Saturday, July 18, 2009

Oops, how could I forget?

The Rt Rev V Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, ended his time at GC09 feeling ill.
My apologies to those of you who have been following my blog -- until it recently stopped. On Wednesday evening, after a momentous and wonderful day in the House of Bishops, I came down with a raging fever. At first, I thought it was simply exhaustion. But now, 48 hours later, I am still host to a serious fever which has sapped my strength and kept me from participating in the last two days of Convention.

Let us keep him also in our prayers.

h/t to David for reminding me

--the BB

Restorative weekends are long overdue - updated

Not sure how many items will be accomplished today.

Sleep in. Check!
Laundry. Begun. Two loads washed, dried, put away.
Harry Potter with friend Kathy. Tickets purchased - fun afternoon ahead!
Lovely time with Kathy. Enjoyed the movie though I should have skipped my diuretic today. Supper afterward at the Standard Diner. May I say their "Bulldog Burger" with New Mexico roasted green chile and cheddar is delicious? We talked about children, friendship, belief or non-belief in God, my novels, living alone and being single, movies, opera, authors, etc.

Hoovering. Badly needed but have not moved much today. Another day!
Pay more bills. Another day!
Water yard. Tomorrow.
Get overdue prayer post up. Check!
Work on novel. Maybe. Tomorrow.
Honor my introversion by not going to a church event this morning. Check!

OK, that's enough for a Saturday.

Yes, this is more of a Facebook post than blogging, but I prefer indulging my graphics here.
--the BB

Heart thread - 07/18/2009

Aunt May LaRose Strid Anderson and Rachel Hoff

This photo was taken at a family Fourth of July gathering in 2002. The little Rachel you see in the photo is Aunt Rachel to little Clara and Olivia. Aunt May is the youngest of my father's sisters and she was always the sunny one. As the family lore goes, she was born in later, happier days when life was rosier for the immigrant farm family. She and Uncle Red grew lots of peaches on their farm and I associate summer visits from them with the arrival of peaches. This often led to home-made peach ice cream (cranked by hand with ice and rock salt). Aunt May also grew peonies at the side of her house and she shared Farmor's [grandmother's] gift for baking.

During my elementary school days there was always a week at the cabin each summer. Cousin Judy and I would entertain ourselves while Mom and Aunt May sewed. Mom made five shirts for me and one dress for Judy. May sewed five dresses for Judy and one shirt for me. That would be our new school wardrobe for the year.

What we took for granted as children becomes more meaningful as the years go by. I have a good sewing machine and I sew but only flat, two-dimensional items like banners, cafe curtains, and straight-line stoles. Tailoring, the art of shaping garments, is something I have never attempted beyond flannel duffel coats for my Paddington Bear. I admire those who sew clothing.

As you have read in these posts, Aunt May has been ill. Here is the latest post from my sister (last Wednesday):
Aunt May was taken back to the nursing home again today. She has been to the ER several times since Judy took her home. Jay and I saw her on Friday....
She is very out of breath and her heart is failing (in spite of her pacemaker). My diagnosis!! Just from what I saw.
I will keep you informed. Love you, Me

For the repose of the soul of Walter Cronkite. As we lament the demise of real journalism on television may we pray for its resurrection.
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Fran who is visiting family (that they may all have the grace to stay far from politics). And for Gracie who gets boarded while everyone else is away.

For Fran's other sister-in-law:
As for my SIL who has been ill and who so many of you have been praying for... Good news, relatively speaking! She had (past tense) endometrial cancer, a far cry from ovarian cancer. It was all removed with her operation and now she is having precautionary chemo. Her outlook is much better and she is keeping her dog Skittles.

Thank you SO much for the prayers and good thoughts and wishes!!!!
For Kirstin whose body continues to recover from a year of interferon.
Up, woozily. Did too much yesterday. What did I do? Shop and make pizza. (Okay, I made the dough too.) When I hit a wall, I hit it. Hard.

Thanksgiving for Margaret and the host of volunteers at General Convention. Blessings on all who serve! I give thanks for the reporting of her experiences and observations there. For Joel who stayed behind that his health may improve. And, forgive me Joel, is that not one hubba hubba photo of your wife? Woof!

For Padre Mickey and the Lovely Mona holed up in an undisclosed location cut off from the intertubes.

For Jane R laboring in sweet exile and for +Maya enjoying the birds but missing her canon.

Continuing prayer for Doxy's brother-in-law Jim and his wife Ruthie.
Ruthie and Jim had really encouraging news today.... The MRI showed no visible tumor. There is a suspicion, but the neuro-oncologist and the radial oncologist think it may be due to surgery. To continue to keep the tumor at bay, Jim will start back on chemotherapy. Jim and Ruthie are, of course, delighted with these results.
Continuing prayer for my friend Lolly:
Thank you all so much for your prayers & healing thoughts; they have surely been helpful in my recovery, which has gone smoothly. F. & I saw the surgeon on Monday, and the visit did bring more good news. Dr. S. took out most of the stitches and told us that all of the margins were clear! I am so very thankful & feel so fortunate & blessed, as I would really find it hard to go thru more surgery at this time. Now I have to look forward to talking with two oncologists (next week, on Mon & Weds; I've rec'd seven pages of medical questions that I have to fill out from one oncologist's office already.) I'd like to put it behind me, but Dr. S. insists I need to hear all of "whatever" they have to tell me-- from the medical oncologist (who, does chemo &/or hormone therapy) and the radiation oncologist. So we will listen & learn & F. will take notes! (He has been such a wonderfully loving and caring and patient partner; I am truly blessed.)
For Janet and Jeannetta.

Ongoing prayer for Roseann and Gary:
Well it has been a wild week. I went to dialysis Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri and I'm feeling a little better now. On Tues I was transfused with 2 pints of blood. A person waiting, hoping for a kidney transplant never wants a transfusion because it builds up antibodies in your blood that make it harder to find a donor. However, being so anemic you can't walk across a room is not desirable either.
I saw my nephrologist today and he told me how worried he had been earlier this week. He's a good guy who really cares about his patients. The swelling in my arms has gone down about 75% and he expects the rest will go by the end of next week. I just keep on keepin' on.
--from Wounded Bird

For Terry Martin (aka Jake):
A drastically reduced budget has been approved by General Convention. Among the cuts are various programs at the Episcopal Church Center.

I'm sorry to have to inform you that the entire Evangelism program, including my position, has been eliminated from the budget.

Other program officer postions eliminated include Worship and Spirituality, Women's Ministries and Lay Ministry.

All together, 37 positions at the Episcopal Church Center have been cut. No explanation has been offered as to why these programs were chosen for elimination.

One of the most frustrating things about this unexpected development was that it follows right on the heels of the positive time I spent last week with the Evangelism Legislative Committee as they carefully crafted various resolutions. There were plans in place to host evangelism events with our ecumenical partners, create an innovative evangelism "toolkit," and develop training programs for evangelists, among other things. All these resolutions passed both Houses. I was quite enthusiastic about those proposals. But now, since the entire Evangelism program is gone, I'm afraid there will be no one to implement those excellent ideas. How sad.

So, after eleven brief months, I'll be moving on. I have no clear idea what adventure God has in mind for this next part of the journey. But I am a firm believer in redemption, so I know there's a silver lining in this somewhere! The will of God never leads us where the grace of God cannot keep us.

Pray for those staff at the Episcopal Church Center struggling with unexpected transitions.

Pray for the Church.
For Sue-z (request via OCICBW and Mimi):
From JimB:

I called the paramedics this morning because Sue-z could not breath. She is in hospital at LaGrange Community with an apparent clot in her pulminary artery. Treatment for that condition is medical. Blood thiners are used to actually disolve the clot.

The current expectation is that she will be in hospital until the middle of next week. As I can I shall keep you'al posted. Please pray for her and her healers.
The following are from The Prayer List at OCICBW:

Haven't asked this community for prayers yet, but at a time when I'm finding prayer difficult I need some help. So can I ask your prayers for Don, who is failing and has just been admitted to the hospice, and his wife Stella who is brave and lovely. And from the same congregation, please pray for Neil, who is in hospital and seems to be wasting away, and his wife Maureen who faces a long time on her own.



Jack at THE WORLD OF DOORMAN-PRIEST has asked for our prayers concerning an injustice very much on his mind at the moment. The person at the centre of this injustice is Enid Ruhango who has been the victim of the most disgusting and unnecessary abuse (bordering on torture) whilst negotiating the UK's immigration procedures. Please visit Jack's blog for full details of her harrowing experience.


Posted by DanG at SAWDUST MUSINGS:

Today was a bittersweet day. We held Paul's funeral today at Grace Lutheran Church.

Paul was ready to go, he has been lonely since his wife, Juanita, died two years ago. The end came mercifully soon, he had been hospitalized for 4 days and came home at 9:30 AM on Friday, July 10. He died 2 hours later.

I'm going to miss him, we've been buddies for 25 years. He was a great neighbor and an even better man. I think we gave him a good send off. So Long old buddy.

For the aftermath and the moving forward and the healing.
But still … I remember how desperately grieved I felt after 2006. And I know some people are feeling a similar grief after 2009. I have read some of the blogs from the conservative side of our church, and I know they are hurting. I have been tempted to comment on some of those blogs, but then I read that they think that any word from someone like me will feel patronizing or condescending.

I pray that we can move forward together ... eventually. I hope we can together “march in the light of God” one of these days.

I thought I would post a big "ALLELUIA" if our Bishops and Deputies moved forward on the resolutions that mattered to me. To my surprise, I find myself grateful but subdued ... because I understand some of the pain that those on "the other side" must be feeling.
--Lisa Fox at My Manner of Life

God of all creation, we hold before you the worlds you call us to love. In our brokenness we ask for healing and the flowering forth of your image in each of us. Pour out your life-giving Spirit that we may be brought to wholeness. We thank you for all who seek your will and the grace to perform it. Bless and keep those who depart from General Convention 2009. Whatever has been done amiss, we pray you mend. What has been decided aright, we pray you bless and strengthen. What is done partially and imperfectly, we pray you perfect. Heal our hearts and enlarge our vision. Unite us in you. Make us instruments of your peace and channels of Good News. Bring all things to completion in your Word spoken in the beginning, made flesh in Jesus, and summing all things as Yes and Amen.

--the BB

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pourquoi n'est-il pas pendu? Je vous le demande.

Plus becqueté d'oiseaux que dés à coudre? Eh? Pourquoi?

Beneath what was once a rather sweet exterior I have always been one to bear grudges. Readers of this blog know that I'd like to see Dick Cheney swinging at the end of a rope, hanged for treason. I could compromise and accept life imprisonment for him after conviction of war crimes. But I'd really prefer hanging him for treason. When it comes to Dick Cheney, I am one vengeful mofo. I'd even pull the lever.

Am I an Ahab to his Moby Dick, destroying myself with my hatred? Boy, the thought of perishing with him is pretty disgusting. Guess I need to go work on my karma.

Meanwhile, however.....

Marcy discussed the DOJ's shameful refusal to accept CREW's FOIA request:
But DOJ is not, just, referring to "information that is not at all similar" to information in the public record. It is also trying to hide information that is "not identical to the public domain information."

In other words, the evidence presented at trial that Dick Cheney learned of Plame's identity, passed it on to Libby in the context of responses to journalists, apparently ordered Libby to leak it to a journalist, but didn't tell anyone else at the White House up to and including George Bush about that order--DOJ is stating that Cheney said some things in his interview that are "not identical" to those things revealed at trial.

And that, my friends, is what this heap of steaming stupid is designed to keep hidden.

So, does Cheney have pictures of Eric Holder in compromising positions with children of both sexes AND a goat? What are they protecting, and why?

--the BB

I saw this on Mahablog and had to share

Hockey Mama and the Moose

These folks are truly clever.

Thanks, Maha!

--the BB

Iran 2009 and our First Amendment

via Juan Cole who also reports:
Ghanbar Naderi points out that Rafsanjani has a long history of flip-flopping between the hard line and reformist camps. I would argue that this is because he is a pragmatic conservative, and his sermon today shows that he has concluded that shoe-horning Ahmadinejad into a second term by stealing the election is above all just not a practical course of action even for conservatives. He is playing a role similar to that of prominent American conservatives who defected to Obama in fall of 2008, because they just did not believe McCain-Palin were a practical alternative. Precisely because Rafsanjani is not a hard-edged ideologue, his clear ambivalence about the regime's actions is all the more striking as an indication of the shaky situation in Iran.
Let us not take this for granted:
Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
How impressive it is to see Iranians assemble peaceably and seek redress when they do not have this First Amendment. How sad that we are so unwilling to do the same when grave wrongs occur and we do have the First Amentment.

Remember the "free speech zones" of the Bush era? I thought the entire nation was supposed to be a free speech zone.

As I said, let us never take for granted....

--the BB

I did not know until the last two days that these two were lovers

Life and fantasy are so full of surprises.

Two hostages in conversation, observed from a distance through magic:
"You have offered your allegiance to the princess. Were I of any other family I should have done the same, but we are on opposing sides in this struggle.”

“No, love, we are not. We are [citizens of F.] and our allegiance is to F. .... One love does not diminish another. Our hearts can contain the stars themselves if we but let them.”

I'm sparing y'all a lot of the mush. You know how love scenes can be, especially if the lovers are young.

Hey, I can't kill people in every scene, you know.

In fact, we try to work things out sensibly.
J. was a seasoned warrior with no love of slaughter. “Will you lay down your arms peaceably?” he asked.

“To be massacred?” O. responded.

“To be spared,” said J. “Cease your opposition, allow us to feed and rest one night in peace, and there need be no further fighting between us. I see no purpose in widow making, Cousin O. I seriously doubt that it appeals to you.”

There is enough death as it is.

Tonight's episode was brought to you by the number 50 (as in, these passages come from Chapter 50 of the tale).

Sweet dreams and a blessed but belated St Swithun's Day (July 15), my swooning swallows!
--the BB

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A suggestion for Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is an embarrassment to public discourse.

He is an (1) angry (2) old (3) white (4) man who cannot stop spouting racist nonsense.

He is emblematic of the group that has long held power in our society and knows this power is slipping from its grip. We are talking the long slow death of the patriarchy, for one thing. And the inevitable diminution of white colonial dominance over people of color (a noxious phrase as we all have color, but "pink dominance" does not have established historical overtones, etc.). Very few are those who willingly let go of power. Jesus and Buddha come to mind but the examples are still rare.

Buchanan is not alone. The (1) angry (2) old (3) white (4) men of the Senate cannot get past having to deal with a non-Anglo female put forth to be on the highest court of the land. They also seem incapable of grasping that they are products and beneficiaries of a system that privileges their gender, age, and color of skin. They think their experiences and perspectives are, and should be, the norm.

They are freaking out. They are panicked. They are angry. They know they are cornered and they are vicious.

We all need to acknowledge that what they are spouting is racism, hatred, ignorance, bigotry, and division. They are tearing this nation down, not building it up. When they spout this hateful bullshit they should be told to their faces that it is bullshit and they are spouting racism. The time for letting them get away with this by being "nice" is past. Fuck polite, folks, we need to call a spade a damned shovel if we are to have any hope of breaking through denial to reality.

Of course, they are accusing their victim, a classic ploy of abusers.

Count on it. If Republicans are denouncing something loudly, you know they are doing it. These days they are crying "racism" when speaking of Judge Sotomayor.

As we say in Spanglish circles, "Por fa-fucking-vor."

So, Pat, a suggestion. STFU. We don't need your angry thought pollution. It endangers our children, eats away at our societal structure, and is just plain bad for the planet, the nation, and your own soul.

--the BB

WSJ gives platform to war criminal

Mcjoan, who tracks issues of ongoing interest to me, posted today about John Yoo's disingenuous (dishonest? Yes, let's go with dishonest!) opinion piece in the WSJ defending FISA violations. That's defending illegal behavior, in case I'm being too subtle here.

She quotes extensively from Anonymous Liberal's "detailed and devastating take down of Yoo."

A sample from Anonymous Liberal:
In today's op-ed Yoo finally gets around to a subject that he didn't bother to mention in his original opinion, the relevance of the Youngstown case. In an almost childish bit of sophistry, Yoo asserts that "Youngstown correctly found that the Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the exclusive power to make law concerning labor disputes. It does not, however, address the scope of the president's power involving military strategy or tactics in war." Needless to say, this is an interpretation of Youngstown shared by precisely no one. Youngstown explicitly involved a conflict between the president's power to direct the Korean War and Congress. In every case since then, the Supreme Court has applied the Youngstown framework to presidential claims of Article II authority. In the recent Hamdan case, the Court relied on Youngstown in striking down the Bush administration's military commissions. Suggesting that Youngstown was about a "labor dispute" is like suggesting that Marbury v. Madison was about a judicial appointment. It entirely misses the point of the case.
[Emphasis mine]


Yoo is an especially nasty piece of work. He makes the most noisome drengturd look and smell good.

Why, by every star in heaven, is this man not under indictment, if not behind bars?

--the BB


07/16/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. 1st Class Jason J. Fabrizi, 29, of Seffner, Fla., died July 14 in Konar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his mounted patrol was attacked by enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.

07/15/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties (2 of 2)
Staff Sgt. David S. Spicer, 33, of Zanesfield, Ohio...assigned to 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune...died July 13 while supporting combat operations...

07/15/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties (1 of 2)
Sgt. Michael W. Heede Jr., 22, of Delta, Pa...assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton......died July 13 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan...


When are they going to do something about the notorious wetware problem, the volatility of the short-term memory buffer?

Yesterday morning I gather up and loaded into the car the following: change of clothing for today, toiletries, supply of Diet Pepsi for work today. Off I headed to work and then Santa Fe.

Only as I was about to get in the car after work, standing there in the heat of the parking lot, I realized that MY OPERA TICKET was still sitting next to my laptop at home.

I called Santa Fe to let folks know what happened, then zipped home, picked up the ticket, and zoomed north to Santa Fe. For those unfamiliar with the geography here, Santa Fe is roughly north of Albuquerque. My best friend's pied-à-terre in Santa Fe is on the north end of Santa Fe, basically across from the Veterans' Cemetery. Work is on the slightly north end of town adjacent to I-25. I live on the far southwest part of town. It is about 25-30 minutes from work to my house and work is on the way back to Santa Fe.

I made record time, driving like a Californian, arriving at the condo in Santa Fe just under two hours before the opera began. Whew. (That is enough confession. We will not mention velocity here.)

Every time I visited there before the gate to the condo complex was open. It was, of course, closed last night. I had no gate pass or gate code, so I did what sensible people do. I drove up and tried to use the directory to ring best friend and mutual friend, co-owners of the condo. Last Name #1 was not listed. Last Name #2 was not listed. Out comes cell phone on which I had announced my soon arrival just five minutes earlier. Voice mail. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I must have dialed ten times.

So that is how the opera adventure began.

We can add that I was "journey proud" the night before and did not sleep well. Last night I realized how very quiet my house is because every noise at the condo seemed like a symphony at full volume. I did not sleep well last night. I fully expect to fall asleep at the keyboard before very long this evening.

Having said all that....

Dinner plans changed last night. Instead of meeting at a restaurant in Santa Fe we met at the condo for leftovers. You may dismiss your concept of leftovers. We had crusty peasant bread with stilton and brie. A nice red wine. Poached salmon with basil from BF's yard. Coleslaw made from cabbage and onions from BF's yard, along with jicama and a light dressing of mayo, New Mexico chile powder and cayenne. Fresh fruit salad with nectarines and plums and melon all at their peak. Individual pastries for dessert. (They were purchased for the occasion and, like the bread and cheese, were not leftovers.)

Mutual friend was driving. So I must have had slightly over half the bottle of wine.

Off to the opera!

It was like an oven inside the opera house. At each pause for applause in the first half I wiped great quantities of sweat from my temples. (Sorry, delicate ladies, but it's true.) I did get drowsy toward the end of that act, between the wine and the heat and, well, a darkened space with pretty music.

But it was wonderful to enjoy an opera we had met so many years ago. The staging was inventive, set in Italy near the end of WWII. The acting was reasonable, the singers sang well. I enjoyed it.

It was not magical. The performance we saw decades earlier had been magical and it is hard to rise to the level of our transformative memories, no?

The one thing I would level as a serious criticism in the production design/direction was treating Dr. Dulcamara, the traveling snake oil salesman, as a shifty mafia castoff. Of course there is an unsavory element about him but he is usually portrayed as charming and one WANTS to believe he's got the goods. This portrayal sometimes made my flesh crawl. The net result was diminishing the charm of the performance.

Yes, diminished charm is the problem I had with it. Nemorino is always a lovesick loon, passive to the point of making one want to shake him, but he should have tons of charm. Pittas' Nemorino did not have the charm we remember when a very young, very athletic Luis Lima did it so long ago (in a galaxy far away).

Still, lovely music, nicely sung.

While taking it easy this evening the doorbell rang. My neighbors were playing in my yard. Pruning. I have wanted to top my plane tree so it will grow out more. Well, that is finally done and I did some other pruning on the lower branches. The other alleged "tree" has had deadwood and excess branches removed, the day lilies have had dead leaves cleaned up. They are such nice people.

Now to cool off and finish catching up.

--the BB

Did ya miss me?

Nah, you were all too busy frolicking in the summer sun. Well, I would like to think you were.

I'm home. More soon.

--the BB

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A little hiatus

I will be heading off to Santa Fe tonight for some opera - as has been touted here for days. I will not be back blogging until tomorrow night.

Here is another snippet of L'Elisir d'amore: Heidi Grant Murphy singing as Adina.


--the BB

Господи, помилуй

168 believed dead in Iran jet crash
Los Angeles Times - Borzou Daragahi - ‎10 minutes ago‎
The plane was bound for Armenia. The airline uses Russian-made Tupolev jets, whose safety is doubted by many Iranians. By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Reporting from Beirut -- A commercial airliner carrying 168 people crashed in ...
Iranian Plane Crashes, All 168 on Board Believed Dead Voice of America

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vive la France!

This post is probably not about what you expect.

Anyone who thinks class is neither a reality nor an issue in the United States is incredibly sheltered, naïve, misinformed, or deliberately ignorant. For all that we cite "all men are created equal," the harsh reality is that our society acts as though all persons are not equal. It has ever been thus, though the dream of treating all equally perdures to challenge and inspire us.

I believe in that maxim and that dream and the goal of acting on that reality. Our equality before God and in creation is a given. We need to live from that reality.

Class structure, class attitudes, and class behavior are, nonetheless, part of our everyday existence.

My perception is that of someone from "the working class." One grandfather was a railroad man, the other a farmer and construction worker. Both had supervisory positions but they were not part of management by any means. One came from Sweden as a young man. My grandmothers raised moderately large families (for Baptist ladies, not Catholics or Mormons). I am a third-generation Swedish-American, so I have immigrant roots. My father was, for many years, a letter carrier until he got a job doing technical repairs and maintenance for the USPO (back before it became the USPS). My mother was "a housewife" and it was not the sort of leisured life of the wealthy where she needed clubs and charities to keep her busy. My brothers-in-law were truck drivers and operating engineers. You get the picture. I have college-educated cousins but in my immediate family I am the only one with a college education, not to mention graduate studies.

Because of my education, work history, and interests I have moved in the circles of doctors, lawyers, professors, clergy, managers, and artists. Blue collar roots, white collar life. I see the "white collar" world around me with "blue collar eyes," the eyes of someone who will always be an outsider, who will not always buy into the mythos and perspective of those around me.

Margaret wrote a post that touched me:
It is a strange and wonderful thing to be "the help." You are invisible... well, except to the other "help." When I walk down the street with my apron folded over my arm, I get a lot of nods of acknowledgment from the waiters and street sweepers and maids and every one else who wears an apron.

It is the rare individual who looks at "the help" and sees a person.

I hope I will always remember that.
I hope I remember too. It is no virtue of mine that I cannot remember when I did not see the "help" as people, my equals, human beings with lives and context and joys and sorrows, as people who matter in this cosmos. That perspective is purely a gift of God. I have waited tables, washed dishes and cleaned kitchens, and enjoy talking with people who clean the buildings where I work.

So among the many people I met in my undergraduate years I remember the housekeeper, Elena, who was a Cuban exile and whose father was a bank president. She tidied my room and made my bed once a week and carried her dignity. We always chatted. Her Cuban accent grated on my Central California ears as we talked in both Spanish and English. She always posed indignantly to indicate what a slob I was. And am. Peace be upon her.

And the janitor in our building in Emeryville when I worked in biotech. I celebrated a house blessing and Eucharist in his sisters' apartment the day the Oakland Hills fire broke out.

I have served as an altar guild person. I know what it is to get wine and lipstick stains out of linen and to iron it afterward. I have polished brass and cleaned up candle wax. I try never to forget to thank the altar guild either before or after a service.

Why, you may well be wondering by now, am I writing about all this on Bastille Day?

Well, it is because I went to a junior high school (long since demolished) that had classes in Spanish and German but not in French. The adjoining junior high school district offered classes in French and Latin. There were clear class distinctions between these two school districts. I was from a somewhat "poorer" section of town, though still semi-respectably middle class. In order to take advantage of some of the offerings at Fresno High School (in 1961-64), my family fought to get a transfer from the high school district in which I lived to FHS. Most of the kids in the college prep classes (what they call advanced placement, or AP, now, I believe) were from the other junior high school. Their parents were of the "professional" class whereas my part of town was of the "working" class.

So it was not Gallic attitude that I projected onto the French people but the sense of social superiority I felt from (or projected on to) my classmates who had gone to THE OTHER junior high. It did not help that the French had, in the American mind, a reputation for being cultural snobs.

I had three years of Spanish and four years of Latin by the time I graduated from high school. I felt, on a very non-reflective level, that French was the language of snobs.

Guess what my major was in college?

You got it: French.

By the time I graduated in 1968 I was fluent in French, the only language other than English of which I can say this. I had lived two months in Montpellier and one month in Paris. And, oh yes, I carried on conversations with "the common folk," the guards where I lived (with their wonderful meridional peasant accents that I loved to imitate), the shopkeepers, and anyone I came across.

I got to know the French people mostly through those who lived in the south (le Midi). I met them in their homes. I visited where some of them worked. I worshipped with them. I loved the shopkeepers on the Île St Louis in Parish and they all treated me like some distant relative. It was a wonderful experience.

Though I had been warned about French attititudes about Americans, my experience was quite the opposite. I met folks who remembered WWII and who embraced me just because the Americans had come to their aid. Not what I expected.

Anyway, on this Bastille Day I want to express my gratitude for the people of France, then and now - for their history and culture and cuisine and artistic legacy. I still think their self-perception is a bit, well, overblown, but we Yanks have a beam in our eye compared to that mote.

Vive la France! Vivent le français!

Holy Louis IX and Holy Jeanne d'Arc, pray for us all!

Edith Piaf - Non, Je ne regrette rien

--the BB

Una furtiva lacrima

We continue listening to bits of Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore. Tonight Nemorino's most famous aria:

Juan Diego Florez "Una furtiva lagrima"


--the BB

Bonne fête de Bastille!

And happy 55th birthday to my niece Paula!

--the BB

Monday, July 13, 2009


07/13/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualt
Cpl. Matthew R. Lembke, 22, of Tualatin, Ore., died July 10 of wounds sustained on June 24 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force...

07/12/09 AFP:
US Soldier dies from wounds received in June
A fifth U.S. service member wounded in June died of wounds in the U.S. on Friday, said Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, who confirmed the deaths of the four Marines. The four killed Saturday were initially identified as Army soldiers.


Name not released yet. Non-hostile; medical. Baghdad.

May they rest in peace....

Il y a eut un miracle!

The House of Bishops passed an amended version of D025:
99 Yes - 45 No - 2 Abstain.

The amendment is minor:
'Resolved that this 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry within TEC and that God's call to the ministry is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.'
Since it is amended it will return to the House of Deputies. I cannot imagine that they will not concur. The earlier version passed there in a vote by orders. In both cases we are talking passage by 2/3 votes.

Lisa Fox and I are working on saucing crow. I am thinking a highly reduced sauce with fruity tang, spicy undertones, and a lovely wine to accompany it.

To the House of Bishops I say,

I apologize for my lack of faith.

(I think there is a passage somewhere about helping one's unbelief.)

And, as a certain Henry suggested, a Te Deum and Non nobis.

Hector Berlioz - (1/7) Te Deum, Op. 22 - I. Te Deum

--the BB

More of L'elisir d'amore and other ponderings

Bellas Artes, Ciudad de México, DF
imágen de Wikipedia

Göran commented in the earlier post:
Song in Italian and subtitles in German and Spanish ;=)

This calls to mind one of my more memorable opera moments.

We had arrived in Mexico City for our first vacation there. (I had seen the DF once before at an Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission council meeting.) We were staying at a hotel just a couple of blocks from the Palacio de Bellas Artes and wandered in to get tickets for the requisite evening of the Baile Folklorico. Once inside we spotted news that La Flauta Mágica was playing that night! Being great fans of Mozart's Magic Flute we bought tickets. Dirt cheap and in the fourth row center of the orchestra.

The staging was on the cheap. The sung music was done in German, which was how we were accustomed to hearing it. But all the spoken dialogue was in Spanish and the acting was excellent. It was a bit of a shock to keep switching between languages and it was a good thing we knew the story. It was a really fun evening.

Here is some more Donizetti for you.

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo sings Dr. Dulcamara and Anna Yur’yevna Netrebko sings Adina in this scene from L'elisir d'amore.


The Associate Parishes meeting was in Cuernavaca - thanks to the Rev. Gayland Pool. I was there as we hammered out that year's statement:
Cuernavaca Statement - April 1988

The Council of Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, meeting in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on 20-25 April 1988, has begun to experience an Anglican church foreign to most Episcopalians. In Latin America the Anglican churches are developing their own identity. Several of them are moving toward self-determination. This movement stands firmly within Anglican tradition, which includes the right of national churches to develop their own liturgies, pastoral styles, and methods of theological reflection.

We rejoice in the search of the Mexican and other Latin American churches for indigenous models of liturgy and mission.

We urge the Episcopal Church to support authentically Latin American forms of Anglicanism, faithful to the Christian heritage and rooted in their own cultures.

We also encourage all Anglicans to appreciate ethnic diversity in their own churches.

Cuernavaca, Mexico

Inculturation remains an issue as we seek ways to live a universal Gospel in concrete social expressions.

I remember how aghast I was when I got my copy of El Himnario, a joint effort of several denominations. It is Anglo music translated into Spanish. Just. Not. The. Same. If you know what I mean.

There is a rich religious culture in New Mexico with indigenous and Hispanic roots tied to the soil here. We borrow from it in the decoration of our churches and Spanish smatterings occur in some of our liturgies but the Episcopal Church in New Mexico is very much an Anglo church - in a state with 42% Hispanic population. So very little has been done to be the Gospel in a way that is both Anglican (in style, NOT culture) and New Mexican at the same time. ¡Sóspiro!

--the BB

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This week: opera

A zillion years ago we went to see Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore (The Love Potion) at the San Francisco Opera. Luis Lima was the tenor and it helps greatly if you have a good tenor who seems young enough to be stupid in love.

This is the scene where Nemorino comes to Doctor Dulcamara (whom we called Dr. Quackamara since he's really a snake oil salesman - though not the high quality snake oil salesman that our dear Fr. Jake is, of course), seeking a love potion such as that in the story of Tristan and Isolde. Dulcamara will provide any sort of potion you ask for if you have the ready cash, natch. The Mexican-French tenor Rolando Villazón sings Nemorino in this clip.

Wednesday night we will be experiencing this opera again, only this time in Santa Fe along with another friend. (I am the luckiest person on earth to enjoy such a relationship with my ex that we can continue sharing the riches of three decades now of friendship - and do things like this that are so much richer for our having done them together before.)

Dmitri Pittas will be singing Nemorino in this production and lyric soprano Jennifer Black will sing Adina.

I will post more music of this opera in the days ahead. Enjoy.

--the BB


07/11/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Joshua R. Farris, 22, of La Grange, Texas, died July 9 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment...

07/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
Lance Cpl. Roger G. Hager, 20, of Gibsonville, N.C., and Master Sgt. John E. Hayes, 36, of Middleburg, Fla., died July 8 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. They were assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion...

07/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Gregory J. Missman, 36, of Batavia, Ohio, died July 8 at Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained elsewhere in Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 704th Brigade Support Battalion...

07/09/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Sgt. Michael C. Roy, 25, of North Fort Myers, Fla., died July 8 while supporting combat operations in Nimroz province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3d Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Advisor Group...

07/09/09 :
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Darren Ethan Tate, 21, of Canyon, Texas died of non-hostile causes July 8 at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the USS Iwo Jima, and deployed as an Individual Augmentee to Combined Security Transition...


July 09, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pvt. Lucas M. Bregg, 19, of Wright City, Mo., died July 8 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

"We are here to give, cleanse, and nourish"

"We struggle endlessly to learn what life means and what we are here for, and yet the answer etched out in the life of Christ and discovered by everyone who follows him is relatively simple: we are here to give and cleanse and nourish, and to the extent that we do, we will be fed and sustained in turn... the nourishment we offer another...flows directly and solely out of...the depths we have carved within ourselves."

--Marc Andrus, Bishop of California (on Facebook)

A prayer for General Convention

Dear God, you are our Source, our Goal, and our Way. Your Word calls the cosmos into being and sustains it, your Spirit gives it life, blessing us with an endless diversity and that unity which is your gift to creation. Some of us are prone to anxiety and dread when church legislative bodies gather. Lift that cloud from us, we pray, and remind us that when your faithful people gather it is you who have called them together, you who are in their midst, you who work your purposes through the most fragile, flawed, and recalcitrant vessels. Pour out your Spirit in abundance on the Deputies and Bishops gathered in Anaheim and open their hearts to you and to one another. Keep us all ever mindful of the mission of your Church and of your initiative for the salvation and sanctification of the world, that we may align ourselves to your intentions and work rather than presume to harness you for ours. May our representatives in General Convention and all of us never lose sight of those we are called to serve. If it is not too presumptuous of me to ask this, please remind the bishops that they are the junior house in our Church, called to serve and not to rule, and feel free to use a two-by-four if necessary. Help us all to love one another and unite in shared mission and ministry.
--Your wayward brat, Paul

Heart thread - 07/12/2009

It is time we keep watch with beloved ones.

From Roseann at Give Peace a Chance, Please!
Pain and frustration
Friends, I know this journey of mine is a boring tale. It bores me for sure. It has been almost 2 years since I got so sick and during that time it has been more ups and downs than a roller coaster. I try not to give in to self pity and I try almost every day to be positive and work at wellness. I say almost every day because some days I stay in bed with the covers over my head and whine and cry and ask God why me over and over.

There is something that happens often that I want to share. When I am most afraid, frustrated and in pain, at some point I am overwhelmed with peace. I have these moments of grace that keep me going one more day. Sometimes it is minute by minute. I know there are people who pray for me and I believe those prayers overflow in those moments of grace.

I'm not getting better. Physically I don't believe I will heal. Each week seems to bring a new break down of some sort in my body. To be honest, I am ready to shed this flesh. I will when I will though.
From my friend Karen at San Gabriel:
My dear friend, Sandra B., has fought a valiant battle over the last year against brain cancer. Though many battles were won, the war has been lost. Her loving husband, Ed, continues to be her major caregiver though hospice has been included recently. My prayers for Sandra include visualizing her in God's tender-loving arms and that she continue this life in a peaceful and dignified manner until it is time for her to move on. Please join me in holding her gently and lovingly during this time of transition.

Many, many thanks - Karen #
My SIL's SIL, Jeannetta, has gone beyond where medicine can deal with cancer and is living life to the fullest right now.

A prayer from Mother Sandra, modified to include others as well as Sandra B.:

God of all we encounter in this earthly life, we hold before you those who enter into the last months and weeks of their life in this earthly dimension. Grant to them and to their families and friends the peace that only you can offer, the peace that allows us to focus on what we must do and keeps us close to you. Grant that we always remember to whom we belong so that in the midst of that which we don’t understand, we know and are assured of life with you always. In the name of the living Christ, Jesus we pray. AMEN

--the BB