Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Things (You Didn't Need To Know)

These "25 Things" lists have been floating around Facebook this week, but I decided to share mine with our little blog community instead (good idea, Erin). Here are 25 randomly chosen facts about me (in no particular order).

1) I love M*A*S*H. It’s my favorite TV show of all time. I own most of the seasons on DVD and can quote along with them. Here’s my favorite: Radar wants the (Catholic) Chaplain to give a blessing to his mother’s cow over the phone. He says, “Father, can you do it in Methodist?” Father Mulcahey replies, “I’m a piano player, Radar. I’ll transpose.”

2) My friend April and I shared the title of “tallest kid in class” from Kindegarten until 7th grade when one of the boys mercifully surpassed us. When I graduated college people finally quit saying, “you should play basketball.” It is not safe to assume that tall people are automatically good at basketball, and I’m proof.

3) All my “adult” relationships have been with men whose names start with J. My friend says it’s because I have a set of monogrammed N&J towels that I don’t want to part with. Yeah, that’s it. I choose men based on my linens. And my blender gives me career advice.

4) I spent 13 years as a vegetarian and only recently returned to eating red meat. Now I love cheeseburgers. Who knew?

5) I always have my toenails painted a bright color, but will only wear sheer or clear colors on my fingers.

6) I’m not the best driver. In fact, I much prefer life as the passenger. Front-seat passenger, that is. I don’t have the best stomach either.

7) I am simultaneously an only child and the youngest of three. Was it Jung that had the theory on the impact of birth-order on personality development? I bet I’d be fun for him.

8) When I was pretty young (4 or 5) a store clerk asked me “where did you get those big blue eyes?” I responded, “at K-Mart.” Apparently EVERYTHING comes from K-Mart. I might swing by the ole Big K this weekend to see if they have my hips in a different size.

9) I hate Wal-Mart. Not only do their politics make me angry, but the store actually gives me the willies. Blech.

10) I love smooth foods: pudding, yogurt, applesauce, ice cream, smoothies, you name it. If you don’t have to chew it, it is comfort food for me. I guess I won’t ever have to worry about what I will eat when all my teeth fall out (or when I misplace my dentures…whichever comes first).

11) I got a thumb ring during my hippie phase in high school. I’m still wearing the ring, but I quit braiding beads into my hair, and I no longer own Birkenstocks.

12) I have five close girlfriends. Every last one of them is smart, beautiful, funny, and talented. Their friendship fills me with joy and sustains me through hard times. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

13) I do not have the stereotypical female obsession with shoes. I am obsessed with bags instead. I get a ridiculous amount of pleasure from having just the right bag for the day. When I finished grad school and got a big kid’s job I splurged and treated myself to my only super-fancy bag. Never mind the fact that I could have used the money to knock off one month of the student loan payment. Kate Spade and I are going to live happily ever after.

14) Most kids had a rocking horse. I had a rocking pig, handmade by my dad. I still have it.

15) I have no desire to have children, but I want a dog so badly I can hardly stand it. Happiness is a Labrador Retriever.

16) Even though I’m not interested in having kids of my own, it delights me to no end that some of my girlfriends are starting to have kiddos. They are SO much cuter than other people’s children, and I adore them. Being an “aunt” is one of my new favorite jobs.

17) I really like tap dancing – especially the rhythmic stomp style. As luck would have it, SoundGuy likes it too.

18) A majority of the items in my home and my office are either alphabetized, color-coded, arranged according to size, grouped with like items, or all of the above. I heart organizing. In fact, I’ve even toyed with the idea of becoming a Professional Organizer. I went to one of the meetings…

19) I never had allergies growing up. When I moved to Oregon everyone said, “you’ll get allergies for sure!” Eight years later, I got allergies. Huh. Apparently I’m slow.

20) I have a major irrational fear of snakes. Can’t stand them – even a picture in a book sends me over the edge. However, I have no problem with bugs, spiders, or other creepy-crawlies. In fact, I am the designated cockroach killer at work (we have a very old building). Isn’t that nice? Maybe I should put that on my resume.

21) My first car was a 1982 Ford Mustang. It was black and it had a sunroof and my dad fixed it up for me. It was the coolest thing on wheels except for the fact that it died every time I stopped at the bottom of our hill…and the sunroof started leaking when I moved to Oregon…and the steering wheel would vibrate so hard when you hit 65 mph that you felt like you were sitting in that machine that shakes paint cans. Other than that, it was the best!

22) When I met SoundGuy in 1999 I thought he was a weirdo (and he recently informed me that he though I was bitchy. Want to guess how well that went over?). I would never, ever, in a zillion years, have thought that I would end up with said weirdo. And I’ve never been so glad to be wrong. He’s weird in the nicest possible ways. Except for that “no broccoli” thing. That’s a real problem.

23) I love broccoli! (And almost all other vegetables). If I’m not eating smooth foods (see #10) I want to be eating fresh vegetables. My favorite is a tomato straight from the garden, still warm.

24) I was never spanked or grounded as a child. In fact, I don’t really remember negative discipline at all. I do remember having to put a dime in “The Bank of Dear Old Dad” (an old metal band-aid box) if I forgot to turn off the lights when I left the room. I guess assembling your child from parts purchased at K-Mart is the way to go – apparently I was perfect. And humble, too. We have a blue-light special on humility in aisle 14…

25) I am religious about wearing sunscreen and you should be too. Seriously, it’s important.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Have you hugged a Monk lately?

Blue Cloud Abbey is located just across the Minnesota Border in South Dakota. Perched upon a hill in the middle of the planes the abbey is an immensely tranquil place seeped in the 1500 year traditions of the Benedictine Monks. As you can see the view from that hill is quite spectacular. Sunrise and sunset both in the dead of winter is simply amazing in the mid-west. The above sunrise is from looking out the Sacristy Window just after early morning prayers. With bells that toll not only the time but the monks praying schedule, it's hard not to fall into the monastic life.

I have had a few experiences at monasteries but none will equal the rejuvenating solitude and hospitality that I experienced at Blue Cloud. I am curious to read the Benedictine Rules set forth 1500 years ago. What I do know is they treat every guest as if they were Jesus themselves. The are ordered to refrain from talking to you unless you approach them or they have a reason to greet you. In a world where personal interaction is typically about selling you something, greeting you or making sure you are taken care of, this simplicity of hospitality is almost daunting. Although I had a few interactions with the monks, I never had any conversations with them till the very end of my stay. Our retreat was overseen so to say by the current organist who participated in everything we did. Father Michael turned out to be an amazing and passionate human. I really enjoyed singing with him and picking his brain about the order.
Overall I spent much of my time gathering with local South Dakota musicians and listening to Ken Dejong and Paul Klemme teach about singing and conducting techniques. My free time was spent participating in prayer services or relaxing. I did get a tour of the Monastery and realized how big the place really was. They have a bakery, a carpentry shop, multiple garages with cars and tractors and tools, a full talor shop and art department, a greenhouse and I learned they own quite a bit of farmland. In the past when they were closer to 60 monks, they even owned a dairy farm with 200 cows.
The highlight of Blue Cloud Abbey isn't where the monks live and work but where they celebrate prayers daily, every day, 365 days a year. As Fr. Michael put it, our job is to worship the Lord...and even in our economy, that job will never dissapear. As you can see the space is a beautiful cathedral style church with amazing stained glass and a 3 manual organ that is a joy to play and listen to.
The monastic life may be a simple one focus on living out the tennants of Christianity, but what they offer us I think is even more simple and important, a space to rejuvenate and remind ourselves of what life is about...others. If you have never visited a monastery or retreated at one, I highly suggest it. Not only will you find the hospitality above and beyond anything you have ever experienced, you will also slow your life down and meet some men who will truly touch your life without even saying a word. (I will also mention that a day at Blue Cloud Abbey cost $50 and gives you a room that rivals most hotels along with 3 meals a day.)

So, I say again, "Have you hugged a Monk lately?" You might want to try it and find the spiritual rest we all need.

Peace and Grace as always,


Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Night Lights

This evening is a free Friday night for me - what a treat! Nowhere to be, nothing that can't wait until tomorrow, and a little free time on my hands. Naturally I lit the big candle.

And then I did a whole lot of random unrelated things:
1) Chatted with Pam on the phone. Yay for Pam =)
2) Made a sneaky call to my step-dad to discuss birthday presents for his wife. I'm willing to bet she didn't even know it happened - and she was in the same room.

3) Flipped through the most recent batch of pics from Dad's Texas adventures - mostly armadillos and aircraft carriers. Man, armadillos are ugly. So ugly, in fact, that I won't even put them on our blog. Come back when you're cuter, armadillos.

4) Indulged in a Simpsons rerun. Apparently it's been on the air for 20 years (or so they told me at every commercial break...). I love Martin the nerd. He's so sincere.
5) Modeled my new specs. Big thanks to Beth for deciding she was bored with these cute red frames. One trip to the optometrist for a switch of the lenses and I finally have a pair for home and a pair for the office. Maybe now I'll read more... (yes, mom, I am reading with plenty of good light)
6) Speaking of reading, I'm tearing through this ridiculously amusing book.
See how I have my nose in the book? HA! The story is told from the prospective of an Episcopalian church musician who has a day job as a detective - they call it a liturgical mystery. Though it was written to be humorous, the depictions of life with the "frozen chosen" are dead-on. Kind of a glimpse into my future...good thing I find it so uproariously funny!

7) Chatted with a certain Episcopalian church musician on Skype. Anyone in a long-distance relationship will tell you what a life-saver this can be. Especially when your Episcopalian church musician is attending a weekend retreat at a remote abbey in South Dakota. Apparently the monks aren't very concerned with a strong cell signal. Go figure.

8) Blogged about all this nonsense. The end.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


My dad has been meandering through the southwest and recently ventured into Roswell, New Mexico. Not being one to let the spectacle go unnoticed, he shipped me a load of souvenirs including alien socks, a Roswell flying saucer, and an "alien specimen collection bag." Maybe that will become my new lunch bag...definitely one way to ensure that your coworkers leave your lunch alone! Thanks, Pop!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Better Angels of our Nature

It's MLK day and not to out-do the choirpres on number of posts but I feel inspired to write a politically saturated post. With the culmination (imagine dude standing behind me repeating "culmination!") of the presidential inauguration and MLK day I feel bombarded by symbolism and past historical moments. Everything is mounting toward a potentially devastating or inspirational next 4 years. What I appreciate is Obama's continued use and reference to past historical speeches. This morning listening to MPR (yes, that's Minnesota Public Radio) and they mentioned one of his speeches quoting "the better angels of our nature." I am called to remember American History X (and the quotation at the end which closes the movie) which inspired me to memorize the last line of Lincolns First Inaugural speach:
"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
Considering what was to come after Lincoln made this speech and the mass death and destruction that would ultimately lead us where we are today, I wonder and ponder what Lincoln meant by "better angels of our nature." The daily evil that permeates our news. The thousands of years of fighting that has occurred in the middle east. The poverty that covers the earth. Better Angels of our Nature?

Was Lincoln oblivious to what was sure to come? Is Obama? I would like to think no. I would like to think that both men considered and understood that what they were inheriting as president was a world full of malice and can I say "bad juju". I think they both know and knew what was to come and understood that it was their ability to lead that was imperative for the time to come. Licoln couldn't stop the civil war. Obama can't stop the recession. For me the proof will be in the pudding. Will Obama's cool head prevail? Will he truly turn and listen to all sides to determine the best course of action?

If there was ever a time to call upon our "Better Angels" I think it is now. The future will surely test and tempt our deamons who lurk in the shadows of malice and judgment. But I hope and believe that the Angels will prevail. It's about time our purported 80% Christian nation began to embody it's moral fabric. The "Better Angels" I think is the love for our neighbor which Christ called the second greatest commandment.

I am exciting to hear Obama tomorrow and hear who and what else he references in his speech. I have my fingers crossed that he continues to lay homage to Lincoln and MLK. I think I will prepare by reading Lincoln and MLK's inspiring speeches. See you all on the other side of history.

Peace and Grace,


Sunday, January 18, 2009

What Not to Write

This is the time of year when I spend a lot of time reading application essays submitted by prospective graduate students. While most of them are well-polished, presenting inspiring personal stories and evidence of strong academic potential, there are always a few that miss the mark. I read three doozies in a row earlier this week, and actually laughed out loud at the choices these applicants made with their essays. I think I can safely share these bloopers without identifying anyone or compromising the integrity of our process, and I just can't resist. As you read, remember that these are applicants for a very competitive graduate-level program (not high school students).

What Not to Write Example #1:
The applicant's essay begins with, "Close your eyes and envision...". This is followed by a lengthy paragraph describing exactly what the reader should be envisioning. Seriously? Close my eyes? So I guess you don't actually want anyone to read your essay after all. Maybe I can close my eyes and hold the essay to my forehead (al a Johnny Carson with his envelopes) and miraculously know the contents? That must be it.

What Not to Write Example #2:
This blooper wasn't part of an essay, but was listed on the resume section of the application where applicants list recent and significant employment, volunteer positions, and extra-curricular activities. Since most applicants have recently graduated from college or been out of college for awhile, it's common to list college and post-college experiences here. Occasionally folks will stretch and list a significant a high school experience, but that's kind of pushing it. This offender - a college graduate - actually listed "Elementary School Student Body President" in the resume section. My first gripe is the fact that this experience took place at least 12 years ago! How could it possibly represent the applicant's current activities and involvement? Secondly, what does an Elementary School Student Body President even do? Monitor the hallways? Serve as line-leader? Mediate playground disputes when the four-square game gets a little out of hand?

What Not to Write Example #3:
This one is my favorite. In his essay, the applicant was trying to explain that he is a post-baccalaureate student. For those of you outside the world of higher ed., this term indicates a student who already has a bachelors - "baccalaureate" - degree, and has enrolled in additional undergraduate courses after receiving their degree. This poor applicant is either a victim of bad spell-checking or just plain clueless because he referred to himself as a post-bachelorette student. HA! My guess is that he was either recently dumped by his girlfriend, or is a reality-show cast-off. One thing is for sure, I won't forget his essay anytime soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009


You know it's cold when....

1. Ice Crystals form on the middle of the window for no apparent reason.
2. Your thermostat kicks on every 5 minutes.
3. The tires on the car look like they are loosing air.
4. Snow crunches under your feet when you walk outside.
5. The salt on the sidewalks doesn't work.
6. The steaming hot coffee in your super cool travel mug is lukewarm after a 5 minute walk.
7. 4 layers does not keep you warm.
8. When Minnesotan's complain that it's cold.
9. Every smoke stack, car exhaust, manhole cover etc. is billowing a white cloud.
10. The snot and hair in your nose freeze as soon as you step outside.

Welcome to -21 Degrees ladies and gentlemen. No wonder Minnesotans are tough.


Friday, January 9, 2009


Well Everybody,

Hotdish and Hallelujah's is back up-to-date with a modern blog templates (you're welcome Choirpres). Of course it's not personalized and for that I apologize. I will work on that as time allows. Waiting on approval of our current layout. But we have cool stuff (check the side bar) and hope you will humor us as we get the blog back to where we want it.

HELP - Got any layout suggestions or ideas for us? Leave 'em in the comments below!

I am sure there are some good posts coming in the near future so keep your eyes on your reader or check-in next time you have the chance. Grace and Peace on you from cold MN.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mushy Love Stuff

CAUTION: In honor of our one-year anniversary today, this post is a reflection over the special times SoundGuy and I shared in 2008. It definitely contains mushy love stuff that might make you "stiff upper lip" types uncomfortable so consider yourself forewarned! Oh, and it may have been manufactured in a facility where nuts are used...and it hasn't passed FDA inspection...and it might contain lead...and people with pacemakers should steer clear of the microwaves it's emitting... That should probably cover me in the disclaimer department. How about a pictorial to make this story more interesting? Here's a look back at some highlights of a wonderful year with a wonderful man.

January After a long friendship, SoundGuy and I had an official date one year ago tonight. Both being nervous about the potential to ruin a perfectly good friendship with the mushy love stuff, we decided to give dating a six-week trial period. If we liked it, great! If not, we'd call "game off" and attempt to revert to friendship. How practical. How pragmatic. How fateful! We shared our decision with a few close friends, but decided to keep things on the down-low for the general public. And especially for the church ladies (who we love very much, and who probably deserve their own post one of these days. Ack! - that was another disclaimer!)

By mid-February we'd come to the end of our trial period. Throwing caution to the wind we went public and, on a choir tour to Washington D.C., we held hands in front of the church ladies! Gasp! Talk about mushy love stuff. We're pictured above in the National Gallery of Art.

By March we took a big risk: our first road trip. We drove to Montana for a stress-filled week of family drama. And we lived to tell about it. I snapped this shot of the dashboard somewhere along I-84. It's kind of a SoundGuy still life: the cross, Helmut Reilling, and a cinnamon dolce mocha. Just the important stuff.

SoundGuy's birthday is in April, and I bought him a big-boy bow-tie (a very practical gift for your average musician). After about 37 views of the instructions on YouTube we got it tied. Mostly.

In May, SoundGuy got to take his big-boy bow-tie out for a spin when our choir performed at the Mt. Angel abbey. It was approximately a million degrees in the abbey church that weekend. That probably accounts for how shiny everyone looks in this photo.

We cooled right off in June, traveling to Alaska to help Pop celebrate his 60th birthday. When I watched my dad relinquish his truck keys to SoundGuy I knew this guy was something different. He drove the truck and 5th-wheel all afternoon with the "playing it cool on the oustide but giddy like a school girl on the inside" expression on his face. I guess that's a whole different kind of mushy love stuff that I don't understand.

Fresh off the Bach Festival (and his subsequent Helmut Reiling fix), SoundGuy joined me on Mt. Hood to do the music for the wedding of our friends, Jill & Mark. This required him to schlep a whole lot of sound equipment, learn some crazy piano parts to the music I'd chosen, play a little guitar, DJ the reception, and then schlep a whole lot of sound equipment again. He's like a roving minstrel for the new millenium - volkswagen, guitar, speaker stand, linen pants...

LinkIn August, SoundGuy packed his bags and headed for Seminary. And I proceeded to do a fair amount of pouting.

I didn't lay my eyes on SoundGuy once during September. Not one time. This is what he really looked like. Hello Moto.

OctoberI made my first trip to "the cities" in October. Apparently it's incredibly uncool to refer to them as Minneapolis and/or St. Paul. So we're calling them "the cities" now. I would hate to be uncool. Especially when I run around with a guy wearing a fedora.

SoundGuy came home for Thanksgiving. Yay! We spent the holiday with his family at the coast. I'm not gonna lie to you - there was some hand-holding. I'm laying the mushy love stuff on thick now.

December marked our first Christmas together and we managed to avoid most of the Clark W. Grizwold atrocities that plague so many holiday celebrations. Can't beat that!

And here it is - one full year. A wise woman once told me that you should see your mate through all the seasons to really begin to know them, and I think she was right. While SoundGuy and I have only scratched the surface, what comes glinting through is a bright future. So big smooches and lots of mushy love stuff to my favorite person on a special day. I really like holding your hand.


Before I take the time to upgrade the layout (thanks for the subtle hint ChoirPres), I found another series of pictures I just HAD to animate. Yes, I am sure that the people in the pictures won't be super happy with me but, it is one of the classic reactions to a gift my sis already knew she was getting. Sigh. Enjoy.


Monday, January 5, 2009


I have to begin this post with a confession: I read my own blog. After I've made a post, I like to see what it looks like "for real" so I'll cruise to our site. I never know what SoundGuy is posting till it pops up for the whole world to see, so I feel a little bit justified in stalking my own blog to keep up on his shenanigans too.

Even though I've been e-yammering away since June, it was only today that I noticed how all the things wrong with our sidebar. Have you noticed the "Blank" menu which has indicated "more to come" for the better part of the year? As the not-so-tech-savvy contributor I claim absolutely no responsibility for these oversights. I'm sure it would be rude to point out the individual who might be capable of correcting these problems, so I'll refrain from pointing my finger at him.

How about a New Year's resolution from the good folks here at Hotdish? In 2009, you can count on us to fill in the blank. Get it? Fill in the blank? Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

PS - Holiday updates are coming, I swear! As soon as I can see over the laundry heap I'll get right on it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Trip Highlights

As most of you know I spent the last week of the year in Oregon. I thought I would post a couple pictures in preparation for ChoirPres' on-slot of great detailed posts.

Here's the family during our Christmas Celebration (Dec. 27th)
Here we are with the official Davidson Family Christmas Stockings.
Here was part of my Mothers Birthday Celebration.
(ChoirPres and the Sis made it special for my mom)
The girl and I at the Heathman with...
...These Wonderful People!
(I think I passed the best-friend analysis)

I think we managed to bounce up and down the valley from Vancouver to Corvallis seeing wonderful people in between. Thank you for such wonderful memories everybody and I look forward to the next visit. B&T: Next time it will be on your turf.

FYI: Oregon - 40 Degrees | Minnesota - 10 Degrees