Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

To all my cyber friends out there!

Happy New Year!

I hope this year brings you all much love, joy, and happiness!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Life Passing By

Someone I work with says that life is too short to work at a job you don’t like.

I wonder: Is he onto something or is he just too naïve to know better? I really hate living my life waiting for the time I can leave the job and then dreading the time when I have to go back. It seems like there should be more to life than just that.

There was the one guy, many years ago, who really convicts me. I forgot his name, but he said that everything we do, we should do it for the glory of God. I guess I am a bit too self-centered for that. I just wish I could get to the point of realizing that I can offer my day up as a gift to God.

I guess I just get too ADD. I want the good stuff to happen NOW! But I guess what I forget is the good stuff IS happening now. As that country song says, “This is the good stuff.”

I have four days off. That will hopefully be enough to allow me to again approach the job with some excitement.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

First Walk Through

I had the realtor over today. We walked through the house looking at what needs to be done. (I mean other than just cleaning the place up.) Actually, it really does not need a lot of work. The house has a ton of character and we just need to play that up. Tons of stuff in boxes and those in the basement. Now, all we need is about three inches of snow to make the whole neighborhood look clean and crisp.

Nick moving in will help. He is bringing a bed and that can go in the spare, spare room to make it look more like a room. The spare room will stay an office, just a little cleaning to do there.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Nick Mentioned It, So I will Post It.

Nick posted about the glass Santa I made for him this Christmas. He loves it (or he is a good liar) and I am pretty proud of it.

Christmas Rehash

Christmas was really quite good this year. It was really different for me. I usually have a bunch of stuff to do during the Advent/Christmas/New Year season. There is usually the Advent stuff. There is the Christmas stuff. There is the Michigan Youth Gathering between Christmas and New Year. As a pastor, it was kind of a blur from the Sunday after Thanksgiving until I just about coughed my lung up from a cold after the first of the year.

This year, none of that happened. I did "direct" the choir at Nick's church during Advent, but that wasn't too bad. That is why I put direct into quotes; I just arranged practice, not much directing there. But for the most part, I could make Christmas presents, relax, and enjoy the season. And I am so happy I don't have to go and spend four days and three nights with a bunch of teens in a hotel.

I again spent this holiday with Nick's family. I spent Thanksgiving with his family and so it was more comfortable because not everyone was new. But you know, families are families. I had a good time.

I have to go to work tomorrow, but it should not be too bad, it is classes all day, so the worst thing will be trying to stay awake. I also have to work on Thursday, but since most of the GM people are gone, the phones should be pretty quiet.

Nick is on his way home right now. We are getting our heads around him moving in. I think it will be great! I am just a little afraid; I have lived alone for so many years I am afraid I may be too set in my ways. But I do want this to work. I know it will. Nick is so nice. (Ok, mushy stuff is over.)

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

As you find yourselves surrounded by wrapping paper, empty boxes, and screaming neices,nephews, parents, and partners, just take a moment to give thanks for the people and things around us.

This is the first Christmas I actually woke up next to someone. And no, it was not my brother as in Christmases past. I actually woke up next to someone who I loved. It was nice. Actually, I was questioning what I did to deserve such a good thing.
I remember past Christmases that were just the same-old, same-old. I was surrounded by my family, but I still felt alone. Now, I have a kitty lying next to me, a puppy sleeping near my feet and the man that I love wrapped in a blanket watching "A Christmas Story." It don't get much better than this.

Here is wishing that you are surrounded by what is important and special to you.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

That would be Fr. Ben to you!

(Heavy sigh of relief!)

Well, in a very brief ceremony in the conference room at Episcopal Central, I went from being, Pr. Benton, defrocked ELCA pastor to Fr. Benton, Episcopal Priest.

Due to changes in the canons of the ECUSA, the change-over had to happen quickly. So with two priest, the bishop, and me in the room, there was the laying on of hands, a few prayers, a poof of smoke (just joking!) and I was changed.

It kind of reminded me of a joke I heard:

Ole, a Norwegian Lutheran, moved into a neighborhood that was primarily Roman Catholic. It never ceased that on Fridays in Lent, Ole would be out back grilling venison. The odor of the meat would waft around the neighborhood and torment the good Catholics who were eating bland tuna casseroles. Finally, it was too much for the poor Catholics and they went to their priest and complained. The priest said, why don’t you invite Ole to church and we will convert him to Catholicism and then he will also have to eat fish on Friday and the problem will be gone. So the people began to invite Ole to church and Ole decided to join the Catholic Church. Eventually, it was Ole’s day to be baptized. Ole stood in front of the congregation, eager to start his new life as a Roman Catholic! The priest came up to Ole and said, “Ole, you were born a Lutheran,” sprinkled more, “and you were raised a Lutheran,” and a little more of a sprinkle, “but now you are a Catholic!” Everyone cheered and Ole grinned. The priest thought, “This should take care of that meat problem!” But again, Lent rolled around that the smell of venison was wafting over the neighborhood. The priest went to Ole’s house and found him with a big piece of venison on the grill. The priest was just about to say something when he saw Ole shaking salt on the meat saying, “You were born a deer, and you were raised a deer, but now you are a Walleye!”

Christmas Lights in Grosse Pointe

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Let There Be Turds!

There were turds in the litterbox! No trip to the Vet! Life is good!

Turd Watch

It’s time for Turd Watch!

My cat, Madeline, is not feeling so good. She has mega colon which sounds like it should be something good but in effect is not so good. The crap just starts stacking up inside the cat and won’t come out. ( I bet you all could have gone through the day without that image.) So the poor kitty starts acting lethargic and gets really clingy.

The unfortunate thing about this that it usually costs over $100 a trip to “Pop the Poop.” It can get expensive!

Right now, Madeline is in the bathroom with a litter box, food, and water. I need to know if the “gifts” I find in the litter box downstairs are hers or Claudia’s. I hope to find a whole lot of crap in the box. That would be a good thing.

If there is none, I will need to take Madeline to the vet tomorrow morning before going to the Bishop’s office. I can hope.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Please Be Nice.

I think there are just some people who are nasty.

I work on a helpdesk which means people call me and I try to help them solve their problems. My job is to get them the best help in the least amount of time. I try to get the right techs to the right people. And I also try to track down the right help even if the person calls the wrong helpdesk.

But when you get people who call for help and then do everything in their power to prevent us from doing our job, is there anything else to call it than nasty? I want to say evil, but I will not go that far. But why would you call for help and then be totally mean to the person who is trying to help you? Shouldn't the person be nice to me? I am the one who can delay the sending of the tech.

Then there was the person who was complaining about having to wait 20 minutes on hold. I am sorry she had to wait, but what did she think I was doing? I was not sitting around having beer and pizza. I was trying to track down the proper help for her. She called the wrong place and I was trying to help. All she could do is complain. It is not like I just put her on hold and sat and did sudokus. I would have liked to, but I was really trying to help. Why would she be so nasty?

I though we were in the season of Christmas, Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All and all of that. I have not noticed people being nice, they actually seem more mean.

Maybe they are angry because they are at work while all their coworkers are gone. Maybe they are angry because they are at work and the computer fails. But maybe they ought to realize we are at work too and we don't like being treated as if we are just placed here to make their lives difficult.

When you are out and about, or calling to a helpdesk, be nice to these people. They are just trying to make a living.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Dayflate - verb
A contraction of the words "Day" and "Deflate."
What happens to those air-filled lawn decorations when the power is turned off during the day.
"Frosty looked like he had spent too much time in the sun in Maui when he was dayflated."
Thanks to Nick for coining the word.

My Seduction Style


I so want to say, "It's about time!" but I won't. I will just say, "Thank God and Thank Jesus!"

The Episcopals have finally moved! Friday I got a FedEx letter stating I had an appointment in Detroit on Wednesday and at the end of the appointment, I would be an Episcopal Father. Because of the change in polity that will go into effect on January 1, 2000 (and) 7 ( Sorry Nick!) that will make transferring much harder, the ECUSA wants to get the change in soon so that we can avoid a bunch of red tape.

I hope the frustration was worth it. At least there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One of my favorite Christmas Memories!

My uncle hands my Godmother a piece of paper and tells her to read it out lout.

So in her most dramatic voice, my Godmother says,

"It you think Burt Reynolds is hairy,
you should see Mike hunt!"
I was totally shocked! I was also 10 years old.

Christmas Traditions

Nick has been talking about Christmas traditions so I thought I would share some of mine.

When I was a kid, I would look forward to going to my Godparent's house. It was always a houseful of people. Often there was hardly any place to sit.

The bar and the food was downstairs. Now at the time, I didn't drink, but we still got to have pop on Christmas. For us, pop (or some might say "soda")was something that was a treat. So to be able to have pop was a special thing.

Then there were the kids who were my uncle's nieces and nephews. We only saw them on Christmas eve, but being kids, we made up for lost time quickly.

We would stay for quite a long time. Sometimes we would go to Church before the party, sometimes we would go to Midnight Mass. But we never opened presents on Christmas night. We had to wait until Christmas morning.

When my grandma was alive, it would be off to her house after church. We could pick some toy to take with us and we would be off. Another batch of cousins to see! And more pop!

Finally, it would be home to play ourselves silly with all the new toys we got from Santa.

What I have been doing

I have four more to go! (Click on photo for a better look.)

I haven't been ignoring you

Hi folks, I haven’t written much this past week. I have been busy/depressed and that is not a good combination for being very prolific.

My work schedule is ok. I go in at 10 am and come home at 6:30 pm. I like the ability to either sleep late or take a leisurely morning. I also like getting home before it is really late. However, it is not good for getting things done. It is hard to get people in the office before I go to work and people are gone by the time I get home.

I also have been making Christmas presents. Nick and I were invited to a Christmas gathering with a family from my former congregation. We are very happy to go, I just have to whip out a few Christmas presents. I have been able to get two ornaments done per night. It will slow down a little as I get to the end of the stockpile of pieces and have to produce all the pieces. But I think they look pretty good!

I had an appointment with my shrink, Arnie, today. Arnie is good for lighting a fire under my… uh, feet! He charged me up again.

When I left, I called the person in the ECUSA Bishop’s office and told him that I am willing to go anywhere in the country and I would like an appointment with him soon. If he doesn’t call back, I will call him tomorrow. I am tired of waiting for him. If I piss him off, maybe he will do something just to get me off of his back.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pizza Party

Well, some wounds have healed, some have not.

I just got back from the beer and pizza party held in my honor by the guys from the Saturday morning Bible study group from my former congregation. It was a good time but it was also difficult. It was hard to talk to people around a table in a restaurant. It was also hard to keep up a smiling face when I was worrying about how to prepare the house to sell. It was nice to see all the people and know that their lives have gone well but it was hard knowing that I was less and less in those lives.

The situations of life have gotten to me lately. I have come to the decision that I will be selling my house. It was a hard decision to make but there really was no other option. I can't make mortgage payments, so moving is the only option.

I am sitting with these people whose lives have gone on pretty much unruffled while my life is falling apart. And what is the difference between us? I love someone who the people who tell me Jesus loves me now says Jesus hates me because I love this person.

At this point, I really don't even know what I want to say.

Monday Chuckle

Happy Holidays

I found this over at Straight, Not Narrow. I would have provided a link but I counld not quite figure out how to do it so I just decided to post the whole post. I think Jim is right on the mark with this and don't we have better things to get upset about.
Merry Christmas...Or Not
The folks at the American Family Association are upset. They want everyone to have a Merry Christmas whether they want to or not! Here's their latest release:

Gap, which owns Old Navy, Banana Republic, Forth & Towne and Piperlime, has become the latest politically correct retailer, intentionally censoring the use of "Christmas" in their in-store, online and printed advertising.

Instead of referring to the season as Christmas, Gap instead uses the word "holiday." As hard as we tried, AFA could not find a single instance in which Gap-owned stores use the term "Christmas." Not a single time!

When one Old Navy store manager was asked by AFA if the word Christmas was in his store, he answered, "We have a lot of Christmas gifts in our stores, but the word Christmas is not used here. Everything is 'holiday.'"

Gap wants you to do your Christmas shopping with them, but they don't want to mention the Reason for the season. Gap doesn't want to offend non-Christians by using Christmas. The fact that their censoring the use of Christmas might offend Christians seems to be of no importance.

I've given the "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Hollidays" a lot of deep thought and reached this

Who gives a crap.

Really, why does any organization waste valuable time and money worrying about how you are greeted at a retail establishment? Is anyone really shallow enough to believe that a "Merry Christmas" greeting will instill the Christmas Spirit in anyone?

As Apostle Dale eloquently preached at our church this past Sunday, the spirit of Christmas is all about understanding why Christ was born on earth and why he wilfully gave his life for our salvation. That spirit is not something that can be generated externally--it must come from within our own hearts from an understanding of how Jesus loves us.

If we embrace that, we don't need someone to wish us "Merry Christmas."

If we don't understand what Christmas is truly about, it doesn't really matter what anyone says, does it?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Six Weird Things About Me

I was tagged by Lemuel to share
Six Weird Things About Me!
1. The letters on the keys of my keyboard are not (for the most part) the same as the letter they type. The letters that are typed are the typical "QWERTY" layout, but the layout the keys show are the Dvorak layout. I had tried to learn how to type in this layout because it was supposed to be faster and better for you (less carpal tunnel) than the standard layout. But I had to think too hard about where the letters were to be able to compose at the keyboard. It made it really hard to write sermons.
2. I really don't like wearing clothes. I am not secure enough about my body to be a nudist in public, but I often walk around my house without clothes.
3. I like potato chips on my tuna salad sandwiches.
4. I have most of the original Partridge Family albums on vinyl. (I used to think I had all of them but I just found out I was missing three. Who knew they produced that many! The Christmas album is really bad!)
5. It drives me nuts when people qualify the word "unique" as in, "That was quite unique." Unique means "one of a kind." Something either is one of a kind or not one of a kind. Something cannot be "quite" one of a kind or "somewhat" one of a kind. It especially drives me nuts when I hear it on commercials.
6. I actually pay attention to, and sometimes sing along with, muzak in stores.
I will tag:
Ur-spo at Spo-Reflections
Milton at Don't Eat Alone

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Comes Too Fast

I have decided that is part of the whole Christmas problem. If just comes too fast! Even with Christmas starting back in September, it still comes too fast.

When I was young, Christmas would never come. The anticipation would be almost deadly. The time from Thanksgiving to Christmas would last so long. Christmas would never come. And then there was Christmas Eve, the longest night in the history of kiddom.

The anticipation of childhood is no longer there. The magic of Christmas is no longer there. It doesn't take forever for Chirstmas to get here. Christmas comes too fast.

I miss that expectation, that anticipation. I miss the wait. As a child, the wait is pure possibility. Santa could bring anything. Although I couldn't name it at the time, the present under the tree was almost better than the present opened. Once the present was opened, the possibility was ended and the reality began.

But that time up to the opening of the presents, that time was wide open. The present could be a race track, or an Erector set, or a game. Just speculating was magic.

Now, the possibilities are so much more circumscribed. I can't be anything. The boxes do not hold the unimaginable. And I guess I miss that.

I don't know why the meloncholy, I guess I just must be getting the post Christmas blues early. Even that comes too fast.

States I've Visited

Saw this over at The Greedy Maelstrom who saw that Spider had it and I thought it was fun.

create your own visited states map

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Marvelous Machine

I find the human body to be quite the incredible thing. Just think about it: as I type, I am not jamming my fingers onto the keys, I am just using enough force to depress the key. I am not thinking about this amount of force, I am just doing it. And I am moving my fingers to the proper keys (most of the time!) without having to think about it.

Even something as small as throwing a piece of paper into the trash is a wonder of engineering. I have to weigh the object. Figure ballistic trajectory. Flex my muscles the appropriate amount and let go at the proper spot. I guess more than just engineering but physics too.

I was walking with a cup of coffee and started thinking of how I had to counter the jar of my walking to prevent the coffee from spilling. It is just amazing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

One of My Favorite Songs

How Could You?


Well, the big concert was last night. I was really pretty good, if I do say so. We really peaked at the right time and the doubts some had about whether we were going to pull it off were unrealized.

A new one for those of you who sing in choirs, yes, they tell you to not wear cologne or perfume, but they should also tell you not to eat anything with garlic. The guy who was standing next to me had garlic wafting off of him all night. It didn't make the singing hard, per se, but I had this strange craving for fettuccine by the end of the concert.

I was sad that Nick was not able to make it to the concert, but I didn't want him in a ditch somewhere.

I got to see a few folks from my previous congregation and that was very nice. I also got treated to a late dinner by some people from my former congregation.

All in all, it was a nice night.

And now, for Nick, here is the picture:

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Christmas Meme

1.Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?
I LOVE Eggnog, unfortunately, good eggnog is not good for me! I even like it without the rum!

2. Did you ever do anything for Santa?
I wrote letters and left milk and cookies. We also left carrots and sugar for the reindeer.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
A little bit of both. I like putting white lights deep inside the tree, it gives the tree an inner glow.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope, I like to kiss just about anywhere.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
I usually put things up the weekend after Thanksgiving. But to be truthful, there are usually some Christmas decorations up somewhere in my house all year round. I will usually take them down the first weekend after the Feast of the Epiphany (which also happens to be my brother’s birthday, 6 Jan.).

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Chex Mix!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
I’m going to cheat, I have two favorites: The first one is when we were kids visiting Santa and Santa looked at my mom and said, “Rita, have the kids been good this year?” We just about died! MOM KNEW SANTA AND THEY WERE ON A FIRST NAME BASIS!! Actually, the person who was working for Santa (wink, wink) was in my mom and dad’s wedding, but we didn’t know that then. My other favorite memory was being at my aunt’s house on Christmas eve and leaving the warm (sometimes very warm) house and looking up in the sky to see if we could find Santa.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I found some “presents from Santa” when I was in either first or second grade.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
For a while, we could only open one present on Christmas Eve. Then for a while, we moved to opening them all on Christmas Eve because that was the only time all the family could get together.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
I would describe it as “Down Home Memories.” Just about every ornament has a story.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it.
It’s the most wonderful stuff on Earth!

12. Can you ice skate?
Can I? Yes. Do I? No.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I think one of my favorite gifts was a thing called “Cascade.” It was a thing where you would set up these mini-trampolines (like 3 inches in dia.) and then there was this tower that would carry a bunch of marbles to the top and drop them on the trampolines. If you did it right, the balls would bounce from one tramp to the next and land in a capture box where they would roll down a track back to the tower. It was fun!

14. What's the most exciting thing about the holidays for you?
The most exciting thing about the holidays is seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time. Just catching reliving old memories and making new ones.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
I love the cookies. My mom would make these great sour cream cookies. I don’t get them anymore since I live so far away.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I loved going to my godparent’s house for Christmas Eve. There was a wonderful combination of wanting to be at the party but wanting to get home because Santa was coming. That wonderful feeling of being pulled into two equally positive directions. I didn’t appreciate it then and I doubt I will ever feel that feeling again.

17. What tops your tree?
A reproduction of the tree topper my grandma used to have on her tree. I just about died when I saw it in a store. My mom and my aunt could not believe I found it.

18. Which do you prefer give or receive?
I love to give. I enjoy trying to find just the right thing or making something specifically for someone.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Mannheim Steamroller’s Stille Nacht is one of my very favorites. Their “big” version of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen also is necessary for it to feel like Christmas. I also like The Christmas Waltz and Karen Carpenter singing Merry Christmas Darling.

20. Candy Canes?
I like candy canes, but starlight mints are easier.

World AIDS Day

When I think of AIDS, I think about the time I spent as a chaplain at an AIDS clinic in Houston. I was expecting the place to be sad and depressing. What I found were a group of people who were strong and courageous; people who were not dying, but living.
One of the things that I notice is in "the normal world," when someone is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, the question that lies just below the surface is, "How did they get it?" But in the AIDS clinic, how you got infected was the last thing people worried about. The infection was a fact, all the whispers of sex or drugs useless. I am not saying that being informed as to how you can become infected is unimportant, but we need to move beyond the adolescent snickering.
My former brother-in-law is HIV positive. He tried to tell his family and then had to "recant" because his family did not want to acknowledge that he was involved in risky behavior. Because the family saw HIV as a "gay disease," the fact that my b-i-l used IV drugs couldn't even be considered. It is ignorance like this that helps to keep the disease spreading.
Get information. Get information to those who need it. Help our kids know that AIDS is real, it may not be on the front pages like it was when I grew up, but it has not gone away.
A bit rambling, maybe, but in the end, to paraphrase the motto of Act Up , Ignorance = Death.