Monday, August 31, 2009

Beatrice Blogs: QG's Dachsie Day Care

Woof! Beatrice here with a report on QG's latest enterprise--dachsie day care.

Ever since Portia and DK moved into the neighborhood, I've been seeing a lot more of my sister Olivia. It seems that QG has opened a dachsie day care on me. Portia drops her off on her way to work and then picks her up on her way home.

This means my day is much more interesting. Here's our schedule:

Eight thirtyish--Olivia arrives. We have to lick each other, give the kiss of peace, and run around the house shoulder to shoulder.

Eight-fifty--Exhausted from our greetings, so its time for a morning nap.

Note that nap can be interrupted by people ringing the doorbell, coming and going, QG getting up from her desk, the phone ringing, or a noise outside. Then we must bark. Yes, we're light sleepers!

Noonish--Time for food! Our favorite is venison/rice/sweet potato dry food with a cottage cheese garnish. Nonfat cottage cheese of course because Olivia is...well it must be said...a bit chubby.

Afternoon--naps after lunch all around. Occasional forays outside if its not too hot for water, bird chasing, sunning and rolling in the grass.

Sixish--Portia returns for Olivia. Whew! It's been a hard day. But I like having company, especially when no one is home.

Evening--naps interrupted by evening walks with El Jefe and QG. Don't know what goes on with Olivia at Portia's. But there are some cats to chase there and I hope Olivia remembers whose side she is on.
Beatrice, her mark

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fun: Bad Vestments blog

With a hat tip to GA Junkie, Steve Salyards, let me introduce you to the Bad Vestments Blog ("because Christian worship is not supposed to be about you.")

The blog welcomes your contributions. Fortunately for my church, the pastors do not wear vestments. Just the occasional academic gown.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

VBS for Senior Citizens--A New Trend?

This week my friend Mary Marcotte ( who is also a certified DCE and Associate General Presbyter of Presbytery of New Covenant) told me about a very successful event at her church in Houston this summer: a Vacation Bible School for Seniors! No, I am not making this up.

I asked Mary to act as a special correspondent for QG and she graciously filed this report on the event:

Pines Presbyterian Church (about 600 members) held its first Life on the Senior Side VBS. For four mornings, folks over the age of 55 were invited to gather for "Vacation Bible School." Somewhere between 65 and 75 were present each day. The effort grew out of the request of some of the many older adults in the congregation who routinely volunteered at the traditional VBS and thought they could/should get in on the fun, too.

The format was simple - gathering for coffee and goodies at 9, singing a few of the golden oldie revival songs at 9:30, followed by a presentation lasting about 40 min. There was then another break (more coffee and goodies) and then particpants could choose workshops that lasted about an hour - discussion with the morning speaker, woodworking, crafts, table games, and writing letters to service men.The group then re-gathered for a VERY short closing and prayer. On Thursday the program ended with lunch.

There was a different speaker each day, touching on seniors in the Bible. Two days were led by older members of the church. The first day I did "Let's hear it for the girls!" (Sarah, Naomi, Elizabeth and Anna) and Rev. Doug Harper, HR, spoke on the older Paul.

Given the graying of the denomination (and of most mainline Protestant churches), Mary's church may be on the leading edge of a new trend! I always did love craft and snack time myself....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Diva is IN

I just got back from fetching our own Divine Diva Catherine from the airport and, after a bite of lunch, depositing her at Houston Grand Opera for her first rehearsal of the season. We're excited she's here!

Just like Portia and Babs always did after a long sojourn in Yankee Land, she has a hankerin' for some Mexican food tonight. What is it about Mexican food that says "I'm home!" to the displaced Texan?

Can't wait for those margaritas! I'm sure they are very good for the voice. Not to mention the salsa.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What Would Visitors Think?

Yesterday one of my fellow choir members asked me what a visitor would think about our church based on the way our chancel is arranged.

What a great question!

Most Presbyterian churches have a communion table (don't call it an altar!) with the symbols of communion on it in the center; a pulpit to one side and a lecturn on the other. A cross is usually front and center in some way.

Our church is having space and logistical issues between a growing traditional choir and music program at the late service and the popular contemporary music of an earlier service. Sharper conceptual minds than mine are noodling about solutions, but meanwhile there is no lecturn or pulpit (the pastors preach without notes and the scripture readings are projected on screens). The communion table is not in place unless it is communion Sunday. The pipe organ console and choir loft are in the center. A very large cross and abstract stained glass wall are behind the choir. To one side is a piano and to the other is a large set of drums, left over from the previous service because there is not enough time to move it safely out of the way.

My friend suggested a visitor would conclude from the arrangement that music was the center of worship. She's probably right.

What do you think your chancel suggests to a visitor about your church's emphasis in worship?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Fun: Return of Project Runway

Portia, Babs, Jane Long and I are fast fans of Project Runway and missed it while host and creator Heidi Klum was embroiled in legal disputes with the Bravo network over moving the show to Lifetime. Now the lawsuits are over and we were treated to not one, but three PR shows last night.

The first was a Project Runway Challenge of the All-Stars which pitted several contestants from previous seasons against each other. It was interesting to see how they had evolved their styles, but the show was clearly a warm-up for the new season.

The first episode has been in the can for quite a while awaiting resolution of the legal disputes. The show was also moved from New York to Los Angeles . I think the highlight of the show was when Tim Gunn talked a contestant out of an emotional melt-down, ending with his trademark admonition: Make it Work!

The loser refused to sketch her design and instead contemplated it standing on her head. Then presented an "ensemble" (and I use the word loosely) that in no way fit the challenge to create a dress suitable for a very formal "red carpet" appearance. That was too easy for the judges!

The third show is all about the models for PR. I have no time for that drama and didn't watch it but marveled that Lifetime wants to milk PR for this additional hour. Models are totally at the mercy of the designer they are assigned to -- if he/she loses, they lose. I can't see any reason to watch it, but if you disagree let me know.

Rock on Tim and Heidi! Other PR fans, let's discuss....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

MOB Redux Update: Tour De Dresses

We're about to start wedding gown shopping in Houston.

Portia bought her wedding gown in Austin because she was finishing law school and taking the bar exam there so she didn't need to travel to Houston for fittings. Babs, on the other hand, is here in Houston.

The girls' friends and my SIL and nieces tell us that there are two major shops for this purpose in town, so Babs called to set up an appointment with one of them. Not so fast! It seems that shop is going out of business the end of this month. BUT they are having a great sale on their sample sizes, which (God be praised!) she wears.

We had planned a shopping tour de dresses for Labor Day Weekend, but now we're going to check out the big sale this weekend can we not?

On the other hand, we are all really looking forward to the tour de dresses and Babs has appointments scheduled. So unless Babs is truly wowed Saturday, the tour will go forward.

We have engaged a florist and photographer because they get scheduled months and months in advance.

Other to-do items on the wedding check list are deciding on the cake vendor (the venue where we are doing the reception does food but not wedding cakes) and what kind of musical entertainment Babs and P-Dubya would like at the reception. DJ? Small ensemble? Dancing or not? The reception rooms can accomodate a DJ or 3 piece ensemble and a dance floor. Suggestions welcome.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Portia's House Beautiful Post and GG

Gannet Girl is one of my oldest blogging friends. We have much in common--as women of the same age and stage in life and as attorneys who left that profession to become more involved in the church: me as a Director of Christian Education and later Moderator of Presbytery and she as a teacher in a Jewish school and now as a seminary student preparing for ordination in the PCUSA.

She also follows my daughter Portia's blog, Odi et Amo (link on my sidebar). A recent post there, House Beautiful, which was a color personality quiz prompted GG to write some fascinating reflections about color, decor, spirituality and ministry this weekend.

Go here and here to read them. Thanks GG! I wish I had time to write a more thoughtful response here, but am due at Portia's this morning to help with more unpacking from her move.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fun: Web Pillow Designing

Leave it to Portia to keep finding fun but time sucking sites on the web.

Here's the latest: Design Your Own Pillow from

(Illustration shamelessly copied from Odi et Amo because I couldn't figure out how to do it myself. I'm sure Portia won't mind....)

You get to pick from a number of themes and then choose the colors for the design. If you really love your design you can order the pillow!

I designed several but couldn't figure out how to copy them for you. But Portia did, so go to Odi et Amo and you can see her designs.

Must walk away. Now.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ministry To Moms

PresbyBlogger Jan Edmiston wrote a thought-provoking post yesterday at A Church For Starving Artists: The Secret Needs of Moms. She said that "there is a huge market out there for someone to have a ministry of spiritual direction just for moms."

I sure could have used that back in the day when Portia and Babs were very young. Moms with young children often form peer support groups in churches but these usually focus on practical questions of parenting, working, and volunteering and not on the spiritual side of life with a young family.

Jan asks what that ministry might look like. One of her commenters responded by describing a back to school event that the older women in her church were hosting for the younger women in the congregation with children. The event centers around packing school kits for Lutheran World Relief, but the older women will be giving "survival kits" to the younger women as a thank-you and encouragement for them. The kits include tea bags; bath & body shower gel and hand sanitzer; a votive candle: and OF COURSE dark chocolate! As the commenter observed "they are reaching out... to say 'hey I've been there... let me help".

In what ways does your church reach out to mothers of young children to encourage, support and feed them spiritually?

(Cross-posted at Presbyterian Bloggers)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blogging in the Age of Facebook and Twitter

PresbyBlogger Carol Howard Merritt at Tribal Church posted a series of questions and answers on blogging in the church that came out of a webinar she led for the Albans Institute on the subject of Social Media Strategies. This is an excellent resource for pastors or others in the church who are considering beginning a blog and wondering how that differs from the church webpage or Facebook page.

The post got me thinking about whether or not blogging is--or will become--"so yesterday" in the fast-moving world of today's internet. I have noticed in the last six months or so a significant decline in comments on my blog and on other blogs that I follow. My blog traffic is slightly down, too, and other bloggers have made the same observation.

Since joining Facebook, I've noticed some fellow bloggers are writing much more frequently there than on their blogs. Some are also using Twitter instead of blogging or posting on Facebook. Facebook entries usually are more personal because the readers are a group of "friends" and not just anyone on the net. Twitter limits information that is shared but it is shared with anyone who wants to follow your tweets.

Each of these social media meet different needs for different people. I prefer blogging because it requires more thought and deliberation and encourages an exchange of ideas throught the comments. I've met some great friends online that I would never have met on Facebook or known to look up on Twitter.

How about you? Are you blogging less and Facebooking or Twittering more? Why or why not?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Beatrice Blogs: A Dog's Life at Dunclutha

WOOF! Beatrice here to tell you what I did on vacation. QG and El Jefe took me down to Dunclutha (their bay house at Port Alto) for a week. Don't I look RELAXED?

Oh, Olivia came, too, because DK and Portia were busy working and getting ready to move next Saturday.

Olivia and I got in lots of naps. In between naps we protected the place by barking fiercely and chasing after every big dog--labs, golden retrievers, and collies--that we saw. They all ran away from us! Well, until Sunday when a pair of labs chased us back. We do love us a ride in the golf cart. It helps us find those big dogs where they live and give them some what for.

QG and El Jefe are SO FUNNY when they try to chase us and stop us from running after them! It's our very favoritist game. That and chewing the weather stripping when QG and El Jefe left us inside to go to town for dinner. I don't know why they made frowny faces when they got back. Wasn't that what it is for?

Now we're back and Olivia went home. QG says she'll soon be living very close and can come play more often. Good! We'll find some big dogs in the neighborhood, I just know it.


Your friend, Beatrice

Monday, August 03, 2009

Presbytery Day of Service Report: MDPC

After I mentioned on QG the Presbytery of New Covenant's plans for a Day of Service in lieu of a regular presbytery meeting, I received an
email from a reporter for the Presbyterian Layman asking who he should contact to get more information on the event. I suggested he contact our General Presbyter and Moderator, and he wrote a very nice article posted on the Layman site here. I didn't realize they were following my blog, either!

So here's my report on my church's project which was called Operation Compassion. Church members spent Saturday at Spring Woods Middle School, which is a few miles from MDPC and serves an economically underprivileged area.

As we came in the school's monument sign greeted us.

We went inside to register and get our assignments.

There was already a lot of activity, plus donuts, kolaches and coffee. If you feed Presbyterians, they will come!

I was assigned to the teachers project room. Here we were given miles of laminated activity cards for math classes to cut out and clip together. I was told that since the school doesn't have many parent volunteers this was the first time the teachers had this kind of assistance. And they really went to town! Apparently they had been organizing and planning for this since last spring when they heard we were coming. I appropriated a paper cutter and got to work.

In another area of this large rooms a couple of moms and several preteen and teenage girls were putting together "goody bags" for the teachers. I spotted some nice metal thermos mugs going into the bags, which were carted away and will be a nice surprise for the teachers on their first day back to work later this month.

Here's El Jefe at his duty station: rolling lockers. That meant he was tasked with changing the combinations on the lockers. Unfortunately most of them were near the floor. "This is a good job for a short guy," he said. Which he is not. Later in the morning I found him scooting around on a rolling chair he had commandeered from someone's office.

The school had a nice courtyard that needed attention, so here's a photo of some of our gardeners. The smell of mulch filled the air--even inside the building! God bless them all for their efforts on one of the hottest days of the year.

As we left, I got this picture of church and community families eating lunch together, courtesy of Chik-Fil-A. One of the organizers told me that more people were expected for the afternoon shift than the morning shift that we worked. There was still gardening, painting, locker rolling and paper trimming to be done!

It was a great day for the church and the school and the presbytery. If your presbytery takes the challenge and schedules a day of service, let me know!