Friday, November 30, 2007

Advent Grumping Friday Five!

This week’s Friday Five sees Will Smama at her best:

Parishioners pushing for carols before you digested your turkey?

Organist refusing to play Advent hymns because he/she already has them planned for Lessons & Carols?

Find yourself reading Luke and thinking of a variety of ways to tell Linus where to stick it? (Lights please.)

Then this quick and easy Friday Five is for you! And for those of you with a more positive attitude, have no fear. I am sure more sacred and reverent Friday Fives will follow.

Please tell us your least favourite/most annoying seasonal....
1) dessert/cookie/family food
2) beverage (seasonal beer, eggnog w/ way too much egg and not enough nog, etc...)
3) tradition (church, family, other)
4) decoration
5) gift (received or given)
BONUS: SONG/CD that makes you want to tell the elves where to stick it.

I know, I know.... pretty grumpy for November but why not get it out of our systems now so we are free to enjoy the rest of the festivities.

Ooooh, I’m ready for this. I’m in a grumpy mood anyway, after finding two of the tires on my car slashed this morning. It seems to be random hooliganism (old-fashioned word, but it says how I feel), and not personal, as two or three other cars in the area also had tires slashed. Screwdriver. In the sidewall. Twisted about. In one tire, there were two holes. The capper? The tires were just a bit more than six months old.

So here goes:
1. Mincemeat pie. I mean, what’s the point? I’ll go for most any pie—apple, peach, banana cream, pumpkin, key lime, sweet potato, grasshopper—but mincemeat just doesn’t taste like anything. Or if it does, it’s the spices. No thanks.
2. Actually, I pretty much like them all. Hot chocolate, eggnog (see my archives for last year, where I included a recipe for killer eggnog), Christmas beer, hot spiced wine, champagne, hot cider…bring them on! So I guess that stuff that calls itself low-fat, no sugar, pastuerised non-alcoholic eggnog you can buy at the store in a carton--that's what I don't like.
3. Tradition..hmm. The retail tradition of placing a Christmas tree on top of a haunted house. I mean, can’t we at least get through Halloween before we have Christmas? And then the way they over-decorate!! Every inch of the mall has ornaments or lights or flags or poinsettias or fake holly. Ugh.
4. Speaking of decoration… Those fake icicle lights. In the US South. Where they never have icicles. I mean please. (OK, and now I’ve offended every RevGal to the South of the Mason-Dixon line in the US).
5. Gift… Hmm. This is potentially dangerous, because what you really mean here is “Worst gift given by someone who never reads your blog.” No, actually, I’ve rarely gotten gifts I didn’t appreciate. Perhaps the washcloths with my name printed on them that my grandmother gave me when I was six.
Bonus: “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” Boo Hiss. I mean really. Of course, it could be worse. “Rocking Around the Manger Scene?”

Can I offer a quick antidote? Here are my favs of each:
1. Sugar cookies with frosting
2. Champagne
3. Coming home from the midnight service and then—and only then!—putting the Christ child in the nativity.
4. The brass stars my mother had in her windows for many years—they lighted from the inside,and were pierced with star shapes for the light to glow through. Lovely.
5. The gold cross my son gave my for Christmas while I was in seminary. It was his own eight-year-old idea; and I still wear it most days.
Song/CD: This is tough. One of Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas CD’s, Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, Chicago’s Christmas CD or just the song, “Mary, Did You Know?”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2007

Well what's to be said?

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was passed by the House of Representative of the US Congress, but without including gender identity. Non-Discrimination that is not inclusive is discriminatory.

And in Canada, gender reassignment surgery has not been added back to coverage under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Ontario has the highest population of any of Canada's provinces.

The situation is not much better elsewhere.

The list below includes individuals who were killed by others out of fear and hatred as well as some who took their own lives out of pain and despair. We cannot accept this as simply status quo.

Those of us who call ourselves Christian have an obligation to include; to draw the circle of God's love as wide as possible.

God did not say to love your neighbours who are like yourself; but to love your neighbour as much as you love yourself.

We remember the ones we have lost--friends, neighbours, loved ones, family members, strangers, email friends--to the cruelty and pain and hatred of others.

Nakia Ladelle Baker, Nashville, Tennessee
Hasan Sabeh, Baghdad, Iraq
Keittirat Longnawa, Rassada, Thailand
Tatiana, Trani, Italy
Moira Donaire; ViƱa del Mar, Chile
Michelle Carrasco "Chela", Santiago, Chile
Ruby Rodriguez, San Francisco, California
Erica Keel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Bret T. Turner, Madison, Wisconsin
Manuela Di Cesare, Pescara, Italy
Unidentified Male Clad in Female Attire, Kingston, Jamaica
Victoria Arellano, San Pedro, California
Oscar Mosqueda, Daytona Beach, Florida
Stefania, Roma, Italy
Maribelle Reyes, Houston, Texas
Ian Guarr, Holland, Michigan
And finally, all those who have no names, who died alone and unnamed…

Friday, November 16, 2007

Whatever is Pure, Honourable, Just, True, Pleasing, Excellent, Worthy of Praise…

Well, that’s the meme for the RevGalBlogPals’ Friday Five today. So here goes:

1. Just: The Heifer Project. You’ve probably heard of the Heifer Project. An individual receives an animal or animals (heifer, flock of chickens, swarm of bees) from the Project, and thus has a start on a good income. When the flock/swarm is large enough, they are to share the extra with their neighbours; when the heifer calves, the young one goes to a neighbour. And so the wealth is shared. And you can too, here.

2. True: Mr. M., my dog. He’s older now, and finds stairs a challenge (well, he does anyway, being a Welsh Corgi). But when I come upstairs to work in my home study, he ignores my commands to “stay” downstairs and struggles up to be with me. Unfortunately, I can’t carry him up and down on a regular basis, as he is just over my carrying limit at 35 pounds. But he wants
to be where I am (typical Corgi), and will do what it takes to make that happen.

3. Excellent: The care of my friends. I can’t begin to name them all, but Denizens of the Yellow House, Deacon, Brit Boy, Cali Pastor, and the Professor have been especially loving and supportive recently. They care, and they let me know in ways both tangible and intangible that they do. My life would be much greyer and sadder without them in it.

4. Worthy of praise: My Regional Elder ( = Bishop/District Superintendent; my immediate superior in the denomination). She has one of the most difficult jobs going, does it on a financial shoestring, and exhibits grace, wisdom and intelligence whilst doing so.

5. Honourable: A friend who took the difficult and challenging high road when the easy and simple low road was available and even expected. I honour him and love him the more for it—in fact, it was one of the (many) reasons I knew I wanted his friendship.

Short and sweet this week...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Extravagant Unbusyness…

I love the name and the idea!

Sally at RevGalBlogPals is using this for the Friday Five. It’s all about self-care, and finding those little bits of the day to do something for oneself. So without further ado, here we are.

Five things I would do to:

1. Care for my body

Move more. Living close to downtown River City as I do, I can often walk to events and all those band venues I love so much—also the main library, one of the two hospitals in town where I often have members, my favourite record store, my hairstylist, several friends and a couple of bookstores. The church is a bit too far, and I usually have too many heavy items to walk to the grocery store, but otherwise I don’t have to drive. I need to walk more often. It doesn’t add that much time, and it would be good for me.

2. Care for my spirit

Look out my window. I have two in my study at home (the ones in my office at church are frosted), and there are trees and squirrels and flowers (well, not any more, given the season here), and I need to take time to enjoy them and recognise their beauty. In all seasons!

3. My mind

Read. There are lots of moments I can use for reading…over lunch, the fifteen minutes before I turn out my light at night, while I’m waiting for the doctor…I need to take advantage of those. And not all “professional reading,” although I find most of such reading fascinating. Might even give me an edge in that “fit this word into the sermon” challenge Music Man gives me so frequently!

4. Bring a sparkle to my eye

Talk to my friends. A conversation doesn’t have to last for hours to be good. I’d like to take the time for those five minute catch-up conversations, whether by phone, instant message or Skype. I’ve discovered, now that I live alone, that I can theoretically go for 24 hours without speaking a word to another human being. To an ENFJ like myself, that’s torture and crazy-making. Even a short conversation can pick up my spirits and put things into perspective.

5. Place a spring in my step

Listen to not-soothing music. I enjoy my Josh Groban and my classical and Enya and Loreena McKennitt when I’m trying to focus. But I also like to get up and move to house music, to jazz and hard-edged rock and some that can’t be categorized. So I’m going to start taking a few moments to dance around the office between appointments, or while I'm cleaning the house (nothing makes bathroom-scrubbing go faster than some house music, trust me). Try Freemasons “Rain Down Love,” the 2007 Club Mix ( see the video here ), or one of my current faves, Citywide Vacuum’s “Much Too Jung,” found here. An edgier choice is Scout Niblett singing about kisses and dinosaur eggs. Good stuff, as Brit Boy would say.


Which one will I put into practise? I think number 4. I already sort of do the others, I just need to be more “intentional” about it (I wish I could come up with another word besides that jargony one but it fits). The trick will be keeping it short and sweet instead of a time-suck. While there are times when we need to talk and vent, sometimes just a short, “Hi, I’m thinking of you,” or “Hey, how did the meeting go last night?” can be an amazing tonic.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Friday Five on Sunday!!

Special Edition! Only two days late!

Mother Laura’s Friday Five on interviews…. (yes, I’m running behind this week)

1. What was the most memorable interview you ever had?
This one’s easy. My final interview before being sent to the conference’s three-day ordination interview (technically, consecration interview, since it was for probationary elder status). It took place at 10 am on Wednesday, September 12, 2001, near Washington, D.C. Needless to say, neither myself nor any member of the district committee on ordained ministry was in a fit state to decide my future. Nonetheless, we forged ahead, calling on the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance and comfort—many of us had friends in the Pentagon.

The worst ones ever have been two of my ordination interviews. Nerve-wracking, with questions that I knew I had to answer honestly even though the answers weren’t what the interviewers wanted to hear (and they weren’t wrong answers, just not “politically correct” according the mores of the denomination), and in one case, over three days, and in a group of four, with my fellow interviewees there to hear my questions and responses (as I was to hear theirs). As a friend said, three of the four most stressful days of my life.

2. Have you ever been the interviewer rather than the interviewee? If so, are you a tiger, a creampuff, or somewhere in between?

Oh yes, mostly for jobs. Definitely a creampuff, although I don’t hesitate to ask the difficult questions (“You stated in your letter of application that you’re planning to open a gift store in the near future. How do you plan to work that around the 20 hours you’ll be working for the church?”).

3. Do phone interviews make you more or less nervous than in-person ones?
More nervous. I’m very bad at recognising different voice over the phone, and the distortion of speaker phones makes it even worse. Plus, as others have said, you can’t get those body language cues.

4. What was the best advice you ever got to prepare for an interview? How about the worst?
The best was to have three or four questions prepared to ask the interviewers—not about benefits or the company cafeteria, but substantive questions about the work I’d be doing, the make-up of the congregation, per-capita giving, community involvement, etc.

The worst was when I was told the interview was a “formality” and I didn’t really need to prepare for it. HAH! It was not a formality and I should have prepared for it. I did OK, but still.

It wasn’t asked, but the saddest/most confusing advice I got was to wear slacks for an ordination interview, so that I would be taken seriously as a fully out LGBT woman. The mind boggles.

5. Do you have any pre-interview rituals that give you confidence?

Read my responses to the paperwork (because that’s where their questions will probably come from), pray, imagine the worst possible questions they could ask and how I would answer, and breathe. Oh, and use the washroom about three times.

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

Personalities fascinate me--people do. One way I try to understand history and places is through people--which is why I love good histor...