Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Surprise on New Year's Eve

We're staying in this New Year's Eve, enjoying Noah's last night in Iowa for quite a while. As I was preparing my friend Mary Lynn's pear frangipane tart, the phone rang. Calling from Germany was our friend and former high school exchange student Ulrich, now 21. He was with us in 2002, and provided much delight.

Ulrich loved to cook, and often made his homemade salad dressing for us. He took quickly to American fast food, particularly enjoying Wendy's hamburgers so much that he insisted he'd name his first child Wendy! Ulrich found it peculiar that at our churches, we sing "Alleluia" instead of "Hallelujah," so he'd pencil in the "H" on every church bulletin he could find.

It was a joy, especially on a day when I learned of the sudden death of a parishioner, to have this lively, excited voice on the phone -- calling us out of great fondness and already living in the year 2009 while we have a few more hours to go in 2008.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dogs with friendly faces

Travel conditions to and from our friend Henry's funeral yesterday were terrible. Heading to the Chicago suburbs on Friday in thick, deepening fog was slightly scarier than yesterday's return trip in heavy rain-turning-to-sleet. The funeral itself was a blessing, having been carefully planned with Henry's favorite scriptural passages and hymns.

Hymn #313 preceding the Gospel came from the 1940 Hymnal, chosen because Henry loved the line in the second verse about "dogs with friendly faces." The hymn made many of us grin. I was pleased to be asked to co-officiate, and had an excellent, experienced priest with whom to work. (Thanks, Lane.)

Having braved all of that weather, I was dismayed to awaken today to snow and ice. Part of the interstate west of here was shut down yesterday. The icy roads kept me from taking Noah to church in Iowa City. Instead, deciding it was wiser to be safe in town, I drove slowly and carefully to our home parish. The driveway (on a slope) is treacherous if it's icy. As I pulled in to park, going at about 2 mph, I slid on the ice right into the car of a parishioner -- while she watched from the sidewalk.

Her car has a small ding. She told me it wasn't my fault, since once you slide on the ice, you can't stop. But I do feel at fault, and last winter's serious accident on the interstate on black ice again reruns itself through my head. When we started to slide this morning, the black fear welled up all over again. Clearly, it's a setback. Now, I need to overcome it, rather than believing that I simply should have stayed under the covers in the first place.

During church I tried to rise above my frustration by calling to mind the dogs with friendly faces, but it didn't do the trick. Singing Christmas hymns with Noah at my side did cheer me up quite a lot, though. What a tenor! What a supportive presence!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Line Attributed to Charlie Brown

Happiness is a warm puppy (especially one who wags nonstop at the sight of you), but happiness also is spending most of Christmas with the church family you've freely chosen, and which has chosen you.

Happiness is the joyful noise of the youth choir as they pound down the hall to rehearsal.

Happiness is counting the hours till your children come home.

Wishing everyone a safe and blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wildly distracted and sad

As we headed to our friend Meg's ordination on Saturday, I learned of the unexpected death of Henry, a very dear family friend. To say that he's the dad of my best friend from childhood doesn't describe the depth of our bond; perhaps saying that he's the one who bestowed upon me my Raisin nickname in June of 1970 tells you how strong the relationship is between our families.

The ordination was lovely, though sparsely attended due to wintry driving conditions. I told myself that I just needed to get through singing the litany, then get through celebrating 4 Advent -- then I could allow this grief to do what it will.

Imagine standing at the altar, and the altar book has two missing pages in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer. Oh, on some other morning I might have been able to call forth the rest of the words, but not so yesterday. I paused. The rector rescued me by handing me a prayer book. Human error is just that -- something with which everyone sympathizes. But I do very much mind that it showed up in the midst of our liturgy.

After that, I left my boots behind in my office, got stuck in the snow, forgot to put the garage door down,....what else? If I continue to be not quite all here in these next days, please bear with me.

(And yes, I did find the missing pages.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jazz instruments with fire alarm

At Sunday's Evensong, our visiting priest had just sung the dismissal and the jazz combo started their last piece, when a curious child pulled the fire alarm. The alarm rang on a clear pitch, three short, piercing notes, over and over.

Within about ten seconds, the combo picked up the key in which the fire alarm rang, and continued to improvise with it till our attentive and quick-minded Minister of Music got the thing turned off.

The jazz studies program lives in our church building this year, after the music complex was flooded beyond repair last summer. I hope they never leave.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Snowy Advent Blessings

It's snowing so hard that I can hardly keep my eyes away from my window!

Thanks to Sarah's comment on my previous post, it's time for a new colour. The border reminds me of chocolate and espresso. I'll add the sidebar links later; now, I'm dashing off in the wintry white world to lead Advent Noontime Meditations with two colleagues.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Blue is the colour most often used by poets.
Blue is the colour of my parish's rich and glorious Advent vestments.
Blue is the colour of the tiny lights in my office, something fun to remind visitors of the liturgical season.
"Love is Blue" is the first popular song I fell in love with as a teenager.
Blue is the colour of my eyes, my dad's eyes, and my son's eyes.
I love blue.
But...I'm so tired of blue for my blog!
I'd change it in a flash, except that redoing all the links takes so much time.

So...does anyone know of a quick way (or any way) to save the links on a side bar? Every other time that I've re-customized my blog, they all disappear.