Friday, December 21, 2007

Let the Son rise on Christmas

I've been preaching on the Psalms during Advent this year. On Sunday I'll preach on Psalm 80, but not in the traditional fashion. Psalm 80 is a peom of lament, but also calls, as a prayer, on the Lord to "Restore us, O Lord God of hosts, let your face shine, that we may be saved." As I struggled with how to preach this poem, I found myself faced with the rising sun. So I have decided to follow the lead of the psalmist, preaching in poetry this Sunday. My sermon is as follows, and carries the title, "Let the Son rise again on Christmas."

When gifts grow expensive and money grows tight
In a world growing hard to afford,
And more than a bandage of lead-painted toys
We wish for a hope shining bright

Remember the life that was given for free:
A baby born eons ago.
His wealth we inherit and kingdom we own
By faith we gain eternity.

Let the Son rise again on Christmas!

As years of success become lost days of old
When main street with dreams was aglow
When milking brought profits and work better pay
Yet now children flee from the cold

Remember the glory that does not depend
On anything built with our hands
And trust in the one who comes down from above
To bring ev’ry woe to an end.

Let the Son rise again on Christmas!

When souls weep with sorrows no doctor can hear
And limbs cry with voices of pain
As bills stack up higher than letters and cards
And hope seems a debtor to fear

Remember our master whose touch cures the ills
Of everyone who would draw near:
Lord Jesus our saviour, physician, and friend,
All cups of desire he fills.

Let the Son rise again on Christmas!

When mem’ries fade slowly in sepia tones
And bright crowns of youth turn to grey
When dreams of the rest at the end of this race
Preserve us from dining alone

Remember the one who flung grace open wide
Who carries our burdens above
Who giggled first under the starry night skies
To show us that he’s on our side

Let the Son rise again on Christmas!

No magic elixir can keep at the door
The sufferings and sin of this world
But promise and miracle call in the voice
Of Jesus our lives to restore.

This infant so lowly, this swaddled young boy
Who later rose king from the grave
Revealed that God loves us and all through this life
We walk with the master of joy

Let the Son rise again on Christmas!
Let the Son rise again this Christmas!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

In this time of year when spending gets scrutinized and prioritized and we’re rushing around to parties and engagements take a moment to find the little blessings in your day. On Tuesday, mine showed up something like this…

I was running errands in Binghamton, hadn’t checked the weather (duh!) and was out in pouring rain and 34 degree weather running errands to get ready for this weekend’s activities.

I was planning on making home-made hummus for a party on Sunday and had all the necessary ingredients, but over Thanksgiving we had added sun-dried tomato pesto to the basic garlic hummus and it was fabulous and I was craving an encore performance of this special treat.

I headed through the rain and puddles into Wegman’s with my list –checking it twice. Somehow the pesto sauce hadn’t made it on the list- it wasn’t really necessary. It’s very easy to be naughty in Wegman’s and leave with many, many things that aren’t on the list! I walk through the produce section and spot the sun-dried tomato pesto sauce: itty-bitty-jar- $4.69. I my craving and my pocketbook weren’t on the same page. So I walked past it. Then I walk a little farther and see package sun dried tomatoes – those might work. 3 oz bag, $3.69. Mmmm, I don’t really need the sun-dried tomatoes. So I keep on walking. Past the refrigerator pasta and I stop to do a double take. Usually this section is full of expensive pasta and usually I don’t give it a glance. But today there was a $0.99 sign flagged in two places in the case. I stop and look again. And again! Sure enough, all the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto sauce was on sale for $0.99.

I happily walk out of Wegman’s with only one thing that wasn’t on the list and while balancing my shopping bags, purse and umbrella walk outside to find that the rain had stopped.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's Never Too Cold . . .

. . . as long as it's not snowing.

Yesterday I had two brave helpers, Jordan and Sean, come over and help me with my treehouse. The temperature was a crisp 27 degrees (yes, that's Fahrenheit), which according to "felt like 16." But we got up there and got to work. The supports for the roof of Phase I are done; and we started putting on the first set of slats for a lattice under the railing (so younguns and olduns don't fall off). I think I screwed up the design for the lattice, but it helped to get a few pieces on and see how it's going to play out. We can always redo it later.

Good times. Here are a few pics.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

No Sex for You!

As a Christian I believe, along with the majority of Christians across time, that the primary witness to the historical activity of God in the world comes through the scriptures, known as the Bible and the Old and New Testaments. As a preacher, this means that when I preach I do so from the starting point of passages from scripture. What is said in the scripture reading for a given Sunday is where I begin my discernment of what the Holy Spirit calls me to preach in my sermon. The funny thing is, the scriptures speak of all sorts of things.

Including sex.

We have many Separations Of Church And in our present world. We have the tirelessly cited Separation Of Church And State. We have the less widely publicized Separation Of Church and Politics. There is the comforting Separation Of Church And Money; and the insidious Separation Of Church And The Other Six Days Of The Week. My new favourite, after this morning, is the Separation Of Church And Sex.

I preached from a scripture passage that addressed sex. So the sermon was about sex. I spoke to all the parents of young children the week before, informing them that, at their discretion, they might elect to have their young children step out of the sanctuary during the sermon. I wanted to make sure I did not brooch a topic with their younger children that they preferred to postpone until later. I even had a gracious member of the congregation offer to tend these young ones until the sermon was over.

So right after the scripture reading and before I began the sermon proper, I made the announcement for dismissal of young children. Several left; one tried to leave but was asked to stay by a parental unit. So far so good.

Now, I've never preached on sex or sexuality so directly as this morning. And any time I brooch one of the Separation of Church And topics, I assume there's going to be some resistance in the human heart, and maybe some comments suggesting a little more modest presentation. But I wasn't quite prepared for what happened about a minute into the sermon.

Presbyterians don't move during a sermon--our western European congregational culture generally doesn't allow it. (Laughter can be OK; I think guffawing is off-limits, though.) So my eyes quickly found the movement when an older elementary-age child made his way out of the pew and towards the door. Now, you ought to know that the door from the sanctuary to the Parish Hall--where food is served, coffee is drunk, and young children are corralled during racy sermons--is at the front of the sanctuary. So this young lad had to walk right through the view of the congregation as he departed.

I had said the word "sex" or "sexuality" probably five times by now. That was enough for this one: as he left the pew and headed for the door, he had his fingers in his ears. No lie: his elbows were high, his fingers straight, plugging up those delicate receptors from any mention of the bad word I was uttering. (What I could see that the congregation couldn't was that his face was screwed up like I had made him suck a lemon!) The sight struck us all as funny, and frankly, when the sermon's going to be about sex it's not a bad thing to crack the anxiety with a little laughter. So we stopped and giggled for a little bit, then got back to business.

But this young man wasn't having any of this business. He was determined to keep his ears pure of this preacher's scandalous words. And so he did.

I can't complain; I can recite with laughter (instead of tears) the first time someone walked out because of my sermon.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Unexpected Power

Yesterday I flew from Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) to Manchester, NH. My conference in D.C. had ended and it was time to rejoin Sara in New England. But before I boarded the plane I had to fulfill the promise I made her: I have to call her from the airport before we take off.

I sally up to one of two pay phones next to gate B25 in BWI. I begin to punch in the phone number of our calling card and realize that the keypad is not working properly. By the time I press the keys hard enough to register, the little woman inside the payphone has given up on me and flips me off with her three-tone discordant beeps. "Your call cannot be completed as dialed." At first I think it's my fault. Had I entered the numbers improperly? What about the "1"? I can't tell anymore whether I need to punch in "1" before the "800," or if this is one of the counties where the unitarian prefix has been excommunicated. So I try again. Once again I get the three-tone wave from the witch in the box. (She really doesn't sound sorry that my call can't be completed. They need to get some voice-acting lessons for these things.) While I struggle with the keys, I notice two things. First, there's an 800-number to call for "Repairs" under the handset. Second, there's another phone right next to me; the more times I hear the shrill triple-tone, the shinier and more appealing the other phone gets.

I step over to the other phone, whose keypad works like a new Jaguar, and talk with Sara. I hang up the phone and my gaze falls to that 800-number marked "Repairs." I've got 45 minutes before my flight and I've been reading A.J. Jacobs' book, "The Year of Living Biblically," so I'm feeling morally inspired. I dial the number.

The automated system, with a voice as smooth and silky as HAL from 2001 but more seductive and less creepy, asks me why I'm calling. She gives me several choices, to which I respond verbally. She seems to understand. Slick. Here's a phone I can get along with. (Of course, slick and sexy is what I expect from a company whose name has a "V" and a "Z" in it.) I enter the phone number of the unit next to me.

"I've pulled up the records for this account," says EXI (HAL's cuter cousin), "and determined that you'll need the help of a customer service agent." I am struck by an inexplicable sadness; but there's no time to mourn. Maybe I'll call EXI another time. Two rings later, my customer service agent picks up.

"Thank you for calling V*****n. May I have your name?"

"Uh, yeah. Emrys: E, M, R, Y, S." Why did she need my name?

"Thank you. Now is this inquiry regarding phone number 410-805-9560?"

I look over at the plate under the handset holder. "Yes."

"How can I help you today, Mr. Esumrus?" Once again, good etiquette whose intentions have gone sour. I cringe as my name is butchered.

"I just tried to use the phone, and the keypad was not working properly."

"Hm. I'm looking at the records here, and there was just a service call to check that phone yesterday. We sent out a technician--was the phone serviced yesterday?"

I clearly needed to be more specific about the situation. "I don't know. This is a pay phone at the airport, so I can't say whether it was serviced yesterday."

"Well, the handset should have been fixed yesterday."

And even more specific. "Well, the handset worked fine for me. The keypad is the problem."

"Oh, the keypad." I hear typing at the other end. "And Mr. Ermphphns"--Mr. Bell clearly didn't anticipate Welsh names crossing the wires--"is the account in your name?"

The communication gap widens. I feel like Indiana Jones trying to make it out of the temple before the earthquake swallows him. "No. Actually, I'm in Baltimore Washington Airport, at a pay phone. I just tried to use the one next to me and it didn't work. That's why I'm calling."

"OK. You're at the airport. Can you tell me where you are?"

Did she do that intentionally? Is she yanking my chain? I look around for clandestine recording devices or a crew with Candid Camera hats on. I feel like I ought to be whispering into the phone. "I'm next to gate B25."

More typing. "Alright, Mr. Esumrus, I'm looking at sending a technician out tomorrow between 9 am and 8 pm. Would that be all right?"

I think we missed something here. Maybe where my agent is, they don't have airports. Or maybe individuals own their own airports and the phones therein. Strange--she doesn't have an accent like most customer service agents do.

And I'm holding unexpected power; I feel like Frodo in Mount Doom. The repair of this poor BWI payphone hangs by a single thread, dangled over the pit of oblivion, victim to the whim of a passer-by. I giggle with the sudden urge to tell her that I want it repaired only between 6 and 7 am on Sunday. The thought of a technician trying to get here with his gear before security is open tickles me. I look around again for cameras. "Um, I just stopped to use the pay phone. Anytime you come by will be fine with me." Thanks, A.J.

"All right, Mr. Emuphras, we're going to send a technician out tomorrow between 9 am and 8 pm to fix the keypad of that phone."

"Thank you, that will be perfect."

"Thank you for calling V*****n. Have a good day."

"No, thank you. You just made my day that much funnier." All right, I didn't say that. But I was thinking it. I'm glad pay phones have not totally succumbed to cell phones. They're still good for something.

~ emrys

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sprinkling, Dunking, and an Italian Accent

I enjoy being part of a Christian community that allows me to exercise my gifts of imagination and creativity. During the past two worship services, I got the chance to do just that.

Two Sundays ago we had two baptisms. One of them was a young lady who chose the usual Presbyterian method of baptism: sprinkling water on the head and calling it good. The other baptisand was a young lad who elected to be baptized by immersion. Now I know the Presbyterians among you are thinking, "What? Baptize by immersion? Is that allowed? Is that scriptural?" I assure you that it is both. Although Presbyterian culture very rarely performs baptism by immersion (and, in fact, frowns upon it in some circles, for some unknown reason), it is allowed in the constitution of the PC(USA). But what do you do when your sanctuary doesn't have a bapistry (tank full of water) and it's the twenty-first of October (too cold for the river)?

In this neck of the woods, you get a horse trough. Then you fill it up with water from a hose--brrrr--and throw in a couple pots of boiling water. And voila! You have a baptistry that will accommodate a twelve-year old without giving him pneumonia.

I think I had as much fun as anybody with this baptism, because I got to bring the kids up for the Time for Children and we put our hands in the water. There's something sensual about baptism, about being surrounded by water, about the sound of water dripping and splashing and running. It brings the bodily-ness back into the sacrament, a sacrament which celebrates the very corporeal nature of our faith.

And there's something fitting about getting baptized into death with Jesus Christ and having that cold shock of water all around you. You come up gasping for air, returning to vibrant, alert life. It's perfect.

This past Sunday was Reformation Sunday, when the PC(USA) celebrates those in the history of the Church who have called the Church to be re-formed and remain faithful to her calling. I chose Augustin of Hippo as our person of focus. I wore my alb, shaved my face (as Augustin would likely have done), and--to have some fun with the kids and accentuate the foreign character of this figure from history--put on an Italian accent for the service and the sermon.

I know, I know--it's unlikely that Augustin spoke with what we would now call an Italian accent. But given that he spoke Latin (a dead language) and lived 1600 years ago, that was my best guess. What I told the kids, as I switched from my own accent to Italian, was that Augustin spent time in Italy and spoke a language whose ancient pronunciation is now lost (as far as I know). So it made sense to me that an Italian accent would be fitting.

People liked it! I think they'd get annoyed if I spoke that way every Sunday (or they'd be distracted by visions of Father Guido Sarducci from Saturday Night Live). But for a one-off in the interest of a foreign flavour, I think it was good. And fun for me!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oh Yeah!

And along with everything else in the last couple of weeks - I got my clean 2-year PET Scan... NO CANCER!! Happy dance & praise God!

Life Speeds Along

Since the last time this website was updated (yeah, we're slackers!) Dad's been out for a visit, I've had 3 very good craft fairs, we took two small roadtrips (to Allentown & Ithaca), emptied the gardens for winter and got new carpet in our living room.

While the successful craft fairs were great, it's the carpet that I'm most excited about right now. It is with great rejoicing that we took the old carpet to the trash! The old carpet was thin and glued directly to the slab foundation. There was no insulation and no cusion. I'm a floor person. Generally, I'd rather sit on the floor than on furniture and until today, none of the floors in our house accommodated that comfortably! Our old carpet sat lower than the tile in our kitchen, our new carpet with super-cusion carpet pad beneath it sits well above the tile in the kitchen - it's a beautiful thing.

Yesterday we took a little leaf-peeping drive up to Sidney to accommodate Emrys fascination and minor addiction to McDonald's Monolopy pieces. He turns into Little Kid Emrys at the thought of McDonalds and stands there to decide what he can order that will get him the most pieces! Very cute!

Here's some pictures of our latest fun. No pictures from much of the rest of the month as we've killed yet another camera and just got the replacement! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Signs of Autumn

Here's my pumpkin with her first pumpkin: a beautiful specimen, fully orange with no blemishes. Just like Sara, minus the orange part.

~ emrys

Saturday, September 08, 2007

New Mountains...

Ok, better put, new to us mountains. We both kind of forgot how much we enjoyed mountains since they're no a part of our daily life anymore and we've grown accustomed to the rolling hills of New York. We know the Colorado section of the Rockies fairly well but this was our first adventure in Washington State. We had a great time with friends and enjoying nature, hiking, camping, backpacking, not-so-roughing-it cabin camping and time with friends. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, for now anyway.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Publishing Woes

Grrrrr, Adobe!

It started because a saint did her job: when she read my book, she pointed out where I had made a serious error in my book. (A character addressed another when that other should not have been present. Can any of you who have read my book tell me where that was?) Therefore, as a conscientious author--with the magic of at his fingertips--I began the process of editing the manuscript [sic] in order to upload it and correct all future printings.

Enter Adobe, the program for which I have paid but which has yet to give me a clean take-off on the finalizing of any document. There always seems to be a conversion problem, a problem "embedding fonts," or some such difficulty that I can't decipher.

Praise the Lord, Sara has Adobe on her machine, and it behaves just fine for her. Enter jump drive, to transfer raw files to Sara's machine, convert to .pdf, then jump back to my machine to upload. What a hassle!

After an hour and half, though, the egregious error has been wiped from all future printings of my book. (Maybe the erroneous ones will now be worth more after I'm dead. Picasso, here I come! Ha, ha!) Thanks, Barb, for your keen reading and gall to tell me my error. I appreciate it--and so will all my future readers.

By the bye: if you haven't looked already, check out www(dot)lulu(dot)com, and search my name. The price of both paperback and hardcover of "As in a Mirror" just went down! And if you read, will read, or have read it, please leave your review on lulu's website. I'd appreciate it!


Friday, August 17, 2007

You Can't Do That On Television

I know you've always wondered about it. Don't worry, you don't have to admit it out loud--I'm going to do it for you. What happens when you squeeze a bicycle inner tube that's filled with liquid patch?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Gonna Move Into the Country--

--gonna eat a lot of peaches . . .
. . . and basil right from the garden.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Runners Below the Deck

With the irreplacable help of an intrepid young member of my congregation (who has more experience than I do in building treehouses, and is present in the second photo), I've got runners up for the first deck.

After putting up the four runners parallel to the upper joists, we found that there's too much give at the ends of the outermost runners. We're going to have to do something about that. However, I am determined not to drop vertical posts to the ground--this is a treehouse, after all, not a deck with a tree growing through it. So I'll have to get creative. But that project is for another day, when work does not beckon so loudly.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Life and Growth

We've just returned from a couple of weeks away. Summer swings full, replete with growth and greenery; some of it we want, some we do not. The weeds have grown tall, including the first thistle I've seen around our house (grrrr). But our garden grows as well. We came back to a squash patch that is overflowing with vines, flowers, and even a few fruit growing under the spreading canopy of spiny leaves. The bees are buzzing around them and in them, assuring that we'll have lots of squash and pumpkins in the future.

I've heard that if you don't want to wait for the fruit, the flowers can be dipped in beer batter and fried up for tasty nibblins.

While the garden is growing, in the small moments I have to do completely selfish work, I'm working on a tree house. The first two joists are finished, and they pass the hang test: I can hang on the ends with my full weight (I can even bob up and down) without collapsing them. I'll put two cross-joists on (the first one is visible in this picture), and then I can begin to put up runners for the first deck.
I've got big dreams for this treehouse, but I'm starting small. (I've been informed by Sara that this is not a "kids' treehouse," since the first level is about 9 feet off the ground.) There is no shortage of trees, though, so I've got lots of room to expand. More pics as construction progresses.


Friday, June 29, 2007

The New Back Patio

Here it is: a couple of months' worth of work, finally giving us a back patio. (It's actually Phase I of several years' work.) Thanks to Jay, Sharon, Jordan, and Dave for their help in making this happen.
[Hold your mouse pointer over the pictures for captions.]
~ emrys

In the Tall Grass

Strawberry farmers plant in rows. The plants grow in lines separated by about twelve inches of space through which you walk when you go to pick the sweet and succulent dilectibles. This late in June, however, most of the obvious strawberries have gone away to the kitchens and stomachs of earlier pickers. But there are more to be found . . .

Not much weeding seems to happen in the strawberry fields. Thus in certain stretches of strawberry rows grass grows thick and high over the fruiting plants. Most pickers, it seems, pass by these tufts of weedy growth in order to find more readily accessible fruit. To do so, we found this morning, is a mistake. For within the patches of high, thick grass those strawberry plants keep on bearing. What's more, the strands of grass, though they hide the red jewels from the untrained eye, also keep the plump morsels off the ground and therefore protected from quick rotting.

To put one's hand through a tuft of grass is to find hidden treasures of bright red sweetness, even when the rest of the field has been harvested dry of berries. By putting our hands through grass and weeds, we found about ten pounds of diamonds in the rough. Ah, the joy of fresh-picked strawberries! Let me share with you a vision of this joy--I apologize that our photos cannot convey the smell nor the taste. I'd tell you to satisfy the craving which is certain to arise in your tongue by going out to get some strawberries at the supermarket; but it just wouldn't be the same.

~ emrys

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Patio Phase I- Complete!

Today hit 98 degrees! A bit toasty! We've been busy around here! Below are pictures of the completed Phase I of the patio - Emrys worked really hard and many thanks to our friends Jay & Sharon who helped a lot as well! The veggies are doing their thing - growing. We picked the first strawberry today - yum! We'll have Alaska peas soon. We're still getting spinach and asparagus and I even have a head of broccoli getting started! I keep looking at the loaded blueberry bush but unfortunately they're still green-berries. :( Everything in due season!

(Scroll over the pictures with your mouse for the captions)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Let it Rain, Let it Rain, Let it Rain!

We've had such a dry spring and start of summer. The ground's been dry and the grass wilting and all the water for our garden is hauled out there. God's helping us out tonight. We're getting soaked! So the last load of laundry had to go in the dryer instead of the line - oh well - I'm thankful for the rain. And as an added bonus - it arrived with thunder & lightning :)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fruits & Veggies

Summer is here and in our yard that means GARDENING! We have vegetable beds and patios in progress - and just so we don't get lazy, we have deadlines of summer entertaining planned so that the projects get done! We also have some crazy animal that keeps punching holes in our screened in porch! Never a dull moment!

We're enjoying fresh spinach, lettuce and asparagus and strawberries and blueberries are working on "growing up" for us to eat! We also have raspberry/blackberry all over our property and we're just waiting to find out which one is which!

Monday, May 14, 2007

The "Sit Back & Watch" Garden

We managed to purchase a home from an amazing gardener. It has been awesome to sit back and watch as perennial after perennial comes up splashing the front of our house with color. I had been told there were lilacs on the property and looked and looked - mind you with people who knew what they were looking for - and it wasn't until this morning that I saw the brush strokes of light purple among the green the I FOUND THE LILACS! I was so excited! We have an azalia bush in front of the house that is getting ready to bust open too. Flowering quince bushes line the driveway and along the road. It's great!

Then there's the edible stuff. Blossoms on the blueberry bushes, little pea plants coming up, an asparagus bed that gives us a few spears each day, just warming up for the harvesting season! Peppermint and onions are on a mission to take over the yard. Carrots, corn, and snap peas are in the ground and I'm patiently waiting for them to come up. The little strawberry plants seem to be happy enough - although someone told me you're not supposed to let them berry the first year - bah humbug! I'm looking for a second opinion on that one! Anyway, enjoy the picutres of our little corner of the world

So Sara…

What’s going on with Charity’s Candles & Crafts? I’m so glad you asked! I just finished a 5 day craft show in the local mall. Overall, it was good. Too many hours for me, myself and I but fortunately Emrys and friends from church were able to bail me out and give me a few breaks and some company. At the end of the weekend, Charity’s Candles & Crafts has products in over 100 local homes and over $150 will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. I love my job!

Next stop, the Bainbridge General Clinton Regatta over Memorial Day weekend and I’ve recruited a “tent buddy” so I’ll have company and extra help – phew!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Learning the Land

We closed on our house the first of December. As you can imagine, the yard and garden areas were at less than peak. But now it’s spring! As I walk around my yard, because I’m a Gardening Neanderthal the words most commonly heard out of my mouth are “oh look, another pretty flower”. (I have to make time to open up those books my mom brought at Christmas!)

We have bulbs and plants coming up everywhere! I’ve been educated that some of the flowers are irises and crocuses. Both are coming up purple. There are also some little white flowers coming up too. I’ve been cleaning out the garden beds and there are onions coming up all over the place out there. Either they’re renegade onions from years past or something! There’s also a bed that’s supposed to be asparagus. I’m hoping to clean the junk out of it this weekend to see if anything is coming up yet.

I’ve also realized that I have a small streak of “girly-girl”. As soon as the gardening gloves are donned I’m Gardening Girl – unafraid of the dirt and all the creepy crawly things living in it. My confidence bolstered by the thin layer of cotton between me and the dirt. Without the gloves, ew- worms and spiders and “there’s dirt under my fingernails”.

It’s another sunny day and I’m off for another somewhat busy day of running around. But I’m thinking that there will be garden time in there somewhere.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April Snow Storm

That's right folks! These are from Monday's snow storm! Monday, as in April 16th Monday. I sure hope spring's on the way!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On the Rock

Jesus tells us that it's better to build a house on rock than on sand, citing important historical precedents regarding the laws of physics in storms. And I agree with him that it is better to place your foundation upon bedrock than upon a substrate that easily erodes and washes away.

Unless you're trying to put a sump pump in your basement. For that chore, put my house on sand any day.

We are now native New Yorkers, having collected about two inches of water in our basement a week ago. The remedy? The easiest and cheapest remedy should have been to dig a little hole, insert a sump pump, and let it work its magic. However, upon going down with a shovel myself and starting to excavate that little hole, I discovered that our cellar sits directly on the bedrock of the hill: a layer of shale.

I think it's time for a plan B.

~ emrys

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cold, Warm, Cold; Wet, Wet, Wet

Spring thaw, snow melting, rain coming down.
Air gets warm, ground gets soft, water gets in cellar.
Now we're natives.

Shovel equipped, vision planned, French drain waiting.
Cold front arrives, temperature drops, soil hardens.
Stop. Get the snow shovel.

Still water in the basement.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Construction Projects!

This past weekend we took on the first project in our new house. We took out a drop ceiling in our living room and put in a new sheetrock ceiling and lights! Now it's a bright room, not a cave! Painting is next - stay tuned. Also pix from my first gardening efforts. If you can't see captions, scroll over the picture and the slide will pause and the captions will show up. (internet explorer glitch) Hope you're all well!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Baby Steps

Amidst a fair amount of chaos this past weekend my niece decided to share one of her firsts with me (and Emrys and her mom). For her birthday she got a walker type toy and spent Sunday night zooming around the house. She was all over the place. They have a lot of open space so she can’t toddle from one piece of furniture to another or anything so she’s a champion scooter but hadn’t made it too far on her little two feet yet.

And Then… on Monday night we were playing with her and realized that she was standing all by her self, closely examining a piece of paper. So my sister in law scooted back and gave here the “come here”. And a step later, she was there! So Lara and I were all excited and made her do it again before she realized what was going on. That time she got up to four steps. She’s going to be all over the place before we know it!

After the first steps she got to eat icecream with Uncle Emrys which was a treat since she'd been pretty "mommy clingy" most of the day.

I’m the proud aunt and really happy to live within driving distance of the little munchkin!


Friday, February 02, 2007


After five long years, the process is complete! My first novel, As in a Mirror, is now available to the world in hardcover, paperback, and download formats. I made the decision to publish through an on-line publishing company who prints copies only after they are ordered by paying customers. While this means that my book has not passed through an established publishing house, it also means that I don't have to pay an editor, and agent, and a publishing house to get my book in print. It also means less work for me: sending my book to Random House, Del Rey, or another publisher would have meant more revisions for me, more changes, more time, and more anxiety.

Since I want to keep writing as a hobby rather than as another line of work, I decided to publish through the on-line world. Thus my book can be available to anyone who wants it, but especially to family and friends. So if you fall into these categories, this book is for you. Enjoy!

If you'd like a copy, go to In the search field enter my name (Emrys Tyler), and tell it to search in "books." You will then have the option to purchase one of the three formats. (I'm sorry about the need to form a login ID with Lulu--it's a hazard of the internet world, I guess.) Know that I am keeping no royalties from the sale of these books. Instead, I am taking inspiration from Sara and donating three dollars from every sale to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Since they're one of the vehicles the Lord used to heal Sara of her cancer, I reckon it's good to return a little of the gift.

Thanks to everyone who gave me encouragement and excitement along the way. Following through on a novel was not an easy task for me. But I'm glad the work has finally come to fruition. I'm excited to see what happens to it from here!

Please do let me know what you think of the book; I'd love to hear your responses. In the meantime, I'll be off to work on novel number two!


Monday, January 22, 2007

Critters . . .Part II

(Since blogs post newest first, scroll down and read Emrys-1 Critters-0 first)

I'm not a fan of Critters - at all. And very early this morning when was woken by noises it took me a second to realize that they were louder that the scuttering in the attic from the night before and seemed to involve metal and glass. I got out of bed and turned lights on as I looked around the house. I got to the kitchen, wandered through, half awake into the living room and turned again to the kitchen. First my eyes landed on a lot of things that should have been in the window sill, haphazardly in the sink and on the counter. Then over on the top of the stove, sitting very very still was a Critter - little grey squirrel to be exact.

I called up to Emrys - he was still asleep or ignoring the comotion. So I looked around for a box or something to try to lure the little guy into to throw him out - evicted! At 5 am rational thought doesn't come into play - all I thought was "he looks scared and I'm bigger than he is!" Unfortunately he was faster. Even with peanut butter he wouldn't climb into the flower pot I found. Instead he jumped on my hand up one arm, down the other and across the room. I screamed. Emrys finally woke up and called down to see if I was ok. I opened the window and door hoping he'd find his way to the cold air (yeah right!). I closed everything up and went back to bed.

This morning, the flower pot with peanut butter that I left in the sink was still in the sink - minus the peanut butter. Ok Critter, get used to the flavor and find it in the attic. I tried to play nice now Emrys can have ya! And I have to go lysol the Kitchen. :(

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Critters-1, Emrys-1

Last night we heard critters scampering in the ceiling over our bedroom. Actually, 'scampering' doesn't quite do justice. To be accurate, we should say that a crew of rodents spent the night constructing and testing out Upstate New York's first four-footed discotheque. So this morning I whipped out my brand-new Gorilla ladder (13 positions, stores smaller than a five-foot step ladder: urgh, urgh, UURRRGH!) and broke through the top of our closet into the crawl-space.

I had been worried about the amount of insulation between our ceiling and the roof--I worry no more. Seas of yellow and pink greeted the sweeping beam of my Mag-Lite as it swept under the rafters. Seas in which a legion of furry four-footers could easily live and breed for a decade and still have room to expand.

Why don't animals suffer ill effects from breathing in fibreglass insulation?

After covering the louvred vent to the outside--whose screen had been decimated by aggressive teeth and claws--I went to work beginning the end of our unwanted residents.

I don't know who invented the first mousetrap. I do know that Victor, a dominant vendor of rodent-destroying paraphernalia, now makes a plastic trap that is easy to load and less risky for human fingers. It's the better mousetrap of today . . . but I use the old ones. Why?

A few weeks ago I heard the plastic trap go off and found in its jaws--nothing! That experience, mixed with a fear that mice too can learn and combined with old-fashioned machismo has brought me back to the old wood-and-metal traps. That's right: the Tom-and-Jerry kind that have to be pulled all the way back and set very, very carefully lest you get a finger caught and curse like a drunken sailor (unseemly for a pastor).

I took my mousetrap--excuse, me, rat-trap: about four times bigger than a mousetrap and capable of nearly breaking human distal phalanges (believe me, I know)--and mounted the ladder to the crawl space. It took me twenty minutes to set the trap, because the half-teaspoon of peanut butter I used as bait was too heavy. You hear that? A half-teaspoon of peanut butter set off the trap! (Uh, huh. That's what I'm talking about.) Finally, with just a smear of the sweet-and-salty siren calling from its yellow tab, I set the trap in the crawl-space very, very carefully. (Why does the feeling of a trap going off in my hand scare me? I nearly shouted aloud when it happened the first time. The suspense of setting a trap makes me sweat!) Then I descended to other tasks around the house. Four hours later I went up to check the trap.

The beauty of the Victor mousetrap is its special-ops-style execution. It breaks the neck without breaking the skin. Crazy. Instantaneous (which makes it more "humane," I suppose) and bloodless. The subject dies without struggle or suffering--and I suppose if you wanted to preserve the pelt for production of a wardrobe piece, you could. I prefer to dump them out in the back 40.

That's what I did with the squirrel--not rat, not mouse, but squirrel--who found the peanut butter bait irresistible. One down. Let's see how many more are up there.

Rural life. Actual nature. Gotta love it.


Monday, January 15, 2007


Yesterday I finished my first marathon! 4 hours after the first folks crossed the finish... I came strolling through! If someone would have told me in the middle of chemo that I would walk a marathon in the next 18 months I probably would have shot out all sort of dirty looks and then laughed at them. But then I got my health back and a new sort of resolution.

A self proclaimed non-athlete, I guess I have to change my song. After my first half marathon my mom told me that I couldn't say I wasn't athletic anymore

Yesterday I finished my first marathon in 6:15:04 - walking 26.2 miles on an average of 14 minutes 19 seconds each.

I was walking for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. Personally I raised almost $4,800, as a team we raised $51,000 and in its entirity, Team In Training brought in over $5 million with this weekend's event with over 1,800 participants in the full and half marathons.

It was amazing!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Correction & I love new shoes!

So today was my first day out in pair of sneakers #3 and they felt awesome! Some women get excited about new shoes to go with an outfit, for me, it's my walking shoes!

And here's a correction: Race results will be posted at the day of the race. Find me there: Bib number 13112 or by my name :)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

One Week Out

Well, my road to the marathon started over a year ago. Now I am one week out from the big event. Seven days from right now it will all be over and I'll be hobbling around Peoria AZ! I'm excited for the race - although I'm only out to finish in less than 7 hours! As an added bonus we have friends from California who will be coming out to see us and our friend Sophie will be walking the marathon with me. It will be some good catch up time, and probably some scheming too. We're good at that!

So if I don't make it on the blog again between now and then, start time is 7:30 AM in Arizona which is 9:30 Eastern, 8:30 Central, 6:30 Pacific. The time splits from the chip on my shoe should be posted at And we'll have the cell phone and can be reached that way!