B*tchy Post

I’ll apologize in advance if I offend anyone – and if you don’t want to read my snarky comments, click off right now. I have debated long and hard about whether to even write this or not, but I don’t seem to be able to focus on anything else, so I guess I’ll just write it – and let the chips fall where they may.

It’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m not playing bridge. One of the ladies in my foursome is ill and our more or less permanent substitute can’t play today. In the past, I’ve been going to the church and picking up a partner at the bridge group at the church. It’s set up that way – anyone can come whenever they can, and you don’t have to worry about having a partner or anything. For many years we just met at the church and played on Wednesday afternoons. In fact when I was still working, I tried not to schedule a client on Wednesdays so I could be sure and play. I actually was the leader of the group for a couple of years, but eventually, one of my clients asked that I work on Wednesday afternoons, so I had to quit. Shortly after I quit bridge at the church, the group kind of fell apart – many of the ladies got too old to drive, or got sick, or died. In an effort to revive the group, the church hired a bridge teacher to give a half-hour lesson before open play started. She allowed those who wanted to play duplicate to do that, and those who wanted to play party bridge to play that way. Part of having her come teach the lesson and then direct the play was a charge of $5 a person for the afternoon, but those who were part of the original Wednesday afternoon bridge group could be grandfathered in and not have to pay. I had been dropping in occasionally when my foursome didn’t play, and not paying, based on the grandfather rule.

Anyway, the last time I went to the church, the director pulled me aside and told me that one of the staff at the church had told her that I shouldn’t be grandfathered and I would need to pay $5 if I wanted to play. I haven’t been back.

$5 may seem like a small enough sum to pay, but if it’s weekly, I certainly can’t afford it – or rather I can afford it but I can’t justify the cost in my mind. That’s $200+ a year for pure recreation. I certainly don’t begrudge the instructor/director her money – that’s her business and her job – but I wonder whether there are very many other people in the church who might like to play bridge, but are reluctant to pay that kind of money. I know I would have to cut back on the yarn I buy to make socks for the PW missions. I know many, many, many of the folks in that church are affluent enough that $5/week doesn’t seem like much. But I also know that just paying for the gas to drive to the church makes some of them consider whether they will come to another meeting or Bible study, much less come to something that is pure recreation. And to add a $5 charge on top of it is too much.

Big Al has been heading up a task force asking why more people don’t participate in the activities and opportunities that are offered by the church. Unfortunately, most of those opportunities come with an “oh, by the way, there’ll be a charge of …” Even Bible studies, encourage the participants to “Buy a new study Bible, and a workbook.”

Presbyterian Women meets around either lunch or supper (only $6-$8 for the meal, and you certainly don’t HAVE to eat, but that’s when the socializing happens), and the study guide is $10 a year, and we collect an offering of school supplies or socks or Halloween candy every month. Oh, yes, save your pennies to give to the Least Coin. And please contribute to the Birthday Offering and… I know the PW missions are very worthwhile, but I wonder if there are women who would like to attend, but are embarrassed to never contribute.

Everybody has their hand out these days for a contribution, and I truly believe they are all in as much or more need of money than I am, but I can’t do it all. I do what I can, but that’s why I can’t justify spending $5 a week on playing bridge. I don’t know what the answer is, but, even though I’ve made my decision about where I’m going to spend that $5, it doesn’t make me any less envious of those people who are playing bridge this afternoon.

Session Tonight

I have a Session meeting tonight, so I’ve spent the afternoon remembering the Four Cornerstones of Emerging Christianity conference that I went to the beginning of the month.

We’re supposed to be setting goals for the coming year. I hope we have had enough discernment to make them meaningful.

Here’s what I’m going to be saying.

Report on Four Cornerstones of Emerging Christianity Conference

  • Friday evening there were three presenters:
  • Susanne Stabile
    • Founder (with her husband) of Life in the Trinity Ministry (sponsor)
    • Talks about understanding that different people are led to Christianity in different ways (think Myers-Briggs personality types)
  • Brian McLaren
    • Internationally renowned speaker on innovative Christian thought.
  • Nadia Bolz-Weber
    • The founder of House for All Sinners and Saints, a non-traditional church in Denver, CO
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    • House is “open and affirming” – homeless, ex-addicts, LGBT, etc.
    • The Church has three jobs
      • Maintain the liturgy
      • Proclaim forgiveness
      • Care for the least, last & lost
    • It is not about the numbers, it’s the content.
    • The church needs to be ecologically stable.
      • Church has bought into the corporate culture
      • The church needs to be recalibrated
      • We need to bring the laity up to the level of the pastors.
  • There are four cornerstones breakout sessions
  • Community (via Al Watters)
    • The church is living in liminal space – before anything can be created something must die.
    • When in liminal space you can either go forward, backwards, or wait.
    • You can only start with what you have.
    • You’ve got to ask yourself and others are they followers of Christ or just fans.
    • Pastors need to be transparent and show their flaws.
    • We can not create meaning but we must discover it.
    • You can’t accommodate every ego but must work within a given framework.
    • You can’t build church community individually.
  • Social Justice (via Al Watters and Cindy Finley)
    • Instructor read from Zechariah 7:9 and 10. “Didn’t I tell them, ‘thus says Yhwh: Administer true justice; show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widowed or the orphaned, the resident alien or the poor and do not plot evil against one another'”
    • List injustices in the community – have passion  – determine how to work for justice.
    • Justice is a long-term commitment
    • Once a judgment is made to implement justice  you must reconcile the team, meetings, and the church as a whole.
    • Having problems forming the right question or seeing what it might look like, you can get with the Right Question Institute in Mass.
  • Spiritual Disciplines
    • The current BIG buzz words are Spiritual, but not Religious
      • Can the church explain how doing God and doing church are related?
      • Can it create a community that is genuinely grounded in those priorities?
      • Can it draw effectively on its inheritance?
    • It’s not about the numbers – the Dave test.
    • Until our churches take time for contemplation and discernment, we will keep on doing everything just as we always have.
    • “A contemplative practice is any act, habitually entered into with your whole heart, as a way of awakening, deepening and sustaining a contemplative experience of the inherent holiness of the present moment.”
    • EPIC worship
  • The Historical Jesus (I didn’t attend, and don’t have any feedback from this session.)

It should be interesting tonight.

A Singularly Frustrating and Unproductive Day

I got up this morning intending to spend the day (if necessary) hanging on hold with Quicken Customer Service. I updated my Quicken software last week, and it is so messed up, it’s almost unusable.  Talk about frustrating. They have obviously done something to “improve” it, but with my file (which I admit is pretty large) it is taking me almost an hour to do a few simple tasks that used to take me only 10 minutes or so. I enter a number and it wanders off into the wild blue yonder. Couple that with the fact that I’m attempting to move my money from Bank of America to USAA Bank, and you can see why I was about ready to teach the computer to fly last Friday.

Anyway, before I could even get started on that, I got a call that I had forgotten to do something for my one little bookkeeping client, and it had to be done sooner rather than later. So I trekked to his office and tried to send his Quickbooks file to his CPA so they could deal with his Payroll taxes before the end of the month. When I tried to send the file, I found out it was too big to send via “You Send-It” unless I upgraded the service and agreed to pay $9.99 a month. We send one file, once a quarter, so that seemed excessive. I spent an extra half hour trying to figure out a way to get that done. It looks like we’ll have to put it on a thumb-drive and mail it or carry it over there. Groan…

So I left there and went to the grocery store, got my groceries, and came home to fix lunch. While we were eating, I got a call from the Realtor’s Listing Service, asking if someone could show the house between 6:00 and 7:00 this evening. I said, “OK”, but then when I finished lunch, I had to scurry around and finish picking up the house and make the bed and file the mail so the place looked presentable.

I also had plans to call USAA Bank and finish with whatever needed to be done to get those accounts up and running. But now, here it is 3:30 in the afternoon and I’m still listening to the music at Quicken, and nothing else has gotten done. Lord knows when I’ll get to talk to somebody.

It makes me CRAZY!


Well, I guess I’ve done it again. I’ve gone several days without updating the blog. I HAVE been doing stuff – just not writing anything here. If you’ll check, you’ll see that I updated my Books page, though.

I’ve also begun saving all of the Legacy posts over into MS Word so I can do something about maybe publishing it.

I’ve been doing a lot of research in Ancestry.com on the genealogy.

My dicey hip that has been in pretty good shape for the last couple of years decided it didn’t like the cool fall weather (or something) and went out on me over the weekend. Consequently, it is taking me about twice as long to go up and down the hall from my office to the bathroom, and Monday evening I couldn’t even stand up long enough to cook supper. Big Al has been a trooper, and helped me fix dinner all week long – including doing the dishes as well. It’s much better today, but I still have to be really careful when I turn and shift my weight at the same time.

For some reason, this blog has started showing up in all the searches for Maggiano’s – probably because of my posts about Thanksgiving dinner – and so I’ve felt like a real rock star. I’m pleased, but I wish the visitors would read something else as well while they’re here.

I promise I’ll try to figure out something to write about more often, but my days are pretty same-old, same-old right now, and I’m sure you’ll get bored with hearing about the 4 hours I spent tracking down a long-lost cousin from 1890.

I continue to stew about the state of the country. I’ve actually started moving my money out of Bank of America. I pray for the “Occupys” and give them my moral support. I’m trying not to read everything I see on Facebook about the movement, mostly because it raises my blood pressure to astronomical levels. I can only do the little I can do, but as someone said, just because I can’t help everyone, doesn’t mean I can’t help someone.


Life Goes On

I filled out, printed, and prepared to mail the information to close my little corporation with the state. As soon as it’s in the mail, I’ll be completely and officially retired. (I actually retired Dec 31, 2010, but I had to file all the lingering tax returns before I could close the corporation.)

I took the first steps to get my money away from Bank of America. I’m moving all of that money – checking and savings – to USAA Bank. I’ve checked around and that seems to be about the only place that is both financially secure and not going to be bought out by a bigger bank, and also reasonably moral in their financial practices. As a 45 year member of USAA, I think I can vouch for their practices. As soon as they verify the checking account, I’m moving the money.


Well, I may have completely jinxed any possibility of selling the house, but I turned down somebody who wanted to show it today. The thing is, we have had three last-minute requests to show the house in the past week – one Monday morning at 8:30 to show it at 11:00, one Tuesday morning at 9:00 to show it at 11:30, and one Friday afternoon at 5:30 to show it at 8:30 on Saturday morning. The call on Monday morning came after we had already sorted the wash, and had piles of clothes waiting their turn in the washing machine. The one Tuesday morning came when we had planned to go grocery shopping and then run errands. The one Friday evening came after Big Al had already decided to skip his men’s group at the church on Saturday morning because he was tired and wanted to sleep in. In all three cases we changed our plans in order to clean up, and vacate the house so it could be shown. In all three cases, we got notified DURING the agreed time of the showing, that “Oh, sorry, we’re not going to be able to make it! We’ll reschedule.”

None of these were the same realtor or even the same agency, but it still was really irritating.

Then, today, at 2:00 p.m., somebody asked if they could show it at 4:00 p.m. – right in the middle of the Cowboys game. Now I don’t have many things that I watch on TV religiously – Oregon football, and the Cowboys are the only sporting events that I make an effort to see. My only other show is Parenthood on Tuesday nights. Also, Big Al had set out to download and install the new iOS for his iPad, and it had run into trouble, so when the request came, he was at the Apple Store, and I didn’t have any idea when he would get home.

Anyway, I told the booking agency “No, the request came with too little lead time.”

In a way, it’s too bad we didn’t get to show it. I went to Calloway’s yesterday and got two of these beautiful Croton bushes for the side yard. They are really nice, and look like Fall is here.

Oh, well, if those people really wanted to see the house, I guess they’ll reschedule, next time with more lead time, I hope.


My Confession

Following the Processus Confessionis found in the Presbyterian Women Horizon’s study guide for the Beatitudes.

Greatly honored are you who are destitute, for yours is the kingdom of God. Shame on you who are affluent, for you have received your consolation. (Luke 6 – the Aymer translation)

Greatly honored are the mourners, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5 – the Aymer translation) Shame on you who are laughing now, for you will weep. (Luke 6 – the Aymer translation)

  1. I believe God honors the poor and destitute in the world, and will not forget the injustices of the rich when they make the lives of the poor even worse.
  2. I believe God honors those who mourn, calling my attention to the injustices and ills of my society, my country, and my world. This merciful God is comforting the mourners, and will deal harshly with those who mock them.
  3. I see, in the Faithful Budget campaign, an attempt to influence our government to remember the needs of the least, the last, and the lost in this country and around the world.
  4. I see, in the Occupy movement, a broad spectrum of society, mourning the loss of justice, equality, and hope, as the rich grow ever richer, and the poor are mocked and put down.
  5. I understand that I have not always given sacrificially to the poor, both in my community and throughout the world.
  6. I know I own stock in some of the big corporations through my IRA and mutual funds. I help support the banks and corporations who, after taking public funds, have NOT dealt fairly or honorably with their customers and the public at large.
  7. In order to live faithfully, I will increase my donations of food and goods to the local food bank, and to the outreach closet at the church. I will send e-mails and make phone calls to my representatives in the government to protest any attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, both in our country and around the world.
  8. I will begin the process of removing my money from the largest and most predatory banks, and will make a conscious effort to purchase goods from smaller, local firms who do not engage in exploitative manufacturing. I will spread the word about movements for justice, and I will refrain from poking fun at political figures on all sides.

I’m a Little Snarky Today

I find myself becoming a little snarky, particularly about politics, right now. And that seems to bring me back around to my difficulty in selling the house. And sometimes, it starts with not being able to sell the house, and then I work myself around to being angry with politics. Basically a vicious circle.

I really do have at least two joys to report, though. Both Bill and Ray have recently gotten new jobs – for better pay – with more responsibility – and hopefully better longevity. Thanks be to God!

The improved weather will hopefully put me in a better frame of mind and I will be back tomorrow, or the next day, happier and a little less snarky.


Greatly Honored Are Those Who Mourn

The Presbyterian Women is studying the Beatitudes this year, and last night at Circle Meeting we studied Matthew’s second beatitude, “Greatly honored are those who mourn.” The lesson talks about how we are called upon to stand with those who are mourning – whether it’s mourning a death, or mourning a great loss, or mourning because we are ashamed. This suggested to me the angst that is becoming so apparent in the “Occupy ???” movement that is starting to make an impact on the country. I saw this article in the Huffington Post this morning, about clergy who are joining the movement.

In our on-line circle, I posted this comment to this lesson.

“Of course (or maybe not of course) I grieve and mourn for the folks who are left unemployed and homeless because of the selfishness of the fat cats on Wall Street. And yes, I own stock and have a little pittance in an IRA, but I’m not talking about those of us who are just trying to keep our heads above water as our life savings disappear on Wall Street. I grieve for the unemployed/underemployed. I’ve already posted about my sons and my nephew – hard working, intelligent men, all – who either can’t marry because they can’t see a way to support themselves AND a family, or who are struggling in rental property, with 10-year-old cars, in dead-end jobs that suck their souls, living in fear of being unemployed. They are 45, 39, and 34 years old, and have all gone through periods of unemployment in excess of 18 months. They are educated, and capable, and only want to be given a chance to be productive, but they are terrified that they might lose even their substandard jobs. At least one of them has worked at least part of every single weekend for the last year, in virtual slavery because he is so afraid that if he doesn’t give his last minute to the company he will be let go. At least, thanks be to God, they all now have some job. I grieve for those who are older and have no prospect of ever working again. At this point, I don’t know anything to do but scream at the government, pray for the unemployed, and trust that God has some plan or reason for the inhumanity I see when I read the attacks on the poor, and unemployed in the media.”

In addition to adding your prayers to mine for all these who are homeless and/or jobless, I encourage you to call or contact your government representatives to plead for a faithful budget – one that does not balance the budget on the backs of the poorest and least able to help themselves in our society and throughout the world.

Meanwhile, I pray and I weep.

(And this quick addendum – great blog from Jan Edmiston “Questions I’d like to Ask Everybody Running for President.” )