Saturday, April 26, 2008

at the end of the day

It all looks a little fuzzy and confusing.

My question of the night is: why haven't we come up with a better way of moving through legislative proposals than Roberts Rules of Order?  There's gotta be something better.'s a shot of one of my favorite passages in the book of proposed legislation.  It's a little blurry, but maybe that adds to the effect.  I took the shot around 10:30 tonight, before we spent another hour slogging on.
Here's the bus ride back to my distant hotel.

Now, sleep.

But first: a happy birthday shout-out to ForeverKC.  (Recognizing that, technically, it's not her b-day anymore, at least in Texas.  The party in California could still be going on.  But it would have to be without her, since she's partyin' down here at the ol' General Conference, too.)

My little bright moment of the day was the 10 minutes in which we took a "recess" from our formal meeting for the purpose of genuine discussion.  The tone of the meeting changed in our little sub-committee.  My desires that we would create more space in our definition of marriage and of what healthy, holy sexual relationships might be didn't come true, but the conversation was much better.  

I'll take what I can get...

Here's hoping for the Spirit's movement tomorrow!

Friday, April 25, 2008

some good moments

Just a couple pictures of fun folks I've found in Fort Worth.  (That's a lot of "f's.")  I haven't perfected how to aim my phone's camera, as you can see.  I did, however, enjoy being with all these good people today.

And I'm too tired to reflect any more meaningfully on the work of General Conference yet...

Keep praying for us!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

order, a triptych

as viewed from my cellphone this week:
one last call for everyone to get in order and in line before a few days of leave from fort bragg before a deployment to iraq.
the beautiful natural order of waves coming into shore
in the form of a whole series of plenary votes, establishing the rules for general conference, voted with these orderly devices.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I'm feeling lucky again.  Besides the fact that I'm getting to enjoy a few days of relaxed, beachy delight in North Carolina with my dear husband before he deploys, I'm also headed toward General Conference with some cool reminders of good friends and their prayers.
Like these MissMatched socks from Colleen.  Surely, clothed in such non-conformist glory, we might have a shot at some grace?  I'm pretty taken with the idea of socks sold in 3's, none of which is an exact match of another.  Glorious.

Trinitarian, even...

Of course, I'm also clothed in a whole bunch of clothes my mother sent, along with the mother of all handbags, big enough for my laptop and all 3 books of GC material.  That's over 1500 pages of legislative fun.

Monday, April 14, 2008

crafty fun

I finally followed through with a long-talked-about plan to invite some friends over and be crafty.  A friend had been wanting to try mosaic, and I had a big, big bucket of tile adhesive left from our kitchen wall.  They just seemed to be begging to go together.  And nothing is going to help me through a busy week as well as a little creative adventure...

I decided I need a tiled post to decorate my garden. 
Fabulous trays, garden stepping stones and a chair were also created.  And boba tea was consumed (see the mostly-empty glasses).  How cool is it that you can make boba tea at home?  It turns out the funny looking market called "VIP Wholesale" down my street sells wholesale to a bunch of Asian restaurants and retail to folks like me who are just looking for a little boba fun at home.  Fat orange straws and all.
I think this could become a habit.  Crafting club.  
Thanks to everyone who played along.  Now we just need a little grout...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

six little words

My friend, Orangeblossoms, tagged me with a challenge to write my memoir in just six words (and a picture).  I've been mulling for a while.  Here goes:

(With apologies and thanks to the identity-protected friend pictured here, and to Wendell Berry, who's words inspire me:
Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.)

I tag: my mom, the Eshams, Karen, KristaErika and Lea.  And anyone else who wants to play...

Here's what you do:

1) Write your own six word memoir.

2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.

3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.

4) Tag at least five more blogs with links.

5) Don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

6) Have fun.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

looking back and ahead

I just came in from walking some friends out to the gate (after a lovely evening of "Idol Gives Back" and some homemade tangelo sorbet), and the two guys hanging out next door yelled over that our place is looking nice.  We should have more like ours on the block, they said.

All of which I interpreted as a way of saying that it's nice to live in a neighborhood where people invest in making it a beautiful, delightful, life-giving place.  There's a new billboard on the corner about the pain caused by gun violence, which reminds us also of the pain already caused by murders on our block.  

So, I feel like tonight is a good time to celebrate our house.  As a sign of hopefulness for more beautiful things that might be cultivated in the community.  Check out how far we've come since we moved in:

I've been excited about real progress we're making toward opening a coffeehouse in the neighborhood--a place for our church to practice hospitality, and for community to gather around tasty, hot beverages.  Tomorrow, we're going to embark on our first real look at some real estate.   Kinda cool to think how things might just grow, as we seek to figure out what non-traditional presence of "church" might be most needed and useful in this crazy, diverse community.

It's good to be here.

Monday, April 07, 2008

a dream about general conference

I've been spending more and more time thinking about our United Methodist General Conference lately, trying to prepare myself. I really do mean to find a multi-vitamin I can start taking now, in an effort to establish some kind of baseline health to prepare myself for the physical trial of 10 days of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (at least) meetings and worship and gatherings. In a strange city, staying in a hotel that is annoyingly far from the convention center where we'll meet, while eating the food that's available in such circumstances.

Besides how to prepare myself physically, I've been obsessing over wardrobe choices. And trying to get myself into faithful, resilient and grace-filled attitudes.

So now seems like a good time to share my dream for General Conference. I alluded to it before, but here it is, in long form:

On or about day 9, exhausted from long days of conferencing and stressed by the absence of a day of sabbath, the assembly will grow weary.  Lifeless, even.  Like a convention center of dry bones.  As if the wheels of our machinery were clogged by the mud of too many confusing counter-proposals, lost in motion upon motion in the intricacies of Roberts Rules of Order, our assembly will slowly turn to a halt.  No one will move, and no one will quite understand what's going on or know how to move forward.  At that moment, in the shear silence, something like the rush of a mighty wind will suddenly startle us, bringing our tired bones to life.

"What was that?" my neighbor will ask.  "Did I miss a vote?"  
"I don't know what it was," I'll respond, "but it sure felt good."

All of a sudden, the movement of the Holy Spirit will have lifted the wheels of the denomination from our bog, and set us on a rock.  Suddenly, mysteriously freed from the conversation we'd felt embedded in, we'll know how to use the gracious work of Jesus Christ to free and embolden our members and congregations in ministry.  Freed from the bonds of hurtful language, of restrictive rules and judgmental attitudes, we'll feel the indwelling of the Spirit, and she will compel us to go outside.  To do the work of the church in the world, and to love God and all our neighbors boldly.

Then, we'll start to see God's kingdom ever more clearly.  Folks who had been known for their opposition to one another will reconcile with a gentle embrace.  All God's children--gay, straight, old, young, rich, poor, from all over the world and of all different colors--will know that they belong as a blessed and useful part of the body of Christ, and will know that they need every other one of those people who had seemed so different from them.   The United Methodists who work for Caterpillar and the General Board of Church and Society will together instigate a parade; led by children from Israel and Palestine, every in the parade will together use tractors and bulldozers to prepare fields in which everyone--everyone--in the area will plant vines and fig trees that they will enjoy, and no one will make them afraid.  People will happily give up their power to others, inviting the least among us to choose how we will use our resources, and, like those people at Pentecost, we will share, as anyone has need.

And the world will never be the same, once it has tasted and seen how good, how powerful, how transformative the amazing grace and Spirit of our God can be.  

That's my dream.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

thin line

So, I know there's a line somewhere between "eco-chic" and "cheap and tacky," and I aim to find it.

This is what you get when you realize you have 5 minutes to wrap a sizable wedding shower gift, you have no wrapping paper or tape or ribbons (unless you want to go climb into the garage attic), and you spy scattered possibilities: a pile of newspapers waiting to be recycled, your glue stick and some an old sheet from the thrift store. The flowers out of the garden are an attempt to nudge toward "chic" and away from "tacky."  'Cause fresh flowers can't be tacky.

The piece you can't see is that the card is custom-made, too--out of the same old sheet.  God bless the person who figured out that you can run cardstock through your sewing machine and use it to attach fabric.  So easy, and so stylish.

At least one person at the shower said it was "so Anthropologie."  I think that's good.

You decide.

[As a side note, while hanging clothes on my line today, I gave a little prayer of thanks that I live in my, um, diverse and disadvantaged neighborhood.  Hanging clotheslines violates no CC&R's.  Neither does planting your front yard in vegetables.  I love this place.  Except for the children's party across the street that has been playing Mexican Chipmunks music all afternoon.  I didn't know the Chipmunks sang in Spanish.  But boy, do they.  They cover all kinds of music you might have liked before this afternoon, if you lived on my street.]

Saturday, April 05, 2008

wanna try to make a change: GI Bill

As you know, my dear husband is off from San Diego, preparing for a second deployment to Iraq with the Army Reserves.  He joined 5 1/2 years ago, with a sense of desire to serve his country, and because he believed it would enable him to finish his college degree.  

In my mind, neither hope worked out particularly well: though he has served loyally, our country has asked him to be a part of an ill-conceived and poorly-waged war that doesn't feel much like "defense" of what I treasure of our nation.  And, he certainly has not been able to make much progress toward completing his college degree.

It's not for lack of trying: he has enrolled every semester that he's been home, and has succeeded in completing just four semesters.  At his expected return from deployment this fall, his six years of obligation will be complete.  During his time in the Reserves, he has been eligible for tuition assistance and, since his first deployment to Iraq, some of the benefits of the GI Bill.

However, as it is currently written, he will receive no additional benefits from the GI Bill after he leaves the active Reserves this fall.  Unlike active duty members, who have several years after they leave their military service to use these educational benefits, his benefits would end with his reserve obligation.  Which seems a bit ironic, given that, though he's tried, he has not been home long enough to use much of these benefits.

Which brings me to the possibility of change.

Senators Jim Webb (D-VA), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) have proposed a Senate bill that would improve and extend GI Bill benefits.  They're calling it the "21st Century GI Bill," and it rewrites the current policies to extend these educational benefits in a way that more closely resembles the GI Bill of WWII fame--as a policy that could genuinely provide opportunity giving educational and economic possibilities to the men and women who have served during this time of war.   Men and women who as disproportionately poor and ethnically diverse. 

The Bill's authors are seeking co-signers, to assure it doesn't get lost in process.  You can see if your Senator is on the list here.  Both California Senators are on the list.  Are yours?

The House equivalent, H.R. 2702, The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007, is also seeking co-sponsors.  In San Diego County, Rep. Filner has signed on, but Hunter, Davis, Issa and Bilbray have not.  You can check for co-sponsor updates, or in your area, here.

Wouldn't it be swell to send a quick note to your Congress-people, thanking them for signing on, or urging their co-sponsorship?  Something like this:

Dear   :
I'm writing to urge you to support/thank you for supporting (for Representatives) H.R. 2702, The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 or (for Senators) S.22, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Bill.

[that was the tricky part.  now that you've figured out if you're thanking or urging, and if you're talking about a House Resolution or a Senate Bill, we should be good to go...]

A friend of mine finds himself in a similar position to too many other veterans of the war in Iraq: he has served dutifully, and now, as he finishes his service, is left with few benefits.  An Army Reservist, he joined at the same time he re-enrolled in college, believing he could serve his nation and further his education at the same time.  Now on his second deployment to Iraq, he has been unable to make much progress toward his Engineering degree. 

Extending educational benefits will not only serve him well, though; it will also serve our nation well to provide educational possibilities for so many who have been affected by this war.  The benefits to our nation will be great, if we provide opportunities for more people to attain college degrees.  As we contemplate the long-term effects of this war on the people who have served in our military and on our nation, I applaud efforts to provide long-term benefits as well.

Thank you for your time and your attention to this matter.

[And, if you want it to be easier, you can send it through this website.  I never thought I'd link to a site called, but there you have it.]

Friday, April 04, 2008


I have custody of Matt's aquarium during this deployment.  I didn't have to: he was all-out willing to get rid of the aquarium, so I wouldn't have to worry about it.  I objected, and insisted that I could figure it out.  I know he likes it, and I think it's pretty cool, too.  It's nice to come home to the glow of the aquarium light.  A little like Motel 6.

Then, the anemone moved, because I wasn't quick enough to add more water, and the bubbles formed by the inlet tube at the top were, like, traumatic for it.  

Now, I've pretty much killed the really pretty coral that swishes in the water currents that used to live near the top.  

I tried looking online, to see what might be going wrong--what I might be doing wrong.  Turns out there are lots of things that cause corals to turn white and get crusty: light, calcium deficiency, heat.  All grouped under a little heading the website called "stress."
So, my corals are stressed out.

Do you think sea creatures can emulate vibes in the house?

Others suggest I just blame it all on global warming.  I prefer to think I can blame it on Mr. Bush's stupid war.  Either way, I think this administration bears some responsibility.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

blessings and woes

I'm feeling particularly blessed today, having gotten TWO packages in the mail.  A little quilt giveaway I was lucky to receive from a delightful crafty blog I happened upon, and Party Girl, a most excellent movie from Liz in Nebraska by way of Krista in Connecticut.  And all this on top of the carrot-dill bread Marian and Wayne gave me the other night, which I'm eating as I type.  What a lucky girl I am!

And, I happened on this sobering, artful reminder of how much we consume.  Scary and breathtaking.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

fun with tangelos

Since I want to eat more locally, and since citrus fruit seems to, um, grow on trees around here...  

I raided a bucket full of very tangy tangelos (they just didn't get sweet this year) from a family tree this week, and have been playing with ways to use and preserve them.  I got a swell, stylish new juice squeezer, and have been freezing little bits of tangelo juice for cooking.  I tried making sorbet, too, mixing tangelo juice with a bunch of sugar and rolling it around in my ice cream ball.  It was yummy.
And, I decided to try making marmalade.  For kicks, I'll give you my instructions:

tangelo pineapple marmalade

14 tangelos, raided from a family tree
1 overripe pineapple that's been sitting on your counter all week
2 big limes, reclaimed from the curb after they rolled downhill from the neighbor's tree
about 4 cups of water
5 cups of sugar

On 7 of the tangelos, use a peeler to remove the outer layer of the peel. Chop it up into little bits and put it in a big pot.

Peel what's left of all 14 tangelos, and cut the fruity parts into little pieces. Attempt to remove all the seeds. Put the fruit and all the juice you can catch into the big pot with the peel bits.

Cut up the pineapple, salvaging all the bits that aren't too gross and brown; cut the useable parts up into bits. Add them to the pot, too.

Peel and chop up the limes, and add them as well.

Pour the 4 cups of water over the top--really, just add enough to barely cover all that fruit. Put it on the stove and bring it to a boil for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, leave it covered, and let it sit overnight.

Then, wake up sick the next day.  Get out of bed, contemplate what it would take to finish making marmalade, and decide to just put the whole thing in the fridge.  Some marmalade recipes call for letting the fruit sit for 24 hours or more; decide you want to be one of those.

On the third day, add the sugar to your pot, mix it in, and bring it to a boil.  Continue to heat, stirring regularly, until it does that magic turn-t0-jelly thing.
Put it in sterilized jars with and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes, according to the instructions of someone who knows much more than I do about this stuff.

Then, set it on your counter and admire the warm, orangey color.
My recipe made enough for the six jars I had empty, plus a two-cup plastic container that went straight into the fridge.  

easter mosaic

Just cause you asked (okay, so just Deb asked), here's the mosaic we made in worship on Easter.  It was fun smashing the old plates, and fun to put them together, too.  

This is the before-grout pic:

And after-grout.
At first, I was kinda bummed that it's hard to make out the cross, but I've grown to think I really like the way the cross is broken apart, sent out, re-made with our pieces.

(We used a water-based liquid-nails-like-but-less-toxic adhesive from the hardware store to glue the pieces on individually, so we didn't have to figure out how to spread mortar during worship, or keep in wet.  I'm pretty happy with how it all worked--remarkably smooth for involving 140 people in creating it during a "regular" hour-long worship gathering...  The lumpiness added significant challenge for my grouting work later, but I don't think it ended up too bad.  It's a bit lumpy, though--so it wouldn't really work well for a table surface.)