Sunday, June 7, 2020

I am starting a podcast!

What? Starting a podcast? Why? Well, a few reasons. They are apparently very popular (I wouldn’t know because I don’t listen to them very much!), and many people find them informative. I am astounded at the great variety of podcasts out there, as the only two I have listened to are Rick Steve’s travel podcasts, and Martha Beck’s. I believe that in the past when I have listened to recorded sermons from church services, they have not technically been podcasts at the time. Although I guess anything recorded and broadcast is a podcast? Enough of my technical ineptitudes!
our beautiful new-dish neck of the woods

I have been facilitating Bible studies for more than 20 years and learning from them for even longer. I have realized that there are seasons for giving more as well as seasons of life when we need more support, encouragement and learning. Sometimes I can give and learn at the same time. On occasion, what I think I need turns out to not be entirely true, and it takes other people and prayer to figure it out. 
trying to figure out where I am & where to next (look in the shadows of the tree branches)

In snowville, where the weather after mid-May is actually lovely, there are not many opportunities to learn from local Bible studies. I’m fortunate to be able to participate in the study on our nearby military installation. As a student, I always learn from Bible studies. Facilitators learn, too, but there are other administrative things to be aware of, so it’s not the same as being a student. 
learning about wildlife around here!

During seminary courses, we are in the Bible every day. Most faculty start and end the class with prayer, and most textbooks are about the Bible or theologians. Now that summer break is here, and church services remain online, I have a shortage of learning from and with other people. I can sit with a devotional, printed Bible study, or be a student via zoom or a website Bible study, but it’s not the same and I’m ready to give more.
someone hunkered down for a few days on our front steps!

It was actually Mr. Spice’s idea (what I used to call him when I was focusing on food & cooking earlier in the blog). He listens to podcasts all the time and suggested that a podcast Bible study would be a good way to get The Word out there. I considered the pros and cons of varying ways of leading a summer Bible study, and after some local options were no-gos, a podcast might be nice for people who can listen to it any time they want. The only thing missing will be live group participation.

Here’s the plan: I’m taking a class right now about how to start a podcast. I have 3 ring binders because I like to organize stuff! The smallest is about general podcast information including potential topics, guest speakers, and technical things like microphones and editing software. The next one is Bible studies that I wrote for a seminary class last semester. The biggest binder is for “social statements” that my church body has written with guidance about best practices for care of our neighbors and creation. 

I’d love to hear your comments, questions, and suggesions! 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

It’s only hard to say good-bye when there are blessings!

I haven’t posted much recently, due in part to completing my second semester of grad school (again*). All my final papers have been “e-stapled” and submitted. Stay tuned for new adventures, as I am enrolled in a course on how to start a podcast!!! Here are some memories of our move, which I can’t believe was 7 months ago.
young people, you have no idea how this makes some people REALLY HAPPY! 

I tried really hard to not cry when I sold my car in Germany before moving to snowville, USA. I had prayed that someone would buy the car at a fair price, and I got my wish! I’m so grateful for that wonderful car, and for having it these years. I know that the car is not my happiness, but it brought happy memories. Maybe I will feel the same affection for a future car? I hope the cars we sold will bring the new families happy memories, too. 
By request- Easter Sunday during the pandemic
Saying good-bye to friends in Germany… they are all invited to visit our new home in snowville, but it’s still sad when that final hug comes. I’ve said good-bye over cake, a garden show, and arts’n’crafts projects, and have been blessed by these friendships. Would it have been better to not gain friendships so that the farewells wouldn’t happen? No! I now have choir and Bible study friends all over the world.
MAY (!!!) - now you don't need to ask why I keep calling it snowville

Some things are easier to say good-bye to, which helps. Teeny, tiny parking spaces are a thing of the past- for now. I had hoped to never see a P.O. Box again, but alas, our new village of snowville does not deliver mail at home, so P.O. Box, here we come. According to Wiki: The words "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" have long been associated with the American postman. However, they are by no means an official creed or motto of the United States Postal Service. Well, rats! But our post office ladies are really nice. It’s sad to see all of us wearing masks, but we are keeping each other safe.

HALF of my phone's weather app- it's like a souvenir!
What blessings have you experienced when saying good-bye to a person or a place?

* in the olden days, grad school the first time around (1996), we had to use real staples on real paper to turn in assignments!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

What I miss about Germany

Some of my friends were upset when it was time for them to move away from Germany. Due to a few different circumstances, I was ok with leaving when we did- it was nearly 5 years living in Germany. In addition to the reverse culture shock when we got settled in, I am noticing some things that I really miss.
I never took a photo of a good German salad. Instead, this is the library in our new town (USA)!

Salads in German restaurants were nifty! I need to figure out how to get the right flavors and make them at home. Basically, a small pile of several different ingredients were put on the plate like an artist’s palette, with good lettuce (NOT iceberg) and fantastic light yogurt dressing. For example, most restaurants included a small pile of shredded carrots, thinly sliced marinated cucumbers, shredded pickled beets, a small pile of corn, and even a dollop of potato salad as part of a "regular" salad!
What could she POSSIBLY be looking at???

Bread that doesn’t make my stomach gurgle. I heard this from several people- the bread in Europe, even if it is not gluten free, is made so that people with gluten sensitivity can eat it. There were few to no preservatives in the bakery bread, such that if you didn’t finish the loaf in a few days, it would get moldy, even in the fridge. I’ll take the mold as a reminder that this fresh German bread doesn’t have preservatives.

Traffic circles instead of traffic lights save time! I have a billion traffic lights between me and the grocery store (well, 5 or 6, depending on which grocery store), so it’s a good thing I have 80’s on 8 to entertain me while I sit at the traffic lights. It took a bit to get used to all the rotaries in Germany, especially near Ramstein, but they sure get the job done.
thanks for the "help" (?)

Classical music! I have not been able to find a community choir for singing, and I really miss it. I guess I got an overdose of classical choir music for 5 years, but I look forward to singing again. Apparently there are fall rehearsals here for December concerts each year, but no rehearsals over the dark and dreary winter months (just when I need them, despite the snow & icy roads). I will have to be content staying home and warm, listening to CD’s that my previous choirs produced. 
really miss the fields of flowers, to pick and pay, or just to admire their wild growth

I really miss walking along fields and among trees and flowers. Both places we lived in Germany had immediate access to walking paths in nature. There was a short route, a long route, and delicious smells, sights and sounds of plants and animals along the way. I can walk along a paved sidewalk in front of our new house, but we have to drive (or bike?) to get to a more nature-filled walking area.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A week in the life of “stay at home”

Saturday- my husband’s business trip is being cut short due to the imminent pandemic. He’s on his way home through a nearly empty airport. My choir rehearsal still takes place, although I suspect that the concert next month will be cancelled. It’s good to sing together. I pick up groceries on the way home at a place I usually go to once per month or so. No need to make dessert for church tomorrow because the pot luck lunch has been cancelled. I go to the 4pm church service because effective tomorrow there will not be an in-person church service. The communion assistant puts on a medical glove to distribute individual cups. When I see the bright glove over the tray of cups, I start to cry. Communion was never a top priority for me, but today it is. We go out to eat for dinner, not knowing that restaurants will be closed to dine-in customers soon.
yoga "before"
Sunday- today is the first time that I am not allowed to go to church because the doors are locked for safety reasons. Many online services are offered, from my former congregation in Massachusetts to the National Cathedral. I go to the gym, not knowing this will be the last time, and to Target, where shelves of canned beans are empty, except the vegetarian baked beans, which is what we eat anyway (but wouldn't normally buy there- went for something else- but got some beans). No toilet paper in sight, but we have enough already. Online school meeting at 9pm to talk about what kinds of support we need. I have an idea, and of course as soon as I say it, someone nominates me to be in charge of implementing it! Thankfully, another student volunteers to help.

warm enough to go outside!
Monday- school for me had been online since last September, so nothing new. Previously scheduled telephone call with a professor at a different university regarding my research project. Their classes are going online, so lots of changes. Went to return library items and the door is locked. School chapel has in the past been broadcast by a stationary camera for off campus students, but now it’s held by Zoom so we can all see each other and offer prayer requests in the chat box. We are muted to prevent background noise, but we are unmuted for the Lord’s prayer. It is amazing to hear each other from so many states away, and see the boxes on zoom highlight people’s faces as they pray.

Tuesday- Bible study is offered by zoom, and we pray together electronically even though we live just a few minutes away from each other. My yoga teacher offers a free Facebook live class, which is wonderful. Another regular school class. Another grocery store I've never been to for just a few things- our pantry and freezer are full but it’s uncertain how many days we might go without being able to leave the house, plus fresh veggies are better than frozen. Another school meeting about how things are changing, which mostly affects students who live on campus. It’s great to have lots of communication, even if the answer sometimes is “we don’t know.” 
yoga "after"
Wednesday- school, Chapel, previously scheduled oil change. Should I cancel or keep this appointment? Support a business while it is still open? The waiting room had bad news blaring from the TV, so I walked around the outside of the building and called people on the phone(!), which was nice. Choir is cancelled because the churches where the rehearsals and concerts will be are closed. The gym has also closed, and they are offering Facebook live classes, which I participate in. Good workout for someone like me who could use some strength training.
our small village library is open a few extra days but not any more
Thursday- should I keep my haircut appointment? Yes, the situation might get worse so I’ll support this business as long as she’s open. Different grocery store stop en route yields some good finds (no TP, still don’t need it). Online school presentation goes well- I’m used to this. Screen fatigue due to more yoga and gym via computer screen. Veterinarian cancelled the cat’s annual physical and rescheduled for April (she’s purrfectly fine with that).

now I have time to hang art work
Friday- Another phone meeting for my research project, Chapel, and my favorite weekly online journal club. In addition to regular journaling, we have a variety of prompts and also doodling sometimes- it’s really fun! Best ever school dance party via zoom! Well, more fun than being stuck at home! Our cat and someone else’s dog and another cat are featured during the dance party. Hamster dance, y’all!
there's a cat between the cover and the futon...
Saturday- the maple festival has been cancelled- no pancake brunch with friends from Syracuse. School hymn sing by zoom- not as good as in person, but pretty great!

Friday, March 6, 2020

What I’m learning in school this semester

Sooo, what’s new in school-land? Here is a photo of my textbooks. I was also supposed to buy a Bible “commentary”, but I didn’t because I have access to a bunch of different commentaries for free through the school library. Last semester I read parts of a different commentary every week for my course on “Minor Prophets”, which was interesting- both the class and seeing the different commentaries. My favorite at the time was a commentary about women in the Bible. 3 commentaries into the new semester, and I like Charles Swindoll’s style the best of those 3.

My fancy vocabulary is increasing exponentially, but I’d still rather talk and write “normal”. My favorite new word is “polyvalence”, which does not mean that I have a lot of curtains (although I do). It means that when each person reads the Bible they can understand it in a different way based on their own life experience and perspective. That is refreshing to hear!

Next, I recommend the book “Sacred Pauses” by April Yamasaki. I’ve read several books about trying to lower the amount of craziness and running around in our lives. This text approaches quiet time with respect, rather than mocking it according to our historical “Puritan work ethic”. Working hard is fine, but you don’t have to prove your value by being busy all of the time. I look forward to reading a chapter or two each week throughout the semester.
Our new house has built in bookcases!

I am writing a paper about something that I first learned at Simmons College (now University) in Boston. Research has shown that teachers may not realize how they call on boys more often than girls in classrooms. Attending a women’s college allowed space for women to be leaders, to answer ALL questions in the classroom, and to not worry about what boys/men/boyfriends/ex-boyfriends, etc. thought about what they were saying. There were plenty of opportunities for friendships and dating relationships in Boston, and the classroom was reserved for women’s academic advancement. My question now is: do women have stronger faith development experiences in single-gender Bible studies?

Finally, a course on faith development and discipleship. We’ve already finished a book by Austin Channing Brown, “I’m Still Here”, which I also highly recommend. More interesting books are on the syllabus for the spring semester. As always, holler if you have comments or questions!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Yesses and nos from our move back to the US

Blah, blah, blah! :) 

1.     No, you cannot stay in the same hotel as when you arrived in Stuttgart with your 3 cats, now you can only have 2 cats in the hotel. Weeellll, you could ask for an exception to policy over in this other building and they might say yes to the same 3 cats as before. You will have to go to that other building and talk to some other people to get a letter signed by the commander. Good luck with that.
Stuttgart hotel on the way out
2.     No, you cannot pick up your rental car because the building is closed, even though the website says it was supposed to be open. We don’t care that you did a lot of research in order to find the correct vehicle (van for your move) at a location and time that works. You can surely rent another vehicle at a different location that is open now, and you will pay more than double the original reservation rate because this is last minute. It is NOT the fault of the rental company that the location closed early.
Got new pads for the insides of the cat carriers, and someone went in voluntarily!
3.     Yes, you can take one of your cats in the airplane cabin with you. No, you cannot pay the fee for the cats ahead of time, you can only do that at the airport immediately before the flight. It doesn’t matter that the cats have to be in their cages more than 3 hours before the 6 hour flight because of this payment rule. No, you cannot pay for all 3 cats in the same airport location. You can pay for the 2 going in the cargo hold in one spot, then you can go somewhere else in the airport to pay for the one in the cabin with you. Then you can bring that receipt back to the cargo section. What, you want this to be convenient?
4.     YES, you can sell BOTH your cars QUICKLY for a fair asking price by placing them on the lemon lot for a $30 fee- you've got the spot on the lemon lot for 2 weeks. NOOOO, you cannot put the second car in the first car’s spot after the first car sells within 48 hours. You have to pay a second $30 fee. Ha ha. At least your cars sold quickly and without problems. Be grateful and don’t complain.
5.     No, the new dentist’s office cannot open the thumb drive with your dental records from Germany. Yes, it was a clever idea but our computers are not compatible. Bring us your x-rays by e-mail or get new x-rays.
6.     NOOOOO, your new vehicle will not be ready as promised, even though you ordered it way ahead of time from Germany. You are just going to have to drive a rental car for weeks on end. Weeeellllll, we can look around for an old car to loan you for a week, then you are on your own. Weeeeellllll, maybe you can keep the old loaner for a bit longer during the delay. OOOOOPS, your new car did not have all the features and benefits that you thought you ordered. 
I approve of this windowsill at Hanscom, MA
7.     NO, we cannot tell you when your furniture will arrive. It is irrelevant that your furniture has been in the port of Baltimore for over a week, we still cannot tell you when you will get it. Your mandatory delivery date is 2 months after everything was picked up. We realize you have been living in an empty house, but you will get your stuff when you get it, with very little advance notice. Just sit tight (on the floor).
We like to wrestle, all the better if it leaves lots of dark hair on the light carpet
8.     Yes, your SIM card from the US will work the minute you land in Boston – YAY!
9.     Yes, your ATM card and credit card will work so you can buy food and cat litter – YAY!

10.  Yes, the military hotel in Massachusetts can accommodate all 3 cats just like they did when you moved away in 2015 – YAY! See windowsill photo above & another in the post from 2015 (linked in previous sentence).

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Wildlife around here

This post is written by Sidney and Ida, the cats of Brownville, NY! Well, we made it over ok from Germany. Please don’t ever make us get into a plane again! Sebastian did ok, too, but he went to cat heaven before Christmas. We miss him - he was 19 years old, so it’s ok.
There are lots of new and unusual pawprints in the snow around our house. We didn’t get too much snow in Germany and definitely not so many wild animals (besides us). A couple of weeks ago, this guy/gal was hanging out next to our shed. 

I went hoarse (again)- this is Sidney- after chittering at this bunch in the neighbor’s yard! I laughed as they chased the crows, squirrels and jays near the feeders and around the trees! Then I laughed as they ran up the slight hill behind our house, and then back down the hill to rejoin their friends.

Next, here is someone walking along our closed garage door:

Human grandpa says it’s a fisher. Then, the herd was back, and this time they crossed the street, but nobody knows why. We have at least 4 huge blue jays, several active squirrels, and other smaller birds that hang around. 

I miss the huge windows in Germany (this is Ida). I used to be able to look straight out into the back yard from the bed where we lived before here. I don’t look out the windows so much any more, but I LOOOOOOVE rolling around on these wall to wall shag carpets! What’s up with that? They have to vacuum all the time – ha ha. I also like the fireplace, even though it’s gas. Nice and cozy.
me playing with a stuffed mouse from Dubuque! good thing our most important cat toys were on the plane with us!