Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Put the children to bed early after informing them that 2007 was effectively over and tomorrow would begin 2008. SO happy they have no idea and that we don't all have to stay up.

Roasted two turkey legs in the following manner:
started oven at 450, buttered and stuffed tyme under the skin of the legs, laid them on a bed of mushrooms, baby pearl onions and garlic. Roasted the legs for 25 minutes and then turned the oven down to 325 for the last half hour/45 minutes. While they rested I removed the mushrooms, pearl onions and garlic onto a bed of fresh baby spinich and put that on low to wilt, and then gravied the drippings (sherry, cream, touch of flour). And indulged in another Yorkshire Pudding, even though we only ate a quarter of it. Too big.

And reflected on the past year. And now am thinking seriously about going to sleep before midnight.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Conversations

Aedan: When I grow up, I'm going to marry a Floozy!
Emma: I'm going to marry a Prince.
Anne: Where did you hear the word 'floozy' Aedan?
Aedan: I don't know. I'm going to marry her and live happily ever after.
Matt: No, probably not happily.
Anne: No, Aedan, you need a good sturdy, even tempered girl. Not a floozy.
Emma: I'm going to marry a prince, a prince, a prince.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sorry! AND Thank You!

Sorry I've fallen off the blog cliff the last few weeks, and Thank You for continuing to check back all these days. It has been CRAZY, as I'm sure you can all imagine.

First of all, let me just say that the Christmas Pageant came off beautifully. The Best Yet. I missed the first part because I was running around in a panic behind scene trying to get Mary and Joseph to GO OUT, go out, go out, while they just stood there in a daze. But I managed to make it to the back in time to see Herod and the Kings and the rest. The music was Wonderful-THANK YOU Micah. I've heard all kinds of nice things about it. And, I will say, for the first time in Five Years, I get the point of Silent Night in the dark with candles with everybody crying. Never understood before, but you're right, it is very beautiful and worth the effort.

My homiletic remarks are in some file or other. I'll have to retrieve and post them at another moment. I'm also hoping someone took pictures because I didn't have time.

And then we all came home and next day ate not just an enormous goose, but a good sized duck as well, with Yorkshire pudding, peas, gravy and mashed potatoes, and then had spiced apple cake for dessert. Matt outdid himself on every level. We were also given a lot of things we don't deserve-like a large horse for Emma, with a saddle and everything (not real, heaven be thanked), and a little real functioning sewing machine, and a castle for Aedan and a wooden sword and shield and a helmet, and a riding scooping truck that makes noises that you can sit on for Rowan. I gave Gwendolyn a china tea set because, well, she'll need it some day. So, now we are exhausted and overstuffed and relieved that the festivities are basically over and we get get on with the bland functioning of day to day life, at least until Lent when the madness all begins again.

I did a chunk of time at the store today, checking people out with half price on all Christmas items. I was fascinated to watch people self censor, wishing me already a happy New Year, after a pause, rather, of course, than Merry Christmas, or even Happy Holidays. Which just proves to me that 'Happy Holidays' is a Complete replacement for Christmas. At Thanksgiving, everyone says, 'Happy Thanksgiving', and of course we're all allowed to say Happy New Year. Its bizarre. Almost wished a few people Happy Kwanzaa, even though they were clearly buying Christmas Items (wrapping paper, little 50% ceramic santas etc.) Anyway, it doesn't look like I'll have to work much longer, due to the enormous generosity of many people, and the fact that Matt knows how to count, whereas, when I was handling things, being unable to count got us in all kinds of hot water. Forthcoming, when I've thought it all through, are all the spiritual lessons I have learned about The World, Money, and The Buying of Many Things.

Meanwhile, I am in a glow of thankful gratitude. For one, I'm thankful for this blog, wherein I can spew all kinds of chatter and people get on and read and comment. Matt and I were recently discussing the joy of having a real 'online community'. I know its cheesy, but in these dark ecclesiastical times, when we war in the trenches, its easy to feel isolated from the far reaching and expanding body of Christ. For all its trouble and heartache, the Internet connection at my fingers is a source of connection and growth and spiritual care that I am very grateful for.

I am also vastly grateful for Matt. As I was running around the church on Christmas Eve, making sure everyone knew where to go and what to do and how to do it, Matt was following after me and giving opposite instructions, confusing everyone and causing mayhem and destruction (from my perspective). BUT, we were in it together, and when we realized what we both we're doing, we had a good solid laugh in the sacristy. AND, it was beautiful. We pulled it off. God pulled it off. For heaven's sake, he managed to be born in spite of us all, and live through childhood, and die for all our sins. From the depths of my soul, I Praise Him! Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stock, Bread, Life

Yesterday I spent a much needed day in the kitchen making an enormous vat of stock (hopefully enough to last about 6 months), bread and oatmeal cookies. The stock was really very good, I think. I had a couple of lamb bones as well as turkey and chicken carcasses and it was a beautiful golden color. And I expunged and cleaned the fridge. Its nourishingly satisfying to spend a whole day in the kitchen, without a dreaded holiday to make it stressful.

And the baby has started to say 'goo' (such a cliche :)). This strikes me as remarkably early to me, showing her obvious and impressive intelligence. She's holding her head up so well, I let Emma hold her and walk up and down briefly.

And lately, as in the last two weeks, I've been working part time at The Christmas Tree Shop. I've been loath to bring it up online for fear of inciting pity and 'how on earth do you have time' comments (I don't know how I have time, maybe in retrospect I'll be able to see how it was all possible), but its been such an interesting thing to do, and, obviously, I've been spending a lot of time at it, that I don't want to keep it from the blog world. (I keep thinking I'll post about interesting topics, but I don't have time to think about things right now, so all you're going to get is what's going on).

So, my first and only observation for this evening (because I'm, frankly, tired, and about to eat a nicely roasted potato and go to bed), is that Christmas is rotten without Jesus. I found myself praying for people as they went through my line. Overall people looked stressed out, tired, sometimes angry, definitely not happy, buying cart fulls of stuff in a desperate way to give away. And they have to be sure and hang on to their receipts so that the gift that is given on Tuesday can be quickly returned on Wednesday. As the days get closer to Christmas, people get more desperate and less happy about shopping.

Its a starkly dark and unhappy contrast to church, where things are somber but exciting. My Christmas preparations have been all about the Christmas pageant and writing out Advent prophecy cards for the atrium, and singing O Come O Come Emmanuel with my children. I haven't even been shopping.

But it's into this dark, this despair, this desperation that Jesus came. So interesting to be working in a shop that bears the name of this event, 'Christmas', full of people who have never heard of him. It actually makes me rather excited to be there, spiritually, and I'm afraid of accidentally proselytising :) and loosing my job. But I now have a whole new realm of people to pray for that I didn't know about and I'm glad to be there, and sell people a lot of stuff they don't need, and pray that they'll think better of it over night and bring it back.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

scattered already

Missed celebrating St. Nicholas Day on the 6th. Thank heavens the kids have no idea what the date is. Had them pu their shoes out last night since St. Nicholas will be joining us in church this morning. Then woke up in a panic about having to fill their shoes. And, blast it all, it appears I have caught Matt's wretched cold.
Onwards and upwards!
Onwards and upwards!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Hodge Podge

A big shout out to Nigel Mumford of the Diocese of Albany for coming to Good Shepherd last night to do a healing service. A good time was had by all. Many went forward for prayer and healing and someone was moved to leave their cigarettes and lighter on the altar-very cool. I have a sketchy perception of the whole evening because I was wild and crazy enough to take all the kids and try to make them sit through the service. Eventually all the boys ended up downstairs making hash of the nursery. But it was nice to be there, nonetheless. I took little baby forward for healing prayers for this wretched cough she continues to have. So that was very lovely. And, joy of all joys, the Shepherd's Bowl (Good Shepherd's Soup Kitchen) was dishing out Beef Stew and I managed to finagle a bowl. You can see how scattered it all is in my mind-stew, healing all on the same level.

So now we've all had too much french toast and are about the brave the weather for a trip to AC Moore to have our imaginations sparked on the subject of Christmas Presents.

Also, the benefits and necessity of acquiring a Slow Cooker (and the means to do so) have been impressed upon me (thank you Grandma!) and I would very much like any advice and thoughts on brands, size, and any other details there abiding.

I better get moving. A has just informed me that his 'tummy hurts' and that 'its getting boring when my tummy hurts' but that 'when I go out in the snow it doesn't hurt'. He is furthering this information along with a big whine, so that means my time on the computer has come to an end. Good day to you all.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Various Thoughts on Consumerism around the 'Holiday Season'

I am not doing vast amounts of Christmas Shopping this year. I don’t have time nor money to go rushing out buying for all the various and sundry people I know. For those very special people who require attention, we’re making some small tokens of our love and affection. Not having grown up in America, I’ve never been caught into the mania of Christmas Shopping because I never had anywhere to shop, besides the Sikasso or Bamako Market. I have recently, however, been able to observe the American at Shops and am curiously impressed. First of all, the Owners of Shops know what they are doing—The arrangement of items to their logical conclusion (lamps in the home section, light bulbs at the end of the row, extra power cords in a bin within arms reach), the changing over of merchandise during the night so that customers learn to Buy Now, because it will be gone tomorrow, teaching the consumer not to think before buying, the far ranging assortment of glittery And practical stuff at little cost, so that when you walk by, you think, Oh, I need that, its so pretty (when in fact you Don’t Need it). All this says to me that the consumer has been considered, carefully, and analyzed (well, of course, I knew that, it’s just very interesting to experience it first hand.) And it’s very interesting to observe that the present problem with products made in China (so many of them having lead in them) is not enough to actually prevent their being bought. I would say it’s near to an addiction, the Need for China to make us stuff that we can buy, especially around Christmas. We Need this stuff even if we know its bad for us (Spiritually or because it’s packed full of lead). And I don’t think there’s an economic differentiation for this Need—rich and poor are prepared to buy alike. These are just some small observations of the season.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Not enough time

I don't have time to think it through, and I really ought not be blogging as I have somewhere to be, BUT, I've been, when I have a moment, following the story of the British School Teacher in the Sudan who was so foolish as to allow her class to name a Teddy Bear Mohammed. She was thereafter arrested and was in real fear for her life as a mob outside was crying for her execution. I'd been reading in prayerful horror over the last few weeks or days or whatever that she was held, and very relieved to hear on the radio yesterday that she'd been allowed to go home back to England, and that she would be spending a very quiet Christmas holiday at home. I can't put proper words to it, but this is one of those small by the wayside lavalike events like a small earthquake or something. You just feel a little shaking and think, oh, that was interesting. The world is not materially changed. But all the while underneath the surface, the plates are moving and scraping and grating against each other. The growing interaction between Islam and the West, feels in the bones, like one such seismically defined conflict. The outrage of the culture around her completely surprised this poor British woman. I don't really even understand it, at least not emotionally. We are diametrically opposed on so many levels.
Blast it all, I don't have time to think this through.
Comment, or something :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

First Sunday of Advent

We woke up this morning to the beautiful and gently falling Sunday attendance killer-snow. It was so white and pristine and silent, as I looked out the window and reevaluated my Sunday School and Christmas Pageant Practice Plans. There's something calmingly restful about looking out towards a Sunday when Everyone will have an excuse to stay home. You go in prepared to be thankful if Anyone comes, and its always best to start out a Sunday thankful. And of course, it took ages to get out the door. Boots and coats on three kids, the fabulous warm fluffy bunny thing on the baby, trying on 6 sweaters (me, I was trying on all the sweaters), warming up the car, getting the snow off it, running back in for the jump drive and then back in for an Album page and then back in for a mug of tea. All the time knowing that we can be late because until we get there and start shoveling, no one can get in the parking lot anyway, heh. But then, Amazingly, people came, lots in fact. Enough for a whole Sunday School class, all cozied up in the atrium with our one purple candle lit. We chucked the lesson and talked about the end of the world and when Jesus will come back and what it will be like and how the earth will be undone. So now we're going to sing O Come O Come Emmanuel and all go to bed, because its cold out and we've already had our hot chocolateses. Good Night.