You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category.

To my fellow siblings on the Christian Left, are you ready for Thanksgiving? Many families start the meal with a prayer. If you’ve come from a White conservative Christian family, this may us…

Source: Thanksgiving Prayers to Make Your Relatives Squirm

Advertisements

SuperBAM to the Rescue.

and I’m quoted, mentioning Mom, who is my hero. Super challenging assignment for May, but I’ll give it a super-hero shot.

As some of you know, I am more about Jesus’ life than his death. And the whole resurrection thing? Well, I believe in that only in the sense that Jesus’ followers experienced something that made them begin to apply Jesus lessons, and that was inspiration that attracted others and grew, even beyond his crucifixion.
So, as I went through Lent and Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday that goes from cheers to horror, and with the focus increasing on Jesus as sacrifice and Savior, I was increasingly uncomfortable. The debate over Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” fell during this season, with its focus on self-proclaimed Christians of various social beliefs arguing both for and against the law. I argued against it – called supporters “bigoted”, in fact – but it made me consider even more what I believe at this Easter season.
This Easter weekend, social media and church services blossomed with celebration that “Christ is Risen!” After I celebrated in church with my own alleluias, singing and stamping about Jesus “trampling death”, I realized I can clarify my position. Jesus is among us, with a caveat.

The Troparion - Jesus Lives

Christ is risen as long as we are doing our best to live out the love he showed and the lessons he shared. Love one another. Feed the hungry. Comfort the sick. Those lessons. WE are the body of Christ in the world when we are working to bring about justice for the poor, helpless, and downtrodden, when we are fighting bigotry, injustice and environmental waste and abuse. When we are stamping out homelessness, hunger and suffering. When we do these things, we are following in Jesus’ footsteps, working to bring about a social order based on love, not power. That’s when he’s truly risen.
I realize that my beliefs (and lack of) are contrary to the official doctrine of many Christian denominations, including my own Episcopal church. Luckily, my church community loves me anyway, and supports me in continuing to seek my own path to work for social justice.

This dovetails with some things I mentioned in my last post, and goes far deeper into the current TV scene. Despite having had her brain “melted” by the Outlander Wedding episode, Maureen Ryan recovers and writes an excellent piece.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/29/outlander-wedding_n_5896284.html

Vive la révolution!

I did some gardening for the first time since Phoebe’s been gone. Phoebe has been my gardening companion since I started gardening in this yard, keeping me company. She knew the word “garden”, and when I put on the gloves and picked up the garden bag to go out to the yard, she’d scamper ahead of me, find a toy and bring it for me to throw for her. We’d play some fetch until she settled down to rest, or explore the yard for smells, while I started my weeding or pruning. Then she’d bring toys to me sporadically, keeping me from staying put in one position for too long. On a hot day, she’d take breaks in the shade, and when she was still able to climb the stairs, might go inside to get a drink of water. 

Even when she was older, and couldn’t climb the stairs, she’d still alternate between napping in the sun or shade (weather depending), and exploring the yard, and checking on me. Sometimes she’d bring a frisbee or ball, sometimes just stand beside me.

For over a decade, gardening has been one of my retreats. It was a way to recharge my mental energy, whether pruning, weeding or planting. Phoebe was always there, too. Hoping as the time goes by, I’ll feel her presence with me again.

On Eureka near 22nd.

On Eureka near 22nd.

Yesterday, I remembered the wishing tree. I was thinking about whether to walk home from my appointment near 18th and and Eureka and it clicked – the wishing tree would be on my way home. That clinched it – I was walking. I wanted to see the tree again. Then I started to remember what I had wished for last year, and my spirits lifted.

Welcome to the wishing tree! Please make a wish and place it in the jar with a slot on its top. In the next days your wish will be on the tree. Words of gratitude are also welcomed. P.S. something happens when we all wish in one place.

I have been frazzled, with multiple projects going at work, trying to wrap up my teaching assistant responsibilities, finishing a project for a Christmas gift, and wanting to enjoy the season – the parties and the quiet joy of a walk at dusk when one can see decorations on the exterior, but also sometimes see into homes with parties and lit trees. Anyway, with all the have-tos, I’ve feeling squeezed on the fun and joy parts over the past couple of weeks. Thinking about the wishing tree is one of those quiet joy moments.

At dusk on my walk home.

At dusk on my walk home.

Although I discovered the wishing tree last year, it has been going on much longer, according to comments I saw on social media last year. It’s at the opposite edge of my neighborhood from my home. Anyway, as I climbed the hill, I was hoping it would be there again, and thinking about what I would write this year. I was also reconnecting to a nugget of joy from earlier in my day – a conversation about employee benefits I can expect to take effect come January.

To some of you, this might seem puzzling. It represents a milestone to me. I spent much of 2009-2012 looking for work. Even though I’ve been working full time (and more) for most of 2013, I was on contract. No benefits, and always knowing I needed to keep looking for work, even when there was no time to do so. Even with this job, which is formalizing the work I’ve been doing full time for the past 3 months or so, there are no guarantees. But roots are important to me, and being officially part of the team will feel good. It still hasn’t happened yet, officially, and I still hesitate to say it out loud, for fear of jinxing it. Four years of almost continuous job searching, whether for full time or consulting roles, takes a toll. For each one, I have to get excited about the possibility of the role in order to write a convincing cover letter, or do well in the interview. Then, if I am not selected, having convinced myself they’d be crazy not to hire me, the letdown is rough. I’d learned to try to gear up for the pitch, then detach from the role and assume it wouldn’t happen. That was necessary to keep looking for other things, too. This role is different. I’ve been doing the job for a while, so I can’t detach from it. My work requires me to assume I will be there next year, to deliver on the commitments I am making now. I am not built to promise what I can’t deliver.

So, back to the wishing tree. When I visited the tree, I was approaching the end of graduate school, with no income for a few months, and knowing that I really needed some solid work. So, my wish last year was for a full time job that sustains me – both spiritually and financially. As I walked over the hill yesterday, I was thinking that last years wish was almost true. The serendipity of talking about benefits that morning, when I would revisit the wishing tree that evening, put a smile on my face.

Written by all ages, wishes range from peace on earth to the latest toy.

As I approached the tree, others were leaving. I don’t know whether they had written their own wishes, or just paused to look. I read some of the wishes hanging from the tree: for peace, for a pony and some special toy, for something about middle school. Then, I looked at the jar – were there tags left? Yes. I picked a green marker and a tag, and wrote my wish. I put it in the slot in the jar, so that it will be laminated and hung from the tree with the others.

What did I write? I said thanks for the help making last years wish come true. As for the rest, I’ll check in next year.

May your heartfelt wishes come true for you.

P.S. The tree is located on Eureka near 22nd Street in San Francisco.

Fathers Day had me reflecting on Dad. He’s been dead since 1995 and was gone for some time before that, because of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As the years go by, it becomes easier to forget the bad moments and tough times, but also hard to remember some of the good times, as they get further back in time.

Dad with me and the new antique clock

Dad with me and the new antique clock

I took a digital picture of this snapshot of Dad holding me as a baby in front of a Civil War era clock he was proud of (although I’m not sure Mom thought they could afford it). I have this clock, which is not currently running, and a cuckoo clock, which I keep running, although it needs to be wound twice a day. Dad loved clocks, and I enjoy them in memory of him.

Other gifts and lessons I attribute to Dad:

  • A love of hiking and fond memories of family hikes at Indiana state parks
  • Enjoyment of Gilbert & Sullivan, Mozart and other melodic music
  • An insistence on correct pronunciation of my last name (pronounced kreeger, with 2nd vowel long as in German)
  • The importance of a good set of sharp desk scissors, and knowing where they are kept
  • A love of dessert – Dad always wanted some baked good, and the more choices, the better
  • Childhood stories being read to me and my brother, including Winnie the Pooh and folk tales in dialect
  • Knowing to stand for three songs: your school song, the National Anthem, and the Hallelujah Chorus
  • Rooting for you own team is good, but not rooting against the opponent
  • Knowing what a bed warmer is on sight, after all the stops at all the historical sights along the road
  • Independent soft ice cream places are the best, even though as a kid I pretty much only wanted chocolate/vanilla swirl
  • Minnows and tiny snails and snake grass at Coldwater Lake in Michigan, while we vacationed and Dad painted during his summer break
  • Appreciation for wood grain from Dad’s woodwork and hand-rubbed linseed oil finishes
  • Being frugal about energy and water use – Dad has solar panels on the house in the 70s, always made sure we didn’t leave the lights on, and always wanted us to take “Army” showers
  • Dad in the kitchen – making steamed puddings and bread, and making home made candy canes with me one year
  • Inspiring me to look for work that I enjoy doing, because he wasn’t happy with his choices along the way.

Although Dad would have been more likely to play Sir Joseph Porter than Captain Corcoran, here’s a slight alteration to Gilbert & Sullivan to close this out:

He was the captain of the Pinafore.

And a right good captain, too.

He was very, very good, and be it understood, he commanded a right good crew.

As evidenced by some of the lessons I still recall from my youth ….

Thanks, Dad!

After many months, I picked up my spider’s web lace shawl again. I finished the last 2 rounds yesterday. (I know now that they’re called rounds – not rows – when knitting in the round.) The final round had 1092 stitches.

Since I started it in 2010, I had managed to keep working on the project sporadically, and knit a couple of small projects in between. Nearing the end of the pattern, I knew I’d need help with the binding off, so I set it aside until I knew my knitting-expert friend could help me. He removed the belly-button start and showed me how to do the crochet bind-off called for in the pattern. It’s designed to make the ruffly, open edge. Turns out, it calls for 14 crochet stitches for every 2 stitches that get bound off.

Yep. To bind off the final 1092 stitches, I’m going to have to crochet 7,644 stitches.

I did find that knitting the pattern could be a meditation. In fact, when finishing the last pattern round, I found that a mantra of “all will be well, and all will be well, and all will be well, and all will be well if I put some effort into it” worked for the repeating series of knit 3, yarn-over, 3-stitch decrease, yarn-over pattern. (If you’ve never knit, just take my word for it.) Partial credit to Julian of Norwich.

See photos for the lacy, curvy edge, and a sense of what the whole thing looks like – remember, it’s a full circle. In the photos, I had bound off 39 stitches.

A bit more stretched out to show the shawl pattern.

A bit more stretched out to show the shawl pattern.

Detailed shot of the edge. For scale, the bright green tip is about 3/8" at the widest point.

Detailed shot of the edge. For scale, the bright green tip is about 3/8″ at the widest point.

Because the piece is still mostly on the round needles, it can't be spread out much, but this shows the edging effect nicely.

Because the piece is still mostly on the round needles, it can’t be spread out much, but this shows the edging effect nicely.

I am not finding that this bind-off lends itself to a mantra, so far. It takes too much concentration to keep the slippery silk fiber on the slippery crochet hook.

So.

I have 1053 stitches left to be bound off, and it seems to take me about 2 1/2 minutes to complete one 14-stitch set when I’m focused and working pretty smoothly. That’s 1,316 minutes or 21.9 hours of pretty focused work.

I would like to think I could do this during the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament games, but I know I won’t be able to if I want to actually watch the action. (Doing needlework like this while watching TV is good, because it forces me to look up and focus at a distance regularly, and reduces eyestrain.)

Unless I increase watching TV that I’m fine with mostly listening to, it may take me another 2.5 years to get this done. Stay tuned – but don’t hold your breath.

This passage from President Barack Obama’s speech illustrates the blend of individual and collective rights and responsibilities on which our nation was founded. I personally believe that We are more important than I am, but understand that I play a critical role in the success of We.

“As Americans, we believe we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights that no man or government can take away. We insist on personal responsibility, and we celebrate individual initiative. We’re not entitled to success. We have to earn it. We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk- takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity that the world’s ever known.

But we also believe in something called citizenship — citizenship, a word at the very heart of our founding, a word at the very essence of our democracy, the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations.

We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better.

We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family’s protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes — and so is the entire economy.

We believe the little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the next Steve Jobs or the scientist who cures cancer or the president of the United States — and it is in our power to give her that chance.

We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we certainly don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules.

We don’t think the government can solve all of our problems, but we don’t think the government is the source of all of our problems — any more than our welfare recipients or corporations or unions or immigrants or gays or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles — because America, we understand that this democracy is ours.

We, the people — recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only, what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together — through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s what we believe.”

You can find the text and audio of the entire speech here: http://www.npr.org/2012/09/06/160713941/transcript-president-obamas-convention-speech

This post is dedicated to my nephews, and their generation.

Michelle Obama delivered a speech last night that reminded me of why I am so passionate about the issues in this election, and of the values that I got from my parents and grandparents, and hope to pass on to the next generation.

We get there because of folks like my Dad…folks like Barack’s grandmother…men and women who said to themselves, “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will…maybe my grandchildren will.”

So many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love…because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.

So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelming – or even impossible – let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation…it’s who we are as Americans…it’s how this country was built.

And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us…if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button…then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids.

Mom, who started working while in high school, and put herself through Indiana University while working full time and maintaining scholarship-worthy grades. Her sister, my Aunt Barb, who spent her career working in a bank, and – like President Obama’s grandmother – saw the men she trained be promoted above her. My mom and dad, who were public school teachers, and put in long hours, both in the classroom and outside, but were committed to helping their students learn, as well as raising me and my brother, and ensuring both of us got good college educations.

I care deeply about future generations, and want them to benefit from opportunities as I did. I don’t have children, but I have three nephews, two now in college. Their grandmother and I are helping to pay for their educations, so that they won’t have debt when they graduate, as I did. Mom and I are holding open the door of opportunity that we went through, not letting it slam shut.

I also care about the world we are leaving to the next generation, and their children. How we have damaged – likely irrevocably – the environment, will be left for future generations to deal with the devastation that climate change is bringing to the US and the world. I am passionate about doing my part to bend the arc of history towards the social, economic and environmental justice needed for a sustainable future, so that I can take satisfaction that I’ve done my best for my nephews’ generation, and seven generations beyond. Michelle Obama continued:

And if so many brave men and women could wear our country’s uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights…then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights…surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.
If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire…if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores…if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote…if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time…if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.
Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country – the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.
That is what has made my story, and Barack’s story, [and Elizabeth’s and Stephen’s, Eric’s, Gavin’s and Garrett’s stories] and so many other American stories possible.

Michelle Obama’s speech served for me as a reminder of what hard work and commitment look like, how they shape us, and why we need to rededicate ourselves to our commitment for justice and future generations. I am rededicated to my work. I hope you are, too.