Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Heart Asks Pleasure First

Admittedly, I don't have a ton of life goals beyond the usual: raise well adjusted children, make a difference, etc., etc. There is, though, one purely individual goal I have. It is to master the song "The Heart Asks Pleasure First" from the movie The Piano. I love the Gothic romanticism of that movie and its amazing music. The Heart... is by far my favorite. I have been working on the song off and on for years. I now have a little more time on my hands and I think I will re-devote a little time each day until I can play it perfectly. Alright, it may never be perfect, but at least passable. I am not a great piano player, so I think it is ok not to shoot for complete perfection. I actually have the songbook for all the piano pieces and I just love the titles: Big My Secret, The Mood That Passes Through You, Deep Sleep Playing, Silver-Fingered Fling, The Attraction of the Pedalling Ankle. This score was one of Micheal Nymans's best.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to Talking about Prayers

Once again, Bridgett has pushed me to actually blog about something I have been pondering. Awhile I go, I blogged a little bit about how I missed having standard prayers in service. As most of you know, I was raised Catholic, and had to memorize certain prayers. I can still say them. Why? Because I said them most Sundays and a lot of Wednesdays for YEARS. I was quizzed on them. It was expected that every Catholic child could recite them. Since my children go to a Lutheran school, they also have to have certain prayers memorized. I am fairly certain other religious beliefs also have a cadre of prayers or meditations most adherents know by heart. Why don't we?! Yes, we have members that come from a wide diversity of backgrounds that believe many different things. I also realize some UUs have a lot of emotional baggage wrapped up in saying prayers. There is no reason though, that we can't redefine what prayer (or meditation if you prefer that language) means to us - especially as a denomination. I know we are congregationalist and balk at having too much hierarchical direction, but I think we are missing the boat on this.

A lot of people attend our churches looking for a sense of community and a spiritual home. I like to think that many of our congregations strive to be welcoming and work hard to bring the newcomer into to the fold. Once the newcomer is feeling settled though, I think we can kind of come up hollow in the theological area. I have met many UUs who sort of reach that level of being comfortable but not exactly sure what it means to be a UU. Adult Religious Education programs can help with this, but wouldn't it be great to have more structures within the service that connects us to each other. We have the chalice and a couple of hymnals, but after that, it is pretty much up to each congregation on how it holds services. Why not have a few prayers or meditations that are regularly said in all the congregations? What a wonderful way to connect with each other. I love the idea that UUs around the world are all saying the same words. That is powerful.

Obviously, this would not be an easy task to accomplish. I would call on the UUA to explore this idea. We spend a lot of time advocating various important causes, let's spend some time strengthening our foundation. I feel this would go a long way in supporting our congregants and our denomination.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Adjusting & Another blog?

I am still trying to get my groove to the new schedule. It feels all backwards. The days are quiet, but then the evenings are busy, busy, busy. The insurance guy finally called and will be here tomorrow. Hopefully, then, I can get moving on some house projects. I am also really missing my sewing area. While it was only minimally affected by the water, it is not usable due to everything piled in the room (to rescue from the water). I had just started a small quilt for my daughter and now don't have any room to work on it. Seeing Bridgett's beautiful quilt, makes me anxious to get moving again on it. Tomorrow I will be working at the kids library, so that will get me out of the house for awhile! I am not sure I am so good with being alone so much.

I am also pondering starting a another blog. I am not sure if I am ready to really tread in this area, but it will have to do with living in a changing suburb. By that, I mean one that is becoming more racially and culturally diverse and the benefits and challenges it brings. Any interest in that topic?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting closer

Someone is getting a step closer to 40 today. Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And they are off...

This is the first time in ten years that I don't have any of my kids at home. They are all in full-day school this year- 1st, 4th, & 5th. Of course, I am lame and forgot to take a picture. Hopefully I will remember when I pick them up. I am kind of sad about this. I really like having them around. People keep asking what I am going to do with my time. Plenty. If the insurance adjuster ever comes, I have a disaster of a basement to clean out. It was partially finished, so that will take quite a bit of time. There are also numerous house projects that have been put off that I hope to tackle. It would be awesome if I could get organized and actually fill-out the kids School Memory books. Currently the info (mind you daughter is going into 5th!) has just been stashed in one general area. I will still be running the school library. They now just want me to be there one full day instead of two half days. I was really stressed about it because my volunteer last year moved away, but then, like the clouds parting, a person came up to me today and said she would love to help!!! I couldn't believe it! I really like her and our boys are friends, so I am really excited to have her helping. Part of me thinks that I will, at some point, look into getting back in the workforce. We could certainly use the extra money. Things are really tight right now. I haven't had a steady job in almost ten years, so I am not sure how marketable I will be. But that is still a little farther into the future. So, that is what I will be doing with my time!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I have been trying to get back into the groove of caning and preserving. The Philly trip and wet basement have derailed that a little bit. Before I left, I canned some green pepper jelly and blackberry jam. I also dilled carrots and dried tomatoes. I plan to can one more batch of the jam and make some jalapeno jelly (yum!).

I also made up a batch of spaghetti sauce and a bunch of pesto (pictured is just some of it). Both of which I wish I had more of. I am thinking I may get one more double batch of pesto from the garden. Fingers crossed.

I have also started drying the herbs. Pictured is oregano and underneath that is sage. I also have tarragon, rosemary, and lavender to dry. The darn bunnies ate all my parsley. I am very annoyed with them this year. They also happily munched their way through a bunch of my flowers. grrrr. I can't believe people keep them as pets!

We have also had a bumper crop of hops. I will harvest that shortly and it will soon become some awesome beer ;-). I am planning on planting some fall crops, but wow - I am just not so motivated. I think the hot weather and various other stresses have zapped all my energy. Hopefully I will rally soon!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Great Philly Road Trip: Part II - The Happy (b)

Saturday and Sunday afternoons were spent at the Landestreffen. This year it was hosted by the United German-Hungarian Club of Oakford, PA (outside of Philadelphia). After spending Friday learning so much about our early American history, it was kind of mind jolt to be surrounded by so much German culture. I am glad though. Both husband and I have a lot of German in our background, but neither of our families really delved into it. This despite my grandmas growing up in a German speaking home and Husbands grandparents both having German ancestry. I am also really enjoying it because one of my undergrad majors was in German, so it was fun hearing it spoken around me. I just wish I remembered more.

To start the event, all the German culture groups marched it. There were groups from Canada(2), Los Angelas, Milwaukee, Chicago(2), Cleavland, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and St. Louis.

They came close to filling a whole soccer field. There were the customary welcomes and anthem singing. Then the party began! At all times there was either a German band playing or a German dance group performing. There were vendors and food. It sort of felt like a mini-Oktoberfest. There were dance troops of all ages. It was fun to see their interpretation of the folk dances. Since this was not a competition year, they really had fun with them - especially the teenage groups.

Daughter performed in the younger youth group. I was super proud of them. They didn't get the best time slot, but they did a great job. It was worth the whole trip to just see her smile and have so much fun. She can be really shy and reserved, but opened up a lot on this trip. She had a blast.

I wish I could show more pictures, but I don't like to put up photos of the web without the peoples consent. I did, though, see more dirndls (traditional folk dresses) then I have ever seen in my life. The variety was amazing. Everyone was wearing them. It was fun to see all the older ladies rocking them. One of the groups from Chicago actually had custom made Chicago Blackhawk (hockey) dirndls made to celebrate their Stanley Cup win. I was disappointed there wasn't more lederhosens ;-) It appeared that only the Schulplatter groups were brave enough to wear them.

Overall, a very fun time!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Great Philly Road Trip: Part II - The Happy (a)

My daughter dances in a folk German dance troop. This is her first year and she loves it. Every year, all the Danuaschwabian cultural groups get together for their Landestreffen (national meeting). This year it was in Philadelphia. Since we didn't have a family vacation this summer, we thought - let's go and make it a family event. We arrived a day early and set our for all the historical sites.

First the Liberty Bell. The kids were anxious to see if it was still cracked. I think they are still a little perplexed on why they didn't fix it....

We then headed to Ben Franklin's home/courtyard. This was very disappointing. The museum was exactly like it had been (underground) 25 years ago when I was last there. Ben Franklin was a fascinating person - his museum did not do him justice. It was pretty sad. The only redeeming part was the printing press and demonstration. That was cool.

From there, we headed to Betsy Ross' house. That was very interesting. I realized that I didn't know that much about her. They had managed to preserve a lot of her apartment and store front. I really admire women like her who are able to pull through in times of such tragedy. She lost two husbands and two children while managing to support herself through her upholstery shop.

We finally ended up at Independence Hall. To me, this was the most important part of the tour. So much history happened here. I am glad they are preserving it so well.
After all of that, we still had some energy left over and decided to go to The Franklin Institute. The kids had a blast. It is has a ton of fun science things for the kids to try and play with. Since we are members of the St. Louis Science Center - we got in free (yay!).

Most of Saturday was spent at the Landestreffen (which I will talk about in the next post).

On Sunday morning we had to pick-up a sewing machine - yep, you read that right. I am related to Elias Howe, one of the inventors of the sewing machine. My dad had found one of his machines on ebay. The seller would not ship it from Philly. Very conveniently, it happened we were there, so we picked it up (and I get to keep it!!!).

We ended our historical tour with Valley Forge. I have to admit, this was also disappointing. The land was beautiful, but the actual place was just not that interesting. We also made the mistake of taking the Ranger tour. We only had to go a quarter mile to see some of the cabins - but he talked for 45(!) minutes. So tedious. The kids, though, did have fun playing around in the bunkhouses.

I am really glad we went up early to see all of this. It is a thirteen-fourteen hour drive and I am just not sure when we will get to the east coast again. Both Independence Hall (including surrounding sites) and Valley Forge had Junior Ranger programs. I would highly recommend having your kids do them. They learn so much more by doing the activities then by just wandering around. Yay National Park System!

Tomorrow - Landestreffen!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Great Philly Road Trip: Part I - The Sad

* On the way up to Philadelphia - found out my aunt has breast cancer in both breasts.
* While there - got a phone call saying a pipe burst in our basement and it flooded.
* On the way home - learned that at friend from our former congregation lost her battle with cancer. She was only 42 and had children around my kids ages. This really hit me hard.

Tomorrow: Part II - The Happy

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tikkun Daily

I saw on the Interdependent Web blog that some UUs are blogging at this site. Can someone explain what exactly this is? Is it something new or have I just finally noticed it ;-)? Is their point just to bring together spiritual progressives? Any thoughts would be appreciated!