Thursday, December 31, 2009

In a Blue Mood, I Mean Moon

Happy New Year - hope all my friends are celebrating in ways that make them glad. With Grant in California this week I'm spending the evening in a slightly less than conventional way: tried to get the congregation's newsletter finished, opened up the church for the Gallatin Valley Interfaith Association's annual Labyrinth Walk (still plan to walk it myself before the day is over), then I headed down to our local co-op, where we are working members, to help take down all of December's sale signs and put up January's. It's an okay job, and due to the holiday we got to start early tonight. Not bad. When I left the co-op a light snow was falling. It's beautiful, but it means no admiring the blue moon tonight. Bummer. So, here's a great song sung by Nanci Griffith (a favorite of mine during college days). I'll aim for some new year's reflections tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dining Room Organization Duet

Once again it has gotten late. Technically it's tomorrow, but I'm so close to finishing NaBloPoMo that I am thankful once again I haven't changed the time zone on my blogger settings... A college friend of mine, who also moved to Bozeman last year, came over this evening to help me sort out boxes in our dining room. We still don't have a dining room table in the dining room, which has made it a convenient catch all for all kinds of things, including half-unpacked boxes of china, crystal, and heirloom dishes and silver. Now it is organized, and quite a thing of beauty. The pile of "figure out what to do with this" stuff isn't too big, and I will confess has more things originally belonging to Grant than to me, but it feels good to have at least one more space in the house a little more organized and tidy. At this point things mostly have places, and are mostly in them. We'll see how long that lasts. The great thing about having this friend over was that she gets as excited as I do about vintage textiles, dishes that belonged to my great-grandmother, and that when I held up my Grandma's butter ball paddles she instantly knew what they were. We even looked online to find out how to make butter balls. Someday I will be the ultimate hostess, just like my grandmother always was, perfect butter balls and everything. Enough for tonight, it's past my bedtime and I'm afraid this stream of consciousness might spill over its banks in unseemly ways... Happy 6th day of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Plan B

Surprise, surprise, the day didn't exactly go as planned (read yesterday's post for more info). It's not entirely my fault, though. The plan included a fun social event, the plan for which was hatched on Christmas Eve Day. While Grant led worship up at the hospital I headed to some members'/friends' house for a spaghetti dinner. Another family was there, too, and the three of us women decided we'd like to get together to make some more Christmas cookies, particularly of the more labor intensive variety: krumkaker and rosettes. I volunteered our kitchen, since I knew that would be motivation to clean, plus I have a krumkaker iron and all the equipment for rosettes. (Mind you, I've never actually made rosettes - the whole pot of hot oil has always been a little intimidating to me. I was looking forward to learning from a pro). I also invited two more women from church to join us, so we would be five. Good thing our kitchen is big enough to accomodate that many butts. Unfortunately, our experienced rosette maker had to cancel. We'll reschedule some time in January, so I'll still get practice with the cookie making. I thought I might make krumkaker on my own today, but never got that far.
After the plan for the day was derailed I ended up riding whatever whim took hold... Got a lot done in the project room, though it's still in that "it always gets worse before it gets better" stage. I remain hopeful.
Tomorrow will find me in the office, trying to cram as much work as possible into a single work day. I'm hoping I can plan the work and then work the plan. Happy 5th day of Christmas!

Monday, December 28, 2009

An organizational adventure

I had a whole day to myself today to do exactly as I wanted. That doesn't happen very often, really... And of course while I would have loved to get into "The Project Room" (our bonus room above the garage) to play, the state of the project room made that impossible. It is a disaster. And the disaster is my fault. During this relatively slow week between Christmas and New Year I am hoping to make some serious headway in the home and life organizing departments. I cleaned out our pantry and refrigerator this morning (we had nearly a dozen random zip-top plastic bags floating around the pantry shelves. Why? I have no idea). That felt good. Managed a few other routine household chores, and drew thick lines through them on the day's to-do list. Then I ran a few errands: picked up some "fabric drawers," which I think is a fancy way of saying collapsible cloth baskets - to corral the jumble of hats, gloves and scarves in our hall closet; got some yarn on sale - hopeful about getting a prayer shawl ministry up and going at church; got a few cute cookie tins at 60% off, which will come in handy for gifts next year; and various other necessary things, like milk. The late afternoon and evening found me working on thank you notes and Christmas card, and finally, the project room. It will be an ongoing project, but that's okay. There are still multiple boxes in there which we haven't touched since we moved up here from Phoenix, they've waited this long, they can wait a little longer. Part of my hope for getting slightly more organized is management of time. I excel at creating monster to-do lists, unfortunately I rarely succeed at getting everything done. During my library adventure last week I picked up a copy of Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. She advocates using a Time Map, which is something I've sort of been doing for the last few months, even before I got her book. I get out of whack a lot, though, and I think I've discovered the two primary reasons why: I am lousy at estimating how long tasks will take, and I am really good at letting myself get interrupted - by others and by myself. I have created a map for tomorrow. I'll let you know how off track I end up. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

On the second day of Christmas

Happy second day of Christmas! It really does make me crazy that all the stores and TV stations think that Christmas is "over." Too bad we're not better at celebrating all twelve days of Christmas in our culture (I imagine Target is fully decked out for Valentine's Day by now, though I very happily stayed away from the shops today). At least the poinsettias and decorations will be up at church until after the second Sunday of Christmas. It's always fun to remind people that Christmas lasts until January 5th. And it's a good thing for me - I still have favorite Christmas cookies to bake, and we're very much enjoying the tree and lights and the fact that we actually got our house slightly more organized in order to have a dinner guest. I think we should start doing a lot more entertaining! The picture is from

Friday, December 25, 2009

Yuletide Greetings

Merry Christmas! We had a lovely day in Bozeman - a few snowflakes fell as the sun came up and while we opened our packages - it was a little like being in a snowglobe. Worship this morning was considerably more intimate than last night, which was to be expected. I always think it's amazing how few congregations even have a service on Christmas Day, and am glad we do, even though it is fairly small. We began with "Carols By Request" - letting folks choose their favorite carols to sing. It's one way to get more music in, since we don't sing too many Christmas carols during Advent. After returning home we had lunch, talked to our parents and then took naps before getting ready for Christmas dinner. We'd invited a member of our congregation to join us - she's an international graduate student at MSU and is a lot of fun. Her tales of Christmas in Zimbabwe were interesting - definitely not like Christmas in Bozeman! Hope you enjoyed the first of the twelve days of Christmas. Merry merry!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Children's Sermon Fire and Fun

It should be easier for me than it is to come up with a Christmas Eve Children's Sermon. I mean really, they know the story, there will be lots of kids present, and everyone is waiting for something cute or sentimental to happen. Out of the mouths of babes, right?
Alas, it proved a dauting enough challenge this year. I've done candy canes and birthday candles, the tradition in my first call was for an actual birthday cake with lots of frosting (which we all got to sink a finger into) and the singing of happy birthday to Jesus. I had hoped for new and interesting inspiration to strike. Oh well...
I've been enjoying candlelight this year, and instead of doing regular old birthday candles this year (though there's a very good chance I'll break them out again next year) for kids to take home and stick in their breakfasts to sing happy birthday to Jesus tomorrow morning, I'm giving out tea lights, to be lit on each of the 12 days of Christmas, to help us remember that Jesus is the light of the world. We'll talk a little about the names and titles we use for Jesus (a theme which figures heavily in the "grown-up" sermon as well) and thank God for the light.
I even made a new Wordle, and printed out postcard sized versions of it to attach to the candles. Happy Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Next Year's Christmas Presents

I had a delightful lunch today with a member of my congregation, who is also becoming a friend (is that fair to say, N?). I've found it difficult to make friends here in Bozeman, as so much of my time is spent on/in/with activities of the congregation, and the folks who can be friends with a pastor (especially their own pastor) tend to be few and far between, in my experience. That's not all bad, it keeps roles well defined and clear. But as a 30something woman without children, it makes for a lonelier life than I would like. Funny how kids are the "in" for so many. But that's all fodder for a post at a later date. One of the most intriguing parts of our lunchtime conversation centered on Christmas gift giving patterns in our family circles. It's the pretty standard "go and buy stuff" regime in my family. We try to be as thoughtful about it as possible, but gifts are still expected all the way around. There are other ways to do things, of course. Last year we drew names on Grant's side of the family, for the brothers and wives, which was great, but didn't happen this year. And my new friend has another alternative: no gifts exchanged among the adults, and only modest gifts for the kids. Instead of buying another candle or something that no one really needs, they donate money to causes/groups/charities of their choosing, and then exchange cards telling all about the work they've supported. In addition to the congregational giving tree, her family has used an organization called Donors Choose to support educational and classroom projects in schools around the country. Sounds good to me - now I just have to convince my family!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

*8 Things: To Enjoy in the Dark

Join 8-Things Rachelle Mee Chapman over on Magpie Girl has a game called *8 Things - she made it up one day to get some focus in the midst of an abundance of thoughts. She says, "*8 Things is a way for me to keep collections of ideas, thought, quotes and quanderies on-hand for later exploration." Her latest list is Winter Solstice related: 8 things to enjoy in the dark. Here's my list: 1. Sleep. Duh. It seems the older I get the better I am at sleeping, which I think is fairly unusual. Of course I was sleep deprived for much of my adolescence and early adulthood. I figure I'm making up for lost time. 2. Read. I've been reading mostly nonfiction lately, though I do have a copy of Barbara Kingsolver's latest book to read at some point during the slow days between Christmas and New Year's. I also made it to the library today, delivering a bag full of magazines to the bins in the lobby (it's a groovy way to re-use magazines before they get recycled), and then checking out 16 more nonfiction books. It makes me glad to have stacks of ideas nearby, even though the chance of making any meaningful headway into them all before they're due January 12th is pretty slim. How I love my library card!! 3. Bake. Grant's the cook in our house, I'm the baker: cookies, cakes, bread (though not enough of that lately). The holidays provide a handy excuse. Sometime between now and Christmas I'm still hoping to get Grandma's krumkake iron out and get to the buttery goodness. 4. Write. Writing might not have made it onto my list if I'd done this last year. But after a winning NaNoWriMo, and a so-far successful December NaBloPoMo, it would be accurate to say I am a writer. I even made it back into my journal today - and it felt good to have a pen in my hand and my hand in a book instead of on the keyboard. 5. Get back in touch. I used to be a much better letter writer than I have been lately, but the long evenings do inspire me to reconnect with folks I've been out of touch with. Facebook helps, but phone calls are better. And when I really get inspired I still put pen to paper and get out the postage stamps. This year's Christmas cards continue to be a work in progress. Good thing I'm a big believer in celebrating all 12 days of Christmas! 6. Needle crafts. Knit, crochet, cross stitch, beading (yes, with a needle) - the winter months usually find me with more than one project going on. At the moment I'm only working on one, though, a Christmas present for my mother-in-law. It's nearly done, I think it will be ready to go into the suitcase in time for the next visit! (I'll try to remember to take and post a picture when it's done). 7. Organize. I am perpetually unorganized, but when the weather gets crazy, night falls early and there's only so much TV I can take and my eyes are tired from reading, it's time to get out the junk drawer and go through it. And then maybe tackle a closet. And the pantry. And the refrigerator (no matter how hard we try to avoid it we usually end up with at least one science experiment going on in there...) Anybody want to come over and play organized? 8. Evaluate and plan. This goes along with the writing, and this year the reading as well, and perhaps also the organizing. This time of year gets me thinking about the year that's nearly over and wondering about the year to come. I am an accomplished maker of lists, and the last couple weeks of December always find me writing not just to do lists and shopping lists, but dream lists, idea lists, book lists, project lists, etc. What are your 8 things to enjoy in the dark?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ready for the Light

Happy Winter Solstice! I am looking forward to a little more sunshine, though with the Weather Channel forecasting a 100% chance of precipitation in Bozeman tomorrow, I may have to wait a day or two... I thought of this song by Dar Williams today. A good one for solstice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Stuffing of the Sock

I need help (no snide remarks necessary, thank you). Christmas is only 5 days away. The stockings soon will be hung by the chimney with care - well, on the mantle over the gas fireplace at least (no chimney involved), and I will be responsible for filling one of them. SO - what to put in the stocking of a 47 year old male pastor? I've got a couple of things, and have asked him for a list (which so far includes a new tooth brush, a tin of Altoids, brown shoelaces, black shoelaces (he's getting crazy here) and one Montana scratch lottery ticket in honor of my Grandma Muggie who put a lottery ticket in everyone's stocking each year). It's a good list, a fairly practical list, really, but not all that much fun. Thus I am taking suggestions. Grant: no fair peeking at the comments. Santa's watching...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Another "First Annual"

This afternoon found us back at the hospital - to go Christmas caroling with folks from the congregation. I found out after our singing slot was scheduled that a significant number of folks from church would be at another member's Christmas Open House this afternoon (we weren't invited, which is fine; I'll just have to remember to find out ahead of time when it is next year...) and was nervous that there'd be only 4 or 5 of us to sing. I shouldn't have worried: a group of 12 of us gathered, including 5 children, to sing carols and songs in each of the wings of the hospital. Fortunately there were some amazing voices, so we managed four parts on a few of the old favorites. Not bad. And again it was fun to offer a simple surprise to staff - and patients, too. As we waited for the elevator to take us back to the first floor after our singing was done, one of the participants said how much she enjoyed the hour of carols, remarking on how appreciative everyone was. "First annual," she said. And a tradition was born. Pictures from last night's adventure are on our congregational blog, Rooted. Pretty fun!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Midnight Cookies

It's late. After midnight, actually, though blogger thinks I'm on the west coast, so I still have a few minutes to make my deadline. It's still Friday night in my world... We're just back after "Midnight Cookies" - a high school youth event I brought from the congregation I served in Kalispell. Four youth, two moms and I met in the church kitchen at 9pm and baked and decorated cookies til nearly 11pm. We put them on festive plates, along with some Hershey's kisses and peppermint candies, wrapped them up with homemade cards and postcard sized invitations to the congregation's Christmas services, then loaded the cars and hit the road. We delivered plates of goodies to the local fire station, 911 dispatch center, police station, sherriff's office, and each nurses' station at the hospital (Grant came as our escort, since he's on staff at the hospital and knows his way around). Everyone was delighted to see us, and more than a little surprised. I'm hoping this will become a great youth tradition at CtK - and that next year those receiving cookies will remember us. Too often I forget to be thankful for the folks who work the night shift to help keep our community safe and healthy. It's fun to remember them and try to do something nice, and to do so on their turf, and their time. How often do they get freshly baked cookies at midnight? Probably not often enough.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hopeful about Mutuality

We had our first Mutual Ministry Committee meeting tonight. My first MMC meeting EVER, even though a Mutual Ministry Committee is the ONE committee required in every ELCA congregation. I'm 17 months into my third call and this is the first time I've had a committee like this, and it wasn't all that easy to put together. Along the way, when I asked colleagues about their own experiences with such groups, I received a wide range of responses, from "I'll never do that again," to "total life saver." I'm not sure yet what accounts for the differences in experience. Was it the pastor? The parishioners on the committee? Poorly (or brilliantly) articulated reasons for the committee to exist? Ability to maintain confidentiality? Process breakdown? We were careful in selecting folks for the committee. More than half of those we asked declined, so now there are four: two women, two men, plus the two of us. I am hopeful. I don't expect that this group will instantly make my work and life easier, and I pray that our meetings don't turn into reciprocal complaining sessions. But it feels good to know that there's a friendly group paying attention to our ministry and the ministry of the congregation with the goals of learning, growing in faith, and being the people of God in ministry TOGETHER. We meet again in a month. We'll see...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mary's Song

I'm preaching this weekend, and so have the Magnificat on the brain. It's not a bad state to be in, really, though I'm still waiting on the Spirit to help me narrow down my sermon. My tendency lately is to have more than one sermon mushed together, which isn't exactly helpful. We'll be singing "Canticle of the Turning," a hymn I like a lot, despite the fact that we all end up sounding so cheerful about a turning upside down of the status quo. I'm not so sure those of us who really are pretty privileged, in the grand scheme of things, should be quite so happy about the rich being sent away empty... Anyway, thinking about Mary's song also made me think about this song I was glad to stumble upon a while back. The singer is Catherine Hessler, a UW classmate of mine (we took Scandinavian linguistics together, and maybe one or two other classes - she studied Swedish while I studied Norwegian, and we were both involved in the university ministries at University Presbyterian Church - she much more so than I). The song's composer, Katie Freeze, can be seen at the keyboard in the video (she was a couple of years behind us at UW, and also a UPC-er). As Catherine writes on her website: "How Many Angels" is Mary’s Song, an interpretation of the reflections of this new young mother after the baby Jesus was born. Mary holds the little miracle in her arms and knows that the angels too rejoice over his life. A life that will change the world. Mary considers both the enormity and the grace of her situation. With wonder and humility she embraces the truth that God chose her to play a beautiful role in the life of the Savior. Hope you like the song.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Cards sans "The Letter"

I'm more than a little behind on sending Christmas cards, having sent all of four or five so far. I keep reminding myself that Christmas doesn't even START until after sundown on Christmas Eve, and then lasts for 12 whole days, but the "busiest day for the USPS" news segment last night re-ignited my culture driven angst. While I am sending cards, I'm not writing a Christmas letter this year (the man of the house wants to write one, which is fine, but I'm not sending one in "my" cards). I figure the defining moments of my year aren't exactly things most people want to read about while sipping cocoa and watching the lights twinkle on their Christmas trees. Instead I am penning simple greetings on each card and calling it good enough. I actually managed to watch two hours of TV last night. I try to catch Jay Leno on Mondays because he does "Headlines" which always crack me up. Last night he also welcomed "Garfunkel and Oates" - a hilarious duo with a hilarious song. Enjoy!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Press to Me

The January-February 2010 issue of the Utne Reader arrived in our mailbox today. I look forward to having a little more time to sit down and read the longer articles. I know I'm busier than I want to be when I check to see how long something is before I start reading it... One of the things I like about the magazine is how it introduces me to so many other magazines, journals, websites, etc., which I would never find on my own. One story that grabbed my attention in this new issue was excerpted from Calyx, "a feminist literary journal published by the press of the same name, both of which nurture women's creativity." What's not to like about that, right? The Calyx website doesn't grant too much access to the content of its journal - fair enough, they've got to pay the bills somehow. I'm intrigued enough to look for it the next time I find myself next to a magazine rack that goes on forever. I'm not sure the Barnes & Noble here in Bozeman carries it. We'll see. What are some of the new, or new-to-you websites, journals, etc. that are sources of inspiration in these short days and dark nights of December?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sleeping On It

It was a good day for us today. Between services we had our children's Christmas program, including some musical offerings and poetry readings from the middle school and high school youth. We are blessed with some extremely talented youth - I just wish I had a video camera to record and post some of their songs. Alas... I attended a good Nominating Committee meeting - one of those things they never teach you about in seminary... We had planned for a couple of weeks to put our Christmas tree up tonight. So, after a serious vacuuming and mopping of the laminate floor that never stays clean for more than about 30 seconds, we brought in the box, which takes both of us to carry. We bought a nice pre-lit artificial tree in Phoenix, where real trees were not only incredibly expensive but also extreme fire dangers. Living in Montana, it's tempting to trade it for a real tree, but this year we decided to save the money nad use what we've got. We got the base out, no problem, and the bottom section, inserted in the base and nicely fluffed. The lights plugged in and turned on, all twinkly. The second section of the tree was a little trickier, but we got it. After that, not so much. There's just no way to get a nine foot tree to stand up in a room with eight foot ceilings, no matter how much you try to bend that top section. Of course in our haste to get the whole thing put together we missed at least one of the electrical connections, too, so even the sections we did get put together won't all light up. We decided to take it all apart and start over. Only the first two sections are now stuck together. Even lifting the two sections out of the base and playing tug of war with them wouldn't unstick them. The base and bottom two sections are now out in the garage, hoping the cold temperature out there will miraculously make it easier to get it fixed in the morning. And yes, assuming we can get the lights all figured out, we're still going with the nine footer, just not the top foot or so. We're going to need a much bigger star...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bottled Water Has Got to Go!

My friend Carrie posted this graphic from Fast Company on her facebook page. I knew bottled water was bad, but this points out just HOW bad it is. Not only is it super expensive, in some cases it's worse for you than tap water. Three cheers for my stainless steel re-usable water bottle (and tap water in Bozeman that actually tastes good)!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Things I Didn't Know About Hannukah

Hannukah begins today - and no, it's not a "Jewish Christmas," though it surprises me how many uninformed Americans think it might be. A few years ago I bought a couple of children's books about Hannukah to have on hand to help tell the story. It's too bad so many folks have Bibles without the Apocrypha, since the Hannukah story is alluded to in the "in-between" books of 1 and 2 Maccabees. Maybe the best way to learn the story and how it's understood today is to expand our circles of friends to include more folks of different faiths.
One of the experiences I am most grateful for during my seminary days is CPE - Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE tends to get a pretty bad rap from pastor-types, and in some cases, rightly so. It's no good to be taken apart and then not put back together again. What made my CPE experience so good, besides a good supervisor, was the friendship forged with the only other woman in my group, a rabbinical student named Sarah. Early on in our summer of hospital-chaplaincy-fun, Sarah and I decided that there would be no "dumb questions" between us - and I got to learn a lot about her tradition, the different branches of the Jewish family tree in America, and to see my own tradition through different eyes. (All of the rest of our group were Christians, and we had to promise not to baptize Sarah if she ever fell asleep in the break room...).
So, here's a link to an OpEd piece from today's New York Times, which helped me put Hannukah in some historical perspective. I'd encourage you to read the comments, too, as they were interesting, also.
Op-Ed Columnist The Hanukkah Story By DAVID BROOKS Published: December 11, 2009 Hanukkah is the most adult of holidays. Its lesson is that even the struggles that saved a people are dappled with tragic irony, complexity and unattractive choices.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tune Anticipation

Let the music begin!
Tomorrow morning at 10am the piano I inherited will finally be tuned. It had lived for several years at my parents' house (I don't know why they didn't want to ship it to me in Phoenix...) and they delivered it to our new house here in Bozeman over Reformation Sunday weekend in October.
Since its arrival we've been letting it acclimate to its new home, and every once in a while I'll sit down and struggle to play something from memory. Badly. Its out-of-tune-ness doesn't exactly help my mediocre ivory tickling skills.
However, there's a box in the garage labeled "Sheet Music" that I can hear calling my name. Sometime in the next couple of weeks I hope to drag it inside and sort through it, and begin to get the music back into my fingers. There was a time when I could lose whole afternoons at the piano, practicing the same hard measures until I could get them without looking, playing old favorites out of the hymnal.
I'm not sure how the man of the house will react to a functioning piano at our house. The piano room is dangerously close to the kitchen and family room where TV watching and napping happen. I hope he'll love it as much as I do. Maybe the Easter Bunny will end up bringing him some lessons.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Only One Thing

I've got only one thing to say tonight: Amen, come Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Old Fashioned Warmth

It's cold in Bozeman. Really cold. I'm not sure our high made it above zero today. I know when I finally rolled out of bed this morning the news-folk said the windchill was lower than 40 degrees below zero. It's definitely cold enough to get one's attention. And it can get cold enough in our house to get my attention, too.
We bought our house in late winter earlier this year, and moved in March. For reasons that still escape me, we have two furnaces - one for upstairs and one for downstairs. While the control that offers is nice - we can heat just the space we're in a little more simply, especially with the gas fireplace in our family room/kitchen great room - it means that the bedrooms, all upstairs, stay a little chilly. We've got flannel sheets, a quilt and a big fluffy down comforter on the bed. But when the temp is barely 60 degrees in the room (58 if the man of the house gets sneaky), it's still a little chilly at first.
Enter one of the all time greatest inventions of all time: the hot water bottle (why do they still call them bottles? they're not, really). I had never seen one used for warmth in bed until I lived in Northern Ireland for a year. And then I wasn't just introduced to the concept with the standard red bottle (like the one in my lap right now), but red rubber bottles inside stuffed animal covers! Talk about snuggly! I've still got mine (Shaun the sheep from Wallace and Grommit), though it's a little bulky for keeping my feet warm under all the covers... Fill it up with water heated in the electric kettle (the small kitchen appliance I have refused to live without since my Irish sojourn) and winter nights aren't so bad.
I wonder how much energy Montanans would save if we all kept our tootsies toasty with a few cups of hot water?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snacks vs. Ingredients

Grant and I ran a few errands today - a "quick" trip to Costco and Target, for things like salad greens and dog food. We did a turn through the Christmas tree ornaments at Target - I'm on the prowl for inexpensive star ornaments for use at church during the time after Epiphany. I found what I was looking for, and then we strolled down the aisles of Christmas candy, showing remarkable restraint. When we passed by the York Peppermint Patties I told Grant, "Those always taste like Christmas to me. Pepperminty, and so cool." "You should try the new mint chips I got at Trader Joe's," he said. I knew nothing of said mint chips. "Where are they?" I asked, knowing they weren't living among the snacks in the pantry. "With the other chocolate chips," he answered. And then I remembered. We have a fundamental difference between us. Grant thinks of chocolate chips as a snack. I think of chocolate chips as an ingredient. After a couple of disappointing beginnings to chocolate chip cookie dough over a span of a few months a few months ago (I KNEW I bought chips, where had they gone??) we now have TWO containers of chocolate chips. His and Hers. Snack and Ingredient. Now, perhaps to make cookies...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

True Confessions: Sarah Palin makes me crazy

We're having a fairly lazy Sunday afternoon and evening at our house. After worship, Sunday School (I co-teach the high school class) and worship again, Grant and I took a handful of college students out to lunch. There were a bunch more students in worship, I'd expected more to stick around for free pizza at Old Chicago, since we were buying. But whatever. This afternoon I napped for close to two hours - I hadn't realized how tired I was, but a belly of greasy goodness probably helped. Now we are watching the Vikings play the Arizona Cardinals, and I'm catching up on the stack of newspapers that we've accumulated over the last week +. Grant is a die-hard newspaper reader. He reads two every day: the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Wall Street Journal. When we were in Redmond, WA for Thanksgiving, he bought a New York Times every couple of days. Including last Sunday, November 29th. I'm working my way through the New York Times Magazine from that paper, and this article about Sarah Palin, and why so few women like her, caught my attention: The Way We Live Now Why Women Can’t Let Sarah Palin Go By LISA BELKIN Published: November 29, 2009 If life is like high school, then today’s educated, ambitious women are the student-council presidents and Sarah Palin is the head cheerleader. Please let me know what you think...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Swell Season

Grant and I saw the movie Once in Minneapolis almost two years ago, and we both loved it. The music (Oscar winning) was great, of course, but I loved more that it was set on the street in Dublin. It's funny how different sounds - and more so smells - take me back to the year I lived in Northern Ireland. This past summer I was walking on Main Street in downtown Bozeman, and it started to rain. As I rounded a corner and passed a local burger joint I could have sworn I was in Strabane, I could even picture the chippy in my head. Crazy. Anyway - here's a new video by The Swell Season. I'm thankful to have come across it on Chris Scharen's blog. (And I'm hoping Santa will bring me The Swell Season's newest cd). Hope you like the video!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Early Morning Privileges

My alarm went off at 5:30am this morning. While I realize this is a perfectly normal time for a lot people I know, including my husband, it is pretty darn early for me. My excuse is that I used up my lifetime supply of early mornings during the two and a half years I worked for Starbucks (when the store opened at 5:30am and we had to be there at 5am, which meant I got up at 4am to shower and get there on time...). As painful, and cold, as it was this morning, I was glad to get up. An eight year old member of the congregation I serve was scheduled for surgery, and he and his parents were to be at the hospital at 6:15am. I got there about 6:20. The coffee cart on the first floor had yet to open for the day - you know you're early when you beat the coffee lady. There were three or four nurses on the surgery floor, walking with purpose from their station into rooms with curtains pulled for patient privacy. They asked questions, took blood pressures, checked temperatures, and made sure all the information was correct - so much activity happening in those lighted spaces, when the world around was still sleeping and covered in darkness. I witnessed the beginning of the pre-surgery routine: child patient in gown and reclining in the bed even though he was ready to bounce off the walls, nurse in and out of the room, parents smiling for their son and trying not to let their concern and worry show enough to concern and worry him. My young friend introduced his parents to the nurse, and introduced me as "our pastor." I have never been happier to bear that title. I hope he knew that I was there for him, and for his parents. We joked, talked a little about the procedure, and then we prayed one of the most heartfelt kinds of prayer - we knew we weren't in control, we asked for God's presence, we prayed for the blessing of others and their skills, we asked for the gift of trust and hope, we prayed for healing and health. His parents thanked me over and over for getting up so early, for being there. I said "you're welcome" as a reflex. And added, "It's what we do. It's who we are. And it is my privilege to be here." I never cease to be amazed at the access people grant us pastor-types into their lives, to be witnesses, to be signs of God's presence among us, to represent the family of faith, to help find the words to give meaning to the best and worst times. What a privilege. *the surgery went well and my friend is on the mend. Wahoo!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wait. Watch. Prepare. Part I

We had our first Wednesday evening Advent service tonight, using Holden Evening Prayer, a setting by Marty Haugen. The music was wonderful, but being in charge meant I didn't quite get to experience the service the way I hope everyone else did - especially since this setting of Evening Prayer is so brief... I need MORE time to sit, to be still, to watch the flame glowing on the first candle on the Advent wreath flicker as we breathe. Our theme tonight was "Wait." I suck at waiting, though sometimes I think I've had so much practice I should be a pro. We had a mini-readers-theater of sorts, exploring the different kinds of waiting different people do - waiting for a baby to be born, waiting for the world to change, waiting to die, waiting to be noticed, waiting to be wanted, waiting for... Tonight I am waiting for my headache to go away. I'm waiting for our household to get out of debt. I'm waiting to have a child, and waiting to be in better shape, waiting for people to cooperate, waiting for people to take some healthy initiative, waiting for adequate time to get my house organized, waiting for inspiration, waiting for God to speak to me just a little more clearly. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Only A Month, Right?

I have been sucked in. While there were multiple days during November that I spent no time at the keyboard working on my NaNoWriMo masterpiece, I did enjoy the discipline of thinking about my story and characters. A friend from a previous lifetime (that would be high school) participated in NaBloPoMo last month (National Blog Posting Month) and wrote a blog post every day at Rhubarb Sky. I have been inspired. I will make no guarantees as to the quality of posts for the next 30 days, but I'll do my best when it comes to quantity: 30 more, at least. It's true what Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo says: all we need is a deadline.