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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Thursday, November 02, 2006

My grandmother, Dorothy Cameron

Hi, this is Matt the Web Dude and this is my long-awaited GF Blog Post. Deacon J has been kind enough to let me make this post today on her blog - thanks DJ...

My grandmother, Dorothy Cameron, passed away in my grandfather's arms on the morning of October 25th. She was 84. She had been in a nursing home in VT for the past year with what started as renal failure and it was then discovered that she had developed ovarian or uterin cancer. Because of this she was unable to attend my wedding in June - although she wanted to more than anything. She was listening though, as my Uncle Scott held a cell phone up while Deacon J officiated our ceremony, and as grandpa gave the blessing and also as our friends gave their speeches.

My wife Jenn and I went to visit her a few times recently and this is a photo from our first visit after our wedding during which we got to show her our pictures and videos.

Jenn, Grandma, Me, Grandpa - 7/30/06

We buried her on Monday, October 30th in a small rural cemetary nearby in East Northport, NY next to her daughter (my mother) who was buried there 13 years ago. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful service. The night before the service I wrote down something that I decided to say and I read it during the service. Here it is...


My grandmother, Dorothy Cameron, was a good and loving person...

She was a good and loving grandmother...

She was also a good and loving great-grandmother, for a brief yet fulfilling period of time, who as she held her great grandson, John Silas Marcellus, for the first time this year said, "This Feels So Good."...

As all who knew her can attest, she was a good and loving friend...

And you may know her as a good and loving neighbor...

or cousin... or aunt...

or a good and loving mother...

or a good and loving wife.

Whatever our relationship was with her, we know this to be a solid fact of life. And we loved her; that is another solid fact of life.

We will each remember her in our own way...

My memories as a child include spending a lot of time at "Nana and Poppop's" house on 4th Avenue in East Meadow, where she taught me how to swim and ride a bike...

And we'd chew Freedent and play cards - and sometimes play the piano - and she'd make her pot roast, with the little onions and carrots on the side of the roast, smothered in dark brown gravy...

She never made anything else when I was over for dinner and I sometimes wondered if that was all she knew how to cook...

But why mess with a good thing?.....

Fast-forward about 25 years...

One day shy of 2 years ago, on October 31st, 2004, the day after grandpa's 90th birthday party, at their apartment in Montpelier, using a camcorder on a tripod, I interviewed my grandparents together...

I learned that grandma's favorite book was the Bible, her favorite color was Blue, that her favorite movie was Gone With the Wind, her favorite actors were Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald because as she put it, "they went so well together"; her favorite food was Filet Mignon, her favorite drink was a Sweet Old Fashioned, her favorite dessert was Chocolate Ice Cream, and her favorite hobbies were golf, reading and bridge...

I also found out that if she was given the chance to go back in time, and change her life in any way, that she wouldn't change a thing.

My most recent memory was from just a few weeks ago, when Lauren and Jenn and I went with grandpa to visit grandma at the nursing home in Vermont...

I happened to be sporting a goatee at the time...

Well, after spending about 30 minutes with her, she started to just look at me for a long time...

And she stared at me while I stared back at her for a good 20 seconds...

And finally I said to her, "Grandma, what are you thinking about?"...

She stared at me for another 10 seconds or so, and she smiled, and she said, "I'm just laughing at your beard."...

And we all laughed...

(just like you did)...

In our last exchange of words she made me laugh - and I'll never forget that.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

For all Souls

I've been struggling for about a week with a cold which has progressed to bronchial asthma to now - it would seem - pneumonia. I was at my doctor's last Thursday afternoon, came back bearing many prescriptions and some tissues.

Sunday the cold dug into my chest. I went out to give one of the kids on the block a couple of rakes, a tarp and a blower to do a number on the leaves on my property. That's it. I bundled up and put a dust mask over my face. Out only 5 minutes I began coughing, my lungs burned and I wheezed horribly. My coughing knocked me over.

Back to the Dr. Today for a follow up and an instant pass to get a 2 view x-ray. Although this was the first day I felt slightly better because of the antibiotics, rest and nebulizer treatments at home even I could hear the raspy popping as I exhaled.

So more days home, finish the drugs, get some other ones. OK. Off to the MRI place. After a prolonged wait I was shown into a closet with a single plank to sit on. "Strip to the waist. Gown on, open in the back. Take your purse when you leave". It was routine, the schpiel that the x-ray technician must have given 1,000 times. I followed the directions and turned down two doors to one of the x-ray rooms. She followed me in, snapped on the lights.

"OK, hands on the hips, shoulders forward, hunch over the plates". I tried, but my endowments were getting in the way. "ON THE PLATES....squash.....shoulders forward. Deep breath and hold it......... OK, breathe now." She rotated me 90degrees. "Hands up, deep breath in and HOLD it.......OK, breathe now. I'll be back in about 5 minutes, wait here" she said as she turned off the light as she left the room, leaving me with the semi-dark with a room predominated by artificial machines, wires, monitoring equipment, a maneouverable crane with an x-ray or sonogram in it, the x-ray plate with human outline on it.

I sat in the twilight in an artificial environment and heard the voices of of people who had gone before into this same room for things far more sinister than simple pneumonia. I would smell the residual fear in the room, heard past patients being ministered to by their friends and family that they weren't alone, they were getting good care, they are getting help.

If you have been as a patient or worker in the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, it is easy to hear those voices and feel that fear. The technician came back "OK, you didn't move the Dr. will look at the wets tomorrow and call up your doctor. Feel better". Then she was gone - around another corner in the maze of this facility. This woman could have been reading the information pamphlet that they give you with so many medications (the components of which can hardly be pronounced) or the phone book for all the humanity she showed.

Having been deprived of human contact since last Wednesday I gave in to the royal treat of McDonald's (I don't eat out often). After I had placed my order I stood and took in the predictable ambiance and became unsettled. When the fries were finished, a buzzer goes off. This sound has the uncanny resemblance to when someone 'codes'- the heart stops beating, the breathing stops. It is a shrill sound. If you have visited in a hospital or had to be treated in the hospital this sound is one you would prefer not to hear.

Tonight, then, I am praying for ALL SOULS. For those without neighbors or homegrown families or intentional families who have gone on to the next life, having been through the USA medical system, alone. For the uncelebrated, some unremembered lives. I remember you, we remember you. We wish you well in your transition to your happy rest in the presence of our God. And...... be so kind as to leave a spot for us, too, eh?

Rest well, faithful one, beloved of the Divine before your existence. Your life had worth. You made a difference. We acknowledge you, your successes and struggles. Be free to be in the presence of God and the Spirit that transforms us all into love. This Love's for YOU!

Monday, October 30, 2006

For all the Saints......

This post was sent to me by Barbara in December last year.

I hung onto it..... because I didn't know where it would fit in. In honor of All Saints Day, here is a piece written by "Eve ellen" - her e-mail address name. She mentions many secular saints here... ones who do the right thing to God and to neighbor. This type of saint may never be seen in church of a Sunday, but holy they are in the eyes of God! Thanks, Eve....

My old stomping grounds, the River Cafe

It is a restaurant that used to be a coffee and rice barge moored under the Brooklyn Bridge with spectacular views across the East River - a panorama that spans from the Empire State Building, down Lower Manhattan, past the Statue of Liberty and on to the Verrazano Narrows and the bridge.

It opened in June of 1977. I first visited on July 3rd a few weeks after it opened, because it was the perfect vantage point for the Independence Eve fireworks. One of the bartenders (I call him Jimmy the Curmudgeon) was throwing sparklers and one hit me on my cheek. All of a sudden a man ran up to me with a napkin full of ice and made sure I was ok. It turned out to be the owner - Michael "Buzzy" O'Keeffe. He graciously told me that I was welcome to come anytime and so I have. He now refers to me as "his oldest living customer". He donates "Dinner for Two at the River Café" to the Saint Paul's Episcopal Church Auction every year (God bless his Roman Soul!). What a bidding war that generates!

I usually go there on Sunday afternoons after church. I have my own glass (an Elsa Perreti brandy snifter from Tiffany's with no stem and an imprint for my thumb) which stays there behind the bar. Actually I have had several over the years, as they get broken every once and a while; the current one is not engraved. And my own signature cocktail - a white wine spritzer with grapefruit juice and bitters and a wedge of lemon. It looks very elegant in my glass. I also go on Thanksgiving Day, after feeding the folks at Heuss House, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and Fourth of July when there are fireworks in lower Manhattan.

I have attended wakes, weddings, and funerals for fellow patrons and the staff. I usually stop in on my birthday (which I share with one of the maitres d'). After my disabling accident in 1980 (in a bright blue cast from my toes to my hip), and after my hip replacement, I left the respective hospitals and went directly to the River Café, where they treated me royally. A couple of times when my mother was looking for me, she called there to find me. It became a joke: I'd walk in and he the hostess would tell me that the maitre d' had a message for me and it would be "Call youmotherer!" I was there the night before my mother died. Buzzy sent a Mass Card and flowers, and when his mother died, I went to the wake.

On the first Sunday in October, I go to the River Café with my menagerie after celebrating the Feast of Saint Francis up at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, and Saint Paul's in Carroll Gardens. I always offer to take Buzzy's Jack Russell Terriers to church to get blessed (smile). And while it took me three tries, I was there to look at the wounded skyline after the World Trade Center disaster. I burst into tears at the sight. I saw them setting up the fireworks display for the centennial of the Brooklyn Bridge. Sat there with the staff at the bar until 4 in the morning. Now while those fireworks were great, the best fireworks I have ever seen were the ones in 1992 celebrating the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage to the Verrazano Narrows; they had fireworks cascading off the bridge like a waterfall!

When we had the blackout in August two years ago, I walked over the bridge and into the River Café and sat with the staff and waited for the crowds to dissipate so that I could take a bus home. When I was in graduate school and law school, I would get up early on Sunday mornings, go to the library for a bit, go to church, and then go to the River Café. I would plug in my laptop at the little table next to the piano and study.There are also a few regulars that come in on Sundays; the staff calls us "the Reprobates". Vinnie, the local undertaker who just defies description because he is THE stereotypical Italian undertaker, but he is dapper and courtly and quite the gentleman. Carmine and his father Jimmy who supply most of the produce for the kitchen. Henry, the high roller who used to come in with a different woman every week but then settled to one or two; he plays the horses and is a frequent flyer at Atlantic City. The late Rick, who owned a number of business schools. My buddies the identical twins - Harriet and Bernice who are retired schoolteachers. they live in Staten Island and often walk over the Brooklyn Bridge for exercise and attend concerts at BargeMusic which is another barge moored south of the River Café which has classical music programs.

Oh and the music! Some of the finest piano players who occasionally bring in their friends to accompany them on other instruments. They play music that I like, mostly jazz, show tunes, some classical, etc. Richard K, John, Kevin, Richard W, and of course Dom Salvador from Brazil who sometimes brings his samba band for New Year's Eve and rocks the place! I have made friends with many of the chefs. David (who now runs Burke and Donnatella), Rick (who opened Ilo, right across from Bryant Park), Patrick Clarke (Odeon, Club Med, Tavern on the Green; I went to his funeral; he died while awaiting a transplant and snuck pots and pans and foods into his hospital suite and cooked for the staff and other patients). And of course my bartenders! Michael, Jimmy the Curmudgeon, Larry Z, Scott, Ron, Anthony (who is now in real estate and is helping me sell my house), Chris, Tommy, Kai. The managers, captains, and maitres d' - Tommy (with whom I share my birthday), Jeff, Brian, Javier (who recorded an album with Dom Salvador), Scott, Paul, Eric, Celiane, Jackie, Sonia, Nick, Michael C., Patrick, Raymond, the legendary Paul Bridgewater, and Rodney and Dolph (God rest their souls).

God! I love that place! Evadné

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Adjusting your clock

Funny, I didn't hear warnings on the radio or TV to go into the usual "Fall back, Spring ahead" warnings today.

There were wind advisor, flood warnings and a cold front bearing down in the New York metro area..... but no VCR, clock, stove, oven, microwave or watch warnings.

Not until this morning did I understand why...... the clock changes at 2am this morning, not Saturday morning. Regular time arrives shortly and will stay until March 11. Enjoy your beauty sleep!.

Here's something I got through Google off of the NPR site:

This year, Daylight Saving Time began on April 2 and ends at 2 a.m. Oct. 29
* In 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on March 11 and ends Nov. 4
* In 2008, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 9 and ends on Nov. 2
* In 2009, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 8 and ends on Nov. 1

If it feels like jet lag, it is.... to a mild extent.... and may take about a week to become accustomed to..... but it SHOULD make getting to church easier today. If you tend to lean toward 'blue' during this time of year, as I do, it is suggested to send time in front of a light box..... or a lamp with full spectrum light to compensate for the warming, calming light rays of the sun which are so far away from us in late fall and winter.

Bear something in mind for next Spring, folks. Starting in 2007, Daylight Saving Time will start one month earlier in the spring and extend it one week later in the fall courtesy of Congress passing The Energy Act of 2005 until further notice.

Gee, what next for those crazy kids on the Hill in Washington, DC!?! You just never know.

Wishing you all a good snooze or an early start on the coffee and newspaper routine before your Glorias in the morning! DJ zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Roadside Assistance

Mark 10:46-50 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside.
When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.

You have seen all the ads on TV. A standard feature of this luxury car has a satellite navigation system. Another car boasts voice activated mobile service calls to a "live" operator who will send out the police or the EMTs or a tow truck or magically unlock your car when you have unwittingly left the keys dangling from the ignition.

Advertisements come in the mail with your credit card statement hawking one type of emergency assistance free for 30 days and then a monthly billing. Then there is the omnipotent "Triple A" whose plans allow for towing at minimal or no cost within a specified radius of your home, so long as you pay the required fee. Many car insurance providers also offer riders on the policy for Emergency Assistance. I've gotten a flat on the FDR Drive in New York - which with cars flying past and others weaving in and out of traffic - and that is a harrowing experience. AAA, after the requisite City contracted towtruck, eventually came to the rescue.

They all fall under the general heading of roadside assistance.

Blind from birth Bartimaeus did not have any such plan. We don't know if he had friends, but probably so. He could make his way about town. Yet he had heard about this amazing Rabbi - he probably stored much more information in his hearing and touch than we do with all our senses.

He knew he needed help and he knew who to call for. The bystanders around him kept telling him to hush up, to wait his turn, to keep it down. No. Bartimaeus had a voice, had need and had faith..... and called out from the roadside: "....have mercy on me".

Jesus, in response said 'call him to me' - and Bartimaeus wasted no time in taking Him up on His offer.

It never hurts to ask Jesus for assistance.... whether we are physically blind or mentally blind in a situation; whether we stand upright or have stumbled. If we cry out, we will be heard. Amen.

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