christmas!

We’re still in the twelve days, so I can still say it:)  Since last I wrote, dear 3.5 readers, my life has essentially been a lot of this:
and not much knitting, sadly, which means I did not finish Nancy’s sweater in time for Christmas, nor did I do the scarves for other friends and fix/finish (respectively) the two sweaters for Dori.  
In spite of illness that started the night before Christmas Eve, I was able to babysit the grandgirls, who themselves were sick – and a Mommy who works 911 does NOT call out on Christmas Eve!  John and I usually do lunch and a visit to Mumbles & Squeaks – a truly magical toy story in Old Ellicott City – on Christmas Eve afternoon (you know, before the Christmas, er, stuff  hits the fan).  This year, we took the grandgirls along.  They were very good and were able to each pick out a toy they liked. Afterwards, we had lunch (burgers and a grilled cheese for the Ruubster) and then came back home.  Daddy collected them soon after; a non-Scrooge boss having given him an early day.
Then the Christmas Eve marathon/services.  I should have brought wings or roller skates, but this time managed to be where I needed to be. I still had some of my voice left, so I could sing with the choir. Only made a few stupid mistakes in the bell ringing. John couldn’t make it this year – he also felt like crap and on top of that had worked all night the night before and then hadn’t slept so he could spend time with the grands.  So… bedtime for him while I toddled off to SJEC.  
Nancy’s son, Joe was there with his sweet wife, Sandy.  I had never met them in person before and they were both delightful.  Joe played a trumpet solo – O Holy Night – and Nancy also played a beautiful organ solo we had all heard last year at the National Cathedral – based upon “Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella” -just gorgeous.  The Bay Street Bass did their usual excellent work. If anyone had an eardrum left by the time we finished off with the Hallelujah Chorus (and thundering applause from the congregation), I want to get their secret. And of course, the quiet, contemplative “Silent Night” was spine-tinglingly beautiful, too!
I confess I did spare my energy as much as possible, although I couldn’t help but get enthusiastic at the Hallelujah Chorus (at least the first time – the second I was just glad it was almost over). By the time I got home well after midnight I was spent!
The really really good thing about having adult children at Christmas time is that the ones who live with you sleep in and the ones who don’t have Christmas at home first.  So, we got to sleep in a bit – much needed given that the cooking marathon was soon to begin.
Thank goodness John was the organizing and driving force behind Christmas this year.  He is really the only reason the house looks like we were even celebrating.  Work got crazy the week before – now it’s relatively quiet, what with the courts closed the 26th and Jan. 2nd due to furloughs and my not having any hearings this coming week. But I was virtually no help except for the grocery shopping after bell prax and some last minute stuff.  John even helped out with peeling potatoes and getting the table set (he knows all the right ways to do that – helps to have someone in the family who’s in the hospitality industry!).
It was great to have everyone together.  The only one who couldn’t make it for Christmas dinner was Danny’s GF Casie, who was visiting her family in AL.  She’s back today, though, and John, Dan and she went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  With Brad Pitt, no less (so now you KNOW I’m sick!).  
Today, I’ve had virtually no energy.  I literally stayed in bed until 1 and was dressed and downstairs after 2 PM.  I don’t even know if I want to do dinner out tonight. SO not like me. 

But I’m well enough to start the second sleeve of the yoke sweater. Then all the boring one-color stockinette stitch will be done and I’ll have the fun stranded knitting part and it decreases, so it will go faster. I’ve also perfected my ability to do a modified sort of Magic Loop when I’m knitting in the round and the rows get shorter (i.e. smaller rings than the circumference of the circular needle). I do have one concern: that my usual “too short, too wide” will come into play.  The too-wide bit I think will not be too bad.  If I think it’s going to be too short, I may just try some sort of crocheted picot edging on the bottom to maintain the stretch, but add length.  News at 11.
Well, dear 3.5 readers, I’m really not much good for anything else except a few rows of knitting right now.  Peace to all of you, and God be with you ’til we meet again.+

I’m sorry, but isn’t that ASL for "L"????


Your Spiritual Number is Two

You bring kindness and harmony into other people’s lives. 

Whenever a situation or idea seems extreme, you try to lend some balance.

Right now, your life is about benefiting from choices you’ve made in your past.

You have done your best to be a good person, and it is starting to pay off.

You are an idealist with interesting ideas. You can’t help but see all of the beauty in the world.

But you are also aware of the world and its limitations. You have realistic expectations.


Not a story this time.

Well this month started out with a lot of great ideas in mind, but I will definitely not be doing 31 posts in 31 days. But that’s OK.  I will someday write the Great Amurikan Novel, but this is not the month for it.  For in the meantime, life hath intervened!
My goodness, where do I begin, dear 3.5 readers?  It has been quite a number of days since I last blogged here (or anywhere, for that matter).  It’s the holiday season – a religious  holiday for Christians, another religious holiday for Jews, and a cultural drawing in for African Americans.  For me, it’s a religious holiday – Christmas.  When I was a  child, Christmas meant I got presents, I didn’t get in trouble (spanked), everything we did that normally would drive our Dad to distraction, got a smile, a brief intake of breath, and an “Aw, it’s Christmas.”  Our Dad the atheist was a better Christian than many so-called Christians I have met over the years, myself included.  At least he had a better grasp of what Christmas was about.  The best sermon I ever heard on Christmas Eve was delivered, ironically, by a priest who I later learned had sexually abused a number of my cohorts. But maybe it was precisely because he was such a sinner, that he understood the truly gratuitous nature of God’s forgiveness.  His sermon was brief.  All he said was, “Christmas is about this and only this: that God loves you.”  Seriously.  That was the sermon.  But here it is 35 years later and I remember it.  And here it is 35 years later that I truly need to remember it.  I need to remember that I belong here; that my life has a purpose and meaning and that my presence on this earth serves someone else and  not just myself.  And most importantly that no matter what my sins are, God loves me.  She/He loves me so much that She/He became one of us to show us how to love each other and love Him/Her back.  No one is their career, their relationships, and least of all is anyone their “stuff.” Yet somehow when I don’t do perfectly at any of those things I fall into a total self-loathing mode.  Why is that? It’s downright silly and totally counter-productive! 

Anyway, Christmas – every year it means more and more to me and I love more than anything to see how it affects others and how much it means to them, too. More about that later! 
Now, to catch up on life:)
I have finally finished John’s scarf!  As you can see, it turned out not too shabby:)  He likes it and that’s what  matters.  He’s actually worn it quite a bit, which says a lot, LOL! 
Also, I have finished the body to the armpits (lovely term!) and have begun the first sleeve in preparation for it’s attachment to the circular needle holding the body for Nancy’s

sweater.  My only concern is that it’s going to be a little large.  If it’s not TOO large, it should be OK.  I suspect she likes her sweaters comfy and roomy.  We shall see:) Remember that lovely multicolored yarn from KnitPicks (Seven Dwarfs)? Well, I tried this pattern for a scarf, and although it turned out rather well, I frogged it anyway.  I think I’m going to give Clapotis a chance.  This was my original plan with the yarn and I think I’ll try again. So, thanks to Gail’s cheerleading, I am running for the finish line on that sweater for Nancy.  I’ve said this elsewhere, but I’ll say it again here: Nancy S is probably a genius.  She has a good heart and a sick sense of humor (primary reason why I love her dearly).  I am sure she doesn’t get paid anywhere near what she is worth (what church musician does?).  And I am no millionaire either.  So, I knit her a sweater every year – sometimes twice if I can.  This is my way of saying Thank You.  It’s a gift that lets her know I keep her in mind as I make it – as I do for everyone for whom I knit.  Keep your fingers crossed I get it done!
Last Saturday, the firm had its holiday party and John actually went with me!  He had a good time and so did I. We are a great group.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that we keep on keeping on.  The way things are in this economy, I grateful to be working in an area I love and for the best clients you can have:)!
Thursday, after choir practice, I was treated to the sight of a police helicopter hovering in the area of my home.  Nope – no escaped convicts – just Dori on a ride-along.  She texted one of her (many) sisters and none of them wanted to get out on the freezing cold deck.  I did! I was standing there waving at her and blowing kisses.  She later told me she only saw a “blob.” Well, the way I felt, she wasn’t far off, LOL!  The helicopter circled around about 5 or 6 times; it was quite exciting!
Friday, I was in Lawyer Hell – that special place you go when you think you have a hearing in the afternoon and sleep in a little bit only to get a call in the morning saying they are waiting for you at the courthouse and you are the only hearing on the docket.  That earned an Oh Shit! or three!  I did apologize to all concerned – especially the court of course! There was no reason for me to have made that mistake, but make it I did!  I doubt I will make it again, suffice it to say! The up side to that was that one of the the Sheriff’s deputies, a fellow New Yawka, told me to take heart and had a few funny things to say, which helped enormously!
Last week was one rehearsal after another.  I am writing myself directions so I know where to be between bell choir and adult choir during the services.  Sad, but true, I need a roadmap!
Yesterday, I spent the bulk of the day knitting and babysitting the grandangels:) while their mommy slept after doing graveyard shift and their daddy worked.  They are so good.  I was never that good as a child.  Of course they must be geniuses, LOL!  
Afterwards, I went to a party at Beth C’s house in Frederick.  I got to see a few colleagues and friends from my days at Heartly House some eight years ago.  It was wonderful to see how well Beth is doing.  She now has three attorneys and three legal assistants at her firm – which is more like a family than a lawfirm! There are precious few people in this world who deserve that kind of happiness – Beth is one of them! I left there feeling so good about her and so glad to have the pleasure to count her as a friend.  In January I will see Beth again when we both go to see a presentation on Brahms (one of my favorites) and a concert at the Baltimore Sympony Orchestra.  Hopefully then we will be able to catch up on each other’s lives.  Last night I got to catch up with former colleagues and got to know their spouses and families.  It was truly wonderful.  I’m only sorry John was too tired to go with me.
Even though I got home at a decent hour last night and went to bed not too terribly late, I had the worst night sleeping and so only sang at the later service this morning.  After the late service and before the rehearsal with the professional brass players (Bay Street Brass) who are playing at our Christmas service, I went with Virginia W, Susan F, Mary S., Iris B., and Peggy B to drop off Christmas donations and sing a few Christmas carols and other pieces for the residents.  It was a perfect way to spend an otherwise lost 45 minutes:)  Things like that are what make Christmas for me.
Before I go any further, I do want to write here about Mimi M (our Deacon)’s homily.  It was about Mary and how her life was one of unrestrained, un-selfconscious service.  Mimi’s delivery was refreshing and so welcome.  I gave her a big hug after church and thanked her for it! Mimi doesn’t do many of the sermons – after all, we have three priests at St. John’s – but this one was made for her.  She actually got me thinking about being a deacon.  I certainly do not think I am priest material, but the deaconate – that’s about service – one foot in the church and one in the world.  A crazy existence, maybe, but then aren’t I a bit crazy? I don’t know if I could ever do it, but it is certainly something to think about.
The practice with the Bay Street Brass went fairly well.  Hopefully we will do alright Christmas Eve.  I’m hoping John and maybe one or two of the offspring will attend.  It should be quite an evening.  One thing we do at St. John’s which just sends chills up the spine is to sing “Silent Night.”  Nancy starts on the organ, but then drops out and everyone in the congregation is singing as the lights go low.  It’s one of the most holy experiences of the year.  You really get a sense of the quiet night surrounding Jesus’ birth.  Anyone who has experienced that small still yet enormously significant quiet in the wee hours of the morning rocking one’s own child has a miniscule sense of the world waiting in anticipation for the Savior’s birth.  Words cannot express what I am trying to convey here – only the small snapshots of pieces of our human existence.
Well, dear 3.5 readers, I will return before Christmas, but in any event, I wish you all a Merry Christmas,  a blessed Hanukkah, a meaningful Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year:)! Until next time, dear 3.5 readers, God be with you ’til we meet again.+

It was a cloudy cold and cruddy morning

as she almost literally rolled out of bed, creaky and exhausted after spending too much of the night before knitting.  She was almost done with the scarf she planned on making for Jake – so she could get moving on the Christmas sweater for Sue.  Her cell phone rang – the office with a minor question.  She checked her messages.  Nothing urgent that couldn’t wait – at least until she showered and dressed.
The morning oblations completed, she trudged downstairs to answer some of her calls and get ready for the day.  Luckily, she wasn’t due in court until the afternoon, so there was time to clean up a bit and maybe have a cup of coffee before venturing out into the cold cloudy afternoon.  As she put last night’s dinner dishes into the dishwasher, making her morning coffee, she looked through the kitchen window at the view outside.  A view that never failed to satisfy, no matter the weather. The back of the house was at the back of a hill; the woods and hills were so peaceful.  But the iron grey sky overarched a cloud of cold that chilled the bones.  Shivering, she turned on the dishwasher and poured herself a cup of coffee – strong, the way she liked it.
It was December, yet it still didn’t feel like Christmas. She had a sense of foreboding that puzzled her.  In the past, she listened to that feeling and she still did now; it usually told her that she had forgotten something: a deadline, a witness interview, something – but work was not the issue. The hearings she had that afternoon were not going to be terribly difficult.  Two were not even contested and the one contested hearing would simply be a matter of arguing her point and either getting what she asked for or near to it.  No one was going to jail.  No one was going to lose any big bucks.  “Not in my line of work,” she chuckled to herself.  Janet represented children, children who had come to the attention of the Baltimore County Department of Social Services. Their parents were, for the most part, poor, often drug-addicted and/or afflicted with one form of mental illness or another.  True, there were some pretty awful people with whom she crossed paths, some thankfully in prison, but for the most part, they were the exception rather than the rule.  Their kids suffered in various ways, but in spite of all their troubles, Janet genuinely liked her clients – even the ones who gave her a lot of trouble or wanted to fire her.  They had a lot of anger and who could blame them? No, work wasn’t the issue.
She thought about the little get together the night before and smiled.  Her church choir had enjoyed a little fiesta in the midst of Christmas rehearsals. Their feisty organist choirmaster had been her usual energetic self, getting them ready for the Prelude they were to perform before the services, prodding, haranging, praising their efforts just when all seemed hopeless.  Janet had totally screwed up a few parts, distracted by thoughts of the next day’s work, but overall it had been a great deal of fun.  Life for the employees of St. John’s Episcopal Church was hectic at best this time of year, so the little party for the volunteers had meant a great deal.  She wondered what Sue meant by that thing she did with the wine.  Was it an act of kindness or was she just being absent minded?  Janet hoped it was the former, but figured it was probably the latter, given the busy-ness of the season.  Just as well, otherwise there would be more things she would have to deal with and right now she had enough going on.
And Darlene’s story about the rudeness of the parishioners as she and Sarah sang the week before at St. Edward’s was hilarious! Janet giggled as she thought about it. Seriously, senior wardens making whoopee cushion sounds?  That was putting it politely.
Something George Andrews said?  George sang tenor in the choir and had one of its most beautiful voices.  Janet sang in George’s section.  An alto, she had been relegated to the tenor section to fill a need and to stretch her voice a bit (so she told herself). They had been talking about one of her cases – no names of course – just the situation in general.   He said something, but she couldn’t remember what it was. Damn. Oh well, she’d remember it when she wasn’t so rushed.
She got into the car, files in tow, and started off to court.  She was making good time when the accident happened.  Years later, as she recounted this story, she would say that she didn’t know then that crossing the Patapsco River Bridge would be a far longer journey than she ever imagined.
copyright 2008 P. J. Gavigan