Sunday, December 31, 2006

Buh-bye, 2006

Watershed year, 2006. The severing of some mighty powerful ties and roots. A year of discombobulation. A year of testing my limits - professionally, emotionally, financially. Highly highs, lowly lows. Connecting. Letting go. Just hanging on during a wild ride. Some of the highlights:

From the Big Peach to the Big Apple. After 30+ years in Atlanta (and my whole life south of the Mason-Dixon line), I get a call to New York. An offer too good to refuse - so I accept. Upside: a great job in an energetic city, a chance to prove to myself that I can do it. Downside: No permanent living space (I miss my bed!), distance from family and friends.

Sister moves to the other side of the country. After 30+ years in Atlanta (er, Marietta), Sis and hubbie move to Orange County, California. Another offer too good to refuse, so off they go. Our kids are still in Atlanta watching the dust settle and wondering what they did to chase us off! Sis has never been to New York and I've never been to Yorba Linda, so I'm thinking 2007 will bring a little bi-coastal travel!

English home disappears. Jean and Aubrey's move from Walton-on-Thames (another 30+ year milestone) to Scotland was as root-chopping as any of the other moves in 2006. That house in Ashley Road has welcomed me and mine for the past three decades. I'll miss those drinkies in the back garden and tea and choccie biccies with our nightly TV. I now tear up whenever I hear the EastEnders theme.

Selling the house. Well, you've just lived through that with me, so 'nuff said.

Letting in new friends, reconnecting with old ones. Thanks to the move and the blog, lots of new folks have entered my life. That's been a real blessing in this topsy-turvy year. Another joy is that a few childhood chums have found their way to the blog. I love it whenever I hear from friends from the 'hood!

Camp Coast Care and Katrina reconstruction. The week I spent in March with a few college kids from All Saints' and a bunch of volunteers from all over the world working in coastal Mississippi was life-changing. Still a lot of work to be done, if anyone's interested. ;-)

The biggest lowlight was the death of classmate Tom Fox, Christian peacemaker killed in Iraq. The world hit too close to home on that one. Rest in peace, friend.

Yes, 2006 will forever be blazoned in big red numbers on my personal timeline. The changes have been enormous, but the rewards have been enormous as well. I'll spend the evening figuring out how to hang on for 2007's crazy twists and turns!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Paying forward, not back

It's been an action-packed two days in the office, so I was bone-tired when I boarded the #5 at Grand Central bound for 86th Street. Carrying a shopping bag full of stuff that needed to find its way to my apartment, I was hoping to find a seat on the subway since commuter traffic seemed to be light on this Friday evening before New Years.

Turns out the train wasn't jammed as normal, and a few prize seats beckoned. Alas, I just wasn't quick enough to grab one, as folks jostled by and sat down. The last available seat - within my grasp - disappeared as a teenager pushed past me and took it.

"That's the rudest thing I've ever seen," said a man standing behind me. I gave him a little smile and a shrug. Oh, well. I could stand. No big deal.

Prospects brightened when we got to 59th Street. Several folks with seats lumbered out, and this time I got a seat on a bench vacated by two people. Now, I could've spread out, but that's not my style. Would another whippersnapper push his way past another tired soul to grab the seat?

Nope. About halfway down the car I spotted a grandmother holding a couple of bags, working her way toward me. I put my hand on the seat (lest some cheeky young'un tried anything) and motioned for the woman to take a load off next to me. She sat down with a weary person's weight, smiled, and said a big "Thank you so much!" in a lovely Caribbean accent. Her son and grandkids took their places, standing in front of her. All said hearty "Thanks!"

"I'm getting off at 86th Street, so you'll get one more seat," I said to the group.

As the train slowed to a stop at 86th, the woman turned to me, "Have a wonderful, prosperous New Year. And travel safe!" I wished her the same, we smiled at each other, I gave my seat to the son, and left the train. Somehow, I wasn't quite as tired as I'd been when I boarded the train.

It's always amazing to me how such simple acts of courtesy and kindness can brighten my whole day - whether I'm the "doer" or the "receiver" of such acts. I wonder why we don't do more. Courtesy is easy and free and it's good for the soul.

'Tis better to pay it forward, than to pay it back. Thus ends the lesson.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Home for (the rest of) the Holidays

I'm back in New York after far too many days in Atlanta. Alas, I had to stay as long as I did to settle the house and do a little Christmas celebration (though that wasn't much of a task, I assure you). Yes, the house is sold - signed, sealed, delivered - but after everybody grabbed their money, I wasn't left with much. Once the smoke clears I'll have a better idea of how things shook out.

It was an enormously emotional time for me - that little house represented a lot, and to see it go was very painful. Yes, I had to sell it and am grateful it was snatched up, particularly in this market, but it will be some time before I can speak of it without tearing up. It was my sweet little home.

On the up-side, I got my fill of good Suth'en eatin' - The Colonnade Restaurant (best fried chicken outside of yo' mama's) twice, Waffle House, Krystal hamburgers (two or three times - I lost count), and the Piedmont Driving Club (doncha' know). It being Atlanta, we drove everywhere - very little walking - so pounds were definitely put on. It's good to be back in New York, where I can get back to walking and climbing stairs. My body will be grateful.

Highlights of the trip:
1) Fabulous going-away party for good friend Beth, who's off to St. Paul, Minnesota, to be rector of her very own church! Yea, Beth!
2) Big family get-together. It's good to see the next generation coming on so strong! (Plus the good food, natch.)
3) Meals with family and friends - Kate (Raja, Bridgetown), Lynne (at the PDC), Barbara (Colonnade), Carey (La Fonda, Outback), Alexander (Waffle House). All marvelous - for different reasons.
4) All the Christmas movies and Christmas episodes of old sit-coms.
5) Christmas Eve at All Saints'. 'Nuff said.
6) Returning to New York. ;-)

Now, it's back to work for me - it should be piled pretty high, even though I've tried to keep up long-distance. Forging ahead . . .

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas from the Fa-mi-ly

Merry Christmas to all from Atlanta, Georgia (although this picture was taken in Chattanooga in 1958? 59?).

To Liz, PT, Joy, Winston, Tamar, Christa, Elsie, Peter (the Other), Jo, Chux, Jen, Chris, Johnno, Kate, Garth and Claire (wherever you are!), Bro, Sis, and all you "Anonymouses" out there - Hope you all have a splendiferous Christmas and a healthy, happy 2007 full of incredibly wondrous surprises!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

And from the Island of Misfit Toys . . .

I've been a bloggin' slag, I know. Sorry. Last couple of weeks at work have been crazy-busy, and I shipped out to Atlanta for Christmas on Saturday. Ever since I touched down here, it's been party, party, party. Well, sorta, but lots of other things are going on, too.

For one thing, I'm in House-Closing Hell. I'm already emotionally distraught over selling the house here in Atlanta, but it has been one hurdle after another getting all the paperwork, appraisals, inspections, underwriters, etc., lined up for - please, God - closing tomorrow. Just talked with my real estate agent who's still waiting for the final underwriting paperwork or we can't close tomorrow. Aaargh. We have to close tomorrow. Start throwing out the prayers, folks. As broken-hearted as I am about selling the house, things will be much worse if this doesn't happen tomorrow or Thursday. (Refer to previous post about "rapidly falling apart").

Other than that, it's been a fun time with friends and family, though Kate's digs are getting smaller by the day, so I'm going to camp out with friends for a few days.

Merry, Merry, and Jingle, Jingle. It's hard to feel Christmasy when it's 70 degrees outside. Sigh. I'm sure things'll get better. Right?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tree at 30 Rock

Had lunch with a friend from Atlanta in the Rockefeller Center/Sak's vicinity. Enjoy the purdy pictures. (I'll get back to posting more than pictures soon. My back's against the wall until Friday, hemmed in by a mountain of work and those pesky year-end budget deadlines.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

And from that little store over on 34th Street . . .

But I didn't see either Maureen O'Hara or Natalie Wood. Or the little girl singing in Dutch. Otherwise, it was pretty cool.

Finally. A good laugh

Here's the photo The Times of London published with a news article entitled "Pope Speaks on Gay Marriage." So he speaks on gay marriage, and his head explodes? Yikes! It was a Co-Cola-spittin' moment for me. Boy, did I need a good laugh!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Rapidly falling apart

I'll be back when the pieces come together again. (I'll keep reading your stuff, though.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holiday Round-up

Do you need a little Christmas? Right this very minute?

Well, first you need to play catch-up:

Best Christmas Cartoon (Period.)

Ho-ho-ho-larious holiday songs (including an updated link to "Hanukkah Hey Ya")

Science and St. Nicholas (Celebrate! St. Nicholas Day is - that's right - today!)

Christmas Movies, Part I: The Life-Lessons (Learn 'em, know 'em, love 'em)

Christmas Movies, Part II: Marley was dead, to begin with (That's right - all your Scrooge favorites)

Christmas Movies, Part III: The Pre-1960 Classics (Warm up the DVD/video-player, friends.)

Christmas Movies, Finale: The new-fangled, post-1960 ones (Ho. Ho. Ho.)

Almost too much comfort and joy for one sitting, ain't it? Go ahead and put that Steve and Eydie album on the turn-table and give in to the feeling.

O, the wonders of a flashlight and a bit of orange cellophane

It was all about anticipation, the week before Christmas vacation (and it was called Christmas vacation back in the day - that's how old I am).

At Barger Elementary School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the waiting game was spent decorating the classroom - usually a big bulletin board snow scene of some kind, rehearsing for the Christmas program (and, yes, it was called a Christmas program), and making sure our mothers were on schedule to bring in goodies for the Christmas party (yes, . . . ).

We were repeatedly reminded to bring in our choir "robes," cleaned and starched and ready to don before the first performance of the program. These robes, fashioned by our mamas, were nothing more than one square yard of white broadcloth (often an old bed sheet) with a hole cut in the middle for our heads to poke through. A big black cloth bow was pinned to the center of the neckline and - voila! - instant angelic choir attire. (see hand-drawn illustration) Kids often kept the same robe throughout elementary school, so the fabric completely suffocated a first-grader and barely made it to the elbows of a sixth-grader.

Each grade played a particular part in the Christmas program, ranging from the little kids singing "Away in the Manger" around the specially-selected sixth-graders chosen as Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, Wise Men, to fifth- and sixth-graders providing the background music as the school chorus.

My least favorite year was fourth grade. To the ear-grating chagrin of audience and participants alike, fourth-graders had to work their way through "Jingle Bells" on recorders. Yeow! A real painful stinker. The Christmas equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard.

But the best - the very best - part of the program was reserved for third-graders. Our teachers lined us up two-by-two outside the room as the lights in the auditorium were dimmed. Each of us had a flashlight with a piece of orangy-yellow cellophane fashioned as a "flame" covering the light and held in place by a rubber band. Picture it: sweet little 8-year-olds in their white robes with big black bows, slowly entering the auditorium singing "Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella."

Third-graders can be quite somber and reverent when called to be so (or when afraid of falling in the dark). The flashlight/candles made an impressive snake of glowing circles on the ceiling of the auditorium. It was a wonder to behold!

Of course, there were always a couple of wise-guys (almost always guys, doncha' know) who got a thrill out of flickering their flashlights hither and yon, destroying the solemnity of the occasion, but for the most part everyone maintained the required decorum.

It was a bee-yoo-ti-ful thing. And it makes for a warm and fuzzy memory. Wonder where I can find a piece of orange cellophane? Bring a torch, Jeanette Isabella. Bring a torch and quickly run . . .

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Winecoff Fire

Thursday marks the 60th anniversary of the deadliest hotel fire in US history. In the wee, small hours of December 7, 1946, a fire broke out in Atlanta's Hotel Winecoff and quickly shot up through the then-towering (for Atlanta) height of 15 stories.

The newspaper headline had the body count off by one - "only" 119 people died in the horrific fire, including a group of best-and-brightest teens in town to participate in a mock legislature at the Georgia State Capitol.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a good story in Sunday's paper about a reunion of some of the survivors and firemen who saved them.

A Georgia Tech grad student, Arnold Hardy, became the first amateur to win the Pulitzer Prize. With his last flashbulb he caught a disturbing shot of a woman jumping from a window. See the photo and read how Hardy got the shot here.

Like the Titanic, the Winecoff's self-promotion was a study in hubris. The hotel was billed, after all, as completely fireproof. (Note to self: Never stay at, sail on, ride in, or otherwise come anywhere close to anything promising to be indestructible. That sort of thing always gets a big "Ya' think so?" from God.)

So remember, the next time you stay in a hotel and see those little sprinkler things and fire escape maps on the door, you have the doomed Hotel Winecoff to thank for those little safety features.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lighting Up

Park Avenue flipped the switch on its Christmas trees yesterday. Fifty blocks of trees - gorgeous!

Made some holiday headway of my own over the weekend. Mailed 90% of my Christmas cards (and if past years are a gauge, I'll probably forget about the other 10%), festooned the apartment with lights around the windows and a fresh wreath, and watched both the 1938 and 1951 versions of A Christmas Carol. I also saw a colorized version of Miracle on 34th Street (1947), which doesn't count. I'll watch my own B&W version later.

Work has me slammed right now - too much to do in too short a time. A lot of what has to be done needs much Tender Loving Care, not to be rushed. I'm trying to live by the lessons of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, but I do find myself looking at the whole, impossible picture sometimes and just getting stuck in the overwhelmingness of it all. Ah, me!

Obviously, I need to spend more time lighting (and lightening) up. Maybe the lights on Park Avenue can teach me how.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Playin' Catch-up

Well, that's what I get for leaving town for 8 days. This is the first chance I've had to pull my nose out of my work since I landed back here Wednesday morning. And I return to Atlanta two weeks from tomorrow, so that nose better find its way back to the grindstone within the next few minutes.

First thing off the bat when I returned was a meeting with the new Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. She's meeting a few of us at a time, otherwise it would be to overwhelming. We were charged with introducing ourselves, telling a bit about our specific work, and what motivates us. She's very gracious and attentive, with a good sense of humor. At the end, she called each of us by name - not looking at notes, but looking into our eyes - acknowledging what we'd said. Anyway, it was a good way to get back into my work here.

The other thing that's taken up most of my time has been re-creating content for the new design structure of the Office of Anglican and Global Relations' website. The current site is a complete mess - totally illogical and no help to anyone. I love the new design, which should launch before I leave in two weeks (God-willing). Revamping all the content is overwhelming - yes, you take it a page at a time, but as you know, one page leads to 5 or 6 more pages - aargh! The good news is that I wrestled it to the ground yesterday and have only a few more pages to go. I'm sure I'll be tweaking it till the cows come home, but for now, I just want to get it out there.

I'm glad it's Friday. I plan to stroll around and look at the Christmas windows on 5th Avenue this weekend, and of course, nip over to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. The Park Avenue trees (two on every median between 47th and 96th!) light up on Sunday - can't wait for that. It'll make those dark winter walks with Bailey a little brighter!

Here's what I'm wonderin' today:
  • Where will the Christmas-present-buyin' money come from?
  • Do I dig down to buy my practical winter boots now, or wait till the first storm hits?
  • How the hell do we keep Britney/Paris/Lindsey off the streets (and the television)?
  • Ditto for George Bush?
  • What happened to 2006? (I'm still writing 2005 on correspondence . . . )
Ah, well, this New York working gal needs to finish her boiled eggs and toast and get back to work!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Suitably Stuffed

Sorry about the long blog-drought, but between all the artery-clogging meals, family gab-fests, and movie-watching of the past week (not to mention, sparse access to computers), I just haven't had time.

Thanksgiving was fabulous - all good stuff. Went off without a hitch, even cooking in a strange kitchen with an electric stove and oven as opposed the gas I'm used to using. Saw family and friends, talked a blue-streak, played a few rounds of Clue (and lost miserably to a 10-year-old - and NOT on purpose!), and still had time to enjoy the left-overs while watching Grey's Anatomy and ER Thanksgiving night.

Watched a lot of movies on DVD and television and even roused my trypto-phanny (get it?) out to see Happy Feet with Joanna. Here's the TV/DVD round-up: Prairie Home Companion, Thank You for Smoking, Love Actually, The Break-Up, The Omen (the original, of course - who'd bother with a remake?), Titanic, Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Bad Santa, Ghostbusters, So I Married an Axe Murderer, and the whole first and second seasons of West Wing (damn good show - is anything more powerful than the "Two Cathedrals" episode?). I know it sounds like all I did was veg-out, but, yeah, that'd be about right. You gotta remember that there was a lot of conversation happening during all the movie/West Wing watching.

I'll catch up later (and check on the memes that tagged me), but things are stacked to the ceiling at work, so I gotta go. Mo' later!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Anyone else finding it a little disturbing . . .

. . . that Sally Field has just turned 60 and is doing Boniva commercials? Gidget! Sister Bertrille! Sybil! Norma Rae! Osteoporosis!

. . . that OJ Simpson has the nerve to crawl back out from under the rock he's been under since he killed Nicole and Ron? And that he's getting so much exposure?

. . . that so many Katrina victims got screwed over by the insurance companies? (CNN has a great documentary about the folks in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi - so dispiriting!)

. . . that Katie Holmes has a weird "Body Snatchers" look in her eye since she hooked up with Tom Cruise?

. . . that even Henry Kissinger says Iraq is unwinnable?

. . . that it's almost December? Where the hell did 2006 go?

I'm not a whole lot disturbed by any of this (well, except for the Iraq and Katrina things). Still, each one is kinda niggling the back of my brain.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thanksgiving D'ruthers

Less than a week to go. So what are your Thanksgiving preferences? Feel free to play along, even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving.

1. Stuffing or Dressing?
I'm a dressing girl, myself. That's just the way we do it in the South. Good ol' cornbread dressing, baked outside the turkey, using the giblets and juices. Stuffing (cooked inside the bird) is just yukky to me.

2. "We Gather Together" or "Over the River and Through the Woods"?
Hmm. Tough one. I love 'em both. I'll go with "We Gather Together," if a gun's put to my head. I know all the words. Still, a rousing chorus of "Over the River" is so festive!

3. Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie (for Thanksgiving, I'm talkin' here)
I'll take two slices of pumpkin and one of apple, please.

4. Pilgrims or Indians?
Well, seems to me all the good food came from the Indians, right? Turkey, corn, and so forth. But I love those swell Pilgrim hats, too. I'm going with the Indians, though. They seemed more fun-loving.

5. Underdog Balloon or Kermit the Frog Balloon (Macy's Thanksgiving Parade)?
Speed of lightning, roar of thunder - Underdog! (Love ya', Kermie, but the Underdog balloon is tops with me.)

6. Football or Shopping?
Neither. I prefer eating leftovers and watching Miracle on 34th Street in my 'jammies.

7. Midday Thanksgiving Meal or Evening Thanksgiving Meal?
Midday. If you don't eat until evening, you don't get the mid-evening leftovers craze. (see above)

8. Hot Cider or Cold Cider?
Hot (for the holidays). Cold in the summertime.

9. Homemade Cranberry Sauce/Relish or Canned Cranberry Sauce?
Homemade. With orange peel and pecans and other goodies.

10. Turkey Carved at Table or Turkey Carved Ahead of Time?
Carved ahead of time. Carving at the table would take too long and be too messy. (And I couldn't pick at the warm turkey before everyone else gets at it.)

Your turn.

In Boston for a Tea Party

It's a lie. I'm in Westborough (30+ miles outside of Boston) for a conference, but I wanted to use the Fiedler album cover to illustrate. Haven't even had any tea yet, Boston or Westborough.

Picture it: LaGuardia Airport, 9am. Me, early for the 10am US Airways shuttle to Boston. Long, long line. Why? All the electronic kiosks are down. Oh. And all the electronic-anythings for US Airways are down, too. Now, seems to me, the way to handle this would be to call out everyone booked on the 10am flight, hand-write their boarding passes and let them make the flight.

Sorry. Too logical. Damn my common sense! No, they let everyone - folks booked on 11am, 12pm, 1pm - just snake through the same line. Took an average of 8-10 minutes per person to handwrite the passes, etc., and check bags. Roughly half of the 10am passengers missed the flight. So, I'm guessin' that flight went out half empty. That can't be good.

Anyway, made it through for the 11am flight. (Please, please US Airways - don't buy Delta!)

I'm not even going to talk about the $100 cabfare from Logan to Westborough Doubletree. We were told ahead of time that the cost would be around $45. Maybe we were assuming dollars. Possibly they were talking about pound-sterling.

Well, que sera. I must go perk up now, since I'm giving a workshop it a bit. And it's a perky workshop, if you know what I mean, so I need to up my perk-factor pretty darn soon.

If only I could find a cuppa tea . . .

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I just participated in my first focus group. When they called me last week outta the blue, I was a tad suspicious; I mean, they were offering me $125 cash to spend a couple of hours spewing my opinion. Shoot, I do that for free 24/7. What's the catch?

Well, no catch, it seems. Jes' lil' ol' me and five others were asked many questions about a particular airline, shown lots of color/logo options, and listened to (via a two-way mirror) by the airline flunkys. Can't tell you any more than that, or I'd be breaking my "contract." Anyway, it was all very professional and kinda fun. Nice, toney 5th Avenue office, too. Not a bad night's work. And I didn't have to take my clothes off or fake anything.

I could make a living doing this. Your product. My opinion. $62.50 an hour. Count me in.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wake up and smell the turkey

This time next week I'll be waking up in Atlanta, ready to start the two-day Thanksgiving Food and Decor Frenzy. 'Cept it's not at my house this year. I'm homeless in Atlanta, as it were. Not houseless - still have the house and praying it will sell before too awfully long, but my stuff's not in it anymore, so we must celebrate Thanksgiving somewhere else this year.

Good friend Carey and the kids are taking up the slack and doing the hosting duties. We'll have a houseful of some family and lots of friends, just a little different mix than usual. But Carey's not much of a cook, so she's asked me to do turkey/dressing duties, while she and Joanna concentrate on the pies. Garth and his new bride Claire will join us, bringing (I hope) his sweet-tater casserole and mo' pies (I gave 'em really nice pie dishes for a wedding present - hint! hint!). Daughter Kate and her significant other will have to take up some of the food-slack of missing family members. Rest assured, however, that there will be plenty to eat and lots of festive decor. (Young Joanna and I will festoon the halls in pure Thanksgiving splendor, I guar-awn-tee.)

Things change, and that's a fact. As Kate reminded me last night, we're all pretty healthy and on good speakin' terms, and that's all that matters. A seismic change in our holiday tradition might be just the Thanksgiving ticket.

And while we're on the subject of Thanksgiving, feel free to re-visit last year's holiday posts:
My Favorite Pilgrims
The Great Thanksgiving Countdown
Thanksgiving Movies: Is there a reason the pickins are slim?
More turkeys for your Thanksgiving movie enjoyment

And PT, I'm still looking for that great English Thanksgiving classic: Thursday We All Went To Work As Usual.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Did ya' hear the one about . . .

What's so funny? Today's New York Times Magazine'll tell you.

"How to Be Funny" is a compilation of what to do and what to avoid from the likes of writers, directors, and a handful of comedic actors. Plus, it's very funny.

And don't miss "On a Desert Island . . ." - 22 yuk-yuk-y people choose their personal Favorite Five. Hilariously enough, most of the five comedies I'd take to a desert island weren't mentioned. I must not be very funny. Here's what I'd choose:

1. Dr. Strangelove - a true classic and worthy of high praise. Peter Sellers is genius.
2. Best in Show - or any Christopher Guest + crew offering; it's the gift that keeps on giving, making the real Westminster Dog Show a comedy treat every year!
3. Ghostbusters - an earnest Dan Ackroyd, a very-Bill-Murray Bill Murray, Gozer, and the Stay-Puft Marshamallow Man; what's not to love?
4. Sordid Lives - maybe only Southerners get it, but I know every character in this one (and am related to most of 'em).
5. The Women - the whole cast is hilarious (except for overly-dramatic Norma Shearer), but Rosalind Russell is a particular standout. The catty asides are priceless.

I'd also try to sneak Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery (for Tom Arnold's cowboy running commentary bathroom-scene alone) on to the island when no one's looking, just to fill out the collection. Oh, and Young Frankenstein. (This is harder than it seems at first glance. You try it.)

My theory is that a person's comedy favorites reveal more about them than any other thing. So now you know.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Little Fall Splendor in The Park Central

"A golden wind that shakes the grass"

by Siegfried Sassoon

The anguish of the earth absolves our eyes
Till beauty shines in all that we can see.
War is our scourge; yet war has made us wise,
And, fighting for our freedom, we are free.

Horror of wounds and anger at the foe,
And loss of things desired; all those things must pass.
We are the happy legion, for we know
Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass.

There was an hour when we were loath to part
From life we longed to share no less than others.
Now, having claimed his heritage of heart,
What need we more, my comrades and my brothers?

On this Armistice Day: in honor of Walter Wildgoose (1st Lincolnshires, Machine Gun Corps) and in memory of his brother Bert (Black Watch) who died May 9, 1915 at Aubers Ridge.


In Scotland, not Barbados.

Thanks to the internet and BT, I tracked down the phone number of Jeannie and Aubrey's daughter in Aberdeen, and guess who answered the phone? Jeannie her-own-self. We both had a weepy moment, with me jabbering "What's happened? I couldn't find you! What happened to the house?" and her rattling off "We left so fast! I didn't have your new address and lost your email address! I've been worried sick about how to reach you!" and so forth.

The short version is that Aubrey's health began deteriorating (he has cancer) and they weren't getting the medical care they needed in high-tone Surrey, so Daughter arranged things for them in Scotland. It was quickly decided to sell the house in Walton (after 33 years) and get a cottage near the family in Aberdeen so that Jeannie wouldn't have to do all the nursing duties.

Jeannie said they left the house very quickly - in fact all of her stuff is still inside. Daughter and hubbie are going down to clear it out this weekend, since the buyers want to move in Dec. 1. Said it broke their hearts to leave it - it was home, after all - but at their age and with Aub's health, they just had to cut it loose.

At any rate, all is as well as it can be, considering Aubrey's problems, and we've found each other again. That's the important thing. That's the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket.

So no more Walton. Guess Aberdeen will be my new stomping grounds (except when I need to link up with the Moore clan!).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Feelin' Fall-y

Enough with election talk and trips to the four corners of the earth. It's autumn, glorious autumn! We're in that golden season between the mid-October ramp-up to Halloween and the grand finale of Christmas, with Thanksgiving smack in between.

What's not to love? The leaves - both here and in England last week - are stunning. Dying though they may be, those leaves are going out in a blaze of glory.

And don't we all hope to do the same some day? That's why my hair's just going to get redder and higher as the years go by. Till finally, I drop. Then, someone will pick me up and press me between two pieces of wax paper, run an warm iron over me, and preserve my red fabulousness for the ages. At least, that's how I hope it'll go down.

And as long as we're on the subject of fall, here are a couple of posts about autumn from last November's Shorty blog.

Now, go take a walk. Kick some leaves. Smell the smells. Bundle up.

(By the way, I took the picture of the tree last Saturday outside Washington National Cathedral. Ain't it grand?)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

About yesterday . . .

Real New Yorker?

This week's Time Out New York (of which I'm a faithful subscriber) includes "The Essential NYC Quiz" to separate the real Noo Yawkers from the faux. Here's a sampling of questions (I'll post the answers in "Comment."):

1. MetLife is to Pan Am as Sony is to:
C. Trump
D. Mutual of New York

2. Which of the following wasn't invented in New York?
A. The Oreo
B. Baked Alaska
C. Caesar Salad
D. Pasta primavera

3. Whose death were the patrons of the Stonewall Inn mourning on the night of the "Stonewall revolution"?
A. Judy Garland
B. John Lennon
C. Marilyn Monroe
D. Edie Sedgwick

4. An egg cream traditionally contains:
A. eggs
B. cream
C. Eggs and cream
D. None of the above

5. You walk south on Fifth Avenue until the road dead-ends. What do you see in front of you?
A. The original Whitney Museum
B. Jefferson Market Library
C. Washington Square Arch
D. Duane Reade

6. On Sundays in NYC, you are legally allowed to start drinking at what time?
A. 6am
B. Noon
C. 4pm
D. Anytime you want

7. Which of the following celebrity couples recently relocated to Brooklyn?
A. Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich
B. Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal
C. Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker
D. Paulina Prizkova and Ric Ocasek

8. The nickname Gotham came from a work by which author?
A. Washington Irving
B. Lewis Carroll
C. Samuel Clemens
D. Nathanael West

9. How did the "21" Club get its name?
A. You had to be 21 to enter
B. It originally had 21 members
C. The club's address was 21
D. During Prohibition, members had to knock twice and then once to gain entrance

10. What is Manhattan's oldest public building in continual use?
A. St. Paul's Chapel
B . Gracie Mansion
C. Cathedral of St. John the Divine
D. City Hall

That's just ten of over 100 questions. How'd ya' do? (I'm not quite a real New Yorker, yet.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Thanks for the room, Tennessee Williams

Yet another little trip for me. This time to the School of Theology at Sewanee, Tennessee. I'm guest lecturer for two ecclesiology classes tomorrow. And, no, I really don't know what ecclesiology is, per se, but I do know what I was asked to present, so I'm ready.

Tonight I'm in one of the guest suites at the school. Turns out, the room is compliments of playwright Tennessee Williams in memory of his grandfather, who was an Episcopal priest. The plaque and photo are outside my door.

Another bit of trivia: Tennessee Williams willed his literary rights to Sewanee. Funds from the legacy support a creative writing program here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Virgin Movie-Watching

Virgin Atlantic was my transport to and from London last week. I love the individual entertainment centers provided, except mine didn't work on the JFK-Heathrow leg. Sigh. There I was, surrounded by folks enjoying first-run movies while I worked through my sudoku book.

The good news is that I got an up-and-running system on the way home Friday. In the span of 7 hours I managed to zip through 3 and 3/4 films. The reviews are in:

The Queen: Well, Helen Mirren always kicks ass and this QEII portrayal is no exception. Boy, she looks just like old Betty - the pursing lips, the just-so hair, the clunky purposeful walk, the attitude. I hate that Oscars are always given to actors in true-life biographical roles, but I can't imagine Mirren not walking away with this one. She is spot on. The film did dig up all the Diana stuff again. And I wanted to just drop-kick Prince Phillip (but I think everybody wants to do that, so I'll have to line up).

The Devil Wears Prada: Just for fun. Like Mirren, Meryl Streep is always fun to watch. (Which persona today, Meryl?) A fluff film, but enjoyable.

Trust the Man: Really worth the time. Stars Julianne Moore, David Ducovny, Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal. A romantic comedy, but more than that. It's good to see Julianne Moore on-screen again - seems she was everywhere 2-3 years ago. A smart little movie.

An Inconvenient Truth: I got about 3/4 of the way through the Al Gore film on global warming before we landed. It sounds like it would be boring; it's anything but. Good mix of serious and funny. Despite his wooden reputation, Gore makes very serious stuff entertaining, believe it or not. You can't help wondering what the world would be like today if the man actually elected President by over 1 million votes in 2000 had gotten to serve. But perhaps he has a higher calling with the global warming issue.

See? "Virgin" movie-watching ain't so bad.

For All the Saints

Cold, crisp, bright blue sky. Trees on fire with color. A long line of cheerful, excited Episcopalians snaking down the long access to Washington Cathedral. That's what greeted us yesterday morning when our bus - full of Church Center staff - pulled up to the cathedral for the Investiture of the 26th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

But this investiture was historic. At the point in the service when the new PB was invited into the sanctuary - after three loud knocks on the huge West Door - for the first time, the person knocking and being summoned inside was a woman. And a rather youngish woman, at that. A mother. A scientist (oceanography). A licensed pilot. A church leader as no other church leader has been before. Katharine Jefferts Sciori entered the cathedral to loud, loud cheers and applause ringing off the stone walls. A woman knocked and was invited to come in. Thrilling from the tips of the toes to the last hairs on the head.

Native Americans from Ute, Shosone, Crow-Creek-Sioux, and Chippewa tribes chanted and "smudged" the thousands of folks in the congregation (don't worry, we didn't get sooty or anything). The Gospel Choir of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas/Philadelphia sang rockin' gospel, as well as Zulu. The magnificent choirs of Washington National Cathedral raised the roof in the best Anglican choral music tradition. The Omega Liturgical Dance Company-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NY brought rhythm and color to the occasion. Thrilling!

As Bp. Gene Robinson passed us during the procession and as courageous out-going Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold (with a catch in his voice at the emotional moment) handed the primatial staff to Bp. Katharine, I was proud of my church and reminded of something an English priest said at last week's conference in Derbyshire in the middle of a discussion about Bp. Robinson and Bps. Frank and Katharine's decision to support him . "We Anglicans and the Roman Catholics have been ordaining gay bishops for 2000 years. The American Episcopal Church is just being honest about it." Theoretically, the new PB's support of honest behavior is why conservative bishops are rejecting her. I suspect the woman-thing looms pretty large, as well.

Yet contrary to headlines blaring "A Woman Now Leads an Embattled Church," there was no "embattled" yesterday. (There's really no "embattled" anytime, except for a handful of conservative bishops in the US and some power-wielding bishops in the Global South - note, I said "some" in the Global South, certainly not all.) No, the day was glorious. Witnessed by thousands of the faithful in the cathedral and many more thousands following the live webcast, there was hope, excitement, and a renewed commitment to mission and ministry.

Thanks be to God on this All Saints Sunday!