Wednesday, November 30, 2005

And the Award for Surprises Goes to...

Ellen Wondra, professor of Ethics, who yesterday cancelled our third assigned paper! (She's still reading our second papers....) We're all very grateful, and rumour has it that we're all bringing her...

...I guess I can't say what we're bringing her; it's a surprise!

Monday, November 28, 2005


Usually I don't go on rants, but here it comes. I am looking for your ideas, even half of an idea and even if you've offered such an idea before.

In case you haven't been in my space, my neighbors (staff, not students) are heavy smokers and our horrible smelling hallway elicits comments from visitors any time someone comes up to the third floor. (Last year, we did talk with our neighbors about the smoky air and each of us got air purifiers. Let it be said, too, that I do like these neighbors.)

Inside, I always run a heavy-duty air purifier. It's better with the purifier, but still I need to burn candles or incense when I'm here. The air purifier blows cold air, not helpful when I have an apartment that's on the end of the heating line. (I need to run my oven when it's really cold.)

Usually I get used to the smokiness of my clothes, towels and bedding -- but when John visits and gets back to Iowa, the contents of his suitcase are smoky. Last night, my toothbrush bristles were smoky! I've had it.

The smoke aggravates my headaches and certainly contributes to my irritability. Seminary is challenging enough without this. I'll move to a different (bigger) space this summer, and do not want to move before that. Until then, how do I stop myself from wanting to my toss my neighbors, myself and all of my books and papers into the lake?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Happy New Year

Wake, Awake!
It's Advent!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Chapel Temperature, Act II

I have a morbid fascination with the temperature in the chapel. When John, Noah, Sarah and I returned last night with Laurel and her awesome sister Trish to sing through more of the Hymnal, the organ thermometer read 46!

Today, John and Maggie head back to Iowa; Noah and Sarah back to Ohio. I'm trying to distract myself, but there's some random packing going on already...BAH HUMBUG!!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

We give thanks that Noah and Sarah arived safely yesterday to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. The snow in Cleveland didn't delay them, and they seemed so happy to be with us for the simple feast (no Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving -- having just been to the NR museum, that's not what our "dining room" looked like, especially since we don't have a dining room here on the block).

Later, after a slight delay in which Noah and Sarah locked themselves out of the apartment and I had to call security :) the four of us went to the chapel and sang hymns with our favorite descants. Sarah and Noah took turns at the organ bench and we had a splendid time with all four voice parts represented. Even if it was a frigid 50 degrees in the chapel, we stayed to read through a book of Renaissance pieces as long as our voices held up and the organists could feel their fingers.

Then we ate half of a frosted pumpkin cake! Good thing I made the cake, so I could give some to Brian, who came over after dark to unlock the apartment door. Thanks be to God for security guys that answer their phone on holidays...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sheep, Goats, and Turkeys

After preaching class on Friday (during which we heard about sheep and goats), I drove home to Davenport and arrived before dark to the welcome embrace of one tired botanist and one very excited standard poodle.

The next day, I had lunch with a dear friend and then went with the tired botanist to his Field Education site in Cedar Rapids, where he preached on...sheep and goats! His 25 years of teaching help make him totally at ease as a preacher, and I marvel at his giftedness. Such grace!

The next morning, I went to our home parish and heard my rector preach on...sheep and goats!

In spite of all the sheep and goats, I'm thinking about turkeys. I fell mightily off the veggie wagon and had a turkey sandwich today. Alas! I've lost my purity. And I suspect I'll repeat this undesirable behavior on Thanksgiving Day. Sorry to let you down, Spud and other veggie friends.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Yes, it's really true

...that I always wear a scarf when my bishop (Alan Scarfe) visits. (I've gotten Beth P to do it, too.) When our diocese elected Alan a few years back, a friend and I intentionally wore scarves for good luck as we voted, as we felt so strongly that Alan was the right leader for Iowa. This may sound silly, but it's a symbol that means something to me.

By now I've connected with Bishops 8 and 9 (see previous post), and for some reason I continue to amuse Number 9. Really, I'm not trying to entertain... In other news, I attribute my speedy recovery from evil germs to Davies' fresh asparagus and to going to bed at a reasonable hour.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Next door neighbors

Tonight I'm especially grateful for my next door neighbor (the non-smoking one) who is generous enough to cook me dinner when I am feeling so very low. Some thoughtless germ has invaded my poor body -- as if I haven't already had enough after falling on the pavement -- and I am just scraping my way through this day. I was so looking forward to seeing my former and current bishops (otherwise known, in Iowa, as Numbers 8 and 9) today, but they've been hidden away in meetings in Seabury Lounge. Tomorrow we'll connect, I'm sure, but by then (judging from my raw throat) I do not know if I will even have a speaking voice. Oh, pitiful little crushed grape I am!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Big Spill

For those of you who watched me turn my salad plate and its contents upside down and so noisily drop it in the refectory yesterday, I was even less graceful today.

I fell hard on the brick pavement in front of the Whole Foods driveway before noon, landing squarely on my left cheek and side. The car entering the parking lot saw me in time to put on the brakes. I did not break any bones or teeth, and the most obvious damage was to my glasses. My left knee is turning a whole variety of colors and I may have a bruised face tomorrow, but my time in the optometry shop on Sherman Avenue was more interesting than I'd have guessed.

The person on duty listened to my explanation of why my glasses looked so peculiar, and then began asking me about my vision, my pupils, my teeth, and whether my nose felt normal. It turns out that he's an EMT! Not only that, but he's a former seminarian, too. He also was the best listener that I've met in some time.

Stay tuned to see what graceful act I accomplish tomorrow.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Stoles and Plungers

Yesterday our Plunge team (Barb, Davies and I) attended our last Eucharist at Good Shepherd Church. Afterwards at coffee hour, Fr. Domenic gave us inscribed books and note cards. We thought that the gifts ended there. We were wrong. Domenic called us into his office and presented each of us with richly colored stoles. These stoles had been handed down to him, and he now handed them on to us. We accepted them with amazement.

Last night, at the dinner party given by our host families, Rich (the senior warden) gave us each a plunger onto which the hosts then wrote personal messages in permanent marker. Rich also demonstrated the various creative ways a pair of plungers might be worn. We laughed almost until we were sick. The evening was bittersweet. It's hard to leave these people who shared histories and raw emotions with us.

This afternoon our team safely arrived back home. Five minutes later, though, both Barb and Davies left (independently of one another) for a day or two in Indianapolis. This leaves me as the first (and at the moment, the only) Plunger back on the block. I am disoriented here, my brain feels fried, and I can't even begin to process the experience. Former Plungers, is this normal?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Trees, Donut Holes, and a Bible Study

Some thoughts on Day Six of The Plunge:

The New England fall colors are the richest and most glorious I've ever seen. Davies keeps pulling over on the side of the road (or in the middle of a bridge) to take photos. His photos are so good that he could go into the postcard business.

There are entirely too many Dunkin' Donuts in western Massachusetts. We thought there were lots of Starbucks in Chicago, but this is over the top. Our first glimpse of Domenic (rector at our church here) was with Dunkin' Donuts cup in hand.

We've spent the week interviewing parishioners and staff at Good Shepherd Church. The parish has experienced three waves of members leaving, and the finances look very bleak. There's fierce hope on the part of those who work to keep the church going, and the lay leadership is strong among those who remain. But their ability to support a full-time rector looks unlikely for the coming year, so we're hearing stories of pain and betrayal, personal histories that they offer us gradually. The New England sense of reserve is strong, but those who initially seemed reluctant to say much have opened up when we see them more informally a second time. The trust level at this point in the week is much stronger than when we began, and that is rewarding for us.

Last night's Bible study focused on Ephesians. Nine parishioners (including two teens) gathered with us to work toward understanding what Paul's letter is saying to the church and to them personally. Domenic did a fantastic job of making the scripture accessible to those who said they never can understand the Bible. We tried to lay low and not act like stuffy seminarians.

My host family has three active children, ages 14 and 12-yr.-old twins with ADHD, so the energy and noise in the household is a bit different than I'm accustomed to. One of the twins has invited me to her cheerleading competition on Saturday, and I think it's important for me to go.

Please continue to shower the Plunge teams with your prayers. Your support and care matter to us.