Wednesday, May 30, 2007


You all have Caller I.D., right? So do I. For the last several days, I've seen a number pop up on my phone that is identified only as "Newspaper" with a "623" area code. Mostly, it rang when I was not home, and it never left a message. Sometimes, it called when I was home, but when the answering machine kicked in, it hung up.

I don't know what got into me this evening, but the phone rang, and the same identification popped up, but I answered the phone.

Telemarketer: "Hello, I'm calling from the News Tribune …"

Me: "Oh! You mean that insidious right-wing rag that pretends to publish the news in my little town?"

The telemarketer just flat lost it! He cracked up with laughter. At which point, I realized there was a real human being on the other end of the telephone line.

I informed him that I very intentionally let my local newspaper subscription lapse when George W. was appointed as President and would not be renewing it until and unless there is a "regime change" in the U.S.

There ensued a delightful, albeit brief, conversation between two human beings, in which he pretty quickly (and apologetically) said: "Look! I'm just trying to work off my student loans. OK?" And then he said how much he had appreciated my comment, and we connected like real people. He even apologized for having to be a shill for a right-wing rag. But he has student loans to pay off, and he wants to travel to the Caribbean to work on his tan. He made me laugh!

This doesn't often happen with telemarketing calls. But I sure am glad I picked up the phone on this one. A real person. Who was willing and able to depart from his script.

And I ended up wishing him well, and hoping he made enough money to get to the Caribbean.

What a hoot!

Monday, May 28, 2007


"Out of the mouths of babes." So goes the familiar saying. Suggesting that the youngest among us sometimes grasp and articulate that which is most deep and complex … in delightfully simple ways.

Some of you may remember this post, where I was so stuck by a young girl's delight at the communion rail.

Her parents (and maybe our parish priest?) must be doing some marvelous things with this very young girl, who's probably about 4 years old.

Yesterday, I again had the opportunity to serve as Eucharistic Minister [a.k.a. Chalice Bearer]. The priest was ahead of me, pressing the communion wafers into the hands of all the faithful. So I was up close when this girl child received the Body of Christ and immediately turned to her just slightly older brother, holding up the host and saying to him in a most happy declaration, "This is Jesus! This is Jesus!"

As I approached, she dipped the host into the wine most carefully, then consumed it with a very big smile. I can just barely glimpse into the faith of this little girl.

Sometimes we "ministers" are more ministered-to than we minister-to. This was one of those moments.

I think of all my ponderings during a typical Eucharistic service. I think of all the wranglings about "table fellowship" in some sectors of the Episcopal Church. And the most powerful image for me is this little girl, happily accepting the host, knowing and declaring "This is Jesus!" and believing it nourishes her.


I certainly am not a blogger of the School of Laodicea. They were neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. I most certainly do run hot and cold. Or perhaps, given the recent situation in this region, a more apt contrast would be floodstage and desert.

Too much has been happening here, but it's stuff that I just cannot blog about because it involves real people in my very real life. It's a blogger's problem that Grandmère Mimi recently described as the "inner censor," and mine has been working overtime. The things most consuming my attention in my work, church, and personal life are all things I cannot blog, because it would violate other people's privacy. For various reasons, I don't have the option of anonymity here, and sometimes I regret that.

However, things have been busy enough over at The Episcopal Majority that my Blogger skills haven't grown too rusty.

So . . . for those of you who still check in from time to time, I can merely offer this delightful Dave Walker cartoon . . . while I wait and hope for something to strike me as blog-able.

Monday, May 14, 2007

We're O.K.

I'm sorry to leave you with that cliffhanger, as it seemed the flooding was imminent. I am o.k. Things are pretty much where they were on Friday. The river rose a couple meters more on Saturday, but that's where it has remained. Levees breaking and being overtopped up-river have meant that the situation here has not gotten worse. But the waters aren't receding, either. We pray that there won't be more rains upstream.

At this point, the worst we're suffering is a few parking lots being flooded. No biggie! It looks like we have dodged a major bullet.

I'm very grateful for your good wishes.

I was mostly offline this weekend because a good friend is going through some miserable stuff, and that's where I needed to be. I'm sorry I wasn't better about posting updates here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The River

As all this news circles-about regarding the floodwaters here in central Missouri, I am at something of a disadvantage. Logistically, at least. For I don't have television. I own 3 televisions (one in the living room, one in my bedroom, and one in the kitchen). But due to a fight with the local cable provider several months back, I don't have cable. [I decided I could spend that $50/month in better ways.] And there are no television stations here that are strong enough to receive without cable. So I haven't seen television in several months, and you folks are surely seeing TV images that I have not and will not.

But I did manage to nab a digital camera today, since I promised some photos. So here they are, with my all-too-verbose verbiage.

We consider this the back of my office building, but in fact it faces north – toward the Missouri River. This is the loading dock – where I often saunter out during breaktimes for some fresh air. When I'm standing there, I gaze north toward the Missouri River. Here's how it looked today. But here's what you cannot know. From this vantage point, in normal times, I can barely see the river. The channel is so deep that the river is generally below my line of sight.

Standing at our loading dock, I look a little to the left and see this structure. In the foreground, this is where the bridge across the river used to be (at least thru the 1960s) -- beginning between those two tall pilings and stretching across the river. Last year, the Rotary Club landscaped it and turned it into a park. But nobody ever went there much. In the background you can see the current bridge across the Missouri. (And, yes, you may detect the railroad tracks at the foot of this incline. We get about a gazillion trains per day moving across here. It's rather marvelous to see that much freight and cargo moving toward our friends on the east coast.)

But this week, it feels like the entire city is going up to this new park. Somebody must have let the word out that this is perhaps the best vantage point in the whole city for seeing what the river is doing. There is now a steady stream of folks going up there. When I went up there today, I became aware that it's not just the usual citizens who are finding this perch; schoolteachers are bringing their children up there.

Here's the view looking upriver. I'm amazed that it looks so peaceful and ordinary. That's sure not how it feels. Of course, what you can't perceive is that the river "should" be about 20 feet lower than it is.

For instance, this little willow (in the center of the image) on the near bank was a tall tree rising from the riverbank. Now, it just barely has its top above water.

The gauge on the pier today shows the river is about 58 meters below the bridge deck. At this time yesterday, the river was 2 meters lower. Across the river beyond the pier, you may discern a concrete barricade. Yesterday, there was a long boat-launch there; today they've closed it off, because it's mostly disappeared. I am told that it's also because the area on the other side of the boatlaunch is now flooded.

Then I moved a block away from the river. There's a pitiful little creek that usually is barely sufficient for frogs to live in. It's usually dry … or maybe a couple feet deep. Its channel flows between the trees here. As you can see (on the right), it's more than its usual two feet deep. And this is all the flooding to the left (north) of what should be a pitiful, lazy creek.

There was a delightful lagniappe in my sojourns. Apparently these muskrats are not at all flustered by the flooding. I had to wait a while, but I finally got a good shot of the baby muskrat along the swollen bank and finally Mama Muskrat decided to check out the environs.

There's an ironic news report this evening. It appears that some levees upstream have given-way. If so, that will relieve some of the flooding downstream here. So now they're predicting that the flooding which will reach its crest this weekend will not be as high as initially predicted.

I'll try to grab a digital camera tomorrow to take some more photos, if these are helpful.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Yep! My town and this whole part of Missouri is battening-down the hatches for floods. I just did a Google news-search and am amazed how often my little town is mentioned nationally. We are indeed here on the banks of the mighty (and, now, raging) Missouri River. My office is literally a softball's throw from the river ... and the river is growing closer every hour as I step out there and look.

For those of you worried about me personally, let me assure you: This is a hilly town, and my home is very high up. I am not going to have to think about moving the cats or my belongings. The same is not true of some of my friends and co-workers. Many of them are already evacuating.

I'll try to get a digi-cam tomorrow and post some photos. It's an amazing thing to see.

And I'll confess I'm of two minds about this. Yes, I am sorry that people are having to move out of low-lying areas. But the Missouri River was here centuries before we were. It used to run slow and wide. Then the Corps of Engineers "channelized" it. If we had let the river run in its natural channel, this would not be happening.

Akinola Exclusive

If you follow this blog, you may note I have taken the satirical "exclusive Akinola interview" offline. I did this for a couple of reasons.

Partly for editorial reasons. I had not written it. I liked it, and the author doesn't have an online site, so I decided to post it on my site. But then a couple of my friends and regular readers told me in no uncertain terms that they do not visit my blog to read other people's writings. After nearly two days consideration, I realized they were correct. Many other websites are out there to publish other people's writings. Mine has not been one, and I don't want to make it that. (Besides, it was way longer than the stuff I usually publish.)

And partly because I came back to the determination I have articulated before: that I really want to keep my baptismal vows, no matter how much the "other side" ticks me off. Some friends observed gently -- and some foes observed angrily -- that the faux Akinola interview did not comport with my stated goal. They were right.

I'm grateful to both the friends and the foes who chided me for that posting. It's gone now.

As Elizabeth has taught me to say: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima nissan stanza.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Alas and alack! MadPriest has gone on a two-week sabbatical retreat. With an Ignatian silence falling at Of Course I Could Be Wrong..., the faithful have been at a loss as to where to commune. One denizen of the MadPriest WorldWide Communion was "worried I would have to spend two weeks sitting in a darkened room...." But now there is a balm in blog-land, with the debut today of Of Course I Could Be on Vacation.... Check it out.

Thanks, Dennis ... and all you others who will be pitching-in!

Monday, May 07, 2007

News from the Feeder

Some of you know that I have been a serious birder. (Neverending thanks to you, Carol.) These days, I spend more time in the Anglican blogosphere than on bird-watching hikes. But I still maintain my humble birdfeeders, and occasionally exult when I see a bald eagle cruising lazily down the Missouri River. I can still recognize some birds from their song, even when I can't see the singer.

For years, I have wished that I could lure a rose-breasted grosbeak to my feeder. When I started subscribing to Barbara Crafton's Geranium Farm, and learned of her yearning to host a hummingbird in her garden, I could relate. And I rejoiced with her two summers ago when "Ethel Merman" took up residence there.

A few days ago, I changed the feed in my tube feeder. For years, I've provided a steady diet of black-oil sunflower seeds. I get a steady stream of customers – mostly chickadees, purple finches, and woodpeckers (mostly downy, and the occasional red-bellied). I found a nice bag that has lots of fruits and nuts, so I mixed that in with the sunflower. Saturday I walked out to the sunporch, looked to the feeder, and there was a rose-breasted grosbeak! I stood transfixed for the longest time. He stayed at least 5 minutes, munching happily, then took wing when a dastardly squirrel approached.

I keep going back out there and peeking … hoping he'll return. Perhaps he returns during the day while I'm at work. Or perhaps he comes while I'm working away at the computer. I was struck by Barbara Crafton's Almost Daily eMo today, where she shares "What I Learned from Longing." As usual, she takes a simple event and reminds me of the deeper layers beneath it.

I know this deeper longing about which she wrote today. I bet you will, too.

She reminds me to give thanks for the gifts I have been given.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Brother Causticus Again

Brother Causticus is at it again. He has again taken up "an eBay bidding ministry in pursuit of the greater Anglican good." Check it out. And hurry. Those killjoys at eBay probably will intervene. Bid early and bid often.

Y'know ... sometimes Brother Causticus' selfless devotion to the Anglican Communion embarrasses me.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Apparently, the Missouri legislature doesn't think we have enough state symbols. We already have about a gazillion: the state seal, the state flag, the state bird, the state song, the state tree, the state rock, the state mineral, the state fossil, the state fish and the state aquatic animal, even the state dinosaur ... and on and on. See them all here.

One day this week as I was listening to the local news segment during PBS's Morning Edition, I learned our legislature -- never hesitant to tackle the tough issues of the day -- has voted to designate a new official symbol for our state: the "state invertebrate." "Oh, my God!" I said inwardly. "They've pegged the Archbishop of Canterbury as a Missouri symbol!" But no. The Missouri legislature has chosen the crawdad (although they're calling it a crayfish) as the Official State Invertebrate. I was certain ++Rowan had been robbed of his due honor. So imagine my surprise when I learned today that Archbishop Williams has written to Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola asking him to cancel his plans to visit the United States and install Martyn Minns as head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). So now I take back. ++Rowan does have at least one vertebra. So he wouldn't have qualified for the Official Invertebrate anyway.