Thursday, December 20, 2007

flu-like symptoms

At noon today they told the distressing news that Rudy Giuliani was hospitalized overnight with "flu-like symptoms". Now, this blows my mind. Since when did flu-like symptoms become a hospitalize-able situation? Here's the criteria for that- if you are rich and/or famous, you are entitled to a night in the hospital for things like being nauseous, or if you are suffering from "exhaustion". I wonder how many single, working mothers are suffering from exhaustion right now? If we opened the doors of our hospitals to everyone who had the flu, of course they'd be over-run immediately. So we reserve these beds for those who get news coverage for whatever minor "illness" they have. What really irks me about this is, this in particular is a man to whom the country might soon look to when it comes to health care decisions that will effect every citizen. Does he even remember a time when having "flu-like symptoms" meant calling in sick, curling up on the couch, and throwing up in a bucket? I doubt it. And I can't help but wonder how his personal experience of health care might effect his vision of health care for the country.
I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

SNOW DAY!!!

a few "before" pictures- not much on the ground.













This odd mulch is sunflower seed shells, from where some jerk squirrel or mouse ate his way through our bag of birdseed in the hall entryway.




























It started to pile up right away- we've gotten an average of 1.5 inches per hour since it started.















So much for our Summer scene!















Our only Christmas decoration so far, decorated by GE and Mother Nature!

the storm before the storm

I heard big snow was coming, so I thought I'd better go shopping this morning. W!O!W! I have never seen anything like the scene at Market Basket today!!! My first clue should have been the fact that there were no carts. NO carts!! I waited by the door until a guy came in with a handful of carts, and he didn't even get to park them- a bunch of us took them right from him at the door.
I wore my ipod and I think this is what miraculously saved my mood. I was listening to NPR's Pop Culture podcast, but I could still hear the Christmas music over the loudspeakers. I could also hear the pleas for patience by the store staff, and observe three different sub-classes of shoppers. Here's what I saw:
OLD WOMEN are seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. They stop and stand in the middle of the aisle and stare at the shelves, trying to locate their items or compare prices, I don't know... At one point, I pulled over to review my list, and I was sideswiped (my cart, really- I escaped unharmed) by a woman. She swiped the length of my cart and then kept on going.
OLD MEN are the worst!!! They are frustrated and grumpy, and try to speed through any empty space they find themselves in. Even if, say, that empty space is only about the length of a shopping cart. At one point I attempted to enter the baking aisle, but couldn't. It was full, so I settled in to wait for my chance. A man came to the end of the aisle, which abutted the space where people were in line for the registers. No one could move. He said out loud, to no one in particular, "why isn't anyone MOVING?" I said to him "there's just nowhere to go". He leaned forward, way over his cart to see around the end of the aisle, and yelled "GET MOVING!! NOBODY CAN MOVE OVER HERE!!!" No one even bothered to look back at him.
EVERYONE ELSE can be divided still into three sub-sub-groups: the angry, the bewildered, and the patient. I was, by the luck of the ipod, one of the patient ones today. And now that we're home, snuggled up with a chicken baking in the oven, we can watch the news storm reports and know our chores are done, everyone's safe, and our cupboards are full.

TDBI

I was listening to NPR today and they featured a story by Robert Krulwich- he's fast becoming my favorite guy on NPR, and is part of the team that does Radio Lab, the podcast which I've glowed about here before. Today he was talking with a scientist about a new study on fetal cells (wow stuff- you can listen to the story at the Bryant Park Project page- just click on Listen Now)
and mentioned that scientists have this term: the Too Dangerously Beautiful Idea. The gist of it is, if it's too good, incredibly good news, reflects the beauty we all wish to believe exists in the world, you'd better take a closer look at it. Scientists don't want humanity's need for beauty to exist, to cloud their judgment.
As much as Catholic theology confounds me (it's okay to admit that, right?) I am glad that being part of a faith tradition means that I don't have to dis-believe something because it's too good to be true.

where have all the convents gone?



The convent at my parish is being knocked down soon- it's a beautiful old stone building that is not so beautiful on the inside. You can see my pictures from a last walk-through here. Many of the pictures were taken in complete darkness, so some are pretty blurry. But still, pretty cool!

Monday, December 10, 2007

In lieu of Actual Posting

Here's some shots from around the manse:
Our brussels sprout crop. What will we do with all these???



















Our pumpkins, ready in wait for next year's growing season.










Could it be? Fairy God Bunny was here!!!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

There's a new sheriff in town.

So the news is finally out (how many of us have been keeping this secret, I wonder?) that what used to be the OYM has a new director. He's a priest (shocker!) and from a high-profile parish, THE poster parish for LifeTeen in the Archdiocese. It's an interesting choice, and says a lot about how Youth Ministry is viewed in the RCAB.
The choice of a priest (in my humble opinion) is more a nod toward clericalism than just a convenience (you know, it's handy if your YM director can say Mass at camp and whatnot). The new director is ordained 5 years, as I said in a parish with a vibrant Youth Ministry- but this Archdiocese is full of qualified professionals with more than 10-15 years of experience. Many of the veteran youth ministers in this AD have been cut off from the OYM for one reason or another, however, and it would take some serious crow-eating for them to approach any of them (us) to consider this job.
I am curious to see how this new "Office of New Evangelization...something something...youth and young adults" will play out. Will burnt bridges be mended? Will professional YM's be supported? What I've seen so far (a few pages of a handout from the office) mentioned, priests and vocations repeatedly- it's the language of the RCAB lately, and looks to be the direction of its ministry offices.
Youth Ministers could have been consulted in this decision... was there an interview process? Was there an open application period? Was the job posted... anywhere? I wonder if the YM community has been invited to meet with him, or will be? Maybe I just missed it all.
Technically, you know, I'm not a Youth Minister... so I'll be watching from the sidelines- and praying for the best.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Days of having our brand-new comforter...

...before it got thrown up on by a cat: 1.










Note: this is not my cat, and is pictured for illustrative purposes only.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

the part-time myth

Am I being too preachy...?

I got a call from a friend today who's serving on a committee at his parish to hire a Coordinator of Youth Ministry. He wanted me to put out the word that his parish is looking. But...
Their plan is one I've heard so many times before, especially in the past few years- they aren't "ready" to hire anyone full time so they want to hire someone right away to be part-time, to establish the program, reach out to the kids, recruit and train volunteers, maybe work at week-long camps during the summer, put on some programs... then, when they have their budget set, they'll hire that person, or maybe someone else, to serve full time.
I tried to steer him away from that plan, but it was one that their committee had built together and believed would be just the ticket. I knew I couldn't change his mind or their plan- but what I wanted to say was "You and your committee are at best, dreaming... at worst, shooting your collected selves in the foot. Feet."
It's a plan that so many committees in so many parishes come up with, thinking it will work perfectly. But realistically, let's take a look at this plan. First, who is this person who can work part time for a parish (and let's face it, that list of responsibilities doesn't sound part-time to me... so what we're really talking about is more-than-PT-hours for PT pay) for six months, until their parish decides their ready of FT? Certainly not someone with experience and training in the field, a professional/vocational minister.
So what you're left with is usually a college student who will not know where to begin and will disappear upon graduation, or leave as soon as they can find a full time job. Or, a mom who is looking for a little something to do while their kids are in school. Moms are great and have their value, but you will generally not find a mom who feels the call to vocational youth ministy just by nature and lucky timing.
That in turn leaves you with another potential problem. What happens if, when your budget does allow for a full-timer, you realize that your mom or college kid isn't who you'd choose to fill that position? Do you fire them, after using them for 6 months to do all the legwork? Ask them to reapply for their own position, and then not hire them? After all, they'll still be in your parish, and probably have kids in your program. How's that going to work?
Believe me, I understand and applaud the intention to hire a Coordinator of Youth Ministry in a parish. i believe every parish should have at least one. But if you're going to hire a full-timer down the road, I don't think plugging a temporary part-timer in the mix is a good idea. Save that money and add it to the salary you're planning for the FT-er. Hire someone who is trained, experienced, or at least ready to take on the ministry as a vocational career. Then you can use that saved money to pay for good, solid training for that new minister. If you've waited this long to hire a Youth Minister in your parish, (however long this long is) then your parish can wait another six months for good Youth Ministry. It needs to be an investment-well thought-out and intended to grow into the future. It's worth the wait.

Monday, November 12, 2007

gene therapy

We'd be at about 7 and a half months pregnant now. At our parish, the Respect Life committee has a big poster up in each entry showing a fetus at exactly the same age ours would be. The posters change every month and say things like "I can hear my mommy's voice!" I can't wait for that damn imaginary baby to be born. There's something pretty disquieting about walking by that poster as time goes on.
I guess I've mentioned before that I have never felt called to motherhood. I remember in college being in the mall with my friend Shannon- she noticed that I didn't even seem to notice the cute babies around me. I seemed to be missing a gene that most women have. I have long had the rep among my friends as being the one NOT to call when you need a babysitter. And don't expect me to hold the baby until that neck can handle itself.
My new job at my new job is to revamp the Baptism ministry. One of the first things I did when I got to the parish after my most recent miscarriage was to attend a Baptism. Now just about every day I am talking with new mothers and fathers and meeting new babies and it is striking. I do see now how people might be able to handle having a baby, if all the conditions are right and they have plenty of money and all that. I'm still not there, but I do think my "babies are cute" gene has awakened. I'll even hold a baby if that situation arises. No problem.
Yesterday we had two baptisms during the 11:00 Mass. The babies were straight off Gerber jars- big cheeks and wispy hair and shiny eyes. I get choked up around babies now, sometimes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

LOL

I am addicted. (or should I say "I iz dicted"...) I don't even know where I first heard about LOLCats (oh yes, that's right, it was on Slate) but I just can't get enough of it. It started with one picture and soon there were pages and pages and pages of them. More every day. I know I should probably be embarrassed about how much I love them (like I am about how much I love America's Funniest Home Videos. There, I've said it.), but... hey, they're darn funny!
i iz blogginz / leef IÂ alonze
and this isn't even one of the very funny ones.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your relatives. (two posts, read the second one first!)

The strange part of my being at this funeral is that this is the side of the family which I pretty much avoid. Being there made me take a good look at my position in this family, or rather my non-position.
It's my mother's side, and being the youngest in my family I was also one of the youngest cousins- my older cousins didn't ever want much to do with my brother and I when we were little, and the only ones left were the three girls in one family who were even younger than us. But we didn't have much in common with the girls, except that we were bored simultaneously at family holiday celebrations.
Over the years, my siblings and I have found good reasons not to attend those family functions, and the distance between us has widened. I think originally our family was thought of as real snobs because we didn't drink like the rest of the family did (we do now!) and we never did seem to enjoy the same type of humor that they did (lots of fart jokes and teasing and such). We, of course, thought of them as immature boors. Every Summer at the family reunion they start a big water fight, which goes on forever. We don't like it, and we don't take part- further cementing my siblings and I in our cousins' minds, I'm sure, as un-fun.
I think that for everyone, in every family, we all get frozen in each others' minds at a certain age, until we are convinced otherwise. My oldest brother, I think, always kind of had me at 7 (and a cute 7 at that, I always knew he was a big fan of mine when I was a kid), until we started spending time together as fellow grown-ups. I had my cousin Joanie frozen at a nasty mid-twenties state, but as it turns out she's actually really nice- My frozen Joanie wouldn't give me the time of day, but Actual Joanie seems to like me, even. How about that?
The thing that really gave me pause was that no one seemed to recognize me, at first. I moved over when the family processed out so that I could make eye contact with my aunts and they'd know we were there. But one by one my aunts, cousins, and uncles walked past me without recognizing me. I was kind of in the back and I'm sure they weren't expecting to see family back there, but still. After my cousin and her husband got to the back of the church a huge line formed to hug them, like a sad receiving line. We skipped over it, because I didn't want to make these poor people face another face. I found an aunt who I knew would know me and she kind of said "oh look who's here, everyone!" and then everyone knew who I was.
Maybe it's time to hit one of those family reunions and start fresh. But I still won't be water fighting.

family funeral

My Mom sent me an email that asked me to please go to my cousin's baby's funeral today, to represent the family, since no one else could go. I would have gone anyway, but that certainly sealed the deal.
The baby was 6 months old and the diagnosis, which isn't actually a diagnosis of all but rather an admission of "we have no idea" was SIDS. Still, a diagnosis of something is better than a whole lot of nothing, and now the family turns from shock and awe to the business of now-what.
So we went to New Hampshire to join my mother's side of the family for the funeral at a small church near Manchester.
I want to take a moment to say that the priest who celebrated the Mass was just a loon. Hey, I understand that he doesn't know the family personally, and I even get that it a priest can't mourn for every person he funeral-izes. But this guy was a bit too cheery for my liking- really seemed like he was having a pretty good time up there. He obviously didn't write his homily. He started to ramble, and rambled on. He showed everyone the cross on the urn, and rambled about that (it was a cool cross), and displayed the teddy bear with wings. But the worst part was when he mused on the baby's name. He stood over the mother and said "how did you choose the name Nicholas for him?" Sobbing, she answered, "his brothers chose his name" and he said "ah! Well, it just fascinated me because you know, in a couple of months it will be Christmas, it would have been his first Christmas and you will be singing 'Jolly Old St. Nick' and thinking of him."
Seriously. Thanks, Padre. Very sensitive. My aunts cooed about how great the priest had been and wasn't he just wonderful?? I guess grief is blind. Which is good. I wouldn't want them to have a really awful memory of the baby's funeral. So.
After the funeral they handed out white balloons and let everyone write a message on one with a sharpie, and together we all let them go. I watched my cousin watch her balloon fly up, up, with a stunned face. I don't know how mothers go on living when their children die. I am told that the love you feel for your children, especially when they're babies- it's overwhelming and complete. How do you ever even stand up again? It is just that fear, of falling in love like that and then losing it, that makes motherhood just too impossible to consider for me. I tried to imagine being there with what would have been our three year old now, and/or six months pregnant, and the ghosts of my non-babies were palpably present there in the church around me. God blessed me with the loss before I had to fall in love, and all things being equal (and they're not, of course) I'm thankful for that.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It just keeps getting better


Here are some more pretty pics of our autumnal yard and Fall harvest. Sorry Alaska!



You can see more!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Peak Week on Lindall Hill

Blogger isn't letting me upload my latest pictures, but fear not gentle reader! You can see our lovely Fall foliage and cute kitties here. Love it up!

Friday, October 12, 2007

it's another meme! (link-intensive!)

Here's a fun quiz made up especially for bloggers. The rules are easy. Just post the quiz on your blog and answer the questions, then pass it on to five other bloggers, and link to them in your post.
1. Do you attend the Traditional Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo?
Oh goodness, the NO- I did go to Mass in french once, at St. Anne De Beupre in Canada, and I went to a Rosary service in... I think it was probably Spanish. I don't even know where I'd go to find a Latin Mass.

2. If you attend the TLM, how far do you drive to get there?

3. If you had to apply a Catholic label to yourself, what would it be?
I'm yer basic bleeding heart Liberal.

4. Are you a comment junkie?
No, I do comment here and there, but I wouldn't call myself a junkie. I LOVE getting comments on my blog though!

5. Do you go back to read the comments on the blogs you’ve commented on?
Yes, sometimes I do!

6. Have you ever left an anonymous comment on another blog?
I have. Being a Catholic in Boston means you're in danger of witch-hunting, to a certain degree, so I have kept anon. at times.

7. Which blogroll would you most like to be on?
I don't know. I read a lot of Catholic blogs but I don't think I blog enough to keep up with the pressure of being linked to by anyone significant... I like the blogrolls I'm already on, like Sue's!

8. Which blog is the first one you check?
Here's the order of my bookmark tab- I check them in order every day:
Qwantz (not a blog, just a wicked funny comic)
Shorpy, the 100 year old photo blog
Facebook
Dot's Diary I have been loving this one, it's a son posting his mother's diary from 1945. SO cool.
A Hole in the Head This is no Catholic blog, it's a gay man's collection of ephemera and other hy-sterical stuff. I love it.
RTHM Sue B's blog- and from here I check Don's and Paula's.
TCYML I won't even link to this one, she's a Steubie YM, and it's really a case of checking in to see what ridiculous thing she's saying today.
Scrutinies This was Anonymous Teacher Person until she was found out by her students- (no one stays anonymous forever on a blog) I just like reading about her teaching, she is a high school rel. teacher.
Whispers in the Loggia Serious Catholic Presbyterate Gossip.
Charlotte was Both Amy Welborne's new blog. She's interesting and keeps up on Catholic stuff, but her commenters are generally wacky.
Larry This is a new one I found from Real Live Preacher's blog. He works in a detox program and writes some good, honest stuff.
Oh and now, Knitting Journey!
I have a whole different set of blog links on my work computer, including Ashleigh's now!

9. Have you met any other bloggers in person?
Oh sure! I've met Sue, and Don, and Cathy, and Paula, and Ashleigh, and scads of other bloggers! I've even met Dom B, whose blog I think is a silly mess.

10. What are you reading?
I'm half-way through this bunch of books- too much blog reading to get to my books these days!
Last Days of Dead Celebrities
Spook
Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog)
I Love You Beth Cooper


I pass this quiz on to :
Sue, Paula, Don, Ashleigh, and Cathy!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

sick girl chronicles (two new posts)

So, on Thursday I started to feel kinda... ooky. But Friday was our day at the Fair, and so I fought it off. Went to bed early, took cold medicine, and convinced myself that it was nothing.
Friday, I was a trooper! I felt pretty crappy but I fought down a corn dog, lemonade, german waffle fries, part of a fried dough, and a coffee frappe. Oh and some cider. That night we had people over and although I wanted a nap, instead I had a really fun time hanging out with our friends, and managed to eat two hot dogs. And have a beer. I really went above and beyond.
Saturday I was supposed to go to the Corn Maze with the youth group, but instead I stayed home and coughed through two episodes of The War on PBS.
Sunday I went in to work early to e social at coffee and donuts, (and have donuts) but I really felt pretty bad, and spent most of the day at my desk trying to keep my head off of it. It turned out to be an extra long day. WHY did I go in so early??
At the Sign of Peace I did the fist-bump instead of shaking hands. I felt toxic.




Today I got up after a rough night and darn it, I don't feel better! I am sick of being at home on the couch, without even the energy to make soup, coughing and nursing a sore throat. My sister's school nurse says the cold that's going around is a TEN DAY cold. I am on day 6. I wish I had some ice cream.

Thank you and good night!!

I was watching Saturday Night Live the other night- okay, actually I saw it on the DVR during the day, because I NEVER stay awake past "LIVE! From NEW YORK..."
Anyway, thanks to modern technology I saw this episode all the way to the end. Remember how it ends? The whole cast, an the musical guest, and the guest star all gather on the stage to say thanks and good night.
Two things always fascinate me about this part of the show. First, that these tv actors, who are on tv all the time, and have been at this point in the show, on tv for an hour and a half... they mug like crazy for the camera! Like kids in home movies, making faces and waving and fighting for space in the front. Makes me wonder if it's just human nature.
The other thing is how hard they celebrate their week's work. Like they've come through a war together, or mounted some massive... something. Like survivors. Like conquerers. It made me think... how would our lives be different if we celebrated the end of every work week like that?
I my case, working for the Church, I guess our curtain call would have to be after the last Mass of the weekend. Our whole parish staff would gather in the Sanctuary, and the music group would play a nice instrumental piece and we'd clap along, waving at people in the pews. One of us would say "We want to thank everyone who made this week such a great one! Yeah! Thanks to all our Eucharistic Ministers, the Lectors... the whole staff, the volunteers, you people rock!!! Good night everybody!!" and then we'd hug each other, give high-fives, and tell each other what great jobs we did this week, and how much we loved working with each other. Then, of course, we'd all go to the wrap party.
Wouldn't work feel so much more satisfying that way?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I know, it comes in spurts.




Maybe you'll want to space out yer reading, take an entry a day or every other- then it won't feel like I'm going so long between posts. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Writer's Unblock... (Three new posts)

Today at the family Mass our pastor told the kids about Ebenezer Scrooge. The story aligns pretty perfectly with today's Gospel reading, and he drew some pretty cool connections between the two stories.
What I realized as he was talking was this: the Christmas Carol story demonstrates CONVERSION. Not only did Scrooge hear the lessons and see the evidence, he took those lessons to heart- and then, they CHANGED HIM.
This, in a nutshell, incomplete kind of way, explains why faith formation in the Catholic Church had to (has to) change. We've long busied ourselves with teaching the lessons, but never bothered to teach this life-changing Good News in a way that might, -ahem- change lives.

And on another similar, but unconnected topic: It's a two way street I guess, with teachers working on teaching to the hearts of our students, and with students accepting the Good News and putting it to use in our lives.

This week on our retreat, a friend prayed for "a kick in the ass" to get him to change his life- and another friend said "remember you prayed for that, when you get it!" I can relate to his prayer, because so many times I have already heard the answers to my questions, but ignored those answers that I've begged for. If what you ask for is a kick in the ass, get ready to bend over. But before you bend, why not just listen, and be changed by what you have heard so many times?
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.
James 1:5-6

Grab the rope

I've been thinking a lot lately about how parents form their children's beliefs. It's come up often in first Eucharist and Reconciliation prep, and now in Baptism prep too. Today at First Reconciliation class I was listening to the teacher tell the parents that they have to be careful that their own fears or negative feelings about rec. won't color their children's feelings about the sacrament. I think parents have to make this choice all the time- a parent who hates going to the dentist must sell it to their kids as a great thing to do, and they do it knowing that having one's teeth cleaned is good for everyone, even if it's uncomfortable and unpleasant.
The parents were reminded that at the First Rec. service, they too will be invited to partake in the Sacrament- and their kids will be watching. It reminded me of a time I went rappelling with a group of teenagers who I worked with at a residential treatment center. I was all for the trip and for all of them facing their fears and slipping down the rock face- the tall, scary rock face. I knew they would walk away from this experience exhilarated, proud of their accomplishments, and braver and better as a person. Yay for the kids!
One by one, the kids said "what about YOU? Are YOU going down the rock face?" and over and over I said "ohhhh you know, I want to make sure ALL of YOU get to go, in case we run out of time. I'm happy to SACRIFICE my turn so that you can have this IMPORTANT experience."
But my kids did not take my crap. They wanted me to try this crazy, dangerous activity, this one that called for new bravery- they wanted me to show them that not only did I believe in its importance for them, but also for me. And of course, they were right.
And now it's time for me to step up to the rope again, because here I am teaching parents how important it is for them to model this Sacrament, and I haven't been in nearly Forever. But, just to make sure everyone else gets a chance, I'll go to another priest. In another parish. Out of town. :)

blasphemy


And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. They said “do not approach the Lord without your parents’ permission. Please take this form home, have it signed, and bring it back to us with proof of Baptism before you may approach the Lord.”

“Further,” they instructed the children. “Inform your parents that we have put the Lord through strict screening and have had his CORI run several times. Assure them that you will never be allowed to be alone with the Lord. Remind them that this is for your own safety, as well as the Lord’s, for you may wrongly accuse him of abuse, and if no one else is around to witness to the Lord’s innocence, then He would be screwed!”

When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…”

Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

This really sent the disciples into a tizzy. “Lord,” they said, “Do not touch the children! If anyone misinterprets your affections, they can sue the cloak off of you!” They said “Lord, if you MUST show affection to a child, perhaps you could offer a hand shake, or a high five? At the very most, a side-hug...”

For the disciples reminded Jesus that unless he was willing to do His ministry in a detached, safe way, he would probably be sued and then unable to do ministry at all.

But Jesus continued, “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." And the disciples shrugged and said to each other, “well we warned Him! You saw me warn Him! Just to be safe, we should probably fill out an incident report.”

Adapted from Mark 10:13-16

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall around the manse

It's looking like Fall around the Hill here and I thought I'd snap a few for your viewing pleasure:

One of our morning glories out front.














This is the fruit fly trap which I built, and was roundly mocked for by my brother. But check out the thousands of fruit flies in there!! Effective!!














Our parlor maple, blooming away!














Cosmos. They're much taller in real life than they look on the seed packet!














Our back yard morning glories got tired of climbing and decided to creep instead. Still, pretty!












And finally our pumpkin! Yes, it's still green, and may stay that way for all we know, but it's still very pumpkiny, don't you think? Note the squirrel bite marks on the front.














Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Michelle

So, I'm here "near" the Cape (apparently not ON it, I don't know, it depends on whom you ask) on retreat- and we are in quiet time now, writing letters to those who have inspired us. Kyle, of Popple, read us something called the "Charles Schultz Philosophy" and then sent us off to pray and write to/about the people who made a difference to us in some way.
I wrote a letter to Michelle, whose last name I've forgotten- she was on team for my life-changing, world-rocking Search retreat in high school. She was fun and funny and I bonded with her immediately. She seemed to see something in me that I suspected was there, but no one else had ever noticed. She saw good gifts and qualities and blessings in me. It was such a revelation to be recognized by someone older than I, as someone worthy and special. I was in no way an abused or neglected kid, and all adults had been nice to me all my life- but she went beyond that. She SAW me. She saw me as a person of God.
One tearful moment we shared, that changed my world completely- she told me to always listen to my heart, because it was a GOOD heart. That was an amazing statement to me. I never knew, until she showed me, that my heart was something good, or that I could rely on my own gifts for guidance in the world.
I was writing to her that what she gave me was not affirmation, but confirmation- because I didn't know about the gifts that I had in me, she had to point them out to me- to confirm their existence, to witness to them, to me. This seems like a new insight on Catholic Confirmation- maybe it is to be an opportunity for the parish community to confirm for kids that they hold already the gifts of the Holy Spirit- a witnessing to them about their own giftedness... hmmm...
I really believe that it was Michelle who opened the door in my heart to God's call and to ministry, and I have often prayed to be the person who says that thing to a kid, that changes their world like Michelle did mine. I wish we had kept in touch so I could be sure she knew that she had this effect on my life, and through me, on so many lives.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I never answer my phone.








I got a message from a dear friend the other day, and all she said was "WHY DON'T YOU EVER ANSWER YOUR PHONE? WHY OH WHY???" or something along those lines. So, here's my list of reasons why I never answer my phone- you can choose your favorite one......

1) I always forget to move the phone when I move. For instance, right now, I'm in the living room and my phone is in the kitchen, in my purse.
2) It doesn't work in my office, and hey, that's a serious chunk of the day- that's a good excuse! And it's true!!
3) The battery on my phone is near-dead, and I can only talk for about a minute, really, before it dies, unless I am plugged into something. And the only times I'm plugged in are here in the living room (but the phone's not in here right now, remember? Plus it'd be ruuuuude to make Scott stop watching tv so I can hold a phone conversation) or in my car.
4) In the car, I usually have the radio up loud enough that I can't hear it ring. I do usually sit on my phone in case it vibrates but people just don't seem to call me when I'm in the car, very often.
5) I'm just always busy doing something else. Like, when this friend called me the other day, I was out on the porch folding laundry. And my phone was plugged in wayyyyy in here, in the living room. So.
6) My headphone thingy lost the rubbery thingy that fits into my ear. So... you know, dangerous to drive without that.

I think that's basically it. There's your answer(s). Now you can't possibly be mad at me for not answering the phone!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Don't forget to hug your vet!

We took a rare trip to the vet today with our Zarley. She had developed sores/spots all over her backside and belly and was starting to pull out all her ass hair again, after enjoying a nice lush Summer. Zarley is a special cat, which is to say, she's a little...special. She has never quite mastered the litter box, for instance, digging a hole and getting in there and then pooping over the side onto the floor... and she still suckles, leaving holes and big wet spots on my shirt when I hold her. She even got STUCK IN HEAT once, which is another story for another time...
So as I was typing... every year Zarley ocd-like starts to pull out all the hair on her back end. But she's never had spots like this before. So we brought her in to the Danvers Animal Hospital, where they took excellent care of our Pip a few years back. Our doc was absolutely wonderful- gentle and respectful of Zarley and of us- I've visited vets who treated me like an absolute dunce and some who have been rough and gruff with the cats, and I am not a fan. Today's vet gave Zarley lots of love and praised her for her beauty and sweetness, and praised us for raising her up pretty well. Even while they were squeezing her anal glands (!) they were cooing about how beautiful she is, and what big paws she has. I bet they tell all the cats that they're beautiful, but still, a big part of me wants to believe they really meant it.
We generally don't take the cats to the vet unless there's a problem- Zarley hasn't seen a vet in around 5 years now- and we don't keep up on vaccinations, which I imagine makes us very bad pet owners- (sorry Sandi!) but they're indoor cats, and never mix with any other animals, and and good and healthy and "mature" now so I don't think it's necessary to kick out a couple hundred dollars for vaccinations every year. (Plus, I heard they may cause autism.) I always get a little nervous that the vet will judge us badly for that, or for the cats' nails being too long, or... something... Wondervet actually was fine with our vaccination policy and only gave her the legally-required rabies vac. The whole deal cost us a mere $125.50. (I think they threw in the anal squeeze for free!)
Money well spent for our little Zarley-kins, sleeping peacefully now and soon to be spot-free.


(By the way, the diagnosis is Miliary Dermititis... but NOT from fleas and not from mites. Allergies is the guess. A steroid shot should do the trick over the next couple of weeks! Sweet relief!)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Don't say it!! (two new posts)

I know you've been waiting and waiting for me to blog, and I haven't in a while, but here I am. Remember that I generally don't blog when things are going badly... but here's the thing. I haven't blogged in a while because I've been a little afraid to say... I'm HAPPY. Yikes!
My new job is awesome. Wonderful staff, great pastor, great faith formation ministry. Great people! Great Masses!! Even my office is pretty bitchen! Good computer, good salary, I'm even getting better gas mileage with this new commute.
I'm finding that this new happiness, it's kind of uncomfortable... I have been fighting and battling in my job, in this Church, for so long- forever-- now how am I supposed to handle being in such a good place? And, admitting to this happiness... well it's really asking for trouble, isn't it?
Remember that series Once and Again? Near the end of the series, one of the characters is visiting her therapist, and telling her that she's happy. Life is good- her relationship, her kids, her work, life is good and she's happy. She walks out of the office and it's a lovely sunny day, and she's smelling the sweet air, and feeling the sun on her face, and BAM! She gets hit by a car. I keep thinking of that scene, now that I am feeling so happy. I guess I was taught at an early age that the key to happiness is keeping your expectations low. The whole list of Beatitudes is built on this premise. Suffer now, enjoy the payoff later. But I guess we'll see.
Maybe this is my new spiritual challenge- to feel the blessings of God without looking for the cosmic slap- to find and feel contentment... it's a whole 'nother ball game for me. But I'm willing to give it a try!!

hoooo boy

I am sick and tired. And happy!
This was our first weekend of Generations of Faith. GOF is in its 4th year here in the Archdiocese of Boston, in those brave and brilliant and patient parishes who took the chance and made the commitment to a new way of educating and evangelizing the faithful. I've been to GOF information meetings and trainings and workshops with three different parishes who then didn't dare to take the leap. Change is hard, and changing the paradigm for a whole parish is WICKED hard. But right- and worthwhile- and good. (At least in this case!)
Anyway, here I am finally doing the model of faith formation that I have wanted to do forever, and it was so gratifying to be there this weekend and see all the work we've done as a team come together.
Now I'm exhausted. And I have a cold!!!! Dammmmnn!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Max/Maxine


When I was in college, one of my professors was a former nun. She was of the angry subgroup of former nuns, and that was fairly obvious in her teaching. She insisted that God is a woman- and not only is God a woman but we should all believe that God is a woman. She showed evidence of the fact, research and scholarly writings and such.
One day in class I got on her bad side- I said "I don't know, I think it's like when you were young and got a Teddy Bear Hamster. When a kid gets a TBH, they give it a name, according to what they want- that is, if they want a girl hamster, they name it with a girly name. If they want a boy hamster, they give it a boy name. From then on, that hamster is a boy, or girl to their owner (Until little Max has babies and becomes Maxine). I posited that God was like that for us- if we need a female to relate to, God IS female. If we need a Father God, God IS male. And fatherly. If we need a hazy floaty disembodied image like the ghosts in that Ghostbusters movie, then I think God can fill that too.
Of course she did not like this answer and moved on rather quickly to change the subject.
To me, God is definitely male, and definitely fatherly. My Spiritual Director helped me identify the other day how closely linked my prayer style is, to my communication with my Dad. Dad is indeed a great father and great man. I've often marvelled at how much he enjoys each of us, his 5 kids, making us all, I'm sure, feel like we are unequivocally his favorite. (In my case, of course, this is true, I am obviously his fave.) He's not a chatty guy, and doesn't call for whoever he's with to be wicked chatty either- he's happy to talk, but also happy to ride in the car in silence. Our communication is mostly light stuff- I don't go to my parents with much pain anymore, mostly good news and stories- but it is clear he likes talking with me, and being around me.
SD pointed out how my image of God is one where he is laughing at (with) me and rolling his eyes, and loving me. Rings a bell.
But hey, if there wasn't Dad, I think my next best image of God would be a big old dog. So there you go. So, you just never know. I think God is big enough and God-enough to be who/what we need...Him...to be.

I knew all along

With all this hubbub about poor ol' Mother Theresa this week, it certainly has gotten me thinking. I knew about her doubts and faith crises, because a friend of ours who worked with MT's AIDS ministry in the US, has been telling the story for years. I remember him telling about her as a doubter- Mother Theresa!! I felt so relieved because here I was, a minister, with the holiest faith possible. (That is, it had lots of holes.) To hear that SHE doubted, even while trying to do God's will, was good news for me. It meant that I could do the same. I could serve the very God in whom my trust was shaky.
When Mother Theresa died, and when Pope JPII died, everyone hailed their wonderfulness, drowning out the few small voices who whispered "well.....". I've read articles about Mother Theresa, criticizing her for being "first and foremost interested not in providing medical treatment, but in furthering Catholic doctrine and--quite literally--becoming a saint." (that's from Christopher Hitchens' book Missionary Position. I know, It's Christopher Hitchens, but still, I'm just sayin'.)
But sainthood, I reckon, isn't so much about perfection as it is about intention. The intention, beyond all difficulties, barriers, doubts, and persecutions, to serve God in the best way that one can. Now that's encouraging!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The only thing we have to fear, is...

I've been thinking a lot about fear lately. I don't remember feeling fear like I do now, before 9/11. A few nights after the attacks in NYC, a huge thunderstorm came in while we were sleeping, in the middle of the night. A huge thunder clap woke me from my sleep and my new instinct was fear- were we being bombed? Was this an attack? Were we at war? I don't ever remember thinking these things before that night, thunder or no.
I'm in the middle of a neat article in this month's downeast magazine, (sorry, the article doesn't seem to be online, but the magazine is great, check it out) about a woman who lives in NYC and summers in Maine. She talks about the difference in parenting styles between the two- specifically, the different types of fear that plague the two groups of parents. She tells a story of visiting a friend and witnessing a llama kick the woman's child in the chest, knocking him flat. The parents brushed him off and sent him on his way, and didn't even sue the llama's owner. In later conversation, she hears Maine parents deride Cheerios because they're "so full of sugar!!"
I guess we all have our fears, and what is paralyzingly scary to one person can seem trifling to another. I was telling my spiritual director the other day that along with the sadness and shock that came with the miscarriage, the other notable feeling I had immediately was the disappearance of FEAR. When I had looked ahead as a pregnant woman, I saw fear at every step. Soon after the 3 month mark, we were due to start testing for Down's, Spina bifida, who knows what else. And what about stillbirth? Would some scary man steal my toddler when I looked away for a fraction of a second? Would a dog bite her? Would she get Lyme disease? Would he die in a car accident? What about war? Etc.... etc.... etc.........etc...........etc.......................... Somehow, with the awfulness of the miscarriage, came the relief that, at least now I know how the story ends. It was like looking ahead at the last page of the book.
I guess everyone who goes ahead and has children is plagued with all those fears that I had, and yet, they do it, sometimes even more than once! Parents impress me for their bravery. Now, for me, the only fear that remains is the fear I'll get pregnant again.
I worry about a world so fearful. As I was walking today I passed a field that I would have happily plunged into as a kid- it was full of waist-high weeds and grasses and flowers and I would have tunneled in there and made a fort, decorated it with whatever I'd find in there... but today, kids can't do that without safety gear on, and a tick-check immediately afterward. I rarely see kids outside playing without their parents these days- so different than the world of my childhood. And in the Catholic Church, we are flat-out teaching kids to be afraid of all adults, even their parents and grandparents. What is this generation going to look like when they are adults? What kind of adults will they be, when they were taught all along that adults are people you have to keep yourself safe from, who are not allowed to touch you in any way, or speak to you in public, or be alone in an elevator with you? Are we making future adults who will be dangerous, because they think that's what adults are supposed to be?
Now there's something to be afraid of.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pumpkination

Our first bona-fide pumpkin!!! Woo hoo!!!














If you look closely, you can see a female flower, which means the potential (with careful pollenation) for future pumpkins.












What we have here is pumpkin flower sex. sticking out of (or should I say into) the torn female flower (see the ovary at the base?) is the important part (wink wink) of a male flower. Now don't stare, let's give these two kids some time to themselves. Ahem.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I have 20 minutes to finish this post

Because apparently there is a "scheduled outage" at 4 pm.
Today, my replacement starts at my former parish. About a month ago I got an email from my former supervisor asking my opinion on this person who had applied for my position. Signed "xoxo", as usual.
I was kind of stumped. I felt a bit like I'd been asked to recommend a new wife for my ex, and how could I do that? My first choice for a replacement would be, naturally, someone who's just like me! The person who applied is, well... NOT like me. In fact, I don't think he even likes me, and that makes me not like him very much.
On top of that, I've found that the bosses/supervisor at the old place to be quite impossible to work for/with. If fellow YM friends had asked me if they should apply, I'm not sure I'd say YES. (am I making sense?)
So I was stuck- how do I respond to this query? And furthermore, why on earth are they asking me for my opinion? My opinion wasn't particularly treasured while I was employed there. Why would they listen to me, either way, now?
So, I didn't respond at all. Truth is, I've never seen this guy "in action"- maybe he's an amazing YM. I'm fairly sure he'll do well with the pastors there, which isn't necessarily a compliment on my part, but true. So who knows how he'll do? But it's a weird feeling to know I've been officially replaced. My assistants are now his, and he's probably moving my old desk to some new angle or spot, and soon he'll be meeting "my" kids. I wish everyone there the best and pray that it'll be amazingly successful, Holy Spirit zooming all over the place. But I kinda hope that he'll have to hear "that's not how SHE used to do it!" a few times before I'm forgotten!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Long time gone

Last week I had a sort of out-of-nowhere vacation. I've only been at my new job about a month, so by rights I shouldn't have had a vaca, but that I'd already committed to this week long before I switched jobs. The week was Sister Camping Trip week, and I joined my sisters (minus one honorary-sister, who just wouldn't come) on a trip to Camden, ME (the way life should be).
By the time we'd got to Augusta, it had started to pour, and it kept on raining right up to the point when we finally got our tarp up over our site. (We had excitedly pulled out the screen tent my sister brought, thinking we'd put that up over the table and lounge and wait out the rain- but although we did have the screen tent, for some reason we didn't have the poles.)
This was kind of half-camping, with the fire mostly for show and most of our cooking tools went unused... but in our defense, it rained about half the time we were there.
We visited a lot of fun shops, ocean-side-town-kind of shops, and ate out at some pretty great spots, crested mount Battie (by car), picnicked with my brother and his family, and visited my nephew at Summer camp. The trip topped off with a deeeeelish dinner at my sisters' house, with most of my family there, and a little birthday celebration for several of us.
I am the youngest of five, and there's a big gap in between kids 3 and 4, effectively slicing us into two little sub-sets of kids. My brother and I are a year and 2 days apart. And growing up, my oldest sister and I were WORLDS apart (a whopping 10 years- doesn't seem like that much now, but then, it was big). My middle sister is the hub of the family; all of us connect to her and through her. It's funny how alike we are, after all, and how different.
It was fun hanging out with my sisters last week, and I hope we'll do it again.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

a day in the (wild)life

We spent the day looking at nature, and being looked at by nature. Here's what we saw, anyway...















We went to the Audubon park in Ipswich, where you can feed chickadees from your hands!


















We also shared with a hungry chipmunk who wanted in on the action.














a red-eared slider checked us out, but was not interested in birdseed.












meanwhile, back at the ranch, our first carrot has been harvested (and it was delicious).














and Pip has bagged herself her first bunny.














All this, and no tick bites! We have a very good life.

ROCKport

Monday I'm off on a camping trip with my sisters. We're going up to Camden, ME with our tents, tarps and... laptops. Come on, it's the OTs! There's no need to camp like barbarians!
Anyway. So we're heading up to Maine for the week, and the weather forecast is looking good. I am really looking forward to book-reading time, to racking up a bit of a tan (finally- despite my best efforts this Summer I still look Norwegian) and eating great camp food (and some restaurant meals, yes...).
I haven't been to the Camden/Rockport area in years- we used to go up there for basketball games when I was a cheerleader for the Mt. Ararat Eagles basketball team. But my most significant visit to the area was when I was in 6th grade. My parents took my brother and me there on a day trip to see the foliage- it was Fall... did I mention that? No.
We visited the transportation museum at Owl's Head, then went to a rest area for lunch. I remember that I had theeeee most delicious tuna fish sandwich for lunch, then I zipped up my coat, grabbed my dessert (a twinkie) and went to jump on the big boulders that lined the walkway there.
After taking my last bite, I put my hands in the pockets of my jacket and went to take the next jump- but I tripped. Instead of a graceful leap, I fell face-first into the next boulder, and my hands were in my pockets, so I couldn't break my fall.
I broke my nose, bit through my tongue, fattened both lips and blackened both eyes. After calming me down and mopping up the blood we went to the emergency room (the very same one that the Chief Justice visited just this week after his seizure!) where they fixed me up. I ate ice cream (melted) for every meal for a couple of days, and wore a splint.
I'm expecting (hoping!) for a much less exciting trip to the area this time around. Hey, maybe there will be internet access at the campground, and I can blog about the whole-lotta-nothing I'm doing!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Did you know...

...that the Germans have a word for when songs get stuck in your head? It's ohrwurm... and it translates to "ear worm". Fascinating, huh? Find out more here.

It's what I've always suspected...

I always kind of thought of myself as an exotic chick, and now it's confirmed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Volunteers of Faith

I spent most of the day volunteering at the (what's it called now? Something Garden) in Boston with my friend Noelle, for the Women of Faith Conference. We're both attending for free this weekend, because we volunteered. (Great seats! It pays to volunteer!)
I don't know much about this conference, except that people who know the people I know say it's Amaaaaaaazing. The other women who volunteered today said it would be Amaaaaaaaaaaaazing, too. On one hand I'm encouraged/intrigued, and on the other, I'm alllllll "go ahead, impress me." So we shall see what the (as my Uncle Bud used to call them) the PRODS have up their sleeves for me and the True Christians in attendance.
There were about 40-50 women there this morning to volunteer. The excitement started with a back-door entrance to the Garden (the employee entrance! I was so excited to be able to see the bowels of the stadium.) Then, after checking in, showing our ID, passing in our consent form, getting our official badges and wrist bands, we sat down in the arena seats to wait for the programs to be delivered. Our job, you see, was to put the program bags on all the reserved seats. Apparently the truck with the programs in it was lost in Boston somewhere, so we had about an hour to sit around.
When the program bags arrived, the young man who was coordinating the volunteers rallied us to action. Our job was hampered by the fact that the chairs in this arena are all of the type where the seats flip up when not in use. This was a perplexing and challenging situation for the extra- earnest, Christian-t-shirt-clad volunteers. They JUMPED to work, trading tips on how to place the bags so they'd stay and jumping ahead to the next section. Noelle and I couldn't help but laugh at how GRAVELY SERIOUSLY they took their charge, shouting out helpful tips to everyone when they thought they'd found the BEST way to place the bags. They often had to be pulled back from bagging further sections, their enthusiasm was so boundless.
We couldn't help it! We laughed whenever anyone shouted out a tip, and laughed when one would yell at another "NOOO!!! You don't DO that section! He SAID!!!!" We just couldn't help ourselves. At one point, after having been given the direction to move to section 20 oh..... 4-5 times, and everyone yelling to each other, "he said SECTION 20!!!" I turned to Noelle dryly to say "what section now?" and three earnest Christian ladies said to me "TWENTY!!!"
Okay, maybe you had to be there, but I just think it's shades of things to come for this weekend. Such earnest-ness, such Christianity, and all women. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Here's the thing about Tammy Faye

I was so thrilled to find this video tribute to TF online, because it was through the Surreal World series, and in particular the episode featured at the end of this video, that I became an admirer of her. Her story here and the passion and sincerity with which she tells it really made an impression on me.
The thing about Tammy Faye is, for all her un-real-ness (the makeup and crazy teased hair and giant shoulder pads) her Christianity is for-freakin-real. I wish I had the kind of Christianity she had, and I would love to have the ministry skills she had.
God bless her.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Okay, a little more about Milestone Ministry

So you want to know more about faith stages ministry? The idea is for the Church to connect with people at the milestone points that everyone has. Imagine a church that celebrates the first day of school of their parishioners... the 18th birthday... college graduation... engagement... wedding anniversaries... retirement......... One example of how I've seen Milestone Ministry done by parishes is the celebration of teenagers' getting their drivers licenses. Parishes might have kids stand for a blessing, or have their car keys blessed, or be given a key chain... you see how this works. It's celebrating what people naturally celebrate, but also using those moments as opportunities to teach and to reach out to people.
Here's a link to a ministry focused on milestones like this- scroll down to the link to see "Daily Milestone Blessings Bowls" for an example of this. S'cool!
http://www.youthandfamilyinstitute.org/conferences/milestones.asp

days 3 and 4, with pleasant stuff between

On day three, we talked about learning styles- multiple intelligences and similar type-ing, and then learned a technique for writing lesson plans in a way that will feature the major learning styles, giving learners opportunities to have their style featured at least once in the lessons we teach. The structure, called 4Mat, which maybe all teachers already know about, but which sort of blew our minds. We analyzed lesson plans from published texts to see how well they used (or didn't use) the structure, and then made some adaptations to their plans to make it all fit and work better.
Last night, our office manager at my new parish had us all over to dinner at her house. We spent hours at the table, eating great food and laughing and telling tales and teasing each other. Already I feel like a family surrounds me, and I feel comfortable and not only welcome, but vital. And I haven't even done anything yet. At the end of the night my new pastor gave me a hug, and said "I love you, we love you, and I'm so glad you're here with us!" I thought, I am going to work HARD for this guy.
Then today we talked about teachers, their heart and souls- we talked about Great Teachers We Have Known, and I thought about my new pastor and how he is poised to bring out the best in me. He expects greatness from me and I expect to give it.
I love these weeks. Weeks like this have been important and formative in every stage of my career. I love all this new information that makes my head swell with new information, ideas, and possibilities. John Roberto is one of those Great Teachers I have Known, to be sure. I am anxious to get back to work and try my new skills.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 2, briefly because I'm tired.

Today we finished up the Discipleship practices, and started looking at personal and family milestones as opportunities for catechesis and evangelization. We divided up the life stages of a person and looked at how we could program in our ministries to help people connect these stages and milestones to their faith life and God's presence and action in their lives. We worked hard on that all day, and came up with some pretty brilliant (if I may say so) ideas for programming.
But one other important thing I learned today was that if I had to drive to work like that every day, through traffic like I do to get to the Institute, I would seriously consider destitution and homelessness as a viable alternative. I want the names and numbers of whoever coordinates the traffic lights in the Cambridge area, because they should be forced to sit in traffic there daily until they rectify the situation. The institute is around 30 miles from my home, and it took me an hour and a half to get there on Monday. Today I left 15 minutes earlier and got there 15 minutes LATER than yesterday. Egad.

Monday, July 16, 2007

ILFF: Facilitating Lifelong Learning and Faith Growth

Remember last year when I went on and on about the Institute for Lifelong Faith Formation? Today I started part-2. This one is about tuning in to the different stages and needs of our parishioners across the generations. We know what we want to do: we want to lead our families in the formation of faith- we want to help them experience conversion and transformation. How do we do that? John Roberto, our facilitator and guru, said today (and I reckon he's quoting someone), "Learning is change- if it hasn't changed you, you haven't learned it." He's making a distinction between being taught and really learning- this, he points out, is how some people you may know can get through years and years of quality education and still be stupid. And it is how you and I got through years of religious education without becoming better Catholic Christians.
We talked about the four longings of the people we serve (including us!);
the Longing for Justice
the Quest for Spirituality
the Hunger for Relationships
and Delight in Beauty
... the best example I can think of as to why it is important to know these things is this: when I was in high school, I remember learning for the 3rd time how to write my name in hieroglyphics. I wondered why we never talked about things I thought were more interesting and more important, like WWII? In our catechetical programs, do we spend our time teaching and re-teaching the basics to people who long for depth? With significant longings like these in people's lives, what more do we need to know when we start to look at how to serve our parishioners?
It proves to be a thought-provoking week. The homework readings are deep and full of statistics and buzz words and head-spinning detail, but the discussions and activities at the course are fruitful and challenging. Are you still reading? :) I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Job, fresh start

I've started my new job, which promises to be wonderful. Everyone so far has been so friendly and helpful- I share a kind of office suite with two other women, lovely women who are very professional and friendly and helpful. We've all been moving and sorting this week, because not only am I moving in, but the other two have been displaced from their offices because of an asbestos removal project in the basement of the rectory, which is where our offices are. I've noticed that we share this quality- we want to be helpful, but we don't want any help. We have been sneaking past each other with our boxes so as not to incite a helpful gesture from each other. "noo no, I've got it!"
In fact most of my first week has been hunting for furniture, dusting and unpacking. My computer is now set up and I have email and the internet and all the accouterments.
(yes, I did need spell check for that.)
Next week I'm off to part two of the Institute for Lifelong Faith Formation, the first week of which I loved and raved about here on TBIR last year. I can't wait!
Tonight on my way home, I took a detour that led me all over a new town, past a water main break, through a neighborhood, by a man wearing a large sign that said "GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR BABY" (hmmm...) and over the river and through the woods. It was a nice little side route. I'm all about new routes these days, and stepping off the trail. Let's go!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Three new posts

There is this limbo day- between when one hears the news that you're carrying a non-alive baby in ones womb, and the end of the process. Some women, I guess, choose to go ahead and pass the baby naturally- I have had that experience (although MUCH earlier in a pregnancy it was still very traumatic) and no-thank-you. The good thing about a d/c is that I know from experience that I will feel better, physically, almost instantly. That in and of itself helps with the grief side of things.
So, on the Limbo days, we distracted ourselves. Tuesday night we went to see Evan Almighty (weirdly we were handed tickets at the counter for "knocked up", but decided to go with our original choice. Couldn't a whole blog entry be written on that alone?)
Evan Almighty was good- we had heard it was going to be lousy so our expectations were helpfully low and that worked I guess, because we really enjoyed it. One great take-away was a conversation between God and Evan about prayer- I'll let you check it out on your own because I don't want to wreck it- good stuff.
MINI-SPOILER HERE:
The other was a conversation between Evan and his wife, where he is frustrated because what he thought was God's plan wasn't quite lining up to what was happening in the moment. Here he had put everything on the line to be obedient to God, and where was the promised end product? His wife told him that indeed he HAD been obedient- had done exactly what God had asked. Now he needed to go ahead and let God take over. Miscarriage is a guilty situation for me, because of my well-known and deep-seated ambivalence. But like Lauren Graham said (and my spir. director before her), I did do my job- what I was asked to do. Even if I fought God all the way through it.
S'good, and it was a good distraction for the night.
Last night we went into Boston (after a gourmet meal of hot dogs at Kelly's....mmmmm) to see Riverdance at the Schubert theater. We got to see my former assistant Pam and her family, which made me happy and sad, missing her so much, brand-newly. But the show was amazing and Scott loved it which doubled my enjoyment- it was a great way to spend the night before the surgery out doing something positive and fun together.
At home last night it was boiling hot and I was tired but couldn't sleep. Scott and I are good at taking care of each other, and loving each other (i don't mean in this case, in a dirty way...) and we hunkered down for the night to keep cool and wait for morning.

okay, so maybe you don't want to know...

Lotsa details below on the undoings of baby Morin (Matthew Christopher). I mean, I did leave stuff out, some, so maybe it's not as bad as it could be- but if you're interested at all, read on. It was cathartic for me to write, because re-reading my journal entries (a paper and pen book format! Old fashioned-like!) was a very comforting guide through this time around. I am very glad I made notes about how I felt then, physically and emotionally, and look at it from this distance now. I am the kinda person who researches- I want to know what other people know and say about the things I am considering and the decisions I'm making. I have read the miscarriage sites and the questions I had weren't really answered there- so reading my own log of it has been a very, very good thing for me. Maybe not for you. You know, skim, I guess. Anywhoo...

somewhere between an olive and a lime

We heard, and then saw, no heartbeat. The ultrasound reader estimated that the baby's heart had stopped two weeks ago. This was the 11-12 week appointment, the one where everything fell apart in our first go-round, two or three years ago. In fact, the whole day was eerily familiar, withe the same failure to hear a heartbeat with the fetal heart monitor, the quick referral for an ultrasound, to ease everyone's fears. I tried to stress to everyone we met that this was a very stressful appointment for us, and wished they would just get to the damn ultrasound to see if there was any point in all the other talking we were doing- "any surgeries? smoker? any genetic abnormalities in your families? Let's get your blood pressure..........." all of which only served to raise my blood pressure. Just cut to the chase!
The appointment to hear the heartbeat was at 10, and they scheduled our ultrasound for 12:30- we went to the cafeteria to have a bite and read the ever-growing pile of information booklets and flyers and warnings about what not to eat. At 12:45 they apologized for running late and asked us to come back at 2, which blessedly meant I could empty my bladder. (they make you chug water so as to inflate your bladder, so as to lift your uterus closer to the surface for easier viewing. But, my uterus is tipped back- wayyyyy back, almost completely backward from where it's supposed to be, so I didn't exactly see the reasoning for all the hyperhydration. ) Anyway, we went to grab a starbucks and then again went back.
The ultrasound tech, a lovely girl named Shannon, was so sweet and when there was no heartbeat to see in the regular ultrasound, she said an internal one would have to be done.
I stepped out to change and prayed in the bathroom. Okay, God, if this is going to happen, I am all in. You show me what you want from me and I will- I will throw myself all into it, one hundredy-twody percent. Help us handle whatever you send our way.
The baby was clearly there, much more detailed than the last one, the one with the heartbeat... but Scott and I know what a heartbeat looks like now, and we didn't see one. Shannon checked every which way and stayed calm-looking when I searched her face, but we knew. I looked at Scott and shook my head- no- it's not there. Shannon said "I'm so sorry" and Scott said "are you sure?" and she said "yes, I'm sorry". She left us to cry.
I was stunned- really, I just couldn't believe it for a while there. I said I was sorry so many times to Scott, not even exactly knowing if I was apologizing or just saying I-am-so-sorry. He told me that his prayers, while I was in the bathroom, were the same as mine. Help us handle what you give us.
After another meeting with the nurse/midwife, we were finally able to head home.
This morning was the D&C, and I feel physically better already, just like last time. I don't know if it's purely psychological but I feel ready to eat meat again, I have very little cramping, and I'm hungry as all get out. I'm groggy from the lovely anesthesia they gave me, but otherwise ready to roll. I have another week of vacation to shake it all off, thanks to my already wonderful new boss/pastor.
There are flowers on the coffee table, one for each nap I took today- a nice thing to wake up to. Maybe I'll take another nap and see if another bunch of flowers appears when I wake up this time!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

vaca views

Here are some shots of the vacation-doings up here on the hill, for your viewing enjoyment
and perhaps, jealousy...

my neighbor's peonies, in full bloom!










































Pip is vacationing too- but who can tell?














this little guy paid us a visit today, chirping loudly and choosing a dangerous spot in the
middle of the road, before finding a nice safe spot in the yard. He disappeared before noon,
and I'm going to assume he learned to fly and headed home safely and without incident.














Tomorrow we're off on a little weekend camping trip to Maine. Then back for more relaxing! Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ahhhhhh (except at 7)

So this is vacation! I could easily get used to this- I have been doing some housework, lots of lounging around, and lots of snacking- my new strategy is to eat something every two hours or so, because throwing up nothing is not fun.
My "morning" sickness has settled into a predictable, yet miserable and inconvenient, pattern. I race to the toaster in the morning to something to stuff in my gob, and that chases away morning nausea. Then I'm free and clear until just about 7:00, at which I can no longer think about food, although I am hungry. Scott has had to take over all dinner duty while I hide in the living room because I just can't have food in my head- I can eat pretty much anything but just don't talk to me about it- just serve it and I'll eat.
So at 7 I hit the bathroom, and then quickly feed myself again- then I'm mildly nauseous for the rest of the night. The later I stay up, the sicker I feel, so I have been trying to call it a night a bit early.
What's been the greatest part of this vacation is the detox from my former job. I got an SOS call from my former assistants today, about the latest asinine move by my former supervisor, (really, it's ridiculous, and more of the same baloney that I had to deal with there) and I had simultaneous feelings of guilt for leaving my friends there, and wondrous joy at being finally away from all that.
Leaving a parish feels like a divorce, to me- maybe I've said that here before- but knowing that I'm making a move that's best for me doesn't undo the guilt of leaving everyone else in a bad situation, and fear that the new Mother is going to make changes and do things I'd never do... it brings out the territorial-ism in me, I guess. But I remind myself that the work I did counted, and that even if I'm not there, the Holy Spirit is, for crying out loud...
Tomorrow I'm getting a haircut and all the silly ends will be gone, cut off in a nice clean clip. My now droopy curls will get new life for the removal of all that old growth, weighing it down. I can't wait to wash my hair and feel all that new gone-ness!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

just to get things straight.

I love getting your comments! But I should say straight out that I reject any comments that smack even remotely of criticism. After all, I blog for self-aggrandizement and vainglory, not to find out what people think about what I think. Unless it's full agreement or something on par with that.
So keep those comments coming. What the heck?

If one more person...

...tells me how GOOD! it is that I'm miserable with Morning Sickness, I will punch them in the head.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

two new posts

Today was my last day at my old job. It was a sad and sweet day- lots of well-wishers came by and we had a lovely casual lunch with all my favorites. Yesterday was the "official" good-bye luncheon, with most of the staff there. They had fancy food, cake, and tributes in the tradition of this parish. I got lovely group gifts, with a theme: a PEACE plant, and a framed print of St. Francis' PEACE prayer. What's the message here?
But today was the REAL party- the cats were away for the day and we got fun food and joked about the cats and about the fun we've had, and gossiped and laughed. I got a bunch of cool presents!! GREAT cards, warm hugs, and a couple tears. All the good people were there, and my send-off was just lovely.
I left feeling good, and sad, and hopeful and appreciated. I can't wait to start my something new, but first ... two lovely weeks of vacation. I've already taken one nap!