Saturday, December 13, 2008

The beauty of creation

I like art museums alright. I enjoy wandering around, admiring paintings and sculptures. I'm often astonished by what passes for art. Perhaps because I grew up in a working class family and we never went to art museums, or perhaps because I've never had an art history class, I find that there is a great deal about looking at art that I simply don't know. I have a friend who is AMAZING to go to museums with, because she can look at a picture and know all sorts of things. I always thought that I had a pretty unsophisticated eye. Secretly, I sort of thought that I was a clod.

Tonight, I had an epiphany while driving east on US 2, somewhere on the very eastern edge of Vermont. I came around a corner and saw a view that literally took my breath away. The moon (one night on the other side of full) was peeking up over a mountain ridge. I could only see the barest sliver of deep orange. Despite the thinness of the sliver, the moon illuminated the sky, the clouds nearby, and the edge of the mountain. It was spectacular.

As I admired the changing scene, I began thinking about other beautiful scenes I have encountered. It was then that I realized that I literally could not count the number of times in my life that I have been bowled over, silenced, humbled, and thrilled by the beauty of the natural world. The summer that I drove through Eastern Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, my face began to hurt because I would break into a huge grin every time I would come upon a gorgeous scene. It was much the same when I traveled in New Zealand.

I'm drawn to beauty in nature, not to beauty on a canvas.

I included pictures of three favorite views in New Zealand - all from the Summer of 2005, with Sare. The first is overlooking the beach at Moeraki (home of the famous Moeraki boulders, a geological oddity - they are perfectly spherical and a huge number of them are found on this beach - you can see them if you look carefully), the second is Cadrona Pass, and the third is Lake Matheson at sunrise (with Mount Cook and Mount Tasman off in the distance).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Why I love my job

My job has many, many components to it - and the fact that I am working two half-time jobs doesn't make figuring out how to structure my days a simple task. It becomes easy, in the rush of getting things done, to overlook those things that are what my friend Manuel calls important but not urgent. These are the things that are crucial, but not always high on the priority list.

On Friday, I decided to spend the day on one of those important but not urgent tasks, visiting some of our homebound folks. First, I visited FK. She's an older woman who has some issues with mobility. She recently had a stint in the hospital after falling down her stairs. She's much better now. The one year anniversary of her husband's death will be Christmas Day. While I was there, a woman delivered and set up her new Life Line.

Next, I visited KP. She also had a fall recently, and cracked a bunch of ribs. It's really slowed her down, though she is recovering. We talked alot about her family - she's very proud of her many grandchildren, and her daughters take great care of her from downstate. The most emotional part of the conversation came when talking about her husband. P died three years ago this week, and KP still misses him. At some point when I visit with her, we talk about P and she cries.

After lunch, I saw MM. He broke his hip in a fall in July, and he's finally returned home from the nursing home. His health is complicated by COPD. He can move much better now than he could when I got here in August, but the simplest of tasks (sometimes just talking) really winds him. We've talked alot about death. He's pretty clear that his time on earth is limited. He thinks of death as the next great adventure, though he's not quite ready to go yet.

Then, I saw LR. It was my first visit with her, and I was nervous about it. When I called to see if I could come by, she was quick to tell me that she is no longer a member at St. Barnabas. But, she allowed me to come. I learned that she was born with some defects in her legs, and has never walked a step. In the early '60s, she traveled to Chicago, where she lived for three years, training as a watchmaker. One of her proudest moments was graduating first in her class, and receiving a diploma as a Master Watchmaker, which still hangs on her wall. Her companion died a few years ago, and she has few family members left. By the time I departed, she was a bit teary, and told me that I could come back anytime. I think she's ready to call St. Barnabas her church again.

I arrived at the knitting group just in time for the tea break. I got to visit with the eight older ladies who gather twice a month for knitting and conversation.

I wasn't surprised, because this is often the case - but I left those visits feeling like I had been given so much more than what I gave. I love hearing people's stories. And it feels like an amazing precious gift to have people share their stories, loves, losses, hopes and fears. I left the visits clear about needing to make them a higher priority (and realistic about the limits of what I can do).

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Meme to Kickstart things

We haven't hiked the last few Mondays - so I thought I'd snag this Meme off of Suzanne's blog to give me something to get me writing again.

What is in the back of your car? A snow scraper, a walking stick, a whole bunch of dog fur, and, hopefully, the connector cord for my iPod, which I left there before heading off to NYC.

Name one person who made you smile today. Not a person, a dog. Our dog Birdie was the biggest goof ever today. She rode around with us in the back of the car, looking happy. And, she ate Michelle's chili left-overs, which was pretty funny.

What were you doing at 8 am this morning? Sleeping.

What were you doing 45 minutes ago? Watching the movie "From Lions to Lambs." It was pretty good, right up until it ended with NO resolution.

What is your favorite candy bar? Sadly, I can no longer eat Candy Bars. But, my favourite is Reese's peanut butter cups.

Have you ever been to a strip club? No

What is the last thing you said aloud? “Oh. That's your foot. Well, let's play footsie under the blanket." To my wife - we're hanging out on the couch.

What is the best ice cream flavor? I can't eat ice cream, either. But, there is a company that makes an AMAZING soy treat that is quite similar to ice cream. They have a chocolate peanut butter flavor that's really really good.

What was the last thing you had to drink? Some Crystal-Light instant Red Tea with Mandarin. It's my new addiction.

What are you wearing right now? My favorite pair of blue jeans (some Levi's 550s that I got at the GoodWill in Oshkosh, WI this summer), a turtleneck, and a sweater. Also, my warmest, thickest smartwool socks.

What was the last thing you ate? A BLT, french fries, and strawberry shortcake (no whipped cream) at the Dairy Bar, celebrating Michelle's birthday.

Have you bought any new clothing items this week? No.

When was the last time you ran? This afternoon. Birdie and I took a short run when we got back from our errands. Probably about 2 miles.

The last sporting event you watched? The baseball game where the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Red Sox in the AL play-offs.

What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? Hot air popped, in our popcorn popper, with olive oil, a bit of salt, and healthy sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Who is the last person you sent a comment/message on Facebook? MS. I've known him for about 15 years, and I've been wondering what he's up to.

Do you take vitamins daily? I've just decided to ditch vitamins - but I will continue to take calcium (since I can't eat any dairy products), fish oil (to boost my good cholesterol), and iron.

Do you go to church every Sunday? And Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, too. Sort of comes with the job territory. Though, even before I got paid to do it, I was a pretty big church fan.

Do you have a tan? No.

Do you like Chinese food over pizza? I'm very fond of both of them - and have figured out which places will make me a pizza without cheese, without even blinking. But, if I have to pick one - Chinese food wins every time.

Do you drink your soda with a straw? Soda's off the list now too - very sad. In general, I'm not a straw fan for things like water and ice tea. At some level, it comes down to the environment. Do we really need to continue to produce all those little plastic straws that will take a millennium to break down?

What did your last text message say? "Coming home soon."

Are you someone’s best friend? Yes.

What are you doing tomorrow? Working. Producing service leaftlets for Sunday, inserts for Sunday, the newsletter for December, having two phone meetings, visiting a shut-in at home, and meeting with the Sunday School teachers. Whew. This seems like a very ambitious schedule.

Look to your left, what do you see? My fat cat and next to her, my beautiful wife who is doing something on her laptop.

What color is your watch? After breaking two watches this year, I've sworn off them. My cell phone displays the time, and I pull it out of my pocket when I need to know. I did ask my mother for a very cool (and fabulously lime green) carabiner watch for Christmas. We'll see if that's what she chooses as my one present

What do you think of when you think of Australia? Kangaroos and Vegemite.

Do you use chapstick? It's a bit of an addiction for me. I have some in my car, in my desk, and always, always, in my pocket.

What is your birthstone? Amethyst. And I love it. I have several great pieces of jewelry with amethysts.

What is your favorite number? Eight

Do you have a dog? Yes. Bird (aka Birdie and BirdDog) is a nine year old Alaskan Husky. We adopted her 14 months ago, when she stopped racing as part of a dogsled team. She's quite shy and nervous about new things. She loves to run, hike, and be outdoors. She's also a bit of a Houdini, having busted out of our motel room in Ontario this summer (but we found her again, Thank God). She lives outdoors, 24-7 and 365. She hates being indoors.

Last person you talked to on the phone? Michelle's mom, Margaret.

Have you met anyone famous? Faye Dunaway, at the bookstore a zillion years ago. Tom Brokaw, when he did a signing at the bookstore. And, countless fabulous authors, all, you guessed it, at the bookstore.

Any plans today? It's 11:08 PM. I'll be lucky if I get a shower before I go to bed. That's all the plan I've got left.

How many states have you lived in? Four: Massachusetts (for 38 years), Virginia (for three years), Michigan - the Upper Peninsula (aka the UP) (for 2 years) and now New Hampshire (since August 2008).

Ever go to college? Yes. I have an AB, double major in Relgion and History, an MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching), and an MDiv (Master of Divinity).

Biggest annoyance in your life right now? My office isn't heated. Sometimes the space heater is not as effective as I would like, and my fingers get too cold to type. Also, there is a mouse in our basement, which is annoying my wife. So, it's annoying me, too.

Last song listened to? “Battleflag" by the Lo-Fideltiy Allstars. It's got some pretty R-Rated Lyrics, but a fab beat. And, it's on Michelle's iPod and since it's her birthday, she got to listen to all of her fave songs today.

Can you say the alphabet backwards? I could get to P without really having to think about it, but then I had to say a few letters forwards to get moving again. But then I made it all the way to A. So, I guess, yes, I can.

Do you have a maid service clean your house? Not so much. However, I am lucky enough to have an amazing wife who keeps our house spic and span.

Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time? Brown Merrell Clogs.

Are you jealous of anyone? Not really. I've never been a particularly jealous person. Though, I am occassionally wistful thinking about people with enough money to make a real difference in the world and not worry about meeting all their obligations.

Is anyone jealous of you? I have never thought of this question before. It seems unlikely.

Do you love anyone? I love my wife. I love my mom. I love many friends. I am blessed.

Do any of your friends have children? I am getting tired. I first thought the question was, do your children have friends (which is a bust, having no children). But, to answer the question as it is - yes. Some of them do. Some have grown children. Some have little kids. Some are parenting grandchildren. And many friends have no children.

Do you eat healthily? For the most part. But, I am deeply, deeply, attracted to onion rings, and other greasy savory things.

What do you usually do during the day? I get paid to visit with people, talk about God, talk to God, spend an amazing amount of time producing things, think strategically, and go to meetings (some of which are productive and some of which are like being poked in the eye with a sharp stick).

Do you hate anyone that you know right now? I don't hate people. I do, sometimes, hate things that people do, but I don't hate the person.

Do you use the word ‘hello’ daily? No. I tend to use the word "hey" instead.

What color is your car? A lovely shade of dark blue.

Do you like cats? You betcha. We currently give food and shelter to three of them. Which might be at least one cat too many, but que sera sera.

Have you ever been to Six Flags? nope.

How did you get your worst scar? My knees look like crap from a variety of biking skid-outs when I was a kid, and a run-in with a pier. But, the worst scar, in terms of length and seriousness at the time, is on my right ankle. When I was about 6, I tripped over the faucet on the outside of my parents' house and peeled the skin back to the bone. It still tingles when I think about it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wowzer Waterfalls!

Today, we hiked in Randolph. We were looking for a hike that would be fun and scenic (even though it was misty) and not too challenging.

We found a loop hike in our Randolph Trails book. We ascended on the Fallsway Trail, so named because it passed by three gorgeous waterfalls. The elevation gain was slight (only 400'); the trail itself was lovely. It began snowing shortly into the hike. We enjoyed seeing the color contrasts between the amazing greens of the evergreens and the lightly falling snow.

We chose to return on the Beechway trail, which had a very gentle descent. Michelle noted that the trail was aptly named, since all of the leaves on the trail were beech leaves. We also saw several interesting fungi. One type was a small, roundish, bright yellow-orange jelly-like growth on several trees. Michelle thinks they were a type of slime-mold. One giant rock had lots of a common lichen, called crustos lichen. And, it had a number of giant folios lichen, so named because they look like big leaves or foliage.

We can't wait to return to this area of Randolph and hike more. There a number of criss-crossing trails, and an old rail trail. We think it will be a great trail running site, as well as a place to snow shoe.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Phillips Brook Recreation Area

Today, our adventure took us just a short drive to the Phillips Brook Backcountry Recreation Area, which is about 5 miles from our house, in Dummer, NH. The PBRA has many miles of well-graded dirt roads, and many miles more of hiking trails. The only issue we had, is that nothing is well-marked. A great map of the whole area would be really handy.

Driving in, we saw a hunter with his gun. We'd heard that it was a well-used hunting area, and here was our proof. On Saturday, we invested in some blaze orange, for all three of us -- a baseball cap for me, a vest for Michelle, and an orange and yellow reflective coat for Birdie! We were glad we put them on before we left.

We parked several miles into the reserve, and walked on a well-graded road to Little Dummer Lake. The lake was so still that it was like glass. We can't wait to come back here at other times of the year. If it's this gorgeous without all the leaves on the trees, we can't imagine what it will look like when the leaves are green, or changing in the fall.

We continued past Little Dummer Lake on the graded road for several miles, following the road to see where it would lead.

The literature promised us wildlife (and said moose sightings were likely) but we didn't have much luck. Michelle saw a large hawk in a tree-top, and we saw some chickadees, but that was about it. (Not counting the dead mouse Birdie tried to eat!)

The forecast threatened rain, but it never came. And, the temperature was surprisingly warm, in the low 60s.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Whittaker's Farm

Our Monday adventure this week was a field trip. One of the priests in this diocese is also a forester. Brendan and his wife Dorothy live over the river (and through the woods, it's true!) in Vermont. Dorothy runs a small organic farm (at 74, it's amazing what she does). In retirement, Bren still works with a bit with one congregation, manages his 60+ acres of forest land, and hosts a number of groups who come to partake of some of his encyclopedic knowledge about the Northern Forest.

A class from Brown University was spending the day with Brendan, and he invited Michelle and me to tag along. We wandered into a big bog (or perhaps a fen). I didn't get as soggy as some, but I did wind up over my shoes in muck. We identified a number of plants, including the lovely larch (or tamarack), the only deciduous conifer.

Following our boggy walk, we visited with Dorothy, who talked at length about small farming, local agriculture, and why she's not officially certified as organic (even though she uses organic practices). The reason for the last one, by the way, is that it's a great deal of paperwork that she doesn't want to fuss with, and her customers don't seem to care.

After a casual lunch, we walked around Bren and Dorothy's woods. Bren talked about forest management, showed us different plots where different strategies had been used, and in general regaled us with stories about his days in Vermont government (he worked for the state in forestry).

After the students headed back to Providence, Bren, Dorothy, Michelle and I did more visiting, and Dorothy sent us home with a big batch of tomatoes (which Michelle has already canned!).

This wasn't a huge hiking day, but it was a huge knowledge day, and great fun.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Real Runner

I began running in seminary, as part of a whole-seminary challenge to run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in April of 2006.  A friend and I trained hard, decided we weren't ready for a full 10 miles, and completed the 5K race.  I've run off and on since then.

Michelle and I decided to participate in the Great Glen Trail Running Series at the Great Glen Trails in Pinkham Notch.  These trails are at the base of Mount Washington and are open for a variety of outdoor pursuits throughout the year: walking, hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing.  The trail running series ran for six weeks and covered a 3.4 mile trail.  The first 1.4 miles consisted of a serious trail run - up and down hills, over rocks and roots, and several stream crossing.  The last 2 miles were on the cross-country ski trails and were graded (though still with some ups and downs).  

The runs were difficult.  Each week, I ran hard, and tried to improve my time (and I succeeded, clocking in at 52, 50, 48.5 and 47.2 minutes respectively).  But I never feel graceful or at ease when I run.  I have a hard time catching my breath, and my face turns all red.  

Last night, as I was running, I cam upon a mom running the short course with her two kids, who were about seven and four.  As I came up behind them, I heard the mom say, "Move over guys, there's a real runner coming."  Me.  She called me a real runner!  It gave me a total boost.  As I continued running, I realized that she was right.  I might not be the fastest runner (in fact, my times for the trail run were always the slowest).  But, I can run a 3.4 mile trail run and finish the course.  That makes me a real runner.  

Monday, October 6, 2008

Caribou Mountain

Today, Michelle and I climbed Caribou Mountain in Maine. We ascended on the Caribou Trail and descended on the Mud Brook Trail. Total distance - 6.9 miles, total time - 5 hours and 8 minutes.

I knew this was going to be a terrific hike before we'd even left the parking lot. While we were trying to decide where to start, I caught a glimpse of movement in the woods. A cow moose wandered by, followed by a giant bull moose. The bull moose was looking to get lucky and the cow was trying desperately to shake him off. They never got close enough for good pictures, but they wandered around the woods behind the lot for several minutes. If I were to see nothing else all day, it would have been a great hike! This was my first moose sighting in the wild since moving back east.

The good news for us was that the whole hike was amazing. We'd been told that the Caribou Trail as beautiful, and it was. We lost track of how many waterfalls we saw. The trail was supposed to be an easy one, but all the rain has made it quite soggy. And, we crossed any number of streams. 

I also saw a very cool
 pink lichen.  I've never seen anything like it before, and neither had Michelle.

Caribou Trail connected to Mud Brook Trail at 3.0 miles.  Mud Brook continued to climb to the summit of Caribou Mountain.  At the top, it was difficult to find the trail, but we saw what we'd come for.  365 degrees of open view and lots of fall color. 

The descent on Mud Brook Trail was a difficult one.  According to the guide book, Mud Brook Trail was named for the Brook and not the Mud.  It was, however, a pretty steep and muddy trail.  I fell several times and wound up with a shoe full of muck.  By the time we finished, we were really bushed.  

We've voted this our favorite hike so far, and look forward to walking this trail at other times of the year.  Cheers to Yvonne for turning us on to this hike.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Register to Vote!

My friend Lynne sent me the link to this You Tube video. While I'm not usually a huge You Tube fan, I felt like this was definitely worth posting here and passing on. After watching the VP debates last night, it's clear that there are strong differences between the two candidates and their policies. No matter which side you support, there is a strong impetus to get out and vote. So, watch the video. And register. And then get your self out there on election day and VOTE.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Millennium Development Goals

On September 25th, world leaders are gathering in New York City to chart our progress on the Millennium Development Goals. These goals are eight goals that come out of the United Nations. 189 member nations of the UN, along with 23 international organizations, have signed on to achieve these goals by 2015. These goals are concrete steps to reduce and/or eliminate extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than ONE US DOLLAR per day.

The goals are:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental stability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

The book that has made the most difference for me, in terms of really understanding the Millennium Development Goals, is the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It describes the work that Mortenson has done over the past fifteen years in Pakistan and Afghanistan, building schools, promoting gender equality, and empowering women. As a side effect, Mortenson's work has also reduced child mortality, combatted disease, and fought terrorism in those areas.

Mortenson's organization The Central Asia Institute is doing amazing work in a part of the world where people live in extreme poverty and where access to education for all children is limited and for girls is often very rare. I have committed a large portion of my charitable giving to the Central Asia Institute.

I challenge readers to educate themselves about the Millenium Development Goals, to investigate organizations working to eliminate extreme poverty, and to commit themselves and their resources to working to make these goals a reality.

"The world now has the means to end extreme poverty. We pray that we will have the will to do so." -A prayer for ending extreme poverty written by Jonathan Denn.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sylvan Way

Michelle and I hike every Monday, on my day off. I've decided to document our adventures here. (Which also helps me to have some discipline about writing here more regularly!)

The Sylvan Way trail in Randolph both starts and finishes in the middle of the woods. In order to hike it, you have to get to it. We began at the Howker Ridge Trail, climbing for about a half mile, before we came to the trail intersection.

Sylvan Way is flatter than much of what we've hiked here so far, with only a 250' elevation gain. The trail is known for its number of waterfalls, passing five or six falls over it's 1.7 mile route. Some were quite spectacular, like Coldbrook Falls (second photo).

The end (or, perhaps the beginning if you start at some other trailhead, which we never could find) of the trail is at Memorial Bridge. Memorial Bridge is a gorgeous stone bridge, crossing Coldbrook Stream. It was a great place to stop for lunch. The first photo shows Michelle and Birdie on Memorial Bridge.

We're looking forward to exploring this trail again, in different seasons, and on snoeshoes. We're also looking forward to trying some of the other trails that criss-cross the area.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Some Thoughts on Home

I just read a blog post by my friend Michael (it's a great blog, click HERE to check out his adventures).  He is currently living and teaching in Mexico City, and he wrote a post about "home."  

As I read, and commented, on Michael's post, I realized that my sense of home has changed greatly in the last six years.  Before I went to seminary, I imagined that my home would always be in Western Massachusetts.  I loved the Pioneer Valley with its rolling hills, the Connecticut River, and my many many friends.  I loved The World Eye Bookshop, Greenfield's Market, the Farmer's Market, and all the good places to eat.  And when I left, it felt like someone was taking my arm.  When I return to Western Mass, I know that I have come home.

I arrived in Alexandria, Virginia, and slowly found new places to love - a great diner for breakfast dates, the Alexandria Pastry Shop, and a host of wonderful Thai restaurants.  I learned how to take the train into Washington, and took advantage of the Smithsonian museums on the mall.  And I made good friends at school, at church, and in the area.  And when I left, it felt like someone was taking my arm.  When I return to Alexandria, I know that I have come home.

I arrived in Northern Michigan, and after a short period of time, I knew that I was home.  I was welcomed by the wonderful colleagues with whom I worked.  I immersed myself in the beauty of that place.  I learned the best place to get good Thai food, where to go fishing, and how to get from Point A to Point B, all around the UP.  And when I left, it felt like someone was taking my arm.  I have yet to return to Northern Michigan, but when I do, I know that I will feel like I have come home.

I am now in New Hampshire.  We've been here just over a month.  The boxes aren't all unpacked yet, but we are making progress.  We are learning where to hike, where to shop, where the good places to eat are, and how to get from Point A to Point B.  

When  I look at the patterns of the last five years, I am comforted.  At some point, I will stop feeling like a guest or a visitor.  At some point, I will look around and realize that I am home.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Technology Woes

We chose our house because we didn't want to be in town.  It's true.  We wanted trees, nature paths, and no visible neighbors.  What we didn't realize when we made the choice was that we were, apparently, moving to the back of beyond.

At our house, we cannot get satellite TV, because the trees are too high.  There is no way to get high speed internet.  And today, the cable guy came out and had some sad song and dance about why it was the our cable could not be hooked up today.  

For years, I lived without TV and without high speed internet.  I'm not sure why this irks me so much, but it does.  That's all there is to it.  I'm annoyed beyond all measure.

It doesn't help that the copy machine at work is pathetic, too.  Sigh.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

In New Hampshire, finally

My Facebook status currently reads: Fran is in NH, safe and sound, but with sketchy internet connections. This is true. But it doesn't tell nearly all the story.

We left Michelle's folks' house in Northern Michigan on Tuesday morning (8/12). I planned for us to have about a 10 hour drive. Turns out that I mis-estimated the distance, or Google maps failed me. Whatever. We drove for 13 hours, got a bit lost after dark near Ottawa, and landed in our hotel, without dinner, at 9:45 PM.

The next morning, we figured we had about a five hour drive to our new house, so we took it a bit easy. We arose at 8:30 and went to have breakfast at the little restaurant attached to our hotel. After a wonderful French Canadian breakfast, we congratulated ourselves on the good choice and our short drive. We returned to our room, only to discover that Bird (our 8 year old Alaskan Husky, retired sled dog, and loather of the indoors) had BUSTED OUT of our room (causing $120 worth of damage) and was missing.

To cut to the chase, we found her after 2.5 hours. We wandered around. Lovely people in the neighborhood stopped us, asking first "votre chien?" and then describing Bird sightings. We found her on the highway, and figure she traveled about five miles, before we caught up with her. And SHE was supposed to be the easy pet on this trip. Actual departure time from Plantagenet, Ontario: 1 PM

We hit some serious traffic in Montreal, and took about 15 minutes at customs, which got us to our new house at about 6:45 PM. We were exhausted.

The house closed without a hitch on Thursday 8/14. And now we are waiting for our stuff to arrive. The movers first said Monday, but now say Tuesday. They've also been a bit sketchy, so I'm not even willing to bet on that.

The other big issue has been around getting TV and internet. Jim Kelsey used to have a postcard in his office that said, "The end of the world: 4 Miles, Marquette, MI: 5 miles." Milan is apparently 10 miles past Marquette. Or maybe 100. The cable offerings for Milan are puny, and cable/internet is not available. Verizon offers a phone, internet, TV bundle, but not in Milan. So, we've ordered a satellite dish for our TV options - and another satellite for our internet options. Though there was some confusion about the internet on the part of a dude named Brandon from Direct TV - so our internet installation can't be ordered until Monday (he told me I could get it through the phone line from AT&T - NOT).

So, we're here. And we're tired. And we are very relieved to be in our own place. We won't have internet at home for a while (though there is a wireless connection we can poach at church). So, be patient while we work all this out. More will follow.

Monday, August 4, 2008

All are Welcome

I've been catching up on news of the Lambeth Conference - the gathering of bishops in the Anglican Communion that happens once every 10 years at Canterbury Cathedral, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I've been reading a blog called Lambeth Journal, kept by a number of bishops - a sort of American inside view of the conference. The reflections are descriptive and personal. Check it out.

I did have a moment of combined anger and irony while reading my friend Neff Powell's reflections on the Opening Eucharist. He shared the words of a hymn that was sung during the opening Eucharist. I learned this hymn in Northern Michigan; Michelle and I used it as the processional for our service of commitment. Part of it goes like this:

Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children
tell how hearts learn to forgive;
built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome,
all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.

The anger and irony? All were not welcome at Lambeth. My new bishop, +Gene Robinson, was not invited. All are not welcome in the church. A number of bishops stated that glbt people "don't exist" in their countries. Ongoing conversation about the place of women and glbt people in the church continued. Sadly, I feel less welcome in the church after Lambeth. And yet, +Gene's witness to the world, on behalf of all glbt folk, has been a real plus. You can read +Gene's blog here.

In the end, I keep reminding myself that the church is an institution made up of flawed human beings, who try, and fail, and try again, to get it right. It has been so since the beginning. All that we can do is try to live faithfully, study scripture, love God and one love one another.

Monday, July 28, 2008

It's a New Blog!

It seemed silly to keep writing about life, as we move from Michigan to New Hampshire in a blog called Notes from the UP Road.  So, I've created a new blog.  Check back for stories about the move, about settling in to our new house, and about life and work in Northern New Hampshire.