Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas is here! Advent - well, the stores can't

find it. I searched in vain yesterday for advent candles in Target and Wal-Mart. No such luck. My advent wreath holder is packed away during our house renovation. But, I was gonna get some candles of some kind - all I could find were scented candles - vanilla white and freesia purple. And, they smelled so loud just picking them up that I knew we couldn't stand them in the small condo.

But, I did enjoy looking at the new Christmas ornaments - so beautiful and glittery - and plastic. Another woman and I were staring at some of the stuff together and began talking about ornaments that we loved and owned. Of course, I had to mention my miniature Christmas trees. I began with one in 1988 when I knew I was going to seminary the following Fall. Hallmark had just come out with them, and I bought a tree and a few ornaments that year. The following year in school, I bought two ornaments only. The next year was the same. But, in the intervening years, I have added six trees and the requisite ornaments for each. I have a Santa tree, an animal tree, and five others without themes.

Some of the ornaments are pieces of jewelry that hold a lot of meaning but I just don't wear them any longer. An oblong rhinestone drop that a friend gave me when she graduated from high school and we moved to another town. A little red slipper that once was a pair of earrings my Dad brought home from French Morroco. A silver snowflake, also one of a pair of earrings from my late sister-in-law, Sue-Sue. A Coke cap from Guatemala. A tiny doll from Honduras. A roadrunner tie tac that I brought home in the 60s from Arizona. My first Swarovski crystal snowflake. The ornaments and tree from my Mom after she died. A tiny honeysuckle vine wreath that I made the year we lived on sweet potatoes and crab (that's what people gave away in South Alabama).

This year, I'm adding at least one more tree with ornaments that I've bought on eBay. And, I did buy a few Hallmark ornaments. But, Hallmark is now packaging their miniatures in groups with themes. And, I don't like that much. I liked it when they did individual pieces in series. I have all the tractors and all the ice cube buddies and most of the motorcycles and all the trains. Now, you have to buy them all together. And, fewer choices.

All my boxes for the Hallmark ornaments are carefully stored away so that whoever inherits my stuff can sell them appropriately. I was disappointed to find that one set of my eBay ornaments had price tags stuck to the boxes, but I'm gradually getting them peeled off without damaging the box. Tells you what a stickler I can be, doesn't it?

We've had a tree trimming party since 1999, when my partner and I merged our ornaments. We prepared food, invited people, and watched all the fun. And, those ornaments have grown, too. We usually get an ornament on each trip we matter how close to home - well, more than 200 miles, say. Now we've added boats and beach symbols, and I may hang a piece of something left from the renovation. A broken frosted light fixture might provide just the right piece if I used the drill sander to smooth its edges and drill a hole. And, yes, I know to keep the piece in water while I'm doing that. Thanks for reminding me.

Meanwhile, I've been busy selecting things to go in the "stockings" that I prepare for those who visit us over the holidays. Actually, I use popcorn tins and stuff them with useful things like socks and funny things and nostalgic things and things I've made. The floor on one side of my bed is covered with that kind of stuff - but the tins are in the garage at the house. I guess I'll get them so that I can start sorting and make sure that I have everyone covered.

Today, I'm grateful to have these things to do. Today, I'm thinking of the food kitchens, the AIDS Care Service, the animal and land preservation projects, the homeless people and animals, and those who are ill.

Today is Christ the King Sunday in our church. A note from the Geranium Farm reminded us to think about what the world would be like if the reign of Christ was fully here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Renovation update after Thanksgiving

This whole wall will be dark blue

Guest bathroom with that gorgeous blue tile floor without the grout

kitchen with countertop on. Some doors missing and finish work to be done. Window replaced in sunroom (on left). Dee and I are painting a funky cat mural as a backsplash in the kitchen. One cat will have a Perrier label collar and another will have a Coca-Cola collar - lots of reds and primary colors to offset the browns. Floor will be a slightly lighter shade of brown than the countertops (which actually do have a bit of sienna red in them)

The sheetrock people are there today along with the site supervisor. I'm going over tomorrow to lay out the shelves and hanging rods for the closets and laundry room. The painter will be there next week, and then the floors go down. We'll be in before Christmas. I may have my tree trimming party on Christmas Eve, but, so be it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


D, the installer measures for a cabinet in my bedroom. Note electric panel behind him - being replaced today or tomorrow.

first day of cabinet installation.

new boards, old boards, painting by my partner

The cold front arrives

During the rain

After the rain

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Addiction Added

Well, I started looking for a Starbucks clear coffee mug for my partner on eBay - and I bid on several - got one for a good price...lost a few other bids. Then I strayed into crafts section and bid on some Swarovski crystals. I won. I'm addicted. I looked at the various sellers stores and other things they had on auction. Then I figured out how to look at all the things in a category listed with how long the auction had left. I lost a lot of bids at the last minute. Then, I read the hints about bidding. And, I won a few more things. I'm addicted.

Now, I'm checking every night to see what is won or lost, what's available that's new. And, I've learned how to watch certain items and see how the bidding is going.

But, the most important thing I've learned is not to overbid. My maximum bid is the most I'm willing to pay for the item (including shipping). So, now some I win, some I lose, and I keep watching.

The budget is not suffering yet, but I'm spending a lot more time on eBay than in reading my buddies' blogs. Sorry, folks. I'll get over this in a week.

Meanwhile, I have a bid on some Hallmark miniature ornaments ending soon; so I'd better check how the bidding is going.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Renovation Update

Yesterday and today, I moved the fountain from the deck to the workshop carport using the riding lawnmower and its little cart. We spent the night last night at the house, staying in the only room with furniture and thoroughly enjoying being "home". Of course, we had no hot water; so baths were out of the question. Our only heat was a ceramic heater which did a fine job of raising the temperature to 70 degrees before we turned it almost off for the night.

The sheetrock is up and will probably be finished tomorrow. Then we will prime the walls in the kitchen before the cabinets go in this week. The flooring may be laid the last of the week - depends on how much more the sheetrock people have to do.

This is the living room where we removed two fake beams and some wallboards around the beams to open up the cathedral ceiling. Our sofa will be on this wall with the kitchen on the left in the picture.

This is the kitchen, and you can see where a broken window in the sunroom is covered with plywood and will be replaced soon. Cabinets are in and should be installed this week.

This is my desk space, and I've found a wonderful lighting consultant who will work with me to design the lighting for my study/workroom. I will need some good lighting to do all the work I need to do. I just won a few bids on eBay - gosh, that is addicting!!!!

Next I'll be taking pictures of the deck that my partner is replacing - well, she's doing the flooring, and she's painting the thing to match the house. Maybe I'll get those pictures later this week when I go to work...or to therapy on Wednesday.

More About Dreams

The November 2007 issue of Real Simple has an article called In Your Dreams by Kristyn Kusek Lewis, who quotes lots of "authorities" on what happens in the brain during dreaming. Not the least occurence is the inactivity of the prefrontal cortex, responsible for logic and reasoning. This means that while your dreams may be linking new events/sights etc. to old memories the linkage is not necessarily reasonable or rational. What is more likely is that some underlying feeling is present in both the new and the old; the anygdala which processes emotions and the hippocampus which is the seat of memory are both very active during REM dreaming.

The fact that hormones and certain medications enhance dreaming is also mentioned.

So what does this mean for me. Well, according to the article, I could be processing some underlying emotion that I should give attention; I could be processing grief; I may be just putting together a vivid mishmash of memories and emotions with no meaning.

I had another very vivid dream last night, and I don't remember it now, but I remember thinking that it had the same startling ability as some of my other dreams. We spent the night at the house that is being renovated last night. One bedroom still has furniture and was heated by a ceramic heater. No hot water, but we came back to the condo to get clean and sleep tonight. I think my dreams are a replay of the true mishmash of emotions and thoughts I am having about the remodeling and about my ability to make decisions that will please everyone. LOL. Oh yeah, I'm trying to please everyone with the decisions that we make about how the place will look.

Finally, I'm turning to face those people and saying, "Excuse me, but you're not going to live here; we are. Get lost." My partner is happy with our decisions, I am happy with our decisions, and so they can just bag it.

And, I'm facing once again the fact that very few decisions I ever made pleased my mother. I remember her saying, "Why are you wearing that ugly grey shirt? It makes you look haggard." Oh well. She's dead. I can wear my grey shirt if I want to - only I really prefer red.

Happy dreams, y'all.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A powerful dream

This morning I awoke from a dream, and I will share it.

I dreamed that my Mother was going to bury me in the small Southern Baptist cemetery at Slate Springs, Mississippi – the church that kicked me out because I wouldn’t quit dancing. I was alive, and others who were going to be buried were also alive. As the good lay minister I am, I was running around trying to help get things ready for the burials.

Mother was waiting with the families of the others who were to be buried.

I suddenly realized that I had always said I wanted to be cremated when I died and that I specifically did not want to be taken back to Mississippi and buried in that cemetery. I had given my designated plot for my sister-in-law’s body some years ago.

When I realized this, I ran from the front of the church a long way around the cemetery and a great field where the others who were to be buried were playing softball to the back of the church and panted into the waiting room where I found my Mother.

I said to her: I know you will have the last word when I am dead, but I told you two things. I want to be cremated when I die, and I told you that I never wanted to be buried here in this forsaken little place.

Then I woke up.

The first symbolism I realized is that my Mother had always stifled me and tried to keep my eccentricities buried – unsuccessfully. I don’t know how I was supposed to get from being very much alive (I ran such a long distance.) to dead enough to be buried. I remember wondering that no caskets for the dead were visible though I saw a contraption that lowered the body into the ground. It was wooden – a very beautiful thing that looked like an oversized luggage rack in a hotel room.

The second symbolism is that of baptism. Being buried alive in the living waters and raised to be a new person. That was a scary thought because this time I wasn’t being buried in the living waters but in the ground.

But, I was baptized in that particular church, though I can’t say that the Holy Spirit moved me to that. It was more an apology to the preacher for screaming obscenities at him when our smokehouse caught on fire. He was spraying the house with a tiny water hose to keep it from catching afire also, and he kept hollering “The house is gonna go. The house is gonna go.” My mother was already panicked, and I told him to shut his damn mouth or I’d shut it for him.

My Mother decided after the fire was out, and the house was safe that it was time I was baptized and began attending church more regularly. So, that summer in revival, I went forward and was subsequently baptized. During the process of immersion, the preacher held a cloth over my nose and mouth and leaned me backwards into the water saying the prescribed words. Unfortunately, I slipped and he dropped me. My thought was, “Well, I really am going to die.” Not true. He recovered and grabbed me before I hit the bottom, and it was only three feet deep anyway. But, I was baptized by immersion that evening at that tiny Southern Baptist Church in a village of about 150 people in the middle of nowhere in the Mississippi hills.

Yesterday on a trip to Lowe’s Building Supplies, I had a panic attack, overwhelmed by the thought that I was with my mother on a trip that she blamed on me and that I was wrong and despised because of it. Although I made it through the buying of a new showerhead, I felt as if I were going to explode all afternoon. As evening fell, I began to calm down and realize that, once again, my Mother had taken over my mind/emotions.

Now she’s been dead six years, and I’ve been in therapy much longer than that over our relationship – codependent and toxic. This is the second time in recent months that she’s slipped into my life in scary ways. After the first one, I wrote her a letter asking that she butt out. Apparently she didn’t get the letter or ignored it.

Still, the symbolism of the dream lingers. I’m reading Sue Monk Kidd’s “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” about her journey from patriarchal daughter to ....well, I haven’t gotten far enough to know where she’s going. She has undoubtedly gone through the dying and rebirth.

This morning’s dream was the dying. I remember in 1993 saying to my husband (divorced now for 9 years), if you leave me here with Mother, I will die.

So, is this about my spiritual life or is this just more of Mother’s guck? It’s a powerful dream whatever it means.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ways of addressing people

The HOBD (House of Bishops and Deputies) listserv recently had a discussion among several women (clergy and laity) about the use of "honey", "sweetheart", "love", and other such means of addressing people - a habit that is prevalent in the South. This type of behavior is offensive to some people. "Dear" is another term often used. One person proposed that "Ma'am" was an acceptable alternative.

I'm guilty of calling people many different names of this genre. "Lady", "Man", "Kid", "Dearie", and a host of others. Of course, one of my friends calls me "Batgirl", but that's not necessarily complimentary as we once had a discussion about Bat Cave, NC, and the appropriateness of one another's possible residence there. However, I also use a person's name in the same context - if I know that person's name.

The argument was that society once used derogatory terms for certain people - the N word was mentioned as well as other ethnic slurs. And, I'm sure that specific talk show hosts are guilty of using words to describe groups of people that are not complimentary and do slander those mentioned. But, we're not talking about ethnic slurs; we're talking about forms of address for servers in restaurants to use in addressing their patrons. They contend that such usage is degrading and non-inclusive.

I live in a part of the country that is a mix of wealthy people from "The North" and a clique of "old Southern money" as well as the commonly called "rednecks" and ordinary folk of the South. Using such forms of address as "girls" or "boys" for women and men is a friendly gesture, but I admit that overuse by one person can become irritating. One waiter who continued to call our lunch group "girls" was definitely out of order. But, you can usually tell by the tone of voice. And, I do agree that "ma'am" or "sir" is often the better choice.

As many of you know, I use all sorts of forms of address in my comments on other blogs. They range from "sucker" to "sweet lady" or "friend". These are my friends, and I do the same in person. I know your name. I know your approximate age. I know your status in the world.

Having a sales clerk call me "dear" is as generic to me as "ma'am" or "sir", and down here they don't discriminate between men and women in the "dear" category. "Honey" is another term that some people use as a term of friendliness. To me, this is not the same as using "he" as a generic pronoun - a usage that I detest and protest.

Perhaps I am wrong, and I will ponder (translate - rethink) this sort of address, but I just don't see the harm in using friendly terms of address instead of being formal.
I'm willing to consider the error of my ways; so, all you folks who read my blog, bring it on, dearies.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thursday Morning Musings

Our Presiding Bishop certainly has taken the lead in calling attention to the Episcopal Canons and Constitution in two ways: a warning letter to Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh that if he continues in the way he has outlined that canonical action will be taken against him, and in inhibiting Bishop Bennison for not taking action to protect young people when he knew a person was sexually abusing one of them. At the recent Executive Council meeting she also received a report about the legal cases of congregations seceding from the Episcopal Church and trying to keep their property. She made it very clear that the Canons and Constitution make churches and dioceses an interdependent part of the national church. People may leave the church, but churches and dioceses don't.

Then I wondered how I could be so graced with material and spiritual and emotional wealth (the physical is up and down, but at least I have functional insurance) and others in my beloved circle are not. I'm selfish enough that I'm not gonna bankrupt us, but sharing is one of my earliest values. My Mom used to say that I'd give you the shirt off my back and the one off hers, too. I gave away most of her "things" when she died, but I kept the money. LOL It'll do more good when it grows a bit.

I thought I should write something very profound, but the most profound thing I realized during the night was that I was trying to use a 12-step program to replace church for me. Isn't working. I may continue in the 12-step program, but I really need a place to worship. I'd like one that fits with who I am and what I believe, but I'll take 11 am services in a huge church filled (at that service) with mostly those 10-20 plus years older than me rather than nothing.

Theological insights are not my forte now, just living, breathing, and enjoying the ocean and all the yarn I've bought over the past few months. I've started a felted hat, an afghan, and several scarves. Last night we wound (on my new yarn winder) a gorgeous rainbow colored rayon boucle - guess it will be jewelry first - lots of it, over 200 yards - hand dyed. Oh, so beautiful. And, the brightly colored mohair I pictured earlier, plus a brightly colored hand-dyed silk that is handing in my closet so that I see it every morning when I dress. It reminds me that I am beautiful and that I have the clothes to dress beautifully.

However, it's shower time before I can do that. Later, folks.