Sunday, December 24, 2006

But not all is golden

Sorry about the pics being all over the place in my last post -- couldn't get them to move ::sigh::
Meanwhile, not only is grandma not going to see this little jewel at Christmas because of her virus, heart, and nonsense ... but as it happens it's a good thing we're staying put because Beloved noticed his vision deteriorating at the end of last week.
As some of you know, he has two leading to blindness conditions in his only good eye (the other having been hot lasered into oblivion years ago). He has central vein occlusion (blood gets into the eye but can't get out) and Retinal Angiomatous Proliferation. The latter used to be blindness in three months, but new treatments can eke out two years or so. He has been a poster child however, and has now been three years and five months -- so I suppose he was "due".
Luckily the retinal specialists here are great, saw him immediately, and began treatment - which consists first of an injection of steroids into his eyeball (are you wincing yet?!), and, a week later, a very sophisticated treatment involving an extremely light sensitive dye and a cold laser. He then has to stay indoors for five days - even one minute of winter sunlight would be third degree burns, since the dye goes through his whole body, not just his eyes.
Fascinating, what you learn about the body as you age!
So now we've two not so lovely reasons to not see any of our three sons, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren for Christmas. Yuck.
On the bright side, I get to do a child dedication as part of the Christmas Eve service tomorrow. Love that.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


The Quilt

The Boy

The Pillow
Well, Grandma has finally got it done -- well, almost. Still got a few special little train buttons to sew onto the quilt. But his napping quilt is done -- complete with trains, soccer balls, tartan (well, he is part Scottish, after all), and on the back, which you can't see, a wonderful soft and cozy flannel full of Matchbox cars!
Grandma's first quilt ever -- next one quite different, for grand-daughter Jessica, with the Serengeti animal sanctuary a theme. Quite an adventure for Granma!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Beloved A Star

Apart from my rascal sons and one of my grandsons, there is my honey, who was a star at our local congregation yesterday. He did an hour-long public issue forum presentation on "A Day in the Life of a Diplomat" which was funny, and serious, informative and droll. He began by talking about how every young diplomat goes out and buys a very expensive attache case which is then used a) to take lunch to work and b) to bring duty-free booze from the comissary home.

His most serious point, however, has been the eradication and elimination of "diplomatic immunity". Oh, it exists in stupid ways, like the Americans in London refusing to pay traffic charges (the Congestion Charge) and irritating the hell out of Londoners who all do have to pay it. But the real diplomatic immunity, that is, where every country guaranteed every other country's diplomats their physical safety regardless of how fraught negotiations, or even warfare, might be ... well, that appears to be long gone.

It seemed to begin with the sacking of the US Embassy in Pakistan (long forgotten now by most folk) - the first egregious violation of the Congress of Vienna. Countries around the world should have protested ... but did nothing. Nowadays it is very sobering to visit our State Department regularly. There is a huge wall of marble plaques carrying the names of diplomats who died serving their country -- you can see from the dates it used to be a name every long once in a while. Nowadays, the dustcloth on the floor is never gone, because another name is always and ever being engraved.

I make no comment about politics, numbers of Iraqi dead etc. etc. here, simply want to notice and honor all those now falling with the collapse of the Congress of Vienna as well as the Geneva Conventions.

And to praise my honey for his fine job on Sunday, and for 30 years for this country.

The Blessings of Limits

Winter Evening - by Vladimir Belikov

Well, yes, it just happens that I love Russian Impressionist art, and you are likely to see more of it on my blog - even often!

So here I am, on a Winter Evening of my own, here in the desert, where our bright sun, 70 degrees, has been slowly clouding over with rain predicted possibly for tonight -- though often it never actually reaches the ground. Raining up there somewhere, but evaporating before touchdown. I've actually had it rain on my head, when nothing is hitting the pavement at all, and I ain't even tall. But my head gets the tiny tiny remaining touch before disappearance.

Meanwhile - limits. Long calls from disturbed (in many ways) congregant last night. I ended it as quickly as possible, pleading tiredness (true). My contract is for very limited consulting with the congregation I serve. Doesn't include long counselling etc. I am not their minister, but a very part-time consultant. Called congregant back and clarified all today. And will hold to it.

Seem to be getting physically better, and am not about to be stressed out into relapse! About to try a night with less meds ... wish me well! Had a wonderful day working out with trainer, getting on with knitting project, and planning new quilt project. 42 years of thinking as a minister, now's my chance for making stuff you can actually see!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

English language as the English use it

Frozen Pond on Hampstead Heath

Since we lived in London, I've continued to subscribe to the English Sunday papers. The writing in them is not what we think of as newpaper-ish, and as fine, ironic, biting, cynical as the upper class English can be.

Sometimes, however, the humor (humour) can be quite unintentional. As in this lovely (accidentally hilarious) snippet from Major Colin Burgess, former equerry to the Queen Mother from his new book Behind Palace Doors. It's, IMHO, a gaspingly deferential work. For example, when Princess Margaret breezily invites Colin to go for a swim on a hot day when he has not other obligations, and despite the fact that Margaret "appeared in this rather old-fashioned one piece swimming outfit ... I tried to swim in such a way that I was always on the opposite side of the pool to her ... it seemed a tad too informal ... for my comfort". His book is full of awed respect , showing how serious, or at worst cute, the royal family are. When the Queen laughs when Margaret's hair catches on fire, he is at pains to point how hard it can be to stop oneself laughing even if someone has hurt themselves.

Whoo - ee. But my very favorite quote is this, about the Queen Mother: "The Queen Mother was a devoted drinker. That's not to say she was an alcoholic, far from it, it was just that she loved social drinking and her life was very social."

Lawd love a duck, I believe the expression is.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sew New

The view from my sewing room window -- which now actually has it's brand new machine and machine cupboard installed! And everything works. Wow!

Not that it was all easy peasy. Cupboard was almost totally assembled - heavy as mucho leado - wrestling it in from the garage was a day's work in itself.

So we followed the labels on the box, right? Arrows pointing upwards. This must be the top. Open it up, take out the assembly directions, and discover: "Open bottom first: put on casters: then turn over and take box off top". Now, how the h*&^ were we supposed to know that when the directions telling us to do this were only inside the top of the box??!!??

Never mind - it's done now, backwards, as those who know me would say was only to be expected.

On the health front, had another bad night Thursday, but controlled it from getting as bad as before, a sort of half-bad night. Like the pessimist's half-empty glass of water?? Better last night - hoping for similar tonight. ::sigh:: I've had more fun making my bed until a quarter bounced at summer camp.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Could it be ...

Bonsai Christmas Thought Number Two

Could it be ... could it be ... for every person all alone on Christmas with nothing but a good new book, a few tangerines, and a cup of hot chocolate, feeling a sense of loss because Norman Rockwell, Better Homes and Gardens, or even Walmart had ever painted their situation as a "good" Christmas ... could it be ... could it be ... there is an equal and opposite person surrounded by noise, political and religious arguments, fighting children, too much salty food, too many awkward silences among people who don't know each other well enough, or know each other too well to enjoy each others' company, who longs, loongs, looongs to be alone in a quiet room with nothing but a good new book, a few tangerines, and a cup of hot chocolate?

Having a Bonsai Christmas

Working with the new medications, I suddenly realize it's a week of the strong stuff, a week of the weaker stuff, then a week of testing out the results. Now, do the math. December 17 until the strong stuff is done, December 24th until the weak stuff is done, then a week testing out results. Does this sound as if piling into the car on December 26th and beginning the long drive out to San Francisco is a likelihood? Oh, deepest sigh, no it doesn't.
So instead of Christmas with family and tumbling young ones, it will be ... no, wait!, just because the tree won't be eight feet tall doesn't mean there can't be Christmas!! So we're busy planning our bonsai Christmas (like this tree photographed at the Bonsai Garden in Oakland, CA -- small, yes, but perfectly formed, and indeed, brilliant.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Church is Not Actually All About Community

Now I'm no enemy of the small-group, covenant-group, call it what you will movement among UUs at the moment. Hell, I facilitate such a group! (Though not much longer, too busy, will be glad to continue belonging to a group though).

But, folks, but ... when I hear ministers increasingly say things like "Ah, community is what church is all about" I feel like shouting (rather than muttering, which is what I actually do), "The Hell it is! Andrew Wizowaty didn't risk life and limb in Poland to create a cozy little family church, but to create churches that focussed on what was actually true in their religion as opposed to the falsehoods other churches, even powerful ones, taught.

Do you really think William Ellery Channing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker were all about creating cozy little communities? Well, I don't. And I worry that we are taking refuge in creating our cozy little sweet groups because we don't know how to raise meaningful religious voices about truth and falsehood in the world anymore.

We should listen up to the words of Justin Lee, reported in today's New York Times. Justin is an evangelical Christian, believing in the Virgin Birth, Heaven and Hell, and salvation only through Christ. He also believes he was born gay and is unable to change.

What he said that we UUs may particularly need to hear is: "Church is not about membership in groups. It is about what I believe."

And, for all those UU folk who take offense when some little something or otherthing isn't to their immediate delight and leave in a huff, he goes on: "Just because some people who believe the same things I do aren't very loving doesn't mean I stop believing what I do."


Is There A Word for Nearly Hell?

No, in the face of all the world's problems

it wasn't really hell this week-end, but it sure felt like it. Knowing I had to drive an hour to preach Sunday I hoped my heart troubles wouldn't return, so, of course, they did. Not a wink of sleep, unable even to lie down with rapid pounding heart all, and I mean all, Saturday night. What to do Sunday AM? My beloved convinced me to go ahead and drive and preach, which I did OK, though troubles persisted all afternoon. My doc then declared I had to go the Emergency (again...), so off we went. Bad timing. Sunday evening ER hell. Got there at 5, was seen at 11. Lots of work-up, some new meds, nothing serious showing up, back home and slept like a baby thanks to a light anti-anxiety med. Doc said even folks who have heart attacks say anxiety attacks are worse. I'm beginning to understand what they mean.

Lovely day today -- some of the late blooming desert plants and flooding the air with their last bursts of scent -- bright sun -- mild temperatures -- hopeful spirit at last.

Thought for the day: There are lots of folks around still doing workshops to help us whiteys understand racism, and be able to read others' cultural signs etc. Not saying they aren't needed. But where are the workshops for helping whiteys become comfortable with being the minority -- an issue for many here on the border who struggle with their now permanent minority status. They've gone to workshops to learn how they, the majority, can better relate to minorities. But hey, we're the (permanent) minority now! And that's not been easy for everyone.

Thanks LaReinaCobre for that affirmation that this is working.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Trying to get folks to be able to comment -- sigh -- is this working?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Who wants to start blogging with a downer? But though everything in my profile is true -- it's also true I got a damned virus eight weeks ago that wound up in my heart, and still causes me some terrible nights of pounding rapid heartbeat and screaming blood pressure. Doc not worried, says keep taking the meds, it will calm down. But he doesn't have to live with the adrenalin rushing through his system, so easy to say! No sleep last night, but made it to preach today. Hope it will calm down enough for a good long nap!

By the by, Rod Liddle, a British columnist (whose writings I get in a British paper we still subscribe to), makes some glorious points about Richard Dawkins' new book "The God Delusion". He points out the delicious irony in the fact that Dawkins' book is selling, not just because of his fine writing, but even more because it has the word God in the title. "Any old thing with God in the title sells by the bucketloads. This doesn't prove God exists, but certainly testifies to God's pulling power."

And in talking of Dawkins' attempts at writing a new ten commandments, including "Enjoy your sexuality (as long as you don't hurt anyone else)" (now there's a year of sermons buried in there!) Liddle comments: Not so much commandments given to Moses chisled in stone as the ten commandments according to Cosmo Magazine, chisled in, oh, organic tofu. (He used the left-wing Guardian newspaper, I substituted Cosmo).

Anyone else out there wondering about the inherent self-contradiction in fanatical atheism?

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