luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
Good grief, how the time does fly....

So I have had a couple of great weekends in a row.

Saturday, May 27: Daytripped to Balticon in downtown Baltimore. Second year that the con has been held in the city where one must pay to park. That wasn't the only reason why I limited my con attendance to Saturday, though (more on that in a bit). I enjoyed the things I wanted to enjoy: the medieval dance, Maugorn's concert, and the masquerade. I saw some folks I don't get to see too often, although I did miss CZ and Alex/Phoenix. Moving the con suite from the 12th floor to the fifth-floor common level was a HUGE improvement.

Sunday, May 28: I really wanted to attend church in the morning, because that was our first glimpse of the ministerial candidate. She made a very big positive impression right from the get-go. After the service, there was a pizza luncheon and the candidate stayed to answer our questions. She has an interesting life story -- she worked as a civil engineer for many years before feeling called to the ministry. She and her husband have three grown sons.

Afterward, it was kind of a drizzly day, so the boy toy and I went on a drive through Anne Arundel County and ended up at an idiosyncratic joint called Crabtowne USA. Hey, the fish tacos were good.

Monday, May 29: The "money committees" of the church met with the ministerial candidate for a couple of hours. More positive impressions. Afterward, the boy toy cooked up shrimp and scallops at home.

Saturday, June 3: Storvik Novice Tourney, our barony's signature event. Once again we held it at the College Park Knights of Columbus, which has plenty of room, though no camping. That's OK -- it's the next town over from me, so why would I need to camp? I taught a "heraldry 101" class, although a couple of heralds who know much more than I do sat in and geeked out. Many, many of my friends received well-deserved awards from Their Majesties and Their Excellencies. Exposure to bright sunlight all day long made my brain go into "instant sleep" mode after sunset, so I went to bed a couple of hours earlier than I usually do.

Sunday, June 4: Another excellent service by our ministerial candidate, followed by our annual congregational meeting, at which we voted to call her as our settled minister with 98 percent of the vote. Yay! We finally have a permanent minister again! After the meeting, we had a brief party with champagne and cake, and there was much rejoicing.

We shall see whether this coming weekend's Baltimore Lithuanian Festival will live up to its outstanding predecessors.

And oh, yeah, after midnight it will be June 9 and the FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY of my high school graduation. It's a couple of weeks before the boy toy's 40th. Birthday, not anniversary. Why do you *think* I call him the "boy toy" here??
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
Plumbing (and financial) crisis averted. Boy toy concluded that replacing the shutoff valve and the tank inflow thingey was beyond his plumbing expertise. He went over to the condo maintenance shop to ask how to get this thing fixed without shutting off water to the entire building. I started to call the plumber, where I was told that I would have to wait until a building-water shutoff could be arranged on Monday or Tuesday, but then one of the maintenance guys came over and said he could fix it "off the clock" for $75 plus parts. That's at least $20 cheaper than the plumber would have cost me (based on the last time I dealt with the plumber, about four years ago). So the toilet is fixed and a young man has some extra cash in his pocket.

Of course, now the light inside the refrigerator has decided to flash randomly on and off (but mostly stays off). I don't ever remember changing the fridge light bulb in the nearly 18 years I have lived here. And the fridge is roughly 25 years old.

As Gilda Radner said, it's always something....

In other news, my church's ministerial search committee revealed the name of our ministerial candidate at the end of yesterday's service. From what I can tell from her website, she is two or three years older than I am, married young but has stayed married to the guy for 42 years, and has three grown sons who are gainfully employed. Ministry is her second career after civil engineering. Her beliefs and interests align pretty closely to my congregation's. I'm looking forward to meeting her next week.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Five things make a post....

1. My grad-school adviser has cancer and is not doing too well. This news comes from yesterday's email blast from the astronomy department chairman. Further correspondence with the chairman (who still remembers me) is that Mike (my adviser) is not quite up to visitors, but cards would be welcome. I have a hard time imagine Mike under the weather -- he is a tall force of nature, with a busy white beard that makes him look like a New England sea captain, and when he's not bashing human-made objects into comets, he goes sailing on the Chesapeake. Still, Wikipedia says he is now 76.

2. I may have some additional freelance assignments. Two offers of potential work landed in my inbox on May 9 within five minutes of each other. One was from a resume I sent in to a freelance-job ad back in January or February. I'd honestly forgotten about it.

3. My church has a candidate for the position of settled (permanent) minister. It was touch and go there for a while, and I was fervently hoping that we would not have to get another interim minister when our current interim's two-year contract ends next month. I don't know the name of the candidate yet, only that she has been referred to as "she." Fingers crossed that's she's great....

4. Don't know what to add about the fast-moving events surrounding the Giant Lying Russian Stooge and his cronies, except to state that I really want to compare the current timeline to that of the Watergate scandal. We're getting a special counsel very close to the 44th anniversary of the appointment of Archibald Cox, for what that's worth.

5. Lately I have been seeing puddles of plain water around the toilet. My current cat has no interest in the toilet bowl, so it's something else. As far as I can tell, the shut-off valve underneath the toilet is the source of the leak. The boy toy put an old pot under the valve to catch the water and then put green food coloring in the toilet tank. So far, the water that drips into the pot is crystal-clear, but since the boy toy pretty much dumped the entire bottle of green food coloring into the tank, the bowl keeps filling up with brilliant green water every time we flush. It's our space-alien toilet.
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
I still can't crosspost to LJ because I still haven't accepted the new, evil TOS. I suppose I'll have to, eventually. But I have so much else to do this week.

I started my LJ in July 2003 and began this DW blog in March 2010. My crossposting between the two platforms was a bit spotty at first, and occasionally I posted to only one or the other because I was focusing whatever I was saying on someone who was on just one site. Since March 2010, though, I suspect that 99 percent of the content is crossposted.

If I start importing my LJ to DW, will the previously crossposted posts made after March 2010 be duplicated in DW, so that I have two copies of every post from 2010 on? How does the importing function handle entries that might be slightly different from DW to LJ? Would it be better to simply start a new DW account -- "luscious_archive," let's say -- and import the whole LJ shebang into it, and leave it as a record of my LJ activity?

I never did get lj_book to work at all. I'd like to back up my LJ as PDF copies of each entry on my external hard drive, but dang, that is one repetitive, lengthy, boring chore. And I don't have time for that chore. I have a feature article due early next week and a job interview on Thursday afternoon (at a place where I've already been turned down for three jobs over the last few years, but oh well), and I have very little money and I desperately need the cash from the writing job, and yeah, stress stress stress. Plus, I need to do some budget stuff for church, and oh, yeah, the congregation's search for a new settled minister is going to take just a bit longer because none of the candidates we wanted actually wanted us. *sigh*

Plus, I hear that DW's import function is swamped because of the latest LJ crisis. So, yeah, I'm not going to deal with it this week.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
First off, a Happy Belated Birthday to Maugorn and Forestcats/Bridget.

This week was quite the reminder of our universal mortality. Not only did we pass the 19th anniversary of my mother's death and funeral (the 9th and the 13th, respectively), but also David Bowie and Alan Rickman. I wasn't as big a fan of David Bowie as I have been of several other artists, but still, his music was part of the soundtrack of my life, going back all the way to the time I first heard "Fame" on WRKO-AM Top 40 radio when I was in high school. As for Alan Rickman ... oh, I was just one of many, many women who swooned over him. Especially that voice. The perfect pairing of fine wine and chocolate. He also seemed like one of the few celebrities with whom I would actually like to have a meaningful conversation. Now I shall never get the chance. :-(

As far as other stuff goes ... The first half of the week, I felt pretty darn productive, but I've stumbled badly the second half of the week. Blame it on Alan Rickman, I guess. I've definitely set myself up for an intense three-day work weekend. Well, work plus a New England Patriots playoff game, Maugie's birthday party, and Lithuanian folk dance practice up in Baltimore. Oh, and a Finance Committee meeting on Sunday morning, bright and early before the church service. *sigh*
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
Several weekends every year, I feel torn because I have multiple events demanding my attention. They're all good choices ... so it's hard to choose. Often, these weekends occur around a holiday.

So ... guess what... this weekend I have no less than four things I could attend:
Those events aren't always on the same weekend. In some years, Philcon and the church auction have been held on the second Saturday of November. I'm also fairly new to Toastmasters, just starting my second year, so that hasn't been a factor in the past.

But when there's a conflict, it's just so hard to choose. I'm sentimental about Philcon because it was my "first" SF con back in the '80s when I was so much younger. Even though I can't afford to buy expensive stuff, I still enjoy shopping at Holiday Faire and socializing with folks from all over northern Atlantia. My congregation is my spiritual home and the auction is its second biggest fundraiser of the year (only the annual pledge drive is bigger, naturally). I've never been to a Toastmasters conference before.

So, which one did I choose this year, and why? Please feel free to guess in the comments. Answer tomorrow....


Nov. 15th, 2015 10:59 pm
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Long day. Had to get up early (after an episode of tossing and turning due to a weird dream) for the church Finance Committee meeting before the worship service. Then, afterward, I had to help count the money. Later the boy toy and I went to the farmers' market, and still later I had to gas up the car and go up to Baltimore for Lithuanian dancing.

By the way, Maryland is the teeny little state with two NFL teams -- whose bright idea was it to schedule two home games at the exact same time??? Couldn't the games be, y'know, played at staggered times or something???

Anyhow, now that I have come home and had a late dinner, I'm watching Talking Dead and yawning my head off.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
So today was the date of the big congregational meeting at which we were supposed to decide the fate of the ministry. Would we keep our settled minister, who had a stroke one year ago and has hit a plateau in her recovery? Would we replace her entirely? Or just find another temporary minister and punt the issue down the road?

Fortunately (for all of us, I think), a few weeks ago our minister made the brave decision to resign at the end of the church year. Because, really, who knows whether she will be able to work again, even part-time, given that it currently takes her at least 20 hours to do 10 hours' worth of work. It's sad, because she had hoped to spend at least another five years as our full-time minister. But at least we didn't have to take a painful vote on the fate of her career.

We did have a meeting after today's service, but it was more of an informational gathering to let us know how the process of searching for an interim minister will take place. This time around we will have an interim minister for a two-year term, not just one year. Initially I wasn't thrilled with this prospect, but on second thought, we have been dealing with a lot of uncertainty for a full year now, so maybe we do need two years' worth of consistency.

And so a new chapter in the life of our 60-year-old congregation will unfold.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Maybe, if I don't wait so long between posts, then writing posts won't seem so daunting. Just saying....

As if being chair of the congregation's Finance Committee wasn't a big enough deal, I have become the committee's representative to the Budget Leadership Team, or BLT. (Nope, no bacon involved. *sigh*) Everyone else on the Finance Committee has served on the BLT in the past -- I am the only one without such experience.

The BLT meets at this time of year to hash out all the line items in the proposed church budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Normally the BLT starts a bit earlier in the late winter or early spring, but we (the whole congregation) has this Big Deal hanging over our collective head: we don't know what our ministerial situation will be next year.

So we had our organizational BLT meeting tonight. Yes, it's Good Friday, but Unitarian Universalists don't do much with Good Friday. In fact, maybe this was eerily appropriate, because our minister had her stroke last year on Good Friday (which fell on April 18, though).

So ... I'm going to have a spurt of church work over the next two months. But, hey, if it brings me back to the congregation, it's all good. Up until last fall or so, when the Finance Committee thing started, I was feeling pretty distant from everyone at church, and I was hardly ever going to services. Now I'm still not going every single week, but I'm there more often. I'm back in the groove. Perhaps I just needed a break.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Last November at the church auction, I was the winning bidder on a 10-class card for a yoga studio up in Odenton. I guess I didn't mention that back in November because I posted very little here.

During the years of my last full-time job, there was a woman who worked part-time as a consultant for my employer and also taught yoga classes after the workday ended. I took the classes on and off, but tried to be more on than off. I really liked the teacher, Kandace, who had studied at the Kripalu Center (I think that's the name of it) in western Massachusetts. Kandace was kind and helpful to those of us who needed pose adjustments or alternatives, and she always reminded me that yoga is not a competitive sport. The classes ended, though, when she moved to New Mexico to get married (at approximately age 60). Then I lost my job and, well, you know the rest.

So I bid on this set of yoga classes in Odenton and got it for $50 (retail value $100). What a deal. But between the lousy weather, various activities, falling down on the ice and making my knee feel sore, and this recent cold, I didn't get around to moving my butt in that direction. But, hey, the card expires on May 9.

So today I took the plunge and headed out for a Restorative Yoga class. Even though the class started at 4:30 p.m., the traffic wasn't too bad. I found the place OK and unrolled my new personal yoga mat that I had bought at one of the Kmart going-out-of-business sales. (My former employer had provided all the yoga mats for those past classes.) Restorative Yoga turned out to be some extremely gentle poses, all seated, lying down or on all fours, no standing poses. Lots of stretches and "opening up." But it must have worked, because I seem to be sitting straighter at my desk and my back didn't start aching when I did the dishes at the sink.

Looking forward to the next nine. After that, we'll see. I'll be a bit financially grumpy until the checks for the last three small freelance assignments arrive.
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
1. Today was filled with pierogies. The boy toy and I made a couple of batches of them this afternoon ... and then we didn't eat any. We froze most of them but saved six in the fridge for tomorrow night's supper. Then we went to my church for a Russian-themed Ethnic Dinner. This wasn't the first time the committee, months ago, chose an Ethnic Dinner theme to match an Olympic host city, but they didn't exactly foresee the Ukrainian/Crimean crisis hard on the heels of the Games. Then again, the chief organizer of the whole Ethnic Dinner series is more interested in peoples and cultures than politics. Attendance was a little light this time around, but those of us who attended got a tasty and filling meal.

2. Speaking of Russia ... it has occurred to me that I should start backing up my LJ in case the Russian parent company severs ties with the US for whatever reason (or it is hit with politically motivated DDOS attacks or whatever). I've never gotten LJ Book to work, so I'm just plugging away with And that doesn't even work on friends-locked posts, so every time I come to one of those, I have to change it to public, make the PDF, and then go into "edit entry" and change it back to friends-only. Needless to say, this is slow going.

3. Welcome to all the new folks around here. It's encouraging that there are still some people on LJ.

4. I was thrilled that the UMass men's basketball team made it to the Big Dance for the first time since 1998, but less than thrilled that they were one-and-done. Then again, the first half of their season was stronger than the second half anyway.

5. I was going to write more, but the combination of the hour and the heavy meal ... I don't think I'll be awake much longer.
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
And this is only the FIRST day of the month! 29 more days to go!

Not only do I have to work on the plans for Storvik Novice Tourney -- wrangling the heralds, figuring out if my tent still is holding up for another year -- AND figure out how I'm getting to KWHSS, now that I've registered for it -- AND get the Herald's Point newsletter finished before KWHSS -- but I've agreed to help chaperone the church Youth Group (high school students) on their weekend trip to NYC the weekend BEFORE the other two events!

(Don't worry, folks, there are only three or four teenagers going on this trip, and I know their parents and where they live. Heh heh heh.)

Oh, yeah, I gotta do my freelance work, look for a job, intelligently vote on the church budget, make SCA award recommendations, figure out how to PAY for both Pennsic pre-registration and quarterly estimated taxes for both the IRS and Maryland, make some intelligent comments on the proposed new SCA heraldry rules that were JUST posted online tonight, and do a couple of things that I'm forgetting at the moment. Oh, and a 90-year-old church member called me tonight to complain that the congregational coffee team needs more help.

*head spins*

I *had* been thinking about going to Highland River Melees, maybe day-tripping because my back is feeling cranky and I don't know how much heavy lifting I want to do just yet. But now I just wonder whether I should go at all. Lots of A&S classes, fun with friends, tasting the results of the Baronial Brewing Smackdown, et cetera, but the site IS 117 miles one-way from my residence, and I really should meet with the Youth Group at church to go over the plans for the NYC trip, so I'm wavering....
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Last night I had to go to an extra meeting of the church board of trustees. It's the budget season in our congregation, because our fiscal year starts on July 1. Our financial pledges for the next fiscal year don't quite match our "austere" budget, never mind our "basic" budget. So we had to mull over some ideas for wringing some more money out of the congregation. Of course, since I'm one of those people who had to cut their pledge by some huge percentage, I feel guilty about the whole thing. All the other trustees say I shouldn't feel that way, but hey, I grew up Catholic, so guilt is just something that happens.

Maugie was not thrilled that I missed the majority of last night's dance/music practice, which is the last one before our upcoming weekend performances at the Maryland Faerie Festival. So I said I'd go to tonight's monthly dance practice up in Lochmere. The practice happens in Columbia, which has to be the creepiest town in the state, not just because it has weird neighborhood names (King's Contrivance???) and hippy-dippy street names (Forty Winks Way???) but also because everything looks so freaking perfect and businesses must have tiny little signs and be hidden by clumps of trees. Anyhow, I managed to find the practice location and the dancers. Mistress Jeanmaire was there with a couple of wooden recorders, so we actually made a little band together! We managed to play enough tunes to keep the dancers busy, although she was sight-reading many of them, so my job was to keep her on tempo. The dancers were extremely appreciative. So it was a good evening.
luscious_purple: "avoid heralds" (avoid heralds)
I have to start by mentioning that I'm watching the ESPN Sunday night baseball game, Red Sox versus Yanks at Fenway. Bottom of the third and the Sox are threatening to score. Hope they do -- this is the rubber game of the series, and the season has not been kind so far to the 1-7 Sox.

Anyhow ... on Saturday I went to Lochmere's Night on the Town event at the Elks camp in Annapolis. I hadn't pre-registered because the boy toy had been wanting to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival, but when the weather forecast was cloudy and cool and possibly damp, he declined. I didn't get there too early -- indeed, I had to dodge a HUGE traffic backup on the Beltway and take the back roads to U.S. Route 50. So lunch was technically sold out by the time I arrived; I had to wait till mid-afternoon and then snag some leftover food.

Fortunately, I was just planning to have a relax-an-event anyway. While awaiting the opportunity to nosh, I sat in on a medieval-pinwheel-making class taught by Mistress Sigrid, and I made my own lil' pinwheel from wood and parchment paper. (I'll probably give it to Eleanor the Naked Baby or any other small children who come visiting at our Pennsic encampment.) I browsed the baronial yard sale known as "Lochmart," I chatted with some of my fellow heralds, and during evening court I worked on the practice tablet-weaving band that has been sitting around the house for a while now. (Actually, I straightened out the cards so that they were all going the same way, and I practiced just the plain old "two turns forward, two turns back" shtick. But even weaving without a pattern can be tricky if you keep getting distracted as I do/did.)

Of course feast was sold out too, so I just came home and noshed on some satisfying leftovers for supper. I do love to feast, but it's probably just as well I saved $9.

Today was mostly cloudy too, even though previous forecasts had said "sunny." *sigh* So I slept kind of late and missed the service again, and then I dawdled and was late for the Wicca 101 class. So I learned something about grounding and centering, but I missed the part about casting a circle. Darn.

Then the boy toy settled in for some laundry and cleaning, and I was OK until I came across a bag that had a lot of stuff from 1981 in it. I could tell it was from 1981 because of the dates on the letters from my parents. Mom wrote most of the letters and signed them "Mom and Dad," but a couple of times, my father wrote a separate message and slipped it in the envelope, and those notes were signed "Daddy." I didn't cry, but I got all sad and thoughtful. Having two parents ... that was such a long time ago now.

(For those of you who don't already know: my Dad died the year after I graduated from college, and my mother died 14 years ago. So this is not a divorce thing.)

Some homemade chicken soup and a great Josh Beckett pitching performance, though, and I'm doing better now.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
The Board had a very productive mid-year retreat on Friday night and yesterday during the day. Friday was the potluck dinner at the minister's house, a beautiful Tudor-style house built in 1938. Mostly we went around the table and did a "check-in" to share what's been going on in our lives. Some of my fellow Board members hadn't yet realized I'm out of work.

For most of the Saturday retreat, last year's Board chair led us through several discussions based on the book Serving with Grace. We ordered take-out sandwiches and salad from Potbelly, and there were a few bucks left over. Someone said, "We ought to give the change to our unemployed Board member," but I demurred. Still, later in the afternoon I found a few dollar bills tucked into my tote bag. I think the minister put them there when the rest of us trustees were divided up into smaller groups to talk about our goals for the next six months. I really ought to give the money back to the church, though -- I feel bad that I haven't been able to pay my December and January pledges.

We wrapped up the retreat by holding an abbreviated version of the Board of Trustees meeting we were supposed to have had on Wednesday night, when it snowed and got slippery.

This morning I thought of going to church, but then I got tired and thought, "Eh, I've spent a lot of time at church already this week," and went back to bed for a snooze.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Actually, I told the story of that day in 1986 in this entry from 2006. If you didn't know me back then, please feel free to check it out and learn why I had considered Challenger my favorite space shuttle up to that day.

Last night I didn't sleep all that well at the church. Partly that was because my sleepover buddy in the church kitchen, a 70-year-old guy with various health issues, woke up every time I started to snore and he yelled at me, "Pat, wake up!" Then I woke up and would toss and turn while he slept for a bit. In addition, I never sleep very well the first night I'm in a strange place. Lastly, I could have used a bit more padding between me and the cot (other than the sleeping bag). If I do get a cot for SCA camping, I'll need to get either a thin self-inflating air mattress or an egg-crate foam pad.

This evening, and tomorrow during the day, we're having our mid-year Board of Trustees retreat. Tonight was the social potluck dinner, and tomorrow we will have the more structured discussions. Between this and Warm (K)Nights, it's certainly been a church-oriented week. I'm tired and I'm going to hit the hay soon.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
So tonight I was part of the dinner-serving crew for our Warm Nights guests. We were supposed to start serving at 7 p.m., but the manager from the organization that runs Warm Nights for the Community Ministry wanted to have a meeting "for a few minutes" first. That dragged on for more than half an hour, so we had to put some of the food back in the warming oven and on top of the stove. *grumble* One of the other servers said it sounded like the manager was "reading the riot act" to the homeless guests about proper behavior. He could also hear a small kid fussing, probably because he or she was hungry.

Eventually the guests were liberated from their lecture and they chowed down. Twin boys were having their 4th birthday, so the manager had brought a Carvel ice cream cake. I thought that was very kind. Imagine spending a childhood birthday in a shelter.

Of course, because we served dinner late we were also late with cleaning up and making the bag lunches that the guests take with them when they leave in the morning. So I heard the last 10 minutes or so of President Obama's SOTU speech as I was driving home, but that was it.

Tomorrow night I get to spend the night on a cot at the church. That will be even more interesting.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Yesterday's Belgian beer tasting was lots of fun. lots of fun. I definitely will have to get some of that Chimay Blue for future partying (Pennsic?). But of course the sweet, fruity lambics are my favorite.

Today at church I led the women's discussion group in a discussion of "working with our hands" and how we find spirituality in that. It went pretty well, though it was distracting at first because people kept popping in and out of the room to look for a member's pocketbook. She thought that someone had walked off with it while people were moving chairs in the Meeting House in preparation for the Warm Nights program. The woman finally found her purse -- locked in the trunk of her car. Oh-kay.

Warm Nights is the annual program in which various Prince George's County churches supplement the homeless shelters during the winter. I'm supposed to help serve dinner on Tuesday night, and then on Wednesday night, after the Board of Trustees meeting, I'm staying overnight at the church (along with another woman from the church; I kind of hate to do it alone). I've never stayed overnight for Warm Nights before, but I figured that this would be the year to do it, since I don't have to worry about showing up disheveled at an office the next morning. I just hope that we don't have a snowstorm or ice storm on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I like how this year's leaders of our church's Warm Nights team called the program "Warm Knights" on their recruiting poster. To me it's especially amusing because the Episcopal church that hosts our SCA fighter/music/dance practice will be participating in Warm (K)Nights in mid-February.


Jan. 15th, 2011 11:16 pm
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Today I went to the memorial service for Benjamin Franklin Peery Jr.: the second African American ever to earn a Ph.D. in astronomy, WWII veteran, educator, music lover, bon vivant, husband, father, oldest of seven brothers, and good friend to all in my congregation.

Ben was one of the first people I met when I first set foot in the church some 18 years ago next month. As soon as I mentioned I was a grad student in astronomy, people steered me in his direction and said, "Oh, you have to meet Ben! He just retired from Howard University." Ben was indeed charming and talkative on a wide variety of topics.

He even bailed me out the first time I tried doing something for the congregation. In August 1993 I offered to organize an expedition to watch the Perseid meteor shower. One couple who resided in Laurel at the time (they have since moved out of state) said that they lived near the largest plot of undeveloped land between Washington and Baltimore and maybe the sky glow there wouldn't be so bad. Well, the sky glow was still bad out there, and then the clouds started to roll in, and nobody was seeing any meteors. And I remember standing there starting to panic and worrying that I was fast losing any cred I still had as "one of the astronomers," and then Ben spoke up in his wonderful baritone. He gave an impromptu talk on the origins of the stuff that meteors are made of, so at least people went home feeling that they had learned something.

We all miss his smile and his zest for life.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Our minister had asked, via e-mail, for people in the congregation to join her after this morning's service to distribute some leaflets around the neighborhood. This coming week, our church is hosting two evening meetings that are open to the public, and the minister wanted our neighbors to know about them. One concerns truancy issues at the local public high school. The other is being held by Equality Maryland to kick off its 2011 campaign for same-sex marriage and transgender rights. Since "membership and outreach" falls in my portfolio as a trustee, so to speak, I figured I'd better help out. Besides, I get my share of leaflets from evangelical churches that are closer to my house, and I've often wondered whether we could do some mass distribution of literature somehow.

Today was sunny but also cold and windy, so D. (the minister) got only two takers: me and one of the co-chairs of the Social Action Committee. I was the youngest of the three by several years, so I couldn't really bow out. We divided up the neighborhood and set out.

I started along the road that dead-ends at the back of the church's property. It's a neighborhood of mostly large 1960s ramblers on large lots. A few of these houses even have little Asian-style architectural and landscaping details that would have fit right into Palo Alto -- except the houses would have been closer together there. In the church's neighborhood, it took longer to walk around than I had anticipated.

I found an awful lot of people not home. Where do all these people go on a Sunday afternoon? One person told D. that there were several "For Sale" signs up because of the burglaries. One elderly woman who was home when I called told me that her house had been broken into a couple of months ago and the cops think that students from the neighborhood high school did it. She might come to the meeting on Tuesday, but she is having an alarm system installed in her house on Wednesday.

Only one person didn't open the door and instead shouted through the door, "Not interested, thank you!" One chatty woman in her 60s (I suppose) invited me in to sit at the kitchen table and pet her cats. Turns out she inherited that house from her late parents, so she lives part-time in that house while figuring out what to do with it. She is as involved with her Methodist church in College Park as our congregational leaders are with our church, but she seemed interested in the anti-truancy meeting. She also had a lot of complaints about the traffic and the development just over the Montgomery County line. Geez, like I can fix that.

Yep, it was a very interesting afternoon!

September 2017

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