Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Sketching the Season

Last week, I made this sketch:

I started off making the sketch of the witch in profile, and that went so well, I decided to add the other witch.  I don't often like the way I draw people, so this sketch was such a happy surprise.  I added color, trees, more color, and the moon.  And then, because I am the way I am, I made additional sketches throughout the week, hoping for a repeat success:

I didn't create anything that I liked as well as the first sketch, but it was fun to keep trying.  

I kept my sense of humor/heresy (I wrote, "If the Holy Trinity was 3 witches . . . " at the top of the page:

I've gotten better at sketching houses since I first tried to draw a haunted house way back in 2020:

It's been awhile since I've been on such a sketching binge.  What a joy!

Yesterday, as I was taking pictures and enjoying the last day of warmth on the deck, I was struck by the leaves drifting by in the blue sky.  I can't capture that picture well, but I did photograph some leaves:

I put them in wine glasses and other arrangements:

I tried to capture the tree and the leaves.  Here's the photo of the tree I wish I had photographed a few days ago when it had more gold leaves:

Here's the sketch before I add color:

And then I tried to do something interesting with leaves and my favorite sketch:

Then it was time to come inside and get ready for my evening Ethics class.  It's an interesting time in which to be taking Ethics; more on that later.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Revisiting Alice Walker and Her Journals

Let me just say from the outset that I have read about Alice Walker's antisemitism, and it disturbs me profoundly.  If you have managed to miss this information, Caitlin Flanagan's article in The Atlantic sums it up neatly.  And I will also say from the outset that Alice Walker's post 1980's work has been much less meaningful to me, so much so that I have not kept up with her twenty-first century writing--which is why I didn't know about her antisemitism in real time.

I was at the library on Saturday when I found one of her later books on the new arrivals shelf, Gathering Blossoms Under Fire:  The Journals of Alice Walker.  It's a selections of journals from the 1960's to 1999.  I decided to check it out, even though I thought I would just leaf through it and return it.

Much to my surprise, I found myself absorbed through much of the week-end.  On Sunday, I began with her journals from the 1990's; I confess that I was looking for information about her relationship with Tracy Chapman, and there was plenty to satisfy my curiosity.  

Yesterday, I went further back in the book, back to the 1970's.  It was interesting to read about her divorce from her Jewish lawyer husband in light of the recent antisemitic turn; I didn't see any signs of antisemitism then.  I was even more interested in the pre-The Color Purple writer that she was.  She was fairly successful right away, although not in that multi-million kind of way that she became successful later.

I was also struck by a sense of reading about an economic time period that no longer exists, and I had the same experience reading Marge Piercy's Braided Lives.  It no longer seems possible to find a small but charming apartment that one can afford with just a part-time job, so that one's artistic life has room and time.  And in the 1970's, that was possible in New York City!  Now it's probably not possible anywhere, and certainly not in a major metropolitan city.

The journals didn't ultimately tell me much that was new about Walker or her work.  The essays that she published in the 1980's and early 1990's told us much about her life and personality.  I was startled to read about her love/sex/romantic life, not so much because of who she dated, but by how she managed to juggle so many people, how much time and emotional upheaval it took, and how she managed to get anything else done.  And when I thought about the trajectory of her work, I wondered if maybe she didn't get as much writing into the world precisely because of all the relationship drama.

I thought of all the women writers of the past who could have told us that the more romantic partners one has, the less other stuff one will get done.  And most of us will never listen.  And I do realize that most of us don't want to give up all our relationships for our art--what a deprived life that would likely be.  But my goodness, so much drama.

And then of course, I wondered if I am just a passionless stick, wanting to avoid all that drama.  But I know that I am not--I just don't have the patience anymore, if I ever did.

I don't regret spending time with these journals.  It took me to a younger self, back when I was trying to figure out how one becomes a writer like so many of my heroes.  Alice Walker was one of those heroes, even as I realized she was imperfect; early on I was a bit queasy at her mothering style, and now I'm disturbed by her antisemitism/anti-religions of all sorts.

It's also a bit of a relief to realize that I have become the writer I wanted to be, even as I have room to improve.  The world will likely not take notice of me in the way that Alice Walker enjoyed, but few writers will experience that acclaim these days.

And that lack of notice/notoriety comes with its own benefits too.  It's startling to realize that I prefer my life now to just about any other life, startling and gratifying.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Reformation Ponderings

On this Reformation Sunday, I'm preaching at Faith Lutheran in Bristol, Tennessee.  My mom pointed out the challenge of preaching a Reformation sermon without knowing what they've heard before.  In some ways, it's easier because my Reformation meditation/pondering doesn't change much from year to year, but at least I know this congregation hasn't heard me preach it before.

One thing that I didn't know before this Reformation Sunday is that Martin Luther's 95 theses in 1517 weren't his first venture into this arena.  Shortly before, he had a document with 97 theses, which no one paid any attention to at all.  Imagine his surprise at the response to his 1517 version.

I am thinking of how many of us, particularly Lutherans think of Luther as the only one fomenting for reform.  But Europe at that time was full of reformers—not people who wanted to create something new, exactly, but people who had ideas about how to revitalize the church. The late 1400s can be classified as a time of huge corruption, both in the church and in politics. It was a time of huge geopolitical shifts with the fall of Constantinople that would cut off one half of Christendom from the other half, and leave the way open for new religions, like Islam, to flourish. In the late 1400’s, the economic conditions of the peasant class had worsened. There were calls for a new world order, and deep fears about what that new world order would look like.

It all sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

I am thinking of my seminary which has just as many (more?) students from South Korea and various African nations as from the U.S.  I am thinking of several seminaries which have vacant dorms and apartments, and how, just a few decades ago, there wasn't enough housing to meet the demand.

I am thinking of all the ways that so many of us are trying to be church in different ways.  I learned this week that there are churches in the Virginia synod of the ELCA that are online only.  I am thinking of the Bible study that I led last Saturday with members of my Florida church. Most of them were in Florida, but I was in North Carolina and one of us was in Missouri. How did we do this? By way of Zoom. I’ve been leading Bible studies for years with this church, and we have more consistent attendance with Zoom than we ever did when meeting in person.

Throughout all of Church history—indeed, all of human history—the Holy Spirit moves in interesting ways. God, the restless Creator, always seems to be up to something new. Jesus comes to show us that even at our most broken, there is beauty to be found.  

In this time, when so many seem so intent on breaking the world, the idea that the Holy Spirit is afoot, doing transformative work, that idea offers strength and comfort.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

A Tale of Two Drywall Deliveries

At some point in May or June, we had a drywall delivery:  10 sheets of drywall, delivered to our doorstep, which we then had to get inside.  If you've never moved drywall, you might make the mistake of thinking that it's essentially talc and chalk, held together between paper, so how heavy could it be?

Not only is a sheet of drywall heavy, but its unwieldy.  It's bendy enough to be tough to pick up by oneself, if one is an average person, but not bendy enough to be flexible where one would like it to be.  And did I mention that it's heavy?  We didn't want to take much in the way of a rest break because it's the mountains, and it could rain at any moment.  Rain and drywall do not mix.

At that first drywall delivery, I thought I could do it, be a good helper, but I was surprised by how hard it was, how I always felt the drywall was about to slid out of my grasp.  No matter how I grabbed it, some body part of mine was in the way, my head or hip or arm.  But we got it into the house before the rain came.

Yesterday we had our second drywall delivery.  I dreaded it a bit, after the last time.  But this time, I was able to grab, carry, and walk.  Hurrah!

I puzzled over what the difference could be.  I have not been doing strength training.  I have not lost weight in the way that makes it easier to carry bulky objects.  I do wonder if maybe my grip has improved.  Once again, I'm thinking of my once-broken wrist.  As I first began hand rehab, I had more grip than many people who were in therapy around me, but not anything approaching functional.  It took two months before I could fully stretch out my fingers and even more time before I could make a fist.

The healing from that break has been in the tiniest of measurements, but it has happened.  Maybe in the time between drywall deliveries, I've had a bit more healing of the wrist, hand, and arm that made carrying drywall easier.

Or maybe  I was dreading it so much yesterday that it didn't turn out to be as bad as I was expecting.

There are other possibilities.  We positioned the delivery so that it was a more direct route to the door.  I have cut back the bushes that blocked part of our way before.  It was much cooler yesterday than during our first drywall delivery, although I wouldn't think temperature had much to do with it.

Whatever the reason, I'm grateful that it went smoothly.  One of our neighborhood friends who has lived in many house renovations herself says that in a time of renovation, if you're making any progress on a home renovation, it's substantial progress, even if it seems miniscule.  And it's not going backwards, which is so easy in home repair.

Maybe the same is true for much of life.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Poems and Classrooms of Hope

Yesterday I arrived at my new school to find the final set up for the chili cook-off--crock pots in the conference room, along with corn bread and a d.j.  The mood was festive and smiley, and I felt happy to be there.  I got my chili, 9 possible winners, small cups, but enough for multiple spoonfuls to taste, unlike some chili cook-offs.  I chatted a bit with the other folks who got there early, the librarian I'd already met, the other three that I hadn't.

As the day progressed, I started to feel a bit sad, a bit left out, and a bit stupid for feeling that way.  After all, I could have gone back and socialized.  But what I really wanted was to already know everyone, so that the socializing would have been easy, not the effort that it feels like with new people.  I also felt a bit sad, thinking about the times that I had helped organize such events for schools that are no longer with us.

Then off I went to teach class.  It was the kind of day where we spent some time remembering all the due dates that are no longer far away.  And in each class, I finished with two poems.    Last week, I brought in poems that I thought might help us process awful news, two by Wislawa Szymborska ("Could Have" and "The End and the Beginning") and one by Adam Zagajewski ("Try to Praise the Mutilated World").  At one point, a student looked at me and said, "These are supposed to give us hope?"  Hmm.

As last week went on and turned into this week, I thought about the poems I wished I had brought in.  I realized it wasn't too late, so I brought them Maggie Smith's "Good Bones" and Naomi Shahib Nye's "Gate A-4."  These poems worked much better, as poems themselves and as agents of hope.  My students weren't any more chatty than usual.  My Intro to Lit class seldom is, and my Composition class seemed tired yesterday.  But in each class, there was a moment when I was talking/teaching/preaching on the possibility of hope and how a poem can do that when I looked out and realized that a substantial chunk of the class had tuned back in, back from their cell phones, back from zoning out, back from a head on the desk.  I felt they had a keen sense of holding onto what I was saying, although I might have been projecting/wishing.

What we talked about yesterday--how to hold onto hope in difficult times--seems much more important than how to write a research paper, although I will teach that too.  I want to record the moment yesterday, the moment when so many of them were paying attention in a slightly more focused way, because I often drive home wondering if I'm making any difference at all.  It's that horrible sinking feeling when I think that they'll leave my classes not knowing how to write and not remembering a thing about what we read.  But that's not true.

One of my favorite teaching moments was way back in 1996 or so.  I was teaching an Intro to Lit class, and I realized that a young woman I didn't know was waiting outside the classroom door.  I asked her if she needed to speak to me or if she needed me.  She said, "I just like listening to you talk."  I invited her to join us, but she declined.

I have often wondered what I was teaching that day.  I'm glad that it spoke to her in some way.  I often wonder what has happened to her, but the same is true for all of my students.  I am grateful to have these moments of teaching, these moments when I feel like we're doing something vital together.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Folds and Fragments

One of those mornings where I want to capture a few scraps and fragments from the past weeks, bits which are probably too short for a blog post of their own, but I want to remember.   

--I don't have anything to say about the mass shooting in Maine; I never have anything new to say when there's a new mass shooting.  I am wondering what each decade's violence says about whatever collective grief/trauma/anger we're feeling and how it manifests itself in distinctive and non-distinctive ways.  Lately, it's mass shootings.  In the early 1970's, there were lots and lots of bombings of public buildings, which most people don't know/remember.  And then, at some point, it stopped.  Will our time of mass shootings come to an end?  And what will replace it?

--As we drove across the mountains on Sunday, I was struck by how fuzzy they look, now that the trees have turned.  They look like they are made of yarn and other fibers.  They look folded, or as my spouse said, pleated.

--Could I capture this image in words, in a poem, without seeming trite?

--I also had a poem thought about communion bread dough crusting around my wedding ring.  Not sure where to go with this image, but I wanted to record it.

--I am writing (or maybe I am done writing) an anti-parable poem.  What about the lost sheep that doesn't want to be found?  What about the shepherd that is tired of dealing with the needs of a disparate flock?  Is it a poem or just a collection of ideas about tiredness of the issues that community can create?

--Hurricane Otis slammed into Acapulco yesterday.  It strengthened from a tropical storm to a category 5 in just 6 hours.  Yikes.

--Miami is one of the areas most likely to be affected by these types of hurricanes that rapidly intensify at the last minute.  I am so glad we sold our house in South Florida.

--Last night, in my seminary class that meets virtually by way of Zoom session, 2 of 10 of us had COVID, and one student didn't feel well, but had tested negative so far.  Hmmm.  

--Yesterday, after packing quilts for Lutheran World Relief, as I drove home, I thought, I should take a walk in this autumnal loveliness.  Instead, we moved the brush pile from the back yard to the street, where it should be picked up by Sunday.  I did take a walk through autumnal loveliness:  up and down my yard.

--I thought about how much time I have spent in the past week moving the trash:  from backyard pile to dumpster, from under the deck to recycling pile for cardboard, from backyard brush pile to street brush pile.  Still, it had to be done, and I'm glad it's done.

--Amy-Jill Levine was fabulous, and I'll likely write a longer post about her later.  She mentioned, almost in passing, that she thought Jesus was likely fat because he was always eating.  She asked us to imagine the idea of Jesus as big, not in a muscled way, but a fat way.  How would that change the ideas we have about our bodies?  I will probably think about this a lot in the weeks and months to come. 

--On a more mundane note, I want to remember an encounter I had at the Fresh Market, where the young guy working there, who looked WAY cooler than I could ever hope, to be asked me if I had exciting plans for the week-end.  I said that I planned to make ghosts out of scraps of fabric, an honest answer.  I said, "I know that doesn't sound like fun."  He interrupted me to say, "Oh it totally does.  It makes me want to plan a Halloween party."  I said, "You should.  Life is short, and you should plan more parties."  He said, "I think I will!"  In a different world, I might have invited myself to his party and met interesting people or met disaster.  Because it is my life, I went on about my shopping, went home, and made ghosts out of muslin and batting.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Boundaries Trainings Then and Now

Yesterday I went to Boundaries Training.  It was by way of a Zoom session; approximately 273 people attended, most of us serving as clergy people in some capacity across the southeast U.S.  I have to assume that a lot of this information isn't new to most of us.  For example, surely by now we all realize the reasons why we should not date a parishioner, and if we decide to go ahead with that decision, how to safeguard ourselves, the parishioner, and the church, both the local church and the larger Church.

Happily, we didn't spend much time on that issue, although we did mention it.  We spent far more time on the issue of receiving gifts from parishioners and the issue of parishioners who want to invite us over for meals.  I find it hard to believe that there are parishioners who want their pastor to come for dinner, but then again, my experience has been with very small churches, and in my current, and only, position as a minister, I live 2 hours away so people haven't been inviting me to meals.

All in all, yesterday's Boundaries Training was an interesting experience.  My small group was good, and the discussions in the Chat were fascinating.  I didn't have to leave my house, which was a plus.  I much prefer sitting at my desk, in my comfortable chair, to going to a place large enough for hundreds of participants; I don't want the drive, and I don't want the germs.

After yesterday's event, I was thinking of past trainings I've had, the HR ones at past jobs, the ones put together by big firms elsewhere for the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale.  For the sexual harassment one, we learned that we should not use the photocopy machine on our body parts, and we REALLY should not ask others to copy their body parts.  That part of the training was accompanied by a picture of a busty woman from the neck to the upper thigh coming down a hallway, while two young guys hovered together with lewd looks on their beefy faces.  Ugh.

So, yes, yesterday's training was FAR better than that one.  We talked about real issues that we might face, and even if we won't face them, it was still interesting to talk about the other ramifications that situations offered.  For example, a married pastor will get different sorts of invitations than single pastors, but they all require some caution.  There are only so many hours in the week for meals, for example, and if everyone wants the pastor to come over for dinner, how do we make sure that no one is left out?  What do we do about the parishioners who don't want to socialize that way?  Will they feel excluded?  Or maybe relieved?

The larger question, of course, is one of building community while keeping all members safe.  At the schools where I've worked, the emphasis has been on avoiding lawsuits.  That's a huge difference in the various Boundaries Trainings that I've received.

Yesterday afternoon, I felt like going out in the beautiful autumn weather after being inside all day.  We went to a local park and walked beside the creek.  Instead of going to a brewery, on our way back, we bought some goodies for a light supper on our deck.  

It was a lovely way to end a productive but tiring day.  And now it's back to the South Carolina Convocation for breakfast with a new friend and then to hear Amy-Jill Levine's last presentation.  This afternoon, I'll help box up the quilts to ship to Lutheran World Relief, and then tonight, I'll have class.  It's a good life.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Boundaries Training and the Chance to See Amy-Jill Levine

Two weeks ago, I was part-way through the Southeastern Synod's Convocation.  Yesterday, I went to a different one, the one hosted by the South Carolina Synod.  I won't be able to make a fair comparison--today I can't attend because I need to attend a different synodical event:  boundaries training for all of region 9 of the ELCA (this region of the Lutheran church extends as far north as Virginia, as far west as Tennessee and Mississippi, and as far south as Florida).  It's required for all rostered clergy, so I'm attending because of my SAM position preaching at Faith Lutheran in Bristol, Tennessee and as part of my internship hours.

I think it will consist mainly of sitting at my desk and watching the Zoom session that has been prepared.  I really hope that we're not divided into small groups.  The event lasts from 9-4 with an hour for lunch.  I am happy when I look at my life and realize how little of it now involves sitting at a desk for hours.  Once upon a time, if I only had to sit at a desk from 9 to 4, I'd feel that I had a light day of desk sitting.  At times in my last administrator job, it wasn't uncommon to be at my desk for 9 hours.  I could have left for lunch, but it wasn't a going out to lunch culture.  I tried to get up to walk around a bit throughout the day, to do more than just going to the bathroom, but the setting wasn't conducive--no outdoors walking, and a rather small building.

I have been at the SC Synod Convocation because their featured speaker is Amy-Jill Levine  (gasp!).  After going to yesterday's presentation, I will just say that she is more wonderful in person than she is on the page.  I may say more on that after I see tomorrow's presentation.

I am sad to miss today's presentation by her, but I don't want to risk my attendance at the boundaries training.  I did have a chance to ask Dr. Levine if one of the display books would cover what she would talk about today, and she said it would.  So, I've got a friend taking good notes, and I've ordered the book:   The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently.  I'm looking forward to reading it.  Her book, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi, has been revelatory.

It has occurred to me that I might have saved money by just buying a book or two.  I did have to pay a fee to attend the Convocation, and I'd have gotten more for my money if I was free to attend more events.  I couldn't go to the worship service last night because I was in class, and I can't go to the daytime events today because of the training.  But I am happy to have had a chance to see Dr. Levine live.  She has a remarkable presence, both fiercely smart and fiercely funny.

Much of what she presented wasn't brand new to me.  I'm happy that my seminary has done a good job of reminding us that Jesus was Jewish.  I try to be alert for any way that my sermons might be anti-Jewish.  I stay away from the worst stereotypes of Pharisees and the religious leaders of Jesus' day.  But of course, for many of my parishioners, the damage is already done; they may have had decades of sermons that faulted the Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus.

At some point, I may look back on this week as a week about boundaries of all kinds.  But it's too early to know that now.  Let me get ready for the day ahead, this day at my desk.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Fragments from a Disrupted Schedule

I'm feeling a bit frazzled this morning.  My schedule is a bit disrupted this week, in good ways, but it means I need to make adjustments.  Let me just capture a few fragments before I get to the tasks that must be done this morning.

--On our drive across the mountains Oct. 15, we had gloomy skies and glorious leaf color.  On our drive Oct. 22, we had sunny skies and glorious leaf color, but the trees have thinned out.  We are slightly past peak leaf, although it's still gorgeous.  I am trying not to feel sad at the passing of my favorite time of year.  It's easy in some ways--there's still a lot coming that will bring me joy, namely Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm trying not to dread January and February.

--The shift from sandals to closed toe shoes to go with my skirts is an adjustment.  I see why some women wear running shoes with their skirts and not just for the subway commute.  My feet ache more now.

--I have decided that the big quilt I'm making will be for my nephew's high school graduation in May.  I will do the binding differently.  I usually fold over the backing for a binding, but that won't look great with the big quilt-in-progress.  I'm thinking about a binding that could be reds (my nephew's favorite color), with bits of fabrics from earlier quilts I made for him.  Hmmm.

--I hope to finish that quilt in November at quilt camp and give it to my nephew at Thanksgiving.

--The big assignments that I turned in for my seminary classes haven't been graded yet.  I feel anxious, which is stupid.  I did my best, and the fact that they are ungraded means nothing.  Still, I feel anxious.

--Or maybe I am anxious because I'm joining the South Carolina Synod for part of their Convocation today and Wednesday.  Why would I feel anxious about that?  In part, it's because I got special permission as a seminarian, so I feel a bit like I'm trespassing.  But I already know a lot of those pastors, and I suspect I will be the only one who knows I'm sort of trespassing.  They will welcome me, and I will feel like an interloper, but I will smile and accept their warmth.

A bit later:

I took a walk this morning just after posting this writing, and I was amazed at how much the leaves have changed since the walk I took Saturday afternoon.  The Saturday afternoon walk was remarkable because I didn't see a car or a person.  I stayed on the Lutheridge grounds, but I usually see a few people out and about.  It was amazing and beautiful and slightly eerie.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Blessings of the Quilts

When I thought about the advantages of moving back to our Lutheridge house and doing seminary classes from a distance, the chance to be part of the Lutheran Church of the Nativity's quilt group was one of them.  This group meets every Wednesday to make quilts for Lutheran World Relief.  This year, we made 128 quilts, and today they will be blessed during worship.

All of the fabric is donated.  Often it's donated when a quilter dies and the family doesn't know what to do with all the accumulated fabric.  As a result, we've got amazing fabric to work with.  We've even inherited some partially finished projects that we incorporate.  On days when there hasn't been a free sewing machine for me to use or a quilt to knot, I've enjoyed going through the boxes and pulling out fabrics that go together.

One woman has transformed her basement into a quilting studio, and she does a lot of the work of assembling the tops throughout the week.  Others of us have other commitments, like work and family and other charity groups.  Two of our members also create quilts for the Project Linus group that gives quilts to children in hospitals.  That group has much stricter requirements, like all the fabric has to be new, so much of the work of the Wednesday quilters wouldn't be able to be donated there.

We meet most Wednesdays, but there have been stretches when so many of us were out of town and/or with other commitments, so we decided not to meet.  But usually, we sit and sew for an hour or two or three every Wednesday.  Some weeks, only two of us meet.  Some weeks, we have eight or ten.  

It's amazing what we can accomplish if we just sit down and do it.  And it's not just the quilts we make.  We've shared highs and lows, and gotten to know each other better.  We've helped the family of Afghan refugees living in the parsonage feel welcome and learn a bit of English.  We've created quilts that will go around the world to provide comfort.  All this, for just an hour or two a week.  It's a larger life lesson, I know.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Dumpster Week

When we last did a major kitchen remodel, back in 2004, I thought we might take all the construction debris to the dump ourselves.  I don't remember why this seemed like a good idea.  It's likely that I didn't realize how much construction debris a complete remodel would generate.  When the contractor told me he noticed a colony of rats making themselves comfortable, I hired someone to come and haul away the garbage.  Was it less money than the dumpster we had for the bathroom remodel a year earlier?  Probably not much less.

When we started the demo on this house, we tossed the materials off the back deck.  We live in a wooded area, with no lawn either in the front or back.  Our neighbors on both sides use their houses as vacation homes, we we didn't worry about offending them with our construction debris (but we did apologize when we saw them mid-summer).  Along the way, we did wonder if we should rent a dumpster sooner rather than later--would a whole house remodel generate 2 dumpsters full of construction debris?

A few weeks ago, we decided we had enough for one dumpster, and soon it would be cold--time to get a dumpster and load it up.  A week ago, our dumpster arrived, and it sat empty for a few days while my spouse strategized how to get everything inside.  He knew it would take careful placement to get it all in.  He went so far as to organize the construction debris by size in the back yard.

I got home late Thursday afternoon, after hearing weather reports of coming rain and wind overnight.  I changed into work clothes, and between the two of us, we got most of the dumpster loaded Thursday night by sunset.  On Friday morning, the rain and wind had yet to appear, so we loaded the smaller stuff into construction bags.  My spouse got the last pieces of paneling out of the loft.  We discovered this wasp nest in the wall:

Actually, that's only half the nest.  And happily, it was an empty nest.  We wondered why it had been left in the wall.  I thought maybe the wasps lived in it, got tired of it, and moved to somewhere better (much like we did).  But my spouse could see that it had been treated.  I probably would have left it alone too--why rip out the wall, particularly for a vacation home?  We're the first people in this house who are living here year round.

We've done many more remodels than most people, and I reflected on all the things we've found in old houses.  My favorite was a 1960's booklet from the U.S. Government that told people how to survive a nuclear war; we found it in the attic of our house in Goose Creek, SC.  We've found old photos and small toys (not classic toys, but the plastic kinds of junk that come with Happy Meals).  We've found all sorts of trash.  We've found traces of rodents and traps.  But we've never found such a large wasp's nest.

We've stripped our current house to the studs for most walls, and we've replaced all the windows and the three sliding glass doors on the back wall.  This house is in better shape than any other house we've owned (one in Summerville, SC, one in Goose Creek, SC and two in Hollywood, FL).  We've ripped out the kitchen and most of two bathrooms.  Here's what the dumpster looked like:

The dumpster should be out of our driveway today--hurrah!  

We've still got lots to do on the inside--lots of drywall, for example.  How I hate the drywall process.  But it feels like progress to get our back yard back:

Friday, October 20, 2023

Teaching Observations and Theology School

It has been years, perhaps decades, since I had a department chair observe me teach.  I remember when I was first hired at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, my chair came to watch me teach Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find."  It was a great class, even though that story didn't teach as well to a class in South Florida as in South Carolina.

After my chair told me she felt lucky to have hired me, I said, "I'm yours until I run away to theology school."  She quirked an eyebrow at me, and I said, "I don't know why I said that.  I have no desire to run away to theology school."

At the time, February of 2002, I didn't have a yearning to run away to seminary.  I was still very happy in South Florida, and I thought that once I had the full time job I'd just gotten, we'd be able to afford living there.  And for a time, we could.

I didn't feel too nervous in the time leading up to yesterday's observation.  I have been teaching a long time, and I planned a class with Poe stories, which meant I could teach it if students wanted to talk, and I could teach it as a straight ahead lecture.  My chair told me which class she could come observe and let me pick the day.  If it had been up to me, I'd have had her come to the other class, where the students are more engaged, but at least the class isn't hostile.

Yesterday the students most likely to talk were absent.  In fact, half the class, in both classes, was absent.  So my department chair got to watch me lecture about Poe and do a close reading of three stories.  I was animated, and I tried to keep students engaged, so on that front, it went well.  I think it's good to model close reading, but if she doesn't, she won't have liked yesterday.

My students didn't take out their phones too often.  They seemed like they were paying attention, and indeed, maybe they were.  They probably hadn't read the stories in advance--another reason for doing the close reading together.  But she may have wished the students would talk more.  So do I.

She and I will meet next week to discuss.  I'm open to suggestions.  I don't feel threatened.  At this point, I know what I can do and what I can't, and I'm unwilling to twist myself into pretzel shapes anymore to do what someone else thinks I should do.  As an administrator, I felt caught between various groups who wanted me to be someone I only partially could be.  As a teacher, I'm relieved that I'm unlikely to face that situation.  And I'm an adjunct, so I have less at stake.  If I'm not a good fit, I'll move along.

But she's unlikely to tell me I'm not a good fit, so I'm not going to worry too much about next week's meeting.  I'd like her to respond the way my chair did in 2002.  And now, here I am, a seminary student, so no speculation about running away.

Now I want to reread that poem.  Let me find it and post it here.  Thanks to TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics for publishing it in 2018.

When I Run Away to Theology School

When I run away to theology school,
I shall think no more of mortgages and insurance rates.
Sea level rise will recede to the backwaters
of my consciousness. I will eat
whatever is served to me, and I will fall
asleep at a regular hour.

When I run away to theology school,
I will turn off the news. I will submerge
myself in books from an earlier age.
I will abandon the controversies
of our current time to lose myself
in arcane arguments of past heresies.

When I run away to theology school,
I will pray more regularly. I will spend
more time in the chapel. I will write liturgies
and construct worship spaces to match.

When I run away to theology school,
I will finally structure my life in a way
that makes sense. I will strip
my life to its barest essentials.
All will be revealed
when I run away to theology school.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Icons and the Natural World

On Thursday last week, at our last morning prayer service of Convocation, we had stations.  We could stare at an icon.  We had a board and post it notes where we could leave prayers.  We could stop at an anointing station to be anointed with oil.  It was a quieter, more contemplative service, and I found it very moving.

I found myself drawn to part of the altar that wasn't intended to be a station.  I loved this pumpkin:


It was interesting to stare at it after staring at a more traditional icon:

It made me wonder about a contemplative exercise that has participants stare at a traditional icon and then an evocative item from the natural world.  They could write or sketch what comes to them, and then we could have interesting conversations about it.

Let me tuck this away for future reference (and perhaps I will try it in one of my writing classes next week or the next).

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Systematically Staying Connected

I have been doing a deep dive into my midterm paper for Systematic Theology class, so my attention for other types of writing feels a bit fragmented.  Still, let me make a post to capture a few elements.

--I had been dreading the writing of this Systematic Theology paper.  So much of what we've covered in class just doesn't matter to me.  What does the word begotten mean?  Was Jesus truly human, and how could this be possible if he was divine?  If God died on that cross, was the universe without a divine ruler for those 3 days?

Finally on Monday, I couldn't put off this writing any longer, so I dove in.  The first part was a bit grueling to write, with the requirements to cover some early heresies like modalism and Arianism, but it was also pleasing, like figuring out a puzzle.  

I reread the paper this morning, and I'm pleased.  There's always the worry that I've written in a way that my professor will hate.  But the assignment does tell me to discuss my developing Christology in terms of the incarnation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection, and that's what I've done.  I've checked and rechecked to make sure I included all the Bible passages required and referenced all the church history of heresy and explanation. 

--Last night we went to Pub Theology.  We went for the first time two weeks ago and had a great time.  Last night we went to one brewery that was packed; their outside area was less appealing than it was two weeks ago as the weather has gotten chillier.  So we went to a different brewery, one we hadn't been to before.  It's cool to explore other breweries, but it's even better to get to know some of the folks from our Lutheran church that's nearby our Lutheridge house.  With me preaching every Sunday in Bristol, it's a good way to stay connected.

--Another good way to stay connected is through the quilt group.  Today I go over to help set up the quilts in the sanctuary; they will be blessed on Sunday and then sent to Lutheran World Relief.  I love doing this work.  It's a great way of doing some volunteer work, but more than that, I've really enjoyed getting to know the members better.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Baking Biscuits While the World Burns

Yesterday I made this Facebook post:  "So, the world is breaking into bits, but I feel compelled to note that I have made the best batch of biscuits ever, and I've been baking biscuits since I was 9 years old. Usually my biscuits are closer to hockey pucks, but not this time. I achieved both height and flakiness. Was it the extra tablespoons of butter in the recipe? It's easily double the amount of butter I usually use. Was it the use of the pastry cutter and not the food processor? The fact that the recipe uses both baking soda and baking powder? Can I replicate this experience again? Stay tuned! In the meantime, here's a link to the recipe, in case you want to run your own experiment (the pictures are from the website--we ate all the biscuits I made before I thought to take a picture)."

Part of me wonders why I'm writing about biscuits instead of the Israel/Gaza situation.  But I started baking biscuits shortly after the Yom Kippur war in 1973, which some commentators say was the last time Israel had such a disastrous failure of intelligence and security.  Through all sorts of crises, I've turned to baking, sometimes biscuits, sometimes homemade bread, often cakes and cookies.

Of course, I would likely have been doing that baking had there been no geopolitical crisis.  I don't have much to say in terms of writing further about the situation in Israel, not much more than I said in last week's blog post.  So, yes, let me write about biscuits.

I first started making biscuits in childhood, but I can't remember exactly why.  Because of my voracious reading, I was interested in making the foods I read about, so that's probably what led me to biscuits.  My mom found a recipe in Helen Corbitt Cooks for Company, one of her favorite cookbooks, and I was off.

That cookbook is long gone, so I can't compare that recipe to the one I used on Sunday.  I know that through the years, as I've been worried about my weight and our intake of saturated fat, I've tried to make cookies with reduced amounts of butter.  On Sunday, I followed the recipe on the Smitten Kitchen site without making any changes, so I used nine tablespoons of butter.

When I first started making biscuits long ago, I used two knives to cut in the butter, a laborious chore.  I was thrilled to discover the food processor made short work of the job, although I didn't really use one until the 1980's.  But after Sunday's experience, I wonder if the food processor made the butter too fine.

On Sunday, I used a pastry cutter.  I've always wanted one, and in September, a dear friend gave me I a gift basket with one.  I decided to give it a try on Sunday, and it did the perfect job of mixing the butter chunks with the flour.  I'll be using it again, for biscuits and pie crust.

I had stopped making both biscuits and pie crust because my efforts came out too tough.  For pie crust, I thought that the ready-made, roll into your pan crusts worked fine, and certainly better than my own efforts.  For biscuits, I haven't used any of the ready to bake offerings--they all taste of chemicals to me.

Maybe I'll return to pie crusts.  I have a lot of apples.  I see an apple pie in our near future.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Fall Colors

I've been heading across the mountain to preach at Faith Lutheran in Bristol, Tennessee since the first Sunday in June.  Even from the first trip across the mountains, I have been looking forward to seeing how the trees would change as autumn approached.  As early as late July, I was seeing some yellow leaves here and there, plus a tree that burst into red long before the rest.

On October 1, I didn't make the trip across the mountains; I was coming home from Lutheranch in western Georgia.  I was worried I might have missed the peak of color, but last week, Oct. 8, the colors still seemed restrained, still more green than other colors.

Yesterday, October 15, the colors had finally burst through the green.  I am not sure we are at peak yet, and by next week, October 22, I may have missed it.  Yesterday, though, I was awestruck at the color, both the leaves and the sky, which was overcast not brilliant blue, but that seemed to accentuate the colors even more.

My camera doesn't do any of the colors justice, but that's O.K.  As with words, seeing the picture in the future will trigger the memory of the actual experience, which is why I make these blog posts  and offline journal entries and files of photos.

I took the above shot at the Tennessee Welcome Center, where we stop most Sundays on our way across the mountain.  

Last year, I stopped there on my way back to seminary and was delighted by the autumn decorations, like this one that's up again this year:

This year, they have outdone themselves:

I tried to capture the small trees/branches/bushes growing out of the craggy rock faces by the side of the road, but my camera doesn't do well with a moving car:

Perhaps I've found the subject for my next sketch!  Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

A Week in Sketching

As I looked at my sketchbook, I was struck by how much visual art I've created in the past week.  I started this sketch on Oct. 3, and I've worked on it 5 minutes a day.  I call it Hydrangea Bloom with Squash Blossom:

It's not the only sketch that has color:

I've also worked with the Zentangle approach to sketching.

I've played with a new media, chalk that is more powdery than a traditional pastel:

I used it to play in an old hymnal.  This was my first attempt.

I went on to try to create a sketch that has something to say about the hymn:

I've got many more sketches, which is unusual for me.  If I posted them all, I'd be posting at least 5 more pages.  I don't usually sketch this much in a week.  Is it the expansiveness that comes from starting a new sketchbook?  The inspiration from being at Convocation?  Needing to be in a chair for long hours in the day, away from my computer?

I am happy to have had this time before needing to turn my attention back to academic writing.  And I'm really happy with the hydrangea sketch!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

The Great Flooring Project Finish and Other News

Even though it's been Reading Week last week for my seminary classes, I've had an exhausting week, full of Synod Convocation, which I wrote about in yesterday's blog post, and lots and lots of home renovation work.  Let me write about the home renovations:

--The biggest news:  the Great Flooring Project is complete downstairs.  We've had the flooring for over a year, in lots and lots of boxes, but there was always a project that needed to be finished first, so we could tell where the floor would be.  For example, with the new HVAC system going in, it didn't make sense to do the floors a year ago, when we weren't sure where the ductwork and vents would be. 

--Lots of those projects took longer than we anticipated.  Still, now that it's done, I'm glad we got the flooring when we did, even though it meant that all those boxes of flooring have been in the way.  We got it at a 25% off sale, and I don't imagine the price has gone down on the manufactured bamboo that we wanted.

--We are now in a house with no avocado colored toilets.  On Thursday, we needed to have a new toilet on hand, so that the flooring project could be done.  Off we went to Lowe's, where we felt a bit flummoxed.  The cheaper toilets that we had our eye on were on backorder, although they were supposed to arrive on Thursday night.  I started looking at the others, which I assumed were too expensive.  I found a Kohler model that was only $40.00 more than the cheaper one.

--Yesterday my spouse installed the new toilet in the hall bathroom while the handyman extraordinaire installed the floors in the second bedroom.  I tried to be out of the house for most of that.  The toilet install was done by noon, but the flooring install wasn't done until 5.

--I helped my spouse remove the old toilet and find the pipe underneath the house to saw and cap--the  bathroom attached to the master bedroom will have a new toilet location. 

--Much of the afternoon was just a waste, in terms of work that needs to be done:  sermon writing, grading, paper writing for seminary classes, reading of any sort.  It was just too noisy, both inside and out.

--Because much of our house now has no walls, including the bathroom, I took an afternoon walk up the hill to use a bathroom at Lutheridge.  I happened to look up to see a sky of beautiful blue, with autumnal leaves drifting through the air.  I thought about the fact that the days are going to get colder, and I felt both gratitude for the short walk and sadness that we'd spent much of the last days of perfect weather inside.

--We did get back outside in the late afternoon.  I had some daffodil bulbs that I wanted to plant, and with the bit of rain we've had, it seemed like a good time.  Plus, I wanted to use the drill augur I ordered while I still remembered where it was.

--I was sad to hear of the death of Louise Gluck.  I don't think I've ever read a poem of hers that I disliked.  I'm happy she won the Nobel, but losing a poet at 80 seems too young  these days.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Synod Convocation: A Retrospective Overview

It is a foggy morning in these mountains of North Carolina.  It's been quite a week, mostly good stuff, very tiring.  We are close to having the flooring done in the lower part of the house, which is the part that matters most to me.  After that, bathroom remodels!  But in the meantime, the new dryer has stopped working, and hopefully, it's an easy fix, the electric connections jiggled loose during flooring install.  

I have been out of the house most of the week while the flooring has been happening.  The Southeastern Synod has been having its annual Convocation at Lutheridge.  Although they are called different things in different synods, Convocation is a combination of retreat and continuing ed and professional development time for rostered leaders in a Synod.  I've participated in most of it.  There was food and fellowship after the evening worship, and each night, I skipped that time.  By evening, I was exhausted.  I even skipped the last evening worship because I was just so tired.

Convocation for the larger group started with an opening worship service at 1:30 on Tuesday.  But I needed to be there a day earlier; all first call pastors, interim pastors, and conference deans had meetings and trainings. 

Our days started at 7:30, with morning worship, and my day started earlier, as I tried to stay minimally caught up with all the classes that I teach.  We had a keynote address each morning, and each day we had a selection of workshops.  One afternoon we had free time, and I helped with the crafting opportunities.  We had evening worship, followed by fellowship time.  We had leisurely meals which led to further opportunities to get to know each other.

I am part of the Synod both because I am a SAM at Faith Bristol and because I have an internship with the Synod during the 2023-24 school year.  It was great to get to know my fellow Synod members in a closer way and to be part of the team that pulled it together.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Thinking about Columbus and Our Own Creative Lives

Writing time is short this morning, so let me run a Columbus Day post that I wrote some years ago. It's one of my favorite meditations on Columbus.

Today we celebrate Columbus Day: October 12 was the actual day of the first sighting of land after almost 2 months at sea. I’m always amazed at what those early explorers accomplished. At Charlestowne Landing (near Charleston, SC), I saw a boat that was a replica of the boat that some of the first English settlers used to get here. It was teeny-tiny. I can't imagine sailing up the coast to the next harbor in it, much less across the Atlantic. Maybe it would have been easier, back before everyone knew how big the Atlantic was.

In our creative lives, we may have to set off on a tiny boat. We might wish we had different resources, but we start with what we have. Sure, it would be nice to attend that MFA program or to have the job that only has a 2-1 teaching load (do those exist at an entry level anymore?). But the good news is that we can make our way across a wide ocean, even if we have less resources than others. All we need is a smidge of time and the resolve and self-discipline that it takes not to waste that time.

Important journeys can be made in teeny-tiny boats. It's better than staring longingly out towards the sea.

We often think that starting the voyage is the biggest hurdle. But once you begin the journey, the hard part may be yet to come. I've often wondered if Columbus and other explorers ever woke up in the middle of the night and said, "What am I doing here? I could have just settled down with my sweetheart, had a few kids, watched the sunset every night while I enjoyed my wine." Of course, back then, a lot of options were closed to people, and that's why they set off for the horizon. No job opportunities in the Old World? Head west! Sweetheart left you for another or died? Head west!

Maybe we need to just set sail, knowing that we're going to be out of sight of land for awhile. Maybe we need to get over our need for safe harbor, for knowing exactly where we're going.

It's easy to feel full of enthusiasm at the beginning of a project. It’s far harder to keep up that enthusiasm when you're in the middle of a vast ocean, with nothing but your instruments and the stars to guide you, with no sense of how far away the land for which you're searching might be.

Maybe we have a manuscript that we feel is good, but no publisher has chosen yet. Maybe we have a batch of poems that seem to go together, but we have no sense of how to assemble the manuscript, while at the same time, we know we need to create 20 more poems. Maybe we have a vision of the kind of job that might support our creative selves, but no idea of how to get to where we want to be from where we are.

I'm guessing that many of us have similar feelings during our creative lives. We start a project full of enthusiasm. Months or years later, our enthusiasm may flag, as we find ourselves still wrestling with the same issues, even if we’ve moved on to other projects. We can take our cue from the great explorers of the 1400s and later. It’s true that we may feel we’re making the same explorations over and over again. But that doesn’t mean we won’t make important discoveries, even if it’s our fifth trip across the Atlantic on a tiny boat.

I keep thinking of the ship's logs and the captain's journals, which Columbus kept obsessively. Perhaps we need to do a bit more journalling/blogging/notetaking/observing. Maybe it’s more calibrating or more focused daydreaming. These tools can be important in our creative lives.

Maybe we need a benefactor. Who might be Queen Isabella for us, as artists and as communities of artists?

The most important lesson we can learn from Columbus is we probably need to know that while we think we're sailing off for India, we might come across a continent that we didn't know existed. Columbus was disappointed with his discovery: no gold, no spices, land that didn’t live up to his expectations. Yet, he started all sorts of revolutions with his discovery. Imagine a life without corn, sweet peppers, tomatoes. Imagine life without chocolate. Of course, if I was looking through the Native American lens, I might say, "Imagine life without smallpox."

Still, the metaphor holds for the creative life. Many of us start off with a vision for where we'd like to go, perhaps even with five and ten year plans. Yet if we're open to some alternate paths, we might find ourselves making intriguing discoveries that we'd never have made, had we stuck religiously to our original plans.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

History Hinge in Gaza?

Once again, I find myself wondering if we are at a hinge point in history.  And once again, I wonder if I left that sentence with no context, and if I came across that sentence years from now, if I would wonder what I had been referencing.

This morning, I'm thinking about the events in Israel over the week-end.  Most of the experts I've read say that these events are the most significant military events in Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur war.  The death tolls and the human rights abuses in the past few days seem significantly worse than any that have happened in this century in Israel and Gaza.

I also realize that my understanding (of this subject, these politics, this geography) is based on reading.  I haven't met or talked to any residents of either Israel or Gaza.  I haven't visited the Holy Land.  I am a Christian, but I don't have the same religious feelings about the Holy Land that many people of many religions do.  I do tend to think in larger geopolitical terms, but I also know that we often don't see the larger geopolitical picture when we're in the middle of events that are happening.

The more I read the more I can't figure out what world leaders should do.  If ever a situation deserves a word like "intractable," it's the situation in Gaza.  

But I'm old enough to remember other situations that seemed impossible to solve--until a solution happened.  So I will continue to pray and to hope:  for peace in our time, for a world that's less oppressive, for all that are victims of violence and situations where they have had no power.  It makes me sad that these types of prayers are never far from my lips.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Week-end Creativity Report

It's been a week-end of creativity, which was great fun, and a week-end of home repairs, which led to both progress and irritation.  At long last, we have a washer and a dryer again:

I should clarify:  we have a working washer and dryer again.  These appliances were delivered July 21, where they have sat in the middle of the kitchen floor since, making working in the kitchen more of a challenge than it should be going forward.

To have a working washer and dryer, my spouse needed to transform the space which had once been a hallway.  We needed new plumbing and new electric.  Then, we needed to correct the new plumbing so that there could be a wall.  Then we needed walls and paint for the walls.

Finally, on Saturday, it was time.  We moved the washer into place and did a load of laundry, to be sure that the plumbing wasn't leaking.  Sunday it was time to heave the dryer into place.  My spouse did that work while I drove across the mountains to preach at Faith Lutheran.  I came back and served as cheerleader while my spouse tried to connect the dryer hose; ultimately he was successful, but it did make me wonder why this has to be so hard.  Why is the diameter of the hose and the diameter of the vent pipe exactly the same?

When I look back on this week-end, I hope I remember that we also had fun times.  On Friday, when we were getting supplies for the laundry room remodel, we also picked up a rope and a hook for the suspension of the bird house that my spouse envisioned.  

So far, it's stayed suspended.  The birds have found it, but the bears and the squirrels have not.  

On Friday, I took some muslin that I had after an anniversary quilt project and some scraps of batting, and I created ghosts to go with the pumpkins at the fence.  

At first I had a vision of each ghost having different colored eyes, but the first ghost with blue eyes was more KKK hood than ghost:

So I grabbed a marker and made the more traditional ghost eyes.  

It's not permanent ink, so it's already running a bit, but I don't care:

On Saturday, I wrote this about them:  "Now some of the ghosts look extra sad or extra goth or extra hungover, like their mas-scare-a (say it with a spooky voice the way that spouse Carl did) has started to run down their faces."

Will I keep buying pumpkins?  Will the ghosts last to Halloween?  Stay tuned.

Today the flooring project resumes, which is a project that doesn't involve me this time.  I will be up the hill at Lutheridge attending and assisting with the Southeastern Synod's Convocation time (a continuing ed/spiritual renewal event for rostered ministers and others).  May all be well this week!

Friday, October 6, 2023

Buoyant Joy as Spring Schedules Mesh

It feels like a long time since I've had a relatively free week-end.  I still go to preach on Sunday, which involves a 2 hour drive on either side, so Sunday isn't free.  And I still have grading, but once the semester gets underway, I always have grading.  Similarly, I have seminary work, but once the semester is underway, I will always have long term projects and short term readings.

Part of what makes this week-end feel different is that next week is Reading Week at seminary, so I don't have classes.  It's a great week not to have classes, as I'm attending and helping with the Southeastern Synod Convocation, which is like a continuing ed/spiritual renewal event for ministers and pastors.

I am also entering into this week-end with a sense of peace that I haven't had before.  Yesterday, my seminary released the course list for Spring.  I had been worried that some of my required classes would be offered at the same time I was teaching my face to face classes.  Happily, that's not the case.  And the class that I hope to take, the one that explores teaching and digital media, that's offered this semester in a virtual modality--hurrah!  

I let my department chair at Spartanburg Methodist College know that my spring seminary courses wouldn't conflict with my teaching, and I asked if the final Spring schedule had been approved by the dean.  The last e-mail I got made me think we were still waiting on approval.  But happily, we've all been approved.  My chair said, "As far as I'm concerned, you'll be in front of those classes when we get to January."

I went through the rest of the afternoon with a sense of joy:  I get to keep teaching AND take seminary classes.  My afternoon face-to-face classes went well, which kept my sense of joy intact. The mountains are so beautiful this time of year, so the drive kept my joy buoyant.  

That buoyant joy is also influencing my sense of expansiveness as the week-end begins.  Now let me go for a walk and enjoy the autumnal weather and views.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Ghosts and Other Inspirations

Yesterday when I walked into my dermatologist's office, I smiled at the sight of all the Halloween decorations.  Every surface had a pumpkin or a jack-o-lantern--or a purple fuzzy witch's boot.  There was a bowl of candy, as if trick-or-treaters might come.  Spiderwebs of various colors were draped over counters and tables.

When I went from the lobby to the back offices and exam rooms, I saw that the decorating had continued.  I said, "Do y'all decorate like this for Christmas too?"

The medical assistant person said, "Oh yes."

I said, "I'm tempted to change my February appointment to December so that I can see it."

She said, "You should!"

I won't do that, but I am tempted.  I love seeing everyone's decorations, regardless of the holiday.

This morning I saw this photo of ghosts made out of vintage fabric, posted by @BrknPoet on Twitter.

Photo by @BrknPoet

I don't want to do too much decorating inside my house this year--it's still a construction zone.  And I don't want to buy too many decorations--we don't have much storage space.  But this picture made me think about possibilities for the outside of the house.  I have a vision for ghosts along our fence line--it's the only space that's really visible from the road, and part of me decorates to bring joy to neighbors and walkers and other passers by.

I have muslin left over from a project, and I have batting.  Let me schedule some creative fun this week-end.  That's the disadvantage with ghosts--they're time sensitive.  Pumpkins can stay up through Thanksgiving, which is why they are my go-to.