Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Garage Again

Yesterday four friends gathered for a massive re-organization of my garage. I think the garage is bigger than any room in the house. All that space! All that stuff! What is it? My dear friend, K, has filled her van twice with recyclable oddments. More to go.

Some of it has just been sitting there for a long, long time. I am finally ready to let go of much of it.

A few treasures emerged. The insignia from my father's Navy uniform cap. The course notes for an Algebra course he taught as a graduate student at Ohio State. (Along with some Ohio State notebooks from the 1940's that are near pristine condition with the unused paper in better shape than some modern tablets inside the house.

My friends worked their way to the far-back upper corner and a voice called out, "Peggy, what on earth is this? It's a table with a hole to put the kid into it". I thought for a second and hollered, "oh my Gosh! You've found it! It's the baby Tenda." Features in pictures of my sister when she was little. Papa said that he had looked for it and never found it. My sister, the same one in the pictures, ditto. It just had been so carefully tucked, so long ago that it had been in hiding. Now I will have to figure out what to do with it! Is it an antique, a treasure or something that no one will want?

Wow! The garage will not yield a whole lot more. There is a stove that needs to go. A cedar chest. A cedar armoire full of what are now very probably antique clothes. And all of Papa's tools.

Now if I could just diminish my library.

I am very tired, since I sat outside in the wind and supervised all day yesterday. I am also deeply grateful to everybody who helped. Thank you.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's Been a While

I can't believe that so many days have gone by without posting! We did have the first heat wave of the year--it reminds us that we are not in charge of the weather. It is also miserable as my house isn't that removed from the outdoors--hard to heat in the winter, hard to cool in the summer. Still I am grateful that it provides a roof over my head, electricity and running water. Definitely better than the farmsteads my ancestors lived in, with outhouses no less. So I will give thanks.

Opened up my Facebook the other day to find big and not necessarily welcome changes at Cafepress. Wouldn't have known without my Facebook and if I hadn't logged in just then. ("What! Did I miss the announcement?", a quote from Special Agent Gibbs of NCIS comes to mind here.) I have spent more time than I have to spend this way reading the forums and figuring out how I will be impacted by this and what I should do.

I have really loved Cafepress. It was exciting and pleasing and fulfilling all at the same time to receive the first package with a made object, the mug with my Fred is Peace design, come out of the wrappings. Soon I graduated from being a customer with some private designs to being a shopkeeper. My name on an Internet page! More goodies with my designs--and slowly over several years, a minor amount of sales. For the most part the prices of custom-made work are too high for most people, and I have never found a niche market of customers who could afford these high-end, equally high-quality items.

Then this St Patrick's Day and Easter I had a nice uptick in sales. I was inspired to spend time on my designs again, adding new products that I had not included, which meant templates and descriptions and all of that. I have made a whole nice new section for Mother's Day and I think these things are pretty. They are not terribly commercial though, or of the present moment. ( I have little or no interest in pop culture.)

Now the company is changing its business model so that it looks as though most of the designers--who have been setting our own mark-ups--will lose income as the company standardizes its prices. I won't give up yet, but I will try to expand to another POD company, one that I have had a small presence on for two years. It will be one more very time-consuming and energy-consuming thing to do. I am very tired. This was not how I was planning or hoping to spend the Spring days.

So mixed with the gratitude for my essential blessings is a fairly stiff measure of discouragement right now. The challenge is to take what looks like a set-back and turn it around so that it becomes a success and something to be grateful for.

My Zazzle url is in the column to the right in the links. Please click on it. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Week

Easter was truly a blessing. I watched part of the Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil from the Vatican and then spent a sunny Sunday enjoying flowers that friends had brought for me. Several months ago I found a scrumptious sounding Chocolate Pound Cake on the King Arthur Flour website and it seemed the perfect celebratory goodie for Easter. (I haven't quite finished it yet.) During the hour and a half that it took to bake, I finished reading The Moral Measure of the Economy. A perfect and beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Monday a dear friend delighted me with a surprise visit and she put up with my singing of "And very early on the First day of the week, they went unto the Sepulcher and found it lying empty, Alleluia." Matins for Easter morning, which is the conclusion of our community's traditional Easter Vigil. I love it so much and miss singing it. It has always touched me that it was the women who bore first witness to the Resurrection.

While the weather has turned chilly the sun is still shining and Easter week is progressing as a time of joy and blessing. Here are some of the flowers.

The purple sweet peas are the most stunning of all because of their color. I am so grateful for this bounty of friendship and flowers during Easter week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday already and Easter is actually late this year. It does seem as though the year is flying by. I loved singing for Holy Week when I was young, although I quickly realized that it was a half time job!

Admiration and prayers go out to all of you who sing in choirs this week. Unless you are able take time off the experience will be one of sleep deprivation--and of liminality. The liminality, temporary transcendence from the mundane as it is, may be a good thing. The fact that ordinary routines must go on is too bad though. It would be good to have an economy more attuned to liminality, perhaps?

I notice that Passover is being celebrated this year at the same time as Christians are celebrating Holy Week and Easter. This is good. It reminds us of our relationship to one another. Christianity is after all, rooted in Judaism. The Passover Seder is the root of Holy Thursday. After the institution of the Eucharist, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the disciples were no longer Jewish in the way they had been before. Today, Christians certainly are no longer Jewish.

I have mixed feelings about the custom, in some Christian communities, about holding a Seder. The intentions were good I think. Mine certainly were when as a young woman I convinced my parents we should move the furniture around so that people could come for the Seder at our house. I learned something more about Judaism and also about community from this experience. I never did it again though. Today, I think I would feel that it would be stealing from someone else's tradtions. Respecting the others is important though, and I hope that more respect will grow in this country.

Last year I wrote about the foot washing command of the Maundy and how I have never been comfortable with it and why. That post is still available, I think, so I will not repeat it, except to say that I have found a kind neighbor who is helping me with washing my hair! What a blessing this is!

Community is fractured and fragmented in our modern world. We need to keep working to build it and to make it less fragmented, more cohesive.

I am reading, not exactly as Lenten reading, although I think it is appropriate, The Moral Measure of the Economy, a book about Catholic social teachings that is also a critique of big capitalism run amok. I would like to see a national discussion. Maybe I will start a group on Facebook to read this book and others that are related to it.

I am grateful for the rain this week, for the reading and for the liturgy even though I can be there only in spirit. (I wish they would do Podcasts!)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Vacation Reading

I've spent the week on something of a reading vacation, polishing off two China Bayles mysteries back to back. Not good for blogging--or other work. Fortunately, I had no pressing deadlines this week so I could do this. Wednesday I spent the entire day away from the computer and found myself completely engrossed in the second book. I haven't done this in years and it was difficult to get back on track the next day, as difficult as though I had been away on a trip for reading a good work of fiction is a kind of trip to another place.

This book includes a recipe for a cookie that I am going to try soon--a sugar cookie with the addition of Habanero powder. So that was the next part of the vacation reading--searching online for Habanero powder. Ah, ha, found it! The Spice House in Chicago has it along with a number of interesting things.

Then I topped off the week by adding Chipotle powder, which I already have from Mountain Rose Herbs, to my chocolate. One tablespoon of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa, about one tablespoon of sugar, and a smidgin of Chipotle powder, probably 1/8 teaspoon with enough water to make a frosting like consistency. Very good, very soothing, got the endorphins going and I felt much better than I have in some time. Next I will try the cookies. (Maybe lavender and Chipotle powder, or would the flavors simply fight it out? Lavender is not a hot spice--er, herb--but it is a very pronounced flavor.)

I am also wondering what the addition of chile powder would do to my favorite cappuccino flats. Chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg and espresso powder are there already. Last year I made a batch with Chinese Five Spice and a hint of orange zest. Very good, but I have misplaced the recipe.

I remember reading one of Robert Farrar Capon's books in which he says that cooking is an intellectual endeavor. That rang a bell. Cookbooks are another kind of favorite read, but that is another post. (Maybe I should add a few to my books list!)

I am grateful for the time off, for the fun of reading a good mystery and for the friend who brought the books to me from the library.