Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nearly Last Rose

Sunday I cut down what I think will be the last rose from this bush for this year. It may surprise me and bloom again for Christmas, but I don't expect it too. It was over six feet high, so I had to cut low and then whack the stem in half, no small task. It was covered with very large, very sharp thorns, which didn't quite defend it from me and didn't defend it from powdery mildew either. It is probably time to consider spraying them all again. The small yellow bush has a cluster of perfect sweet flowers, and the other two have a few. These roses have been such a blessing to me, growing as they do in their containers on my porch steps, where I can enjoy them so much.

Here is the picture that I took of the rose today. It is so large. I think it is Mr. Lincoln. It is also incredibly fragrant, but there is no way to share this over the internet.

The rose is so beautiful and inserting the picture has made me so happy (that after crowing quite loudly) I have decided that is my accomplisment for today and I will now raid the Halloween candy and go to bed! Happy day before Halloween.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Getting Started

I am off to a slow start this week. Which project shall it be? Self-employment can become unemployment all too quickly if one does not have a combination of organization and discipline. Routine helps too. Last night, I did not make my customary to-do list. Thought I could do it in the morning. That doesn't work as well as doing it at night. I sleep better and get off to a quicker start if the piece of paper is there with the tasks ready to be ticked off.

Today's list includes email which is done and this blog and then taking pictures. I have a totally magnificent rose that grew and grew and grew. At about 6'3" it stopped and put forth a bud which bloomed quite quickly. It is red, fluffy, large and fragrant and deserves to have its picture taken. A cluster of yellow roses is blooming on the porch steps (which have become a resting stop for planters, since I can't use the steps.) The chrysanthemum that must be six years old by now is blooming, too. My garden, even though it is mostly in containers amazes me.

Watching the cycle of the plants growing is a better reminder of the cycle of the seasons than any calendar alone can be. They have a certain inherent humility as well that inspires me and also draws my affection to them. The color show makes me wonder how God did this--how do the plants know that they are to be these colors? What delight, creativity and even whimsy the Creator displayed in making them all! Even more so in making us! Just as the plants diversity completes the garden, so too our diversity completes the communities we share.

Well, it is time to go take that rose picture. Peace to everyone today.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saturday Fun

When I was growing up (in the house that I still live in) Fall Saturdays where devoted to yard work, garage chores and later baking as the holidays drew near. Today I combined all three with nostalgia and the help of a friend. The baking came first--I made brownies as cupcakes from a mix to decorate tomorrow with Halloween decorations given to me by a friend last weekend. Then, as I settled down to wait on hold for Big Ugly Cable Company to not answer the phone, a friend arrived and began whacking bushes. While I waited she whacked and filled my large yard toter for recycle. I did nothing but wait. Disgusted with BUCC and not wanting to miss the opportunity to visit with my friend, I hung up the phone, grabbed the garage key and wheeled outside. There was something I wanted from the garage, which I cannot enter so I wanted to make the most of the chance to ask for help. My friend obliged. I did not have what I wanted but she began to eye various piles and heaved objects around and eyed certain shelves. As she held things up for me to view, she said things like, "Do you want this?" "I can make it disappear." (She is an expert recyclers and drives a mini-van.) The upshot? A much tidier quadrant of my garage and many things on their way to the recycle. Just like old times--baking, yard and garage. I was reminded of my father as we sorted. He had saved scrap-metal intending to recycle it. Now it will go where it can be reused. he also saved spark plugs. There appears to be no way to recycle them. Sigh. If my sister and I had known about his cache, we would have buried one with him--or maybe a handful. That makes me wonder what future archaeologists several centuries hence would think finding spark plugs where someone had been buried. Maybe I should try to make a short story out of it. It was a fun day and I am grateful, as I always am for the friendship of this strong, smart woman. (She even found a tool that she could not identify. I didn't think such a thing existed on the face of the earth.) May she live long and prosper!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Disaster Preparedness, 2

Monday's post brought a very thoughtful comment from Rev Terrie Modesto, PhD, which I invite you to read. She suggests that we consider disaster preparedness as part of stewardship. This is a wonderful way to link our practical and spiritual lives.

I have continued to follow the news on the Southern California fires and am relieved to see that the weather is supposed to moderate. Still, I can't help but wonder what could have been done to care for the land in a better way that would reflect our stewardship and be preventative of quite so much destruction. Being willing to spend money to prevent catastrophe is part of stewardship too and this has been an issue in California, perhaps for decades. If we are willing to vote for the tax money necessary to pay the people who would keep our forests thinned (and willing to follow those policies)as well as for the equipment and personnel for firefighting, could the blazes have been contained more quickly? If our National Guard were not spread so thin would this have made a difference?

A little over two years ago as I watched the scenes coming from New Orleans, I thought that we need a national sales tax to fund disaster relief. I still think that would be a good idea. At the time I thought of the fund in terms of providing relief, rebuilding and premium reduction for insurers by taking some of the burden off of them and spreading it more widely. The last would make insurance more affordable to many who do not have it. In addition, now I see that such a fund could also help to pay for prevention--levees in flood prone areas, brush clearance and so forth in fire prone areas. Most people won't agree with this, but I put it forth and will try in the near future to blog about taxation--and how we spend our tax money as an extension of our stewardship.

Ultimately, preparedness and some types of prevention are up to us. To the extent that disasters are caused or exacerbated by human agency, so too they can be prevented and mitigated by our choices and our actions. Those are pretty powerful ideas, I think for they enable us to be stewards, to be strong, to build together.

Even though I don't see my blog as primarily political, I guess some politics are unavoidable, for I do not live in vacuum.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday again. Disaster preparedness

How can the time be going by so fast? I know, I know, it's creeping old age. The fall weather has become warm and brought firestorms to southern California. This is always so sad to see. If I had not flipped channels to the news last night at 10pm, but simply gone directly to bed, I wouldn't have seen anything about it until this morning.

How does the news influence our lives? Do most people have it on as a constant backdrop? I don't, but I rarely miss checking it once a day either on television or on the internet. Does it really help me to know and does it help the people to whom it is happening that I know? I sit here and ponder these questions and wonder further if the quesions themselves have any use. Sometimes the outpouring of charity after a disaster, especially a spectacular disaster, does help, of course. That outpouring would not occur if it were not for the news. Still, I wonder. The does the news make us voyeurs in other people's tragedy and sorrow?

How does this relate to a Christian life, a spiritual or contemplative life? On the one hand, I think it moves us to compassion for those in the news and to pray for them as though they were members of our families. It also moves us to send aid.

On another level, it may also remind us to take care and make our own preparations. Is the house and content insurance adequate for the area where I live? Do I have important and necessary documents, house title or mortgage, insurance policies, bank and credit account information stored in a safe place? Are business documents backed up and stored? What about family pictures? Pictures can be stored online and are much easier to share this way. Pictures that constitute a household inventory and a memory album of family treasures and heirlooms can be stored this way too.

Well, I didn't start out to write this, but this is what came out today. I hope it will be useful and I pray for the firefighters and people in southern California.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday, October 21

The sun shines brilliantly, though coldly into my house this morning and the furnace runs. Winter is definitely not far off. Pumpkins sit in my hallway thanks to the kindness of a neighbor who brought them from the High School fundraiser. I am blessed indeed by neighbors and friends and the sense of belonging to a community, even though much of it is virtual.

The readings for today can be found at
  • http://www.usccb.org/nab/102107.shtml
  • . I confess that I am not feeling inspired today by these readings. What would I do i f I had to preach on them? I think that I will simply be grateful that I do not.

    Today is the Lord's day, nonetheless. It is a beautiful day and therefore easy to give thanks and praise. I am praying too, for the recovery of a friend who is in hospital, for safety for travelers and for prosperity for those who are poor. May peace reign in our hearts and homes this Sunday and carry forth into our work week.

    Today is a good day to cook and knit and perhaps to sew, to spend a bit less time, perhaps in the pursuit of computerly things for even though I am housebound, I am determined to try to set Sunday apart and spend it somewhat differently from the other six days of the week, which do tend to merge together as one great long day punctuated by the daily necessities.

    If I were to work at it a bit more, every day could be prayerful for I have the gift of solitude in a neighborhood that is essentially quiet. Probably not quite as quiet as Thomas Merton's famous hermitage, and no Abbot to report to, but certainly opportunity abounds in my life for more thought and prayer. Abound. That is interesting for I have been thinking of abundance recently in the context of a conversation with someone who had obviously tuned into the modern concepts of the abundant life--making your dream come true, making abundance come to you--in monetary terms. While I certainly think that prosperity is blessing and it is one that I need a bit more of, there are other forms of abundance. Love, faith, kindness, friendship all come to me in abundance, in spite of my solitude. For these I give thanks and for setting Sunday apart from the other days.

    Let's be grateful for the Lord's day and make it a day of peace and rejoicing.

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    Morning Magic

    This morning I walked into the dining room just as the hummingbird was visiting her natural feeder, the pineapple sage outside my kitchen window. By the time I turned around, sat in the wheelchair and parked my crutches, I was sure she would be gone so I just stood transfixed. This is a terrific way to start the day.

    Yesterday, my friend who came for lunch, found my favorite Bob's Red Mill Buckwheat Pancake Mix at our favorite grocery store, so now I don't have to order online. Flour is heavy and costly to ship. Buckwheat pancakes with yogurt cheese are really yummy for breakfast on a cold morning, though. So anticipation is high.

    Yesterday, I checked my email late in the afternoon and found two Cafe Press order notices. This makes three for one week! It's almost Christmas. Someone ordered a Gratitude sticker earlier in the week, which reminds me that I need to go back to Stickerpedia and put some more designs up. Then someone ordered four totes, an infant creeper and a mouse pad! Woo hoo! Someone else ordered a St. Lucy teddy bear. I was so happy. I am so grateful. What a delight! Thank you, thank you folks. It's a great weekend.

    My friend who whacks bushes is coming later, so it will be a full day, too. Right now the Fall light is shining red into my window, because the Pyracantha are so heavily laden with berries that they are determining the color of the light.

    Blessings to everyone! I feel like singing the praising Psalms today.

    Friday, October 19, 2007


    This week really has flown by so quickly! I hope to make Peace flags this weekend. They start with a piece of special cloth that is fused to a paper backing and designed to go through the ink jet printer. My ink jet printer is somewhat old, an Epson Photo Stylus 750, bought for its beautiful color technology and cherished for nearly eight years now. The first time I put the organza through the printer, I held my breath. Would this really work, or would it destroy the printer? The results were so beautiful I nearly cried. The ink is not permanent or water proof, however, so these flags will not last if displayed outdoors. This makes them perfect as prayer flags, though, since the idea is that the fabric should disintegrate, blow on the wind and become one with it. The word peace can disseminate, in many languages, all over the world. I love this idea and must remember to ask my sister if hers--the very first one has disintegrated yet. The next three that I make are destined for presents (well one is for me) and then I will begin to sell them. Look for me on Etsy, soon.

    Today it is trying to rain, but not succeeding yet. Then, according to the weather forecast, we should be getting some summer like weather for a spell. The long-term forecast for the next three months is for warmer than usual weather. This will be welcome. They are also forecasting rain. This too will be so welcome.

    Knitting progresses with long fluffy scarves of vibrant shiny yarn that works up quickly. With Halloween only two weeks away, Fall is flying fast. I love November, the month to remember, as it begins with All Saints and All Souls, progresses to Veteran's Day and ends with Thanksgiving. More about this as the time comes. Then, before we know it will be Christmas! The cycle ends and begins all over again.

    It is a lovely time of year. Time to make Peace flags and give thanks and make Peace.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    New Peace Button

    Cafe Press has launched 3.5" buttons on its site. My Peace design is now available along with the gratitude design and I Keep Advent. As I write this morning I am looking at a Peace flag I printed on cloth through my ink jet printer yesterday morning and I am happy. This is so cool! To print on cloth as well as a large variety of papers. While I ate breakfast, I pondered the design trying to remember all the languages. I can remember most of the languages. Spanish, Italian, Afrikaans (in honor of a dear family friend who nagged me and then recommended me to Stanford), Vietnamese for another friend, whose kindness, patience and wisdom inspires me. Tagalog in honor of my friend who brings me communion, Hebrew and Arabic. Russian is there, as well as Hungarian, Welsh and Icelandic. I will have to look them up though, to remember which is which. It is a long time since I fist started to work on this design.

    Yesterday I began to use my new nutrition software and see it as a tool that should help me. For the first time in a long time I did actually measure the fat I used to saute the mushrooms. Lo and behold, they would have sauteed with less. So next time, less is more. The simple leg lifts that I can do from my wheelchair are proceeding. Up from three reps once a day to five reps three times a day. Long way to go still, but something is better than nothing and movement is one way to combat SAD, which will come as daylight savings time ends.

    The week is almost over, Halloween is just around the corner, and there are so many projects calling my name! Maybe they were what kept me awake last night! In just this week I have knitted two long fluff scarves from Crystal Palace Splash, an eyelash yarn that is soft and shiny, great fun to work with. A third is well started.

    Pray for Peace.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Garbage Day

    Garbage day is tomorrow, so today is the day that everything is sorted. Life was easier when I was a child. Packaging was simpler and didn't have to be sorted into recyclable categories. Now preparing the garbage is a major task. The paper is recycled. Do the egg cartons count? The milk cartons do not count because they have had food in them. What to do with the new kind of packing peanuts that are made out of cornstarch and supposedly dissolve in water? I really don't want to make a mess or clog the drain. I suppose I could try holding one in my hand under the faucet to see if it really does dissolve, but that seems like such a waste of water. So they will be saved to be reused in packages going out. The cardboard boxes can go with the the paper.

    The upside of all this sorting is that the front hall will be neater, more like the entryway it was designed to be and less like my great storage area for things moving on. It was easier and neater when it could all just be thrown away. But I have developed the same conscious that everyone else has about recycling. Now if we could re-develop a national conscious about some other things as well!

    It is trying to rain today and that is a gift for we need the water, but it is ten degrees colder than the average for this time of year, which means that we will not be conserving energy as much as usual. Instead of sunlight pouring ion my windows while I type, I am relying on the overhead lamp. True it is pulled low and turned on to its lowest setting--which also has a compact fluorescent in it. Nonetheless, it is using electricity. So, of course, is the lap-top. Solar powered computers anyone? Hey, that's not a bad idea--maybe for those of us who can't afford solar panels, we could have solar gadgets and appliances. We already have solar powered calculators, why not lights and computers and even clothes dryers? I long for solar panels, but they aren't in my budget.

    Yesterday, my new nutrition software came. Now I will go install it and play and I hope that will be the focus of tomorrow's post.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Sunday again

    October is going by too quickly! Two weeks and it will be Halloween. The weather is definitely winterish and I am digging out the woollies. Time to layer. Feet stay warmer with two pairs of socks, something I learned in my Chicago days. Layering is definitely a must and fleece blankets make good wraps. A hat may look silly inside, but who will see if I am simply typing away at my computer? Keeping the heat in saves energy and lowers the heating bills. Wristers, or fingerless gloves are the finishing touch, but I haven't started wearing those yet.

    Last night I picked up my knitting with the intention of watching the 10 o'clock news only to find the news delayed by a football game. Clicking around, I found Dr. Who on one of the local PBS stations. I love Dr. Who, Papa and I used to watch the doctor avidly in the eighties, and I was enchanted. The episode began in a creepy way and ended with pure magic. Love it, now I will have to find it again!

    It is Sunday, so I am determined to look up and comment on the readings. I find, because they are so truncated, that it is difficult to make much out of the first three readings. I would prefer slightly longer editions and more context. When I first started to post the Sunday readings, I was thinking "what would I preach, faced with these texts?" Two problems. The first is the inconsistency of my blogging over the past six weeks and the second is that to make more out of the readings I need to look them up on Saturday and ponder offline. So, here goes.

    The first reading is 2 Kgs. 5:14-17, in which a man is cleansed of his leprosy. The second is 2 Tm 2:8-1.3 If we are alive in Christ we will live, if we die with Chris we will live. So as we live and die so so we will have eternal life--or not. It is our choice.

    The responsorial Psalm is Ps 98:1,2-3,3-4, which contains the line "Sing to the Lord a new song for he has done wondrous deeds". What are the wondrous deeds in my life that I can be thankful for today? The birth of a baby who is still marvelous as he is about to be one month old his week; the feat of modern air travel that we take so much for granted that has brought visitors to me this month. I give thanks too for the lovely news from my god-daughter, E, that she is engaged. God is working in her life, in answer to her faith and to her prayers. What can I wonder over, ponder over and marvel at today, this Sunday, this Lord's day as I pause in my week's busyness? Will I sing a new song this week, one of praise and thanksgiving and will it heal the bleak parts of my soul? I think so, if I keep reminding myself to do so.
    Lk 17:11-19
    Ten lepers are cleansed but only one returns to give thanks. Where are our thanks, where is our gratitude

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Lazy Morning

    Still in lazy, vacation mode and I see that I haven't blogged in almost a week. In the meantime, I have discovered Adorama Camera in New York City, thanks to a suggestion form a friend. Adorama prints from digital photos and they have many, many sizes and four choices of paper. Sorry if this sounds like an ad, I am just so excited. I think that instead of making my own card prints on my wonderful ink jet printer I can have them printed. Now I won't have to worry about the dreaded trimming problem--not being able to trim evenly has left me six or more months behind on this project. So I have been resizing flower photos to make them the size of the prints that I want. Then the dsl will have to be reinvented so that it won't take all day to upload the images.

    Working between two computers, as I still am, raises questions and choices. DSL or Google wifi? Network the two computers or not? I hate making decisions, I hate making choices, I want to go back to my nice warm bed. No I don't, I want to go forward. The trouble and the joy with modern technology is that it moves so fast, innovation is so constant, that if we don't make change from time to time, we miss out on really good things.

    The other evening I was uploading something from the laptop and discovered that since the laptop is on the dining room table and the kitchen is right behind me, I could putter about at kitchen chores during the wait. Couldn't do that if I were in the other room working at the desktop. On the other hand with the desktop hooked up to dsl I don't have to wait either. No, multi-tasking, no little exercises while I wait, just blink and it's done. Which shall it be?

    Another thing about the laptop that is going to be useful is the ability to share things with others without going into the office. My "office", actually one of the bedrooms in my house, is stuffed full and its difficult for someone else to pull up a chair! So now I can share Mary Kay, new photos of my grand-nephew or a web search right at the table where I normally sit with friends to converse. Blessed modern technology. How fun!

    Friends are coming today so it is going to be a social time. Part of the reason for the feeling of extended vacation mode

    Friday, October 5, 2007

    It's Been a While

    I see that I haven't blogged since Sept 25, over a week and that is not good. I have been having a wonderful time with my sister. Now she is in Phoenix with her son, daughter-in law and first grandchild. A is nearly three weeks old now and very darling. We are in love with "our baby" and I am hoping for more pictures soon.

    P was amazed by the change in the old master bedroom, dressing room and just kept saying how pleased she was. She was also pleased and surprised that her bed, the roll away that has lived in the front hall for many years, was made up and waiting for her. Since it was nearly midnight my time and nearly 3 am her time, it was even more welcome.

    We cooked and ate; laughed and ate, held a small "almost a yard sale" and almost got the dryer fixed. (Long story short, I am going to buy a new one.) Pat added her own special touch to the new room with the curtains she had made for the dressing room and little bathroom. This, with paint in the main part of the house that a friend did last year with help from P on all of the woodwork, is making my house come into the 21st century and I am gladdened each day by the beauty and the light. Where last year's visit was a work party, this year we played.

    We celebrated my 60th birthday, a milestone for me. Friends brought treats and flowers and a balloon and I was and am so delighted to be remembered. It was a fun birthday and included steak for dinner. (May as well, so long as I have the teeth to eat it with.)

    One present that I am going to give to myself is the software put out by the American Diabetes Association for cooking and diet tracking. Thirteen or so years ago I succeeded in losing a major amount of weight (probably about 50 lbs) with the Diabetic Exchange System Diet. Problem is I haven't kept it off. The pictures my sister took of me on the last day that she was here show too much person and it is time to take this seriously in hand. I am hoping that by blogging about this intention, I will do better at the attempts I need to make to reduce this person.

    Portion control is my biggest issue. I like food. I like to cook. I like to eat. The kitchen is properly equipped with all the usual equipment--measuring spoons, measuring cups, a kitchen scale. I even have a very nice small work table that is the right height for my wheelchair that M kindly painted for me last spring shortly before she began tackling the larger painting jobs. So the problem is that it is rather like backing up the computer--the tools are there, I just have to use them.

    I have eliminated the salt shaker from the table--something that I never thought I could do, because I don't want to take blood-pressure medication. Soy followed salt because research on the web showed that it binds with the Levoxyl I take for my thyroid problem. Thus I have broken the five food groups of chocolate habit that had developed through the last six years. (White chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, baking chocolate and cocoa, in case you were wondering.) My cook book library includes several books devoted to chocolate and the recipe folder that went in my computer crash contained quite a few goodies saved from the web that I am probably better off without. To my chagrin, I discovered that almost all of the chocolate products I was indulging in contained soy lecithin. The next thing to go is going to be sugar and then calories will be monitored through the exchange system.

    Diabetes runs in my family and I do not want it.

    The computer recovery is going along nicely with most of the hardware reattached and found by windows xp. I have reinstalled most of the software, including the OED and all of the data that I recovered from my external hard drive. Now I need to redo a number of things that did not survive but can be remade--perhaps better. In the recovery process I discovered that I have a version of Corel Painter and was happy to find this. So things will come back to normal soon, I hope.