Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday and an Outing for Me!

My big adventure was to go to the clinic and have my blood work done. My dear friend, L came by in her station wagon and I managed to get into it and out again with no problem! It was a little trickier coming back but I think that was because I was tired.

The area is so pretty right now with green, green hills and blue sky. The clinic is an attractive building and someone in the laboratory had brought in gorgeous white orchids. I, of course, wished that I had brought my camera! Having never met a flower that I didn't fall in love with and want to photograph.

On the way, home, L offered to give me the neighborhood tour. It was kind of neat to see all the streets with the remodels that have gone on and especially the pretty flowers and yards. Several houses have been sold lately by a neighbor who is a Realtor and they are particularly nicely done.

Coming into my front gate I saw it from a very different perspective than what I usually do and it is one that says there are some rather large and overgrown bushes here. My friend K has been restraining herself valiantly from demolishing several and I think the time has come to tell her she has a license to wack.

Just a few minutes ago I found the email from the clinic that the tests were back. Sure enough, there they all are in my "e-chart". Everything is normal and that is good to see. My thyroid will go on being treated by the same medicine for a while longer--probably another year. The tune-up will be complete with another outing next month to see my doctor, whom I really like and admire. Getting out more is a need and a goal. I joked that there was no way to send my blood over the Internet, but in fact, I enjoyed going out. So it has been a very good and beautiful day. Cold though.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

Earth Hour will be here in one hour and twenty minutes. As I type the beautiful late afternoon sun that was shining in as I began wanes over my left shoulder. The light from the laptop screen is sufficient for typing. The furnace is running, because I have simply reached a point where I am so tired of being cold that I have decided to be warm. Not in keeping with Earth Hour, but there it is.

For decades I have lived frugally, partly out of commitment, primarily from necessity. Disability impoverishes people because of the weird health care system that we have and the lack of access for those who are disabled unless they are willing to submit themselves to the indignity of institutionalized poverty that is our so-called benefit system.

I think that I might be happier with Earth Hour if those who invented it would link the over use of energy (and perhaps other resources) to the rising costs of these things and the effects that has on the lives of those who are poor, including those who are made falsely dependent because of government benefit programs that are really forms of entrapment.

Nevertheless, I will put the heat back a degree or two for the requisite hour; turn on only the most necessary lights (as I do anyway) and power down the laptop. The television, that gobbler of energy, can stay off for this evening and I will work at the other computer. I will be grateful for my blessings and that I can join in this symbolic effort.

In addition to conserving energy, I believe that we need much greater and systemic economic change in this country. The Fall will arrive all too quickly--with cold weather again and higher energy needs. Let's join together to see if we can do more than just symbolic moments to make Earth livable for everyone; to eliminate poverty not only in the Third World but in our own country as well.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday again

I can't point to one major project finished this week and yet the week has flown. Rain, expected on Wednesday, Thursday and today hasn't materialized. My schedule has twisted and turned and twisted back on itself as others schedules have changed, so at least, I guess I can say that I am flexible! (At least to a point.)

Last night I found myself writing without any "block" or strain or I can't do this right now. It felt good; there was "flow"--whatever that really is. I have long maintained that writer's block is a myth; a procrastination device that we give into when we have the luxury of time on our hands or we really don't want to finish. I never had writer's block until I read too many books on writing--and most of those will clear my house in the next two months as I declutter some more.

Maybe writer's block is a result of clutter--the combined physical clutter of an overflowing work space (who really wants a paperless office anyway?) and clutter in my mind. Reduce the clutter and there is more space for positive energy, concentration and productivity.

By accident the other day I tuned into Oprah and saw again the episodes featuring the woman who must truly be the "Queen of Clutter". It was truly nearly unbelievable and if it had been in print instead of video it would have felt exaggerated. There it was: 3000 square feet and more because of the garage of clutter. I look at my humble mess and say with gratitude, "Thank God there is no way that I could do that", but there is new resolve to continue ridding myself of the clutter.

Having some space just for space makes much more sense to me now than it once did. The front hall really isn't a storage/clutter area. Onward with the excavation.

I also realized after watching this program that direct sales as a home-based business is probably not the best self-employment opportunity for the shopaholic or the confirmed clutterer. Such momentum these businesses have for buying more! Just this week I have been getting the new quarterly announcements from my director urging me to consider that I will need, "5, 10, even 15" of each new product to serve my customers. I should have so many customers! I let my customers tell me what they need and then I order. I have a dedicated space for the business--no more. It is all together and I can control it. This feels good and may be a foundational step to making it grow and become profitable.

Well, this has rambled--the problem with the blog when I don't have a specific topic in mind. It is a good day and a sunny one, even though it was supposed to rain. A good omen, perhaps.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Doing Taxes and Other Mundane Things

The big envelope came in the mail from the IRS On Monday. I do qualify! I do, I do, yippee, I do! I'm almost a real person in the real world (whatever that is) after all. I will qualify for the tax stimulus rebate check.

So now I get to file. Last year was not a great year. I should do my Mary Kay income on a quarterly basis, but it is too discouraging. Last year seemed to be adequately busy. The pile of tickets that I wrote seems to be about as thick as in previous years. (You can see I do this in a really organized, "scientific" way that an accountant would cringe about. It's not as bad as Marlo Thomas's "That Girl", with her shoebox full of receipts, including the Popsicle stick on which she had written the amount she spent treating her Brownie troop to Popsicles. Made perfect sense to me.

Anyway, actually crunching the numbers hurts. Shows why the picture each month has been a little bleak and my self-esteem isn't exactly any more enhanced than my bank balance. What to do, especially in a recession, to better the situation? Blow my own horn louder, I guess.

Next to the IRS site to find the right forms and then to see if joining the Stanford Professional Women's club will do me any good in the way of finding more customers. I like working, I like being self-employed, I would like it all even more if it just made a steadier income. Still I am grateful that I will get the rebate. It isn't quite winning the lottery, but it is good to be included.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Alleluia, the Lord, the Christ is Risen Today! This is our Glorious Holy Day for Jesus has truly given us back our lives in Him. As St. Paul said, "Rejoice, again I say, Rejoice." This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. It is truly a beautiful and joyous day.

After having the tv off all week, I remembered last night that I have EWTN. Sure enough, there was the Easter Vigil in all its glory from St. Peter's in Rome! With the Holy Father, "Papa Benedict" presiding, it was truly resplendent. Hearing Lumen Christi and singing Deo Gratias with them was joyful. The Exsultet was splendidly sung by a deacon who looked like he could have been an opera singer, but had a smoother voice, one that rose seemingly effortlessly as he chanted the ancient music.

The only thing that marred the service was the popping of electronic flash during the procession of the Paschal Candle--even though people had been specifically asked, in three languages, no less, not to use cameras with flash! Sigh.

If I had thought of it earlier, I could have "attended" all of the Triduum services via television through the offering of eternal word television network, the Catholic cable service. This is a reason to keep cable and to rejoice in it!

I am enjoying my Pascha, which I was able to make thanks to my neighbor who shared the special Baker's Cottage Cheese, through our neighborhood list. Technology doesn't replace real face to face community--and I have been making that mistake myself, increasingly these last few years--but it can and does enhance it. Another neighbor left a chocolate bunny on my porch along with the church bulletin. I had to laugh as I started eating bunny ears! Not at all technological, theological or liturgical but it is definitely part of Easter traditions!

Happy Joyous Easter! I am grateful to everyone who has made my celebration this year. Thank you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday

The music that I have been listening to for the past two nights is by a variety of composers, not Mozart as I had thought. It is gorgeous and I will listen to it again this evening even though it is not specifically for Holy Saturday.

I remember waiting in the cold dark church while the paschal fire was kindled outside on a barbecue and the Paschal candle lit. The passing of the lights to the little candles held by everyone in the congregation is one of the most special rituals of the whole year. Trying to keep the candles straight up and not dripping wax onto one's hands is another very practical memory. The lessons, chanted during the vigil service, are long, reminding us of the long slow journey to salvation through Jesus while we wait, symbolically, for His resurrection. (Somebody usually quips that the length of the readings reminds us also that the pews we sit on are hard--the last penance for Lent!) Then just as sleepiness and waning candle light are about to overcome us lights come on, bells ring, the organ plays--if you are really lucky there might even be a tuba or a krumhorn or two. The celebrant intones, "Gloria in excelsis Deo," the words not sung for the weeks of Lent and the choir responds, "et in terra" and we are rejoicing. This is the shortest Mass of the year, I believe, and some pastors have the good sense to confine themselves to saying, "Rejoice. He is Risen. Alleluia. Happy Easter," rather than to try to take us on a post-midnight (and sometimes post-modernist) theological journey of discovery when what we want to do is sing our heart out and go home to our nice warm beds.

After two days of no Mass, the short Easter Vigil Mass is its own surprise and it ends with a snippet of Matins, "And very early on the first day of the week, they went onto the sepulcher and found it lying empty, Alleluia." They, of course, were the women, who had waited at the foot of the cross on Friday weeping until they could almost not see.

I suppose that one shouldn't have favorite parts of these great services, they do after all have a seamless whole. Still the Gloria and the Matins verses and the singing of Alleluia at the end of everything are my favorite parts of the Easter Vigil.

Deo Gratias, Alleluia. Ite Missa Est, Alleluia. These are two more of my favorite parts. The Liturgy is such a great gift of the heritage of Catholicism. This is a good day to give thanks for it.

Easter is a great gift of hope and joy to us who believe that Jesus has given us Eternal Life. Today we wait, hoping and expecting that tomorrow our joy may be full.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Holy Week, Good Friday

The music continues and the liturgy stirs our hearts and souls. All of the mourning of the human heart is focused on this day. The Improperia of the Good Friday service is one of the last bits of Greek in Roman Catholic liturgy (along with the Kyrie). I loved singing this music when I was young and last night had the moving experience of listening to it on my portable CD player a gift from a very dear friend. Tonight I will listen again and pay attention to the notes that come with the CD. The version of the music I am familiar with is Victoria; I think the CD is a setting by Mozart with a fabulous choir, that of Westminster Abbey.

Listening on the CD is not as good as being able to attend the services, but it is better than no Good Friday music at all. I am so grateful for it.

Soon I will see if the tapes that I have that are over ten years old are still good enough to play through my little tape recorder and then I will put the software for converting tapes to CD onto my desktop and see what I can do to recover some of the choir music for my own use. I hope that they will not mind. The tapes are another group of things that I have been saving for good and it is time to recover the music.

A blessed Good Friday to all.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy Thursday

Today the liturgy is again rich in symbolism and music that is only heard once a year. I remember singing Pange Lingua as a child and finding it so beautiful. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper and the Institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist or Holy Communion as we knew it then. In addition, there is a ritual called the washing of the feet, that I also found embarrassing when I was growing up.

Twelve people, pillars of the community, chosen beforehand (so that they could be sure to have clean feet and clean socks)sat in a row on benches or chairs carefully place across the front of the church and took off one shoe and one sock. The priest and the server proceeded down the row washing one foot of each of the people.

Was this really what Jesus had in mind when He commanded us to wash one another's feet? I don't think so. I think it is literally a command to us to take care of one another in our bodily needs and suffering. Mothers do this daily and never question doing it. Nurses also do it. To untangle the hair of someone who has been unable to brush the snarls out. To help someone wash. To do laundry and change bedding for someone who can no longer do this (or has never been able to do this.) As a disabled person the parameters of what I can do and where I need help have made me think very differently about this than I think I would have if I had been glibly independent all of my life. I really do think that we literally must help each other if we are to have true spiritual and true Christian community. Our culture has tended to professionalize these helping tasks, leaving caring to those who are care-caregivers. Perhaps after the Maundy we need to go forth and find someone who really needs help with washing his or her feet--and hair and person.

On another level, I think that this command is about the earthiness of being human and recognizing our humanity in its grounded bodiliness; being human is by no means about being ethereal. We need food and shelter and a place to sleep, warmth, security and the society of friends. We provide these things for ourselves more independently of others in today's culture--our friends are characters in a tv sitcom and even our real friends become in a way "virtualized" by social utility web-sites that allow us to "network" via images of one another. We still need the human community in all its nitty-grittiness--and even dirty feet.

I continue to leave my television off for this week and am recovering a sense of peace and spaciousness that I had forgotten.

Last night I did indeed listen to the Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah. This music, so ancient and so beautiful, touches my deepest personal woundedness, anguish and grieving and at the same time lifts me above it. It is profound and difficult to describe and I am so grateful for it and for the education that I received in it as a child and as a young woman when I had the joy and privilege of singing with a renowned and remarkable choir in Palo Alto California. I will be placing the link in my link list shortly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday of Holy Week

I am finding that I almost do not miss the television. The quiet in the house is profound. Right now the loudest sound is the refrigerator and then the slight click, click made by the computer keyboard and the occasional whir of the little hard drive on my laptop.

Tulips grace my kitchen counter, a gift from a friend who came yesterday bring me communion and to wish me a Happy Easter. Today my pastor visited and also brought communion as well as the anointing of the sick. I am so blessed that I am almost happy today and the depression, which normally weighs me down almost as much as my weight, seems to be at bay. Sunshine flooding the house helps, too, of course.

Safeway delivered my groceries and paper products today. Last night as I made the order I felt, for the second time in a month, that I was personally floating the economy out of the recession! Everything is so much more expensive than it used to be. One thing caught my eye--eggs that have been pasteurized. More expensive, but possibly worth it if a salmonella infection can be bypassed. They come in a plastic carton though. I do hope that it is recyclable--and will be tempted to find some use for it. Cute plastic containers and boxes always are hard to part with because I think that I will find some use for them. Recycling takes the edge off of throwing them out--but not completely.

Tonight is Tenebrae, the service in which the Lamentations of Jeremiah feature in the service and the lights are turned out, preparing for the darkness that shrouded the world on the afternoon of Good Friday. I will listen to a recording tonight and be present in thought with those who sing this beautiful service with its splendid music.

Jeremiah is my kind of prophet, too. Reluctant and having to be dragged into his vocation, if I recall at one time he went and hid in a well. Hmmm. Maybe I need to remember more about him and see if there aren't some parallels here.

A blessed mid-week of Holy Week to all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday of Holy Week

Today is the third day of Holy Week counting from Sunday. Sunday I decided to try an experiment and not turn on the tv for an entire week. This was prompted in part by the fact that it is Holy Week and it seemed like silence would be a great way to observe it, especially silence from the naysayers nattering negatively about the news and the obnoxious, tasteless, in-my-face and always loud commercials.

In addition, I was watching something on Saturday night that had a particularly, gruesome and unsettling image that I had difficulty shaking before I went to sleep. It prompted a bad dream of its own--very different, but still not the way to wake up on a Sunday morning. The benefit of having had an old tv with a crummy picture was that I was using it like radio and didn't see the disturbing images.

So far I have slept better (and longer)without the tv on than with it on. I have knitted in the quiet of my own mind and space unfettered by whatever is going on in the outside world. Today will be day three of my experiment.

It is a good day, this Tuesday, a bit on the chilly side but bright and sunny. The trees are leafing out and the daffodils are gone. In two days it will be officially Spring, but I think the warmth of spring may be late this year even here in California.

Finally, my doctor, bless her came through and everything was done electronically that needed to be done. Now if I could send in my blood electronically to be tested....Or better yet have the kind of scanner that Dr. Crusher had on STNG, and just upload to the computer the way that we upload photos. Virtual medicine for a virtual world. Someday we may eat that way too! (That is a penitential thought!)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday, or "It's One of Those Days"

Somehow Mondays always do seem slower. In reading one of my favorite blogs, Lisa Leonard's "It's the Little Things" I was pleased to see that I am not alone, but it doesn't entirely cure the Monday blues to know that.

The pictures that I took this morning didn't turn out. I seem to jiggle the camera and get double or blurry exposures, something I thought wouldn't occur with a digital camera, but it does. So back to the drawing board, err photo shoot board to do over.

This morning I emailed my doctor, who hasn't heard from me in over a year. I still haven't heard from her, but it is Monday at her office too and she probably has a zillion messages starting from Friday night. (So now I wish I had emailed her on Friday night.)

Of course, fearing the worst as I always do, I am assuming that I have fallen out of her data base... I had assumed that paying the fee for the email service would keep me in the database. Maybe it's just some cosmic super data base and not the actual doctor's database. Anyone reading this can see where it is leading and I hope laugh along with me. (I know I am not the center of the universe, but sometimes for just a few minutes or even nano-seconds, I sure would like to be.)

One thing did work, a widget on Squidoo that puts a countdown counter on a lens. Very cute. I will add some more to other lenses just to do something that works. (This is on my Counting Down to Christmas lens.)

I also added a few things to my Etsy yesterday. I am quite excited and actually daring to hope about Etsy, as opposed to so many other things, that it will actually work. The standout feature that distinguishes it from other venues is the "Showcase". Twenty-four hours of actual, you know it is there, paid advertising that is inexpensive and targeted. I plan to try this as soon as I am satisfied with the pictures I am posting. (Or some other perfectionistic procrastination device is satisfied!)

Lately it seems that wherever I turn I hear of projects that have helped somebody in the third world for a donation of a few hundred dollars get started with something. (A cow, a goat, making bicycles, whatever.) Etsy is one place where Americans can get started for a very low fee. (Provided the individual has a computer or computer access and a digital camera--or a friend with one.) This looks like the perfect thing for someone with a disability to do to earn that little, little bit that Social Security allows. Even that little, little bit could make the difference between debt and dignity, depression and a sense of usefulness. I am experimenting partly because I do so need to find something that works for me and partly because I am actually working on the book, Downsized: Finding New Ways to Work. (My little, little bit of HTML just worked too--the day is looking up!)

Time to go try those photos again.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

Today, Palm Sunday, marks the beginning of the most solemn week in the Christian liturgical year. So many special services mark this week that it is almost necessary to take vacation to participate in them all and even more necessary to do so if you are choir member. I remember that singing the liturgy for Holy Week took about twenty-four hours, including rehearsal time and was worth every second of it.

Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday are marked by processions. Good Friday has the prostration of the ministers before the service begins. (Maybe we should require this of politicians before they are sworn in.) Tenebrae ends in darkness that will end with the kindling of the new fire, the lighting of the Paschal candle and the passing of the light from person to person as the candles are lit at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. One of the two times of the year when services are traditionally held in the dark of the night (the other being Christmas Eve Midnight Mass) this makes the liturgy especially poignant and set apart. It also brings in the music of matins, one of the monastic hours which lay people do not usually hear. "And very early on the first day of the week, they went onto the sepulchre and found it lying empty, alleluia", is the verse that I particularly remember and will sing myself until I am hoarse.

The ancient symbolism is ever new and so packed and rich that it can never grow old or be completely explored in one life-time. Our need to believe in the after life, especially after middle-age when most likely we have lost our own parents and are looking at our own mortality is fulfilled in these liturgies which proclaim Christ's death freely taken on to free us from sin and death and His most glorious resurrection in which we hope for our own.

When I was growing up, we would turn the television off on Wednesday night and not turn it on again until Sunday night (we were Maverick fans and there was no VCR in those days--let alone Tivo). I think I will try to do this this week and see what it does to my schedule, my mind and my dreams.

A blessed and fruitful Holy week to everyone. I am grateful for the time I spent singing in a choir, for growing up Catholic before Vatican II and for my parents who gave me their faith and their traditions. This is a good week for remembrance as well as prayer.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Pascha is the word for Easter in the Russian Orthodox tradition. It is also a sweet bread that is baked for the celebration of Pascha and it is a delicious cheese desert, somewhat like cheesecake filling only much yummier that is also made only for this feast.

The triple use of the word fascinates me as does keeping certain foods special to certain holidays. When I was growing up we had turkey only on Thanksgiving and ham for New Years and Easter, although many people have a leg of lamb for Easter dinner in honor of the symbolism of Christ the Paschal Lamb.

Easter is only a week away and I am looking forward to making Pascha, thanks to a kind neighbor who is sharing her baker's cottage cheese with me. This is exciting.

I had wondered if I could approximate the dry texture of the baker's cottage cheese (also known as pot cheese) by putting it into the yogurt cheese maker and I may still do that as an experiment.

I do not have one of the beautiful wooden molds that are traditional for making pascha (the cheese dessert) so a bowl will have to do. Some year, I do hope to buy the mold.

Anyway, thank you to my neighbor who is of Russian descent, for offering her extra pot cheese on the neighborhood list. It is fun to see what the list turns up next. I am grateful.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lights! Camera! Roll the wheelchair!

Last night I had the opportunity to witness and help with the most ingenious and innovative way to use a wheelchair that I have ever seen. Three boys from the local high school, one of whom is a neighbor, had asked if they could use my house to shoot a film project for their senior film class. Last night was the designated night. They came to my door with tripods and a camera gear box and a wheelchair. I answered the door in my wheelchair.

Surprised by the sight of the wheelchair, I was slightly taken aback and asked, "What is the wheelchair for?" My neighbor responded, "We have a tracking shot and we are going to use the wheelchair as a dolly." Ok. Actually it was quite cool and I plan to post a picture here later when I have uploaded the pictures to the desktop, downloaded them to the flash drive and re-uploaded them to the laptop, from which, connected to the Internet, I am blogging.

The equipment intrigued me. A light on a light pole. A tripod for the light pole and another for the camera. A boom mike with a headset. A round screen known as a diffuser. Finally, the wheelchair. Painter's blue tape came out of one of my drawers and was useful to keep the camera on the footplate of the wheelchair. (I just learned about painter's blue tape myself last summer.)

Life is varied and fun. I want a tripod myself. Also some lights. And a diffuser. Adorama has cool articles on their website that show how to take product pictures for posting on websites. Mine need to be better. More to learn. More to do. This makes life fun. I hope it continues to be and I am grateful. It is good to keep learning and especially to learn from other people, including those who are younger than I am. I am thankful for these opportunities.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Good is Now

Or good is here! I am trying to stop saving everything that is nice in my house for "good", whatever that is. I have things Mama saved that have never been used. It is time to use them for me. Good is now and it is for me! The time is right to stop using paper cups and paper plates and start using some of the pretty things that are squirreled away before they end up in the second-hand store becoming someone else's treasures.

I will find and use cloth napkins again and cloth handkerchiefs as well, even if it means that I will also have to find the iron again and a way to set up to iron. Now is a good time to celebrate every day--even if it is just a tiny slip of a celebration.

My neighbor's pretty green dishes (given away through our neighborhood email list) are the start of this. It has been a pleasure to eat off of plates again instead of styrofoam and not to have my kitchen garbage sack fill up so fast. I think that eating off disposable plates started in the eighties, a combination of busyness and Papa's desire to save work for me as well as a desire to save water. (I do recall a serious drought in the eighties, but not exactly which year.) Last week I realized that if I would use my daily coffee mug for my nightly cup of milk and then wash it I could have a clean coffee mug every day instead of drinking muck and wondering why the coffee was so awful and not buy paper cups any more. Wow! Where has my brain been!

Of course it uses water and dish detergent and time and energy (mine) to wash these things but it probably isn't as expensive as throwing away the disposables. We will see how this goes.

I can say that it is far more aesthetically pleasing to drink my milk from a china mug--especially if it has one of my own designs on it--and to eat off the new plates. Perhaps this will lead to a lighter mood and a bit less depression. I hope and I am grateful.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Now on Etsy

I have been fiddling around all day with my Etsy postings. There are only two. There will be more. My Fred is Peace banner and my first card are posted. There is a learning curve as there always is so this won't be a very long post. I am grateful to have these things up and will now learn how to use another piece of the Internet to reach out to the outside world.

The day was gorgeous, the sun is setting out my back window and I am happy to see it set. I spent it doing tax and computer related things. Tomorrow is Sunday and I hope it will have some social aspects as well as more work.

Friday, March 7, 2008


The week went by so quickly that I almost feel guilty for being glad that it is Friday! Still I am. My young friend M is coming home for spring break tonight, so I am thinking of safety for travelers and offering a prayer to St. Raphael, the Archangel as I write this.

St. Raphael is one of my favorite saints of all time. Patron of travelers, patron of healing, patron of love and of friendship, he is pretty much a saint for all seasons. I particularly like to invoke him for healing, journeys and for friendship on and off the internet.

I love the Book of Tobit in which St. Raphael features as the hero and have wished I could figure out how I could adapt the story to modern times to make a screenplay out of it.

This has been a good week for writing. An old manuscript that needs much editing is in progress on my desktop computer. I will keep plugging, re-writing to give it a livelier, less pedantic voice and editing to bring it up to date.

While I work at the dining room table my dear friend K is weeding in my back yard. I can watch her diligently, patiently and almost obsessively pulling weeds. This woman has more patience than anyone else I have ever met except for my late father. She will be out of light soon and only that will force her to quit. I am truly blessed.

In so many ways, I am truly blessed and because it is Friday I am going to count my blessings, rejoice in gratitude and try to put my worry-warting on hold. One of the things I am grateful for this week is the new to me dishes that a neighbor was giving away over our neighborhood email list. I call this the email list lottery--Wednesday I won it. It might be more fun to win money in the state lottery, but not much more fun. The dishes are translucent green plastic that when washed look like glass. Twenty dinner plates and ten salad plates--my neighbor wished me many happy parties. I was touched. I don't give parties, but now my daily meals and lunches with friends will be as festive as parties. Small daily parties. Celebrate life. I like that.

Happy Friday. St. Raphael watch over M as she flies home and all travelers this night.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Language of Flowers on Squidoo

One of my too numerous interests is the language of flowers. I guess it comes from being a medieval history and art history student--symbolism was important in the Middle Ages. So today I finally published my little Squidoo lens on the language of flowers. It needs additions--more flowers and there meanings, but since I failed to save my bookmarks off the hard drive they went in last year's computer crash. I will slowly find and add the material and it may not be the same as it would have been.

Roses mean love, pansies mean friendship and daffodils symbolize the resurrection. Lilies mean purity and have always been associated with Mary (as have roses and as someone remarked, just about every flower!)

The goal of that little lens is to be a part of a group on Victoriana and possibly on gardening. I have too many interests, like a friend of mine, CJ who on one occasion was visiting me from Germany and was asked by my father the perennial question, "So, CJ what did you major in, in college?" She replied, "Eclecticism."

My Squidoo lenses reflect that about me too! So does my cafepress store. So maybe that should be subtitle of this post. More will be coming on the lens soon. With the sun shining so beautifully today it is time for me to go look at my flowers.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Networking and Goofing Off

I've discovered Facebook. This is serious fun and could be seriously time-consuming. As in I really needed another procrastination device! Not really, but I feel as though I am coming into the twenty-first century! Finally, and not too bad really.

The software behind such a thing as facebook must be amazing. The software that I have come to take so for granted--the email, the laptop, the desktop and especially all the Office software (reconstructing Excel spread sheets lost in my late computer crash awaits me this week, in time for taxes; I am finally finishing a book I started in 2001--it could be in its third edition by now) and Adobe graphics and layout software. Digital photography is another.

Are we blessed to live in this age? I think so. It looks like the good does outweigh the bad with all of this. (I can even type faster on my keyboards than I ever could on an IBM Executive tripewriter, err I mean typewriter.) It does seem that we can seriously goof off a lot more though and that our attention spans must be either expanding in some way or else they aren't as good as our ancestors. Of course, we do live longer so we can make up for it that way, I suppose.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today. The sunshine beckons and the daffodils need to be watered.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Glorious Sunday

I rolled outside today and took plant pictures. One of the most magnificent plants in my yard is a twenty-five year old rosemary that thinks it is trying to take over the county. It is covered in blue flowers that are so pretty and abuzz with bees. Good to see considering that the bees are having trouble surviving these days.

One of my greatest photographic challenges is trying to capture the bee or bees at work on the rosemary flowers. This is something that I have been trying to do for three years and will keep trying.

The daffodils are still pretty; the hyacinths are too and one azalea is blooming in a little pot. Two pots contain leaves of bulbs--tulips in one, calla lily in the other that will bloom sometime soon. I would particularly love to the see the calla bloom in time for Easter. I like it better than the more traditional "Easter lily". I am allergic to the fragrant lilies, which is too bad.

The old, old white flowering Satsuma plum in my next door neighbor's yard is blooming and is so fragile, and ethereal looking. It bloomed the year my Mama died during the week that she lay dying and I have thought of it ever since then as my resurrection tree. It is one of the things I am always most grateful for on a hot summer day, for it shades my bedroom window and allows me to rest until the worst of the heat passes and I rise to open windows. That time will come sooner than I think; I dread it already for it is getting harder each year to cope with the heat. In the yard behind me a beautiful flowering plum tree is putting forth a veil of pink blossoms. Unlike the Satsuma, it will not bear fruit.

When I was young and the house was almost brand new--nearly fifty years ago--the entire neighborhood was alive with blossoming plum trees at this time of the year. They did not do well, I am not sure why and they have gradually been replaced by other kinds of trees.

The sunshine streaming in today makes me cheerful and warms me as I type. Sunday is good; life is good and spring is definitely coming.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March Begins, Pennies Add UP

Neither a lion, nor a lamb this year, it is the first day nonetheless. A pretty day, a bit chilly compared to Wednesday and Thursday. The daffodils are still beautiful. My mama's hyacinths are blooming too. There seem to be three clusters; there had been two. Wonder if a squirrel dug some up and replanted? I love the spring flowers and miss the red tulips in the Quadrangles of the University of Chicago campus. When those bloomed each year (later than the first of March, of course) we knew we wouldn't freeze for a while. Swelter, yes but freeze no.

March will give us St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day, Holy Week and Easter. In fact, they will all pretty much coincide in one grand slam bam week from March 16 (Palm Sunday)-March 23( Easter). I feel a little cheated and a little peeved; since I am not the keeper of the calendar there isn't anything that I can do about it anyway. So much of life is this way.

Yesterday a friend came to lunch (as he usually does on Friday) and he came up with this brilliant scheme; (we were talking about the economy) he would like every person in America to give him one penny. His calculation is that would be about 3 million dollars. I just happened to have a bright, shiny penny handy and I gave it to him. Without missing a beat, or cracking a smile he thanked me, pocketed the penny and said, "I knew you'd come through." I laughed and laughed.

What would happen if we all started giving each other our pennies? Several million dollars would circulate. More actually. Of course, it wouldn't be spent, so therefore it wouldn't be counted. On the other hand, it might get those pennies out of the drawers and boxes and jars we've all dumped them into. How to make them count? Maybe every one-hundredth penny that came to us we could keep and then when we had one-hundred we could spend it on something (but the rules would have to include spending it on something local and consumable.) Mine would probably go for an in-out burger. I'm longing for one at the moment and there is nobody available for me to ask today to bring me one.

I know that there are least two projects that have gone through our local church that involved people donating their change. One, Operation Rice Bowl, was begun in the seventies to ask people to eat simpler meals and donate the difference to the project to feed the hungry around the world. Today, I suspect that many of us are eating simpler (cheaper) meals to save money to offset the rise in the cost of everything that has been fueled by the ever increasing increase in the cost of oil. The second project had to do with asking everyone to donate their hoarded change to help build a well in an underdeveloped village. I recall that the church collected $10,000.

Well, I diverged from what I thought I would write about today. If I remember what that was I will post it tomorrow. If not, I will write about something else. For the moment I am grateful that the sun is warming the house and the furnace is still for a little while; that it looks as though somehow by juggling, the March bills will be paid and that I am still alive. Oh yes, and even though there is no in/out burger, there is food in the house. (My spare change would probably add up to $50 too if I were to count it, so even though my cash flow isn't what I'd like it to be I'm not completely broke yet either. Maybe I will roll the change and use it to pay my Sears bill this month--they are one of the few where it is still possible to go in and pay it. Now I just need to find someone to go in. Challenges, challenges, challenges...) Happy March!