Sunday, October 29, 2006

Newest prayer shawl

I finished the prayer shawl for the district superintendent, which will be presented at our charge conference tomorrow night. I have to say this is my favorite one so far because of the colors. My intention was to use the warm fall colors to create something that would bring to mind the colors found in fire.

Please forgive this Cliffs' Notes version of Methodist history; this symbolism of warmth and fire is tied to the founders of Methodism.

As the Wesley brothers, Charles and John, felt the movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives in 1738, their hearts were strangely warmed. John Wesley's conversion experience took place during the reading of Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans at a society meeting at Aldersgate. Just a few days before, his brother, Charles, had a similar experience.

Their response was to share the Good News of the Gospel by preaching throughout Great Britain, making the rounds to various places on a schedule. Thus was born the Methodist movement and the first examples of the Circuit Riders.

Well, enough of that lesson; it's not my intention to summarize the history of my church, but to remind us all that the Holy Spirit does soften and warm our hearts and we are called to respond.

The Holy Spirit's work can be symbolized in a prayer shawl, spreading the warmth in many ways -- through the colors, through the physical warmth and comfort of the wrap, through the shared prayers that went into the work.

Similarly, it symbolizes the work of the local church's ministries, reaching out to touch and make a difference in the lives of others.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday night in the big town

And what's up with you as the weekend arrives?

I've got plans to make some meat balls. Just had a craving for them today, made from my aunt's recipe. Alas, I could not find her recipe, so I'll be flying by memory. It's basically a meatloaf recipe rolled into balls, browned and baked with a sauce. How hard can that be? I'll be doing the ketchup/grape jelly sauce that pretty much everyone's familiar with from the olden days of crockpot appetizers.

I don't know exactly why, but meatballs always seem like a treat. Maybe because my mom would never, ever consider making them. My only exposure to meatballs was in cans of Chef Boyardee spaghetti! When I got to college, one of my roommates made Swedish meatballs for supper one night. You should have seen the catfight when another roommate decided they needed pepper. Meee-OW! That was one of those fights that lives on even now!

Other than that, I'll be working to finish the prayer shawl I'm making for the district superintendent. I'd love to get it finished tonight, but I think I'll probably put the fringe on it tomorrow. It has to be done before church Sunday morning for the congregation's blessing. No pressure or anything! LOL! I'm easily 3/4 of the way finished with it, so I'm not freakin' out.

Oh I got a couple of books yesterday after finishing with a photo shoot. I picked up "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" by Barack Obama and "Inside My Heart: Choosing to Live with Passion and Purpose" by Robin McGraw. I can't wait to curl up with these!

I'll spend part of the weekend, probably Sunday afternoon, taking care of some writing.

And some time this weekend I MUST MUST MUST go to the post office. I'm so bad about actually GETTING to the post office when I need to mail things. Does anyone else have this shortcoming? I'll put that on my New Year's Resolutions list in a couple of months. I really need to get over it!

Off to the meatballs now! Y'all have a great time -- and send up a prayer for ER who is suffering with an ear infection. Please. Pretty please.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Favorite lullabies

What are your favorite lullabies?

After the first of the year I'm going to be working on a CD of lullabies. For quite some time I've wanted the women of my church to work on this project -- singing and recording a set of lullabies which we can present to the families of new babies as a gift from the church. Now it looks like the plan will finally come together.

I'm working on a women's retreat for right after the first of the year, and this is something that we could work on during a session on creativity. It would be the beginning session of the project, introducing the idea to women who attend the retreat and getting their ideas and input on what they think would be good to include in the project. We'd begin sight-reading some of the lullabies I've collected over time and set up a rehearsal schedule.

I talked with the music director about this tonight and he's behind the project. Since I'll be chairing the care team, I've got a channel for distributing these now.
Everything is coming together nicely.

Now, if you have a favorite lullaby, please share it along with some words about what it means to you, if there is a special story connected to it.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wrapping up the season

I hope I've completed the final mowing of the yard for 2006. It was a good temperature today so on the spur of the moment I thought it was time to tackle the task. The yard has been a disaster this year with the falling of the tree. There are some rather large trenches and holes where the tree fell and tore up the lawn.

This morning I was able to dispose of the last of the stray branches from that episode in the weekly trash pickup. It was nice to finally finally finally get those out of here.

The mower resisted going to work today. I spent well over a half hour trying to get it started. I suspect the gasoline was losing its oomph. Finally it occurred to me to push the mower down the driveway a bit before trying one more time to get it going. That did the trick -- one more yank and it jumped to life with a backfire, but at least it was going! I'll have it serviced before next season starts. It's a good mower and just needs a little cleaning up and encouragement.

As I was finishing the back yard, I was startled by a bird that I couldn't identify. Its body was larger than a robin, shaped rather like a football -- the head and tail were similarly shaped. There were brown and yellow stripes from bill to tail. It seemed very content to go about its work next to me -- not at all fearful of the mower. It made no effort to fly off or hop away even though I was within 3 or 4 feet of it. It seems to be fond of eating bugs from the ground. Anyone have any clues? I've tried searching for it in my bird guide and online without success. It was a pretty fat bird, but I wonder if it was a juvenile because of its tameness. If so, the parents are gonna be rather large.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Emma says goodbye too

Emma, Anne's dog (one blue eye, one brown), had the chance to say goodbye to her little friends next door under the fence.

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Emptying the nest

It's been a heart-breaking weekend for my friend Anne. The final day at her old home came today. The new owners will take possession tomorrow after the closing of the sale. Anne's already signed her papers so she won't have to take off work to attend the closing. I'm glad, because I know having to face the people she's turning her keys over to would be hard.

She's met them, don't get me wrong, and she likes them. We said a prayer tonight in the house that they have many years of happiness in the house. What would hurt Anne is having to put the keys on the table at the title company and being in an "official" setting when she loses possession of the home in which she raised her son.

I went over this evening when Anne called me. I could tell she was stuck and wasn't able to leave the house on her own. She spent the night there last night to take the chance for one final farewell. Even with that time spent in the empty house wasn't enough. She was simply not ready to leave.

She called me weeping. "I don't have any pictures of my back yard," she said. I asked her if she had her camera -- it was nearly 6 p.m. and she still had a little daylight.

"No, I don't," she got out through her tears.

"Well, you have a friend who has a camera right close who could come take some for you," I told her. "And your friend could come over."

"Can you come right now?" she asked. "Yes, I can come right now," I answered.

We had already had a couple of photo sessions at the house over the past week or two -- goodbye photos to remember the place.

Tonight I shot about 100 more photos of the back yard and the front yard, as well as all the rooms now empty of all of Anne's possessions.

We shared lots of tears and several memories that had taken place there.

I remembered the very first time I went to Anne's house, in 1993. I was new at my church, and Anne became a fast friend quickly. Shortly after I started attending the church she invited me to her house to play games with her and her son Matt, who was a new first-grader at the time. We played a board game and then switched to Skip-Bo, we think it was. The two of them made me feel so welcome. I have felt that same welcome feeling every time I've gone there over the past 13 years.

Anne visited with her neighbor a few minutes to say goodbye. Then we stood on the driveway, reminiscing some more. Then we stood there quietly for a minute, both of us choking back the tears. I gave her a big hug, then finally spoke:

"I love you my friend, but it's time for you to go home now. You know the way," I said.

Another tear wiped away, then she got in the car and pulled out of the driveway.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hee Hee!!!

Well, things are so boring in blogland right now for some reason. So I was playing with my virtual pet, Sweet Puppy Girl, over on the left part of the screen. You know what, some things have changed with her! She's learned to sit and lie down, and now she has a ball to play with too! And she no longer has to jump to get her treats. You can hand her one straight out of the box and she'll eat it. I love seeing my little girl evolve.

I think people must be busy or going through a "blah" period. Few people on my circle are blogging as regularly as they usually do. Some have even talked about taking a break. I've been slow, too. I don't want to keep boring you with stories about my car A/C problems! (Day 15 today of the misery.)

I've been busy sewing and knitting and teaching Divorce Care and other things at church. This is a busy time of year for a church with stewardship drives and fund-raising projects like the Pumpkin Patch and starting rehearsals for Christmas music. There are a couple of things I am taking on for the next year that are pretty substantial. I'll become the chairman of the Care Team. We will have some major changes coming in how it's structured which I look forward to. I'll also be leading a grief recovery group as a component of that. Please pray for me to be able to carry out these jobs in a compassionate and loving manner.

I've got some soup cooking in the crock pot and will be making some cornbread to go with it. I'm having company tonight. So I'll cut this short.

I hope someone is still out there taking a glance at my blog now and then. Thanks to those of you who have responded to some of the posts lately. It's getting lonesome around here -- is it just that time of year?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Getting Real

The conversation started with this post on one of my message boards about Dove's Real Women campaign.

First, visit this site and watch the short video: Campaign for Real Beauty. Go ahead, I'll wait for you to come back.

The original poster and I both applauded Dove for having the courage to say out loud and in real life that women are beautiful exactly as they were created. Somehow we have gotten terribly off course when whole generations of young women aspire to an unrealistic and unhealthy concept of beauty which would have us believe that the Creation was defective.

It's but one facet of a flawed gem. We also have perverted God's gift by falling prey to overspending and excessive consumerism. In this regard I am a member of the "anti-bling" brigade.

More and more people are spending more money than they have to buy more things that they don't need. They have a sense of entitlement for the brightest and best. How sad that we as a society have been distracted from our real lives by bright, shiny objects. Just like a mina bird.

A lot of people are so caught up in the lifestyle of possessions that they fail to pay their bills, run up enormous credit card debt, have charge-offs and bankruptcies and fail to provide for their children's needs. It is that kind of obsessive consumerism I am against. It is unneccessary, destructive and irresponsible.

That type of consumerism is indicative of deeper problems, not the least of which is a damaged self esteem.

A lot of people are criticizing the Dove campaign. One point they have made is that "commoditizing" sex still sells products, and "commoditizing" self esteem sells soap.

I was stunned to return to the post three hours later. Nearly 100 posts had been added, criticizing the Dove campaign and criticizing me and my stance on extreme consumerism.

It's hard -- no, impossible -- for me to understand defending a lifestyle in which people routinely pay $200 or more on jeans, buy diamonds because they are bigger than the last diamonds they bought, and spend $800 a month or more just to eat out. Oh, especially if the rent goes unpaid and they have a long history of delinquent payments and charge-offs.

That life seems so empty to me.

I grew up poor, as did most of my friends. Since then, however, one of those friends became incredibly wealthy. Our life views are so vastly different now that we have a hard time finding any common ground now. I have a hard time "getting" her lifestyle now.

So I want to know what you, my readers, think. Where do you come down on the scale of consumerism?

How about your stance on the Dove campaign? Is it a good beginning in affirming real women and real girls, or a clever sales campaign? Is it both? Does the fact that Dove is a business change the value of this campaign?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tending to my knittin'

I finished a prayer shawl for my Aunt Dot, which I started in July when she was hospitalized. Fortunately, she recently started feeling and sounding better. She's been through a tough stretch.

Here's a photo:

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I'll get this in the mail to her this weekend (thank goodness there is a 24-hour post office at the airport.) I also have a package to mail to an internet pen pal as part of a fall gift exchange. I've got everything ready for that as well, just a matter of getting it in the mail.

I've started work on a few more creative projects. One is a prayer shawl for the District Superintendent for my church district. Instead of an ordinary annual report, he's requested that the church work areas come up with creative ways of demonstrating what our work has been about this year. So as the incoming chair of the Care Team in our congregation, I am making a special prayer shawl for him, since that has become a significant and tangible symbol of what we do. The Care Team offers pastoral support to the members of the congregation -- through the lay members as well as the clergy. We maintain the prayer chain and provide help to those on our homebound and special needs list. We take communion to those who are unable to join us in worship and make hospital and home visits, among other things.

In addition to a creative demonstration of our work, the DS has asked each work area to present a hymn which symbolizes its work. Ours will be:

I cast all my cares upon You,
I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet.
And any time that I don't know what to do,
I will cast all my cares upon You.

I had coffee with my associate pastor this morning -- our standing Saturday morning fellowship time. Good things are ahead for our church this coming year. Our staff recently attended a leadership training at Church of the Resurrection (United Methodist) in the Kansas City area. They all report amazing things and are on fire to implement some of the things they learned. I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bugging the shutter

It's no secret I am a fan of the camera. Have been since grade school when my dad put a twin-lens reflex box camera in my hand. I still have that one, which was old when he gave it to me. The thing is, "old" then still meant "good quality." It's a great camera even now, with good optics. Maybe I'll give it a whirl again for old time's sake, provided I can still find film for it. Yikes... it has been long enough now that film almost seems like a dangerous thing.

In college and one state job I had, I ruined enough film in the darkroom to know that I was not cut out for processing. Getting the film wrapped on reels to process in little canisters was a skill that was bestowed on others. I was all thumbs and managed to stick the film together too often, ruining the images it might have held.

So I trusted, for the most part, my film to processing labs. Most of the time I was happy with that, but I do recall a few times when my anger exploded at finding a particular frame or two punctured by the lab's machines with an ID code or something equally maddening. (July 4, 1984, Empire State Building, lit up in red, white and blue lights. Taken from my rooftop garden at Third and Lexingon. Yes, I'm still bitter ... why do you ask?)

I've converted to digital, nearly exclusively, over the past few years. Yes, I still appreciate a fine film photograph and the artistry and mastery that goes into that work. But there is a freedom in digital that brings me pure joy.

I'm still figuring out the capabilities of this medium and now I'm working on learning about lighting. Since I have a little time for myself this week, I am planning to set aside a portion of that to study my camera and flash equipment some more and see if I can't improve my work with those. See, I still think in film terms, but it's a bit like going from a manual typewriter to a laptop and expecting the paper to come out the top. It doesn't quite work the same way.

I also have some studio lights and finally had a chance to play with those last night while shooting some photos of my friend, her son and his girlfriend. The reason for the shoot was to say goodbye to her old home, the place where she raised her son. They are moving on -- he to college, she to a new life in a new home, with a wedding in the near future to someone she loves very much, who loves her very much.

Here's a sneak preview. Shhh. It's a secret -- y'all are getting to see this before she does. It's part of a work I am creating as a present.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

You suppose I should blog something?

OK, it's been a week since my last post. Here's a brief recap of the time that has passed:

Divorce group
Minor work
Visit to friends' house for a girls' night out
Went to street dance in Jones
Sick Sunday morning so I missed church this week.
More little work.
More little work.
Colder temperatures and rain. AH! FALL!!!! Yippeeee!!!
Dazed and confused. Need nap for brain-sharpening purposes. And quilty coziness.
Hmmm supper would be good too.

Th'th'that's all, folks!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Plains! The Plains!

E.R. said Frenzied needed to see some photos of the "real Plains." Well, here's your Plains, righ' cheer.

First, a rest stop in Texas. Texas has nice rest stops with beautiful buildings, nice clean rest rooms, mosaics, points of interest, picnic areas and grills, like these:

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In Texas, especially the Panhandle and West Texas, you will see a lot of the horizon and miles and miles of scenery like this:

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On the backroads to Lubbock, there is an area called the Caprock Canyons north of Silverton. There's a turnout where you will see formations like this:
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You'll see lots and lots of these:
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and lots of these:

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Some of these:

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Lots of these:

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Not too many of these:

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Some of the little towns had their buildings painted in humorous ways. This burned out motel was painted with all kinds of stars of yore:

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And the jail in the next town was also decorated...

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It was harvest time, for lots of things like cotton:
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And peppers:
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And pumpkins. Say hello to Josh.
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I asked Josh about a huge field of peppers at the Texas-New Mexico border. The air was pungent and you could feel the sting from them as you drove by. He said the field was ready to harvest but the owners didn't have anyone to pick the peppers because of the tightening of the Mexican border. He wasn't sure if they would be harvested in time.

There are also lots of peanut farm in that area, but I couldn't find any that had been harvested to show you. I did see pumpkin fields being harvested and the pumpkins boxed and trucked to take all over the country for Halloween. That was interesting.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Home, now to sleep

Just one photo to share at the moment. More to come later on. It's been a long drive -- 1,300 + miles since Friday morning.

This was my favorite of many photos taken during the trip. It was also one of the last taken tonight, just as the sun set. I got it just two seconds before the light disappeared completely.

From the wind farm near Weatherford, where there are literally hundreds of these wind generators line up for miles, looking like ballerinas dancing on the prairie (E.R., thought of you while I saw these, both on the way out and on the way back.)

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