Thursday, February 28, 2008

OH NOSE! Iz Ben Tagged

Da Rulez

Rule 1) List three reasons for your blogging.
Rule 2) List the rules.
Rule 3) Tag three others with the thread.


a) I wanted to practice writing, to keep my hand in, and had begun to feel the need to go on (and on and on) in the comments on OP's blogs, which may have become an imposition, if it wasn't already. The solution was obvious; git yer own durned blog, so I did.

b) I feel even more a part of the kewl kidz group; y'all know who you are. I am bemused by the power of these virtual friendships to become real and lasting, even when we meet "in de flesh."

c)It's easier to be both immediate and more detached simultaneously, which in some cases I find to be a real advantage. In person, I tend to get excited and blurt things out without thinking them through; sometimes that bites my tush.

OK, that's one and two. As to three, play if ya wanna: don't feel ya gotta.

Crimson Rambler

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Joker to the Thief

There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the Joker to the Thief

Bob Dylan: "All Along the Watchtower"

Yeah; I'm in: where else?

Are we supposed to link to this blogswarm against the war thingie?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Everything Except Bread

Shopping was a day late this week, and I was out of everything, but Kathy the Baker (not an academy award winner, though she deserves it) couldn't make it up from the coast due to inclement weather, so I'm without baguettes and foccaccia; nonetheless, I shall try to struggle through somehow with the following resupplied (I can always make biscuits). Kathy is one of those mid-career professional dropouts who really should be said to have finally bloomed into her calling; she makes the best bread in Connecticut. I'd be a lot more open to a warmer climate if she ever (shudder) retires.

the list ( I don't make one, except as a "don't forget thing; I have to look and feel what's there)

fingerling potatoes
Red Chard
sugar snaps
lemon grass
haricots verts
D'anjou pears
a good English Cheddar
more Raclette & Fruli Romano (I made sauce last night)
bran muffins
a whole grain loaf
3 Scallops (1/2 lb.: beautiful)
a pound of Cod fillet
Sweet Italian sausage
1/2 lb. bacon
2 pork chops
whole grain pasta: Spagetti, Penne Rigate, Chiocciole (Bionaturae is the best tasting)

And potables

2005 Marsannay (Burgundy for the cellar: tasted in store; still too tight to drink)
2004 Jean Baptiste Adam Reisling D'Alsace Reserve
2006 D. Pedro De Soutomaior Albarino Bias Baixas (from Galicia, the part of Spain that's above Portugal: marvelous with seafood, especially shellfish)
Manzanilla Sherry
Tiz Red, a light California Red blend recommended by my merchant
2005 Les Cotes Dolt Cahors

I feel better with the larder at least partly filled

Friday, February 22, 2008


I usually met Sam on the red concrete steps at the rear entrance; it was the morning side and he liked the sun warming his beat-up old body after a rough night. Sam was gray--different shades--and missing most of one ear--the left, I think, and sometimes his fur was matted with blood from the evening's activities, but it's been nearly sixty years: I can't be sure. There was nothing at all gentle about Sam; I have no idea how many deaths he had in his past: a finite number, I'm sure, but who knows how many, counting rodents, birds, and other cats, most likely.

Sam was the first pet animal I knew: I was maybe four--but somehow "pet" doesn't quite fit--he was too independent for that, a child could see it. He stayed with my Uncle and Aunt across the street, or, at least, showed up for food and a nap in the sun on a regular basis. I don't remember Sam inside; he may have gone in at times for various reasons, but I see him always outside, usually in the back, in the sun, or stalking the quail in the lot next door, where my grandfather had planted blackberry bushes on the far side.

Despite his experience and general temperament, Sam was remarkably patient and forgiving with small children; I can remember hoisting him by his tail, as much as I could lift him off the steps (not much) and being looked at with a world weary cat's eye, as he waited for the experiment to cease, which only took a few seconds, given that he weighed about a third of what I did. An adult of any species would still have the scars. Animals clearly sense a difference between children and adults; Sam was the first to teach me that, and I haven't forgotten it.

RIP, old Tomcat

The Good of History

"History is bunk."
Henry Ford

"it is to interpret the past for the purposes of the present with a view to managing the future."
John Lewis Gaddis. The Landscape of History. Oxford. OUP: 2002

One of George W.'s less known, or at least less often referred to, "accomplishments" is his B.A. in History from Yale University, widely known as one of the world's great universities, at which, co-incidentally, Professor Gaddis teaches. It is easy to take this record of a past event as evidence in support of Ford's comment; on Gaddis's side, one might easily object that it could as easily have been in Molecular Biology or Quantum Mechanics, if one notes a) most faculty at Yale know a trap when they see it and, b) there is nothing a University won't do to keep powerful Alumni happy. I confess I have given passing grades to undergraduates for work I would have been ashamed of in Junior High; it didn't seem entirely fair to let them get that far and then introduce standards.

One of the best Chroniclers of the Indochina Wars, Frances Fitzgerald, did a study of American History textbook publishing in the late Seventies: America Re-visited, in which she noted that large school districts, such as Dallas or Chicago, in conjunction with publishers' marketing reps, drive the content of secondary school texts. The academics listed as authors of these books often have had little to do with that content for a decade or more, as it undergoes successive revisions, which are done by lesser known academics or educational specialists unfamiliar with the field. At best these often are bland, "balanced", and inoffensive to any conceivable demographic: in short, terrifyingly dull. They also are often triumphalist, jingoistic, right-wing crap which pass on the usual lies about the American past. I keep one of these, published in 1981, called History of a Free People; I withhold the publisher and authors' names here to avoid singling out only one guilty party.

This is not a rant about the abysmal ignorance of U.S. secondary school and college graduates; there are enough of those, showing us how many voters cannot find the Middle East, much less Iraq, on a map. It is partly a response to Howard Zinn's article in the Progressive, to which Jane R. at ActsofHope provides a helpful link. (How many times must I say it? You should be reading it; there's a link to the right: use it.) Zinn argues all the attention and fuss about the presidential race is a waste of time--just vote; it takes two minutes, and tiny differences between candidates may make a big difference--when we should be working before and after to drive the winner to more just and sensible policies. But how can we perform that most important task if we don't know our present circumstances? And how can we know that unless we know where we came from and how we got here: not the usual boring nonsense, but the truth? How can we make things better if we've no idea of what better actually is?

It's also partly personal, a justification for posting memories that I suspect many readers simply don't know how to react to, except with sorrow and anger that such things happen, and so many people need to deny. It's only a few bad apples at the bottom of the barrel, after all, just some genetically challenged hillbilly woman: nothing to see. To me, sharing painful memories is not only a matter of personal healing; in fact, I do not believe I will be fully healed until I may see an impact on my community and my country. I have learned to deal with them well enough for now, more or less, but, until school boards start to insist on History as it really was ("Es ist etwas engentlich gewesen"), until reporters and editors start to challenge candidates who play fast and loose with the facts, and write about what they know, and not what they get handed to them by a flack, and until those candidates suffer less for telling the truth than for lying through their teeth for political gain, until then, we need to tell, and hear, the truth, lest reality tear our lies from us fiercely, all at once, and we then mourn the consequences.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

True War Stories

One of the good parts about being a veteran is the stories you get to hear that most civilians miss. I've been in a Yoga class at the Vets Center for the last six weeks or so; one of the other vets is a young woman, who I figured was an Iraq War Vet, given her age. Tonight she talked about her recent experience.

She'd been a truck driver in the Reserves or the Guard, but had been inactive for five years, had a couple of kids, and was proceeding with her life when she gets a phone call; they're calling her up for Iraq: report in thirty days. The 1-800 people tell her her choice is ten years in federal prison and a $300K fine, or Iraq, so she kisses the kidz and goes.

After a year of driving convoys (definitely one of the best ways to get KIA or seriously screwed up) she gets a conference call from Administrative HQ in Missouri, with her Colonel and First Sergeant listening in; she hasn't signed a military contract: she is, in reality, a civilian. She swears and carries on, but it's true. Her unit offers her $90K to sign up, on the spot, for another year's chance to get killed or maimed, which she declines. Her company commander orders her to get ready for the night's convoy. Sure, a**hole, and I'm gonna take a video of everything that happens, including your orders, OK? So she gets mandatory anger management classes four nights a week until they figure out a way to get her to Quatar where she waits for a couple of weeks, until the Air Force takes pity on this Army orphan and gets her a commercial flight stateside. They do ask her to unload her M-16, but then tell her to board the aircraft, automatic weapon and all. However, when she gets to Baltimore, they do make pay nearly $500. to get all her gear (with M-16? I missed that, but I'll follow up if anybody wants me to do so) home to Massachusetts, where she's now in a Vets support group (women) and trying to get her benefits for some time now, with the help of the Disabled American Veterans. (Note: it's nearly impossible to get any benefits without the help of a trained Service Officer,; with such aid it only takes a couple of years, in my case to get an upgrade, not to get benefits started. I'd been in that process since 1998).

We laugh about these things among ourselves because we know they're true, no matter how outlandish and ridiculous they seem. Indeed, the crazier the story, the more likely it is to be sober fact. I just thought it might help some of you civilians to know these things; OCICBW.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Quang Tri, Summer, 1968

The date is my best recollection; it could have been my birthday, for all I remember. We were set up in an old French fort of poured concrete buildings with corrugated metal roofs, all above ground. It formed a square roughly 200m. on a side, with an earth berm and bunkers surrounding the buildings on the perimeter, and an open area just outside for Hueys, the smaller scout choppers (OH-13s, if you care) were parked between the perimeter and the hooch next door.

In the early afternoon, a 3/4 ton truck drove up outside our hooch, its markings & paint identifying it as from the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam (South--our "allies"), or ARVN: in this case from the National Police Field Force (NPFF). We sometimes had to go on missions they were involved in: they'd surround a village, pick out a few people, and start beating them, etc., and we'd watch, helpless to control them. Their national commander was a close ally of President Ky; he's the one in the famous photograph shooting a bound prisoner in the head at point blank range. I usually call them "Gestapo", but they're actually closer to Ordnungpolizei, the field units who rounded up the Jews of Europe.

Two of the NPFF were in the back, which was covered; momentarily they flung something out over the tailgate as if they were unloading sacks of grain: about a five foot drop. It was the body of a woman in a coma. They explained to one of the ARVN Interpreters who were attached to our teams that some one in her village had stated, probably under duress, that she had a relative with the NLF (the enemy). They had questioned her by tying her and turning her upside down in a big earthenware jar of water, then releasing her long enough to ask her a few questions before repeating the process. The last time, she didn't re-gain consciousness, so, having no further use for her, they brought her to us.

I don't remember having much of a reaction at the time, other than "Why us, dammit?" The MPs decided to hold her for "observation" to see if she came out of it; I suppose they called in a medic, but it wasn't my job, so I didn't pay too much attention. There was no point in objecting to any of this--it was "costs of war"; anyone I could have informed could see it as readily as I. The MPs put her in the back of their facility--an barbed wire enclosure with pallets and a tent with the sides up where she was tended by several other female detainees. She hadn't re-gained consciousness when she left about Noon the next day.

I didn't do anything; I was only there to see. And, if it isn't torture, why do I still see the truck, and the heat and light of the day, and the "cage" where detainees were kept by the MPs? Why do I feel stained? How can so many people know about these things and shrug them off or justify them as merely "psychological" or "legal stress?" And, when atrocities are reported--whether they be historical as with the working class Social Democrats from Hamburg in Ordnungspolizei 101, or as current as the present government of the United States--how can we shrug, and go on, and later say, "We didn't know."

Why I Worked For His Opponent

From Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury site,

"It is not like putting burning coals on people's bodies. The person is in no real danger. The impact is psychological."
-- Sen. Joe Lieberman, after voting against a bill prohibiting waterboarding

If this evil scum (CT-Likud) had to deal with memories of waterboarding victims for forty years, I don't think he'd be so quick to venture an opinion on matters he knows absolutely nothing about. However, judging from this week's vote on S.2248, it appears to be a majority view in Congress. Under the "leadership" of Sen. Rockefeller, the Senate caved to Cheney's long-term goal of gutting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, passed in the aftermath of the Indochina Wars; government officials may no longer be sued for violations of civil rights, such as drowning someone a drop at a time.

Imagine being helpless, fighting as hard as you can to breathe, and getting nothing but water in your lungs as they gradually fill up, and you lose consciousness again, only to be awakened for a repeat. Try it on for a day or so. then tell me it aint torture. "Psychological" my ass: psycho.

"Torture is something that happens to other people." It just happens: no good people decide to do such things to other human beings and carry them out in secret and then lie about it. Nothing to get upset about; it's for your "security"; you do feel more secure, don't you?

Thanks to Paul at BB for the story on FISA and for keeping this issue going; it's too personal for me to do so very often, but sometimes I gotta.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Different Cheeses in the House Quiz

What's in yer house right now? Here's mine,


Fruli Pecorino Romano

Gorganzola Dulce


Petit Basque (sheep's milk)

Raclette: a Swiss good for melting

Friday, February 15, 2008

Simple Fish Stew

2 lbs. Monkfish, cut into medallions, approx. 3/4" thick

4 medium red potatoes, 3/4" dice

2 sweet onions, (Walla Walla, Vidalia, etc.) chopped

Butter for sauteing, approx. 4 Tbl.

Milk or Cream, depending on your concern for your arteries


Red Pepper flakes or Saffron

In a 4-6 qt. heavy covered pan or pot, Sweat the onions in 2 Tbl. butter. Saute the Fish in the remaining butter separately for a minute or two and add to onions. Add just enough milk, with a little cream, to barely cover. Add salt and pepper flakes or Saffron (Not both!) Cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes, then add potatoes, and cook until tender. Serve with green salad, crusty bread, and a nice unoaked Chardonnay. I'm also thinking maybe a Spanakopita style popover, with spinach, egg, lemon, and nutmeg would be good.

It's almost ready, so I'm outta here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


My mama was not a gourmet cook; she worked with what she knew, which was plain down home Southern cooking--no herbs nor spices to speak of, and sometimes, shall we say, more traditional than thought out?

But there was a mantra: local and fresh. She shopped at a butcher's for her meat, and locally raised produce was the standard, not the exception. Yes, she canned and, later, froze some things for later use, but it was always with the thought "Fresh is best." I've shelled many a bean or pea on the porch on a Summer morning that was brought by "a friend" the night before from their garden, to be served for Dinner ("Lunch") or Supper ("Dinner") later that day. My Daddy raised 117 tomato plants for five people the first year he was retired--some for eating, some for canning, and some to give away. (He always said the best way to eat tomatoes was going down the row with a salt shaker.) That barter system was a part of being a good neighbor; you had to have something really good to give away to be able to hold your head up and look your peers in the eye as you gave 'em a sack full of ...well, lotsa things.

Peas ( 11 varieties one year, all "field peas"), tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, lettuce, collards, turnips and greens, radishes, onions (about five different types), garlic (finally), potatoes, summer squash, peaches (bought by the bushel), blackberries, sweet potatoes, corn--during "Season" almost nothing was bought. People staggered their crops; if you knew your friend was putting in corn, you might back off corn a little and focus on tomatoes.

What prompted this memory was tonight's dinner: not thought out, nor anything in particular. Last night I had poached salmon, roasted French Fingerling Potatoes w/Thyme, and fresh Sugar Snap Peas. Tonight I plated the cold Salmon, warmed the potatoes in the toaster oven, and "nuked" the peas gently to warm them: one of those days; I drove 230 miles today and wasn't ready to fuss.

The point being: the peas were raised locally in a greenhouse; even re-heated they still had a lovely flavor and some texture, the same with the potatoes--mildly sweet and nutty, with a lovely potato mealiness. The point being: fresh. Local. It holds up. It tastes better. It's good for you and the environment. It gets ya out in the garden "in the cool of the day" like you know Who.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Merton on Writing

If you only write for yourself you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you will wish that you were dead.

New Seeds of Contemplation p.111

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Silly Season, Part I: Politics As Usual

Put no trust in princes, in any one
Who has no power to save
Psalm 146: 1

Let me say from the outset that, though I may refer to the current unpleasantness, and I may ramble on about it from time to time in other posts, that it's not primarily (of course it was) about the outcome of the Democratic party's Presidential selection process. I have been disgusted, almost without exception with the choices on both sides since 1964--more so with Republicans, surely--this season is not the worst I remember, by far. I have high standards for such; the first choice I was offered by the American political process was Humbert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and George Wallace.

The questions that have intrigued me, and continue to do so, are those dealing with why it seems to be the case that our party system only rarely offers any good candidates, and usually only one at a time. I incline to the view that the last good President was FDR, who was hardly without fault: personal or political; since WWII they have ranged from "tolerable, given the context" to "shockingly horrendous". Is this due to the pernicious influence of the bad post-war policies and politics that helped create and sustain the Cold War; that is, have our goals been such that good candidates and policies are sifted out long before they reach national prominence? Or is it our two-party system, and the groups that have dominated it for the last century and a half? Do we deserve better candidates, or are we, as we like sometimes to think, part of the problem? Or maybe it's just the media, mainstream or "liberal" or corporate--plug in your favorite villain.

Still, as one European paper put it in a 2004 cover story on our most recent choice for President, how can that many people cast such a stupid vote? Put it another way; it's not just that the choice looks like Clinton or Obama vs. McCain, it's why and how these three people have been selected to be our choices to lead this nation. What I think I looking for, in this silly season, is not so much a candidate or a policy to support, no matter how much I may want the U S out of Iraq, but to identify signs of hope in the political process. How will we begin to know when "things" are getting better? From whence does our relief come? How are we to read "the signs of the times" to do those things which we may, "from the bottom up," in our local contexts, to improve our lot? Voting doesn't seem to change much, however necessary it may be, if only to prevent the kinds of disasters we have recently been subjected to.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I'm It, and Another Bump on the Learning Curve

Here's da rulez;

Pick up the first book of 123 pages or more.

Go to p. 123

Read the first five sentences.

Post the next three sentences.

From Melvyn P . Leffler's A Preponderance of Power

He (sec. of State James Byrnes, in 1946) parried Russian requests for trusteeship rights iin the former Italian colonies, and he insisted the Dodecanese be returned to Greece. Most important of all, he supported Italian claims to territory in Venezia Giulia and adamantly resisted Tito's efforts to gain Trieste.

Tensions remained acute in the key Adriatic port.

I have no idea who's playing, and who's left, so Jane R., BB, Kristin, Mimi, and Nina in yet?

Friday, February 8, 2008

My First Troll

A review of my older posts reveals a particularly noxious troll has shown up here, as expected. Therefore, I must reluctantly begin to screen comments as best I can; perhaps more experienced friends have suggestions as to Better Troll Management Techniques? (BTMT)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Resurrection: Practice, Practice, Practice

I realized my comment in response to y'all on the previous post was turning into a rant of thanks, (?) but--hey, if ya can't rant on yer own blog, why blog at all, right?

Thanks, all y'all, for the kind help and support. It's helped me to begin to come to terms with it, I think. I have a right to my anger. I need not follow my old way of acquiescing and stuffing it, to have it emerge in self-destruction. You have shown me just how alone I was then, by showing me that I'm not alone now; thanks be to Godde, and all of y'all.

I remember reading Nora Gallagher's account of her discernment process in *Practicing Resurrection* a year or two ago, and have only just come to realize that I read it as fantasy:

"Discernment Process"?!!!!

There was nothing in it that felt like discernment at any stage, then or now, unless you count the members of the Committee looking for a way to make an unpleasant choice, so they could go back to their day jobs. It was, from beginning to end, a process of judgment by the Diocesan Committee I, and nothing more. Help to discern the action of Holy Wisdom in my life?

Spiritual abuse.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ordination Selection Process Homesick Blues

Ash Wednesday, Anno Domini 2008

Nina, at Dancing Through Doorways, has the Ordination Selection Process Blues this week; I don’t know how to deal with her grief, and that of others, except to share my own. She says sharing helps; I hope so.

On June 6, 1982, I was ordained in the reformed church tradition I grew up in, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). For those of you unfamiliar with it, think “Communion-centered worship, United Church of Christ (UCC)”. When I planned to move to Connecticut at the end of 1984, I asked the UCC about the recognition of my orders, and was told to “Come on up, and we’ll take care of it when you get here.” It’s too bad I accepted this at face value, and did not get it in writing. I’ve blamed myself for naiveté since; I only rarely allow myself to be enraged at the betrayal, for I am a poor White Southern male raised in the Forties and Fifties, the child of Depression parents. If I don’t make it, I only have myself to blame.

One of the first things I did when I got to Connecticut, at my wife’s suggestion (the consequence of an off-hand callous remark about some holiday traffic fatalities), was to contact one of the Vets Centers that had begun to appear for Vietnam Veterans. I heard, for the first time, about something called “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”, and began to seek treatment, more from a need to fill my time than a conviction that I was “disordered” or had any intractable problems because of Vietnam—that had been sixteen years ago. If there were problems, as I came to realize, this was the way to dealing with it so as to make it “no problem.” Identify the issues, find the solutions, and apply focused effort, and the competitive vocational field will be made level.

After more than two and a half years of hardship with my new family, struggling to survive economically with odd jobs and church piece-work, I was allowed to seek jobs in the UCC, and accepted one of the first two I interviewed for, as an Interim Associate Pastor of a large, inner-suburb CT church. My predecessor left me with an empty file cabinet and the warning “watch your back”. I did my best for seven months, then, as my fifteen year old daughter waited in my office, was fired with a month’s pay. I cried when I was told, as I watched my livelihood, my career, and my vocation go down to the pit. I spent that day and the next cleaning out my office. Later, as a part of what was supposed to be a “healing process”, a sympathetic official told me the Senior Pastor had a reputation of going through Associates as if they were the 2nd Lieutenants he commanded in the Korean War; one gets killed, plug in another.

My marriage survived the next two years, through sheer determination on both our parts, and I found a job with a Non-Profit (NPO) through a local Council of Churches, providing rent subsidies and case management to homeless people in the area. I began graduate work in U S History, thinking I might revive an old dream of teaching, my second choice. But a family, a commute, and a full time job took too much time from my studies to make a success, so I took a final M.A.

We moved to be near the university, as all three of us were students by then. In doing so, I looked at the UCC church options, and decided to please myself, my career being no longer an issue, and look for an Episcopal church: love at first, and ongoing sight. Within a year I was received by a bishop. I began to wonder again “Where is Godde’s purpose in the midst of this? Is this a renewal of ministry, and, if so, in what direction?” and started discussing it with the Rector, and later, the Curate and a few lay leaders in the parish. They encouraged me to explore becoming a Priest in the Episcopal Church, as, I remembered, a colleague back in the South had done. Ironically, he had become, by that time, the Chair of the Ordination Committee in a NE diocese, and was happy to hear the news. “How is it possible to be certain about anything as squishy as the Will of Godde?”, the Rector re-assured me; “You know what it’s about, John. Don’t worry; you’ll be fine.” Formal endorsement by the Vestry followed, the Senior Warden now being the Canon to the Ordinary here.

But an interview with the Diocesan proved a slippery thing to schedule. This, I was told, was because, for the first time, Connecticut had more persons beginning the Ordination Process than positions for new Priests, which was a source of great concern to him. I wrote. I called, time and again, for almost a year, and was assured the bishop was very much aware of my position, but had to deal with other matters first now, or till October, the last of which was the Diocesan Convention which elected his Successor. But, before the last, we had met, finally. He greeted me with the remark that his old friend, my Rector, seemed to think I might walk on water; I was flattered to come with a good recommendation. He told me he would be turning my participation in the process over to his successor, one of the Suffragans, the other having been defeated for the position. To begin, I would join the other candidates for several days of vocational examinations, the official beginning of the process, contracted to a program at a nearby (Non-Episcopal) seminary.

I had taken such an examination before my original process, and was not overly anxious about this part. It was thorough, but seemed fair, and I enjoyed my time there. We were told we would be able to review the report before it went to our diocesan officials, and make comments, or even challenge anything we thought unfair. It hardly seemed necessary, until I got the initial report. It seemed anything but fair—narrowly focused on obscure points, which were exaggerated and out of context, and overlooking most of my strengths. I protested in writing, and got all the most offensive judgments removed, or so I was told. Nonetheless, it was frightening to be so misjudged. What, I wondered, could have gone so wrong? How could the examiner have arrived at such a misleading and distorted picture from the materials provided? Congratulations: you have a scheduled retreat weekend with Committee One of the Diocesan Commission on the Ordination Process. Read this novel. Don’t worry. Bring your Spouse. And hold your liquor. I still cannot read Russell Banks, but it’s not his fault. There were six aspirants; one would be eliminated.

Here self-doubt barges back in. What if I had been more assertive, and less content to follow the questioner’s lead; “Doesn’t anyone want to ask about my last position in the UCC?” The first question I answered badly, the scenario being conflict in the Altar Guild. The others seemed to go better, despite my spouse’s anxiety after Lunch in our room. A few weeks later, I got the results; the committee thought (What obfuscation!) a Vocational Diaconate suited me, but not the Priesthood.

No one had discussed the Diaconate with me at all, except as a transition. When I asked—my Rector, the Diocese, the bishop appointed to break the news (on his way out, having lost the Diocesan election), and, finally, the Religion Professor/ Priest who was the Diocesan expert—what the Vocational Diaconate was seen to be, the answer, in every case, was “We don’t know yet; we don’t seem to have made up our minds.” So, in what direction do you see my vocation leading? What am I being offered? “Oh, that’s for you to figure out, and then we’ll tell you if you’re right.” I’d had enough.

In less than three years, I was bankrupt, divorced, and thinking about suicide. I have spent the last decade in hiding, more or less, dealing with the aftermath, with Godde’s help, revealed in, of all unlikely places, the Vets Centers, and, it must be said, my former Rector, and some members of my new parish. Later, I told one member of the committee that I had come to understand and even to accept their point; she told me they had wanted to know what happened in the UCC.

Lord, have mercy

Christ, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I'd Blame Crimson Rambler, But I Don't Know Her Well Enough Yet

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?
this quiz was made by Lori Fury

An Anglican Quiz for yer pleasure

I Blame PJ

You are The Sun

Happiness, Content, Joy.

The meanings for the Sun are fairly simple and consistent.

Young, healthy, new, fresh. The brain is working, things that were muddled come clear, everything falls into place, and everything seems to go your way.

The Sun is ruled by the Sun, of course. This is the light that comes after the long dark night, Apollo to the Moon's Diana. A positive card, it promises you your day in the sun. Glory, gain, triumph, pleasure, truth, success. As the moon symbolized inspiration from the unconscious, from dreams, this card symbolizes discoveries made fully consciousness and wide awake. You have an understanding and enjoyment of science and math, beautifully constructed music, carefully reasoned philosophy. It is a card of intellect, clarity of mind, and feelings of youthful energy.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Monday before "Super" Tuesday

Just in time for tomorrow's "big doin's", Robin Morgan has written a sequel to her justly famous 1970 essay "Goodbye To All That". There is a link if you haven't read it, or, at least, not recently. Those without first-hand memories of the American Left c. 1970 may need a bit of help with the latter, which is provided in the link, which can be found by clicking on the title of this post.

Worth a read no matter how you vote--you do plan to vote, don't you, when given the chance? Even if only to "Resist the lies of Reaganism", as a button a friend of mine grabbed before me once put it.

And a grateful H/T to one of the best womanbloggers on das 'Net, Egalia of Tennessee Guerilla Women, which is to say the best, period; all y'all stop by and visit, ya hear?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Go Figure

You're Brandeis University!
Most everyone you run across assumes that you're Jewish. You probably are Jewish, but even if you're not, everyone believes that you are. You've been doing a lot more research lately, though some of it is a bit worrisome and even steamy. Though you also try to keep religion out of the shadows. You're really known for being able to inspire friends. You know at least thirteen short people with brown hair named Rachel or Sarah, and you wish people would stop asking about them.

Thanks, Paul.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Let's talk indulgence: lunch, including recipes.

First, a nice healthy breakfast, so as to have a clear spirit: oatmeal with wild blueberries and apricots: Sumatra coffee for a heart starter.

Then, Thinking about that leg of lamb from last night: free range, grass-fed, and local: roasted with thyme and olives with Herbes de Provence, still pink the next day.

Oh yeah, and soup: Chard with Lemon (recipe follows, from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. What? You don't own it? This is the one I woulda gotten after the "How to boil water" basic Cookbook, if I had known then.)

And what I think of as the main course: local sweet organic carrots and sublime shallots, roasted with butter, thyme, and Brittany sea salt: dayum!

Wine note: I went back to my shop looking for more of the beautiful Spanish Merum Monastrell 2005 Dennis noted earlier, (link to follow, if I can figure out how) but found another, a Luzon Verde 2004, also from Jumilla, and also good, and also a $ 9 bargain: huah, Spain!

This is simple and easy food, folks, but, as so many point out, it's all about ingredients. Local and fresh trumps Organic from factory farms in the Imperial Valley, for me. I have the time and inclination to have searched for suppliers and distributors for most of this, though I confess that Olive trees are scarce in CT, as is Monastrell. If ya got a little ground, which I do not, and the time, growing yer own is a lovely option, which I daydream about frequently. Ya can't get good results with those little paper boxed months-old shallots from yer local supermarket; I've not been inside one in six months, but that's luck and the time to chase around for specifics.

OK: enough chatter, recipe.

2 bunches green Chard (about eight -ten cups leaves, loose)

1 lg. onion, diced

2-3 red potatos (I use whatever I got), thinly sliced

6 1/2 c. water

Butter, or Olive oil

sea salt

juice of 1 large Lemon, or 2 cups Sorrel leaves. stems removed

Saute potatos and onion s in soup pot over med high heat until they color: ~ 8 minutes. Deglaze with a little water, add greens and cook till wilted (5 minutes), then add rest of water and cook ~ 20 minutes. Let cool and puree in blender. Bring back to warm temperature, and add Lemon juice if you didn't use Sorrel. Serve with croutons and creme fraiche or sour cream garnish.

Ya owe it to yerself to make this at least once: heh.