Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cold and crisp

I think fall is definitely turning into winter. It is decidedly cold in the mornings and this old body doesn't want to rise and shine!

The dryer repair man came and determined nothing wrong with the new dryer. One circuit breaker had popped, giving the dryer less voltage to work on. It is now running with the smallest load I could set up in it--hand towels. I'm betting it has popped the breaker again and will not dry the towels. Next call--the electrician. Oh, and the dryer vent cleaner cleaned the vent yesterday--guess what, it didn't need cleaning!

The hand towels can be strung out above the washer and dryer, if they come out wet. Clothes and sheets cannot. It is at moments like this that I find it difficult to find my blessings and be grateful. Life with a disability is not easy. That's an understatement. Yes, it certainly is. More assistive technology would be a blessing. Fewer restrictions on earnings for the disabled who, because of the nature of our health care payment system must rely on Social Security benefits, would also be a blessing, and in fact are a necessity.

Why can disabled persons who are blind have a substantial gainful activity level of $1500 per month while the "non-blind" can only earn $950 before losing benefits? Why is this income level not calculated as after tax rather than before tax? Wouldn't it make infinitely more sense to simply allow disabled people to work up to 22 hours per week, keep their benefits and be paid what is usual and customary for whatever type of work they are doing?

Wouldn't it also make marvelous sense to train people at their real skill level, recognize and encourage work-at-home possibilities (that are real and not scams) and help people find them? Many of the able-bodied "telecommute". Why shouldn't I? In a sense I am doing so right now, writing this blog post, shopping for supplies for my small business, tending cafepress/ and my Squidoo lenses.

In addition to three degrees from "world-class" or "first tier" universities I also have a myriad level of computer skills, design skills adn people skills that are underutilized. I need mentoring and networking and this should be part of vocational rehabilitation.

If there is any candidate for president who wants to take up the needs of the disabled, I will vote and campaign for that person (provided the rest of what he or she advocates isn't too far from what I too, believe). So far I don't see or hear anything that suggests the issue is even on the political radar. Disabled people vote. Our family members vote. Our caregivers and helpers vote. Even our neighbors and friends vote. That is a lot of people, a lot of votes.

I hadn't meant to be political today, but here it is. I think I may have said it before. I will say it again, I am sure.

The sun shines in and that is a blessing. The dryer is heating and that too is a blessing. Now I can do laundry again. (If the washing machine will just hold up!) Praise and thank God!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday again

Thanksgiving can't be over so soon! How did this happen? It was, of course, a week early this year. Still it does seem to have gone by too quickly.

I am still reinventing my desktop computer. It came back to me with no anti-virus or free firewall or free anti-spyware software. Hard to believe! Probably they just got tired of it. Still it makes for more work for me... Reinventing the dsl is also turning out to be a pain, but hopefully perseverance will pay off. I am learning more than I ever wanted to know about how the computer works! Not the first time. If only I had known to set a restore point before fooling with the software a few Saturdays ago, I would not be missing the controller for the cd-dvd drive on the laptop. Life would be so much easier! Why can't I make it easier?

I do seem to have a propensity for making things more difficult for myself. It would be good, now that I am officially old, to overcome this. Serious work ahead!

As I watched the news this weekend, I was struck by the incredible waste of energy poured into "Black Friday". Is it really necessary to have everything open, running full steam, lights blazing in the middle of the night in order to have good economic forecasts? We are a nation concerned about global warning. Or are we? The energy blitz of the this shopping frenzy certainly didn't show it. Gasoline is more expensive than ever, so there were people with their headlines on (of course, it was the middle of the night after all) circling the parking lots looking for a space, while helicopters flew overhead documenting it all for the news programs.

The same news programs showed the gridlock on Wednesday of people fleeing the Bay Area to drive somewhere else for Thanksgiving. (These were the people who weren't, presumably, going to shop on Friday. Maybe they shopped elsewhere and brought their bargains back with them, weighing down their vehicles and getting even poorer mileage.) More people than ever flew somewhere for Thanksgiving. Wouldn't it have been more sensible to give thanks in place? Wouldn't the Turkey and the trimmings taste just as good without all the travel?

We are almost six years into a war that most of us do not support, but that is costing us every day. At some point we do have to pay for it. Some effort to truly conserve energy would help a great deal, I think. If everyone would drive less it might show up in the demand at the pump and prices, if they didn't fall, would at least hold steady for a bit. We are paying more for everything that has to be transported, probably even the presents so eagerly purchased last week. We need a national time of reflection on more of this, but instead we are going to have a national spending frenzy to try to bolster a weak economy and stave off recession. In addition, we will have election primaries held too early, so that none of the real reflection and debate will occur--just the cosmetic, surface stuff of the elections as usual.

Well, that is enough rant for one day! Time for another cup of coffee!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


The day is beautiful and bright although a bit chilly. Still it is a gift in itself.
A friend brought a pie and it is baked and smelled wonderful. My dinner will be festal even though eaten alone.

Even though it has gotten notably chillier, roses still bloom on my front deck. I am going to peer out one last time before the sun goes down.

Moving a knitting project to a much longer (much needed longer) needle has allowed me to see how big this thing is. A garter stitch shawl of hand-dyed wool, it is beautiful and much easier to work on with the longer needle. I am grateful that I have a goodly collection of needles to play with and choose from for my projects.

I am thankful this day and wrote, "Give Thanks" at the top of my to do list for the day. Next, came "Praise God". Those should be at the top everyday.

One of the things that I am not grateful for is the constant steady flow of big, loud commercials for idiotically early day after Thanksgiving specials. 3:00 am, 4:00 am and 5:00 am are touted as the times for the sales to begin. Ruin Thanksgiving! This is absurd! I think a national boycott is called for. No one should start shopping until Saturday. And none of the "special sale" stuff if it is really junky.

There, that is out of my system. I will go back to watching EWTN as I work on a card project. It isn't nearly as loud, isn't obnoxious and doesn't have any of those icky, repulsive commercials.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

On this day before Thanksgiving I am reflecting on my blessings. Today is a cold day, colder than the preceding ones with a touch of winter in the air and in the chill from the floor under my feet.

I am grateful for

The furnace which is doing its best to warm my house.

Wool socks. A trick I learned from a friend the first year that I was a graduate student in Chicago ("and the weather today is cold, 10 degrees colder by the lake"). Wear two pairs of socks. Make sure that at least one of them is wool. It is better if they both are wool. This makes a difference inside too, especially if you are sedentary. A hat helps too, so I wear a knitted hat indoors even when I am sleeping. The goal is not only to spend less on heat, but to leave a smaller footprint on the earth. It really does make a difference, for I can set the thermostat two degrees lower than I would need to otherwise.

Space heaters. They help heat one room at a time so that I don't have to heat the whole house for just me as I move through the day from room to room.

Back yard garbage service. A service of my local garbage company. They come in, take out the cans, and bring them back in empty. A service for disabled and elderly people. My doctor was only too happy to write the note signing me up for this service. As I write this, I hear them outside coming and going for today is our recycle day as well.

My friend who brought Thanksgiving dinner early as lunch yesterday. Yummy food and beautiful fellowship. Thank you, F.

The eggnog, which I actually kept in the fridge since last Friday. That is also something to be thankful for. That I didn't just slurp it up over the weekend and have nothing left with which to celebrate! Gratitude for patience maybe?

The companies that deliver packages as I anticipate more goodies for my small business. Some should come today.

Computer technology! I am not a geek, but the number of hours I spend on this thing is amazing.
How many more things will I think of before tomorrow? I will try to keep track and post more.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Next Day

After spending last week reinventing the home business as sweatshop I held an open house yesterday. A neighbor who is a superb baker, and her two sons and one of their friends made this fun and a success by setting up a cookie and cider sale in my driveway. They do this from time to time at their own house which is on a busier street. The idea was to drive traffic to my house through their cookie sale. My friend makes the most wonderful pumpkin muffins I have ever eaten and the best snickerdoodles too.

Getting ready reminded me of all the times Papa and I had done this years earlier with another small business that I had. Without his help, I don't do it as well. He would have enjoyed this, I think and I missed him a good deal while I did the preparations. Still he was my greatest rooter-booster and I can feel him cheering me on. Even though I have never really had a success in my life (except academically), not long before he died, Papa told me that he was proud of me for trying.

So I will keep trying. Never give up. My goodies are nearly ready for the next time too! The prints from Adorama have made up nicely into cards. The Peace design that I love so much is beautiful with the colors around it. At the last minute on Saturday, I even managed to sew the Peace flags I had printed several weeks ago that sat patiently by the sewing machine waiting for me to come back to them. Miraculously, I managed to only sew one of them back to front. The ripper awaits. One was also printed on the paper backing side instead of the fabric side. Sigh. It sits near the printer waiting to be re-run.

My to-do list looks like a re-do list. A new variation on to-do lists! Sewing is fairly forgiving--usually one can fix a mistake. Knitting is very forgiving as it allows one to "unknit" what is wrong. I like knitting better, since it doesn't involve a machine. Sometimes one cannot escape the machine and I will have another date with the sewing machine for a "re-do" afternoon soon.

The knitting progresses too. One very large ball of yarn has transformed itself patiently into one moderately large shawl and a number of "fluff ball" scarves await Christmas distribution. The days are shortening, but are filled, so that when the shortest day passes it will be only a short while until Christmas and then the days will lengthen again. That is the part I look forward to.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Re-inventing the sweatshop, err I mean home business has kept me almost too busy this week. The cards are so pretty, the buttons are too and I even had a truce with my sewing machine long enough to sew four peace flags. Pretty, delicate things that are printed on fabric that runs through the printer. The back is then peeled away. I will use the backing paper for templates for other projects, so that it doesn't go immediately into the landfill.

My dear friend M emailed me today with this link

It is an excellent piece. How many times have I not been seen because I was not at eye level? How many times has some helpful person insisted on pushing and I have almost gotten my feet caught under the chair because they weren't paying attention to when I needed to stop? (I don't use the feet plates.) How many times have I been totally ignored and excluded from conversations that I would love to be a part of so that staying at home is less painful than going out somewhere and trying to be social? Too many!

Never mind. The sun is shining and won't be for long. The sweatshop is calling. Tomorrow I will set up a boutique and I do hope a few folks come.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Peace Cards, Remembrance

Making cards is tedious, but also pleasant work. The tedium stems from the repetition. The pleaseure from sitting in a sunny space enjoying the day. I am reminded of the admonition of my childhood to "offer it up". Good advicie that turns the most mundane and repetitious tasks to grace. One can offer it just generally, or one can offer it for a specific intention. Peace would be a good intention.

The prints came from Adorama so quickly that I almost wasn't able to obtain paper as swiftly. Fortunately, that problem was solved by a dear friend who made the paper store run. Now that I know what color I am using I can re-order from the net if no one is available to go to the store. Life sometimes does get complicated!

As soon as I figure out how to accept money through PayPal I will begin selling the cards here through this blog. There are Christmas designs and many flowers as well. (I think that I have never met a flower that I didn't think deserved to have its picture taken. We have also been the same way about Christmas trees.)

So back to work and trying to turn the work into a prayer. It was a good childhood, and it is good to remember what my parents taught me, especially in this month of remembrance.

Monday, November 12, 2007

November Remembrance

November is the month of remembrance. All Saints, the very first day of the month begins the sequence of remembrance. The next day, All Souls, continues this cycle, as we remember those who have gone before us but are not named in the Canonized Saints list. I like to think of my family as my private saints--when I ask for them to pray not too many other people are asking at the same time, so my needs are heard immediately. Shortly after my mother died, I discovered that she, who had been a lifetime devotee of St. Anthony, was a great person to ask to help me find things. I reasoned that most of the things I was looking for where here in her house, so who better to know where they were? I think Papa was a bit shocked at first, but he joined in--now he gets some of the same prayers. This is a strong connection for me, since I believe in the after-life and believe and hope that these good people whom I still love and miss, and who loved me, are truly in heaven. It is comforting to turn to them.

At the same time, I send there names to the Church to be remembered on the Altar for the month of November. Prayers should be acknowledged by prayers, I think.

For me there is a cycle to grief that ends with remembrance. Remembrance is a work of our hearts and souls that continues after grieving (which is organic and unavoidable) and mourning (which is a great psychological and spiritual work of our lives) have finished their cycles. Remembrance remains and it is our work too for it helps us stay grounded in the values of our lives, connected to those who taught us and who gave us those values and lives, as well as allowing their names, their faces, and their stories to continue.

I do this gladly for my family now and hope that someday they will do it for me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day is a day of remembrance. I think first of my father who served in the Navy in World War II. His picture, in his uniform, is on the buffet across sthe room from me as I type this. A handsome young man. I can look at pictures that he took of me when I was approximately the same age and see the resemblance. I remember him, his service and his devotion and miss him today. I think next of my Grandpa, Papa's father, who served in the Army in World War I and fortunately was not shipped out. He spent his time in Newport News Virginia where he was joined by his wife, Marguerite, and where my father was born in 1920. I found Grandpa's record in the genealogy files online some years ago when I was doing research and the internet was so new to me. Marguerite's little brother, Gordon, who looks out of another family picture as a small boy in knee pants and Little Lord Fauntleroy curls, did see duty in the trenches in France and family memory says he was injured by mustard gas. His record, that I found online, did not mention that. But a letter Marguerite wrote to her sister Cecelia, which I am fortunate enough to have, inquires about him and mentions "terrible injuries". Before them, two generations farther back, Grandpa had a grand uncle who served in a Michigan Cavalry unit in the Civil War. He died comparatively young, in his early forties of lung problems and tuberculosis. He was on Sherman's march to the sea. His name was Frederick, too, like my father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

We are not a military family, but I am proud of thesew men, good Catholics, fathers, ordinary people full of kindness who served their country when she called and doubtlessly carried the shadows with them for the rest of their lives. Would we could do away with war, that the price of freedom was not so high. Simply today I give thanks, and I remember. Thank you, Papa, Grandpa and great-grand uncle Frederick.

My thanks as well to my friends who madee their careers in the military, not a popular thing to do. I have respect and gratitude to you; you know who you are.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tempus Fugit, again

Here I sit on Saturday afternoon and discover that the last time I blogged was three days ago! Well, it has been a little busy around here for the last two days.

Thursday my first print order came. These people are good and are they fast! The next day the second batch arrived. I now have about 450 prints that I will turn into cards to sell to anyone who wants one. I am folding white Astroparche as fast as I can to glue them unto. They will be very pretty; I am very pleased and will package them so that they look professional as well. Lot's of work for these tired old arthritic and polio bones and muscles, but I would rather try than give up.

Cards were one item that I could not find when I first began shopping on the internet a number of years ago. I hope that I can find a niche. Everyone, please buy my cards! St. Joseph, please send me customers.

According to my email someone bought an item at my CafePress shop today. Hurray! These notices make my day and gladden my heart. Thank you to whomever you are who bought a St. Therese throw pillow today.

Another thing happened today that was exciting and filled my heart with gratitude--a new dryer was delivered to replace the old one that broke and could not be repaired. I can have clean sheets and clothes again. This came as the result of the kindness of my church. Otherwise, I would be doing without for a bit longer.

So I have much to be grateful for this eve of Sunday and will try to get some work done tonight.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Yesterday and today I waited. While I waited I knitted. Somewhere along the way I made a major mistake. Over the next few days I will "unknit". Not as much fun as knitting, but the yarn is pretty. That will make the reknitting less tedious. At time I thought about starting a knitting business. I found that I could not knit fast enough and kept losing the scraps of notes that I took to turn into a pattern. No patterns emerged, except the patterns about myself that I learned from knitting--and other projects. Some of the current projects may go up on Etsy.

Part of the waiting consists in tracking packages through UPS. This is almost as much fun as ordering the packages or their actual arrival. I can track the packages I send too, one is on its way to my sister and I will know exactly when it arrives. This is fun, but probably not the most powerful thing the Internet is capable of giving us.

Yesterday while I waited for the UPS driver to collect the package I was shipping, I knitted and watched Oprah. The You Tube inventors were on. I haven't thought of using You Tube. (Somehow videos of me waiting and knitting don't seem like they would draw much of an audience.) Still it is rather interesting to play around with. Could I promote my Peace design with You Tube? More to think about.

It was a long day yesterday for another reason and that is that I had seen a blurb on Hallmark that they were going to show Pollyanna on Tuesday. I thought this would be two hours. It was three. Way past my bedtime! Still, it was a charming and sweet as I remember; the performances were quite good and it was stylized in a way that is so different from today's movies.s I remember when this movie first came out and that I went to the library in what was then my new hometown (we had just moved here) to find the book. It turned out to be a series, if my memory serves and it was long out of print already in 1960. Although it has not been a conscious expectation on my part, I have waited for a long time to see it again.

Tomorrow is another day and hopefully I will have more to say. Goodnight and God bless.

Monday, November 5, 2007

November and it is Going By Too Fast!

November 5 already! Whew, the time really is flying by. The leaves have turned. I love the golden and red light of autumn, the pumpkins and other squashes and the turning in. At the same time, because I live in California, I have the pleasure of going outside and watching the birds who still forage in my yard. Yesterday I watched while the hummingbird came bey and fed all around the big pineapple sage that grows on my porch. Just two years ago that was two cuttings from the bush in the back that we were not even sure would survive over the window. (It scan now be seen easily from the kitchen window.) M's kind care has made my plants grow and L continues the tradition for me.

My biggest project over this weekend was to copy files from the "big guy" or desk top computer to the laptop and then upload the images to AdoramaPix for printing. I happily await the email that says my prints are on the way. These will be made into cards for sale through this blog, I hope on Etsy--if I ever, ever get that up and running and through little boutiques at my house. So if you need cards--peace, flowers, Christmas, please keep checking back.

It is fun to review the photos and designs that I have made over the last two years. Papa shared his considerable knowledge and interest in photography with me all those years ago when I was growing up. A Mark IV little box camera was my first ever camera, followed by a beautiful Retina (used adn reconditioned, my graduation present from High School), followed by a Kodak Instamatic because the Retina had jammed and we couldn't get it repaired. Finally, nearly three years ago I invested in a beautiful digital camera and will write more about it later.

Backing up the files from a digital camera is one step in good disaster preparedness, as I believe that I have written in posts regarding my computer crash. Computers are subject to their own topical disasters as well as the natural disasters that can befall everything else.

Since November is the month of remembrance and one turns to looking at photo albums as one remembers and reminisces, I think it is also a good time to think about how to share and back-up family photos.

Some, a great many, in fact have been scanned and can be shared either on CD's or through file-sharing sites. I will be exploring what Adorama offers in this regard as well as other options and will report back.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Disaster Preparedness, 3

And then the earth shook! Just after I inserted my flower Tuessday night a 5.6 earthquake rocked our area. Not at the epicenter--for which I am thankful--nonetheless it felt real and reminiscent of Loma Prieta. Earthquakes are scary and unexpected, harder to plan for than hurricanes, harder to prevent than firestorms.

They remind us that we are not in charge. God holds us in His hands. I am particularly aware of this, since the thing that I fear most about an earthquake is walking around on my crutches as I do every day. Whil.e most people see me as being in a wheelchair, the fact is that I frequently stand up and move on my crutches through my hosue. I could not care for myself if I did not. I am no longer confident ehought to simply walk around the house for exercise though, because I am so scared of being knocked off my feet by a quake.

What is merely conversation material for most people could be a serious disaster for me. While I check the check-lists of preparedness for the "big one" I need to remind friends that even a small one could land me in the hospital, or worse, nursing home. Check on me, please. I value independent living, but am not so independent that I don't need you.

So the checklist for a disabled person has got to include a support system that will designate someone who calls, and who then stops over if there is no answer. Someone has to have an emergency key too, to be able to enter to offer help. These things are never included in the standard checklists.

Perhaps a checklist for independent living would be a useful addendum in emergency preparedness kits and sites. There are many things that neighbors can do--but they need to be alerted and educated in order to do so. Only one friend called on Tuesday night to ask if I was all right. Another called the next day and then she said, "I should have called sooner." Look around you and see who in your neighborhood is a fragile, elderly or disabled person who might need a check-in after an earthquake, even a little one. Be there for that person.

Adopt a neighbor so that if you were to be turning off your own gas and electricity you would help that neighbor at the same time. Little things matter. Establish a relationship of kindness by bringing in the garbage can that has been left out, picking up the junk litter of free fliers and newsletters, mowing the grass or raking the leaves (especially if they are falling from your own tree). Then when the disaster strikes your neighbor will be comfortable with your offer of aid and you will remember to help. Who knows you may save life. Even more importantly, you may make a friend.