Monday, December 30, 2013


Here it is, Dec. 30th and I am beset with a whole list of things to be done and attended to.
  I am working on my annual report.
 I need to make some extra star gift words to give out this Sunday as we celebrate Epiphany - a word to guide each person for the year, or to challenge them. They will choose a paper star with a word on it, but without seeing the word and trusting the Holy Spirit has helped them to choose it and will help them to live into it in the new year.
   Then, I have to plan out services for Epiphany season and get it to the part-time secretary.
  Work on the sermon for Sunday.
  Work on the Sabbath Sachets.
   Work on putting the retreat together for the end of January.
   Package and wrap the baby shower gifts for our choir director for Sunday, Jan. 12 when the church
will hold a brunch and shower following worship.
   Go over my Sunday School lesson on Daniel for Sunday, in case, there are enough folks here for
Sunday School.
   Think about a newsletter article for February due January 15th.
Work on the Annual Statistical Report for the denomination.
Think about what I might do for the mid-week Lenten services, if I am still here.
January hasn't even begun and for me it is already full and nearly gone! How can this be?!!?
I hope that I may take a breath, pause and honor the new year about to begin.

Friday, December 27, 2013


It was a hectic Christmas Eve Day - getting up early to tend to the greys and get the bread dough made. Rushed it was that morning. Setting the bread dough in the dining room to rise for a couple hours, while I did dishes, did some last minute preparations for the services that evening. Then it was braiding the bread and putting it in the garage to chill for 45 minutes before sticking it in the oven for an hour.
   At that point, it was lunch time, and going over my reflections for the services that evening. The bread done, I pulled it out of the oven and savored the wonderful smell of fresh baked bread.
   It was time to change, to put my stuff in a bag, and to put on some make-up, which took a few minutes longer than I thought. I rushed out the door, to the gas station to fill up and there was a line inside, guys buying beer and all manner of stuff that could've waited. I was somewhat peeved at the wait, which stemmed from pulling into the gas station, seeing a pump free and just beginning to turn into it when a young whippersnapper pulled in from the opposite direction and I had to park at the pump further away, on a very bitter cold day, while wearing a skirt with hose, and not long pants. Sign. Let it go.
   Pumped and paid for the gas and I was on my way. An hour commute, but traffic was not as heavy as I had anticipated.
    Passed the turn-off to the church and drove directly to the hospital and pulled into the garage and found a space not too far from the garage exit and braved the cold walk over the hospital.
    Made the visit to a parishioner spending the holiday in the hospital with pneumonia. She was more alert, in good spirits, and very talkative. After a breathing treatment, we had communion - hard to be away from family at Christmas, and her church family, and she needed to receive the gift of new born love that day too. Just as we finished communion, the doctor came in and after listening to her chest said it sound much better, but she'd be in for a couple more days. After the doctor left, I had to leave also, watching the time.
    I got back into town and drove to Panera since I had a gift card and warmed up to a cup of broccoli cheddar soup and 1/2 a sandwich. Had to eat around 5 pm since everything closes up at 6 pm Christmas Eve.
    Got to the church and the parking lot was icy. I threw some ice around but it was just going to melt and refreeze. Checked the phone for messages, turned on lights, put my stuff where it needed to be for the services. Folks started to arrive and more help with putting down ice melt - which we really went through.
   The first service went well and ended well. I had about 15 minutes between services to use the rest room and take 10 to just sit down and chill and regroup.
   The second service also went well with the choir and the candlelighting. After greeting folks as they left, it was turn off everything and make sure all was locked up. I had to collect my stuff and use the rest room - after all it is an hour commute.
   Left at nearly 10:45 pm and thankfully, though dark, there was little traffic. Just had to keep watch for deer. Got home at nearly midnight, where LH had beaten me home by a couple hours from his service. The brie was at room temperature and the champagne chilled. I was ready for a little something before hitting the sack and falling into deep sleep.
    Fortunately, our Christmas Day is always quiet with just us two, and the boys. A few phone calls to family, unwrapping gifts, and by afternoon, I was down for the count with a nap.
    Made an easy dinner of asparagus and pastry shells filled with turkey and mushrooms on white cream sauce. I just forgot to thaw the turkey stock needed. Thank goodness for microwaves!!!
    Sadly, my bread left much to be desired. In my haste, I left out the salt and that makes all the difference between a great tasting bread and something so bland and lifeless. What a disappointment!
I will make another tomorrow - this time with salt!!!
    The day after Christmas I cleaned house. LH helped by vacuuming downstairs, with the result that I finished early and made a quick trip to an Alpaca farm to pick up some Christmas gifts for next year. The farm is only open in December and we have to have our packages in the mail early. So, it was best to pick up what I needed now and sock it (pun intended) away until next year. I did manage to pick up some ribbon and bows at the box store for next year.
    All in all, it was a good Christmas. I just seemed to feel more tired this year than in years past. Of course, I'm older now than then as well.
    Basking in the glow of a blessed Advent and Christmas, of feeling very graced, of the wonderful people who grace my life and being gifted with a love so wondrous that brings life anew, fresh hope, and a peace that comes softly and settles in right within you.
    Now it's on to getting ready for the New Year and making more star gift words to hand out on Epiphany Sunday.
    I also have to sew some Sabbath Sachets for a women's retreat. Well, and put the retreat together!
    It will be a busy January it seems, as well!!!
    God will bring me through it.
    In the meanwhile, blessings to you as the old year ends - be thankful, give over the bad things, the disappointments, the hurts, and open your heart and spirit to the adventure of a New Year, and all that God longs to fill you with.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Ahhh...the time is close. I just finished wrapping the last of the gifts. Well, nearly. There's one last gift left to come, on Christmas Eve Day according to LLBean. Seems LH saw the catalogue lying about and took a hankering after some "Wicked Good Slippers" and off I ordered them while dinner was baking! So, it looks like I have one gift to wrap on Christmas morning while LH is showering.
  The mantel is decorated with our Nativity set and the stockings are hung, although nothing ever gets put in them.
   I got the Boys some special holiday cookies, since the treats they like best are from China and I will not buy them any more, until, unless, I can be assured that they will not adversely affect my Greys.
   I still have to write the staff Christmas cards and put them in their gift bags.
   This afternoon, I got my TJ's candle evergreen wreath out of the garage where it has been chilling, at times with a little added snow to keep it as fresh as possible. It now graces our kitchen table with a white candle that smells of balsam and snow; wintery and Christmasy.
   That was the last of the decorating left to do.
   No cookies were baked, nor was a tree bought, put up and decorated. Really don't have the time for it, especially with the mid-week Advent potlucks and services. How did I do it when I was working full-time? But with just the two of us, and with the two dog beds taking up space, and not having to worry about one of the greys thinking, "Hey! An indoor potty!", it just doesn't need to happen.
   I have my Christmas Eve services together. I just have to go over my reflections sprinkled throughout the Christmas Story and the singing of hymns - pretty much a version of Lessons and Carols. It is very hard to preach on Christmas Eve. God's story says it all and the music expresses it all. Hard to improve on any of it. Yet, hopefully, my reflections will give folks something to ponder and treasure in their hearts, will impart the hope we need for our lives, inspire peace to come and manger in our souls, and share a love so great, so wondrous that it would creep in beside us.
    I still have a bread to bake on Christmas Eve morning and some mushrooms to purchase on Monday for our Christmas Day dinner - pastaetli - pastry shell filled with turkey and mushrooms in a white cream sauce, along with asparagus. Simple. Wonderfully delicious. Elegant.
    So, I am more of cinnamon this year and less of panic. I even went so far as to go to the local department store today where I purchased some new Christmas placemats, and Target for New Year's day paper plates and napkins. Thankfully, neither store was stuffed with people, nor were the lines long. I have avoided the shopping mecca of this area all of Advent. Traffic is always a gridlock there.
I did get to Macy's and had to park further away than normal, but it was worth getting a pair of dark grey cords that are simply sumptuously velvety soft and so comfortable and warm and they fit without having to be taken in at the waist. I just had to shorten them a bit.
   I do like to see what's happening - hear the Christmas music play, see the decorations, and people looking for gifts. Since I shop during the year, finding things that family members will like, use, need, or simply enjoy, I can leisurely wander around a store stress-free at this time of year.
   I have Christmas music for my van and will add a couple CD's to play in the next few days. That way I can hear my favorite versions and not BeyoncĂ©'s "All I want for Christmas is You" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree", etc. that just get looped around on the radio every hour.
    I am ready for Christmas. My heart is open, my spirit has room. All is prepared or is as prepared as it can be. I am ready to celebrate. I am ready for the quiet of a Silent Night and the warm glow of candles as the Prince of Peace comes and imparts his love and grace, mystery and hope.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


  It was an accidental breaking. LH was going to give the dogs their 10 pm cookies, and Jazz, ever skittish over the tiled floor was hampered by the plastic tote alongside the couch, that contained the Nativity set for over the mantel, and ran over to Renoir's bed where Renoir still was. Renoir shot out past my potted plant, his hip hitting the earthenware pot sitting on top a wicker stool and down crashed the pot, breaking off the saucer rim and spilling some dirt on the kitchen floor.
   It was a lovely pot, beige and brown, unglazed with a connected infinity design around it. I've had that pot for years. So long, that I can't even remember where I got it. It just blended with the beige neutral palette we have here. It survived the move from the City on the North Coast to here. It simply sat there adding some greenery to our dinette. It housed a palm that I've had for more years than I can remember, part of a philodendron which keeps making leaves, and an avocado plant which I grew from an avocado pit and then planted.
   Since I can't water the plants with part of bottom saucer missing, I had to go find a new pot. Well, I knew I would never find such a lovely pot again, not here in this part of the state, and certainly not in December where everything is poinsettias and little Norfolk pines.
   On a snowy morning, with the roads good when I left, I made the quick jaunt to Lowe's, which had nothing. A pot but no matching saucer and either a dark brown plastic saucer that was way, way too big, or little terra cotta ones that didn't quite match. So it was on to Home Depot, and thankfully, they had a glazed sage green pot with viney leaves motif baked into the pot. It'll have to do. The color goes with our palette, but it is not near as nice as one I had. The roads on the way home were getting very snow coated and slippery.
   I was so angry last night, pulling out the vacuum cleaner hose to vacuum up the dirt. The dogs knew I was spewing volcanic angry heat that they were so careless.
   I have to grieve the loss of this pot. It hurts. It's been a part of our lives for a very long time. I have to let it go. It is, after all, just a pot. The plants weren't harmed. The dogs were ok. The porcelain tile undamaged. It is not a huge loss, but a loss, nevertheless. I will never find another one like it.
   So, in the midst of a busy Advent - gifts were wrapped and sent, Christmas cards and letters, signed, stamped and mailed, LH's gifts wrapped but not be-ribboned, the Nativity scene set up, but stockings not yet hung, I have to repot the plants.
  Since the pot is pretty big and ceramic, I had to dig out a tarp I had to repot on the kitchen floor. Don't think I could carry the pot, full of dirt and plants, up the garage steps. It would be too heavy.
   I hope to get to the stockings today, as well as go over my Sunday School lesson and the sermon and service for tomorrow.
   I hope my plants survive the transplanting. I will set the pot on the floor and put the wicker stool away, so it won't be jostled or tip over. Beside the pot is too heavy for the wicker stool.
   I hope nothing else breaks in this short Advent time - excepting for the in-breaking of God's love, peace, grace, hope and joy into our lives, into the world.

Monday, December 02, 2013


It is sad to say that I am beginning Advent already tired. And Advent just began!
Perhaps it was all the preparation for Thanksgiving, the funeral, the arrival of my sister and BIL, and SILS. The busy Friday and slow Saturday morning, but then the laundering of the bedding and towels, and the Thanksgiving tablecloth and putting all of it away, and starting to address Christmas card envelopes and working on the German Christmas letter.
  And here came Advent - and I simply wasn't quite there yet. Oh, I had the sermon, service, and the diaper pins wrapped in a cloth diaper all ready. I, myself, wasn't quite ready. But I will be this week.
  It will go by too quickly and I hope I will be prepared, ready, and awake the closer Christmas comes. But today, I am just tired.
  I light a candle for all those who are weary and bleary-eyed this Advent season.