Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Five: Lifesavers

Kathrynzj at RevGalBlogPals is looking forward to the RGBP Big Event and remembering her first one, which was a cruise and a lifesaver. So this week she asks:

“[whether] dramatic or fairly common - what have been/are your lifesavers (If it helps, try the phrase 'life giving' instead.)”

1) Your lifesaving food/beverage.

Way back in the summer of ‘73, Onkel Hankie Pants and I wanted to see a little of Germany besides Berlin before his return to the States (and mine soon to follow). Among other things, we took a boat trip up the Rhine from Mainz to Koblenz, seeing the Lorelei and ending up at Das Deutsches Eck, 250px-Deutsches_Eck the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. It was a hot, sunny day, and being on deck all day gave me a rip-roaring headache. When we disembarked at Koblenz we quickly found a Gasthaus mit Fremdenzimmer. I couldn’t face my usual Zigeunerschnitzel but knew I needed food. Ochsenschwanzensuppeoxtail soup to the rescue! A bowl of oxtail soup and a Brotchen were just what I needed as a restorative. I’m almost inspired now to ask our butcher for some oxtails to make some myself.

2) Your lifesaving article of clothing.

I think I’ve written about this before as “best gift” – some years ago my sister-in-law The Traveller made me a down-filled parka from a kit as a Christmas present, but gave it to me at Thanksgiving. That year had unusually cold pre-Christmas temperatures in City of Lakes, so I think the gift may literally have saved my life.

3) Your lifesaving movie/book/tv show/music.

It’s hard to pick just one, but Sara Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs was very helpful to me at one time; it was a time when I needed escape from my life and my surroundings to a more peaceful place, and I could go there by reading her gentle tales of turn-of-the-century Maine.

4) Your lifesaving friend.

I have been so fortunate; there have been more than one of these in my life. Today I’ll mention Pastor Bob, who was our minister for over 25 years in City of Lakes, and his wife. Only five months after my mother died, I got the news that my father had died on his 65th birthday. Not only did Bob drive me to the airport, but they had made up a little traveling CARE package for me which included not just gum and candy, but a book of Ole and Lena jokes. It was just what I needed. That was only one of many lifesaving moments for me and others in a long ministry.

5) Your lifesaving moment.

When I was expecting Sisterfilms, our third child, I was worried and nervous. I worried about money during the time I’d be at home, how a new child would fit into the family and our small house, and of course whether the child would be healthy. I also kept working at my part-time (five days in each fortnight) job downtown, and riding crowded buses with sciatica is no fun. Plus, the due date was December 25th and there was all the Christmas preparation to do as well. One day I was riding the bus home down the Nicollet Mall when we approached Peavey Plaza, outside Orchestra Hall, where a small skating rink had been set up. As I looked out the window, I saw someone in full Santa Claus regalia approach the rink, stop to put on skates, and glide out onto the ice. Somehow this magical moment let me know that everything would be all right. Sisterfilms did indeed make her appearance on Christmas Day and has been a joy ever since.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Five: Our Favorite Music

Writing at RevGalBlogPals, Songbird tells us: “When I was a very little girl growing up in Virginia, I never missed a Sunday going to Court Street Baptist Church. But there was something else that made Sundays special, and that was "Davey and Goliath." Every week the opening strains of the theme song would find me lying on the floor, chin on hands, looking up expectantly to watch the adventures of a clay boy and his big dog.
What I didn't realize was who wrote that music, the hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

It was the same Martin Luther who said:
"I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Music drives away the Devil and makes people gay; they forget thereby all wrath, unchastity, arrogance, and the like. Next after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor."

On this Friday before Reformation Sunday, let's talk about music. Share with us five pieces of music that draw you closer to the Divine, that elevate your mood or take you to your happy place. They might be sung or instrumental, ancient or modern, sacred or popular...whatever touches you.
Some of us even love hymns. (Well, I do.)"

1. I love hymns too, and of late years Anonymous 4 has begun recording some. But their music takes me closer to the Divine even if I can’t understand the words. See if you have the same reaction: (I added links to the videos for people with slow connections)

2. I love Priscilla Herdman’s voice and her choices of songs to sing. Occasionally she picks great people to sing with, too, as in this heartbreaking duet with the late U. Utah Phillips:

3. I can appreciate tenors, but I really like the baritones and basses. Gordon Bok is one of my favorites. Like Priscilla Herdman, he does write some of his own songs, but also has a genius for finding and performing other folks’ songs. When I was “living in exile” he was a welcome reminder of Maine. Here’s one of his own songs, with some really nice pictures to go along with it:

4. I like all kinds of Celtic music, and when I really need a lift I turn to Chris Norman, “The Man with the Wooden Flute.” I’m especially fond of his solo albums, but all I could find to share was this video from The Bar-Olk Project (=baroque + folk):

5. I hope I don’t get flamed for this, but I really do love Christmas music. Advent music, Solstice music, Chanukah music, winter music. (Kwanzaa music? The only piece I’ve heard was one Cordeliaknits’ choir did for a winter holiday concert several years ago. I think she was one of the ones who got to yell out “Kujichagulia!” I think it would be fun to put together some music for the days of Kwanzaa, highlighting the principles each day celebrates. Maybe I’ll do that this year.) Now, I do have standards. Don’t go bringing me any solo renditions of O Come All Ye Faithful, a hymn which cries out for a minimum of four voices (and those voices better be the Clancy Brothers). My favorites are either the less well-known songs or old favorites done in really new ways. The Miserable Offenders score on both counts. Go here and scroll down a bit to listen to a couple of their songs, and I bet you too will want to track down their CD Keepin’ the Baby Awake. For more of my favorites, stay tuned in a little over a month for the second annual Advent Calendar of Stories and Songs.

Thanks to Songbird for a great Friday Five!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Five: On Your Feet!

saddles Wicked Good Moccasins

Jan at RevGalBlogPals says today:

Too often the Friday Fives I offer up seem extremely introspective, so here's something that could be fun. I notice as I finish my sixth decade that my taste in footwear is much different than when I was younger, as comfort wins out over fashion. So look at your feet and think about what you put on them!
1. What is your favorite footwear at this time in your life?

I guess it’s the pink moccasins I got for $3.00 at Marden’s last year. My plan was to have them substitute for slippers, but I started wearing them outside too. Now I wish I’d bought the green ones as well. (Marden’s is a Maine institution – a salvage store with several locations. I need to go there soon, especially as it’s across the street from my cousin’s great barbecue restaurant.)

2. What was the craziest shoe, boot, or sandal you ever wore?

Many people would think these were quite normal but…on my first date with Onkel Hankie Pants I wore shiny brown pumps with what I recall as 3” spike heels, although they may have been only 2”. For me, that was crazy – crazy uncomfortable!

3. What kind of shoes did you wear in your childhood?
In my childhood it was firmly believed that young children should always wear lace-up shoes, and preferably leather; even Keds were thought to be bad for one’s feet. So I wore lace-up shoes and saddle shoes. I’m pretty sure I was in fifth grade before I got my first pair of loafers (and already wearing a woman’s size 9).

4. How do you feel most comfortable? Barefoot, flip-flops, boots, or what?

I like moccasins and Mary Janes, though my Mary Janes wore out and the company changed the style just enough not to fit right any more. I do like lace-up shoes (these days walking shoes) for walking, but once I start to relax they always feel too confining. I hate flip-flops or any kind of between-the-toes sandal.

5. What kind of socks do you like, if any?

In summer, if I wear socks, I like the bamboo anklets from Target. My favorite pair of winter socks are the hand-dyed, hand-knitted ones that Cordeliaknits’ friend ( made for me. Otherwise any warm socks that aren’t too tight on top; sometimes I have to get men’s socks as my feet are big.
Bonus: Anything you want to share about feet or footwear.

I really identify with this song….

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Five: Special Days

Sophia at RevGalBlogPals will be spending this weekend at her Independent Catholic Synod meeting, “being welcomed and conditionally re-consecrated to episcopal ministry for this jurisdiction” (she has had a big cross-country move recently).  This inspired her to post as follows:

“This has me thinking of the special rites of passage in our lives which we participate for ourselves or in which we support and bless others: baptism, confirmation, marriage, ordination, graduation, funerals, etc. Such important days, so exciting and joyous, but also sometimes anxiety provoking or deeply painful....So, this week, please share five memories of such sacred moments with God and her holy people from your life and the lives of those you love.”

1972 06 25 Henrik and Nikki exchange rings

1. Here’s a photo from our wedding in the Catholic Chapel at Brunswick Naval Air Station. (It was a better size for our purpose than the Protestant chapel.) Only one person in this picture was not in the military at the time. The officiant was the chaplain, a Navy Captain. I especially remember our nervousness when we went for the pre-marital consultation – not only did he way outrank us, but he had the power to say he wouldn’t marry us! (Of course, in Maine a notary public can perform a marriage, but we did want a religious service.)

2. We’ve had three children baptized, but it wasn’t until the third one that we got the picture-taking right – our minister’s wife took the photos. 1985 05 26 Kransekage Annalee made with rose from baptism, photo by Sue Griggs

I’m pretty sure I’ve posted Sisterfilms’ baptism photo before, so here’s a picture of the kransekage her aunt made for the reception at church afterwards. The white rose for baptism was a custom at our church. Now a picture of a cake may not seem to fit Sophia’s challenge to remember feeling close to God and God’s people, but I think it does. These cakes are a lot of work – they are really more like cookies baked in concentric rings, and having Onkel Hankie Pants’ sister (the long-haired one in the wedding photo) bake this cake was not only a special gift, but a reminder of the importance of OHP’s family’s Danish heritage, with its Grundtvigian joy in living.

3. Confirmation in the UCC generally happens sometime between 8th and 10th grade. In our city church, eighth grade was the time, because after that kids got too busy with school activities, and they didn’t all go to the same school. Here’s a photo from SonShineIn’s confirmation – he’s the one in the front row wearing a suit (his choice). I don’t think this confirmation “took” in a religious sense for him, but I think it was important as a rite of passage and a recognition of his belonging in the community.Niels's Confirmation Class for blog

4. Graduation, since none of us so far have attended any strongly church-related schools, is a fairly secular affair. But I’ve chosen this not-very-good photo from Sisterfilms’ 8th-grade graduation 1999 06 Elinor is getting a hug and a diploma from Allison to symbolize again the holiness in community. Although all our kids completed 8th grade in the same school, this was the first graduation to be held in the building during our time there. The wider community of the city and state had provided funds for a renovation and enlargement of the school. The children, parents, teachers and staff of this K-8 school had been a community for us for eleven years at this point, and Sisterfilms was the one in the family who had known no other school. She had been honored with the Ann Bancroft Humanitarian Award for her peacemaking skills. Parent volunteers made the “Oscar” figurines, found a red carpet, etc. for the “Academy Awards” theme of the graduation, and in this photo Sisterfilms is getting a hug and a diploma from her homeroom, math and dance teacher Allison. We were fortunate in the “village” that helped us raise our children.

5.  Funerals – I didn’t attend so much as a memorial service until I was nearly 30, as distance and economics had kept us from the relatively few that occurred in my family before that. Since then I’ve been to a number of memorial services and a few funerals. I felt the least satisfactory – the ones where I thought “I hope mine isn’t like this” – were the few that took place in funeral homes. I think there is something about a church or other place of worship, the hallowing that has taken place over years of gatherings for both celebration and mourning, the knowledge that this place where we mourn our loved ones is also the place where baptisms, weddings, Christmas and Easter take place, which helps us face our losses with hope as well as sorrow.

Undated West Denmark Lutheran Church - third building

So here’s a photo of the church from which we buried OHP’s parents. An earlier building of the same congregation was where his Mom was baptized and confirmed, and we had attended weddings and celebratory services there over the years.