bronze_ribbons: knife with bronze ribbons (bribbons)
The Christmas Day service at First UU ("It's the Most Jewiful Time of the Year") included a dramatic reading of Lemony Snicket's The Latke that Couldn't Stop Screaming, led by the sabbatical minister with audience participation (congregants waving their arms and going "aaaaah!" on cue); a Dr Who reference (Rabbi Rami: I was hoping to watch the special tonight but my wife is insisting that we go out for Chinese); an extended Star Trek benediction in both Hebrew and English; and substantive theological points to consider, with the rabbi comparing closed systems (salvation-based) and open ones (hope-based). The quote I repeated to several other people later in the day : Johanan ben Zakkai's "If you are planting a tree and you hear that Messiah has come, first finish planting the tree."

Also: The thrill of hearing a professional soprano several pews behind me warbling through "Silver Bells" and other standards. The pleasure of petting my friend Victoria's therapy dog through the first half of the service. The hugging of friends and acquaintances and the talking about plans for dancing, performing, volunteering...

For champagne tea with my honorary mama, I baked potato wafers. The BYM and I heard someone very, very good playing the piano in the assisted living lobby when we arrived, and it was indeed her son, who'd brought along sheet music for several super-silly, wildly virtuosic seasonal pieces.

I was not feeling well enough to join the late-night crowd at Lipstick Lounge, but I did stay up to sort out a few things and to say a few more blessings...

second night

And, speaking of blessings, my thanks to all who responded to my Feast of Stephen appeal. I am full of gratitude. See you in 2017.
bronze_ribbons: (hooch boots)

People gathered from near and far,
In small groups and large,
To share their fears and grief
And the darkness in their hearts.

A year like no other, this was,
Testing us beyond what we'd ever imagined.
Day after day, week after week,
We found ourselves growing
And becoming sturdy
Because there was no other choice.

[I sang this years ago. Something I learned today: the ritual it comes from was co-written by a Unitarian Universalist and "a self-described Quaker witch" (source:]
bronze_ribbons: Dee and Ryo from FAKE in deep kiss (Dee/Ryo liplock)
dragons and Laurens


Something I have been giving thanks for recently: living long enough to enjoy the company of people who share my interests, and to see some of those interests catch hold in larger circles and even get their fifteen minutes (and then some).

The John Laurens biography is a gift from around 15 years ago, from a friend I met back when our journals were on Diaryland. I first heard of Laurens during the 1984 miniseries on George Washington, and developed such a crush on the combination of his idealism + tragic fate (or, to be precise, Barry-Bostwick-as-Washington's reaction to it) + the actor portraying him (Kevin Conroy, since known mainly as the voice of Batman) that I ended up combing through all the Washington bios in the high school and local university library for any mention of Laurens, writing two papers on him and drafting a third ("Alexander Hamilton's Best Friend") in my 30s.

So it was a hoot for me to check in on Jen Talley's timeline yesterday, where she was live-tweeting about Hamilbrarians rapping (#alamw4ham #Lib4Ham #alamw16)...

...which is icing on top of my Hamilton-Laurens stocking stuffer having 1066 hits as of today.

If I'm remembering right, I "met" Jen through a Sayers mailing list and then stayed connected through Diaryland and now Twitter. I met [personal profile] dichroic through the same Sayers list, and this year she answered my yearning for the baby Loch Ness monster ladle in the photo above. A friend I met through Snupin fandom sent the sleeping dragon cake pan.

I mentioned both the ladle and the pan yesterday night at a party, having been greeted by the substantial Nessie sculpture in the host's front yard. During the course of the evening, the conversations also included Cthulhu, Doris Salcedo, earring backs, film processing, Stephen King, parks, bruxism, real estate, the High Museum, imaging tech, karaoke at the American Legion, cold water flats in Africa, and trying to finish art/craft projects begun mumble-mumble years ago.

And also cancer and health: one of the guests was a man younger than me with a newly installed replacement hip -- one of many surgeries resulting from cancer + treatment. He emphasized how glad he was to still be here. Another guest was a librarian who, as she put it, will be living with myeloma for the rest of her life. The day before, a friend from high school e-mailed me about a classmate who has just begun treatment for leukemia.

Which all ties back to feeling so immensely grateful that I am here, and you are here, and we together get to giggle and admire and obsess and shout out these things to each other and (if/when we choose) to those in the wider world longing for the spark and sizzle and solace of shared interests, and the things we make and send in celebration.
bronze_ribbons: (hooch boots)
From my church's August newsletter (reported by Anna Belle Leiserson):

During the Friday morning business, Moderator Jim Key, on behalf of the UUA board, gave a formal apology to victims of UU clergy sexual misconduct. Of course an apology is nothing without follow through, and a few minutes later Natalia (Natty) Averett, Convener of
the Boundaries Work Group, gave a report outlining progress made and future steps. The Rev. Gail Seavey and Anna Belle Leiserson were there, and both were moved and impressed. Gail was particularly grateful to Natty for emphasizing the importance and urgency of this work.

The link to listen to the board’s apology can be found at Note that it begins at minute 8:10. The link to Natty’s board report is at and starts at minute 10:30.

For more information on Safety Net, please see our website at
bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (Default)
Quantum bunnies: My villanelle "Schrodinger's Top Hat" was selected as a finalist in the latest Goodreads poetry group contest; voting is open through April 1. (Thanks to everyone who's already promoted and/or voted!) There have been some very nice comments about both my poem and the whole shortlist; I was especially delighted to read that it moved someone to look up Schrodinger's cat.

[My friend Elaine made my week in like fashion last week when I sent the other members of our chamber choir a copy of Hans Ostrom's Emily Dickinson and Elvis Presley in Heaven (after joking-but-not-entirely during rehearsal about how Emily was ahead of her time. I don't remember what prompted it, but there was a fair amount of wordplay and sassing going on that night). She told me after Sunday warmup that she'd read it aloud to two groups since receiving it. If I hadn't been wearing heels and a skirt, I would've done cartwheels in front of the pulpit right then and there.]

UU ribbons: I went to the HUUmanists site to follow up on last summer's book-smUUggling campaign, and the word is that there are two projects in progress for General Assembly 2013. One is collecting banned books to supply an underground community library in Louisville; the other is a fabric art display, with panels "reflecting a theme (or cover art) from any of the designated Banned Books or children's books, or depicting any immigration rights project being conducted by a UU congregation or humanist group." It sounds like the coordinators are still accepting participants: "if you quilt, embroider, appliqué, cross stitch, or otherwise make images on fabric, WE CAN USE YOUR TALENTS."

[Another bit of good news: the UU Congregation of Cookeville will become officially affiliated with the UUA this year! Some of you may recall that I helped coordinate around three dozen services for them some years ago -- I am so thrilled that they are now a solid faith presence on the Highland Rim.]
bronze_ribbons: Kimiko Date Krumm fistpump @ Seoul 2009 (Kimiko fistpump)
Michelle Kwan married Clay Pell a few days ago at a Unitarian church. I don't know if either Kwan or Pell are themselves Unitarian, and it doesn't matter -- except, you know, it's nonetheless kind of cool to glimpse a connection.

While surfing around a little for more on the Kwan-Pell story, I landed at a British Unitarian page on Kate Middleton's Unitarian relatives.

Finally, I was sifting through some old clippings during lunch and came across a 2010 New York Times interview of Shaquille O'Neal. The part that made me sit up:

Why do so many sportswriters seemed miffed that, at 38, you won’t get out of the game?
Now that I'm in a diminished role, everybody says, "He doesn't have it." But I will never take criticism from people who can't do it themselves.

You mean sportswriters?
Exactly. Now if Kareem comes out and says something, then I have to listen. He's a guy that's done more than me. A guy sitting behind a desk writing about what I should do -- I will never listen to it.

Do you find it difficult to be an aging athlete?
A little bit. We live in an impatient world. Everybody is always looking for the next big Kobe, the next big LeBron, the next big Twitter.

Do coaches really do anything?
Yes, they do. They’re the generals. Generals don't panic; then the troops never panic.

When was the last time you panicked?

When you were 9?
We were living with relatives, and I just happened to steal a lighter from the kitchen counter. I had a teddy bear. My thing was to just light the tail and then blow it out and laugh. Ha, ha. But as soon as I lit the tail, the whole thing caught on fire. It almost caught the house on fire. I got the whooping of my life.
bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (camel)
Charlotte, NC, has an awesome park called The Green, across from its convention center. It includes signs in tribute to authors...

From UUA GA 2011 (and exploring Charlotte)

...and one of its entrances is flanked by two tall bronze stacks of books:

From UUA GA 2011 (and exploring Charlotte)

...Why am I in Charlotte? General Assembly. I enjoyed reading the start of this morning's report in the Charlotte Observer:

First, they honored the imam who's in the middle of plans to build an Islamic center near ground zero. Then they rallied in uptown Charlotte to support gays, lesbians and same-sex marriage.

And that was just in the first 48 hours or so after they got to town.
bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (DelPo on verge of oh smash)
[Subject line from All Creatures Now, a standard from my madrigal-warbling days. Now is the month of maying and all that.]

A pawful of notes:
about tennis, fandom, and eggplant souffle... )

  • [personal profile] okrablossom and I wrote a linked pair of sonnets a couple of years ago; Blue Print Review just published it, with calligraphy added into the mix. Both the piece and the issue have received some rave reviews, which pleases me greatly. (There's also been some pieces at 7x20, including a rare autobiographical one, and a bundle at PicFic -- and, thirty-five rejections. [Lots of editors catching up on their backlogs last month. And there was much sulking and sighing, and my To Revise stack remains taller than the dog. Ars ever-freaking longa...])

  • and more on poetry, and the Pentagon Papers... )
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (ryo/dee season 2 foreheads)
    Rev. JD Benson at First Parish Brewster calls out to those who feel the world closing in [video].

    On a far more flippant note: xkcd's updated map of the blogosphere. Hee!
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (ribbons)
    So, I was reading through parts of the Fall 2009 UU World over dinner, when I came across this:

    From misc

    See the guy in the upper LH corner? He has a degree in physics and worked in banking before becoming a UU minister.

    More to the point: "Live long and prosper" at our national assembly. Glee!

    (On a side note: my church now has an "Over 30 Gaming Group." How cool is that? If it weren't for the need for sleep... *wistful*)
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (uu: freedom to marry)
    [As usual, the actual sermon was somewhat different than what's posted below, what with ad-libbing and on-the-fly tweaking, but the general gist is here.]

    "The Poetry of Inconvenience"
    Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cookeville
    Earth Day sermon

    Today, April 22nd, 2007... )


    * A voicepost of me reading Mary's poem is here.

    * Listened to part of The Splendid Table during the drive home, which included a clip of Jonathan Gold talking about his twelve-year-old daughter's love of Italian squid feasts and about other food writers he admires. He sounds very cool and his "triumph of the proofreader" wisecrack makes me even more inclined to like him.

    * However, catching up with Gold's writing is going to have to wait. The immediate plan: cook lunch (something with mushrooms and chicken), bake dog biscuits, and work on essays until my brain is goo.

    * It's 78 F and sunny here. Here's the start of the Maura Stanton poem ("God's Ode to Creation") that was the meditation text for this morning's service:

    Today's the kind of day when I feel good
    about that dazzling stuff I've made down there,
    everything so mixed up that even lies
    turn out to be the truth...
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (uu: freedom to marry)
    [11 March 2007, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cookeville]

    tree of life and tree of knowledge... )
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (uu: freedom to marry)
    This is the sermon I delivered to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cookeville this past Sunday. The assigned theme was "Unitarian Universalist Moral Responsibility in our Local Community." The worship chair read Raising the Roof as the "Story for All Ages," and before I spoke, I put on four long, gaudy strands of beads:

    Seven years ago, I celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans. )

    ...from deep despair and perished things... )


    3/2/07 20:20
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (Default)
    * All y'all. Thank you.

    * A good send-off for Jace this afternoon. Full church (300+ people); choir singing "River in Judea"; Tony Jackson and others singing "You're the First, the Last, My Everything," "Sing a Song," "YMCA," and other standards.

    * "Light tea" at the very charming Savannah Tea Room with a friend this morning. For her, a pot of Assam. For me, cups of blueberry rooibos and Provence rooibos. You start out by choosing your teacup from the shelves on the wall; then the server brings by a glass filled with Devon cream and topped with a raspberry, to go with the miniature scones. For the light tea, the second course is the tea tray, which consists of fruit (grapes and slices of pineapple, kiwi, and oranges), savories (cucumber sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, carrot sticks, cheese cubes, and tuna salad in phyllo shells), and sweets (blueberry cream puffs, apple tartlets, and chocolate covered cherries). The final course (i.e., a full-size dessert) was pineapple sorbet.

    * Got to chat with Bryce a bit after he and the BYM finished messing around with cars out back.

    * Went to Stacy Irvin's opening at The Parthenon. The photographs that linger with me at the moment are the ones of the camels, "Slow Day" (a child in a Chinese shop), and one of a farmer straddling an irrigation ditch.

    * Running into more friends while stopping at Savarino's to pick up dinner.

    * Finally opening the bottle of red wine ("The Four Graces" pinot noir) given to me when my term on the church board ended last year. I'm sipping it with my plate of eggplant parm as I type.

    * I technically took today off, but I did sneak in a stop at the Green Hills branch of the library. One of their current exhibits consists of some of the birdhouses for this year's W.O. Smith/Nashville Community Music School fundraiser. There are always some that are stunningly gorgeous and inventive, and others that are just laugh-out-loud funny (some of you may remember me cooing over "Hawkwarts" last year). The one that made me stop and giggle in my tracks this afternoon was "The Schroederhorn" (with Snoopy on the podium; Nashville's new symphony hall is "The Schermerhorn").

    * Also on display at the library -- a number of fun-looking new children's books, including Piratepedia and Adele and Simon (a sister and brother wander around Paris...).

    * Maura Stanton's "God's Ode to Creation."
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (uu: freedom to marry)
    My friend Jace died this morning.

    A couple years ago, I was privileged to be a member of the committee that established a new service award at my church, the Virginia Grantham Award. (Virginia is a longtime member of First UU who was very active on the Caring Committee and other service activities until her stroke last year.) There was no question that Jace would be one of the inaugural recipients. One of my tasks was to write up why. My friend Gail added some more to it, and this is what appeared in the newsletter:

    If you are a member or friend of this church, chances are you have eaten a meal prepared or organized by Jace Burch, served on a committee with him, and/or handed him a check for one of the many fundraisers he’s coordinated. Jace has contributed countless hours to feeding the collective body, mind and spirit of First UU, both literally and figuratively, often with the collaboration of his longtime partner in life and crime, Bill Latimer, and always with panache and style, whether it’s acting as a host for Stewardship dinners, catering Seders and block parties, or shampooing the carpets.

    Jace is about to begin his third year as chair of the Fundraising Committee, for which we are immensely grateful; as one admirer put it, he knows how to "turn making money into an opportunity to have fun," whether it’s a campaign for paint or an evening of jazz or a holiday bake sale. As a stalwart of the Caring Committee, Jace is the linchpin of the Senior Breakfasts and has frequently served as Caring Coordinator for the entire church. He’s also contributed his time and talents to the Fellowship Committee, the Nominating Committee, the Finance Committee, Dinners for Nine, Chalice Circles, GLBT and Friends, the Oversight Committee, the Capital Campaign Committee, Wednesday Night Dinners, the Green Team, the Accessibility and Safety Task Force, Solidarity Sunday, holiday parties and brunches, and countless other events and initiatives.

    In his professional life, Jace works for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and his devotion to the Tennessee Titans almost rivals that of his attachment to First UU.

    On game days, Jace and Bill would show up to early service in Titans jerseys, and Jace would wear a Titans earring as well. I first learned about the rule "plant your seeds after Good Friday" from him quoting one of his elders during a Canvass speech. His memorial service will be this weekend, and it is to be a "70s disco party." (Which will be completely in character and appropriate, but oh, lordy... if only there were time to stop home and raid my dad's closet...) And the choir will be singing "The Fire of Commitment" and "Standing on the Side of Love."

    The subject line of this post is from the closing lines of a UU hymn (quoting from memory):

    Eternity is hard to ken, but harder still is this:
    A human life when truly seen is briefer than a kiss.
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (uu: freedom to marry)
    A highlight of coffee hour this morning, between services: chatting with a retired minister and a retired professor about turtles, sheep, goats and dogs.

    For the benediction, Rev. Jason read from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Where Do We Go From Here:

    All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir to the vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed. Whether we realize it or not, each of us lives eternally "in the red." We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women.
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (uu: freedom to marry)
    For the meditation, I read John Betjeman's Advent 1955. The title of the homily (and some of the allusions within) is from Eleanor Farjeon's People, Look East, which was also the text of this morning's closing hymn.

    assignment: Advent )
    bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (uu: freedom to marry)
    Prayer for Perspective

    When I last checked, the votes for the "marriage = 1 man + 1 woman" amendment to my state constitution totaled:

    YES 1,407,717
    NO 322,575

    I've been reminding myself that some of my Unitarian abolitionist forebears must have felt like this: the percentages will be reversed someday -- possibly even within my lifetime, give or take a few generations -- but it's painful how so many people don't get how grossly unfair they're being to their neighbors and kin on this matter.

    On the determinedly positive side, at least 19% of the vote was against the amendment. That's more than some people would expect ("1 in 5 Tennesseans favor marriage equality!" It's tempting to go make some heads spin, as it were...). My own precinct voted 3 to 1 against it on Election Day (816 voters), which was not a surprise but cheering nonetheless (and the totals may be even higher, since that ratio doesn't factor in ballots cast during the "early voting" period).

    So. Much work to do. There will always be more work to do.

    This country's growing pluralism is a blessing - one that the founders of this country could never have imagined but for which they prepared fertile ground by writing their egalitarian ideals into our foundational documents. What we should be doing in this country is continuing to expand the circle of those we include in the promises made in our Constitution. And I believe that despite the backlash we see every time the circle is widened, it never really shrinks back to where it was before.

    And also:

    We are a gentle and generous people. But let us not forget our anger. May it fuel not only our commitment to compassion but also our commitment to make fundamental changes. Our vision of the Beloved Community must stand against a vision that would allow the privilege of the few to be accepted as just and even holy. Our religious vision must again and again ask the Gospel question "Who is my neighbor" and strive always to include more and more of us as we intone the words that gave birth to this nation, "We the people..."

    We are, and we should be, both a gentle, and an angry people.
      - Bill Sinkford -- from a pastoral letter on Katrina, but it applies to many other things as well


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