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2017-10-13 05:09 pm

a week in the life of a purple-haired church mouse

Saturday- after a busy week, I am feeling pressure. I have chosen a hymn to use as a quick anthem, but I like to do at least a simple arrangement-- selection of verses to be sung by men, women or all, dynamics, maybe a simple harmony.... and I haven't done that yet. I go the the piano and sing it, all six verses, and it sings back. In minutes I've chosen four verses, rearranged the order, and written a tiny tag ending. What a relief!

Sunday-- Pastor and I say hello, and admit that we are both feeling low-energy, and promise to prop one another up as we can. Within the first few minutes of worship it's evident that this is one of the special days, when everything syncs and draws the congregation in, and our energy surges. The quickie anthem is magical. I also tell "Stone Soup" as the children's story, and manage to get them all interested.

Monday-- Five minutes before my Bible study class starts, the fire alarm goes off. Class evacuates mostly because of noise while I race to answer the phone when the alarm company calls. Panel indicates it's the room my class was in; humidity seems like likely culprit. Comedy of errors as maintenance guy and I try to check building, talk to alarm company, find alarm passcode, and then talk to police and fire. When furor subsides, great class. Today's lesson gives a marvelous explanation of how some Christians can consider the Bible sacred without considering it historical or scientific fact, inerrant, infallible, or any other such straightjackety term.

Tuesday-- on Tuesdays I select hymns and organ music for the coming service, and meet with Pastor. This week I do hymns for two weeks, and also have to deal with fallout from the false alarm, so I ed up actually playing music for only a few minutes.

Wednesday-- a little calmer, and I actually get to play for nearly 2 hours. I'm doing a series of Reformation chorales and prelude settings, and have chosen a lovely setting that is new to me, plus two alternate harmonizations for hymns this week. In the evening I attend Simchat Torah service at the synagogue with which my church partners in ministry and social activities.

Thursday-- Once per quarter my church hosts a mobile travelling shelter for a limited number of families; they rotate among 13 locations, one week each. This week we are 'on', with the help of the synagogue. Tonight my daughter and I are evening hosts; we serve dinner buffet style and eat with our guests, and hang out for the evening. At 9 she goes home, and another church member tags in with me for overnight security. I sleep in the library and wake up at 2 a.m. with leg cramps. Forage for orange juice and peanut butter crackers; it's 2 freakin' a.m. so I don't read the label.

Friday-- Wake up ill; belatedly read the label. Keebler "toast and peanut butter crackers" turn out to be little dairy bombs. Endure while guests get breakfast, pack up and leave in their bus, and then come home for more sleep. Go back to church to help kid install an art project (pics soon) but can't cope, so head back home again. Will have to make up missed practice tomorrow but choir plans are reasonably ready.

*the end*
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2017-09-27 08:34 am


My years with my Lutherans were wonderful in many ways, but I've long since realized that, had I stayed in Vermont, I would certainly have had to leave that church eventually. The change of pastors had left me, a non-Lutheran, on shaky ground, and I wondered if the open and compassionate culture of the congregation would survive the change.

I was still connected with a few of my Lutheran friends on Facebook. This week I've unfriended half of them, after they posted "kneeling is disrespecting the Flag" memes and I objected. My remaining Lutheran friends are basically inactive on FB, so my Lutheran connection is pretty much over now. A sadness but time to move on. (For those who might wonder, 'my' Pastor is among the inactive, not the meme-posters.)
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2017-09-18 03:19 pm

church, me and food

I'm lactose intolerant. It's pretty much a joke in our culture now, but I really am, and quite severely, plus I get a couple of extra reactions as a bonus. Even a small dose of milk means 6 to 12 hours of diarrhea and stinky farts, another day or two of feeling achy and uncomfortable, patches of eczema that last a few days. LactAid pills help; they most definitely don't prevent reaction.

Churches love food. Coffee hour with sweet baked treats. Refreshments at almost every gathering, ranging from more sweet goodies to pizza. Potluck suppers. Catered suppers-- spaghetti, lasagna, even turkey dinners.

If I don't tell folks (and maybe if I do, see below), my choices are: eat and get sick; don't eat anything; bring my own food; or skip the event. Oddly, anything but the first will upset some folk. Abstaining or bringing my own food leads to people being hurt that I won't try their offerings, or even accusing me of 'trying to make them feel guilty.' And as a church staffer, skipping food events can be a professional problem as well as a social sadness.

From the church point of view? It's a bother to accommodate food issues. There are at least four of us who are lactose intolerant to some degree; two vegetarians; two people with celiac disease who are only occasional attenders; one minor nut allergy (but not to the point of violent reaction); and, unknown to most, at least one recovering alcoholic. Folks who can and do eat anything and everything seem to find it overwhelming to contemplate feeding those of us with food issues. Mostly the reactions I see are thinly veiled irritation.

What could be done? First and easiest would just be to LABEL everything. Put out a card with the name of the dish on one side, and ingredients on the other (or I don't know/made from mix). Next-- actually talk to us and ask what works? I am absolutely happy to suggest possibilities, substitutions, or modifications that aren't burdensome; after all, I do them daily. Considering varying needs early in the planning is especially helpful-- salad bar rather than tossed and dressed salad, please!

But the bottom line... is that I am often reminded that I'm not worth the trouble of feeding me. (Not only at church, but honestly, it's the worst.) Me being lactose intolerant is inconvenient for other people. Sorry, not terribly sympathetic to that point of view.
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2017-09-12 09:58 pm

(no subject)


Butterfly, which a friend tentatively identifies as possibly an Atlantis Fritillary.

another pic and OTTER VIDEO back here )
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2017-09-11 02:51 pm

(no subject)

Well, there went my last feeling of attachment to LJ.... the weather widgets on my profile don't work any more. (I used them for sunset and moonrise times, mostly.)
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2017-09-08 09:41 pm

Brain reboot

September is never a great month for me, I think it's the already shortening days; and then there was all the stress this week. I felt a need to reboot my brain, so took off for the nature center this afternoon despite gloomy weather. Laura wasn't with me, so I could head for my favorite area, the big meadow and ponds on the upper levels of the park. At first I saw no wildlife but bunnies and common birds; but I began to relax, appreciating the varied colors and shapes of late summer. (Spring has brighter greens and yellows, but late summer has more texture, from full grown plants.) Then, as I no doubt became more attentive and stopped broadcasting tension, I started to see more animals-- two blue herons, a greenbacked heron. Then I saw two "swimmy mammals" as we call them moving through a pond, and took a quick pic so I could check ID later. And then.... they swam to a downed tree, and two river otters climbed out!


more pics )
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2017-08-16 08:49 pm



My daughter spotted this very small, very quiet green-backed heron on our walk tonight.

four more )
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2017-07-31 09:54 pm

(no subject)

There's a house along the rail trail here with a walled backyard. The wall has intriguing Asian elements, and I could see the top of a gazebo or pagoda, so I've been very curious. Last Friday when I was out biking, there was a man in the front yard of that house. When he nodded to me, I pulled over and asked if he was the gardener; he responded, "Would you like a tour?" YES!


It is truly a wonder: a double lot, with I think four water features, and not quite too many Asian decorative items, and all beautifully groomed. Bernie, the gardener, is delightful too.

two more )
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2017-06-29 08:50 pm

Conference tidbits

The purple hair was a brilliant idea. Dunno which is the chicken or the egg, but I feel more able to initiate conversations, and also like more people are approaching me. And yes, once they meet me they recognize me!


At one of my first meals, I introduced myself as "a first-timer for the second time-- I came when I was a teenager and never since." A man at the table said "Me too! What year-- I was here exactly 40 years ago!" I've been idly trying to figure out what year I came when a vivid memory came to mind. Next time I saw Tim, I asked, "do you remember the dog in worship?" and he cracked up laughing. The scripture that day had been something about dogs (Maybe "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh!") and right on cue a dog ran in through an open door, barking like crazy. So apparently we were there at the same time!


There is a small lake at the center of campus here, between two very steep hills. One of the traditions of the week is a concert with brass ensembles on high terraces on opposite sides of the lake. I bumped into one of my teachers (one whose class I had dropped, but that's common so it wasn't awkward at all); and after a while this week's Guest Organist joined us. So I got quiet commentary on the concert from David Hurd, whee! From my location in the middle there was a little less than a second of lag between the two groups-- anyone want to figure out how far apart they were?
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2017-06-11 03:19 pm

Something different

I had a 'free' day off today. My church held a combined outdoor service with two other congregations, and it's not my year to play for that. Rather than go on an exceptionally hot day, I decided to go check out worship someplace else, preferably with air conditioning. Laura reminded me of a local church that has ASL interpreting, so off we went.

Watching the ASL interpreting was a blast-- she was very good. I'm not at all proficient, but I know enough that since I can hear I could figure out a lot of the signs. That was a blessing during a particularly long sermon!

We knew going in that it would be a contemporary service, and that the denomination was on the conservative side. Thankfully, there was nothing uncomfortable for me in the sermon, though I suspect that might not always be the case.

Contemporary worship music isn't my first choice, but this was reasonably well done. All of the musicians had really good pitch control, so it wasn't hard on the ears. A couple of the songs were pitched really uncomfortably for congregational singing. I was surprised and momentarily horrified when one singer picked up an accordion, but he used it beautifully-- basically much as some groups use a harmonica, adding lovely countermelodies. Mostly I wished I could commandeer the sound board and balance things correctly.
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2017-06-05 03:11 pm



We're cleaning out odd bits of sewing. Laura made this as a practice project. The panels are pre-printed, she added colored embroidery. It's available for shipping plus maybe a few dollars. Double click to go through to Flikr so you can zoom in.
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2017-05-30 07:43 pm

(no subject)

I have three piano students. Two are very energetic boys, 7 and 8. It is very hard to persuade them to practice slowly, with emphasis on accuracy. They'll both race along and guess wildly when they realize they've gone wrong. (I totally get it- I'm taking jazz guitar lessons, so the frustration of not being able to do with my fingers what I can hear in my head is fresh). Recently the kid and I happened on Despicable Me 2 on TV, and rewatched it. Today I reminded the boys of the musical puzzle scene, where Gru has to dance across a musical floor, hitting the stones in the right order to unlock a vault:


I told each boy to play his current song as if he's in that scene. Magic!
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2017-05-28 05:15 pm

Rock garden


I think we're considering the structure of the rock garden complete; just need lots more plants now. The design was a collaboration mostly between me and the kid. There are pockets that we'll fill with plants, but also paths to access them. We found a big patch of moss today so the moss 'river' is laid in. Hubby created the tiny 'cave' under a flat rock at the back. The chickadee birdhouse is 6 feet up the tree trunk in the back. It makes a really lovely place to sit and read!
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2017-05-27 09:25 pm

(no subject)


Unusual headstone-- those really are separate stones mortared together. Found in Penn Yan, NY.

more )
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2017-05-17 02:18 pm



"Button" buck-- see the stumps of antlers? He's probably just a year old or so.

three more )
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2017-05-11 03:55 pm



Detail pic of a lovely old barn I found today.

two more )
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2017-05-04 10:50 pm



White capped sparrow at my feeders.

yellow warbler

Yellow warbler. Terrible pic but nice sighting-- I seem to see just one yellow warbler per year, and here it is already!
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2017-05-03 09:04 pm



One of the main roads here used to be a yellow brick road!

two more )
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2017-04-25 08:26 am

Tree sparrow

tree sparrow

Happy to see a tree sparrow at my feeder this morning (and lucky to have my camera at hand). That red-brown cap is quite eye-catching "in person."
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2017-04-24 08:09 pm

(no subject)


Merganser from a walk a week ago. The brown crest says merganser, but the body markings are unusually vivid.

green backed heron

Green backed heron from tonight. Greens keep their necks scrunched down and then magically stretch them out to strike at a fish.