Saturday, April 28, 2007

It's been one year, seven months and 30 days since the storm.

We don't have reliable t.v. service.

I can't watch Saturday Night Live while I wait for Mr. C and LD to return from the Jazz Fest because we can't get NBC.

It's hard to realize what it means when the infrastructure is destroyed in such a large area.
At least, we don't have the bombs and guns of the War Zone. Just the destruction.

Not really happy at this moment,

St. Grumpy, I mean, Casserole

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Real Reason We Got A Large Pasta Bowl 2

Andy, the greatest indoor/outdoor cat in the State resting.

Curb Day

We're having a community-wide clean-up this month. Of course, I can't recall the exact dates but this morning struck me as a great day to heave up the rest of the greenhouse detritus. Losing the greenhouse wasn't much of a loss because the old building stood upright barely. Losing the storage space isn't easy.

We are starting a hot trend of displaying lawnmowers, weed-eaters, rakes and shovels as PORCH DECORATIONS.

At least we don't have several cars up on blocks, an old sofa on the front porch and a broken refrigerator in the front yard. Before the storm, people littered their yards with junk out of je ne sais quois and lack of storage. After the storm, stuff just blew where it blew. So there.

Our Mayor's wife declares that IT IS TIME to clean up the debris. She's correct. I'm with her on this. You wouldn't believe how much construction material trash, giant trees and other mess remains here. The gov. paid for clean-up several times but if the insurance people aren't forthcoming with claim payments and people are old/tired/poor/depressed, then how can all the debris be out by now? No way.

I put my stuff out by the street hoping those who want it will grab it. I've had two folks load up already.

Years before the storm, I picked up a gorgeous rug for my study off of a trash pile. I stopped my car to investigate the rug when I saw it thinking it must be pet defiled or burned. Nope, spotless and perfect for my study floor.

So, I'm passing along my junk. What's left will be piled for the community clean-up.

The orange warning cloth on the right is scant protection for a giant hole left by falling trees and a crushed drain. Come on, City, fix it.

Recycle, kids, recycle.


St. Casserole

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Actual Conversations

*Mr. C. forgot his cellphone so he borrowed a colleague's cell. Looking through the phone list, he saw "Scumbag".

Mr. C: Who is Scumbag?
Colleague: The guy who stole my truck.

*Driving to yesterday's meeting, I stopped for a cinnamon roll at the bakery in Tiny Town.
After paying, I thanked the owner for making great rolls.

Bakery owner: You are from the Ghost Coast?
St. C: Yes, I'm from the Ghost Coast...

Thanks for your comments on the previous post. I'm doing better this morning.

St. Casserole

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Never, Never Give Up

Three days before Hurricane Katrina, I strolled into Steinmart to see if they had something I wanted. I looked through the clothing but found nothing. None of the jewelry tempted me. Wandering into the home accessories department, I found a sign, which said "Never, never give up."

Not realizing that we were facing a Category Five in your Hurricane Hit Parade, I bought the sign and drove home.

The sign interested me because I admire the tenacity of Mr. C. who does not give up. He may pivot to re-assess his focus, he may study the situation looking for a solution but he does not give up. His parents started over from scratch twice in their marriage. The 1947 storm (before hurricanes had names) wiped out their boat repair business. The other start over is family lore and not to be told here. His people just keep going forward.

I feel like quitting this afternoon. One more time, I explained to the powers why the current head of an important governing body group should be given a plaque and a party so he can go home. While the current head is capable in many areas, he is not good with people.

Months ago, when I realized that his behavior was harming those around him, I prayed about the situation and went to see him. I shared my observations about his behavior and the consequences to those around him. He was unmoved and explained that he knew what he was doing. I let time pass until I heard again of an action which hurt someone to the quick. I went to see him again. He was unmoved.

Praying more about the situation and wanting, with all my heart, for this to be worked out, I took an elder with me to speak with the man. The elder agreed with my assessment having witnessed unkind behavior. Time passed. We went to see him again.

Four times, I spoke as gently and clearly as I know how to this man about his bad treatment of others. He was not moved.

I spoke to him in our committee meeting about situations I was spending more and more time trying to fix so that those harmed could regain their dignity and go forward. Nothing changed. At the next meeting, I explained the problem to the committee with the man present.
Nothing happened.

The larger governing body attempted to intervene as I am not the only person troubled by this situation. Conference calls, emails and meetings took place so that everyone who wished might say how they felt about the man's behavior. I learned that worse things went on that I hadn't known about. I felt heart-broken. Where a few acts of kindness from the man would have turned him into a hero, he stomped on people.

Today, the larger group met with the smaller group to discuss the situation (and two other issues which need to be addressed but cannot be resolved until the man steps down). No one discussed the big elephant. The chair suggested that he would not proceed unless people spoke up. People did not speak up. People who needed to be heard were absent from the meeting.

I spoke up.

Nothing happened.

I want to give up. I tell myself that I have plenty of things to do and that I have spent hours upon hours since the storm trying to affect change, reconciliation and progress. Nothing I do seems to impact the situation for the better. Nothing.

Mr. C. says for me to let it go. I say I don't like to see meanness without speaking up to change it.

What would you do?

Very discouraged,

St. Casserole

Monday, April 23, 2007

Guest Blogger: Fish the Kitten

Here I am. I am on my who man beans bed under a cover with turtle print.
I don't feel happy or good or anything.
I am going to the orthopaw this afternoon to check my splint. I
f your splint slips, you are in big trouble.
I don't know if I have a slipping splint.
I hate it.
I dislike it strongly.
I will not send a Christmas card to my splint.
I vote my splint "a fierce, bad thing".
You can have my splint.
If anyone asks you how I feel about my splint, tell them I think my splint is despicable.
Fish the Kitten

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Marshall Ramsey, editorial cartoonist of The Clarion-Ledger, gets it right. How would you do with a 90% increase in your homeowner's insurance?

Worried about my people,

St. Casserole

P.S. When is someone going to figure out that the insurance industry decides our medical care, work and home lives? Should any industry control our lives as the insurance industry does?

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Real Reason We Bought This Giant Pasta Bowl

St. Casserole

Guest Blogger: Fish the Kitten

Thank you to Molly, Tillie, Mindy, Cub and Angus my RevGalDogPals for your kind words.

My nanny, Sister the Dog, sends you a internet dog cookie!

Thank you, Littlemankitty, Callie, Lucy, Teddy the Pirate Cat, Truffle and Ouzo my RevGalCatPals for being nice to me and not hissing.

I know I'm better off than most cats. My leg will heal. I have Sister, my dog nanny and my brother Fish to keep me company. My who man beans are kind to me, too.

I'm thinking today about the pets of the Virginia Polytech Institute tragedy whose lives are disrupted and who cannot find their favorite people. I'm thinking about the pets whose homes flooded Up North, soldier's pets and pets in war areas.

I think we need a world where every cat and dog is as well-treated as we are.

Fish the Kitten
I look over the classified section of our local news on Friday mornings. Any estate or garage sales of interest going on this weekend?

When I began this blog, I thought I'd write about my interest in "material recycling", ie. junking.
It may be fun to find junk but it seems silly to write about it.

If I reflected on the travels of each antique piece through the first owner to me, or why this tertiary market interests me, perhaps it would be fun for you to read.

Maybe I feel silly writing about going through junk. Many people can't tolerate the idea of "old" things, others don't want anything but new. Then there are those whose material wants are so few that the idea of acquiring junk "just because I like to look at it" is repugnant.

Hello. My name is St. Casserole and I am a Junker.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Guest Blogger: Fish the Kitten

Dear Friends,

I may call you friends because on the Internet we are all Ginger cats. I am getting along with my hind leg splint rather well. I can jump on and off of the Who Man Beans high bed, get to my cat crunchies and water bowl.

I spend many hours reflecting on my life under the bed covers. This quiet retreat allows me to consider important questions and revise the outline of my novel. I am not depressed. I am keeping body silence so that I may heal. I do nap, from time to time.

My balance is not as good as it was before the fracture. I clawed into the sole of Mr. C's foot last night as he slept when I wanted to get off the bed. He didn't care for this. I dipped my splint foot into the water bowl. These things happen.

Whistle cannot restrain his kitten humor. He calls me "gimpy", "tripod" and "dragster." I forgive him because She gives me more cat cookies than he gets. I'm enjoying her sympathy.

Keep those cards and letters coming. I return to the pawopedic doctor on Monday.

Very Truly Yours,


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The New Yorker April 16, 2007

Just for fun, look at the Saks Fifth Avenue ad on page 3. Is Tyke Darlington wearing a seersucker jacket with a red cloth skirt with plaid and fringe?

Skirt. Not shirt. Skirt.

Just wondering,

St. Casserole


I'm listening to Alexander McCall Smith's The Right Attitude for Rain as I drive around. This is the third book in the Sunday Philosophy Club series with Isobel Delahousy.

Isobel is discussing theft with her niece Kat's deli employee. Coffee bags have gone missing from the deli again. Isobel muses on the subject, with careful deliberation, as she does on every subject.

I began to consider honesty, too. We aren't to take what isn't ours. There is no excuse for stealing. Stealing is violent; stealing is disrespectful; stealing takes a bit our our souls away when we take something that doesn't belong to us, etc.

After a few minutes of reflection, I reached into my purse to get a lipstick. As my hand moved around in my purse, I pulled out a ballpoint pen. Not recognizing the feel of the pen, I looked at the pen. Taped carefully to the side of the turquoise plastic pen was a neatly written note, "Do Not Remove".

I don't know whose pen it is. Where did I pick up this pen? Bank? Water Department? Office?
Can't return it. Don't know where the pen belongs.

Over the years, I've noted the synchronicity of my ranking/blasting/pontificating against something only to find myself guilty of the offense, too.

Human here,

St. Casserole

Monday, April 16, 2007

Goodnight, Mr. Fish

After a tiring day of being in the orthopawdic vet clinic, Fish the Kitten settles down for a long cat nap in his bedroom.
Please, no calls tonight. Let the poor kitten rest.
St. C.
Press Secretary for Fish the Kitten
My friend, Little S., works with Virgina Tech students.
I left a message for her. Haven't heard back as yet.
I am so sorry for everyone in Blacksburg, the parents of students there and anyone connected with VT.

Lord, have mercy.

St. C

Diagnosis: Fracture Above the Knee

Fish the Kitten has a fracture! His orthopedist confirmed that Fish has a fracture right above his knee, a rarity for cats. No bruising, punctures or anything showed up around the injury so the ortho has no clue how Fish hurt himself.

Fish will be wearing the red splint for 8 weeks with weekly orthopedic visits to check the splint.
He will drop out of "Dancing With the Cat Stars", bottle cap soccer and his Tai Chi classes for the duration.

We hope he will learn to be content with the awkward splint and not become depressed as athletes do when required to refrain from activity.

Send your notes and cards to: Fish the Kitten, 3145 A. Washington Avenue, Gulfport, MS, 39507 and these will be delivered to him.

Thank you,

St. Casserole
Press Secretary for Fish the Kitten

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Fish the Kitten limps. He does everything as usual but he limps. I can't find a lump, a bump or anything. Mr. C moved his hind leg a bit and only when Fish's hip joint moves several degrees do we hear a wee meow.
He's on an antibiotic.
When asked about his limp, Fish said, " I have a fashionable sports injury because I am a dancing cat. Please buy a case of Greenies Cat Treats (the fav cat cookie of Sportif Kitties) and let me sit in the open box..."
Ever the Mom,
St. Casserole

Friday, April 13, 2007

Talking with Widows

All of us in pastoral ministry visit widows. Church is filled with widows.

As a young pastor, I thought that being a widow wasn't too much of a big deal. Men die before women so if you live long enough, you lose your husband. Women must know this, I thought, so they are prepared.

At that time, I didn't know anything about long time love, like being married for decades. Didn't know a thing about the loving meld of a committed relationship.

I didn't intend to be dismissive of widow's grief. I knew nothing about it.

I will have lunch soon with a recent widow. J. died just a few weeks ago. His wife, T., is a friend of many years. Both were in their 70's (is this the New 50's?) with a 50 year marriage.

Pastoral care means visiting with the family before a death occurs, if you can. Then, visit the dying and their family. When you get word of the death, go visit as soon as you can. You may be planning a funeral for the family so you'll want to talk with the wife, children and any family who come to grieve with her. Ask those funeral planning questions.

What I didn't know as a young pastor, and what I know now from observation is the disruption caused by death.

When a spouse dies, the survivor loses the most significant character in their life Story. One day, identity is assured; the next day, all is up for grabs.

Our part of this is to allow the spouse to tell her story as often as she wishes. Some think that bringing up the dead spouse in conversation may be too painful. Denial of death makes grief more horrible. We talk about our spouses and then we are to be silent about them?

Widows don't know themselves after their spouse dies. Some of course are relieved and we must acknowledge and affirm this with them because every death makes someone happy. Perhaps the decedent's physical pain, now ended, causes joy. Or, the spouse was a creep and the widow is free of him.

One of the charming things I observe is how at death, a widow can turn a spouse she complained about every moment becomes A Great Saint. Why not? As long as she is able to heal from death, we may need a few saints. Yep, I said that.

I dread the day I lose Mr. C. His life means all to me and I've been grateful for his presence in my Story from Day 1. At this point, everyone says, "well, he wasn't perfect" and I say, "of course not! who'd want to be married to a perfect human?" When my Story is told you'll hear about Mr. C because, by God's Grace, we've had a love match.

Blessings to you,

St. Casserole

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Several Things

  • You've read here about how much I miss seeing trees against the sky. Well, guess what? It's all a matter of perspective! If I move to my back porch and look to the North, I see enough trees against the sky to satisfy me!
  • "Flake" The South's Original Potato Chip Dill Flavored are the worst chips we've ever eaten. No wonder Mr. C was so cordial about handing me the entire bag. Yuk. I like dill pickles but these chips are despicable.
  • Fish the Kitten is limping still. I took him to his Vet on Monday who checked out his right hind leg without finding anything. He's taking antibiotics and pain relief without much success. He's going back to see the Vet tomorrow if I don't seem improvement. He's eating, litter-boxing, and drinking fine but favors the hind leg.
  • Early this morning, the moon was quarter phased and the sky a canopy of stars. Beautiful.
  • I'll be at a church meeting uppada road this morning. This means I'll have to shop on the way home. Really. Several stores up there are prime.
  • LD goes for a church retreat weekend with the Methodists. I hope she enjoys it because her last church retreat wasn't fun for her.
  • If the Clutter Patrol pays a surprise visit to my home, I will win a prize! I sent P. home with a load yesterday and my car trunk is full with bags to donate but still...


St. Casserole

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What I Am Reading Today...

"Everywhere I go, I meet people, old and young, from all over the world, and they tell me about their lives, their relationships, broken families, their addictions, shame, guilt, failures. You'll never be able to speak into their souls unless you speak the truth about your own wounds. You need to tell them what our Lord has come to mean to you in the midst of your disappointments and losses. All ministry begins at the ragged edges of our own pain," he said.

I couldn't figure out who Thomas knew about my relationship with my father, much less that I was a pastor trying to fool people into believing he was perfect. For years I'd felt this pressure to convince everyone that I had the leadership skills of Bill Hybels, the pastoral gifts of Henri Nouwen, and the teaching acumen of John Stott. I'd never thought sharing my brokenness with people was an effective church-growth technique.

"Do you know the story of Rabbit Zusya? he asked. "he was a Chasidic master who lived in the 1700s. One day he said, "When I ge to the heavenly court, God will not ask me 'Why aren't you Moses? Rather he will ask me, 'Why aren't you Zusya?'"

Thomas let that thought hang in the air for a moment, then continued, "Churches should be places where people come to hear the story of God and to tell their own. That's how we find out how the two relate. Tell your story with all of its shadows and fog, so people can understand their own. They want a leader who's authentic, someone trying to figure out how to follow the Lord Jesus in the joy and wreckage of life. They need you, not Moses," he said.

from Chasing Francis, A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron NavPress 2006

I'm only to page 77 and the reader can tell that this is a first book but so far, I'm entralled.

St. Casserole

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Happy Easter to all of you.

Mr. C. and LD went to Little Church with me this morning. Mr. C. drove and I pointed out where to look for the fallen pecan orchard, the goats in the field, the Brahmin cattle, the Buffalo herd and the field of lambs. He noticed these but commented on the hurricane debris piles along the road and in the pastures as well as the damaged homes yet to be repaired. When he saw the McMansions built by fleeing City People he couldn't believe it.

We had a big crowd in worship, as I expected. Whole families arrived with kin I don't see except on Big Holidays. Our cute every-other-Sunday organist who looks like a 16 year old brought her two enormous boys. One of my members tried to introduce her husband's sister's cousin's nephew to LD thinking that LD was an adult. When I announced LD's upcoming 15th birthday, the member turned green. This was a hootin' church experience for LD who was charmed by the introduction.

Perhaps the highlight for everyone present, not counting the second hymn which no one knew (and after hearing it I don't want to know it), as a grand gesture of inclusive holy prayer, I knocked my water glass off the pulpit into the offering bowl.


St. Casserole

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I am thinking about:

Holy Week

how hot it is early in the morning already (70's today at 5:30am!)

signs of Spring in our yard

LD's birthday next week

Phil Rickman's new Merrily Watkins' book, The Remains of an Altar

my covenant group and the Lilly project

how I don't wear white dress shoes even after Easter

my LLS and LSiL

prayer and hope

What's on your mind?

St. Casserole, always thinking even if I look half-asleep