Thursday, November 30, 2006


Little Warrior is my role model for enthusiasm.

For a while, the word of the day ... many days ... was "No." I think all moms get to experience this one. Out of the blue, your sweet baby learns the word "No" and begins delighting in its power. Want bananas? NO. Want cereal? NO. Want to take a nap? NO!

Little Warrior enjoyed the word so much, she'd just sit by herself, saying it over and over. "No no no no no no no no," she told her blocks.

Granted, it was a word she'd heard a lot of.

Well, now we've discovered "Yeah," and as much power "No" had, "Yeah" is even cooler. Actually, not Yeah. "Yeah!" always with an exclamation point. And strung together -- "Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!" She's so enthusiastic. Thrilled. Want a cookie? "Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!!!"

I think I'm going to start responding like that. So often, I automatically say "No thank you" to offers. Sample in the store, helping me out with my bags -- No, thank you.

Huh. Wonder how they'll react when I say:

"Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas Memory #1

I was about 12. Mom was really into theme trees, and she had amassed a huge collection of seashells, from all those years of walking along the beach while my father wade-fished. Dad drilled some holes, she strung monofilament -- ornaments.

As we decorated the tree, Dad -- grinchlike, sitting in his chair watching us -- said to my mother, "Those ornaments are heavy. You need to put more on the back or you're going to have a big mess."

She ignored him.

We finished decorating the tree and stood back to admire it. It really was beautiful.

Mom went back to her bedroom to change clothes and the rest of us watched the game.

Suddenly, as if in slow motion ... creeeeeeeak ... down came the tree.

Dad jumped to his feet and began waving us away from it. "Don't touch anything," he hissed. "Leave it for your mother to see."

Well she did, and there was the hubub of putting it back up. Not too many sand dollars crushed.

To keep that from happening again, my mom hung coffee mugs all over the back of the tree. I can still see them, hanging there, like some kind of a twisted coffee-lover's tree.

Truth = Beauty with a Little Ugly Mixed In

I once heard or read something about how the best art shows beauty with a little ugly mixed in, so you know it's real.

That's how I feel about Christmas songs. I like the ones with a little ugly ... or sad ... mixed in, so you know they're real.

"Hard Candy Christmas" is one favorite. Christmas comes 'round each year, whether we're in the mood for it or not. Even if you've lost your job, had a death in the family, got health issues, a divorce ... as it says in The Grinch, " came just the same."

I love the original version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," from Meet Me in St. Louis, and get cranky when I hear a prettied-up version, where they exchange the line, "hang a shining star from the highest bough" for the original, "until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow."

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow.
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
Not as somber, but definitely real is Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from the Family." If you are not familiar with this 'un, run, don't walk, and download it.

How can you not love a Christmas song that mentions tampons and fake snow?

Carve the Turkey
Turn the ball game on
Mix margaritas when the eggnog's gone
Send somebody to the Quickpak Store
We need some ice and an extension chord
A can of bean dip and some Diet Rites
A box of tampons, Marlboro Lights
Haleluja everybody say Cheese
Merry Christmas from the family

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Things I Will Not Say

Little Warrior survived because: we wouldn't give up/she's a fighter/God has special plans for her.

It's an insult to the children who didn't survive. And a fist in the face to the parents.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Advice: Only speak from your own beliefs, please

A bit of unsolicited advice ...

Do not say, "Even if you're not a ____, you'll like this," if you ARE, in fact, a _____.

Examples: Saying, "Even if you're not a Christian, you'll enjoy this heart-warming story ..." when you, the speaker, are a Christian.

Saying, "Even if you're not a vegetarian, you'll enjoy this tofu casserole ..." when you, the speaker, are a vegetarian.

Saying, "Even if you're not an atheist, you'll enjoy 'God Bless You, Unitarians,'" when you, the speaker, are an atheist.

It might be true. But it's not up for you to predict what another group, of which you are not a member, might like.

And just for the record ... I'm not an Atheist, but I LOVE that song.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Peace Wreath -- Anti-Iraq War or Pro-Satan?

I can't make this stuff up, folks:

HOA Bans Christmas Wreath With Peace Sign

A Surfeit of Holiday

This December, my goal is a surfeit of holiday.

Not a surfeit of material goods ... we are blessed to have insurance, but with that, come deductibles; in our case, they add up to $6500. Without insurance, over half a million dollars, though, so hey, what's a little 6K among friends?

But my goal is to feast and feast upon festivities. Christmas shows out the wazoo, a Christmas book every night. Food on the carpet be damned, we are watching "Christmas Vacation" this evening.

We got our tree today. For the first time in our 16 years of marriage, we actually went and cut down our tree ourself.

Let me tell you ... straight trunks are not a natural thing.

But it looks beautiful and smells divine. "What will Little Warrior think?" we wondered, with images of needing to put a fence around the tree.

She doesn't see it. "Haven't we always had a tree in the living room?" she seems to say with disdain.

I realize, of course, that she is but merely waiting for the second we leave her alone in the living room. To that end, the tree is secured to the wall with triple lengths of monofilament. Of course, that doesn't mean she can't climb to the top and install herself as the angel.

Surfeit. 4 types of cookies, nay, 6. And how about an Italian Christmas dinner this year?

Because, as normal as I want this all to be, I can't ignore the voice that says, you don't know what next Christmas will be like. You don't know what 2007 will bring. Last Christmas, you were in innocence. But now you know. That you can't know.

So this Christmas ... my goal is surfeit.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I just came in from outside ...

In younger years, I would have an interesting reason for being outside at midnight. Alas, my reason was not prosaic at all ... Bo Peep was hurting from what is probably an ear infection (we are incapable of having a holiday without some sort of illness) and I was scrounging around in the minivan for the bottle of ear drops we had to buy for her last infection.

Nonetheless, the night was lovely. It is warm here, so I was outside in a tank top and barefeet. (And jeans ... though without would have made for a more interesting story.) My neighbor across the cul-de-sac has two-story front windows, and they already have a giant tree up inside, lit with white lights.

So, the Christmas season has officially begun. We have no decorations up yet, but it has officially begun for us, as well. We have an official beginning, you see. I have this old Firestone Christmas album from when I was a kid, with the New Christy Minstrels singing, "We Need a Little Christmas." Every year, we put away the autumn decorations, then we go around one by one, answering the question, "Are you really ready to begin Christmastime?" Once it is unanimous, we play the song. We dance around like lunatics, Mom and Dad dancing with each kid for a few seconds before putting that one down and moving on to the next. Round and round and round. The Husband's Mother is here, and she is as much a holiday lover as I am, so she joins in.

I was still able to pick up The Boy and dance with him. Next year, he might be too big.

Every year, we use the same song for our "official Beginning of Christmastime song." This year, the words have greater meaning. I suppose everything does.

"For I've grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,

And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder,
Need a little Christmas now."

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Made the dinner. Sauerkraut is now going to be a family tradition. Don't mock, it works marvelously with all of the rich Thanksgiving day fare.

Took my bows. The Husband put up the leftovers and cleaned the kitchen. I'm ready to go to bed, and it's only 9 pm.

Last year, we were still innocent. Now, we really know what to be thankful for.

I'd take innocence, if it were my druthers, but you get what you get. And we got to keep Little Warrior.

For now, at least. And that's all any of us have.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!"

And if you don't know that iconic reference, go to You Tube and search for "WKRP Thanksgiving."

Ahh. Good times.

Well, I actually have the table set for Thanksgiving dinner. The most precious item on the table is the tablecloth. About 6 years ago, I bought a white tablecloth with a darker white leaf pattern on it, and some fabric pens. We use the tablecloth for holidays, and all of the guests (children included) are told to write a little something on it, then sign and date it. Really great memories, looking back at it. Here's from when The Princess was a baby. Here's the year Bo Peep was born. Here's when all of us were together.

I don't know what I'm going to write on it this year. I am beyond thankful. But also scared of what I'll feel when I look back (in future years) at what I write tomorrow. Hopefully, of course, I'll look back and say, "That was a bad year." Because if I do that, then it'll mean that the future years are better.

In any case, we can never know what tomorrow will bring. But I think that mine will include all the members of my little family, and both of my parents. It's just tomorrow. But I'll take it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Preparing for Thanksgiving

A relatively small gathering this year, just the six of us and my parents. But with a whole lot to be thankful for.

I am (she brags) known far and near for my turkey. Many a person across the country will be making their turkey by my directions, known accurately enough as "Obsessive Turkey." Yes, you could just toss your turkey in the oven and as long as you didn't overcook it, it would be fine. But who wants to settle for "fine" on Thanksgiving? Juice drips from the meat with this. Darn tasty.


Step 1: Marination/brine (day before Thanksgiving)
Brine marinade:

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
splash liquid crab boil
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5 gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a cooler with ice) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining. (I usually half the brine recipe and use one of those gigantic oven bags to marinate turkey in.)

Thanksgiving morning:

Step 2: Injection
Either use your favorite marinade or this simple one: 50% Italian dressing and
50% orange juice (with some tabasco thrown in). Using a turkey/meat syringe, inject marinade all over your turkey. (Fun to watch the turkey "inflate.") (Strain marinade before using or it will clog up the syringe.) Making mad doctor noises entirely optional. NOTE: last year, I injected my turkey of a blend 50% bourbon and 50% melted butter. WAY yummy.

Step 3: Stuff turkey with celery, sliced apple, cut up lemons and quartered onion.

Step 4: Cheesecloth
Take a double up length of cheesecloth, enough to cover the turkey, and soak in melted butter.

Step 5: Thermometer
Forget the pop-up thermometer -- splurge on an electronic thermometer. These are great. You put the probe in a thickest part of the turkey breast, and the thermometer is on the outside of the oven. (Thin wire connecting them.)

Step 6: Garlic
Take about 4 heads of garlic and wack them with a glass to break apart. (Don't peel cloves.) Scatter in turkey pan. These will bake and soak up the turkey juices and just be DIVINE spread on a roll. I think I might like the garlic better than the turkey. Note: if you’re cooking a fairly large turkey, wait and toss in the garlic, eh, about an hour after it’s been cooking. Otherwise, the garlic will overcook and turn into rocks.

Step 7: Cook

Put in the oven at 500 degrees and cook for 1/2 hour. Decrease temperature to 350 and cover turkey with butter soaked cheesecloth. Baste with chicken broth right over the cheesecloth (to keep the cheesecloth moist). Cook until thermometer reads 161 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes, loosely covered with foil. Turkey will continue to cook, raising the temperature.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Grinches Who Stole Thanksgiving

The Cretishists (Christmas Fetishists) liked Christmas A LOT
But Thanksgiving, they believed, was a day best forgot
They should still get the day off from work, they said,
But it should be considered the First Feast of Christmas, instead.

The Commercialists thought that idea was fine, indeed
For Thanksgiving, they said, there really is no need
“Look,” they said, “We already have Halloween,
And then comes Christmas, so nothing in between!”

Even the Hearts joined in with the plan
They thought it a great way to stick it to The Man
They decided, in good conscience, they couldn’t recognize the day
That celebrated smallpox and the end of the Red Man’s way

The Cretishists had already removed from their town
Any evidence of other religions to be found
If you dared to say, “Happy Holidays” during the month of December
The punishment was your choice – die, or be dismembered

So to remove Thanksgiving would be simple, they thought
First remove anything Thanksgiving-related that could be bought
The others joined in, with the Hearts leading the show
“These porcelain Pilgrims are the first things to go!”

Cranberries, pumpkins, they threw them all away
Turkey platters, autumn flowers, scarecrows sitting on hay
“Autumn is really so October,” they sneered
They put up a Christmas tree and everybody cheered.

The night before what-was-Thanksgiving, they all went to bed
Satisfied that the former holiday was completely dead
They’d wake up early the next day for the Feast
Christmas was here! Let the sales begin! Wear red and green, at the least!

But when they woke up, they got a big surprise
They walked around, their mouths agape, they couldn’t believe their eyes
For the people from all over the land,
Sat at their tables, hand hooked to hand

They spoke of being with the people they love
They expressed their gratitude to the heavens above
“We have such bounty,” they all seemed to say
“And we’re going to stop, and be thankful, all through this day.”

And the Cretishists and the Commercialists, the Hearts et al
Were stumped – they hadn’t removed Thanksgiving at all!
No matter what they did, it still came!
Without pumpkin pie or pilgrims, it came just the same!

They puzzled and puzzled but then had to face
Maybe Christmas, they thought, is fine it its place
But maybe we can still find a reason
For not yet starting the Yuletide season

Maybe there’s a real need for a day to give Thanks
(And not just a day to close all the banks)
Perhaps our soul cries out to give gratitude each year
For all that we have, and all whom we love far and near.

So this Thankgiving Day, please remember its reason
Let the day be its own, and not merely the start of a season.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"Home for the Holidays"

If you haven't seen this movie, then get in the Thanksgiving spirit and go. rent. it. NOW.

It's marvelous. A story of a family with grown children. If you don't relate to at least some of it, then I am convinced you were raised by ... well, not wolves. Perfect people, perhaps.

It has so many funny moments, and so many sweet moments. Many that I relate to. And now, being parents, I relate not just to the experience of the adult children in the movie, but to the experience of the parents. Like when they're putting their daughter on a plane to return home and the dad (Charles Durning) says, "Look at that. We made that," to his wife.

Holly Hunter, Charles Durning, Anne Bancroft, Robert Downey Jr, Geraldine Chaplin, Dylan McDermott, David Straithairn in a really hilarious Sad Sack turn ... and directed by Jodie Foster .... you must must MUST rent this. Now. This week.

"Par, par, bogie, par, par." Tee-hee.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Deep Listening" covenant group

Wow. Mind-expanding session with no hallucinogens.

Our congregation is doing "Big Questions" covenant groups, that began this month. We have several of these groups meeting. We all have the same question and readings each month, but the group I facilitate is operating a little differently.

We're functioning as an "orthodox covenant group," if you will. Meaning: absolutely no cross-talk, speaking only from your own experience, taking several breaths of silence after each person speaks, before someone else speaks. It's a way of really being able to focus on what the other folks are saying, without interrupting or having your mind race with what you'll say when the person is done speaking.

We agreed at the end of tonight's meeting that it can be challenging -- but is absolutely worth it. The process takes what can already be a powerful time and transforms it even further.

Our question tonight was the bland-sounding, "What does God look like?" In this venue, it took on a life of its own. I won't even try to summarize all that was said, but ooooh, I'm feeling so grateful to be in the group. The "oneness" of us all, why it's easier to see the divine spark in others than it is to see it looking (literally) in the mirror ... lots of great insights and visualizations from my group members.

Totally, totally, totally what I needed.

I have already been playing Christmas music. There. I said it.

And right now, Yet Another Unitarian Universalist has me thinking about UU themes in Christmas music.

The song that I think is the quintessential UU holiday song isn't a hymn, and wasn't (I don't think) written by a Unitarian. Christmas by Blues Traveler. We used it, in a poetic way, for a holiday service one year. We had a marvelous singer/guitarist, who divided up the song, singing the less hopeful part at the beginning of the service, followed by the children giving silent tableaux with appropriate songs for the major holidays, then he ended the program with the second half of the song. It made nice bookends.

Here's the song. If you haven't heard it, find a download. I love it, not only for mentioning different holidays, but also for that deep feeling that I think so many of us have had. The longing for something bigger and encompassing. "I was hoping for a miracle to hold me, wash me. Save me from my righteous doubt as I watch helpless And everybody sings."


Comes the time for Christmas
And I really have to ask
If this is feeling merry
How much longer must it last
I wish a one horse open sleigh
Would come carry me away
But I've been waiting here all day
And one just hasn't come my way
Now excuse me if I'm not being reverent
But I was hoping for a miracle to hold me, wash me
Save me from my righteous doubt as I watch helpless
And everybody sings
If it's Chanukah or Kwanzaa
Solstice, harvest or December twenty-fifth
Peace on earth to everyone
And abundance to everyone you're with
Laha da da da da da
Da da da da da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da da
Laha da da da da
Laha da da da da
Comes the time for Christmas
And as you raise your yuletide flask
There's like this feeling that you carry
As if from every Christmas past
It's as if each year it grows
It's like you feel it in your toes
And on and on your carol goes
Harvesting love among your woes
I want to buy into the benevolent
And I was hoping for a miracle to hold me, wash me
Make me know what it's about
As the longing in me makes me want to sing
Noel or Navidad
Season celebration or just the end of the year
Christmas can mean anything
And I mean to keep its hope forever near
Laha da da da da da
Da da da da da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da da da
Laha da da da da
Laha da da da da
As if a cold and frozen soul is warm to love
By love's own hand
So goes the prayer if for a day peace on earth
And good will to man
At twenty below the winter storm it billows
But the fire is so warm inside
And the children while nestled in their pillows
Dream of St. Nicholas's ride
And how the next day they'll get up and they will play
In the still falling Christmas snow
And together we'll celebrate forever
In defiance of the winds that blow
My god in heaven now I feel like I'm seven
And spirit calls to me as well
As if Christmas had made the winter warmer
Made a paradise from what was hell
As if a cold and frozen soul is warm to love
By love's own hand
So goes the prayer if for a day peace on earth
And good will to man.......
I wish a one horse open sleigh would come carry me away
And I'll keep waiting through next may
Until Christmas comes my way.

Monday, November 13, 2006

10 Random Things ...

Okay, I've ignored tags and postings of this one, but now, Imperfect Genius's post on "10 Random Things About Me" has me in navel-gazing mode ...

1. I met The Husband on the fencing team. He was a foil fencer, I was an epée fencer, back when few females were. I wasn't great, but I was okay. I qualified for nationals, but didn't have the money to go. Which is fine. I would have been slaughtered. I think I was never great because I didn't have a killer instinct. Now that I have kids, I think I could summon it up.

2. Starting at age 13, I spent about 4 Christmases in the Bahamas. It wasn't until the last time, when my newlywed husband came with us, that I actually liked it. All the other times, I would have preferred to stay home and have a traditional Christmas.

3. ... Which we never really had, anyway. I was a "surprise" baby (Mom thought she was going through early menopause) and my siblings were pretty much grown. So, Christmases were usually just the three of us, and Mom had "been there, done that" on big Christmases with her first litter. And Dad hates Christmas. Yes, I know. Hard to figure out why I have four kids and do the big-hoopla Christmas now that I'm an adult.

4. I think artichokes are the most wonderful food in the world. Where I live, it's hard to get a big, round, delicious one, but when I do, I'm in heaven. I make all kind of sauces for them, including hollandaise, but my favorite is plain ole Wish-Bone Italian dressing.

5. I have really long hair and spend too much money on "hair toys." But have learned that the best shampoos/conditioners are usually the cheapest -- like Suave naturals -- because they don' t have "cones" (silicones and whatnot) in them, which dry out your hair.

6. When my kids and I leave each other, one says, "May the spirit of love go with you," and the other responds, "And with you."

7. I'm about 30 lbs overweight but because I was skinny til I started having kids, I don't really see myself the way I am. Kind of like the fat kid who always sees himself as fat, no matter how much weight he loses. I probably think I look skinnier than I do.

8. I was a Resident Assistant in college. I wasn't a very good one, because my attitude was, "if you're going to have boys over or drink, do it in your room where I can't see you."

9. I began college on a drama scholarship. Towards the end of my freshman year, I looked around at all the kids in my class, posturing grandly about "motivation," and decided in one swift moment that I didn't want to spend my life around people like that. The only time I look back is when I'm watching the Tony awards. Wouldn't trade the life I have for it, though.

10. I play guitar and write music. In great irony, last Christmas I wrote a song for my husband, where the chorus was, "I already got everything on my Christmas list." Less than a month later, we got the diagnosis. I told him I wasn't ever going to write him another song. I didn't mean it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

UU Bloggers and TV

Happy Cindy asks, what do UU Bloggers watch?

I enjoy seeing what others watch. Just last Sunday, I mentioned in my sermon that yes, some UU's do occasionally turn off NPR and watch television.

My answers:

Do you have cable?
DirecTV with tivo.

Do you have a television in more than one room?
One in the living room, one in the game room. None in the bedrooms. Nevah!

Do you watch television on your computer?

What are your favorite shows?
Shalom in the Home
Grey's Anatomy
Gilmore Girls
Good Eats
Daily Show/Colbert
America's Test Kitchen
Little People, Big World

What old[er] shows do you love to watch in re-run?
Cosby Show ... while grumbling that no one can make a modern family sitcom wherein the parents aren't idiots and the kids aren't allowed to be smart-asses

What are favorite shows you hate to admit to?
Guiding Light -- the 5 minute "are there any storylines I want to watch" version
Oprah, the arbiter of What's Going On In America

As I think I mentioned in a previous post ... I recently realized that I enjoy TIVOing through my wishlist words to see what shows come up, more than I do actually watching the shows.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Trying not to imagine what might have not been

I can't imagine how large the hole in my heart would have been, if I were planning the holidays right now with LW gone.

Thank God that with everything we've been through, I can't imagine that.

Not that it doesn't hurt, just thinking about how I can't imagine it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

But still, he sings

I've felt insecure about my voice ever since I was a kid. I LOVE music and love to sing but like many folks, I worry that my voice isn't perfect. Egad, I might hit a wrong note!

I always thought it patently unfair that I wasn't gifted with a beautiful singing voice. Someone who loves music as much as I do, who writes music, shouldn't be saddled with a small note range! Lovely, dulcet tones should ring from my mouth, like Sleeping Beauty singing to the forest animals.

Forget perfect voice. I have something better. I love music and it's part of a full life for me.

Three cases in point:

* I saw Barbra Streisand, in an interview with Ellen Degeneres, say that she doesn't like to sing. Not only that, she doesn't like to listen to music!

* Barry Manilow loves music, but apparently, nothing else. He said in an interview (forgive me, I can't remember who with -- Oprah?) -- that he doesn't like to eat. Not that he tries to diet, or doesn't like certain foods ... he doesn't like the act of eating. Period.

* I just saw Beverly Sills on The View. She said she hasn't sung since she was in her 50s, when her voice was still awesome. Doesn't even sing in the shower. Because, she says, she wants to remember her voice as it was.

Oh. My. God. This is so sad to me. And boy, does it present a different view for me. Would I give up my love and enjoyment of music to have a great voice? No way, Josefina.

My hero is Pete Seeger. For many reasons. I grew up listening to his music, following his good works. Was crushed that I couldn't see him at GA, but LW was less than a month old.

Pete Seeger has grown older, and as he will share, his voice has grown weaker.

But still, he sings.

Me, too.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting with 4 Kids

After my two "school-budders" returned home this afternoon, we all went to vote. Call me corny, but I like the idea of them actually seeing me vote. I can remember going behind the curtain with my mama.

On the way there, we talked about what a privilege it is, to be able to vote. A privilege and a right. I very carefully told them, "I get to go vote," not "I have to go vote."

On the way home, the eldest and I talked about how I don't trust the electronic voting. He just had the experience of a hacker messing with one of his online game accounts, so he could understand the potential for fraud.

Just another day in the life of a mom.

I think we'll skip St. Lucia Day

As I've mentioned before, I am a holiday nut. (Hazel.) I love learning about Yule traditions in other countries. As a kid, I read about children celebrating St. Lucia day in Sweden, in the marvelous Maria Gripe books.

Well, you can order a battery-operated crown for fairly cheap, and wouldn't that be a neat thing to add to our December, our eldest daughter, in nightgown and crown, serving coffee and special buns to the rest of the family? Like a fairy princess.

Okay, so let me learn a little about the origins, so I can teach the kids.

Um, eek. The different versions of the story change in details, but the basic storyline running through all is that Lucia was supposed to marry someone, she refused, then either her eyes were removed or her throat slashed, or both. Religious faith and a vow to remain a virgin also enter into it. And a burning attempt.

I don't think I can see a lovely way to spin that one.

Monday, November 06, 2006

She Shoots -- She Scores!

You know how Peter Parker was bit by a radioactive spider and developed superpowers?


Now, LW didn't receive any radiation -- thank God -- but those chemos, mebbe they have some special side-effects.

My husband thinks that it's just that LW felt so bad for 6 months, so now, feeling normal feels SO DYNAMIC that she's on fire with energy and enthusiasm.

Thus far this morning, she has climbed up on top of the kitchen table about 25 times, risked death by nearly falling off of said table about 24 times (and I probably wasn't looking the other time), put her teddy bear in the toaster oven, attempted to call China, put the telephone in the toaster oven, and for her proudest moment ...

Mom went potty. Mom stood up. Mom reached behind and flushed the toilet. At that exact nanosecond, LW tossed a rubber bracelet through Mom's legs, into the toilet, where it instantly was, to quote the movie title, Flushed Away.

It's only 9:30.

p.s. Did I mention that I'm trying to clean house, prep food, go to the grocery, since my parents just got in town and are coming over for dinner later? Of course.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Haggard: A UU Mother's View

I will admit to watching the whole Haggard thing with a jaundiced eye. Really, don't most of us wonder, "gee, is he protesting too much?" when someone keeps railing about the sin of homosexuality?

But today, reading the letter he sent to his congregation, I found myself looking at the situation from the point of view of what I am -- a mama.

"There is part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life," he wrote.

The idea that one of my children could hold that sort of self-hatred inside ... my god, it sinks my heart.

I'm not going to get into all complexities -- hypocrisy, infidelity, etc. Others will comment on that.

But the idea that this man (I assume) grew up being taught that to be gay was so evil ... "repulsive," the word he used ... it physically hurts me, thinking of him holding that belief in his heart, while the attraction he felt was for men. The loathing he must have had and has, for himself.

My babies ... love and yeah, lust, are such an important part of what makes life rich. To hate yourself for that. To be disgusted by yourself. To think yourself evil.

According to, "Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, one of three pastors named Sunday to counsel Haggard and his family, issued a statement Friday saying he was 'heartsick' upon learning of Haggard's admissions."

I am, too. But for a very different reason.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

From Bishop Spong:

I love this so much, I'm printing it out to meditate on:

"I do not experience God as a supernatural power, external to life invading my world in supernatural power. I see no evidence to think this definition is real. The problem is that most people have most deeply identified this definition of God with God that when this definition dies the victim of expanded knowledge, we think that God has died."

Go Back to What You Love ...

In my case, Matthew 25:35.

Sermon is done, and done to my satisfaction.

Now, to find that children's story ...

Back in the Pulpit

I actually used to want to go in the pulpit?


Lizard Eater goes back in the pulpit for the first time in a year, tomorrow morning. It was going to be back in September, but things got moved around and I was more than happy to put it off.

So, I'm sitting here, looking at a sermon I've written and considering tossing it and starting completely over from scratch. Except I don't know what I want to write about.

I think I'll sit here and stare at our Principles.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Procrastination Meme

Hopping from Happy Feminist and Chalice Chick ...

Explain what ended your last relationship? Romantic relationship? Let's see, that was a million years ago ...
When was the last time you shaved? Yesterday morning
What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.? Getting 2 kids out the door and feeding two others
What were you doing 15 minutes ago? Discussing new wine with The Husband
Are you any good at math? I'm great at getting the computer to do math.
Your prom night, what do you remember about it? My mom acted cool by letting me have a co-ed slumber party. No alcohol, ice cream sundaes, and she and my Dad kept walking through the living room all night. So, cool but nerdy. Smart parent.
Do you have any famous ancestors? Patrick Henry.
Have you had to take a loan out for school? Nope, thanks to waiting tables and being an RA.
Last thing received in the mail? The aforementioned wine.
How many different beverages have you had today? water, skim milk, and cocoa.
Do you ever leave messages on people’s answering machine? Yes.
Who did you lose your CONCERT virginity to? Pink Floyd
Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach? No. But I bury my feet.
What’s the most painful dental procedure you’ve had? Ask me in 6 months, after I've gone and had a total overhaul.
What is out your back door? Tall pine trees.
Any plans for Friday night? Filling out this meme. After that, watching a show with kids and Husband.
Do you like what the ocean does to your hair? Ick.
Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns? Yup.
Have you ever been to a planetarium? No. Huh.
Do you re-use towels after you shower? Yup. Especially the one Aquis towel I own for my hair.
Some things you are excited about? Huh. Huh .... wow, that's weird. Can't think of anything. I think I'm afraid of excitement right now.
What is your favorite flavor of JELL-O? Ewww.
Describe your keychain(s)? Store tags.
Where do you keep your change? Cup in the laundry room.
When was the last time you spoke in front of a large group of people? Been about a year. Will do it for the first time since last year, this Sunday.
What kind of winter coat do you own? A big thick warm ugly one my Mom got me, and a sleek London Fog trench that my Mom says is too tight on me.
What was the weather like on your graduation day? Hot and sunny, both HS and college.
Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed? Open, so we can hear the kiddoes.

Holy Secret Identity, Batman!

Chutney has me thinking about blogging anonymously, which I do. Well, somewhat anonymously. I've been involved in our denomination and in my district, and we're a pretty small pond. Thankfully, there are not too many UU theology students who have a baby daughter diagnosed with cancer.

My reason for anon-bloggin is slightly different than most folks. I wanted to be utterly, nauseatingly honest with the journey I'm on, especially after LW was diagnosed. I couldn't find any blogs written by the parent of a cancer-kid, other than ones created to keep their families in the loop of how treatment was going.

So, I picked up my old theology blog and took it in a different direction. Many times, my blog is mostly a diary that just so happens to be made public. That's why I don't respond to all the comments. I love the comments, though. They're read and reflected on.

But back to honesty and anonymity. I know myself, and I knew that if I blogged with my name, or knew that people I knew were reading it, it would affect what I wrote. Rather than writing that I feel lost and alone, I'd be writing about how much I appreciate the bundt cake that Aunt Marjorie sent me.

Like I wrote above, it wouldn't be difficult to figure out my identity. But if anyone who knows me "in real life" has found my blog, they have been very kind and not let me know.

I appreciate that.

Godlessness and Moral Values

"Gov. Rick Perry in a closed meeting Thursday told African-American ministers in Houston that government has an important function in promoting strong moral values and saving children from a "culture of godlessness."

"It's a ridiculous notion to say you cannot legislate morality," Perry told the ministers."

The Rev. Ted Haggard, the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals and one of the nation’s most influential Christian leaders, admitted today that he had purchased the illegal drug methamphetamine from a gay escort in Denver, but denied that he ever had sex with the man."


Because the culture of "godfullness" is inherently more moral.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Mystery of Mr. Boyd

When the character of Mr. Boyd first appeared on "Barney," he was the school principal.

Now, he's the janitor.

What did he do to be so demoted???

Merry Christmas

Well, according to the stores. Forget the smell of roasting chestnuts and sound of bells ... the first signs of Christmas are related to the stores. Last night, while watching a Halloween episode of some show, I caught my first glimpse of ... a Christmas commercial. This one for Walmart. And today, in the grocery stores fliers, ingredients for making Christmas goodies are on sale.

Philosophically, I'm against this type of "hurry to the next holiday" syndrome. Can't we just take things slowly? But pragmatically, I understand it. I know that I like to get my shopping done early, which means others probably do, and if you own a store, you want to get my business.

And ... I hate to admit it ...

But I got a little tingle looking at the ads for cinnamon and baking powder.

Now, this year, I have a little extra reason for that. We had a fantastic Christmas last year. Tons of family in, everyone having a good time. The kind of Christmas everyone looks back on and says, "Remember Christmas 2005? That was a real special one."

Well, we had no idea how special. When my mother and I commented on how petite Little Warrior was, compared to her siblings at that age, we had no hint that it was because two tumors were there inside her, sucking up all of the nutrients we put in her body. When my parents left after the holidays, we had no idea that they'd be back within three weeks, to stay for months.


Okay, I'm back.

During the worst of it, I looked back at the holidays and got some measure of comfort saying, "Well, at least we had a great Christmas."

This year, I'm aware of it all. I'm aware that we can't know what challenges lie ahead, or what sorrow. So I can't give in with total abandon and innocence to the holiday. But maybe that just means that I'll appreciate it more. Every commercial, glitter-coated moment.

Throwing a Halloween Party -- Roll With It, Baby

2 hours to party time, your oft-repeated phrase should become, "That's okay."

When you discover that using both your extra oven and your deep fryer cause a breaker to be thrown, you say, "That's okay," and make a decision which one is more important. And scratch the foods to be made in the other.

When you realize that the yard people have bagged up and thrown away all of the pine needles that you carefully laid down in the muddy part of the yard ... sigh, and "That's okay."

When, two hours into the party, you realize that 75% of the adults and 100% of the kids have gone outside, right through the mud, then tracked it all over your carpeted house ... "That's okay." That's what vacuum cleaners and carpet machines are for.

If you simply accept that you are no longer in control, you'll have a much better time. As will your guests. And they'll be amazingly tolerant. Lizard Eater was taking a pan of jambalaya-filled crepe pockets out of the oven when she received a phone call. Somehow, in all the craziness, the pan fell, dumping the crepes out on the floor. She came back from her phone call to learn that the guests had unanimously decided that the 3 second rule was in effect, and not only had they picked all the crepes up, they'd even eaten them.

The Human Element:

It's not just your party. For anyone who comes to the party, the party becomes part of their story, and thus, their party.

For a costume party, this is even more of an issue. You've got folks who have spent a lot of time and energy (maybe even money) on their costumes. In their version of the party, everyone notices their costume. Be sensitive to that -- notice their costume, comment on it. There will be at least one person for whom it is not just a costume -- they actually inhabit that character for the night. Let them have their fun, and honor the make-believe.

Some more "roll with it" -- someone will probably bring you flowers. Have a vase easily accessible. Don't stop what you're doing -- just get the vase out and let them arrange it.

You'll have some folks bring really special contributions to the feast -- put them in a place of honor, and make sure that the giver hears you tell others, "Oh, be sure and try the roasted-peach-plums that Mary brought. They're divine!" Everyone likes strokes.

You will also have someone who brings a container of grocery store fried chicken and plunks it next to the cut-glass bowl of hors d'oevres. Just remember, "That's okay." Smile. It'll get eaten.

Have a notepad and some pens handy. Someone, at some point, is going to want you to email them a recipe, or they'll want to exchange contact information with someone they talked to, who, it so happens, provides exactly the business service they need.

Biggest Party Hosting Tip Ever: Smile. No matter what. We've probably all been to an event where the host looked frazzled and stressed out. Hard to have fun, seeing that. Makes you feel guilty. But if the host is smiling and obviously having fun, you can kick back and have fun. No matter what.

And maybe even eat some food off the floor.