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Lots of Catching Up to Do, But Nobody Has Time for That

January 1, 2016

Lots has happened.  Let’s start with me being fired.

In June I told my boss, the worship pastor of the church I belong to, that I had started taking a class at a local technical college in an attempt to gain some job skills that might make it easier for me to find a full-time job.  It meant I would no longer be able (at least as long as the class was in session) to stay late at the office and get things done.  It also meant I was going to miss the first few choir rehearsals when the choir started back at the end of August.  I assured  him I’d have everything set up and ready, I just wouldn’t be in attendance.

FWIW — the woman who had this job before me wasn’t a member of the choir.  She made sure everything was set up properly and then she went home.  Different regime then.

He decided I needed to be gone.  So near the end of August he called me into his office and informed me that I was done as of September 30th.  That the administrative committee had decided to terminate my employment there on their (or his) schedule, rather than waiting for me to find a full-time job and give notice.  He said they’d already decided who my replacement was going to be.  As far as I know, they never advertised the position anywhere, they just picked this guy.  I believe that’s illegal, but this crowd has never shown any interest in obeying any laws they find inconvenient, so it wasn’t surprising that they blithely bulldozed over that set of requirements.

He also informed me that I was responsible for training this guy.

I knew him.  Had met him.  He’s a drummer/keyboardist who’d been  helping out with sound and lighting issues.  Had worked several services.  Young guy who lives near Charleston and does a lot of gigs in that area.  I wondered how he was going to shoehorn us in, with all he already had going on.  Not my problem, though.

So, when the time came to train him, I was told I’d have a couple weeks to do it in.  Then it was 3 days.  That’s 3 days of my time working there, which is 4 hours a day for 4 days a week.  Although — he didn’t stay the whole time, had to be elsewhere, and blipped out the door when it suited him.  So he didn’t get much in the way of training, as you can’t train someone when they aren’t, you know, actually present.

I had constructed two continuity books (there’s that military mind-set again).  One was for the Singing Christmas Tree and the other was for the position in general.  It was a good thing, because in the weeks following my forced departure he’s had to refer to them.  Many times.  Not that that’s stopped him, or my former boss, from texting me to ask me where things were located or how things got done.

Things aren’t going well in the worship ministry at the church.  I say that because I can see things crumbling.  Neither the worship pastor nor his assistant care anything about the choir.  I knew that before, of course, after watching the worship pastor’s attitudes and demeanor and listening to the stuff that came out of his mouth, but that the new assistant really didn’t care either was something of a disappointment.  He can’t even be bothered to make sure the mints are out for the choir rehearsal or for the service.  That seems small, and it is.  It’s also not difficult.  And the fact that he can’t even be bothered to do that one, minuscule thing is very telling.  One of the choir members told me she’d asked him about the mints and his response was that they weren’t in the budget.

Not in the budget.  We’re talking, at most, $10 a month.  I was reimbursed a couple times early in my tenure there, but then got tired of filling out the paperwork and just considered it a donation to the cause.  And it’s not in the budget?  We spend tens of thousands on lighting stuff and sound stuff and they can’t find $10 a month for mints?

Well, no.  Because they don’t care.

We had our Christmas program, if you can call it that, on December 20th.  No Tree this year, as there was no money for that.  The choir was in the choir loft, and we sang 5 songs.  There was a 15-piece orchestra (which the senior pastor referred to the previous week as a “full orchestra” — not sure what his criteria are, but in no sense is a 15-piece orchestra anything more than chamber variety).

The handbell choir played before the service, which was nice.  First time they’ve been allowed to play in several years.

My new boss, at the job I’m working at now (temporary; it’s seasonal so I’m still looking for work) is a church member.  Used to be a choir member but quit when the musically clueless sociopath was hired.  He and his wife were in the balcony for that service.  He said the orchestra drowned us out, they couldn’t hear us for most of the service, and when they could hear us at all they couldn’t understand anything we were singing.  So the orchestra wasn’t set up properly and the choir was insufficiently miked.  Interesting, given that this new assistant is supposed to be some sort of sound and lighting genius.

Compared to the Singing Christmas Tree, the program was minimal.  There was no drama involved and none of the children were included.  No sets.  No story.  Just music and scripture.

Which brings me to the other thing that happened.  The new worship assistant (that’s what they’re calling him — rather than just music assistant — and I’ve also been told they’re paying him twice what they paid me) was up in the balcony running the sound board.  He was dressed in a ball cap and T-shirt with his belly hanging out, according to my boss, and talked (to whom I have no idea) throughout the service.  Even while the preaching was going on.

So, the lack of professionalism is considerable.  As is the continued contempt for the choir and church members.

Another thing that isn’t happening is communication.  The spiffy on-line web-based management program the church is paying for is supposed to make communicating with everyone very easy.  For some reason, communication has stopped.  It isn’t just me; I’ve spoken to other choir members and they aren’t in the loop on anything either.  This is pretty basic stuff, too.  The assistant can keep everybody in the loop while parked in a cushioned chair in climate-controlled comfort.  And if they’re paying him twice what they paid me, he should be doing it.

Although his work ethic is a bit different from mine.  He’s responded to some requests for assistance with, “That’s not my job.”

So, given that God is in control and is well aware of what’s happening, and knew it was going to happen even before any of us were born, and knows exactly how it’s going to turn out, He’s got a reason for it all.  What it is I cannot even imagine.

The musically clueless sociopath aka worship pastor — which I believe I will refer to from here on out as MCSAWP (“McSawp” — heh™), has been a bit tetchy of late, too.  During the last-minute rehearsal for the Christmas program as we were in the choir loft, when asked a question by a choir member regarding the monitor we were supposed to be hearing the piano and ourselves through, yelled at her.  Then he turned around and yelled at his assistant up in the balcony.

During Singing Christmas Trees in years past, when my boss was the fellow who was the interim worship leader for about 3 years was in charge, as much pressure as he had to deal with he never but never yelled at us.  He’d give us the hairy eyeball occasionally, but he never yelled.  And this Christmas program was, as I said earlier, minimal.  Compared to a Singing Christmas Tree it was nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

The MCSAWP can’t handle pressure.  Not without losing his cool.  He stalked by his quartet singers last Sunday, the 27th, scowling at the floor.  Not a word to anyone.  Not hello, good morning, go to hell, nothing.

The previous guy you can’t get within 50 yards of without him crowing, “Hey!” at you gleefully and running up to give you a hug.

But he loved us.  The MCSAWP loves only himself.

God help us.  I’m out of the middle of it, and I’m glad.  I know God shifted me out of there to protect me from what is happening, but I wish He’d protect the church from it too, because this church has had a history in the past several years of very painful events involving pastors and other leadership.  I know God has the best plan, but I wish it didn’t involve hurting so many people.

It’s going to turn out all right.  Somehow.  I know that too.  I just can’t see how.  Good thing I’m not in charge of anything, isn’t it?

9/11: A Tribute to Michael Beekman

September 11, 2015

Info found here:

Amidst the frenzy of the New York Stock Exchange, Michael Beekman, 39, was a rare figure of calm. His job was righting errors from the previous day’s trading. He might spend a work day with a trader or two, explaining how they had actually lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on trades they had thought were profitable. “A kill-the-messenger job,” said John Furman, a co-worker at LaBranche & Company.

But Mr. Beekman would walk across the trading floor without hurrying and speak in a low voice. “He would research something until he knew it completely,” said Mr. Furman. “He was very organized, with his little notes all lined up. When he presented the information, people knew he was right and so they never were angry with him.”

He lived a calm and orderly life in Staten Island, too, said Theodora, his wife. He spent most of his off-duty time with her and their two children — Michael, 10, and Theresa, 8. If he went golfing, he would take his son. Occasionally he would disappear for a while — and turn up at his sister-in-law’s house, playing with her toddlers.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 4, 2001.

More here and here.

9/11: A Tribute to NY Police Officer Brian G. McDonnell

September 11, 2015

Brian G. McDonnell, Shield 6889, ESU-1

From (the link no longer works, sorry):

Michael Kearns, posted 11/19/2002 in a tribute:

I had the honor and the privilege to work with Brian as a member of the NYPD in the 110th precinct in the late 80’s. It was always comforting to know that when there was a problem and you called for back up, Brian was there ready to help in any way he could. He was a great cop and an even better person. I was shocked and saddened when I first saw his photo as one of the missing from that tragic day. You and your family will always be in my prayers. May God bless your soul.

Brian Wall (ret. nypd-esu), posted 2/18/2004:

I met Brian while teaching the NYPD-ESU specialized training school. Brian’s dream came true. He made it into ESU and worked hard in the school. Brian made the school more enjoyable with his big smile and great sense of humor. Brian was a team player and was the first to volunteer for any task. Upon graduation he was assigned to ESU – Truck # 1 in lower Manhattan. He was well liked there and was doing a great job. I don’t think Brian would have had it any other way. He knew the dangers, but wanted to be there anyway. The only cosolation [sic] I can think of is that Brian Died doing what he wanted most and that was be in ESU and helping his fellow man. God Bless Brian McDonnell.

From (that link no longer works either, sorry):

Police Officer Brian G. McDonnell, 38, was appointed to the NYPD on January 20, 1987, and began his career on patrol in Neighborhood Stabilization Unit 3. He took a brief leave of absence to join the police department in Tucson, Arizona, but was reappointed to the NYPD on October 16, 1990.

Prior to being assigned to ESU, he worked in the 106 and 110 Precincts, as well as the Narcotics Division and Patrol Borough Queens South Task force. Veteran of the United States Army, he served in the 82nd Airborne Division, and was also a graduate of the State University of New York at Farmingdale. His hobbies included power lifting, swimming, diving, cooking, bicycling, soccer, auto repair, and the martial arts.

He is survived by his wife Margaret; children Katie and Thomas: mother Ann; sister Alicia; and brothers Kevin and Robert.

Photo provided to by Brian’s brother-in-law, Jorge.

From an article by staff writer Leonard Levitt (from

The bells of St. Patrick’s Cathedral began to peal at precisely 10 a.m. Friday. Down Fifth Avenue — which was closed to traffic — appeared a procession of the motorcycles, two abreast, followed by a dozen Emergency Service trucks. Then came the muffled drum roll of the bagpipers. They stopped outside the church as the family of police officer Brian McDonnell arrived.

McDonnell, 38, who died in the World Trade Center attacks, was one of three officers memorialized Friday in services in the city and on Long Island.

Police officer Walter Weaver, like McDonnell, a member of the elite Emergency Service Unit, was remembered at the Holy Family Church in Hicksville, and Det. Claude Richards of the bomb squad was recalled at a service at St. Raphael’s Church in East Meadow. Saturday, police officer Paul Talty will be memorialized at St. Francis Church in Wantagh.

At St. Patrick’s Friday, the church in which McDonnell was married 12 years before, the Rev. Michael McHugh said people have asked, “Where was God that day?”

He answered, “God was in those brave men and women who ran in when others ran out.” Of McDonnell, McHugh said, “He was in the [New York] Post yesterday. He got Fifth Avenue closed down today. I think he’d love it.”

McDonnell’s wife, Maggie, spoke of her husband’s pride in his children, in his Irish heritage and in his career. She described how her husband became a police officer in 1987 after serving in the 82nd Airborne unit, then in 1990 moved to Tucson, Ariz., to join its police department. That July, she said, he returned, “realizing he had left his heart in New York City.”

After several attempts, she continued, he was accepted last year into the Emergency Service Unit.

“What we started together, I must finish alone,” she said. “What keeps me going is your love of life. Goodbye my love, the man of my dreams. … I am so very proud to call you my husband, my best friend.”

First Deputy Commissioner Joe Dunne then spoke to McDonnell’s two children: Katie, born in 1993; and Tommy, born five years later. “Your daddy was a New York City cop,” Dunne said, “and boy, was he proud of that fact.”

He then told how McDonnell had been on a foot post at Carnegie Hall when Beverly Sills arrived in a taxi and tried to cut through the line of ticket holders. McDonnell stopped her.

“But I’m Beverly Sills the opera star,” Dunne related she told McDonnell.

“Well, I’m Brian McDonnell the cop. So please stand behind the ropes.”

Photo provided to by Brian’s brother-in-law, Jorge.


Brian McDonnell was a member of the Emergency Service Unit Truck 1, stationed on East 21st Street in Manhattan. He was last seen heading into the south tower. “Brian was a cop’s cop,” Mrs. McDonnell said. “When people get in trouble they call the police; when the police get in trouble they call Emergency Services.”

But more important to him than the job were his children, Katie, 8, and Thomas, 3. When his daughter was born, he was there in the delivery room holding his wife’s hand, gently weeping.

A former Army paratrooper, Officer McDonnell, 38, was never decorated in his 15-year career because he never wrote himself up for an commendation. “He wasn’t showy,” his wife said. “It wasn’t his nature. He just wanted to help people.”

Once, he saw a little girl waving to him and the mother pulled her in the window and scolded her: ” ‘Don’t wave to him, police are bad,’ ” Mrs. McDonnell recalled. “It crushed him.” (The New York Times 12/15/2001)

Police officer Brian McDonnell wanted to change the world, and he’d do anything to save a life. A member of New York City’s emergency service unit, his squad was among the first to respond to the World Trade Center disaster Tuesday.

“He thought about others before himself,” said Glenn Gering, a close friend who grew up with McDonnell, 38, in Wantagh. “He wanted to change the world,” Gering said.

The Emergency Service Unit is made up of about 350 men and women who risk their lives to save others. Fourteen members of the unit are unaccounted for.

McDonnell, who has been a police officer for more than 10 years and was a member of the armed forces before that, is a devoted husband and father of two, Gering said.

McDonnell was supposed to go to Gering’s house tomorrow for cake and coffee. “Unfortunately, because of our schedules, we didn’t get together as often as we would have liked,” Gering said.

“I hope all of America will never forget this horrific act of terror,” Gering said in a letter to Newsday, and more importantly, never forget my friend, Brian McDonnell, an American hero.” (New York Newsday Victim Database 9/15/2001)

Patch created by Dee Cook for the Cub Scout Pack 233 Memorial American Flag Quilt.

Patch from Barnum Woods Elementary School Quilt

Project 2996

As the United States Continues to Turn Away From God

June 26, 2015

So, logging into WordPress just now, this banner across the top of the screen (click to embiggen):

Rainbow Banner

Celebrations are happening everywhere. Gay marriage is legal, okay, and sanctioned by the government of the United States.

I have a very good friend who is gay. She’s probably the smartest person I know, and we’ve been friends for 33 years. When we were serving together she pulled my fat out of the fire more times than I want to tell you. She did this because she’s way smarter than I am, was a much better officer than I was, and because she’s my friend. I love her. I want her to be happy. She has a partner that she’s been with for many years, they’re very happy together. They support each other. They love each other. They’re both Christians, they go on mission trips and help people who can’t possibly repay them for all the blessings they bring.

I’m terrified she’s going to ask me where I stand on the gay marriage issue, although I expect she knows as she can see my Facebook posts and she knows what posts I “like” and that I’m a Christian who posts Bible verses pretty much every day and that I work for a church.

I want her to be happy.

But God is very clear on the marriage question. God is very clear about a lot of things. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Period. That’s all. It’s not vague, or complicated, or in a gray area, or fuzzy.

Is it fair? No, it isn’t. But life in this broken world is, among other things (painful, difficult, stressful, destructive, heart-breaking, and sometimes glorious), unfair.

Our present administration has made clear their contempt for Israel. They’ve led us away from our long-time ally, whose people are God’s Chosen. God blesses Israel, and blesses those who support her. He curses those who curse Israel. And even though the United States has enjoyed God’s blessings for over 200 years, that doesn’t mean He will continue to bless us even though we have turned away from Him. Our senior pastor has said in a sermon a few weeks ago (and several times in staff meetings, and probably in other meetings) that all indications are that God is withdrawing His hand from the United States.

In short, as a nation, we are hosed.

Having said that, He is also very much aware who His people are. He knows us. Each one, individually. And as nothing is impossible for God, He is very capable of continuing to bless and protect His children, even as the United States falls further and further from His favor. As a nation, we are going to pay heavily. As Christians, we are still protected by Him.

This is not to say that life is going to be easy. The Church is about to be changed and challenged. This should come as a surprise to no one who is at all familiar with scripture, especially Revelation. God is certainly surprised by none of this, He saw it coming, He knew what was going to happen and when it was going to happen. And he told us it was going to happen. Here in the United States the Church has been blessed and protected for over 200 years. We’ve had the ability to go to church and worship openly all this time. The Church has been considered something with which the government did not meddle.

That’s about to change. Smaller churches will get hammered the worst first. A gay couple walks in, wants to get married there. The church has to choose which law to follow — God’s? Or man’s? We all know, as Christians, which side we’re supposed to come down on. When man’s law conflicts with God’s law, God wins. Or He’s supposed to. So, the church says they’re very sorry, but we can’t marry you here. The gay couple files a complaint (with whom, I have no idea, but I’m sure there are groups preparing that process with great enthusiasm), and the church loses its tax-exempt status.

This will have the effect of causing churches, smaller ones first, then larger, to fold. Churches will be closing all over the place. The people who are in league with the forces of evil will celebrate, along with the forces of evil who are behind all this. Yes, they are. They’re finally getting rid of all those stick-in-the-mud Christians, oppressive nay-saying Bible-thumpers who won’t let people be who they are — whatever that means.

Satan is celebrating. I guess he better make the most of it, ’cause it ain’t gonna last. As Billy Graham has said, I’ve read the Bible, and God wins. This victory for the forces of evil is temporary, as is this world.

I know that every generation that has existed since Jesus walked the earth in human form has believed that they were the ones who were going to see His return. It seems, however, that recent events are accelerating us to that day. This is a good thing, as when He returns, all believers will go with Him. For us, all the bad stuff is over. We begin our eternity of problem-free living with Him. For others, it’s going to be horrific. The earth will see events that will be worse than anything that has ever happened in human history.

What that means is that we’re running out of time. There are people who have never heard the Word, or who have heard it and chosen to ignore it. When Jesus returns, they’ll be lost forever. And for most of them it won’t even be their fault. Even though we are surrounded by conclusive proof that God exists and created everything, some people have never had the chance to hear what He did for us, how much He loves us, how much He wants us to spend eternity with Him. And as He’s already done all the heavy lifting, and all we have to do is accept the gift, it’s easy.

As Christians, we’ve got to get busy. The Church is going to change in form; many of us will no longer have the buildings and spaces we’ve been blessed with, because what the government gives, it can take away. So we’ve got to find other ways to continue His work.

God help us.

What I Should Have Done in the First Place

May 26, 2015

I sent up a flare on Facebook, asking for recommendations for help with our screened porch fiasco. I used to sell real estate, and I know a lot of people who are still in that field, plus people who do renovation and construction work, plus they know people who do renovation and construction work. What this means is that I’m a moron. Instead of working the contacts I already had and knew I could trust, we hired a guy that we knew personally. Or thought we did.

I hate being stupid. I hate learning the hard way. Why do I insist on doing that, over and over and over?

Sheesh. Well, anyway, a guy I know, and have known for years, whose wife I used to sell real estate with, both of them very nice upstanding people, is coming over Thursday morning to take a look and give me an estimate. I’ve contacted another fellow, so maybe I can get 2 estimates and at least try to make an intelligent decision. My track record on that so far kinda stinks.

So, we’ll see. Really, I should have contacted my peeps in the first place. What was I thinking?!

My Mom

May 25, 2015

Last year I mentioned that my mom had been diagnosed with stage 4 anal cancer, and that there was an attempt made at treatment which did not go well, and that she’d finally moved into a residential care facility near where my brother and uncle live.  Post is here if you’re interested.

She died on April 23rd, in the morning.  She’d quit eating the week before, and stopped responding to people on Monday, a few days before she died. Or at least, she stopped responding to people my uncle could see. He said she was speaking to people who weren’t there over the weekend. The interesting thing is that we’re all, as my uncle put it, doing surprisingly well.  He says when he wakes up in the morning and realizes he doesn’t have to get in his car and drive the ten minutes to the facility, walk down that hall to her room and see her as she was at the end, he just grins. She is fine.

Actually, she’s better than fine. She’s been better since April 23rd than she ever was in this world, even when she was young and healthy and all her body parts worked. She’s dancing and singing before the throne of God, she’s looking at millions of colors we don’t have here, she can see the crystal sea, she’s walking on the streets of gold, and she’s gotten her mansion. She’s been reunited with her parents and her brother Bobby Joe. She can see the angels flying around. She can see Jesus. She can hear His voice.

A couple days before she died, my uncle called and among other things told me something the hospice nurse had told him. My mother could still hear, she said, and sometimes when family members couldn’t come to be with the person at the end, they called and she’d hold the phone up to the patient’s ear so the family member could say goodbye. So that’s what I did. My brother did also. My younger sister couldn’t. She told my uncle that she just couldn’t do it. I hope she never regrets that decision.

That was Monday night. Tuesday she was still hanging on. It occurred to me that maybe she was waiting to hear from my older sister. She’s 6 years older than I am (she’s the oldest of us, I’m second), she was 16 when my parents kicked her out of the house (she earned it, and it was not a decision they arrived at easily), and she inflicted a great deal of pain on our family. Not quite as much as our father did, but a considerable amount. My brother’s wife had somehow gotten hold of her phone number and gave it to me. My uncle left it up to me whether to call her. My brother and sister both said they were fine with it if I did. So I called her.

That conversation was the first time I’d spoken to her in about 30 years. It was a bit strange. My brother warned me that she sounded just like our youngest sister, and she did, sort of. The timbre of her voice is identical to our youngest sister, but the accent is different. She never left the west coast like the rest of us did, and she occasionally sounds a bit Canadian, depending on the word she’s uttering. I gave her our mother’s phone number in case she wanted to call. She said she’d been reluctant to call because she didn’t want to upset our mother, especially after all she’d done to hurt her. I told her our mother was well past being upset about anything, and even if she got upset no one would be able to tell. I left it up to her, to call or not.

She did call. I have no idea what she said, and that’s fine as it’s none of my business. She spoke to our mother Wednesday evening. My mom passed into Jesus’ arms Thursday morning. I don’t know if she was actually waiting to hear from her oldest, and I suppose it doesn’t matter.

Maybe the rift can be repaired, if only a bit. My older sister has never been a nice person, she’s a pathological liar, manipulative, selfish…. Or at least she used to be. She may have changed. I don’t know that I’ll ever trust her. She used to torture me, and I mean that. But I’m glad we’re talking, even if it’s not much. And I’ll never be sorry I gave her a chance to talk to her mother before it was too late. She didn’t deserve to be cut out of that, no matter what she did.

Some photos of my mom, in no particular order.



Daddy, Mimi & Nita 1943 1943, Stonewall, LA. Between my dad and her younger sister.

Shreveport, LA  1987 with her older sister (on her right).

Shreveport, LA 1987 with her older sister (on her right).

At the Astrodome, 1990.  That's Hubby on the left.  She loved sports, and going to see the Astros play was a joy for her, even when they lost.

At the Astrodome, 1990. That’s Hubby on the left. She loved sports, and going to see the Astros play was a joy for her, even when they lost.

With her friend Betty Jean in Stonewall, LA  1943

With her friend Betty Jean in Stonewall, LA 1943

Christmas Photo, Sacramento,1967.  My dad is holding the camera.

Christmas Photo, Sacramento,1967. My dad is holding the camera.

Holding my older sister, 1950.

Holding my older sister, 1950.

The sisters (my mom is in the green shirt), Shreveport, LA  1979.

The sisters (my mom is in the green shirt), Shreveport, LA 1979.



Not Keeping Up

May 25, 2015


Not that things aren’t happening; they are.  Not that I don’t have a few minutes to post something every day; I do. I’ve let this blog languish long enough, gotten out of the habit of writing, allowing it to slip in my priorities, that most days I don’t even think about it.


Well, I’m not going to do a recap of my life in the past few months.  Nobody wants to read that, including me.  So I’m just going to jump in where I am.

The boss has come up with an idea for a summer thing at the church, in addition to Vacation Bible School, to reach some kids who may not otherwise have a chance to explore the arts in a way they’d find appealing.  He’s calling it Camp Create and it happens in July.  And it’s a really spiffy idea.  He’s contacted leaders in the arts in our community and several of them have agreed to help out on a volunteer basis, which is really excellent, as we could never afford to pay them what their time and talents are worth.  There will be six “tracks”: voice, piano, fine art, percussion, guitar and creative movement (we’re Baptists; we don’t dance), and each child can select 3 of the 6 to pursue.  If they pick guitar, they gotta bring their own — we don’t have a stash of guitars available. The fee is set up to drop as each child from each family is added, meaning the first one costs the most, the second gets a reduced rate, the third is still further reduced, and after that each added child is free.  We’re trying to make it affordable while requiring a little skin in the game so parents will take it seriously enough to actually bring their kids when the classes start.  It’s going to be stupendous — assuming kids show up.  There will be a recital the evening of the third day.  The plan originally was to have it at the Opera House, but I expect the fee was problematic.  So it will be held in our sanctuary. The arts in this community are diverse and extensive, so we’re hoping we’ll have a whole crowd of students.  If it goes well, we’ll do it again next year.

Next topic — The Singing Christmas Tree.  Might not happen this year.  I’ve mentioned that before but we’ve been having meetings (I was only asked to attend the first one, and it got contentious fast — and no, I wasn’t a participant, just an observer).  We just don’t have the money to support one this year.  We’ve been operating in the red (in all areas, actually, not just the Tree) for quite awhile now, and stewardship of the church’s finances isn’t something we can fool around with.  We took a serious hit in donations for the Tree last year (for whatever reason(s), and it may have been a result of ongoing dissatisfaction with the music program — which regretfully continues), and the finance committee and our worship pastor have determined that without access to about $47,000 we shouldn’t even think about putting on a Singing Christmas Tree this year.  With God all things are possible, and someone or a group of someones could certainly show up at some point and fund the whole thing.  Without that happening, we’ll be doing something other than a Tree, because we can’t very well blow off Advent/Christmas entirely.  People will be disappointed if we don’t have a Tree.  This community looks forward to the Singing Christmas Tree every year.  It’s been skipped before — and people were very unhappy.  Unfortunately, if the money ain’t there, the money ain’t there.

Speaking of stewardship of the church’s finances.  There’s a deacon who is, I think, he must be, on the finance committee.  He comes into the office often, mostly to talk to our finance person, who was hired after our Finance/IT guy was shown the door (this is not the young woman who came in right after, she was only interim).  Our finance person is not fond of him.  Occasionally he requests multi-page reports be created and printed in several copies for the finance committee meetings.  It’s her opinion that all that information is not necessary, that no one is looking at it and certainly no one will remember it.  She grouses about this every time she has to produce one.  I can’t say whether it’s really needed, but I’m certain that he has the authority to ask for it.  Maybe it’s all those years in the military — my impulse upon being asked to do something is to do it.  No whining.  She was never in the military, so I suppose she’s operating under something of a handicap when it comes to producing voluminous sets of data that require some time and effort.  The other office ladies aren’t fond of him, either.  Last week he spent some time in the office, apparently working on tracking down information on office supplies, how much of what we use over what period of time.  This is, of course, because of the money problem.  The search is on for areas to make cuts in.  We go through a lot of paper and printer toner.  A significant amount of what we produce is in color, as in newsletters and Sunday bulletins (for 2 services) and other information for dissemination.  Color toner is expensive.  The office ladies were steamed.  It appears — I’m not sure about this, as I’m overhearing only a bit of conversations, but it stands to reason — that the purchase of office supplies is going the way of the purchase of everything else.  It all has to be submitted for approval.  The office ladies are not used to this.  They’re used to just assessing what is needed and ordering it.  Bang-zoom, the supplies are delivered by the UPS guy and work goes on.  My boss had to adjust to having all his expenses approved also, and one of the things he’s changed is the knee-jerk going to and ordering and downloading what he wants without checking to see if we already have it.  He has an exhaustive list of all our possessions in the More Songs for Praise and Worship series (we have 1 through 6, he ordered 7 and it was delivered but a decision was made that it cost too much after it arrived — didn’t he notice the price list on the website? — and I got to ship it back and all we had to pay for the experience was a ~$50 restocking fee).  So he’s been using our MSPW resources, which is helpful.  And cheaper.  Even if we (I) still have to download the songs from iTunes so we can let everybody listen to the thing so they know how it goes in case they can’t read music.  Or something.

We’re still hiding the cross during the modern worship service on Sunday evenings.  Every so often someone will ping me about it, cautiously, as they’re not really sure which side of the issue I’m on.  I try to be careful about what I say and to whom I say it.  There’s considerable discomfort with the decision.  I have no idea if anyone has ever addressed the senior pastor with the issue. He’d be the one to ask.  I don’t think I’ll be doing it — unless God prompts me otherwise.  He hasn’t so far.

The other church’s part-time job has not materialized.  I texted a few weeks ago with the woman I had been talking with, who wanted me to work over there in the worst way.  They hired a new worship pastor, who has a degree in music (not sure if it’s Bachelors’ or Masters’ — he has both degrees).  She told me he wanted to take some time to settle in, that he was arriving mid-May.  He got there a bit earlier, has been leading worship over there for a few weeks.  I’ve heard nothing.  So, maybe he’s decided he doesn’t need any more help.  Or he’s doing the work himself.  Or wants to hire someone else.  I have no idea.  God’s got it, so I’ll trust Him to take care of it.  I continue to apply for state jobs, and a friend sends me links to job postings, most of which I am wholly unqualified to fill.

Our screened porch with the massive dry-rot problem has been taken down.  We hired a guy who was dating our niece, he came over and looked at what we needed, said he could get it done it 3 days.  He started in early February.  First thing he did was tear down the porch and stack all the stuff, protruding nails and all, in the back yard.  He got the cinder block work done, and the frame for the screened part.  And installed one section of screen.  And part of the roof.  And then disappeared.  We’ve tried to contact him, but he broke up with our niece and moved to another town, where he works in a pet food plant.  He’s told me he’ll be back to finish the job as soon as he can.  Meanwhile we  have a very large mess.  Hubby and I climbed up twice to try to mitigate the flooding issue when it rains, first with plastic sheeting, then a tarp.  To no avail.  We finally hauled the porch debris to the dump ourselves — 7 trips in Hubby’s pickup.  We still have a stack of roofing with shingles in the yard, as the recycling center won’t accept those.  And the materials are still stacked in our front yard under his tarp.  We also have his two ladders and all his tools.  It’s a very odd situation.  And frustrating.  We’re trying to find someone to help us finish it.

God’s got this, too.  I have to remind myself of this several times a day.  God’s got it.  He’s got it.  It’s going to be okay.

Tucker (dog) is better.  His liver issue has cleared up and he’s doing very well, praise God.  Katie has been suffering, though, as Lady has taken to beating her up on a regular basis.  No idea why.  So she’s spending most of her time in the house.  She’s a found dog, too.



She’s a sweetheart, and won’t fight back.  I have no idea how old she is, just that she’s a lovely, sweet dog.

This time of year is recital time, and I’ve managed to survive 2 of 3.  I sang in one recital, Sebben Crudele and I Will Sing New Songs.  It all really sounds dreadful in my head, but people say I did a good job — maybe they’re just being nice.  The dance recital was this past Saturday, and my right hip was very unhappy.  But I didn’t fall down and I didn’t run into anybody and I didn’t forget much.

The last recital is this Sunday, May 31st.  There’s an organist coming from Wisconsin at the request of a local church’s music minister, and my pianist friend knows him as he plays at her home church.  She’s playing also, and she asked me and one of the flute trio to play with.  So we’ve been working on an arrangement of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (that’s the theme of the recital), and a Berlioz piece from his opera “L’enfance du Christ” (Dans cette ville immense), and an arrangement of Gabriel’s Oboe, and excerpts from Liszt’s “Les Preludes”, and part of an arrangement of Bach trios.  The organist is soloing on some other pieces, and my pianist friend is soloing on some other pieces.  It’s going to be stupendous… but I really need to practice!

Our flute trio has dissolved, I think. The third member, the perfectionist, has declined our every gig offer in recent months.  So the two of us remaining are playing duets.  Not much else to be done, really.  We’ve both sensed she doesn’t want to play with us anymore, so we’ll press on without her.  So it goes.

Summer band starts up next Thursday with the first rehearsal.  I’m looking forward to it, it’s always great fun to play for the retirement community folks.  Sometimes we get ice cream!

I am not doing National Band this year.  Can’t afford it.  They’re in Las Vegas this year, and they’ve added a rehearsal day so the first rehearsal is Thursday rather than Friday.  I’ve been to Las Vegas a few times, and I have no desire to go back.  Even if I could afford the trip.  My pianist friend’s husband is going, he’s gotten his music and it is, as usual, very difficult.  I will not miss the pressure and last-minute panic that I always go through.  Better they should fill my chair with someone capable, and I’m sure they have.

And so even though I said I wasn’t going to recap my life for the past few months, I kinda did.  I left a bunch of stuff out, of course.  Some drivel is too mundane even for me.

Onward through the fog.


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