Wednesday, December 24, 2008

An Extra Special Christmas

So, here it is, Christmas Eve, the night before what's supposed to be la piece de resistance, the Big Day. But we've already had a succession of Big Days!

It began 12/12, when we flew to NJ to attend sister-in-law Eleanor's (Sister Eleanor Francis) ordination as an Episcopalian priest. The ordination in the convent chapel, attended by >100 friends, family, sisters and fellow prelates, was simply wonderful -- warm, affirming (how my eyebrows did raise when the Bishop invoked the matriarchs and patriarchs), with beautiful music, vocal and instrumental. The exquisite Kyrie simply made me cry.

Second to that was the opportunity to spend some time in the convent with the sisters, getting to know a whole passel of new sisters! What an interesting, engaging lot they are, and they made us all feel so welcome. (I should explain "we" -- us'n's, plus Mom Martha and sister Bonnie from California.)

Next, we trained down to NYC for a family sojourn in Manhattan. We (this time, the nuclear "we") rented an apartment in the upper 90's, just off Park Avenue. It was warm, cozy, and quiet, being off the busy streets, with the wonderful copper cupolas of a Russian Orthodox cathedral as its view (along with a few penthouse gardens). Wonder of wonders, the weather -- sweater fine the first day -- blessed us with a snow flurry the next, and then two days later, enough for snowball fights and a winter wonderland walk in Central Park.

What a wonderful time! With my brother Larry (aka "Santa") in full host-mode, we saw Radio City's holiday show, complete with high-kicking Rockettes (and a Santa, whose bad joke sophisticated 13 year-old Remy just had to comment on a bit too loudly; i.e., "You suck!" -- Let me just die and ooze away under the rows of seats, please .... ). Sadly, Mommy Marie was felled by the flu that very day, missing the show -- but there was the DVD to compensate.

The next day, we visited the United Nations -- wonderful! -- and that night, Santa Larry scored four fabulous tickets to "Wicked." Poor Marie - again, too low to go after a day out, so he saw it (for the third time) with us. I went back the following day and got two more primo seats, and Marie and I went together that night (while Santa and girls saw "Bolt").

Of course, we had to visit Chinatown (twice) and venture just far enough into little Italy for a cannoli. Chinatown's fish market lured me with beautiful, perfectly fresh sea scallops for only $7/lb -- half of Atlanta's price -- so we feasted on that our last night in NYC with Santa Larry, celebrating his 37th wedding anniversary at the same time. Sadly, his bride was still in the Philippines, reclaiming her family's lands. We were a poor substitute, but hey! A party is a party! I will post some of the pix we took in NY on johansonmurray.spaces.live.com.

Back home to warm temperatures and our most majestic tree ever, looking forward to celebrating the season with our friends.

May you and yours be as blessed as we are in this season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our Greece pictures link

.. and maybe other pix in future? Who knows -- I just finally figured out that I had to assign a Web address in order to make them accessible so, given my clearly advanced degree of technocratic talent ....

Anyway, enjoy! You'll want to go too!

http://johansonmurray.spaces.live.com/default.aspx

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How time do fly.

Good lord, hard to believe it's been almost a year. Maybe I'll eventually get into this blogging thing -- especially if I can ever get photos downloaded from my digital camera. (Pathetic, I know.)

And whadda year.

The last year, praise the lord, of the proof of HL Mencken's 1920 prediction: "On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

The year my impeccably badly-timed decision to flip investment houses in '06-'07 came home to roost financially. But also the year my wise and accomplished darling accepted an invitation to speak at a conference in Athens, Greece and took me along (pix at MSN PhotoShare but my links aren't working -- will insert later).

The year of our girls blossoming into adolescence while retaining such girlhood habits as, as Leonard Pitts put it so aptly,"that landfill down the hall you call a bedroom." Wow, what a trip to see their adult-ish selves peeking out now and then. Can't imagine life without the fun and fatigue of their outrageous presence.

The year of Obama. Yes, I did support Hillary. I thought Obama should take a term or two as VP learning on the job exactly what he would face to "change" the system. Then I thought Hillary should be VP because she'd be a good Prez and because I fear so desperately for his safety. (I want him in the White House or in a Prezmobile, permanently, for the next 8 years.)

But I am absolutely awed at the immense tide of populism (its grass-roots meaning) that swept him into office. I was stunned at the world-wide outpouring of joy at his election. Never seen anything like it; don't think anything like it ever happened. It makes me happy to have a leader in place with such intelligence, let alone such trans-national appeal. He literally is the physical embodiment of the American ideal, a biracial Horatio Alger (boy, doesn't that reference date me).

And that's what worries me, aside from his safety from crazies. So much is riding on his success, so many people world-wide have a stake in it. As Barbara Crofton wisely said one of her "Almost Daily eMo" emails(http://www.geraniumfarm.org/):

"Calm down. The New Testament figure of the bridegroom is Christ. It's not our president-elect.

"Still, even those who did not support Barack Obama recognize what this week's election says about how far our society has come, and the people who supported him are giddy with happiness. Everything is possible now, it seems. Change has come.

"But change doesn't really come overnight. The first-century world was not visibly different the day after the resurrection from what it had been the day before. It was the same hard place it had always been. The Way opened gradually, as way always opens: one person at a time. One heart at a time. A series of small decisions for the good, made by many people many times over. They add up."


The difference now is, having a leader to actually encourage that kind of transformation.

So, we live in hope -- hope that landfills will become neat rooms; hope that our daughters' good hearts and good minds will support them through a life full of challenges; hope that, one step at a time (and please God, a quantum leap or two) the world really will become a better place ... just in the nick of time.

A happy holiday season and wonderful New Year to you all.