Friday, December 18, 2009

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

The Scene last night:
It is dusk. Rush hour. While walking the dogs, a stray dog is loose in the neighborhood, so I try to catch it but can't. So I go home to get the car, and drive around the neighborhood. Don't find dog, but say lots of prayers. Then, when I park, I notice that a volunteer working at the cat foster home across the street has left her lights on. Car door is locked. So. I go into house, go downstairs, and guess what? PUPPIES?! OH MY!! Totally get distracted. PUPPIES! Five little squirmy squeaking pound puppies. (Don't ask why they are with the kitty rescue organization.) Finally tear myself away from PUPPIES to get ready for a board meeting tonight. For twenty minutes I search everywhere. No Keys. No Wallet. Hmmm. Where are they? OHHHHH NOOOOO. Locked up acrosss the street with PUPPIES. I don't have key to house and volunteer gone, and homeowner not home. So, I sheepishly call the organization to let them know what happened, and I can't get there. They think I am a nutball. Which is probably true. But did I mention, PUPPIES?
Don't you think puppies and cupcakes are the best things ever?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I was invited to a meeting of mental health providers, agencies, educators, and parents of children who have special emotional/mental health issues, or some kind of special needs. I was the only person there from a spiritual/religious community. A little bit of a fish out of water (but I tend to get myself in these situations--when I was on the board of the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness, it was the same kind of situation--I was the only non-agency kind of person there, but I still cared.)

I listened. I listened to parents losing their jobs because they had to spend so much time advocating for their children, I listened to a mom talk about being so isolated because there was no one she could ask to babysit because she didn't know anyone who could "handle" her child; I listened to educators who were confused about the system; and I marveled at several people in the room who were the parents of ten, five, 6 children--many of whom had been adopted through foster care system. (Forgive me, I don't know all the correct terms or processes).

I can the church/religious community even be relevant to these families? I wanted to gather up the parents and just hold them...comfort them...encourage them....I wanted to thank the agency representatives, the educators...even the bureaucrats...well, thank you. Thank you for letting me into your world for just an hour and half today.

I don't know if I have much to contribute to the conversations I have been invited to on a monthly basis...but I will learn...and maybe, hopefully, I will learn from God why I am there.

Until then, I hold these people, this group, in my heart.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

shopping? pretty much done.

We are doing a pretty simple holiday this year. The bathroom remodel is postponed until January, but that really is our gift to ourselves.

We've finished with my family, all four parents, and then the the gifts in which we each draw a name. My sisters and I have been doing this since probably the day I was born and before. We include in-laws, now...but we still do it, even though sometimes I wonder why. I think it is kind of sweet--and no one has suggested to give it up. I think because we are all scattered around the country, it is one of the ways we stay connected throughout the year.

I am planning two special services right now--one is a "Blue" christmas meditation, for people who have experience loss or depression during this time...and a new Twilight Christmas Even service, for those with young children and even elders. The first time we have done it, and I guess I have pretty much free reign.

Other than that, life is getting a little bit back to normal. I took our Venus to the vet for her annual checkup--poor baby is totally blind in one eye, and has very limited vision in her other; she is stone cold deaf; her wrists and knees and back are full of arthritis...but she still demands a walk in the morning, and her appetite is stronger than ever. She is a trooper. Her heart is very strong, as well...she is on pain killers and anti inflammatories (spelling?) I just adore her. I hope she can tell us when it is all too much for her. I am not sure I will be able to tell.

I am a state of flummox (not sure what the word means, but it sounds like how I feel)...and wondering. "Yet to be revealed" is the phrase in my heart. I would like it to BE REVEALED soon.

Need to get back to worship planning.

Maybe more later!

Friday, December 11, 2009


I wrote a long post yesterday, and it got "signed out"

I just need some prayers. There was a challenging situation at work last week, into this week, which I had to absorb a lot of angry energy...but it's all good now...but still tired from it....

and my beloved is out of town for a funeral of her sister cousin, so that has been hard for both of us...I can't be there for her, she can't be here now...

and I got some incredibly dissappointing unbloggable news yesterday,

and I am feeling bereft, confused, really angry at God, but clinging to her because She knows me....
and I do trust...but still???

don't mean to be cryptic...
but prayers, I would completely welcome.

thanks, dear ones.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

absolutely no time... try and sit still and be thoughtful right now.
I'm not harried, just have a few things to do!

Today I am thinking about...
facing a sticky situation with a space-user at work,
a planning meeting with a parioshioner,
a clergy association meeting that I forgot about,
the come-to-Jesus annual exam I had this morning that really, it is time I stop eating pizza take out four times a week cuz it is just not working out well with my cholesterol, (however, my weight has stayed stable--two pounds less than last year, even!),
and deciding how much to decorate our lovely home for Christmas.

I'm also thinking about my prayer partners--who else gets a neuro cardiologist and a financial planner for her prayer partners? How cool is that?

Lastly, am thinking about of you....just cuz!

Oh, and tile. I'm thinking about tile for the Christmas bathroom, which won't get started til January some time.

Off to the races!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday morning...

Such full days these days that I haven't been able to write much. Our congregation is at the beginnings of what I hope is a deep shift in culture and spirit, which is drawing us, again, I hope, along on the journey in unknown names.

We have started a reading/prayer group to study "Unbinding the Gospel", a series that leads congregations deeper into prayer and faith sharing in normal, everyday ways. Congregations that have engaged in this process have experienced some pretty startling transformations--like actually being church instead of doing church!

Along with that, several women have asked for me to lead a women's spirituality group. Twice monthly. We had our first meeting, and it was exactly what it needed to be. I loved it.

In addition, I have gained two new members on my membership/outreach committee that will bring to the table some strategizing that this group needs. They take a little wrangling, but I am happy for their presence.

Lastly, we are embarking on a congregational process to truly deal with being financially responsible, rather than drawing down our assets willy-nilly. I am grateful that there will be small group discussions across the the congregation, instead of immediately slashing the budget because of crisis thinking. It could be that they decide to eliminate my position or cut it in half or something--or not--but it will be a considered decision, and NOT something decided by a budget committee. This, I think, is healthy.

And me...I am in a very calm place in my heart. And happy. Indeed, I have questions, and dreams, and wonderings about the future, about my call, but I am very grounded right now--and I feel like I am realistic. I certainly am not hiding with my head in the sand, waiting for something to happen--but my eyes and heart are wide open.

And oh!--back to the surface--we are doing a bathroom remodel. A real one. With a real contractor. With a real plan. No more fly by night cheap-ass big talking one-person shows (I have learned that almost anyone can get a license to be a contractor). Who else gets a bathroom for Christmas???

Am thinking about all of my cyber friends out and peace to you this weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

and I thought we were an inclusive bunch....

The church, I mean.
Welcome everyone?

But what happens when the ways in which we invite, greet, welcome completely leave out an entire population of people that socialize in other ways...
Those hugs, those handshakes, that passing of the peace thing?
It can be torture and misery for some...

read this: incipient turvy



I am dismayed these days by the number of colleagues I know that have been bitten, chewed up, and spit out by a congregation or experience with a church. I can think of at least 10 in my almost ten years of being ordained. It's not just one denomination, or just newly ordained people...but, oh--my--all of them are women.
I'm not saying that in every case sexism is primarily involved...

Ah hell. It has to be part of all of it--at least a little bit. I have been in four really happy situations as ordained clergyperson, and in each community--ranging from liberal to conservative to progressive--the sneaky, seductive side of sexism, as well as obvious, overt and unapologetic expressions of sexism are clear and present. In my experience, and from what I have observed, I think women clergy have to work harder for acceptance, for trust, for respect...than male counterparts.

I love being a pastor. I know I have been extremely fortunate in the calls I have received---none perfect--but not ever miserable (or at least miserable for long).

I'm aware of how much congregations pin on their pastors unconsciously, and statitistics about burn-out, etc.
But right now, I just wonder...
Why do church people have to be so dang mean sometimes?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Lord's Prayers...

I met someone recently who prays the Lord's Prayer every day when that person finishes showering. This thought struck me for two reasons: First, the fact that this person shared this at all, and Second, well, some people just love that Lord's Prayer so much. It's so very meaningful. For some.

Me, not so much. It's not just the language about God, it's also the hierarchical language, the power and dominion stuff--what's that called? Triumphalism?

But still, this morning, I thought I would give it a whirl on my walk with the dogs, which is when I do my best praying, these days, anyway.

It went like this, sort of...
Our...mmm Mother? Mother-Father?
mmm, o.k....
Dearest Creator,
You who abide in my heart and my body, and in this world so dear, but not far away as in 'art in heaven'....
Holy and sacred is your name, are all of your names....
May your kin-dom be real
May your longing, your hopes and dreams for me, for this creation be done.... done...
here, in this day, on this earth...
no matter what is happening in heaven. (I hope there is a heaven, or something like that, but really, it's not my motivation for being a Christian. I don't even mind the fact that maybe heaven is coming back as one of my dogs. Seriously.)
I pray that for this day that I would be nourished with what is necessary to be your person, your light...
And forgive me, dear God...for all the moments I forget I belong to You, that You are with me...and for all of the times I know I will be petty and selfish and do stupid things that I know better....and I pray for a wideness of mercy and grace and forgiveness and love and humility for others that I will meet in this day.
And please, please help me not to fall into temptation (yes, I like this part. I get it). Help me respect this wild and precious life that you have given help me not squander it with all that this world tempts me with, like really wanting a Kindle and knowing if I won five new pairs of shoes from Zappos, I would definitely want to order all five pairs for myself, and even though that might not be evil,
It's still temptation. Help me be generous. And gracious, and oh yes, dear One...I pray for your protection, from that which is seen and unseen. Indeed, keep me...keep me...keep me.
For this is your amazing world,
your amazing creation...your beauty breaks my heart sometimes it is so glorious in those tiny unexpected moments...
glory and beauty and of course, subversive, turning over the tables for the lost and disenfranchised kind of power is yours--and that is very cool, btw.....
may Christ be above me
may Christ be below me
may Christ be beside me
may Christ be within me
Shining. (even if I screw it up sometimes.)
(p.s. I will be back tomorrow with this same prayer, again, God...but I will feel free to check in with You through out the day...and I hope You will too--check in with me. Amen.again. )

Friday, October 30, 2009


last night,
I got to go to a make your own pizza party at my dear friend's home with her hunky husband and gorgeous daughters.

The girls were hilarious because they were like little tiny Tiggers jumping up and down and down and up. Halloween is coming soon.

This is a home that is permeated with sheer joy. One of the girls sang while she decorated her pizza, The other  is amazingly creative, and is going to write a book about making halloween costumes and when you ask her how school is going, she says, "it's GREAT."  She is wise, and yet all of third grade. I am pretty sure the singing pizza decorator is a sage or buddha all wrapped up in her first grade self. You can see it in her eyes.

Praise and celebration abides in this home. Praise over play doh stars and pumpkins, celebration in the mixture of a chocolate candy gummy bear dessert "salad" and cheers at the end of washing hands, and at the end of saying grace.

Don't get me wrong, they aren't a Leave it to Beaver kind of family. They have their own sets of challenges and human-ness. But they are real, and in the moment...and really, isn't that the point?

A while ago, I made a ceramic platter that says, "Grace and Plenty." If I had to give a title to my friend and her family, it would be..."Grace and Plenty."

I was full of all that grace when I got into my car to drive home last night. It was "GREAT!!"

p.s. my make my own pizza was delish. I might have to do it all over tonight at home!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Today when I was walking the doggies, a woman followed by middle school aged boy called across the busy traffic, "is the middle school down this street?"
I affirmed that it was indeed a few blocks down the street, and they trudged on in the brisk morning air.

The boy was, well, looking miserable. You could tell he probably wasn't going to be joining the soccer team or football team, or be the class president. You could guess that he was dreading being the "new kid" in the class in the middle of the semester.

I imagine they were new in the neighborhood. They clearly didn't have a car, because trust me, if they had, they would have been driving. I wondered if they were living in the square, or beyond.

But mostly, I just kept thinking about this kid.
I know I am assuming a whole lot, by making up his story in my head.

But the look on his face was real.
And my heart has been panging for him all day. (yes panging. you know when your heart breaks a little for something or someone--my heart physically "pangs" against my skin. I don't know how to explain it.)

Prayers...for all middle school kids who have hormones jumping all around them and feel lonely and lost and unpopular and afraid.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

just a quick check in.....

Once again, I have no topic, except the moment.

Today I said goodbye to recently graduated graduate student who wanted to stay here in new england, but the opportunities for this student were not emerging as hoped. She has been coming to worship for the past two years, and we have enjoyed many coffees and conversation together. I will probably not see her again in this lifetime, which is true about many of the very fine people I have met through ministry through the years. I'm not sad, I am just..reflective on this.

Facebook has helped with some really interesting reconnections. For this I am grateful.

This week I spoke with a colleague who has been in her present ministry situtation to be confirming the babies she baptized back in the day. How wonderful is that?

I pray that will be my experience, too...someday.

It is dark and rainy. I have spent a lot of time in the car shlepping back and forth to the vet for a cat getting a dental and then back and forth to work. It is 6:00 pm, and I need to get on the road now to make it back over to church in time for 7:00 pm confirmation class.

Wish me luck--the traffic is terrible.

Sending out love and fondness from my heart to cyberspace...and to you!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

dream notebook

Just notes for now, will fill in later and ponder, but these are snippets of my dreams from last night.

1. At international airport. Can't find the place to check in, but am at the gate anyway. Am afraid I will not make the flight if I go to find the checkin place,but afraid if I don't, I will be arrested as a spy or something.

2. Big production happening on a stage. Orchestra, performers, etc. I am running around assisting my colleague, but I don't have a part. Someone promised me a walk-on, but I dont' know what it is or when it will happen. I end up in the kitchen looking for something, and Roberto the chef is telling me I have to tell him when the production is five minutes from being over so he can have the dinner ready.

3. I am riding in a mini with my son's fiance. (note: I have no son, therefore this is my dream son.) We are driving in very icy weather. She is slip sliding away, no clue how to drive, and all of a sudden we are sliding backwards. I ask her, "Are we sliding backwards?" "Oh," she says, "I don't know?" My mother says, "Yes, we are!" We just miss crashing with a bunch of cars and avoid rolling in the ditch. As she tries to turn the car around, two men run out of house carrying two men who appear to have been shot. There is blood spurting from one man's throat. It is silent, though. No one is speaking. I am thinking, I should tell that cop. By the time we get near the cop, he is gone. People on the street have seen this, too, but they don't tell the cop. Especially this one woman in a pink sweatsuit who is wheelchair bound. We drive back to my nephew's fiance house...or some house. I get out, and tell her I am not going with her anywhere again. She pouts and thinks I am a backseat driver. I tell her I feared for my life--she didn't even know she was going backwards. I told her she drove to fast for ice, and I was scared. She stomps off. Then, she comes back, and wants to go to lunch. I say another time.

That's it for now. Sigh. Busy mind, huh?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

another work post....

My colleague, of whom I am quite fond, is part of the old school of clergy where if you need to, you work all hours of the day. self care for my colleague, is a difficult task at times, although he is pretty good about his one day off a week, except the last few weeks. I have had other colleagues like that.

In any case, he doesn't expect me to work like him--or at least I don't experience him in that way. I work very hard, but I have to say I am pretty good at self care, as far as time goes. Sometimes that feels "lazy"...but I know I am not.

This I think is a good rule of thumb for clergy: Divide the day into three parts. Morning, Afternoon, Evening. Only work two of those parts. If you end up working all three parts, then delete a part from another day. Obviously this is just a way to frame the day--sometimes I end up doing half a part here, half a part there...but the intent is just an easy way to track how one is spending time. I have one day that is Sabbath (Mondays) ...and Saturdays can be, at times, light, which I welcome. If I have used too many parts during the week, I plug the parts I owe myself into Saturday!

What about you? What do you do?

thinking about work...

Last night, in the town where my congregation resides (not me, though) there was a Mayoral Candidate Accountability Night, organized by a group that helps congregations do faith based community organizing, the clergy association, and a couple of others.
The intent of the night was to ask the two candidates for mayor for their commitment on issues that local congregations feel are tantamount to community. The issues were/are:
Recycling/environmental sustainability
Senior transportation
Youth support in education
Fair banking practises
Affordable housing
Diversity in schools.

In each of these areas, there were specific issues that candidates were asked to support, e.g. restoring a voucher program that senior citizens had so they could get a ride to worship, to doctor's appointments outside the city limits, and visit friends and family. This is a program that had been cut, quite recently.

There were 600 people in attendance, which far exceeded any expectations, and my congregation represented well. I was very proud to be in the room...

and happy to see houses of worship, Jewish and Christian, come together to reclaim a moral voice in the city and in issues facing it.

this is how we need to be church in the world, I think. I want to get more involved in faith based organizing. It can be a very powerful voice in being "good news"

Friday, October 9, 2009

Not because I have anything to say...

...because I don't, really. Just thought I should make an entry so I remember how to do this bloggy thing. There is the veritable unbloggable which is taking up much of my thought space these days...and I covet your prayers, and your good energy.

Besides that, life is rich. I have been focusing on that "praying without ceasing" thing, which for me, means cultivating as much awareness of God's presence in the ordinary moments of my life. I am feeling connected to God, but in a very nonattachment-buddha kind of way. I like it.

The other practise I have taken on this fall is "giving myself enough time." It has become my mantra...'give yourself time, give yourself time'--I whisper this in my head in the mornings, and when I plan my days... and I am finding that the feeling of rushing from transition to transition is almost gone, and I am finding more intention and attention to whatever I am doing. The liminal space, the inbetween time is grace and mercy to me--space to breathe, to remember, to feel.

On another completely random note: What about Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize? I find it interesting. I don't have strong feelings, yet either way--although there seem to be some that do. We had a spirited conversation at the studio today about it.

Alrighty then. Enough for now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

beautiful monday

day started out with...lovely walk with doggies, a little kitchen cleaning, blog reading, starting to knit socks for the first time (we will see how THAT goes)...
smiling to myself about friend's story of watching GodSpell with her two little girls...."Who is that?"
"Jesus CHRIST", says older daughter.
"How old is he?"
"ummmm, 30-ish, I think"
"But he's really hundreds and thousands of years old", says older daughter.
"Well, actually, he's 2009 years old"
"Wow! You know everything mom!"
and on and on. Great story. Hope she blogs it!

Now am going to read a book or two.
Take a nap, maybe.
Then finish a couple of pieces down in the studio.
Work on the socks a little more.
Oh, yep. And exercise. I will, will, will....

I have a zillion errands to run, but for now, will be still.

Oh, and the closet. Sigh. Not finished, not really a closet, but two holes in a wall. With some nice trim. I have to laugh at myself on that one.

Friday, September 25, 2009

and I am off...

to pottery class. never mind I have a sermon to write. never mind I should wait for the contractor to come. never mind I should be preparing for a couple of very big events coming very soon. never mind the house is a wreck--mostly because of said contractor. never mind I should exercise first, and then go a little late. never mind, now that I think of it, that we should have got at least one more reference for this said contractor who although, inexpensive, has kind of sort of not really done what I had in mind for him to do. never mind that Beloved and I gave him two different scenarios. we did work that out.

just never mind.
I am off.
to create.
and wow, do I need some clay-time today.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

why blog?

I started blogging a few years ago when I was exploring the connections between clay, creating, and my spiritual journey. It eventually morphed into something else...just ponderings, or silly things, or serious things.
I don't really blog to write anything of significance, except, well, maybe significant to me. What I am saying, I suppose, is that just typing in a couple of words about something or nothing is just a way to touch base inside of me, make sure I am still there, make sure I am still connected to God, and to the world. That's about it. I write in a hurry--that's why I call it a notebook--I write sloppily without thought to craft or coherence, even.
I could.
I could write well, but I don't, not here, anyway. Sometimes something lovely happens in a prayer, or a turn of phrase, but mostly I just blog because it is one of the ways I can find God and me in a couple of minutes here and there during the week.

However, I am grateful for my bloggy friends who do write well, and whose words nourish me like a gentle rain or a great big bite of something delicious to enjoy for a while. Thank you, dears--you know who you are!

Friday, September 18, 2009

today at class...

I started three little boxes,made out of six pinch pots, rolled out two slabs to carve for tile-y wall thingys, got some dissappointing news, laughed with the women with which I create and they are really so great, I wished someone happy rosh hashana, tried not to think so much, tried not to feel so much, prayed wordless prayers...
and thanked God for clay.
and for friends.
and for those who understand.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

indeed, it is fall...

preschool in residence is starting back this week....
meaning mommies and daddies park everywhere in the lot so I can't get to my parking space, IF someone hasn't taken my parking space...
loud teachers RIGHT. OUT. SIDE. MY. DOOR.
I love those teachers. I love the kiddos.
But the minor inconvenience make me a little crabby.

but frankly, I am in a crabby funk today.

I will attribute some to pre-menstrual or perimenapausal hormones....

and perhaps some to the energy let-down from the weekend busy-ness and highs...

and other stuff.

As I stood in the shower this morning, letting the warm spray cascade around me, I just leaned into the wall, imagining that I was leaning in to You. Right now...I wish I could do that again...lean into You...but if I do, I might cry a little, but I can't really explain why. I just feel that way.
Your Spirit knows the prayer I can't find words for today.
May my sighs mingle with Yours, knowing You can hear them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

so, the new program year has started....

We had 30 children on Sunday. Wonderful!
This past weekend was very busy, on the ministry front. Our annual ice cream social got rained out, but we transformed the fellowship hall into a coffee shop cafe, and the band was psyched about playing on the stage. The social is a public event, and when it is outside, it is really fun--neighbors come out, we all dance under the stars and it is great. However, next year I am thinking to up the ante, since over half of the people that were there were non-church members, which is great...NONE of our church members brought/invited a guest. The whole point of doing this is not only to have a great event for the neighborhood, but for our folks to have something NON-churchy, and NORMAL to invite guests to. Plus, since we were inside this year....although many of the guests were lovely, we had a fair share of...shall I say, interesting...(o.k. yes, some were really weird) and I love that we can spend $800 bucks on an event and provide a great is a lot of $$$ that could have had a little more bang for the buck.

However, it was very fun to serve leftover ice cream during fellowship hour after worship on Sunday, and let the little kids have at it with the whipped topping and sprinkles. One little guy came back three times to replenish the sprinkles on his melting mass of oreos ice cream.

This fall, due to a couple of reasons, I am teaching 6-7 grade Sunday School...which means I am only in worship for the first 15 minutes or so. I love the kids, and it is a great opportunity to be with I am only preaching TWICE this fall because we have so many guest preachers, plus me, plus a seminarian, plus sr. pastor, plus always a reader in I don't get to participate much in the liturgy anyway. feels weird not to be in worship. Some mixed feelings here, as you can tell.

It is a bluer than blue stunning September afternoon in New England.

Oh, and since I am being random. I restarted Weigh Watchers this morning. True to myself, I happened upon a bag of Hershey Nuggets in my closet that I forgot about. Don't worry. I only ate the ones I liked. ;-)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


that's all.
In the middle of doing a lot of stuff to get ready for our big Regathering Weekend, which I am very much looking forward to, and am quite busy...
I am busy waiting.
unbloggably waiting.
that's all for now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

it's over. sigh.

I have stretched out summer as long as I started the 12 of June with a week off....and continued to this weekend, pretty much. I did work a little bit in all of that, but I just soaked in the last few days by being completely and totally relaxed and lazy and pretty much spite of knowing I might pay for that this week.

So. Summer is over. I felt a little sad last night, knowing that. I am looking forward, yes, to having my congregation all back on Sundays, and for more items on my schedule that will matter in ministry and in my heart, and....

yet, those lazy days have been delicious.
and I am grateful for them.
(and, if summer wants to stick around a little more, I wouldn't complain!)

Monday, August 31, 2009

road trippin' with the seniors

my dad, my stepfather, and one of my aunties (say ahnty, not anty)
took a road trip to Montana
to visit one of my other aunties who is battling breast cancer.
we drove on back roads, by farms and fields and road construction and through the Ft. Peck Indian Reservation.
I might add that my fellow travelers were all in their 80's and have lived in this corner of the world all of those combined years...and seemingly more.
Snippets of the conversation:
"yah, look at dat field over dere. my goodness, look at how green it is. not even close to be harvested"
"oh my, look at the weeds in that one"
"now you know this place is the Arnson place--"
"which Arnson is that--Jimmy?"
'No, Petey. "
"Petey? Was that Jack's son?"
"Are you sure? I thought that was Emil's son"
"No, Emil's son is Jimmy. He married that the Halverson girl over east of there"
"Which Halverson was that? June?"
"No, no, I think that was Elvina, you know Einer's daughter"
"Oh, sure..."
"What is that field over there?"
"hmm, not sure. Must be lentils or peas"

As we come upon another field, in chorus, we all say (including me):
"That's sugar beets there!"

"oof, look at that place (meaning farm) over dere. All those junky cars. must be at least tirty (thirty) of them."
"oof, yah, and you know, Mabel C. was so mad that the government made a program to get rid of all those junky cars on those home places and she was so mad. Our taxes shouldn't be payin' for that now--they put those cars there, they can get rid of dem dereselves." (I might add we are driving through the reservation here. There is much racism here regarding the reservation. I just can't even get into that now, but I must name it.)

We finally get to my aunt's house in Montana. (She is doing very well, and is sweet as zucchini bread.) Then the stories begin about growing up on the prairie on a farm...sneaking out at night to go on dates with boys on neighboring towns, reading letters written by my grandfather to my aunt when he was in the hospital in 1970, talking about sweating like a bull, and much laughter, and of course, picking some rhubarb from the garden.

After a several hour visit, which included bars (homemade cookies, scotcheroos, and pecan caramel somethings) and decaf coffee and then later sandwiches from Subway ("oh, these are so delicious!" "wow, they really pile it on, don't they?" "oh my, is this a halapeeno?" "so healthy, you got your meat, your salad, your bread...") we head home.

More of the same conversations, peppered with names like Soiseth, Buseth, Furseth, Teneninko, Olsen, Lee, Mischke, Brevke, Ida, Delphine, Charlotte, Ole, Alvin, Elvin, Marilyn--I am amazed at how my road trip partners can travel over a hundred miles on the prairie and name whose place we pass on the road, and how they remember so and so's maiden name and the three husbands or two wives of another person....and who is sick with what, and who is doctoring where, and what all of their children are doing, and where those said children are living...
and the sweetest thing...
as we pass golden waves of grain,
each one giving an opinion on when it is ready to be combined...
and the thrill each one had
when they saw combines and grain trucks and oggers in the fields harvesting...
and the most precious moment,
when we drove over a hill to see a ripened field,
my father exclaiming,breathing in with appreciation,
"oh, look at that beautiful field. it's perfect. it would be fun to get a combine in that right now!"
such delight.
and deep gratitude for the land, for the farmer, for the bounty it yields.

Glad I got to road trip with dem today.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

the thing with grief

it hangs in the air,
invisible, but present...
and the pain and loss and deep empty ache
will hit at any trigger.
a picture.
a word.
a seemingly small event.
and when it hits...
it can just gently bump into sadness...
or send everything in the universe
down into tight silence and muted hearts
with no place to escape, to breathe, but
just sit
in despair, paralysis, and unbelievable nothingness and everythingness that overwhelms.

you just have to hold on
and pray that it passes.
sooner, rather than later.


Thursday, August 27, 2009


I grew up in Western North Dakota, where I am visiting this week--with a couple of my sisters, my mom and stepdad, my dad and stepmother...
When I go home, I usually stay at my mom's, the house I grew up in. This is where I sit, typing, now on her little Mac (sidebar: I love Mac computers). We have just finished supper of baked salmon, fresh greenbeans, fresh cucumbers in sweet sour cream sauce, potatoes with butter, and vine ripe tomatoes and basil from the garden.

It's funny coming home, even now. I get bombarded with all of these how everything and nothing has changed in the town, how tall my youngest nephew is, and how he sits and makes gestures when he talks which remind me of his dad (my sister's husband--we all went to high school together). I look down the street I grew up, and the houses look pretty much the same, and walking over to my dad's condo, I see two church signs with major spelling errors or grammatical errors, but no one seems to care. I sit and talk to my twin and we remember how although her son takes Algebra in 8th grade, we had it in 9th grade, and my algebra teacher actually dated my stepmother before she married my dad, but I didn't know that until today, when my stepfather told us that. We laugh about the coolness of "Hash" jeans...the only jeans to wear when we were in high school. When I got up this morning, my mom was hand crushing walnuts to make zucchinni bread--from scratch, zucchinni from the garden, and this afternoon, I ate a slice that melted in my mouth, as I remembered the music teacher who gave my mother the recipe.

Oh, and the pictures. Of me as a wrestlette, and the wrestling team (wrestlettes took the stats at the games) and me with the women's basketball team, as the team statistician. How ugly my glasses were! And then, tucked all over the house, photos of my nephews and other grandchildren, photos of different stages of my early adult life, as a youth leader, teacher, a picture from my ordination that I don't even all of the other things to look at--the pile of my stepfather's ties hanging in the sewing room, the pottery I have given my mother to use, but instead sits on shelves next to depression glass and old crockery jars.

The air is blue and breezy and smells like wide open spaces, outside. Tomorrow I will drive out to the country with my dad in his big ass ford pickup with the leather seats, to visit an old Ukrainian 7th day adventist church that my great-grandfather was the pastor of. We will go to either Gramma Sharon's or the truck stop to have lunch--or maybe MacDonalds.

Everything and nothing is changed here. It's home. My roots.
It is bittersweet and gorgeous all at the same time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

prayer for today

...that your Light would shine within me
...that your Strength would take ahold of me
...that your Peace would assure me...

but most of all,
please use what you have given me
to be Good News, a tiny taste of heaven
for those whom I meet in this day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

just Wednesday...

as a designer friend says, "I think I need to tart this layout up." Am thinking about this in regards to my new bloggy place. but for just trying to get out of my head a little bit.

-it is 9:00 am Doggies walked. Outside, Venus is barking. I think Venus should have a facebook page. Is that allowed? Can she have a fan page?

-the title of my blog, came from two videos posted by my dear friend Jess. In one, her little girl Kendall is playing with her Backyardigans, and each little friend has an instrument, but the last little friend plays the bongos, which one side is punched through. The little friend (I have no idea of the name of these little creatures) hangs out in the hole. sooooo cute. the second video is here. go ahead. I will wait while you watch all 30 seconds of this. Turn your sound way up. Oh, and if you are the teary type, be warned. This has to be the sweetest sound and video I have ever, ever seen.

--plus, I like that it sounds like Kendall is singing "amazing wrench" or "amazing wench?". Knocks me over.

--so, the blog: two words from the two videos.

--am thinking about the Taste of Heaven this week. Any thoughts?

--I think my last two toes on my right foot are either fractured or very badly sprained. This makes exercizing, let alone walking, a tiny bit painful. Thank god for Motrin.

--I go to North Dakota next week for a week to visit my family. I am looking forward to it, in spite of the mosquitos, which are very plentiful.

--love and peace to you, this day. I am grateful for words and the silence inbetween.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

welcome! Amazing Bongos!
My new blog. Why a new blog? Hmmmm.

Why new shoes?
Because new shoes are fun!
Why make yet another carved tile out of clay like the last one?
Because it feeds my soul.
Why a new notebook?
Just because it is smells good and is open with possibility.
Why a new lipstick color?
Because it's a nice change

So, for all the same reasons, here I am at Amazing Bongos.
Come back and visit again!