Gift Giving
Dec 27th, 2006 by Sonja

Yesterday I alluded to the fact that I have some fairly high standards for gift giving.  I’ve let them slide over the years.  Another thing that I’ve begun to do is give gifts that harmonize with my consistent ethic of life.  That is I try to find ways to give gifts that will be of benefit to others rather than just be trinkets that become an albatross about the recipients neck.

In recent years, the siblings and spouses of LightHusband have thrown money into a pot together and we give a goat through Heifer International.  We’ve given three goats thus far.   I can’t seem to rally my brothers and their spouses.  This is surprising as my family tends to be more socially conscious than LightHusband’s family.  Perhaps I have not been forthright enough when I’ve asked.  I have given gifts to each of them through Heifer before, then made small individual quilts depicting the animal they were (not) receiving.  This was the year we moved 10 days before Christmas.  Making small individual quilts and moving at the same time was heroic.  But they seemed unphased.

This year I decided to support a local artist and give them all gifts at the same time.  They were more appreciative and I was able to help a good friend.  She is my favorite artist at the moment.  If you click on this link, you’ll see a picture of her painting a mural in the front hall of my house.  I am fortunate enough to be the owner of this painting:

Tulips on Turquoise

I gave Brother2 a print of this painting (which is owned by the BrickDude and GoldenGirl)

Through The Trees

I gave a print of this painting to my parents, who were thrilled to have something by an artist that I know.  They love art with a story.  The LightDad said it would go on their eclectic wall … which is every wall in their house (as far as I can tell).


I love Becky’s work (who I refer to as Eldon in my blogroll because when she came to paint she came as a friend) because of the way she uses color and light.  Check out her gallery.  If you feel so inclined, I believe you can even order something from her.  Or just look at her wonderful use of color and admire it for a while.  It’s sure to make you smile.

Waiting …
Dec 26th, 2006 by Sonja


I think this is one of my favorite pictures from this season. It was a USAToday photo of the day on Saturday.

I love the looks on the faces of the children. The attitude of expectancy. But look at the man, he is looking for someone. The children are too, maybe. But the person they are looking for is more magical … almost as if s/he were Santa Claus. The man, however, he is looking for a real someone. I wonder who.

I want to approach God that way. With wonder. With expectancy. With the knowledge that He is here and now … and not yet, but coming soon. That I can light candles that will push back some darkness and allow Him some space in the here. And then, I look again at the photo and I see caution in their faces too. So, I’d like some apprehension as well.  It doesn’t do to approach the Throne of Grace as if it were a chair in a barbershop.

Yes, I’ll continue to gaze with these children in wonder and expectancy, with a little apprehension … waiting, watching, hoping for day the world will be redeemed.

A Bonus (and a Loss)
Dec 23rd, 2006 by Sonja

Senator Robert T. StaffordA sixth little known factoid about me is that I spent the summer between my junior and senior year in college working as an intern for one of the senators from Vermont here in Washington, DC.

I worked for three months in the office of U.S. Senator Robert T. Stafford, Republican.

Yes, you read that last word correctly. He was a Republican. He passed away today at the age of 93. God rest his weary soul. I knew him well enough to know that he would have had little to do with those who are in office today. He was a gentleman and from the old school of Republicans. That school of fiscal responsibility and conservation; that school that believes that even though people must be responsible they still need a little help from time to time.  I learned from him and those in his office about what the party used to be about; about the fine art of compromise, about how to keep your eye on both the little guy AND the nation in the same moment. It is possible. It is possible to walk a straight path in politics. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve worked with those who did it.

Senator Stafford gave of himself to the people of Vermont and this nation unstintingly.  We thank you and wish you God speed from here to the hereafter.

Festive Foods Friday Five
Dec 22nd, 2006 by Sonja

Well friends, we’ve covered advent, music, and movies/TV–but we here at F5 HQ would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that quintessential holiday topic… fooooooooood.

Christmas Food

1. Favorite cookie/candy/baked good without which, it’s just not Christmas.

That’s a toss-up … it’s either plum pudding for dessert at Christmas dinner, or candy cane bread for Christmas breakfast.  See below for the plum pudding.  The candy cane bread is a recipe from my mother-in-law.  It’s a sweet-ish bread dough made with sourcream that is rolled out into a rectangle.  One then slices 1″ strips at an angle into the long sides of the rectangle, leaving a 3″ wide swath uncut in the middle.  Into the middle you lay a mixture of chopped dried apricots and chopped maraschino cherries.  Next braid the half inch strips over the apricot/cherry mixture.  Shape the log into a candy cane.  Bake.  Warm up and serve for Christmas breakfast with scrambled eggs and bacon.  Yum!
2. Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?)

Not on Christmas Eve.  Sometimes on Christmas day.  This year we are having Christmas Day with friends in what has become a standing tradition.  We spend the day in our pajamas.  We relax and play with whatever new toys we wish.  We eat whatever foods we want … whether or not they are sanctioned “dinner” foods.  The meal is concocted out of whatever foods the gathered friends have all desired and/or brought.  It’s a real potluck.  You can even eat dessert first if you wish.  Even if you’re a kid.

3. Evaluate one or more of the holiday beverage trifecta: hot chocolate, wassail, egg nog.

What?! No mulled cider … what about cider?  Okay.  I’ll go for egg nog.  I don’t count hot chocolate that’s more of an all winter treat.  I love egg nog.  I’m becoming partial to organic egg nog.  Just a small glass a day.  Tonight I’m going to add rum.  Yum.

4. Candy canes: do you like all the new-fangled flavors or are you a peppermint purist?

New flavors?  There are new flavors?  When did this happen? 😉

5. Have you ever actually had figgy pudding? And is it really so good that people will refuse to leave until they are served it?

Not only have I had figgy pudding … I actually make it.  Well, I usually do.  I haven’t the past couple of years because I’ve managed to be sick at the wrong time of year.  I have my Welsh great, great grandmother’s plum pudding recipe that I make every fall right around Thanksgiving.  It’s quite delicious.  But it is an acquired taste.  It’s also lots of fun to light it with brandy. 😉
I don’t think it’s the taste that people are clamouring for in the song.  It’s that it’s quite rich.  In the days when the song was written, only the very wealthy could have afforded figgy pudding … so I have to wonder … it might have been a protest song of sorts.  Hmmm ….

Spelunking …
Dec 21st, 2006 by Sonja

… otherwise known as …


To the LightChildren.

Lawn Ornamentation

We are now the proud owners of three lit deer.

I need a bag.

Got Nuthin’
Dec 15th, 2006 by Sonja

I have nothing of interest in my head these days.  Merely the tsunami that is Christmas bearing down upon me.

I’ve been letting the non-sermonic exploration that I’m responsible for percolate.  I’ll deliver it on Sunday.  We’re celebrating Hannukah at Common Table.  It will also be the third Sunday of Advent.  We’ve chosen to explore eschatology for our Advent series this year.  So I have the unenviable task of wrapping up the Advent series, explaining Hannukah and just to make things interesting I threw in the Magnificat.  I like a little spice in my life.

I began Christmas shopping on Wednesday evening.  Most people are finishing up.  I’m just beginning.  I really, really want to get LightBoy Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots for Christmas.  I know that is completely at odds with my pacifist leanings.  But I loved those when I was young.  They are fun and funny.  They make you laugh til your stomach hurts.  LightGirl is increasingly difficult to shop for.  Any ideas for a young teenage girl will be gratefully accepted.

LightGirl is currently writing an essay on why the framers found the Bill of Rights necessary.  This is for history.  She is frustrated because she just wants to give me the “right answer,” and I won’t tell her what that is.  I just want her to think and give her good marks for learning and thinking.  Oh well, at least she’s learning about what each amendment is and why we have them.  We’re also having some good discussions around each of them.  It’s making for some more interesting conversations than we’ve had recently.

More hockey this weekend.  A Christmas tree.  Hannukah.  Lighting a menorah.  An office Christmas party that involves fondue.  Life will be interesting.  More as it happens …

Dec 5th, 2006 by Sonja

Nothing good ever comes of eavesdropping.  But sometimes one has no choice.

FlamingEwe and I were making decorations for our quilt guild holiday extravaganza.  In the other room our respective children were gathered.  Plotting their next game.  They were enthralled with role playing.  Said one BlazingLamb, “Queen Victoria was our mom.”  and the game proceeded from there.  Around the table they each spoke in turn, building their characters, piece by painstaking piece.  Then these fateful words were spoken,

“LightBoy, if your hair were red, your head would explode!”

and in the next room, two mothers very nearly did …… with laughter, of course.

I Have a Complaint
Dec 1st, 2006 by Sonja

I’m sick and tired of hearing about all of the lovely snow and winter weather they’re having out in the mid-West.

I had to turn the airconditioning on today because it’s so stuffy and humid and HOT.

It’s not supposed to be 75! degrees on December 1.

If you know to whom I should take my complaint, please properly direct me.

Servant Leadership Revisited
Nov 29th, 2006 by Sonja

A while back I went cow tipping with some friends.  We were having a grand time thinking about the sacred cows in the Church and then tipping them to see what they looked like from the bottom.  One of the cows I tipped was a Guernsey. If you click on the link, you’ll find some additional comments from my good friend, P3T3.

I’ve been doing some additional thinking about servant leadership since then.  I think that servant leaders are often unrecognized.  They are unknown even by those who are following them.  There is an element of nurturing in what they do, protection.  They are, in a certain sense, farmers.

The seed doesn’t know about the care and concern given it so that it may grow, but it tilts it’s flower towards the sun and thinks that that is where all the food is coming from.  However, if it weren’t for the farmer keeping the weeds at bay, the soil moist and healthy, and the scavengers and worms away, the plant would never survive or grow.  Or it might grown, but it’s chances would be much slimmer and the resulting plant less healthy.  Still the plant does not recognize the farmer, it only turns it’s face to the sun.

Voting Rights
Nov 28th, 2006 by Sonja

Here’s a bumper sticker I wish I would never see again:

“I Vote Pro-Life”

I see those all the time.  It’s so antagonistic and supercilious.  It’s symbolic of how polarized the political conversation has become in our country.  We have to be able to get beyond one sentence declarations of our platforms.

I was stuck in traffic behind one shortly after the most recent election.  I decided I would like to make my own version of that bumpersticker:

“I Vote Anti-Death”

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