Thursday, June 28, 2007

Poetry Thursday - a kitty poem!

June 26, 2007

You had only been in the world eight weeks
barely long enough to leave your momma
and I saw you in the box
cowering in the corner.
You hissed at me when I reached for you
but then you snuggled into me
deep into the warm softness of my breast
and purred as I stroked your fur.

They wanted a black cat
and you were close -
with your little white socks
and your tuxedo shirt
so they said you could stay.

That first night,
after you ate and drank
and we showed you your box,
I gently placed you on the big bed
between the pillows
so you could hear us and feel us with you
your first night in this big strange place.
And in the middle of the night
I reached for you to be sure you were okay
and my fingers landed in poop.
Somehow you survived this.

Six years later
you're not a wee cute thing any more
but a big lazy fat cat
and it freaked you out completely
when I took you out of your home
that once had been such a big strange place.
I gave you food and water
and showed you your box
and you cowered under my bed
until finally that night
after moving and unpacking
I shut off the light and whispered
Good night, kitty.
You crept out from under the bed
and nuzzled my dangling hand,
so I reached down to lift you onto the bed
and I placed you next to my lone pillow
so you could hear me and feel me with you
your first night in this new strange place.
And in the middle of the night
I reached for you to be sure you were okay
and my fingers found your soft fur
and stroked it
and you purred for me
just like that very first day
when I saw you in the box
and chose you
as you chose me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Checking in briefly

Good evening all!

I'm checking in quickly from my hotel room in Herndon, Virginia, where I'm at my company's... well... former headquarters, before we were purchased a couple weeks ago. Thursday is our monthly program review, so today and tomorrow I spend helping the managers prepare to present their financial and operational performance for the last month to the program manager and to the executives. This will be my last monthly program review in person for several months, what with the shoulder surgery and all. As much as I like to complain about the three days in a conference room surrounded by (male) managers who talk in manager-speak about things like "leveraging attrition" and "could we Pareto that?" and "operational performance metrics," I really do enjoy the opportunities to travel up here and participate in these reviews. I have learned a lot from them, and have really felt much more a part of the broader team and of the company since I started coming up in March.

As of Sunday afternoon, I was completely unpacked. And by completely unpacked, I mean that everything I intended to unpack has been unpacked. :-) There are four boxes of books in my closet that I don't have the shelf space for, and two boxes of winter clothes that I'm just not bothering to take out for a few months yet. When it's 90 degrees out, I'm just not in the mood to unpack sweaters and wool coats and gloves and scarves and hats - go figure! I bruise really easily, so now I have a gorgeous collection of bruises all up and down my arms and legs. I even found two on my belly - how does one bruise one's belly without knowing it? It boggles my mind. But I feel very satisfying about all of this. My daughter was an incredible help over the weekend, and a really sweet lady from the choir kept me from completely freaking out Friday night. When I thank her for coming over to be with us, she keeps saying, "But I really didn't do anything!" And I tell her she has no idea how much she really did for me. Sometimes quiet companionship means more than all the activity in the world.

Blogging will probably be light over the next ten days or so, as I'll be busy in these meetings, and then will be ON VACATION starting on Friday. Woo hoo!!!!! But I'll try to post for Poetry Thursday and Friday Five. I'll be on email at least once a day, so if you want to drop me a line, feel free. In the meantime, be at peace, and know how very, very much you are loved.

Blessings and hugs,

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Five: Hot Stuff!

This week's Friday Five from the RevGals is about SUMMER. Now I'll freely admit that summer is my least favorite season. Heat makes me feel ill, and the heat + humidity in southeastern Virginia can be brutal. This is the time of year that makes me thank God for creating air conditioning. But there are compensations, mostly due to contrast. So here we go...

...or town, or suburb, or hamlet, or burg, or unincorporated zone, or rural area of your choice---pretty much anywhere but the southern hemisphere, it's summer. (Australians and others, consider this an invitation to take a break from winter for a while.)

1. Favorite summer food(s) and beverage(s)

Mmmmm... I love fresh strawberries and peaches. I was just commenting to a friend the other day that fresh off-the-tree peaches make my lips itch, but they are so good! We're lucky here where I live to have lots of places to get fresh, locally grown fruit during the summer. Watermelon is wonderful, too, but it makes such a mess. Ice cream has been making my tummy feel icky lately, but I love sorbet and Italian ice, too.

2. Song that "says" summer to you. (Need not be about summer explicitly.)

There are three that immediately spring to mind: Boys of Summer, Summer of 69 (I love Bryan Adams!), and Rod Stewart's Forever Young. That one isn't really about summer, but it's a wonderful prayer, and I'm always reminded of graduation and the summer before embarking on a new life when I hear it.

3. A childhood summer memory

I'm a Navy brat. And throughout my childhood, whenever Dad went on a six-month cruise, the Homecoming was in the middle of summer. So we would get to the pier really early to stand and wait, all dressed up to look our best, and just wilt and sweat in the heat. And, of course, the men would be in their white summer uniforms so all that sticky sweaty makeup on the wives and girlfriends would stain their uniforms.

My favorite summer was after sixth grade, when we lived in quarters at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. I had my own ID card, so my friends and I pretty much had the run of the base. We could walk to the Commissary or to the swimming pool or to the playgrounds. We could ride our bikes to the bowling alley or to the Exchange or to the tennis courts. This was also the only place I lived during my childhood where there were girls nearby who were my age. In other places, there had been boys close to my age, or girls much older or much younger, but somehow, there was always a girl my sister's age for her to play with. So my girlfriends and I would roam through the park playing imaginative games, and we would go for a swim, and we'd make candy and ice cream runs. We felt so grown up and free!

4. An adult summer memory

Today I am making my own new summer memories - speaking of embarking on a new life. In under an hour, I leave this house to sign the lease on my apartment - my own private, safe, sacred space. I don't know yet what the memories will be, but even though at times I feel a bit overwhelmed by the bigness of what I'm doing, I know to my deepest core that it is the right thing to do.

5. Describe a wonderful summer day you'd like to have in the near future. (weather, location, activities)

Ooh! This is easy! I'm going to be spending Canada Day in Ottawa this year! I know there's going to be lots of wonderful stuff to see and do, and I love fireworks. The weather forecast is looking much more pleasant than July in Virginia, too. I'm very much looking forward to this - seeing a new capital city, meeting friends, and taking part in the huge celebration.

Optional: Does your place of worship do anything differently in the summer? (Fewer services, casual dress, etc.)

We have the same services, but our contemporary service (The Gathering) is now earlier, during what is the Christian Education hour during the school year. In the late service, the choir does not vest or process, and we say the psalm rather than chanting it. And, I recently discovered, the organist takes requests for favorite hymns and tries to get them included during the summer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Work, work, work!

Mompriest has tagged me with another meme overnight, so now my productivity for the day has been totally shot! :-)

Now. You've been tagged to play this meme. It's from John Smulo's blog and it goes like this:

1. Those tagged will share 5 Things They Dig About Jesus.
2. Those tagged will tag 5 people.
3. Those tagged will leave a link to their meme in the comments section of this post so everyone can keep track of what's being posted..

So... five things I dig about Jesus...
  1. Once, as I was sitting in quiet prayer about 10 years ago, I had an image of walking down the sidewalk with Jesus after a rainstorm. I was me, and not a child, but I had to reach up to hold his hand, just like a child holding hands with a parent. And as we walked, we swung our arms, and we stepped in the puddles. We started to stomp in the puddles, and smiled at the water splashing us. Then we jumped in every puddle we came to, laughing and shouting and dancing and getting thoroughly soaked. Jesus is a good puddle-jumping buddy, and I dig that.
  2. In the midst of a deep depression, about 8 years ago, I was meeting with my spiritual director. I described The Pit to her, with its darkness and hopelessness, with the grey mucky walls that are so slippery that my clutching hands could find no purchase as I slid down, deeper into the depression. She asked me to close my eyes and sit in silence for a moment. Then she took me through a guided image meditation. She asked me to place myself in The Pit, and I shivered to visualize that place. Then she had me envision a ledge, a place I could stop my slide into the depths. I landed on that ledge, in an ungraceful heap, and rested there for a moment. After a time, she asked me to stand, and I picked myself up and planted my feet on that ledge. And then she said, ask Jesus if he will be with you there, on that ledge, in The Pit. I was dubious, but I asked, and Jesus came to be with me. His eyes were full of sadness and love for me. I could not bring myself to touch him, so instead I asked, "Jesus, will you stay with me and help me?" And Jesus looked at me again, and in his eyes I saw: Child, could you be any more clueless?!? He smiled, and I laughed. I opened my eyes and told my spiritual director what I had seen, and she laughed, too, and said this is how to know it is real. Jesus is often a smart-aleck, and being quite a smart-aleck myself, I really dig that.
  3. One of the gospel stories that really intrigues me is the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman. Most priests I've heard preach on this story talk about Jesus testing the woman, and how brave she was to approach him, much less to challenge him the way she did, and they usually try to gloss over what a complete (pardon me) asshole Jesus comes off as in this story. But in my reading, I see something a little different, and something very, very human. I see a tired man. He's been walking in the dusty, dirty, hot middle east for weeks. He's been challenged by scholars and priests wherever he goes, and people hound him for healing and other miracles. His closest companions often disagree with each other, and usually seem to completely miss the point of what he's trying to teach them. And so one more needy person approaches him to beg for a miracle. Instead of looking at her and having pity on her, he pretends not to hear her. If I can't hear her, maybe she'll just go away - admit it, you've thought this before! But she doesn't go away, and when he lashes out at her in tired frustration, she persists. And in that moment, Jesus realizes he's being a complete (pardon me) asshole, and he heals the woman's daughter. It is a very human story, a very real story, one I've lived plenty of times. Jesus was not only divine, but was human, and I dig that.
  4. No list would be complete without this: Jesus gave us the feast. Jesus is the bread of life and the living water, and he invites all of us - every last flawed, unlovely, broken sinful one of us - to the table to feast with him, to be filled and satisfied and nourished. I dig that.
  5. Here is the first verse of my favorite hymn. You've seen it here before. We all need to know that we are lovely, that we are lovable, that we are loved. Jesus shows me that I don't have to be loveless, that I am in fact, lovely. Jesus loves me, even when I'm at my most unlovable, and I dig that.
My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?

So now I need to tag five more people. Hmm... Okay, in alphabetical order by blog title, I tag:
  1. Fr. Eric at Bread and Wine
  2. Eileen the Episcopalifem
  3. Sue at Inner Dorothy
  4. Pat at No Claim to Sainthood
  5. Jon at This, Too, Shall Pass
Have fun, y'all! I'm looking forward to reading your responses.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Never Dreamed: A Poem

I Never Dreamed
June 20, 2007

When I was six
playing house with my friend,
I always thought
life would be easy
once I was grown and
could do what I want;
I never dreamed
I would spend my fifteenth anniversary
packing my clothes and my books
to move out of my husband's house.

When I was ten
playing school with my sister,
I always thought
I would teach young children;
I never dreamed
I would sit at a desk
reading and writing e-mails
answering the phone
and crunching numbers for a living.

When I was sixteen
admiring my new curves,
I always thought
I would be slender and young;
I never dreamed
how fleeting youth is
how much work slender takes.

When I was twenty
graduating from college,
I always thought
I needed nobody;
I never dreamed
how much we need each other
even just to know
that someone else is there,
someone who may not know
exactly what I'm feeling
but who's been to the neighborhood.

When I was twenty-five
watching my children sleep,
I always thought
they'd be just as they are now;
I never dreamed
how much they were already their own selves,
how much they would grow
and develop and change,
how they would come to learn
every last one of these lessons
the hard way.

When I was thirty
spinning my wheels,
I always thought
I would be depressed forever;
I never dreamed
I could find hope for the future
after watching always thought
turn into never dreamed.
I never dreamed
I could find myself to be
lovable, lovely,
needed, loved.
I never dreamed
I could find faith again -
faith in my God or
faith in my people
or faith in myself.

Independent? Ha!

In two days, I move into my own apartment. It's a three-bedroom unit, to accommodate two teenagers of different sexes when they're staying with me, on the ground floor, in a complex with an 11-acre lake, two swimming pools, a hot tub, a sauna, a couple playgrounds, tennis courts, volleyball courts, and a bunch of other cool amenities. And it's within walking distance of The Funnel Cake Factory. My daughter is thrilled.

This is big for me. I lived at home when I went to college, and when I moved out, it was into an apartment with my fiancé for six weeks until we married. I spent a brief six months in my own place between 1998 and 1999, but other than that, I've always lived with someone who was pledged to take care of me. So now... I'm moving, and I'm going to take care of myself. I know I can - I have no doubts on this score. I am strong (and stubborn) and smart and capable and independent.

But whenever something comes up that I have no doubts about, God always finds a way to throw a wrench into it. God's funny that way, and sometimes I think God gets a great laugh out of it. This time, 24 days after I move into my own place to be strong and independent, I'm having shoulder surgery. I'll spend two weeks in a sling, pretty much helpless, and will have to depend on the love and kindness of people I know, people I barely know, and people I've barely met to help me take care of myself. For those first couple weeks, I don't know how I'll dress myself, how I'll shower, how I'll feed myself. My left hand is almost useless, and I know it will be getting quite a workout! Even after that, once I'm allowed to start using my right arm again, I know there are a lot of things that will still be hard - changing the sheets on the bed, doing my laundry, lifting pans full of cooking food from the stove.

So in the midst of reveling in my newfound strength and independence, God will be teaching me how to let others take care of me. How ironic is that? You're such a kidder, God. Thank you.

Snort. :-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Five: Books, Books, Books, Books, Books!

From RevGalBlogPals is this week's Friday Five on books. It reminded me of a post I wrote a few weeks back about being people of the book, and I'm afraid that in this same vein, I gave a real non-answer to #5.

1. Fiction what kind, detective novels, historical stuff, thrillers, romance????

I read pretty widely. I've never been very fond of Westerns, and too much romance makes me gag. My first love is science fiction and fantasy, but I also enjoy historical novels, suspense, and mystery novels.

2. When you get a really good book do you read it all in one chunk or savour it slowly?

I tend to devour books. Then, for the really good ones, I'll go back and read them again at a more leisurely pace, and soak up more of the details.

3. Is there a book you keep returning to and why?

Over time, there have been some books that I've returned to again and again... but for a time. Then something else takes their place. To be in this category, the books have to be very well-written, engaging, thoughtful and thought-provoking, but also comforting. Some of the ones that have been there for me over the years are Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land (especially when Heinlein's daughter published the unabridged version), Anne of Green Gables, Bird by Bird, and for when I've finished something spooky and need help calming my mind so I can get to sleep, the Robert Asprin MythAdventures series.

4. Apart from the Bible which non-fiction book has influenced you the most?

For non-fiction, I tend to mostly read memoirs, especially spiritual memoirs. Over the last year or so, I've been quite taken with autobiographical writings by Richard Feynmann. He is an amazing character - full of joy and wonder and exuberance... and most of all fun.

But to answer the question of what book has influenced me the most - the single non-fiction book that has shaped my life the most would have to be the Book of Common Prayer, which is at the center of identity as an Episcopalian and an Anglican. The BCP is almost entirely based on the bible, and it contains just about everything one would need to worship in solitude or in community. I often find myself leafing through it, perusing the lectionary or browsing the prayers and collects or skimming the catechism.

5. Describe a perfect place to read. ( could be anywhere!!!)

I can think of very few places that are not perfect for reading! I guess if it's too noisy or too dark or too otherwise visually stimulating, reading might be difficult... but that's why God gave us earplugs and clip-on reading lights! I love to read on the couch on a crisp fall day with the windows open to the breeze. Or on my bed with the picture window next to the woods, where I can smell the honeysuckle and hear the soccer players on the other side cheering each other on. Or in a warm bath. Or at the table, if I'm eating alone. Or in an airplane. Or in the waiting room at the doctor's office or the auto repair shop. Or in a hammock on the deck. Or in a box, or with a fox, or in a house, or with a mouse, or here or there or anywhere!

Update: This wasn't asked, but right now I'm readingThe Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. And it is very very good. It ends with this song, which you can find sung by the Brobdingagian Bards on this CD.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Birthday?

Today is Cooper's first birthday. For those who don't know, Cooper is a young corn snake, and he joined our family on July 4 last year. His story is below, though it's told from another snake's point of view. This is all true, so enjoy!

Corny was a corn snake. He was about four feet long, and very proud of his beautiful orange and gold and brown skin. He lived in Mr. H’s classroom at Old Donation Center, where he got to meet all kinds of children, who loved him and took care of him. But sometimes, the children would all go away. Most of the time it was only for a day or two, but at other times, it would be for a week or more. At those times, Corny would get very lonely and sad.

One year, Corny met a class of children that he loved. They were always excited to see him, to pick him up and hold him, and to feed him mice. One little girl took him home during a time she called “Spring Break,” and he got to see a different place. Her house was exciting and new, but her mother was afraid of him. Corny didn’t know why anyone would be afraid of him, except for maybe a mouse. Even mice didn’t seem very afraid of him, though. Sometimes Mr. H, or his friend Ms. M, would put a mouse in Corny’s house when he wasn’t very hungry. The mouse would scamper about his house, and sometimes even run up and down Corny’s back. That tickled! Corny would eat the mouse when he was ready, but sometimes they would play together for a few days first. But why would people be afraid of Corny? He would never eat a human – they’re far too big!

Then the girl brought Corny back to the classroom, and he got to see all his friends again. Corny enjoyed watching the children listen to Mr. H and then work on projects. It was especially fun when one child would stand up in front just like Mr. H and teach the other students about something. They would always make such interesting things, like costumes and pictures and posters and models. Corny thought it would be fun to wrap himself around these things and see what they felt like.

A few months later, the children got very excited. They started cleaning up the classroom, putting away all their books, taking the pencils and notebooks out of their desks, and playing and cheering all the time. It made Corny happy to see the children so excited, even though he didn’t know why. One morning, the children all came into the classroom wearing very beautiful clothes. The boys wore nice shirts and pants and these funny things hanging down from their necks, just like Mr. H would wear. The girls wore pretty dresses with lots of ribbons and ruffles and lace. Corny thought those looked like fun to explore. He liked the way smooth ribbons and scratchy lace felt on his skin, and he thought that his colors would look very beautiful with some of those dresses. But as soon as all the children arrived, they all dashed out to go somewhere else, leaving Corny alone in the classroom. Of course, Corny was never completely alone in the classroom. There were other animals living in Mr. H’s room – a rabbit, some guinea pigs, and another snake named Cookies & Cream. But Corny was all alone in his house, and he couldn’t see or talk to the other animals.

It was very quiet in the classroom that morning. Corny could hear cheering and clapping coming from somewhere outside the classroom, and he was happy to hear such cheerful sounds. He hoped the cheerful people would come see him, and maybe hold him and let him play on their hands and arms. Soon enough, Corny’s wish came true! One little girl named Becca came, with her father and mother and her brother Robert. They took Cookie’s house off of the top of Corny’s house, and then, much to his great surprise, they picked up Corny’s house and put it into their car! Corny was leaving Mr. H’s classroom again. He remembered the fun time he had during “Spring Break,” but he knew he would miss all the children.

After a short while, Becca’s dad picked up Corny’s home and took it into a new building. This building was yellow on the outside, kind of like the color of Corny’s soft belly. Corny thought that was a good sign. The family rushed around for a little while, but soon they came in and looked at him. Becca’s dad, Mr. Hedwyg, opened up Corny’s house and picked him up. Becca and Robert took everything out of Corny’s house and cleaned it; then they put some fresh newspaper in the bottom, plus his green carpet and a bowl of water. After they all took turns holding Corny – except for Mrs. Hedwyg, who seemed afraid of him – Becca gently put him back in his house and put the top back on. Corny ducked under his carpet to listen. He heard them talking about a mouse. Corny wasn’t very hungry yet. He wanted to check out his new surroundings before he ate. But he wouldn’t mind having a mouse to keep him company. Corny did hear a dog or two, but they never came into the room with him.

Soon enough, the room was quiet, so Corny peeked out from under his carpet. He didn’t see anyone. He looked up, and could see the ceiling. Cookie’s house wasn’t on top of his any more. Corny went all the way around his house, taking a good look at the room around him. He saw some flowers in a basket, some books and papers, and some chairs that looked like they would be fun places to wrap himself around and to climb up and down. He stretched up and bumped his head against the top of his house. It moved! Corny had never felt that before, so he bumped his head on the top again. It moved again. He went all the way around his house again, bumping his head on the top. It moved a lot at the back corner. Corny thought he would be able to squeeze through if he bumped it there. Then he could play with the flowers and the chair. That would be fun! So Corny went back to that corner and pushed at the top of his house until he squeezed his head through. His body was a little thicker, and the top was hard, but Corny managed to slide all the way through. He slithered over to the flowers in the basket. They were very colorful, but they didn’t smell like real flowers. Then he went back over to his house. Uh oh! He could stretch back up, but he couldn’t get back into the house again. Corny couldn’t push up the top from the outside. He started to feel a little bit afraid, so he decided to find someplace warm and dark, so that he could think.

In a while, Becca and her family came home. They were talking about a mouse, but Corny knew a mouse wouldn’t stay and play with him if he wasn’t in his house. He watched and listened to them as they came into the room. Mr. Hedwyg opened up Corny’s house, picked up the green carpet, and gasped. Corny saw Mr. Hedwyg look under the newspaper. What was he looking for? Then Mr. Hedwyg turned around to Becca and Robert and Mrs. Hedwyg and said, “Corny has escaped.” Mrs. Hedwyg gasped, too, and put her hand in front of her mouth. Becca looked very sad. Then they all got very busy. The Hedwygs started pulling out books and boxes, opening every drawer and looking under every cushion. They spent hours searching through all of the rooms in the downstairs of their house. Corny thought this looked very funny. Eventually, they stopped, and everything got quiet again. Mrs. Hedwyg brought in a brown box, and Corny saw her put his water bowl in it. She set it under a chair, in a quiet corner of the room. After a quick look around, she left the room again.

The next couple of weeks were kind of fun. The Hedwygs’ house got nice and warm, even warmer than Corny’s house had been. Corny heard them talking from another room, and they kept talking about something called “air conditioning.” Corny didn’t know what air conditioning was, but the Hedwygs sure seemed upset about it. For the first few days, one of the Hedwygs would come in and look all around the room every few hours. After that, they came in to peek inside the brown box, and to put clean water in it, but they didn’t spend much time in the room. Then, Corny heard a lot of noise and several people two days in a row. Halfway through the second day, it started to get cooler in the house. By the time it was dark, Corny was shivering. Why on earth would anybody want to be so cold? Corny missed his warm house, with his green carpet and his water bowl. He was hungry, too, and missed Mr. H and all the children.

One day, Becca and Robert came in and were very excited. Corny loved to listen to excited children. They were holding a red tub and talking about somebody named Cooper. Mr. Hedwyg came in and started straightening up Corny’s house, and then he took the red tub and dumped it out into Corny’s house. Out came a teeny tiny snake. Oh no! The Hedwygs had put a different snake into Corny’s house! Didn’t they know where he was? Corny was upset. That was his house. He didn’t want a little baby messing up his house! But Becca and Robert kept talking to the baby snake and calling it Cooper. They even put Corny’s water bowl into the house with Cooper, and put a smaller bowl into the brown box. This was not fair. Corny decided he would have to do something about it… but what?

After another couple of days hiding in his warm, quiet spot – which wasn’t very warm at all any more – Corny had a plan. Mrs. Hedwyg had a big black backpack that she picked up every morning when she left the house, and brought back every afternoon when she came home. It had funny-smelling black boxes in it, that she would open up and play with sometimes, and it had books and pens and other strange things inside. It looked like a fun place to play, but Corny hadn’t checked it out yet. That evening, Mrs. Hedwyg took out her funny black box to play with. After everything was dark and quiet, Corny slithered into the backpack. It was warmer than his hiding place, and it did turn out to be a fun place to play. He liked the metal rings on one book. He stuck his head inside them, but the rest of his body wouldn’t fit. When it started to grow light again outside the backpack, Corny heard Mrs. Hedwyg come downstairs. She talked to the dogs and gave them food and water. Then she came in with her black box, and she slid it into the backpack – right on top of Corny! It was heavy! Corny was uncomfortable under the black box, so he tried to move up some in the backpack. He felt a round thing on the side of the black box, and it had the letters “DELL.” Then Mrs. Hedwyg picked up the backpack and left the house.

She put the backpack down after just a moment, and he heard some strange sounds. Then a deep rumbling started, just like when Mr. Hedwyg had put Corny into his car. Aha! Corny was inside Mrs. Hedwyg’s car! They drove for a little while, and then Corny felt the backpack being picked up again. He wondered where they were. Mrs. Hedwyg said hello to somebody, and then put the backpack down. Corny heard her talking to another lady for a couple minutes. Then suddenly, there was bright light, and he heard a loud scream. Where did that come from? Corny poked up his head and squinted into the light. He stuck out his tongue to sniff the air. It smelled very different from the Hedwygs’ house and from Mr. H’s classroom. Where was he? Then Corny saw Mrs. Hedwyg’s face and heard another scream. It came from Mrs. Hedwyg. Why was she screaming at him? Then Mrs. Hedwyg reached down toward the backpack and zipped it shut, and Corny couldn’t see anything any more. He heard voices, Mrs. Hedwyg, the other lady, and now a man, too. The other voices told Mrs. Hedwyg to go home, because they didn’t want to have a snake in the office. Corny was confused. Why wouldn’t people want him around? He knew he was a nice snake and a beautiful snake, and he would never eat people. Corny felt her pick up the backpack again, and then put it down in the car and drive home.

While they were in the car, Corny could hear Mrs. Hedwyg’s voice talking to somebody, but he couldn’t hear any other voices. First she talked to somebody named “Jerry.” She sounded very nervous. Corny heard Mrs. Hedwyg tell the story about what had just happened. She sounded very surprised that he was in her backpack. But Corny thought it was a comfortable place. He was sorry he hadn’t gone in there earlier. Then Corny heard her call Rob, and he knew this was what she called Mr. Hedwyg. She told Mr. Hedwyg to wake up Becca and Robert, because she was coming home with Corny. Soon enough, Corny heard the car stop and felt Mrs. Hedwyg pick up the backpack again.

This time, when the backpack opened and Corny saw the light, it wasn’t so bright. And there looking at him were Becca and Robert and Mr. Hedwyg. Corny looked up at them and stuck out his tongue to sniff the air. He was definitely back at the Hedwygs’ house! They carefully lifted Corny out of the backpack and put him back into his own house again. Corny looked around, but the baby snake Cooper wasn’t there. Good! He didn’t want to share his house. Corny liked playing with people, but he wanted to have his own place, too. Becca cleaned his water bowl, and Mr. Hedwyg put it into Corny’s house. Corny took a big, long drink. That water was so good! Corny hadn’t realized how thirsty he was until he started drinking. He thought he would never stop. After he satisfied his thirst, Corny ducked under his green carpet. He was happy to be back in his own house. He saw Mr. Hedwyg put two big black rocks on top of his house, and Corny knew he was home to stay.

A couple hours later, the Hedwygs came back into the room. They moved Corny’s house to a different spot, right below a beautiful bouquet that was hanging on the wall. It smelled like eucalyptus, and had other flowers tucked into it. Corny thought it looked like an awesome playground. Then the Hedwygs put another house right next to his, and then put the baby snake Cooper into it. Now that Corny got a good look, he saw that Cooper was a very beautiful snake, too. But Cooper was very shy, and spent most of his time hiding in his little cave or underneath his newspaper. Cooper would only come out when it was dark in the room and very quiet, after the Hedwygs had all gone upstairs. Then the Hedwygs took away Corny’s green carpet, and put a big black cave into Corny’s house. He darted right into it. How cool! Now Corny had a great place to sit in the dark and think. He loved it! They also put Corny’s water bowl into Cooper’s house, and put an even bigger one into Corny’s house. Corny was glad about that. His skin was feeling itchy, so Corny knew he would be shedding soon. He liked to take long baths in his water bowl when he was getting ready to shed. This water bowl would be much more comfortable for baths. The Hedwygs put a mouse into Corny’s house, too. It tickled Corny by scampering up and down his back, and then snuggled up with Corny and took a nap. Corny thought it was a nice mouse. It would be sad when he got hungry enough to eat it.

Two nights later, he did. Corny was finally ready to shed. Shedding was never very comfortable, and this time was no exception. Even after all his drinking and baths since the Hedwygs had put him back into his house, Corny knew that his skin was still too dry. Instead of coming off in one smooth piece, Corny’s skin flaked off in many pieces. He moved all over his house, trying to get the pieces off. The mouse didn’t understand what he was doing, and huddled in the corner. After the skin came off, Corny realized that he was starving. He darted right over to the corner and grabbed the mouse. The mouse didn’t know what was happening, which was okay with Corny, because he didn’t want to scare it after it had been a nice companion for two days. But the mouse did make a fine meal. Corny found the entrance to his cave, and curled up back inside again, feeling very content with his fresh, new skin and his full belly.

The next few weeks were fun and happy. The Hedwygs gave Corny mice, and he ate them up. They would take him out of his house and let him play. He explored the bouquet that was hanging on the wall – it was eucalyptus, very fragrant and very fun – and the interesting chairs that had looked so appealing before. Sometimes Mr. Hedwyg would take Corny into another room, where he would sit down and let Corny play. Mr. Hedwyg would play with his black box that said “DELL,” but he would also use a little gray-and-black thing with it. Mr. Hedwyg called it a mouse, but Corny didn’t think it smelled like a mouse or felt like a mouse. Corny wanted to play, too. His favorite thing was to wrap himself around the strange “mouse” and pick it up with his body. This always made Mr. Hedwyg laugh, and Corny loved happy sounds like laughter. If Mr. Hedwyg had other small things, like his blue phone or an empty can, Corny would pick those up with his body, too. Becca and Robert loved to watch him do this. One day, Becca brought in a strange brown tube and showed it to Corny. He was instantly curious. Where did the tube go? What was on the other side? He stuck his head in and darted through. On the other end was Becca, and she was smiling and laughing at him. Corny smiled back, and then he turned around and went the other way through the tube. There he could see Robert and Mr. Hedwyg. They smiled and laughed, too. What great fun! So Corny turned around and went back into the tube, but then he got stuck. Uh oh! This wasn’t very comfortable! Corny tried to push his way through the tube, but it didn’t work. Soon enough, the Hedwygs realized he was stuck, and they gently pulled him out. Whew! But that was fun! After that, just about every time the Hedwygs took Corny out to play, they let him play in the tube.

One day, Corny heard a bunch of children’s voices. Was he back in the classroom again? He peeked out of his cave. There were Becca and Robert and Mr. Hedwyg, and a bunch of children that Corny didn’t recognize. Becca pointed to one little girl and said, “Corny, this is Hannah. She will be in Mr. H’s class with you next year.” Corny thought Hannah looked like a nice girl. All the children looked very excited to see him. Mr. Hedwyg took Corny out, and they each touched him with one finger and exclaimed at how soft Corny’s skin was. Corny thought this was funny – didn’t everybody know that his skin was soft? What did they think, that he was slimy and nasty? Then the children left, and Mr. Hedwyg put Corny back into his house. That was fun, Corny thought. He missed being in the classroom with all the children, but he liked living with the Hedwygs, too.

But still, Mrs. Hedwyg kept screaming at him. Corny didn’t understand this at all. Did she think he was going to hurt her? When Mr. Hedwyg or Becca or Robert urged her to touch Corny, she would come up and pet him gently with her finger. But if she was surprised, she would scream. Mr. Hedwyg encouraged her to hold Corny, and one time she was holding his tail, but then she screamed and gave him back to Mr. Hedwyg. She ran out of the room and hid somewhere for a while. Robert and Becca laughed, but Corny was sad that Mrs. Hedwyg couldn’t bring herself to play with him the way the other Hedwygs did. He thought she seemed like a perfectly nice person to play with. Why else would he have hidden in her backpack?

Soon enough, the summer was over. Corny had shed a second time, and had eaten lots of mice. Mr. Hedwyg gave him a mouse, and all the Hedwygs watched Corny as he ate it. Corny had always hated to have people watch him eat before, but he didn’t mind any more. The Hedwygs would watch intently, and say things like “Wow” and “That’s amazing.” Corny didn’t know why eating would be so amazing, but if they were going to say nice things like that, then he didn’t mind. Plus, they would take out the black cave to give him extra room while he ate, and then they would tuck him back into it when he had finished. Two days later, Mr. Hedwyg put Corny’s house into his car, and all the Hedwygs went with him back to the classroom. They carried Corny back into his old, familiar home. There was Mr. H, and he smiled when he saw Corny and the Hedwygs. They settled Corny’s house back into its regular place, and he peeked out of his black cave to check out the classroom. Mr. H and the Hedwygs talked for a little while, and then the Hedwygs left. Becca and Robert said good-bye, and Corny thought he saw a couple of tears in Becca’s eyes. But he knew that Becca would never admit this, so he decided never to tell anyone. Then Mr. H stood in front of Corny’s house, looked in at him, and said, “Well, Corny, it sounds like you’ve had quite an adventure this summer. But the children will be back soon, and everything will be back to normal. Welcome home!”

Monday, June 11, 2007

Help! I've been Tagged!

So I come in to work Monday morning, planning to be really productive today and crank out lots of deliverables to make all of my customers happy.

Yeah, right.

I see that Saint Pat has tagged me with the Eight Random Things meme. It wasn't enough to post Six Weird Things or to come up with 100 Things - no, now I have to figure out eight more things that I haven't already told you about myself. But: it's better than actually getting work done, right? :-)

So the rules are:

  1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
  2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Here goes:
  1. I have learned two interesting things about my body recently. One is that stress gives me muscle spasms. The weirdest - and most excruciating - place for a stress-induced muscle spasm is the muscle across the back of the skull, but a close second is the muscle that attaches the jaw to the skull. The other is that if I let myself get dehydrated, I get a headache. Since I started treating headaches with water and a little food rather than immediately popping painkillers, I've had some success in knocking them out. I thought that was pretty cool.
  2. I get annoyed when people call me a flautist instead of a flutist. When pressed, I like to say that I don't flout anything, but you probably know me well enough to know that I tend to flout, well, just about everything! But I still prefer flutist.
  3. I wear very little jewelry. On a daily basis I wear a watch and an opal ring that my mom gave me when I graduated from college. Many days I wear a cross necklace, usually a rose quartz cross on a silver chain. I have a St. Bridget cross that is my favorite, but the chain keeps breaking on it. When I play flute jobs, I tend to wear a tasteful and understated necklace, perhaps earrings, and my gold flute pin on my lapel or blouse.
  4. Although I live just a couple miles from the ocean, I don't really like going to the beach. In the summers here, it's hot and humid, and the beach is sandy and salty and jellyfishy and crowded. I do love to go down in the fall and early winter, and walk along the boardwalk or the sand when it's quiet. And I love to listen to the surf, to watch the breakers roll in, to feel in touch with the pulse of the world. But a summer day at the beach, getting sandy and sweaty and sunburnt? No thanks!
  5. I find that I'm losing my sweet tooth. I enjoy sweets now and then, but often find myself preferring to have a second helping of the meal rather than dessert. I love simple things - fresh strawberries and cherries, a juicy peach, shortbread rather than uber-decadent gooey chocolate. When I had periodontal surgery last summer, for the first 24 hours I was only allowed to eat cold soft foods. And I learned about 8 hours in that almost all of the cold soft foods that are not nasty are sweet. By 4pm that day, after smoothies, jello, and milkshakes, I was desperately craving anything that wasn't sweet. I was so pleased to find half an avocado in the refrigerator, and I inhaled it. For the next week or so, I had half an avocado every morning for breakfast, and the people here in the office would shake their heads and laugh at me when I'd take it out of the refrigerator.
  6. I miss several cartoons: The Tick, PowerPuff Girls, Dexter's Lab, and most especially Animaniacs. I am absolutely thrilled that Futurama will have new episodes again next year. Woo hoo!!!
  7. I have here at my desk at work six technical books, a bible, and nine books of poetry. Not counting the copy of Spenser's The Faerie Queene that is under my desk. Hmm - I seem to be missing a Book of Common Prayer here. And I should have a Hymnal 1982 as well. Maybe a Lesser Feasts and Fasts for good measure. :-)
  8. Okay, now I'm really digging into the goofy stuff. I love to send Christmas cards. Most years I send out between 120 and 150. I don't get nearly that many in return, but that's not what it's about. I consider it a kind of ministry, letting people know that I'm thinking about them. I know I should send them letters or cards or emails more often than just at Christmastime, especially because I usually am thinking about them throughout the year. But it's something I really enjoy, and it's so wonderful to have somebody say thank you or tell me it really lifted their spirits.
Whew. I thought that was going to be the hard part, but now I have to tag eight people who Pat didn't already tag! So I'm going to go with (in alphabetical order)...
  1. Ann+ of One Wild and Precious Life
  2. Eric+ of Bread and Wine
  3. Kate of When I Was a Boy
  4. Milton of Don't Eat Alone
  5. mompriest+ of Seeking Authentic Voice
  6. Mother Laura of Junia's Daughter
  7. PureChristianIThink of Rebel Without a Pew
  8. Sue of Inner Dorothy - hey Sue, do UCC pastors put plusses after their names?
So hop to it, y'all! And have a great week!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The coming weeks

By way of a status update, since I have been so remiss in posting lately, let me tell you about the next several weeks for me.

Weekly choir rehearsals have ended for the summer, but we still sing from the loft every Sunday and lead the hymns. Next Sunday, I'll be playing my favorite Bach Sonata during worship, and I'm very excited. This will be my first time playing flute at Old Donation since joining the congregation.

In just under two weeks, I'll be moving into my own apartment. Except for six months in 1998 and 1999, I have lived my entire life with my parents or with my soon-to-be-ex. This year, I have really been asserting my independence and individuality - my unique child-of-God-ness - and it will be very good to live on my own. I've been packing and preparing, and there's still a lot of work ahead of me. But I'm pretty excited about this.

In my job, I crunch lots of data to analyze, report on, and forecast the revenue for my program. It's a complicated procedure, because there are several factors involved, and I have a blast with it. But what basically happens is around the fifth or sixth of the month, I get the monthly billing report, and the work begins. It remains very busy until about the end of the third week of the month, at which point my regular reporting is complete, and the managers are all gearing up for their monthly program management review. Then the last week of the month, I've been travelling up to our corporate headquarters in Herndon, Virginia, to help with final preparations for the PMR and then to participate in. I usually have a few days of downtime after that before the next billing report comes in, and in that time I'm working on bigger analyses and database development and stuff like that. Last month, the April and May PMRs were five weeks apart, but this month they're four weeks apart, so I'll be a little more crunched as far as time goes.

After the June PMR, I'll be heading north into Ontario to visit friends. It looks like I'll be in Ottawa for Canada Day, which is very cool. I'm very much looking forward to the change of scenery and the change of pace. I'll get back home July 6, and then that next Sunday I'll get to go on my first mentored visit as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor - taking Communion to a parishioner who can't make it to church for Sunday worship. The LEVs receive their kits at the altar as soon as the congregation has taken part in the feast, and are dismissed from the altar to take the consecrated elements to our brothers and sisters who can't physically be with us. It is an important ministry, both to let those people know that they are still part of the parish, and to remind those of us in the building on Sunday that we have parishioners out there who need our prayers, support, and visits.

And then, on Monday, July 16, I'll be having surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder. It sounds like I'll be in a sling, unable to do pretty much anything, for the first two weeks. And I'll be homebound, not allowed to drive, for the first six weeks after surgery. I'll have to be taken to physical therapy after the operation, and to keep up with my exercises at home. At this morning's LEV training, I got to meet the lady who chairs the congregational care commission at Old Donation, so I'm on her list for next month already. :-) The rector has already told me about all the incredibly supportive things that the parish stands ready to do for me, and some of the ladies in the choir have clued me in that they are not going to leave me alone to face this myself. So even though it's pretty big and scary, especially in the face of my separation, I know I'm going to be well cared for. Thanks be to God!

Saturday, June 9, 2007


With a hat tip to Ann+ at One Wild and Precious Life, my power bird is...

Your Power Bird is a Cardinal

You believe that each day is precious, and you spend your times as best as you can.
You see the wonder in small things, and you are often content with what you have.
You life an interesting, colorful life - and you bring color to those around you.
Confident and expressive, you believe you know how to live a good life. You're living it!

I've always loved cardinals, especially the females with their understated beauty. Of course, one can hardly live in Virginia without loving them, can one? But this description made me feel all warm and yummy inside, and I hope it's true.


If you've hung out here very long, you may recall that I had the somewhat painful discovery in December that I need to be more intentional about bringing beauty into my life. You may also remember that I used to write poetry pretty prolifically, but had them evaporate when I was prescribed atypical antipsychotics for bipolar disorder, and I mourned this loss until very recently.

So in the last couple of months, I've been reading a lot of poetry. I used to have a great deal of trouble reading poetry. I tend to devour reading material, reading very quickly, which doesn't lend itself to the pace and reflectiveness needed for poems. I have fallen in love with Rilke and Heine, and desperately want to find some good English translations of Veronica Micle. My first love is, of course, Emily Dickinson, but I find myself very fond of the Romantics in general.

I found this book to be absolutely incredible as a taste of all kinds of wonderful poetry. Of course, I've always been fond of Garrison Keillor anyway. I'd love to go to sleep to the sound of his voice reading me poems.

The most wonderful side effect of all of this is that I find myself writing poetry again. Even better, the poems are starting to whisper themselves in my heart and head as they used to, to seduce me until I put them to paper. I can't tell you how wonderful and exciting this is for me. I had so missed the poems that would come to me, from the smallest images or the most mundane experiences. I've shared a couple here, and I'll share more, but for now, I find myself re-learning the craft and rediscovering places within myself that I'm not quite ready to reveal. But soon. Soon, there will be more.

Thanks be to God!

Update: A few hours after writing this, I took a chance. I sent in the first submission for publication that I've sent since 1997. It was a set of four poems, and I sent them to Strong Verse, which is published by an author I have tremendous respect and admiration for. The poems in the current issue are breathtaking, and I feel just a bit audacious submitting to this zine. But in a couple months, we'll see how it goes. It is great to have put something out there again, though. Yay for me! :-)