Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Making Things New

Today more furniture was shifted around and parts of the room revealed that had been hidden for decades. Walls that have not been cleaned in an equal amount of time were washed down and made ready for painting on Thursday. The color, cleaned, is not so dingy or forlorn as it was and this is healing. We did not deliberately choose and use an ugly color when we painted forty years ago.

First we will prime. I say we because I can sit and roll the paint onto the lower sections of wall. I am pleased to recover some of my old ability to adapt and do things, even though I have had post-polio syndrome for over twenty years. M will do most of the painting as she has up until now.

This has been a remarkable summer of recovery and hope. It is also one of re-establishing connections as a friend from graduate school days in Chicago will be visiting this evening with pictures of his family as well as some from our shared time at International House.

Recently, I went web-surfing and looked at the renovations that have been made at I-House, as we called it. It is a beautiful old building that now looks much more comfortable to live in than it was thirty years ago. The one thing I do wish we would have had would have been DSL. The internet as we know it today did not exist then.

My new paper shredder was delivered while my friend M was washing the walls. I am eager to reduce the clutter and the paper in my life and house. I continue to sing "Don't hang on" as I wheel around from room to room. So I will take a break now to declutter.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday, Moving On

It is Monday morning, July 30. Another month is about to end and I am facing a blank blog box in much the same way that I face a blank page. Do I have something to say today? Last night as I was falling asleep I could think of a number of things, now they seem to have fled with sleep. Maybe they weren't worth saying.

One wall of my master bedroom is now the most delicate, delightful green thanks to my young friend, M who has been painting for me. This color, chosen to complement a poster of Our Lady of Guadalupe, given to me years ago by another friend, is so clean and clear. It replaces a blue that had turned dingy after forty years of being on the wall. The wall took two washings--residual tobacco smoke from thirty to forty years ago is not nice to walls. It took two coats of primer-sealer, slurping it up as though it were a thirsty child on a hot summer day and then it received two coats of paint, lovingly applied. We are excited by this project, M and I.

It is good to have something new and fresh in my life. The room, once my parents bedroom, has a new future as a sewing and crafts room for me. My knitting and yarn stash will quit overflowing the living-room and be neatly categorized in the new "big room" as M has christened it. My sewing machine will be on a table of its own that I can comfortably wheel up to. My parents dressers will still be in the room and I plan to place photos and treasures on each. The dressers themselves are too valuable as accessible storage space to move them on. Other furniture will finally move on.

Leviticus says there is a time for every season under heaven. An old pop song from the 80's, I believe, says "don't hang on". I was reflecting on both as I sat in the room with the beautiful new wall last night and thought about how much this should alleviate my depression. "Decluttering and the cost of paint, with the kindness of a friend to apply it costs less than psychiatry and anti-depressants." We will see if the approach works. Purposefulness helps too, I think, although medicine certainly has its place too.

I look forward to what I will make in this room and to selling it on Etsy and even through this blog.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sunflowers and Painting

I never much liked sunflowers really, because I never much liked Vincent Van Gogh's famous painting of them. Now they march along my fence outside my office window and they are gorgeous. They have made me love them. So it is never too late to change!

Parts of my house are being painted by kind young friends and the light glows on the new color, clean and bright and fresh. What a superb difference it makes!

Attendant to the painting is the necessity to clean, to move things out of the way to make way for the painting to progress. Fortunately, the city in which I live has "on call pick-ups" for extra trash and now the race is on. Just how much stuff can I get ready and who will push it out for me?

So my posts may be a bit spotty over the next few days, not a good beginning for a blog, but a renewal of my life nonetheless.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Feast of St. Ann

Another thing about me that is most important is that I am a Catholic, raised before Vatican II, who still loves the traditions, liturgy and Gregorian chant that I knew in my childhood. The rosary is not merely a pretty string of beads, but a comforting prayer. The saints are not just dead people who lived a long time ago, but my friends whom I speak to frequently. Angels play a role in my life. Candles and incense have a place in my devotions and novenas are a comfortable way to mark days of intercession for family and friends as well as for my own needs.

Most of all I love the resonant Latin of my childhood, the beauty and mystery of Mass, Vespers and Benediction. One of the most important experiences in my life was singing in a Gregorian Chant Choir during the foundational early years of my adulthood. We were interested in monasticism and how the Divine Office could be incorporated into the life of lay people. On Sundays, in addition to singing Mass, we also sang Vespers, ate dinner together and finished the evening with Compline. That experience led to my decision to study at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, a momentous experience in my life.

So today I share that I am Catholic and that this is the feast of St. Ann, one of my favorite days of the year. From the Introit to the Communion the chant is beautiful and the Epistle reading is about the role of the good woman from Proverbs.

Technically now it is the Feast of St Ann and St Joachim and that is all right with me. After all a child raised by two parents is more blessed than one with only one parent. Since St Ann has been known colloquially as the "Grandmother of God", I wonder does this new tradition make St Joachim, the "Grandfather of God"? I hope so; I like the idea since grandfathers as well as grandmothers are important figures in our lives. It is appropriate to honor the fathers as well as the mothers in our lives.

For more of my thoughts about St. Ann, please see my Squidoo lens
  • http://www.squidoo.com/saintann/
  • Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    This and That and Who I Am

    I began this blog with the intention of writing everyday. Now, on the second day, I am already looking at the blank blog space and wondering what to say. I will take this opportunity to introduce myself. I am old enough to be a grandmother, but since I never married, never had any children I am looking forward to being a grandaunt instead. This summer both of my sister's children have married and one couple is expecting their first child, a boy, in the Fall--near my birthday in fact. We are all quite excited and praying for a healthy baby.

    When I was six years old, six days after my sixth birthday to be exact, I contracted Polio. I like to say the Polio virus "caught me", after the custom of an African tribe I read about in the only Anthropology course I ever took. It was graduate school and the University of Chicago was like an intellectual smörgåsbord. Once a student matriculated in one department or school, the whole university was open. I accepted the invitation and studied how different people viewed illness. It was eye-opening. The cold caught me. The polio virus caught me. It had a certain charm and made sense. Why would any of us catch a cold or any illness for that matter? It put the illness in its place--as an interloper, an intruder in my life that had temporarily won. (I don't remember after nearly three decades if that was how the tribal members viewed it, or if I am making the concept my own as I write this. Quite probably it is the latter.)

    Illness, disability in particular, has shaped my life, defined certain things that I can do and others that I cannot do. But I am not the illness or the disability. I will write about this more in the coming blog posts, I am sure.

    Over the last few months, as I prepared to become a blogger, I have been reading other blogs. Several are by women who are caring for special needs children and they have touched me particularly so that I hope to link to them and comment from time to time. I was a "special needs" child before the term was invented. So there will be more about that too.

    Gardening is a passion, color is a joy and it manifests itself in knitting, sewing, photography and digital editing. Cooking, which I once loved enough to be a passable gourmet cook, has become a chore as I age and I fight the calorie battle that is so much worse for a sedentary person. I will write about all of these things. I will tell you more about myself tomorrow.

    I hope to post once a day and will try to make sure to come here at least two or three times a week. So please come back and visit my blog often.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    Gold Finches and Sunflowers

    I garden, as I do everything, with a great deal of help from my friends for as a disabled person I can enjoy the visual display of my garden, water the plants growing in pots and occasionally take pictures, but not the larger gardening tasks. Plants, planted in the ground where my wheel chair does not go depend, as I do, on the assistance of friends. Pruning would not get done at all without other willing hands (and strong backs.)

    Last summer a friend hung bird feeders from tree branches that I can see from all my back windows. On Friday of last week these feeders were empty for people had been away on vacation. Two finches came and perched on the window ledge a foot or so away from where I was typing on my computer.

    "No bird feeders there," they seemed to be saying as they looked all around my room. I assured them the feeders would soon be filled and wondered what my office looked like to a bird. First, the large being tapping on the strange machine, much as they peck for seed. Then everything, even the stuffed animals on the computer desk overwhelming larger than they are. What would rows of books look like to little birds? I laughed and was filled with joy.

    That same morning I looked out at the sunflowers another friend planted in June. The summer's glory is reflected in their color. Yellow is not a color I have ever especially liked, but this color! It is so deep and glorious that it has made me love it. The sunflowers truly do "follow the sun" as their name implies. At different times of the day they point in different directions. The leaves are so big they could be used as dinner plates!