Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Thank You to Fellow Bloggers

Ah, the end of the year. The one thing I'm not doing is listing any resolutions or any plans. Last year, Christmas '05, my family sat around my dining table and spoke of our plans. A trip in the spring for my parents, going back to seminary for me, etc.

God said Ha.

But I will use this time for some blogging thank you's. I am a bit fearful to do this -- I know I will miss someone who has written just the right thing at the right time for me. So, as we say in church, "we honor both the spoken and unspoken words ..."

Thank you, Anne, for your plucky spirit, wild life (compared to this sedate mom) and awesome sense of humor.

Thank you, Boobless Brigade Master, for your in-your-face attitude that I learn from and seek to emulate.

Thank you, Philocrites, for keeping me in the greater world of UU thought, even during the time I couldn't attend my church or seminary.

Thank you, iMinister, for making me feel like I had a minister keeping an eye out for me, and a hand outstretched for when I fell.

Thank you, Peacebang, for challenging me both in the theological and appearance arenas.

Thank you, RevSean, for saying nice things. Nice is undervalued in some places. It is not here.

Thank you Nancy, for sharing your journey with your son. I know that if we lived next door to each other, we'd be great friends, and constantly in mischief.

Thank you, Chalice Chick, for being my "Yeah, yeah!" blogger friend. So many of your posts have me saying, "Yeah, what SHE said!"

And to all of you whose blogs I have visited, and those who have visited mine, being an observer to this journey.

Happy New Year. May 2007 find you and yours in good health, with the only surprises good ones. And laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.

Friday, December 29, 2006

I don't want to take down the Christmas tree.

We need to take it down.

For one thing, we got it Thanksgiving weekend and it's quite dried out.

For another thing, we're having friends over New Year's Eve/New Year's Morning and we could really use the space in the living room. Not to mention moving the other chair back in here.

Plus, we have so many other holiday decorations, whittling off some of the work for Monday would be nice.

But if we take down the Christmas tree, it means Christmas is over.

If Christmas is over, then January is just about here.

And January is our next round of doctors' appointments, CT and MRI.

And January 06 was when it all began.

I don't want to take down the Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Yuletide Wrap-Up: On Dealing with the Calorie-Phobic

There were a few bumps this holiday, as there were all over the country. Nothing as dramatic as Uncle Billy getting drunk and accidentally shooting the cat. Just your average annoyances.

Since those hiccups did, however, take away a bit of my enjoyment, I am trying to think of "how will I deal differently with this next year?"

First issue at hand: those who love to eat good food, but then spend all their time talking about how fat they are, and how things are so delicious, so they have no willpower, and how they hate themselves for being fat*, and by the way, LE, you might be interested in LA Weight Loss or Jenny Craig -- I have a friend who did that and lost 30 lbs in 3 days!

Lizard Eater stopped midbite where she had been happily minding her own business to give the person a "that's not going to happen" smile.

So, next year: in addition to the cookies and homemade truffles and all the yummies that only are made once a year, there will be a prominently-labeled container of prepared raw veggies -- carrots, sliced red bell peppers, celery, radishes, oh lots of good stuff.

At the beginning of the holiday, a formal announcement will be given, stating the location of said container, and the expectation that if one feels inclined to moan about the calories of any treat, they are to immediately go to the raw veggie box and fill their mouth. (And shut the hell up.)

* One good effect -- it made LE (who is 30 lbs overweight) and The Husband (who is a little less buff than he'd like to be) agree that to hate one's self over weight is the height of vanity and shallowness. Especially when the person in question is exceedingly fit, and is stressing over a 2 lb difference in her normal physique. If you're going to hate yourself, lawsy, let it be for something more interesting, like your predilection for shooting housepets while intoxicated.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Yuletide Wrap-Up: Yule Ritual

Gathering all my thoughts up, much like the toys, gift bags, product instructions and other holiday detritus that are scattered around our living room.

Pre-Christmas: On Friday, I led our first ever Winter Solstice Ritual up at church. Though I wouldn't describe myself as "exclusively" a Pagan anymore, I went through an extended amount of time where my spiritual energies were focused on Wicca, so I have more than a passing acquaintance with it. Fast forward to the present, when a mother in the congregation asked if I would talk to her teenage son about Wicca, who evinced an interest. Really smart, interesting young man -- the combination of my interest being reawakened, added to more new folks coming to the church who had that bent, topped with the teen's interest, led to the service.

It was terrific.

About twice as many people showed up as I expected. One part of the ritual was really, really lovely. I stole it from an online source, perhaps from a UU congregation, but can't remember now, who. Whomever, I thank you.

We had "personal" candles held, one for every couple of people. One yellow candle in the middle of the altar represented the sun. All of these were lit. I had some words about the longest day of the year, and how ancient peoples perhaps didn't know that the sun would return. Some words about loss. Gee, why did that appeal to me? And we went around the circle and those who wished to, were invited to share what they had lost during the past year. For me: "Loss of innocence. Loss of a feeling of protection. Loss of a personal connection to the divine." One by one, as each couple finished, the candles were extinguished. Lastly, I snuffed the sun candle and introduced a few minutes of silence for us to think about these losses.

Then, I lit the sun candle and invited those holding the personal candles to relight them from it. I had some words about the promise of the sun returning, the promise of a new year. We went around the circle, speaking of the promises we could see. Mine: "The promise of health for my family. The promise that we can now turn our energies to our dreams and goals."

Really lovely.

Magic moment: at the end of the entire ritual, (which was a definite end, there wasn't anything inconclusive about it), everyone stayed put. "Um, go in Peace ..." I said. Again, no one moved. After a couple of seconds, one woman said quietly, "I don't want to go." Everyone agreed, so we just sat for a few moments in silence.

Fixed "in a box" link

Bummer, I didn't have the correct "In a Box" link. It's fixed now.

Not kid friendly.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nothing says "Christmas" like male genitalia

I was already a fan of SNL's "Schweddy Balls" skit.

And now I have in a Box.


Emily: You are four.
Lorelai: And balls are funny.
-- Gilmore Girls

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmastimes A-Coming!

And all my inner Martha Stewart has gone out the window. Less than a week to go, so it's now time to start either getting things done or scratching them off the to-do list.

Now first, for anyone not familar with this treat, I offer up Oreo Truffles which are absolutely the most slack-azz thing you can make that are still yummy. Really yummy. Like, people won't guess how trashy it is.

Take a package of Oreos. Any Oreos. I've heard using the mint ones are terrific.

Run them through the food processor, or put in a plastic bag and beat the mistletoe out of 'em.

Toss the crumbs in your mixer with one package softened cream cheese. Mix til they're totally mixed, just one big black mess.

Roll into balls.


Toss a bunch of chocolate chips -- regular, milk, white, I don't care -- in a bowl in your microwave. Nuke for 30 seconds, stir, repeat til it's good and runny.

Take the chilled balls out and dip in the chocolate. Put on a cookie sheet and chill. Eat.

If you want to get fancy, take some chocolate of the opposite color, pop it in a baggie, and nuke til melted. Squiggle some over the truffles.

Pathetically easy. My kids think they're the greatest thing since tv.

Now is also the time of the season that both I and The Husband are patting me on the back. Some people like to wrap packages. I don't. I am obviously missing some key geometric gene, because I always wind up being one inch short on wrapping, or way too much, and my gifts look like Little Warrior wrapped them. Actually, hers might look better.

I don't like to sew, either, but I dislike it less than wrapping. Plus, I hate all that waste. All that work buying pretty paper and RIPPPP ... plus bagging up all the paper ... ugh.

So ... after Christmas one year, I went and bought lots of different Christmas fabrics for cheap. Sewed up what are basically pillowcases of every different size.

Which brings us back to this time of year. Toss the gift in a bag, tie on a ribbon. Done.

And Christmas day ... simply fold up the bags and box them away til next year.

How very Martha Birkenstewart.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Time to Hang Up the Cauliflower

The same daughter who referred to part of my anatomy as "mermaid" asked me this the other day:

"When are you going to hang up the cauliflower?"


"You know, you kiss under it."

I think you mean 'mistletoe.'

(Confused look). "Then what's cauliflower?"

I need to feed my kids more vegetables.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tonight, We Celebrate Hanukkah

Forget latkes.

We're frying catfish.

Good Ole Boys can light the menorah, too, you know.

For us, of course, it's just a little celebration we do, nothing big. No presents, those come with Christmas. Usually, we focus on the theme of being willing to fight for religious freedom. This year, not surprisingly, we'll focus on the theme of miracles.

The whole idea of miracles is an interesting one. It seems fairly innocuous, but it's a great way to start a fight. Everyone has a different definition of "miracle."

I'll admit to plastering on a fake smile, myself, when certain people have attributed Little Warrior's remission to "miracle." What, the amazing doctors were just along as witnesses?

But neither can I side with the black-and-white folks who assert that birth is not a miracle, it is a biological process; love is not a miracle, it is a way of keeping the species alive and functioning.

In the end, gratefulness wins out. We are blessed enough to live in a country with excellent medical care, to have insurance so we have access to that care, to wind up at the same hospital with a gifted surgeon who was willing to go into the emotional world of pediatric surgery, to be living in a city with good doctors and not out in the sticks, to have a baby whose body did not react poorly to treatment, and for her cancer to have been caught early in the process.

Oil that lasts 8 days. The above events.

I'll call them both milagro.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Pressure

I don't go in for the stereotypical mommy-Christmas-pressure ... "I must do a million things to make this the Best. Christmas. Ever!!!!" I learned early on that as long as they get a cool toy, get to watch Christmas shows with Mom and Dad and decorate a tree, anything else for my kids is gravy. What do they care if we don't have a "theme tree"? They want the ornaments they made in kindergarten on the tree.

But I will admit to having a bit of personal pressure. "Must-Enjoy-Every-Minute!"

See, I saw my parents lose a child. After my brother died, Christmas was never the same. They tried, they went through the motions, but it wasn't the same.

So, selfishly, I can't help that little voice in the back of my head (worm) that whispers ... "This might be your last Christmas with Little Warrior."

Some day, this will get easier. Or it won't, but I'll be used to it.

I'm so very grateful for what I have.

But ignorance and innocence were nice, too.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Conundrum

Eclectic Cleric has me thinking about small churches.

The issue: (In my opinion) Small churches who want to grow and learn how to operate in the most effective manner need an experienced, gifted minister.

The problem: Experienced, gifted ministers need to be paid. The small church doesn't have the money to pay for an experienced, gifted minister, so they wind up:

a) Getting a pt minister who is serving one or two other congregations
b) Get a new minister with little experience
c) Do a program such as extension ministry, which places new ministers, not experienced ones

I don't know what the answer is. It seems a vicious cycle ... you need to grow in order to afford a good minister, but you need a good minister in order to grow.

The main answer I've heard is more than a tad disingenuous -- "if your church wants a minister, then simply sacrifice and make it your top priority." This assumes a level of wealth that not all congregations have. It is the church version of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps and you, too, can be rich!"

Our small churches deserve better than that.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My 10 year old son just asked me what is the "n-word"?



Okay, it's a small step, but we're living in the same place I grew up. A place where, when my sister's best friend was valedictorian of high school, they decided that that year, they would have 5 "Valedictorians." Nelda was African-American, you see.

Somehow, my son made it to 10 years old with no inkling about the word.

The question was prompted not by the recent news, but because he's reading a book about dealing with bullies, and one of the things it talks about is people using racist language.

So, he and I talked about the word, and why something so "silly-sounding" (to him) carries such power.

"I don't think people still think like that," he informed me.

Oh honey.

I have to talk more about holiday music

Philocrites said so. The fact that it's currently one of my most favorite-est topics has nothing to do with it.

So, I present, Lizard Eater's guide to Holiday music.

For the person who loves guitar/really good folk music:
Bruce Cockburn, Christmas

For the Gen-Xer who loved those Christmas shows we grew up on: A Classic Christmas and A Classic Christmas, Too. Holey shamoley, they're out of print, and worth big bucks. I'm rich! Not that I'd ever let go of mine.

For your favorite lounge lizard: Christmas with the Rat Pack

Best Version EVER of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" -- Betty Carter and Ray Charles. (Not a Christmas album, but marvelous.)

Best Punk Christmas: Jingle Punx

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Unitarians Had Their Prophets, Too

From a 1947 sermon by A. Powell Davies (long before people were talking about "stem cells"):

If science in the United States ever became dominated by a reactionary government, or by a reactionary church, or by both together, the result could be just as unfortunate. Indeed, it could be disastrous. That is one of my reasons for advocating--as I have several times lately--that a scientific and civilian-minded regulation of science be set up while there is still time. Recent scientific discoveries have become so dangerous, and further discoveries are so certain to be more so, that it is inconceivable that public regulation can be long delayed. If it is not accomplished by scientists themselves, on a civilian basis of unconcealed and open regulation, it will surely be imposed tyrannically as soon as an emergency provides the opportunity.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Nipple - breast - MERMAID!

iBeth had a funny post about figuring out what her son meant by a boy-cheese sandwich. Funny-child stories are, of course, an Olympic event, and her story brought to mind one of mine:

When Bo Peep was a baby, The Princess would crawl up into bed with me in the morning and watch me nurse her. The Princess was 2 at the time, and wanted to know the name for absolutely everything. We don't do euphemisms for body parts, so when she would point to the different parts of my breast, I would give her the name --- nipple, breast, areola, etc.

So one day, she hops up and begins naming the parts ... "Nipple, breast, mermaid."


She repeated it ... "Nipple, breast, MERMAID."

It was only after a few days that I figured it out.

Those of you familiar with Disney's The Little Mermaid and the title character have probably already got it.

Title character: Ariel.