Sunday, December 13, 2009

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Census Takers

Life got rather busy a few weeks ago. I mentioned in an earlier post that the Census had called and asked me to work for them again. The job kept getting postponed for a couple of weeks and that frustrated me some at the time. But the work finally started and it is still as much fun as it was earlier this year. The slow spell of the summer is over and we are gearing up to hire a lot of folk for the upcoming census taking. If you want a temporary job that pays fairly well and helps your government put resources where they are needed most then click here. One of the nice things I like about this job is there is so much to learn about the project. I’m a perpetual student and excel in learning environments. This one has a lot to teach me.

The fact that we do a Census every 10 years is dictated by law. I believe it’s written into the Constitution. There is a deadline for it. The Census totals need to be on President Obama’s desk on a specific date in the middle of next December. The goal is to do a better job of counting every person in the country than they did in past decades. We are aiming for 100%! That 100 percent isn’t just those of us who live in houses or apartments. It includes trailer parks too. That I could have figured out. But for some reason I hadn’t figured on them counting campground dwellers, boat owners who live in them on the water, and people in care facilities like hospitals, retirement communities, and jails. And then there are the people who live in shelters, under bridges and overpasses, and in boxes. Yep, we plan on counting them too. That thought brings to mind an old black and white movie image of hoboes around a campfire. I wonder if they will search railroad cars for people.

That’s the main news on my front. I’m busy and feeling good about it. Yay! Other news is that my list of friends on Facebook has grown. A bit of that is thanks to I’m reconnected with a few folks in my high school graduating class. That’s kind of neat and I’ll probably try to go to a reunion when they hold it. On a more interactive front an old college chum got in touch with me the same way. I'd not heard from Harry in something close to 30 years but we were great friends when we attended the same college. He’s doing well and is in town for the holidays to see his Mum. We are meeting for lunch tomorrow. I wonder what we will talk about.

My Dad sent me a box full of pictures from the family collection. He is scanning them into his computer and was just going to toss them so I asked if I could have them instead. Yeah, I love a digital image and can look at one for hours if it’s really good. But just like books, a real photograph printed on paper is somehow more tangible and generates strong memories and emotions. Guess I”m just an old fashioned girl when it comes to some things.

I guess the last bit of news is that tonight I’m attending a Celtic Christmas Concert at my church. The music I’ll hear is going to be performed by Jeff Johnson, Brian Dunning, and Wendy Goodwin. I hope to come away with a CD or two of their music. If you want to listen to some clips of their stuff the website is here. I’ll try to write about the concert and my impressions later this week.

Peace, Hope & Joy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Counterpoint to the Evening

Wednesday evening is practice night for my church choir, of which I’ve been a member for about a year. These days we are gearing up for the annual Lessons & Carols service. It’s exciting because there are always lots of new numbers to sing and it is the choir showcase service. We are also thinking ahead to Christmas Eve service which also has lots of music in it. Our choir director asked if any of us would be interested in doing some group numbers, not exactly solos but still out front and I said count me in. So this Christmas I may be part of a trio singing a medley of carols.

When choir practice was over we had a birthday celebration for anyone who’s birthday is in November and those we’d missed earlier in the year. This is renewing an old tradition among our group that fell into disuse and I think we are all happy to have it back again. Everybody should have their special day. The members who volunteered to sponsor this month’s celebration brought wine, desserts, and some nice crackers, chips, and dips. It was all good. Then we left for the evening.

Outside our sanctuary door there’s a motion activated security light. It’s dark earlier these days so I was glad that it came on as I headed out to my car. But apparently someone in the world wasn’t so happy. As I passed the tree on the corner of the building I heard a sound I’d never heard before. It was a sort of hooting. I stopped and listened and it happened again and again. It was an owl protesting about light disturbing his peace. In all my life I can’t remember ever having heard an owl before, but I recognized it immediately. Perhaps there’s no other bird that sounds like that. Maybe it’s so distinctive that once you’ve been told what an owl sounds like you can’t mistake that sound for any other bird. The moment made me feel very good. To know that nature was out there and active, that a bird I tend to think of as a wilderness creature was on our church grounds, made me aware of how special our sanctuary and grounds are. Whenever I’m on our campus I feel blessed. There’s this feeling that just seems to fill the grounds up, not just the sanctuary. We call ourselves reconcilers and I think that sound served to remind me that we reconcile ourselves to nature too.

The Happiness Project had an interesting post the other day about de-cluttering. It was rules to not follow. In it Gretchen gave Eleven Myths of De-cluttering along with how we should not follow those old beliefs and why. I was surprised to find these out and have to admit that I’m guilty of believing and practicing many of them. Maybe I can try out these new methods and get better results. What do you think? Are you guilty of any of these?

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happiness is a Playful Cat

Stray Porch Kitty, these days affectionately called Hooboo, made his presence felt this morning. When he thinks it’s time to get up, usually just before the alarm goes off, he gets up on the bed and either makes bread on my shoulder (thank goodness for comforters) or lays down on top of me and settles in to wait for signs of wakefulness. Today it went a little beyond that. If you read Sandi's blog you’ll remember that just this weekend she talked about her cats and how Sonny gets up on the bed, plays with Mac, and then snuggles under the covers to play “bat nose” with her. This morning it seemed that Hooboo has developed his own version of that game. From his settled perch upon my upper body his little paw reached down to tentatively pat my cheek and then my nose. Yes there was one tiny claw sticking out. He was very gentle until I reached up to pet him. Then the game became attack the hand which drove me back under the covers. LOL He didn’t hurt me but I was very glad for fast reflexes. And doubly grateful for a loving cat who likes to be close to me in the early morning hours. What a fun way to start the day.

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Blending Two Projects

For the last 10 days my good friend Sandi has been taking part in the Month of Giving Thanks challenge. She’s found something to be grateful for every day and it has kept her writing. I find this a happy circumstance because I love reading her blog.

For the past few months I’ve been following The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin on my Google reader. That blog is the interesting result of Gretchen taking a year and trying out every “make yourself happier” method she could discover and it has attracted many readers and generated a book. It’s provided me with some tiny mood enhancers which might seem small and insignificant but if anything helps you feel better then I say, “Way to go!”

I considered joining Sandi in her Thanksgiving project. I have a lot to be grateful for. And reading her daily posts has helped me remember that. But being grateful has doesn't always bring me joy. And reflecting on that, plus this evening’s conversation with my counselor, has generated this post

Being grateful, especially when you are enjoying what you are grateful for, is wonderful! But sometimes it can serve to emphasize a need you have. When that happens no matter how grateful you are for the help you got, whether from friends or any other source, you hear this inner voice saying, “You’re needy!” Boom there goes your happiness and sometimes the relief for having had your needs met. That’s a horrid way to feel about yourself. And it’s silly! There’s nothing wrong with having needs! Everyone does. We need air. We need food. We need shelter. We need friends and moments in our lives when everything feels like it is going right. And sometimes, when things in your life go horribly wrong you need lots of other kinds of help. That doesn’t make you a horrid person or a weak one. But I’m sure you’re smart enough to know that fighting those internal messages is more than difficult. It’s a monumental task and takes strength, insight, and perseverance. Not to mention a lot of self retraining.

So this evening when talking to my counselor, I declared that I didn’t like certain things in my life and I wanted to feel happier. I’d like to make sweeping changes in my life and have everything be back on track the way it was before certain catastrophic events occurred in my life. However, that’s not very realistic of me. I’m not a sweeping change person. I’m a one step at a time girl who doesn’t multitask well. So for the next few posts and maybe many posts to come I’m going to be talking about things that make me grateful and things that make me happy.

I believe the Thanksgiving was initiated nicely in my first paragraph. I’m so grateful that I have a wonderful friend like Sandi. She plays scrabble with me almost everyday and shares her life with me. We keep tabs on what we’re watching on TV (in my case on the internet) and what our plans are for the week. We pray for one another and show due concern when needful. And we are so much alike that Sandi has declared me a sister. If I could move the entire state of South Carolina and fit inside of Texas, right next to San Antonio, I’d gladly do so because that would mean that I could visit Sandi as easily as I drive to church. Someday, Sandi and I are going to meet face to face. When that happens it’s going to be one of the most wonderful trips I’ve ever taken!

Now for happiness. The things I’ve been gathering from The Happiness Project that help brighten my mood are 1) make your bed and 2) put on your shoes. That sounds silly doesn’t it? But doing those two things actually helps me feel prepared to face other things. If there is anything I can take from that it’s the understanding that happiness isn’t superficial, or momentary. It’s an entire many layers deep feeling that is affected by your lifestyle and the choices you make which lead to feeling ready to face anything that might come your way. I can find changes caused by those two tiny actions when I look over the past week. When I grumbled about not having work when I’d expected to, my blogging friend Jinsky told me that I should use the time to enjoy something nice, like a really good book. I’d like to confess that it wasn’t a book that I enjoyed. It was cooking.

When I was younger I was a decent cook. After those life changing events it felt like I’d forgotten how to cook. That’s almost impossible if you learned, as I did, from a loving grandmother. But somehow things became difficult and appeared insurmountable. That really bothered me. Not this week, though! I found myself making breakfast again. Not cereal but scrambled eggs which meant there were pans to clean afterwards. The next thing was breaking out the broiler. I’ve been buying my major groceries through Angel Foods for 2 months now and I’ve got way too much stuff in my freezer. So the other night I decided it was time to use some of the steaks. I got the broiling pan, cleaned it, and reorganized the oven drawer in the process. Then I thawed 3 steaks and broiled them after I found the cookbook that reminded me for how long. They were delicious thanks to Kevin (old navy friend) who taught me to use a hint of garlic powder and celery seasoning when cooking beef. Yum!

About the work thing, I’m still hired but they called on Friday morning and said, Come on Monday,” and then called Friday afternoon and said, “Oops! We’re sorry but everyone has to wait another week.” That’s week 2 of a job with no work. So I’m praying that it doesn’t happen again. At least I’ve got time to do some other things, like play scrabble with Sandi. I’m sure I’ll find other things to do to fill the time but right now I’ve no idea what. But it will be interesting to find out.

Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Monday, November 02, 2009

From Joy to a Dangling Feeling

Last Monday the Census called to ask me to go back to work for them. Of course I said yes! I really liked the job and the people I worked with earlier this year.

The man who called asked me to start last Friday for training. So bright and early that morning I was up and out the door. The day was wonderful! It felt like a home coming! There were lots of familiar faces, catching up on what we’d been up to, finding out what was going to happen next, and nodding with one another that this or that was no surprise.

We were told to come back today and that there would be continued training. So today I got up and happily headed out the door to continue learning what would be expected of me. Everyone was excited and happy when we met at the office door, waiting till it was unlocked and the alarm was disarmed to go in and get started. That feeling didn’t last long. We were barely inside the door when the supervisor asked us to listen to her before we got started. It turns out our bosses jumped the gun and had started us working a bit too early. We were being asked to turn around and go home. What?!!!

The supervisor assured us we were still hired. She said we would be called later this week and told where to report next Monday. She handed us all time sheets and asked us to fill them out for today and we got log half an hour of time and mileage if we’re working for a different office. So the day isn’t a total loss. It just feels unsettling.

I’m giving up a different temporary job to take this Census one because this one is going to give me steady work, probably through summer of next year. I’m really excited about that! But not having work when I expected to just bothers me and I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself. So I’m trying to figure out what I can do to fill in the time. Handle paperwork I guess. Run a few errands. But I really don’t want to do much spending till I’ve got money coming in.

One thing is puzzling me. Every time I’ve worked a temporary job before, if I showed up for work I was given a minimum of 4 hours of time. If there was nothing to do I found a way to stay busy. This 30 minute thing has me wondering if they should have had us all fill the time sheets out for 4 hours instead of the 30 minutes. I don’t know if that’s a labor requirement set in stone by some law or just a standard policy which can be ignored by the hiring agency. Like I said, kind of unsettling. So I’m trying to figure out if I should be grateful for what we were given or if I should say something. If you know something about that kind of situation I’d really appreciate hearing what you have to say. In the meantime, thank God for work!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Quiet Day this Saturday

Once a year my church holds a day of rest and reflection. We call it our Quiet Day. This will be my first year to attend. In some ways I’m looking forward to it. What will the day be like? We have gentle yoga planned. Are there other activities? In other ways I’m a bit nervous. I find peace in solitude, will there be too many people for that? Presumably I’ll spend time quietly talking to God, or maybe just waiting. Will I find answers to my questions? Or will I fidget too much, as I’m wont to do, to find peace?

Today my friend San has a new post up that gives me food for thought. It’s about a view on life that has one turning around and viewing life from the opposite direction. It also covers the inner and outer voices. That gave me so much to think about that I’m hoping I’ll be able to focus on it’s meanings on Saturday. The post, you can read it here, made me think about seeing things from that different perspective. Can it really be that simple? Can I mentally turn my chair around and see my life differently? On Saturday?

The key concept of my hope derives from something I’ve done once unsuccessfully and my priest did recently very successfully. What we both attempted was wandering in the wilderness. My priest went on sabbatical. During that time he went on a solo hiking trip, after a meditative and prayerful retreat, to spend time with God in the wilderness. My last attempt at walking with God in the wilderness was a couple of years ago and even with all the markers on the trail I focused on the wrong things, didn’t plan carefully enough, and had wrong info which, if corrected, would have given me a lifeline. The result for my priest was that he came back refreshed, renewed, and changed from his experiences. My results were different. I got lost and in the process lost faith in myself. Not in God though. I give him all the credit for me not ending up in an emergency room after getting lost on a walk that had plenty of signs if I’d known how to read them.

In some ways that analogy also applies to my life and career choices. Good intentions aren’t enough. You have to have skills in reading signs, and plan with forethought and self awareness when you choose the paths you take. So when I asked my priest last Sunday if he would teach a class on how to find our way in the wilderness I was being more than hopeful. It occurs to me that perhaps learning how to walk in the wilderness physically would also help me walk it metaphorically.

Since I’m seeming to place so much hope on this idea I plan on encouraging my priest again to teach this class. Folk in my church love going hiking and for the past 2 years we’ve had a trip to a beautiful camping place in our state, Big Bend. There are a lot of places around our city where we can go hiking. We even have access to several places that can be reached on day trips, done with 2 hours of driving each way. I’m not ignorant of the fact that it takes more than locale to teach one how to survive in the wilderness. I just hope that I can generalize the skills of successful navigation to the rest of my life. And that by going into the wilderness with God I’ll tune out the distractions of life, as I did in my youth, and focus on what is real and true. Maybe that will make a difference.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Puzzle Share

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From the first glimpse of its colors this puzzle asked to be worked. They were just so beautiful, those greens, blues, and purples asking to be blended into a form of flowering beauty. I didn't even notice the time flowing by as I worked it. The playlist was sending the beautiful voice of Barbara Streisand through the air to my ears with the sweet flowing melody of The Summer Knows. That only seemed to enhance the beauty of the flower the puzzle pieces were becoming. So I suggest you enjoy some wonderful song that sings to you of beauty as you work this one. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

He Stretched His Arms Out Upon the Cross

Today’s service was a visual example of the meaning of the action of Christ upon the cross.

It was Community Speaks Sunday and, as is our custom, we had a guest speaker, Kay Briggs, who is author of the book The Magic Seashells. The Magic Seashells is Kay’s story about her recovery and healing from sexual abuse she received as a child. Hers is a beautiful message about how she tried to live out her life in the perfect appearance so often demanded by our society, keeping her experiences and troubles a secret, until she learned that to heal from the hurt done to her as a child she had to embrace the darkness of her experience and find God’s love within it.

We also blessed and said goodbye to a member who is on a journey away from us. He is headed off to prison for the crime of downloading child pornography and will serve several years in the state facility. He knew better than to do what he did. He feels bad about it and asked over a year ago for forgiveness and we gave it with a lovely service of prayer and laying on of hands in blessing in the hopes that his journey will find him healed at the end. We all knew his day to leave would come. We just didn’t know it was going to be today.

I worry about this man because I know that what he did has made him an outcast to some of our church, society at large, and will also do the same to him in prison. From my ex who is a jailor, “inmates all have children and they hate child abusers so any inmate that they learn has hurt children has to be locked away in administrative detention to save their life from the other inmates who will beat them up and try to kill them.” So he may end up in solitary for the next few years just to live. Even if he doesn’t enter solitary confinement he certainly can’t make friends with anyone and reveal his offense.  It’s a long and lonely road he has ahead of him.

Kay’s message was a blessing to me and I know that it wasn’t easy what she did, learning to accept herself and be open about her experiences. Kay may have had her own prison of sorts trying to live out the lie of perfection. I’ve known other people who experienced child abuse and it’s a lonely misfit life they live until they find healing for that hurt. 

After we prayed for him, our departing member, I sat there and thought about what that meant, the welcoming of a victim of child abuse and prayerfully blessing an enabler of it. It seemed such a dichotomy. So radical. So extreme! From victim to criminal, Christ’s forgiving love was exemplified by the actions of our priest and the community. That is such a huge stretch that it boggles the mind. Is there nothing that God can’t or won’t forgive, fix, or heal? Apparently not. So I think that for the next few days, or perhaps weeks, I’ll be thinking about how wide Christ’s arms stretched when he laid them down upon that cross for us all. It’s a humbling thought.

May the love of God enfold each and everyone of you today and everyday! Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Affordable Dining

My church has a pretty good outreach program. We work with all kinds of ministries trying to reach out to our neighborhood and community at large. The newest program we’ve just started sponsoring is Angel Food Ministries. This is a service that provides food for less than you might pay at your local supermarket. There are various packages of food stuffs you can buy through this service. Most of this is not prepared. You do your own cooking. For those who are on food stamps, having a hard time with the budget, or just want to stretch your resources you can order one or two of the food packages which most closely meets your needs and pay for them when you order. Then on delivery day, about two weeks after the order deadline, you go to the local host site and pick up your order.

This will be the first month we’ve been a host site and I’m ordering. After looking at the monthly menu I chose the signature package and am considering the senior convenience package as well. What the signature package has is several pounds of meat, some frozen vegetables, sacks of potatoes and onions, fruit juice, eggs, and shelf stable milk. The contents are sufficient to feed a family of 4 for a week. Being single I’m pretty sure I can stretch that to at least 2 weeks maybe more. The senior convenience box has 10 frozen dinners and desserts. Those two boxes of food will run me less than I usually spend at the store when I shop for 2 weeks. The reason I’m only considering, rather than determined to buy, the convenience box is that I tend to be a bit lazy. Having food I don’t need to cook would probably mean that the microwave dinners would be used first and the food that requires cooking would be used last. I think the selling point on that will be how large the frozen dinners are. So I’ll ask. Another strong contender for purchase on my part is the produce box. But if I buy that I’d have more potatoes than I could use in a couple of months and some fruit that might go to waste. Guess I don’t need to tell you that waste would eradicate the savings in this.

The food looks appealing in the pictures on the website and there are recipes to suggest ways of using the food. The members who suggested this ministry checked it out and assured us that it is quality food. I explored the website a bit further and there’s a nice online magazine that has recipes and articles on how the service has helped. It has some spiritual articles too. San Antonio, being a major city, has quite a few host sites. If you don’t live in a large city you can probably drive to a nearby site either in your town or another one nearby. This service is popular with churches. So I’d like to encourage you to check out the website. Just go here. There’s a nice user friendly menu of additional pages with more info on the upper right of the home page. I’ll let you know how this experiment in affordable dining turns out.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Puzzle Share and Bits of News

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It's been a slow week. The highlight of it has been playing tons of Scrabble with Sandi. I think we broke our record number of games yesterday by playing 2 in the morning and 5 that evening for a grand total of 7 games. By the end of the last game we were so beat mentally that we had to stop. LOL I think we both wonder what our endurance level can be and maybe we are gearing up to find out. I think it would be interesting to have an all day Scrabble marathon. Not that I could sit still that long but with planned breaks it might be possible. That probably means I might find a Scrabble competition interesting. So I guess I'll add that to the future things to do wish list.

Lately I've been working on planning a liturgy. It's part of my verger training and I'm helping our Associate Rector plan the All Saints service. We both feel we need to put an action in the service that makes the remembering significant to all. We also want to focus on remembering and, in doing so, celebrate the lives, rather than focus on the death, of those who've been saints in our lives and in our faith community.

In study to prepare for this planning, Matt asked me to read a chapter or two in a couple of books. The Book of Sacramental Basics by Tad Guzie really struck me as meaningful. I like the way Guzie breaks things down, moves from one point to the next in clear stages, and has vivid explanations or examples to illustrate each of his points. The man was a gifted teacher. I only read one chapter in the book and am thinking I need to find a copy for my own library as it will surely give me more food for thought. The other book I read in was Beyond Smell & Bells by Mark Galli. It's good but I liked the Guzie book better.

In a week I start another scoring project at Pearson. It will last from 2 to 3 weeks and it will feel nice to be busy again. My friend Jenny will be scoring on it too. Yay, company for lunch! The weather is cooling off and the daytime temperatures are down into the 90's. Yesterday we had rain and there is hope for some more today and possibly tomorrow.

Today's puzzle was so beautiful that I just had to share it. I find it very delicate and I love the contrast of pale yellow against the blue of the lavender flowers. Enjoy!

Friday, September 04, 2009

New Artist – New Song on Playlist

A fellow blogger, Alt of Bones of the Sky blog, has put up a video of a young man, Joe Pug, who is just starting his music career. I found the performance riveting! The lyrics to Hymn 101 are intense and thought provoking! I kept listening to it over and over. When I realized this I added it to the playlist. If you’d like to, you can find him on YouTube or there is a website for him here. To see and hear the video on Alt’s blog go here. Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Where I'd Like to be Next Spring

For awhile now I’ve wanted to get over to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, so when my friend Jenny called and suggested we get out of the house this is where I suggested we go. Jenny liked this idea, so on Saturday we each left our respective homes and headed down to the gardens with the goal of arriving before the morning heat came full on. We didn’t quite make it but the time waiting for her to catch up with me was spent familiarizing myself with the macro controls on my camera, a Canon Powershot A570 is.

What the manual told me was that I had a setting for foliage under the Special Circumstances mode and that if I pressed the control that looked like a tulip I’d get macro mode which would allow me to get within 2 inches of anything I cared to shoot. I was delighted to discover that macro mode was available on foliage mode, it isn’t in some modes, so my camera pretty much stayed on foliage settings the entire morning.

That’s the entrance to the gardens, taken while I was sitting there waiting for Jenny to arrive. The gardens are wheelchair accessible and we are looking at the ramp to the main entry way. Then I turned around and saw this gorgeous bougainvillea.

After Jenny got there, we paid for entrance and headed out into the gardens where I promptly found something to photograph, and discovered I had to change batteries. I gritted my teeth because I knew I should have switched them out and recharged the old ones before we left. Fortunately I always carry a charged set in the case. The problem this created was a possible limit on the number of images I could take while exploring the park. I recently read that doing preview mode on a digital camera quickly uses up your batteries so I decided I’d avoid that as much as possible. And off we headed to the rose garden.

The garden had tons of roses in all colors, but the one that caught my eye was this one. This is a trumpeter rose. I was enchanted by the variety of shades it showed on the same bush. You might think I’d be taking pictures right and left as I wandered, and if I’d been sure of my resources I would have. But since I didn’t know how long the batteries would last I took the best shot I could in each of the gardens and left it at that.

You could tell the gardens had been feeling the heat. San Antonio is on stage 2 water restrictions because of drought so we can only hand water if we want to do it daily. Watering by sprinkler is only allowed once a week. So there were volunteers throughout the gardens with hoses in their hands.

Because it was so hot and dry the prettiest sections of the gardens were the parts with plants native to Texas. And since it’s heading into autumn the butterflies are starting their migration although that probably won’t be in full swing till September. Even so, there were plenty of them fluttering around the garden and I tried to catch one. Those darn butterflies are fast and difficult to catch with their wings open. So I took exactly 2 shots and decided to give up thinking I’d been unsuccessful. When I got home and uploaded the pictures I found that while I’d been focusing on one butterfly, another had snuck into the shot and it was showing open wings. So here you go!

I guess that guy in the bottom of the shot wanted his 15 minutes of fame. LOL These look a bit like monarchs but their colors aren’t as bright as I remember monarchs being so I’m thinking it must be a different variety or perhaps a close cousin. A few steps further along, I came across this plant.

I really liked the laciness of the leaves and the airiness of this pretty flower. If I ever learn the name of it that will go on my list of plants for future gardens.

By this time the garden was heating up and I wanted to head for the cooler parts of the gardens. Those included a walk around a small lake on the property and a stroll through the climate controlled gardens kept inside buildings. On the way there we strolled through the area that the gardens use to hold summer concerts. And just at the entrance to the lawn there is the beautiful wisteria arbor. I took the following picture of the entrance to it.

It’s amazing how green this is as late in summer as we are and with hundred degree heat almost daily. But when I owned a house one of the plants in the garden was a Texas Wisteria so I think this might be covered with that variety. Then I went over and sat down on that bench on the right and took this next shot.

Isn’t that circular framing fascinating with those vines hanging off of it. This is where I intend to be next spring when the wisteria blooms. Wisteria is a beautiful bluish lavender bloom that has a very short season and I’m so looking forward to when those circles of vines will be strewn with gorgeous flowers.

After we sat there and rested for a bit we hit the lake and fed the ducks.

There are benches through out the gardens and I was sitting on one when I took this. None of the duck shots I took turned out well so I’m storing them for later study to see how I can improve my technique. From here we headed to the climate controlled gardens because it was no 11:30 AM and I wanted to see the air conditioned gardens I remembered from my last visit. Sure enough they didn’t disappoint!

These caught my eye because they were up above me where the man made waterfalls were coming from. They are gorgeous but I’ve no idea what they are called. If you know a name for them please leave it for me in a comment. One thing you’ll be able to tell from the pictures I’ve taken here is that red is my favorite color.

There’s a pathway through this garden. It’s very necessary because the place looks sort of like what I imagine a jungle or rain forest might look like. Plants are everywhere and very close together, pile one on top of another. There were several varieties of orchids, most of which were up high but there was one that was hanging down and had placed itself conveniently against a light colored background. Jenny spotted that one so it is thanks to her that I have this shot.

The intensity of color here has me wondering how hard orchids are to raise.

Before we left this cool and enjoyable area I noticed one more really intense red bloom. Jenny told me a funny story about her 3 year old granddaughter’s interpretation of what the stamen was. Seems the child thought the flower was “using the bathroom.” LOL Weird stamen or not, this color is intense.

Notice the white flower behind it? I know that if I had a faster shutter speed I’d have had a better chance of getting that flower in focus which was what I had hoped would happen. But I’m not that good with the elaborate controls my camera gives me. A smart photographer and blogger once said, take your camera out and use one control at a time till you get really good with it. I think that is what I need to do. Even though the white bloom is blurry I still like the color contrast.

The next few climate controlled gardens were desert, bromeliad, and the fern glade. These were not as physically comfortable as the previous garden so we didn’t stay long. It was in one of them that I learned what a tea plant looked like. I’d never seen one and the sign in front of it informed me that there is only one type of tea plant and that what you purchase. Whether it is black, green, or orange pekoe is all a matter of processing. The tea plant isn’t in bloom. I don’t know if it DOES bloom. But here is what provides our wonderful morning refreshment if you’re a tea drinker.

After this I headed to the water gardens because 1) they are beautiful and 2) Sandi has one and I wanted to share some of the flowers I knew would be there with her. So here are the water lily pictures. I took four of them, one of them a close up of the blooms that weren’t open but I hoped would be soon.

There’s a stepping stone pathway across the water garden and that’s where I stood to take this one. The next two I had to walk around the edge of the pond trying to stay off the lawn as much as possible because there wasn’t a designed trail but merely a place free from most grass that I think was created by visitors who wanted to get closer to the flowers just like I did.

Here’s flower number two. I shared this one with Sandi by email but I’d taken more than one shot of it and this one seems to show the flowers better although the other one has a better placement. It’s below. What’s your feeling about that?

For this one there was very little that I could do to avoid the obvious pond controls in the shot. However, I liked the bloom because it is on a much taller stem than these others have been.

It was a very awkward angle that I took this from. I stood at the very edge of the water and then just put the camera in my hand and held it out as far as I could towards the plant and got this next one for my efforts.

I couldn’t begin to tell you what made such a difference but my arm is about two and a half feet in length and I zoomed in as much as possible with a small prayer as I snapped the photo.

Now it was 12:30PM, the temperature was about 100 degrees, and we were both hungry and tired. So we discussed where to go for lunch on the walk back to the garden entrance. We decided to eat at the Carriage House, which is the garden restaurant, because I said if I had to drive anywhere I’d drive home.

On the way towards lunch I got two more shots. The first was this native plant, which once again I don’t know the name of. But purples and lavenders are my second favorite color so here’s a pretty shot of something I see a lot in the xeriscape gardens around here.

We even have some in the church garden.

I was feeling all sentimental when I took this last picture. It is of a plant my grandmother had in her garden when I was a child, although not this color. Which is why I took it!

Grandmother’s pomegranates were red in color. Just like the ones we are all pretty familiar with. I didn’t know that these lovely fruit came in orange and perhaps other colors. I also loved the bright red flowers that were growing next to and below it on the other side of the wall. What a nice image to close out my trip to the gardens with!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip with me. I also hope I get the chance to go again soon. I know I’ll be there next spring. Got to see that wisteria in bloom. Blessings!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dibs of This and Dabs of That

Sunday was a lovely day! It is has been my favorite day of the week since I started attending both morning services. For most of the time I’ve been at Church of Reconciliation I was a regular at early service (8:00 AM). Then I joined the choir and my attendance switched to late service (10:30 AM) because the early service is a contemplative service and doesn’t usually have music. When I conferred with my priest about my function as a verger in training he suggested that since I was the verger with the most early service experience that should be my area of focus. This was just great with me because there were friends I’d made at early service that I missed when I attended late service. So these days I head to church early, aiming to be there by 7:30 AM, so that I can be helpful if anyone needs assistance and step in to take over a role if the person who was assigned to it is absent and no substitute was arranged for. This is the function of a verger, to help things run smoothly.

The past few Sunday’s our newest member of altar guild has been arriving early and setting up when I got there. This gentleman is very nice and helpful. He says he’s still in training so that is why he has been doing the setup every Sunday. That fits in with my feelings about pre-service setup. There have been enough changes to the way we do things now, thanks to our wonderful associate rector, that I need to practice and remind myself how things go and what is different between the two services.

On Sunday I also ran into my verger/instructor who cleared a few misconceptions up about the way things were supposed to go in my training. The verger trainee who is most fully trained was there too and they are both going to send me necessary documents so that I can complete the sheaf of pages necessary for Robert, our rector, to read and sign off on when he returns from Sabbatical at the beginning of October. At that time we all want to be ready so that he can do an induction ceremony during one of the services.

Not long ago I finished my taxes which I’d filed an extension on when I was looking for some paperwork. I never found the paperwork but it wasn’t critical to the return so once I got the desk cleared off, for the umpteenth time, I did them online using the Turbo Tax free online software and efiled for free too. My refund hit my account in 2 weeks and on Saturday I went grocery shopping at WalMart. It was a lovely time and I over loaded the cart with good things. I’ve taken to using the store brands since they cost less money. My goal when buying groceries is to have each meal cost as close to one dollar as possible. I think I did a pretty good job of that and my pantry and freezer are over stocked with good things to eat again. Plus some snacks. I plead guilty on the snack thing as I bought a package of Oreo type cookies but they were store brand ($2) and I put them in the freezer and am only having them in 3 cookie increments. That's what the package says is a serving size and I’m sticking to it. I also got some of those mini cups of ice cream so that I can have a dessert which is portion controlled. Yay for Blue Bell who puts these things in bags of 12. That will last me several weeks before I run out.

The book I’m reading lately is Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. It’s non fiction which has traditionally been hard for me to keep on reading after an initial endeavor. But this book is speaking to me in ways that have a lot to do with my need for understanding the concept of soul and its growth plus Moore uses mythology to illustrate his points and his story telling is like someone explaining a parable. It was the explaining of a parable that brought my belief in God to completion and I think this is working the same way. Instead of reading fast I find myself reading a paragraph, sometimes just a sentence, at a time and enjoying the meaning I’m discovering there. As a child I read all of Bullfinch’s Mythology and also Edith Wharton’s book on the subject so it delights me to find this excellent story teller using the story of The Odyssey and the story of Persephone's abduction to illustrate loss, searching, and journeys of discovery.

A couple of weeks ago I held a de-flea day. I went to the vet and got some Frontline Plus for my boys, a couple of pills that get rid of all the fleas on them in 30 minutes, without hurting the cats, and a huge can of carpet spray that kills fleas in just a few minutes and has a residual effect. After coming home and using all of the above my desk is now my own again for the most part. The boys still like to be close to me but they no longer feel they need to leave the floor to be comfortable and free of biting pests. I got this done early enough that Hyrum's ruff is saved for the summer. In the past the dermatitis he gets from flea bites generates enough scratching and grooming measures that it is thinned out by the time he feels comfortable. That might be cooler for him but it looks awful. His ruff and thick coat are a couple of his most attractive features and it takes a long time, almost a year, for that gorgeous fur collar to grow back in. So I’m very happy with this turn of events.

On the scrabble playing front, Sandi and I’ve are still using to play scrabble online, but we are now using their National Scrabble Association (NSA) game rooms and rules. This makes the game more challenging and fun. By NSA rules we each get 30 minutes at the beginning of the game. Your clock counts down from whatever is left on it when it is your turn to play. If you are slow and end up using all of your 30 minutes before the game is over you lose 10 points for each minute or part of as you and your opponent strive to complete the game. That drastically changes the scoring and speeds things up a bit. I discovered that I need to memorize the 2 Letter Word chart for the game. Apparently, serious scrabble players memorize quite a few charts and word lists. Or at least that is my impression. So I went online and found a table of 2 letter words and also some lists of 3 letter words. It’s the uncommon ones that you have to work on. Those are often the ones that get you the most parts. I’m not very good at playing by NSA rules yet. I get stuck in one word mode too frequently, looking for some place to play it. I also need to practice my word on word building skills. You can make much bigger scores by running a word right alongside of another word already played than you can by branching off perpendicular to that word and using up valuable open space on the board. While researching this I discovered that there is a NSA Scrabble club in town. Going to a meeting might be something nice to do and if they have training sessions there I might gain some added skills that would be of good use. Right now my rating is dropping and I’m at a loss as to how to bring it back up. Sandi’s is on the rise and she has achieved intermediate level according to

That's it on the personal news front. I hope you all have a good week and don’t expire in the horrid heat we’ve been experiencing down here in south Texas. If you’ve gotten any rain of late please send it my way. Cheers!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Eating to Live

“Eat to Live” that’s what my Mom brought me up to do. If you are asking yourself what that is, it’s making making healthy food choices when you eat. Have I always done this? No!

During the course of my marriage my ex taught me how to “live to eat.” The results of that was that I, who had NEVER needed to diet (In fact, at 5’8”and 117 lbs., I needed to put on weight.), gained so many pounds that before my marriage ended I’d gotten up to 197. It didn’t help that I was going into menopause at the time we got married or that I had a job that kept me up all night and asleep all day. My ex was a sedentary couch potato who was a better, if not healthier, cook than I was. He eventually developed Type II Diabetes, although not while we were together. I consider myself lucky to have avoided that dreaded disease.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to diet. It doesn’t mean you have to avoid your favorite foods either. It does mean you should make the effort to eat them in moderation and as often as possible make healthier choices if your favorites aren’t good for you. If you don’t believe me on the healthy choices thing just ask Sandi. That post, her last post in December of 2008, is about how her making one bad choice almost landed her in the hospital. Making healthy choices doesn’t have to be hard. It does mean you need to know what healthy choices are, exhibit a little self control from time to time (This gets easier with practice!), and provide yourself with options at the dinner table so you don’t suffer feelings of deprivation.

I do my choosing by portion control, picking low sodium foods, and trying to avoid fat. I’m not perfect at this by any stretch of the imagination. Breads and crackers are my downfall. Get a package of cinnamon graham crackers around me and watch the pounds pile on. But I try my best not to keep the things I know will cause a weight gain in my pantry. And yes, that includes cinnamon grahams.

I wean myself off of bad choices if I learn I’m making them. I did this with milk in my marriage. He wanted whole milk. I discovered you could bake with 2% milk so I suggested this. We agreed it would be better and the change in fat wasn’t significant taste wise, so after 3 or 4 weeks of drinking that we were adapted to a lower fat milk. Then I suggested low fat or 1% because I needed the extra calcium in my diet and it was a better choice. For some reason when you reduce fat in milk the amount of calcium you get is increased. He agreed again so it was another step down. Then a few months later we went down to skim milk. This worked really well till his sister came for a visit. When she called our skim milk “chalk water” he immediately wanted to go back up to a higher fat content version. We did for a while and then went back down again. LOL You can probably guess from all of the above that eating healthy was a constant battle during our marriage. He was doing most of the cooking and would always be adding a little extra this or that into the food to “make it taste better.” As soon as our marriage ended the weight started dropping off and I went down to 145, a healthy weight for me.

I’m 155 pounds these days and I know I could easily drop the extra 10 pounds if I would exercise regularly. I still retain some of that couch potato habit I gained during my marriage, although it’s actually more of a desk chair habit as I spend most of my time at the computer these days. I’m working on the exercise thing. For some reason I find self control with exercise harder than with food. Oh well, resolutions are as easy to make as they are to break and all I have to do to get back on track is make a new one and I’ll work at it for a few days which is better than none at all. But enough about me.

The reason I started this now pretty long post (It wasn’t intended to be that, honest!), was to share a website that shows you how to make those healthy food choices by providing you with the info you need to make them. It’s Eat This, Not That! a page sponsored by Women’s Health magazine and also Men’s Health. They cover a full range of food choices and places where you might need to make them like eating out or the convenience store aisle. I’ve been following them through Yahoo, and then Google reader. I’ve found reason to share their articles with friends and family. You might find some of their info handy in the grocery store or at your favorite fast food restaurant. Their Best & Worst articles cover everything from gender health to sex. And there are lots of better choices for kids mentioned too. I hope you’ll make the time to check them out. Maybe it will help you make different choices the next time you hit the grocery store. Bon app├ętit!

Friday, July 24, 2009

This is More Dangerous Than it Looks

Hyram has decided to return to his favorite roost, my desk top. There he is in all his glory, toy at hand. It’s fun to have him so close and affectionate. But this perch location has its drawbacks. See that tail sticking out to the left? It’s a mouse movement destroyer. Its also a really good broom. It has been known to knock the mouse entirely off the desk. Anything on the surface of the desk that gets in the way of that tail goes elsewhere. Notice the phone beside the corner of the monitor? He must have been on the desk last night while I was sleeping because this morning I had to crawl under the desk to retrieve the phone from behind the desk where his tail had knocked it. Sometimes I distress Hyram by insisting that he orient himself in the opposite direction. That usually saves my workspace from too much disturbance but it isn’t perfect. I guess in a perfect world I’d have a desk that had a shelf just for him and his tail could drape down from the height showing off all its glory. Sorry you can’t see the entire tail. It’s very brush like and really magnificent. As is my boy! Cheers!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Ink Saving Font

My favorite tech blogger on Yahoo is Christopher Null. Yesterday he wrote a post about saving ink with the font you use. You can read it here. The font suggested is Century Gothic. I changed my text message font to check it out. Usually I use Arial if I don’t want formal print but this one looks nice if a bit taller and lighter. Now I’m going to change the default font on my printer and screen to match. I’m also wondering if a font that uses less ink also uses fewer bites in the text file size? If it does wouldn’t that mean that it takes less time to transmit? Saving bandwidth and speedier transmissions of documents might be a nice extra. What font do you use?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A DIY Beauty Bath

Back in the 70s I acquired a book about natural beauty treatments. This was the era of communes and going natural. They call it green and Do It Yourself (DIY) today. I wish I still had that book. It was useful and interesting to read. I didn’t put a lot of the natural methods into frequent use but I tried several of them at the time. The one I remember the best was for a beauty bath. I used for years and recently revived part of it.

It seems that back in the days of Cleopatra she liked to take beauty baths. Being rich she would indulge in a milk bath. She had the milk of asses poured into her sunken tub. I imagine it was the size of a small swimming pool or so the movies showed us. That may be the fancy of some film genius but most of us don’t have tubs that large. The book told me you could recreate this effect by pouring 1 or 2 cups (maybe 3) of powdered milk into your bath. I guess the more water you put in the more powdered milk you use. The milk is soothing and softens the skin. It doesn’t leave you smelling strange and I rather liked the results.

The other part of my remembered beauty bath included the use of salt. Sea Salt was recommended but you could use regular table salt if that was too pricey. So that’s what I would do. You pour a small pile of salt into the palm of your hand. Then you drip a few drops of water on to the dry pile to make it into a paste like consistency. You have to be careful here because too many drops of water and you’ve got salt water which won’t help with the next step. After you’ve dampened the salt, take a little of it and scrub your skin with it. This exfoliates the skin and does not hurt your ph balance. Warning though, if you have any open sores it will sting a bit. After scrubbing to your hearts content rinse and you’ve got inexpensive exfoliated skin that is much smoother.

I did these two things in the same bath. The results were skin that felt like velvet afterwards. I mentioned it to a guy once and upon stroking the skin along my arm he was impressed. The part I’ve revived for the time being is the salt portion. This is so inexpensive that almost anyone can do it. I even used it on my face and am pleased to say that this morning my facial skin feels smoother than it usually does after a nights sleep. So if you want to try this feel free. It doesn’t cost much for salt although powdered milk may seem a little dear. Considering the price of commercial bath exfoliating scrubs and softening soaks I think it’s worthy substitute. Hope you’ll let me know if you try it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Playing around with Windows Live Writer

This is my first experiment with Windows Live Writer and blogging. Terry of Paradise Discovered highly encourages, even dares (um…challenges?), his friends to use it. Since he’s a smart guy I figured it was worth a shot. I did have it on my system and just hadn’t gotten around to messing with it. Looks like he’s right. It does indeed have a lot of really cool controls. They remind me of MSWord controls. I’ll have to recommend it to my favorite writing friend Susan of Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good. She likes to use MSWord to compose stuff, even letters which makes for some interesting translations when your email browser doesn’t have a rich text option to view with.

Wow! Hit the return key and you get a double space. Hit it twice, like I just did, and you find yourself backing up a line or two. :-)

When I started up Windows Live Writer it gave me the option to add my blog to my Windows Life page, a thing I’d been ignoring as to date I’ve only really used Windows Life Messenger to talk to a couple of friends. Wish I could add all my friends to that one. Yeah, Windows is kind of self loving and doesn’t always play nice with other software but there are worse OS’s out there. I used to keep Yahoo Messenger up and running so I probably need to try to add that one in or get a few of my old contacts to switch or connect through whatever medium they have which might allow that. Looks like the world is getting smaller and smaller as we connect in new and exciting ways.

Darn double enter habit has got to go! LOL

I also added my Facebook page and my Stumble Upon page to the Windows Live Page. Now all it needs to make it perfect is to be able to add the games I play on Pogo there. Wouldn’t that be fun! Go to Windows Live and play Scrabble or Pinochle with my buddies?

So, Terry, if you’re reading this, Thanks for the good suggestion. Is there a way to make this product pop up every time I click on the new post button? Or do I have to remember to put this on my quick launch bar? I’ll play with the picture thing next I guess. Let’s see how this thing posts.

But before I go I’d like to ask Terry to check out 7Stacks and see if he can figure out how to make that little Widows desktop utility to work. I sure couldn’t because it didn’t have any help files. It seems to think it is intuitive, but if you’ve never used stacks like Macs or Windows 7 has then you just might be as clueless as I am about how to create them. Any advice would be appreciated.


That Community Feeling

I've been meaning to write this post for a few days now. Don't know why it's taken me so long. Maybe I needed to spend more time mulling over what I experienced.

Last Saturday, July 4th, I was scheduled as officiant for the Morning Prayer (MP). I like doing this because: 1) it's quiet and peaceful, 2) it's a great way to start your day, and 3) it allows me to spend private time in the sanctuary. Because we hold MP at 6:45 AM we don't usually have any visitors even though the service we read has room for giving thanks for them. Typically it's just whoever is officiating alone, reading through the service, and saying prayers for the sick and needy on our list of those in need. But, due to a mix up, last Saturday was different. I showed up a little late, oops! And there was someone already in the sanctuary.

Being a few minutes late isn't a huge deal because MP is almost always done by just the Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM). Many years ago the decision was made to do it early to avoid conflict with work schedules and rush hour traffic. So we do our praying for the congregation alone and faithfully, and without the need to robe up and make it a full fledged service.

The person already in there was another LEM, Ron, who, like myself, is also a verger. He told me he'd promised to take someone's place. I'm pretty sure it was my day so maybe he was given the wrong date somehow because I know he isn't casual about such things. Oh well, the intent was met no matter the date.

When I saw Ron there I was surprised, of course, but also rather pleased. Ron and I've co-officiated at Healing Eucharists (HE) before and found we work well together. Not wanting to disturb the prayer he might already be saying I quietly walked around and sat down next to him. We decided to share the service and he handed me a Book of Common Prayer (BoCP) open to the point he was at.

We sat there together like old friends, taking turns on the different parts of the service. I read a scripture and he read another. We did the Psalm together alternating by whole verse. We did the same with the other responsive parts. It was a nice and comfortable way to practice something I'm occasionally required to do for the congregation when the priest isn't available to perform the HE. This was much better. It had that warm friendly feel. That's what church community is, right? Friends getting together to worship? And that's a change I've noticed in the services I officiate at since I entered verger training. They are more comfortable. They feel friendlier, I'm more relaxed, I feel comfortable with modifying things a bit if the spirit moves me, and I've gotten compliments on the results. I guess I'm starting to fit the role of LEM and Verger better. And I really like it.

When I found my faith it was during the 80's movement and personal relationships with Jesus were all the rage. The church I became a believer in was nondenominational charismatic and I became quite use to the feeling of the Holy Spirit's presence during the service and in my life. Services and sermons were more casual and heart felt. While there was a structure, there was nothing very ritualized about them. That's been a real problem for me since I returned to my Episcopal roots. I don't find the spirit in the high toned ritualized words that we say every Sunday. My emotions used to be moved at every service. Not here in the Episcopal ritual. If I didn't know God meant me to be at this specific church I'd probably change because that's what I did when the bible got boring, I changed versions to read it in one that was different and thus more interesting. But I won't change churches now. I've been learning about service at Church of Reconciliation Episcopal and growing into the understanding of what it means to be part of a community.

It's become a source of comfort to realize that I am part of a community. Sitting there beside Ron I felt like I'd come home! And it was VERY spiritual! A few years ago our church viewed some videos on Everyday Spirituality. We learned about spirituality of place, activity, and ritual! That's what I found in that MP service. I wish I could feel it everyday of my life. I wish I could have it at every service.

We've started to make a lot of changes at Reconciliation. They are often small but none of them are without meaning. Because life often presents itself as change I think this has made me more interested in our worship services. The ritual and the dance of its participants has changed. That makes it interesting and a new source of study. Instead of coming to the table we "set the table" during the service. That's much more involved and involving. Actions seem to have more meaning and thus more significance. If this is finding the sacred in the ordinary, a phrase given to me by JS, then I've been doing a mental disconnect because I never thought of Sunday services as ordinary till they became routine.

These days when I sit in church I sit with a community, a community of singers a.k.a the choir. Our practice nights are my social night. Sunday morning breakfast is also a time for community. I eat at Brown Hall (fellowship hall) and often have others to spend time with sharing our interests, weeks activities, and getting to know them better. It's a change in me that keeps me there, no longer going early to pre-service warm up to get organized but instead, chatting till I'm rushing to get to the warm up on time. I know there are things missing from my community interactions. Saturday's experience showed me that. But they will happen in time as I heal, grow into fullness of understanding and connectedness, and am ready to present myself and my world to the body in joy, knowing that they will be one with me in our shared love of what we've built.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Clean Sweep

Rain was freshening the air and relieving the summer heat somewhat when I awoke. These are my favorite types of days. Everything gets renewed, including my energy and mood. It felt like a busy day before I'd even left the security of the covers. So I thought I'd get a couple of necessary paperwork things done. Instead of heading to the desk for work I found myself involved in a flow of productivity that included getting creative with my wardrobe, making the bed (sort of), and then moving on to other cleaning type activities. Am I procrastinating? Probably, as I'm loathe to tackle those two paperwork items. On the other hand I'm getting a lot accomplished in the house and personal care area. :-)

The morning medicine routine has an extra pill which I should have been taking but hadn't in a while. Resolving to take it as religiously as possible (minimum goal is 60% for effectiveness) I dug into the nearly outdated package and took my Fosamax for the week. That was after I piled everything that needed washing in a heap on the bedroom floor and cleared everything movable off the desk surface. Those items too are now sitting on the floor as I impatiently wait for the 30 minutes to pass so that I can once again consume things other than water (required for Fosamax).

Ah! The timer just buzzed! Cuppa chai here I come. :-) A timer on the wrist watch is one of the most useful features I've ever encountered. Watches are often over burdened with cool and overpriced features these days. I've avoided those with data banks and haven't been able to afford one with more than three alarms. Yes I use all three. My watch also has a compass, hydration reminder, calendar/event reminder, and a lovely 10 year battery. The stopwatch is a waste of good digital space if you aren't an athlete. I SO wish the companies would get smart and remove it from most of them. The alarms I use to get me up and moving out to the various places I need to be: work, morning prayer, and doctor appointments. The timer tells me when I can eat again, resume watching something from Megavideo (when the 72 minute screen pops up), and when I should take another stay focused pill. I wear a Timex Expedition. The only things I'd like it to have that it doesn't are more alarms and a solar battery.

So back to clean sweeping. Yesterday I got two of the four shelves in my linen closet cleaned. Yes I did clean sweeps there too. Took everything off, wiped the surface with cleaner and cleaned the containers of clutter. Got rid of quite a lot of that in the process, clutter that is. Dust begone! I'm hoping to avoid a visit from the bug man that every apartment complex has on call. The place smells fresher now and I can actually find all the things in my closet once again. At some point I'm going to have to go by a dollar store and get some more containers to continue this ordering of my life but that's okay. An ordered life is friendly and flows smoothly. You know where things are and can happily put them back without struggle. Today I'll get the laundry done (and up off the floor). I'll strip and make the bed in the process. What better time to do sheets? And I'll tackle those piles of paper on the floor beside my desk. Then I think I've got a fridge that is overdue for a cleaning and a dining table to clear. Oh, speaking of the fridge, in the midst of cleaning the linen closet I somehow managed to clean the top of it too. My cleaning moves from small task to small task as they catch my attention. I get the goal accomplished. It just doesn't follow a specific task list order.

May your day be as productive as mine is turning out to be! Peace!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life (100 Ways)

Taking the cue from my buddies San and Paschal, I'm presenting the really, really long meme that seems to be starting among my contingent of blogging buddies. San has declared this post long enough to see us through her vacation so that we won't miss her. Paschal has compared it to an overly long commencement speech by a past presidential wonder. I'm gonna tell you that when I copied and pasted all the bits into a word document, to delete the comments prior to inserting my own, it ran for 3 pages. That was without the comments. So yeah, this is a really long post. It's supposed to reflect your life and some of the many possible things you might have done in it. My life is no where near as exciting or colorful as San's or Paschal's but it is a life I've had some good moments in. So here we go!

Directions: copy and paste the 100 items into your blog and bold the ones you've done. Then add in any pertinent comments you care to to make it more interesting than a long list of events. Throw in pictures if you've got them and voila! It's a Wonderful Life! (100 ways)

1. Started my own blog - I did this about 3 years ago by accident. I was trying to comment on a friend's blog, Susan Palwick, and wanted to register so she would know who I was. I didn't realize that you didn't need to make a blog to register. Silly me for not paying attention. And suddenly there I was with a blog, an empty one, in cyberspace. Oops! Couldn't let it stay that way and there you are.
2. Slept under the stars - On the ocean thanks to parents who bought a sail boat and in the San Juan Wilderness when they took me backpacking at age 16.
3. Played in a band - If family music nights count then yes but I don't actually think of the trio of my Dad, my sister, and me making music in our living room for our own enjoyment as a band experience. It did teach me how to keep rhythm and time with other players.
4. Visited Hawaii - Someday! And I want to swim under a water fall and watch a whale while I'm there.
5. Watched a meteor shower - Well we tried as kids in our back yard, again with the parents, but I never could catch them in my vision. Did see a meteor crater once on vacation. It was huge.
6. Given more than I can afford to charity - Not really, although when I was a newbie Christian I would tithe according to the directions of the Holy Spirit. I'm not kidding. I'd start to write what I thought was good and then wait for a moment. If the spirit suggested a bit more I'd do it even if it made me a tad nervous about the budget. My philosophy for this is, "the Lord loveth a cheerful giver" so whatever the spirit and I came up with I managed to feel proud of.

7. Been to Disneyland/world - When I was there in the summer of '74 the Epcot Center had just been started. The dome was up but only half covered so it looked a lot like an incomplete golf ball from where I stood. I was on my one day of liberty from basic training (a.k.a. boot camp) at Orlando, FL and my friends and I had bunches of fun on the rides. Our favorite was the Haunted Mansion with ghosts that seemed to dance in the air as we rode through the room on a fantastic cart.
8. Climbed a mountain - well not with ropes and spikes but hiking through the San Juan Wilderness of Colorado as a teenager took us up some pretty good heights so maybe.
9. Held a praying mantis - I'm with San on this one, why would I want to hold a bug? They are pretty but I just don't like the ticklish feel of their feet on my hands.
10. Sung a solo - Sure! Lots of times in the shower. Actually I guess you could call my college drama department tryout for the musical a solo. I sang Hut Sut Ralson on the Rillerah. :-) Which you can hear in an from an earlier post, here.
11. Bungee jumped - No! Not only no but H_ _ l no! But! My nephew has and from the 3rd highest cliff in the world. Whoa!
12. Visited Paris - No but I want to! I want to see it by night. Even modern Paris with all the cars racing down the roads and the noise has to be a beautiful city.
13. Watched lightning at sea - I might have but I don't actually remember any lightening. Yes, I've been to sea, but my dad who was the captain of our sailboat worked really hard to avoid any storms and that would seem to take care of the lightening wouldn't it.
14. Taught myself an art from scratch - Not really taught myself. I've always been one who liked the classroom instruction and the chance to ask questions that came along with it.
15. Adopted a child - Nope, not even a cabbage patch kid.
16. Had food poisoning - This is my idea of what stomach flu has to be. And there were definitely times in the Navy when I was so sick they had to give me a shot to get me to stop throwing up. Since at least one of those episodes came after a picnic where I had my first taste of mesquite barbecue I think this has to be a Yes!
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - That sounds so romantic but I'd want to get to the town first and that's on my dream vacation list.
18. Grown my own vegetables - We grew some when I was a kid, I distinctly remember squash. And my grandmother had a garden where we grew all kinds of good things to eat.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - Throwing myself straight into the fantasy of The Da Vinci Code, I'm all there! How wonderful and mysterious!
20. Slept on an overnight train - Yet another addition to the dream vacation list.
21. Had a pillow fight - Can you tell me of a girl's slumber party that didn't include a pillow fight?

22. Hitchhiked - The whole family did! We got off the narrow gauge railroad at Silverton and were walking up the road when along came this guy in a jeep. He offered us a ride and we took it. Sure saved a lot of tired feet that day!
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - Now there's all kinds of ill besides physical, but I've taken a day off when I was just too sad to be there. That was the evening of 9/11. Those news videos did it to me. I just couldn't feel good and went home.
24. Built a snow fort - I've never even seen enough snow to need a snow fort. And I've only ever gotten to make one snow ball. That was the winter I was in Millington, TN. It snowed about 2 inches worth. First and only time I ever got to play with snow.
25. Held a lamb - Not held but petted at the children's zoo. And a friend had a Lamb Chop puppet that I got to play with.
26. Gone skinny dipping - In the ocean, in a friend's pool, and in a hot tub.
27. Run in a Marathon - Nah, my sister is the family's champion runner. She runs in half marathons lots of different places around the states.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice - Italy is also on the dream vacation list (dvl) and Venice surely has to be one of the places to go see.
29. Seen a total eclipse - Maybe not total but a fair percent of it. This would have been a long time back when I still lived in Corpus and the guy who worked the microfiche machine showed me how to use several layers of microfilm to create a safe media to look at the sun through. I'm pretty sure the most of the sun got covered up but I don't remember the date. I've seen a lunar eclipses too.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - Yes, both, and from land and sea. Just haven't done it lately and I guess I need to make time to do that.
31. Hit a home run - Hah! I'm lucky if the ball doesn't hit Me!
32. Been on a cruise - If by cruise you mean on your family's sailboat through the Bahamas, YES! As much as I love good food, dancing, and companionship, nothing beats going on your own boat.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - another addition to the dvl and I want to see if from the Canadian side please.
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors - No, but I'd love to have seen where my granddad grew was born and grew up. It's always been a wonder to me why no one in my family but me seems interested in our past much.
35. Seen an Amish community - not in person. I did see that movie with Harrison Ford in it, The Witness.
36. Taught myself a new language - Sure, I taught myself just enough basic to be able to set up a formula in it to create production statistics. We were looking for the line of best fit.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - this is an ongoing fantasy. Win the lottery, marry wealth, this is one where I know I'm not that different.
38. Seen the leaning tower of Pisa - No, never seen this one.
39. Gone rock climbing - this one is pretty close to mountain climbing. Well, yes, I've done this once. It wasn't terribly difficult because there was a path up the rock. It's called the Enchanted Rock and just about anyone wearing shoes with a good grip can walk up it. The trick is getting down safely.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David - I will, by golly! Someday I will!
41. Sung karaoke - Exactly once! And it was after spending a couple of evenings at the club with my ex and a girlfriend getting all hyped by the fun atmosphere. Joann and I went up and sung a number together. I don't remember what we sang but this would have been in the 90's so something popular then no doubt.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt - DVL! DVL! But I've seen plenty of videos of it happening!
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant - Actually this was the other way around. I was bought lunch by a stranger. It was really nice of her. We were sitting through the wait for jury duty together.
44. Visited Africa - photographic safari's are right at the top of the dream vacation list but I've been there by webcam at Pete's Pond. See link on the right hand side bar.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight - Yes and with 3 friends bounding along with tons of energy it wasn't as romantic as you might think. But I do remember the moonlight on the waves when I was a child and my mom, sister, and I spent the night at a cabana at Padre Island.
46. Been transported in an ambulance - For a sprained ankle which happened when I fell down some steps at the doctor's
47. Had my portrait painted - Not painted but drawn, certainly. When I attended college after the Navy one way of adding to the cash flow was modeling for the art classes. I even bought a one of the sketches from the college art show.
48. Gone deep sea fishing - Yes! My father-in-law took us on a fishing boat. I didn't catch anything. Heck, almost no one did that trip. But I learned how to handle sea sickness with medication.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person - no and I guess this goes on that dvl too.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - another one for the dvl. Are there restaurants up there? I like dining with a view.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling - Sort of. Was taking a scuba class, got the gear, and then got claustrophobic when I tried to be under water. Didn't finish the class.
52. Kissed in the rain - Yes!
53. Played in the mud - Dad built my sister and me a sandbox so we had tons of mud to play with and got really good at making mud pies.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater - This was where we saw most of the movies as a family when I was little. I can still remember seeing Cinderella dance on the screen. There was a playground at the base of the screen next to the concession stand so sis and I always went there to play on the slide that was shaped like an elephant and the seesaw and swings. It was the Wes-Mer Drive-In Theater and sat right between Mercedes and Weslaco on Hwy 83 in Texas. I don't know if it's there any more.
55. Been in a movie - Sure! My dad used to make movies of us all the time. What!? You mean with actors and such? Heck, we were natural hams. LOL
56. Visited the Great Wall of China - Dvl again!
57. Started a business - The Cat Spy Company. My sis and I were in this venture together. Our mission was to discover where Sammy, our family cat, went on his outdoor forays. We weren't very good spies so I guess it's a good thing I never tried to join the CIA or any of those other agencies. ;-)
58. Taken a martial arts class - Took a several lesson self defense class with a friend when I lived in Corpus Christi. The man who taught the class taught us martial arts methods of defense. You should have seen how embarrassed my friend got when he grabbed her foot and showed her exactly where she should kick her opponent by placing it in that spot on his own anatomy.
59. Visited Russia - Dvl again! I'd love to see the cathedrals at and palaces in Moscow.
60. Served at a soup kitchen - This is a real blessing to the folks who do it and surely those who receive their efforts. Maybe someday.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies - Yes and eaten plenty of them too. Wasn't much of a sales girl but the neighborhood was always pretty decent towards us.
62. Gone whale watching - See #5. Dvl!
63. Got flowers for no reason - Yes, my ex had his romantic moments. Got teddy bears more often though.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - Yes and I was so proud when I did. When I was in my 2o's I weighed too little to be able to give blood, but in my 30's a shoulder injury and it's treatment, which included muscle relaxers, generated a weight gain which never completely disappeared and I was about 127 pounds when the bank I worked at held a blood drive.
65. Gone sky diving - Never! Never! Never!
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp - No but I think I'd cry if I did. Because I have a German heritage I do want to visit Germany someday but I've got real concerns about seeing places where so much pain and horror occurred.
67. Bounced a check - Yes, repeatedly, and got all the bounced check fees back too. See when I worked at the bank I had reason to take a signer, my ex roommate, off my account. To do this you have to close your account and open a new one. The bank didn't switch my direct deposit over and the incoming paychecks kept reopening my old account instead of the filling the new one. It took them a lot of paperwork, and several weeks to get that straightened out. One clerk got so frustrated that she yelled at me for the inconvenience and loss of all those fees.
68. Flown in a helicopter - Did I tell you I want to explore the world? Well this is one of those things that I see as part of that exploration.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy up until my late 20s - Not sure how far into childhood you have to be to qualify for this but I've still got the huge Teddy Bear I got when I was a teenager in high school. I bought it for myself with my saved allowance and named the bear Socorro because I was a lonely teen at the time. So make that into my late 50's.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial - Visiting DC, all the monuments, the White House, and the Smithsonian is definitely on the DVL.
71. Eaten caviar - Yes and it was salty. That's all that I can say about it as a food. But since it is fish roe and I've fished with salmon eggs I think it must be an acquired taste if you're not a fish yourself. It definitely makes good bait.
72. Pieced a quilt - A church friend was teaching me how when I lived in Corpus. I never got far enough to actually get a lot of squares done. But I know the concept.
73. Stood in Times Square - NY City is definitely on the DVL!
74. Toured the Everglades - No but I think my parents may have. They used to sail around Florida to get to the Bahamas every year and one time they even sailed the inter coastal waterways and canals.
75. Been fired from a job - I guess that even though I see a clear distinction between being fired and being laid off they are ultimately the same thing. And while I've never been fired for wrong doing, I have been laid off once or twice.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London - Right up there along with seeing a Shakespearian play in London and spending the night in a castle. DVL baby!
77. Broken a bone - I can truly sympathize with San on her broken toe. I've broken one too. It was when I was in the Navy. Slammed the toe into the door on the way out of my petty officer's office in a hurry. I've also broken the tibia, fibula, and the ankle. Those last 3 happened all at the same time in 2004. Was headed off to the library, stepped off the apartment steps and the ground wasn't where I expected it to be. Foot stuck between the ground and the step. I fell forward and rolled 360 at the same time violently twisting my lower right leg. I heard and felt it snap mid air. God was looking after me that day! Clean break, neighbor saw it happen, had phone w/ me to call for help, and a DD-214 that got me free medical care.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - When I was stationed in Millington, TN one of my friends was a guy who used to be a member of the Hells Angels in CA. He and his girlfriend took me on rides lots of times. I like bikes to ride on, just don't want to have to drive one.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person - Once again this one is on the DVL. I'd like to raft down the river in it.
80. Published a book - No, although my co workers have accused me of it. Seems I can't write just a note. I have to write a paragraph, chapter, or short story.
81. Visited the Vatican - Online! You can actually tour their works of art and see many of the wonders the Vatican holds. As for real live visit, DVL!

82. Bought a brand new car - Very first car! Volkwagon Rabbit the year after they came out.
83. Walked in Jerusalem - Again to the DVL! But I've done the modern day version of a pilgrimage by walking my church's labyrinth. Try one if you can find one near you. It's a great way to pray.
84. Had my picture in the newspaper - This was on TV instead of the newspaper. I was taking dance lessons and the group that I was with performed on a public stage for a festival that was going on in town. So of course they filmed us all. We did what is called formation dancing and it was ballroom.
85. Read the entire Bible - Took me 3 years. See, I have a really short attention span and the bible, while interesting, can have some troublesome spots. I started reading it in King James because I like the poetry of that language. New Testament went just fine but when I hit Exodus there came a snag. About half way through you start hearing about all the instructions from God about how to build the temple and how the people were to live. Well that's interesting but in the King James version you get it 3 times. God tells Moses, Moses tells Israel, and then they do it. And in King James they use the exact same words for each of those parts. That got boring pretty quickly. So I changed versions of the bible to finish that book. And from then on when ever I hit a snag like long lists of names or the story just wasn't written by a dynamic writer, I'd change versions again. Before I was done I had 5 different versions of The Word.
86. Visited the White House - See #70 for addition of this to the DVL.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - Caught a fish when I was a kid and we were on vacation. Dad had gotten me my first rod and reel and my mom and grandmother taught me how to scale it, and then fillet it. I think I actually ate it. It was a small trout. And I caught it with a salmon egg as bait. If I remember correctly this was on the Guadalupe at the Casa Bonita Lodges which also had a great Tarzan rope to swing from into the water. I also learned how to row a boat that summer.
88. Had chickenpox - Yes! At Christmas! So did my sister! And I got measles when I was attending San Marcos Academy for high school. We had a school wide epidemic of that one year. I didn't even feel sick when they stuck me in the infirmary.
89. Saved someone’s life - well if the gift of blood counts then perhaps. I'll never know what happened to that pint of blood I gave.
90. Sat on a jury - No, never got to do this. While I'd love to do my civic duty I think I'd actually be a bad choice for a jury.

91. Met someone famous - Before he was famous actually. I went to college with this guy! That's Christopher Rich! He's probably best known for playing the ex on Reba. Everyone who went to school with him is proud to be able to claim they knew him when. And we all knew he was going places. He had presence when he wasn't even trying! I liked him in The Charmings. Wish that series had lasted as long as Reba has.
92. Joined a book club - The mail kind where you have to send in cards. Actually I've belonged to several of these and one for many years.
93. Lost a loved one - Lost all four of my grandparents, two aunts and one uncle, and my best friend. Thank goodness my sister and parents are still living.
94. Had a baby - No, wanted children but never got the chance to have any. When I found out I could no longer have children because I was going through the change of life I took my diversity day. I felt really down and told my boss that womanhood was as much a culture as anything else.
95. Seen the Alamo in person - Well yes! Both the building and the movie. That's almost funny. Folk who live in a place don't visit the tourist spots as often as the visitors do and I live in San Antonio.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake - No but I swam in a really salty pond once. It had formed after a hurricane hit the coast and was so salty that you couldn't sink. Really! Walk in and by the time the water hit your hips you were floating. It stung like the dickens too because of all the salt. God help you if you'd shaved your legs that day.
97. Been involved in a law suit - Small Claims Court, I was in college and my roommate drank her share of the bills away. My dad made me sue. Good thing I guess cause it forced her to tell her parents and she went on a no drinking program.
98. Owned a cell phone - Yes and if I can bring myself to give up my land line it will be my only phone.
99. Been stung by a bee - This was a wasp and not a bee. And it stung me twice. It had flown under my shirt on a hot summer day and in trying to get it out I think I killed it but it had done it's damage by that time anyway. Ouch!
100. Ridden an elephant - Yes at the San Diego Zoo. I was visiting friends in CA and we went there and their two boys and I wanted to get on and so we waited to do this. It was awesome!