Monday, November 30, 2009

monday miscelany

Another musing from the night: Do you ever wonder if there's something significant about looking at the clock (digital) and seeing your birthdate? It can happen twice a day, though for many the odds are low for actually seeing it twice. This morning at 5:13 I looked at the clock and there it was. There's a 1 in 720 chance of this happening, but it seems to happen to me regularly. Just wondering if anyone else has this experience.

* * * * * * * * *

Ken's birthday was Saturday, and though that day wasn't the best on record I pulled off a hit with a surprise dinner party for him on Sunday. And wasn't he cooperative? He went to buy wine on Saturday and called me from the store to ask what he should pick up, unaware that he was playing right into my hands with suggestions about what some of our friends like to drink. Heh heh heh.

We had a yummy meal of pork tenderloin a la Pampered Chef; scalloped potatoes in the crock pot; a seven-layer salad, french bread, appetizer and dessert brought by guests; and a thrilling final 30 seconds of the Titans football game that Ken had been watching when everyone arrived. (The Titans had possession with 33 seconds left in the game, and in the last 6 seconds on the fourth down scored a touchdown to win. Phew!) But best of all we had a happy birthday boy, laughed a lot and enjoyed good company. A fun night.

* * * * * * * * *

Spaghetti dinner this weekend. I'm heading to the church this morning to finish painting the bathrooms. At some point of consciousness during the night I felt overwhelmed by all that needs to be done for this event, but in fact it's pretty much under control. A few details to take care of, but otherwise the committees are taking care of their end and all is well. I simply need to remain conscientious about those details!

* * * * * * * * *

Indulge me for a moment to brag on my vestry. At yesterday's meeting they:
  • Voted to submit a resolution for our diocese's annual convention in January encouraging the purchase of Bishops Blend coffee and teas to help support Episcopal Relief and Development. The makers of Bishops Blend 1) buy coffee from fair trade vendors and 2) give 15% of their profits to ERD to support those in need globally and locally. The resolution specifically requests that the diocesan office serve make a practice of serving BB.
  • When it came time to vote on the "fair share" request of the diocese to support its budget in 2010, our treasurer suggested and the vestry affirmed that we commit to more than the requested amount. The motion passed unanimously and enthusiastically.
My people rock!

It feels like my week is off to a good start. How about yours?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

appropos of nothing...

During a wakeful moment of the night I got to wondering... My preference is to sleep on my side (right or left will do), but I will hold my arms in different positions depending upon which side. When I sleep on my left side I tend to fold my arms across my chest. When I sleep on my right I am more likely to extend one arm and tuck the other under the pillow. Somehow or other, without making a conscious decision, I have determined that these positions are the most comfortable and conducive to letting the rest of my body relax and rest.

I never thought much about sleeping positions until Michael J. Fox was posed in one in the movie Back to the Future. His "top" arm was extended behind him, while the rest of his body faced forward.

What about you? What do you do with your arms while you sleep?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

new life

I'm not really sure when Advent begins technically. Thanksgiving marks the last feast day in the liturgical year, and the first Sunday of Advent begins the new cycle of the Church's walk of faith through the life and times and impact of Jesus. These in-between days of Friday and Saturday fall where, exactly? Friday might well stand outside of time, considering that many worship the altar of consumer enticements (not an indictment, simply an observation). I'll hedge my bets and refer to today as the Eve of Advent, which, in fact, it is. I suspect most people whose lives aren't influenced by having to prepare sermons and spiritually meaningful activities for others don't think of this time as a beginning, but this year I am very mindful of the concept of beginning. Or, more accurately, beginning again.

I am going to try, again, to improve my health habits. I find motivation in my friend Jayne's faithful commitment to healthier living, and having heard the testimony on Thanksgiving of one who has lost 26 pounds since August on Weight Watchers (and then there's Jules, who has also been successful on that program), I have good role models in this effort. I also have an accountability partner in my faithful canine, Juliet (above, right), who for various reasons has returned to the need to be walked a couple of times a day. She's not shy in letting me know that it's time to put on my walking shoes: she stands in front of me, raises her head and lets out a very vocal demand.

So yesterday we began anew with our walks, morning and evening. The morning walk followed the pattern of old, echoing the days before we had the invisible fence and I walked the dogs faithfully for their relief and pleasure. The morning route is always the same to minimize encountering vehicles bound for work. The evening route, however, varies. Last night as Juliet and I turned toward our old neighborhood I was overwhelmed by the nostalgia of earlier walks. The twice-daily walks of three years ago were born of necessity, but became for me an opportunity to enjoy the dogs without other distractions, and to entertain whatever thoughts might stray into the path of my consciousness. Those were also halcyon days of hope and possibility only barely strained by the weight of vocational, financial and family challenges. Hope and possibility are still present, but are often overshadowed by more urgent and pressing concerns.

To be visited by the pleasant ghosts of those previous journeys was bittersweet. I recognized the gift they were and can be again, now, at a time when such a gift is more than welcome. And I missed the companion who was part of those earlier forays through the neighborhood, my beloved Dooley. It is a comfort, in a way, to trace the paths of which he was a constant part, and to recall his peppy gait, happy expressions, and overflowing personality. I can feel rekindled the joy that he was in my life, and let the warmth of that fill my heart. I see in this remembrance, as well, an invitation to reclaim a ritual of peace and grounding. It is well and good to find motivation in the acts and successes of others, but it is better still to be empowered from wtihin by my own capacity of strength and resilience.

So I am marking today as a new beginning. It will have its bumps and jolts, its fits and starts, but the need and desire to be launched is greater than a desire to indulge the ease of inertia. It is time, literally, to put one foot in front of the other and move. Walks with the dogs never brought me back to the house the same person I was when we ventured forth. I can be satisfied, for now, to measure momentum one step at a time. Before I know it those steps will give way to strides, and with those strides I will cover ground I can only imagine now.

Juliet is waiting patiently. My future cannot afford to wait any longer.

Prayers for a blessed Advent.
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Friday, November 27, 2009

friday five: the crush

At RevGals Songbird invites our hearts to go pitty-patty on the subject of crushes. It's been awhile since my memory went down that lane!

1) Did you ever have a crush on a teacher?
Yes. He was my high school English teacher (junior year). He was good-looking, of course, but he was also kind, attentive (in the listening sense), and had a gentle manner. I also remember that his brother played for the New Orleans Saints. Way back when!

2) Who was your first crush?
Close to home, I honestly couldn't tell you. But in the celebrity world there was Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond. Donny gets pooh-poohed a lot, but after seeing him on Dancing with the Stars I stand ready to affirm that my instincts were right about him. He's a decent, down to earth guy with a great sense of humor.

3) Have you ever given a gift to a crush?
Does throwing a set of love beads to Bobby Sherman on stage count?

4) Do you have a celebrity crush? (Around my house we call them TV boyfriends and girlfriends...)
Ah, now you're talking.
In the acting world: Richard Gere, way back when, but now he's so last year. I enjoy regular doses of Mark Harmon, and especially love the sheepish little smile that masks the affection he has for his team on NCIS. Deeper down, Tom Skerritt is my man. Ever since Picket Fences. The description of his looks as rugged come closer to reality as he ages, but I still find my heart skipping a beat when I see him (even when he plays a rogue).
In the music industry: Ty Herndon (country). Just watch his Steam video and tell me he's not hot.
5) Have you ever been surprised to find yourself the crushee?
A time or two, and sadly, the crusher was of no interest to me. Ah, such is life and love.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks







For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)










Happy Thanksgiving...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

random meme: Thanksgiving theme

Meme stolen shamelessly from the Bug at Bug’s Eye View, who starts out by noting:

If it's Wednesday of a holiday week, it must be time for the Random Dozen Meme from "Lidna" at 2nd Cup of Coffee. If you want to participate just go to Linda's site to link up.

1. Are you sticking to traditional Thanksgiving foods this year, or are you being culinarily adventurous?
We’re not cooking this year! Thanks to an unladylike fall several weeks ago that landed me on my tookus (I have no clue how to spell that) and left me with significant pain in my butt, we are unable to follow through with our original plans to travel to Georgia to be with our good friends Jimmy and Barbara. Riding in the car is one of the most painful positions while recovering from this misfortune, and the trip is just too long to manage. We have been invited to friends’ here in town Thursday evening to join their family meal, so we will make a dish to take with us there. Some minor culinary adventure will be involved. (photo to the right: turkey day three years ago)

2. Tell me something concrete that you're thankful for. (Something you can literally touch, see, etc., not a concept like "hope.")
My Hoover Steam Vac. With three dogs and one still-needing-work-with-housebreaking-issues puppy, shampooing carpets is the most regular exercise I get. The Woolite Oxy Pet Cleaner is likewise my new best friend.

3. You knew the flip side was coming: Share about something intangible that you're thankful for.
I am very thankful for the new blogging connections I have made this last year. They have expanded my world, touched my heart, made me laugh, helped reignite dreams and affirmed aspects of my own being that sag from time to time. Hugs to you all!

4. Share one vivid Thanksgiving memory. It doesn't have to be deep or meaningful, just something that remains etched in your memory.
My favorite memory is of my Mom breaking out and doing the Charleston (or the Jitterbug, maybe?) in the kitchen while we were washing up after dinner.

5. What is one thing that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is going to happen this Thanksgiving because it always does, year after year? I’ll forget to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

6. Do your pets get any left-overs?
Not if I can help it! I have a pretty strict rule about not giving human food to the dogs.

7. Does your family pray before the big meal? If so, do you join hands while seated, stand, repeat a formal prayer or offer a spontaneous prayer? Who does the praying?
When I was growing up we always had Thanksgiving in New York (City) with my grandparents. If my memory is right and I’m not mixing up holidays, my grandfather always wrote out a prayer that recalled the events and people that he wanted especially to acknowledge. They were wonderful prayers (Mom, were any of those kept?). We also sang the Doxology as our grace, seated, holding hands. After my grandfather died (I was 17) I couldn’t sing the Doxology for the longest time without choking back tears.

8. Will you be watching football in the afternoon? If not, what will you be doing?
We may very well watch football, but not with any particular interest. I’m going to try to make some more tissue cozies if I can. I’ll also be preparing the dish that we’ll be taking with us to dinner that evening.

9. There are two distinct camps of people on this issue: How do you feel about oysters in the dressing/stuffing?
Blech!

10. Do you consider yourself informed about the first Thanksgiving?
I do, some of my ancestors were there and they took really good notes (just kidding about the notes).
This print, "The return of the Mayflower," hung over my grandmother's mantel when my mother was growing up, and it has hung over mine (or a wall in my home) since my grandmother had it reframed for me when I graduated from college. (The Mayflower was returning to England. Somehow we never heard about that in our history classes.)

11. Which variety of pie will you be enjoying?
I rarely eat pie until the next day! Apple is my pie of choice.

12. Do you feel for the turkey?? (This is a humorous throw back question related to the 12th question in another Random Dozen!)
I’d never really thought about it before, but probably not since I am predisposed to being a carnivore.

Blessings, one and all, for a joy-filled Thanksgiving weekend!
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in search of spaghetti


My church has finally latched onto a mission cause around which there is some energy and the desire to be involved. At least to some extent. There is a population of international students at a local university and we have decided to adopt them to help take the edge off of transitional dilemmas and challenges, offer them a home away from home, and let them know that someone besides their loved ones are interested in their well being.

There are several things that make sense about this relationship. For one thing it's not an overwhelmingly huge ministry for a small church with limited resources, both human and financial. For another, it's not your average ministry, and for whatever reason it doesn't show up on the radar of the larger churches in our area that would already have responded to this need. It's not exactly widows and orphans, but there is a family of four who had no bed for Mom and Dad to sleep on for the first couple of months that they were here. Needs come in all shapes and sizes. Initially a fundraiser for general purposes, the money raised will now be used to start a scholarship fund.

To help financially, we decided to host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. Generally popular with the masses, this seemed a manageable event for our facilities and the interest and dedication of some of our reliable membership. We have a reasonable plan of execution to make it a success. That is, if all goes according to plan and as we all know, we plan, God laughs. It didn't help that I was out of town two out of three weeks that fell during a critical period in that execution. As a result, we are scrambling for donations of food so that our proceeds are maximal.

Pasta, anyone? We need about 80 pounds of it. And sauce. And meatballs. We think we've got the salad. We're going to make our own tea and the lemonade for wee folk is a drop in the bucket. Part of our problem is that we didn't have sufficient lead time between the idea of doing this and getting a date on the calendar (which has already been changed once). We are learning that businesses want four weeks notice for donation requests. We are also learning that at this time of years most businesses have maxed out their donation budget.

We are less than two weeks from our event. We will buy what we need if that is what we have to do, make appropriate notes for the second annual spaghetti dinner and highlight deadlines in bold, neon colors. But there is good news. Sixty tickets have been purchased for meals to go to a local campground where homeless families have taken refuge. A ministry to help one group of people offers an opportunity to serve another in need. I like that. A lot. And some of our volunteers have experience with dinners like this, and their wisdom is not only helpful but provides a sense of grounding (I'm trying to keep from going crazy tracking the details of this effort).

Once I post this blog entry I plan to take Juliet for a walk, grab a shower, and get back on the phone in an effort to secure some food. Prayers are welcome, as are checks to cover the cost of pasta and sauce. Or, if you're local, we can use some volunteers the day of the dinner (December 5) or some batches of cobbler for dessert. Or any combination of the above. Email me at epiphanytn@gmail.com to learn more about how you can help. No, I'm not averse to begging!

Monday, November 23, 2009

photographs and memories

Years ago my grandmother and I went through some boxes stored at Melrose where family pictures, albums, and letters had accumulated. We made attempts to identify everything and everyone in the pictures, and if she couldn't remember who they were, she was of a mind to toss them. I understood her thinking--I toss pictures, too, when the event or person in a picture can no longer be recalled or ceases to be meaningful. But I live in an era when photographs are abundant. The pictures in her collection, well, not so much.

Among the photographs was this one. Meet Miss Sue. My grandmother didn't know when the picture was taken, or where, but she remembered Miss Sue, a friend of the family. And that is all I know. But I adore this picture. Miss Sue is standing so gracefully and regally, even if posed, that I feel a desire to honor her memory if only to admire her in this moment. And that is, in fact, all I can do, since I know nothing about any other moments of her life. I don't know how she knew my grandmother's family. Neighbor? Church? Distant kin (my grandmother would have known that, so probably not)? Whatever her connection, having a photograph of her among the family's other prizes was warranted, so she must have been important to someone at some time.

I am awash in photographs. Since going digital most of them haven't been printed, and as I get older I wonder which of the segments of my life I want to spend the time organizing, printing, journaling and presenting in some form that looking at them one day will matter to someone else. Without children of my own there are few people that I can imagine will be interested in my life and times. I don't take pictures, or scrap them, for posterity, but this whole aging business does make me mindful of how I spend the time I have.

One thing I do know. I need to record what matters to me in more than pictures. Because the day WILL come when I won't remember, or can't place the who, what, or where of some of the pictures I've taken. If I want my life to matter, then something tangible will need to reflect that, at least as I see it now, today. Lovely as she is, I don't really want to end up like Miss Sue.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

share the love update

I forgot to mention one of the really fun things about this sharing project. Kim's idea is that they are made to give away. BUT! Give two away at a time: one to the designated recipient, and the other for that person to give away themselves. The gift that continues to give, at least for another "generation." Love it!

So after I had finally nailed down the process of creating these lovely cozies I got busy yesterday for a while and made 11 more, yielding a grand total of 12 cozies. Thus far, three fabric combinations have been used, those that you see here. This is so much fun! It takes longer to pull fabric and put together color combos than it does to sew these, and soon I will need to venture out to buy mere portions of a yard for the little accent strip.

Anyway, just wanted to offer this update since Sunday mornings are never a good time for to sit here and be thoughtful about something to write. Too many other things going on in my head!

Have a lovely, cozy day, and if you'd like a cozy yourself, just let me know color prefrences in the comments. I'll see what I can do!

Be well...
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

finally! a finished product

I have been wanting to sew something, like, forever! Several days ago my friend Kim posted a project she is working on that she calls "Share the love! (don't share the germs)," that involves making cozies for travel-size tissues. Kim has such a great sense of color, and the cozies are so darn cute that I thought, "this, I can do!" It took me several days to clear space in my office and to free up the work counter to set up my cutting mat. Once that was done I began going through my stash of fabric. There's plenty there! The trick, however, is to find three fabrics that work together in the finished look. Not so easy, especially when my fabrics were acquired over a span of years, and the colors don't always coordinate through palette changes. I finally found several combinations that would work, and got busy on my first cozy.

Kim reports that she has the project down to five minutes. Let's just say that my first effort took longer than that. For one thing I had to shake free of "the practice of sewing" cobwebs. Don't laugh, it's a genuine impediment! And then there's the "measure twice, cut once" wisdom that translates into exceeding caution following directions the first time through. The sewing part, after that, was easy. I got stuck on the corners yesterday and then got interrupted by other tasks (we will NOT talk about dangerous it is for me to go to Sam's this time of year), and finally decided that a fresh start in the morning would be a good idea.

Never underestimate the power of the mind to work through problems during sleep, for it was during that brain doze that I resolved my corner dilemma. Did you know that Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine overcame a major stumbling block with his invention because of a dream? In the dream he was being chased by sewing needles that bounced up and down to create forward momentum, and that, ladies and gentlemen (are there any gentlemen that read this blog?) led to the mechanical principal of the sewing machine.

Back to my cozy. Strengthened by a cup of coffee after rising this morning, I got busy taking care of the cozy corners and voila! The picture you see above is my first finished product. There will be two just like this, and who knows, maybe more, but this is a happy place to start.

So thanks, Kim, you got me off my duff (and then onto it, ironically) and I am now producing handcrafted work again. Y'all have no idea how huge this is, especially right now in my life. If you'd like to take part in this sharing adventure, link to Kim's blog (see banner in the left hand column), and join the fun and use up some scraps.

Now I just need to go buy some tissue packs!

Friday, November 20, 2009

friday five: thinking about thanksgiving

At Revgals Jan writes:

The Cure

Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.

--Ginger Andrews (from Hurricane Sisters)

So this Friday before Thanksgiving, think about Aunt Bert and how she'll celebrate Thanksgiving! And how about YOU?

1. What is your cure for the "mulleygrubs"?

Not a cure, exactly, but as a means to get moving I pick one task that will offer the satisfaction of having completed something. Making the bed always works. After that I can usually do another task. The best sustained therapy is to create something.

2. Where will you be for Thanksgiving?
We’ve been invited to join the family of some friends, so we will be there for dinner, but otherwise home doing who knows what.


3. What foods will be served? Which are traditional for your family?
I have no idea what foods will be served where we are dining. Growing up we had the usual fare, except that I didn’t like potatoes, so there was always a rice dish. For several years I made a pumpkin roll for dessert that continues to be a favorite.


4. How do you feel about Thanksgiving as a holiday?
Love the four day weekend, hated the traffic back when I would drive to my Mom’s (I haven’t lived in the same area for 15 years). I was always glad to be with my family. We usually had others join us, which changed up the dynamic a bit. Playing charades was standard after-dinner fare. Since moving elsewhere I’ve pretty much been an orphan at Thanksgiving, so the experience is different from what it was.


5. In this season of Thanksgiving, what are you grateful for?

I’ve been feeling pretty beaten up lately, so right now I would have to say that I am grateful that I have the strength of inner resources to get me through. God is a huge part of that, as are other faithful people who have been companions on this rocky stretch of journey.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

intentional radiance


There's been a lot of conversation about gratitude on blogs in recent months, and for good reason. A natural antidote to difficult times and challenging situations is spending some time in the light. At our house our challenges continue. Some days the shadows are deep and long, and on other days they are less apparent, almost unnoticeable. It can be hard to walk that line of inconsistency, so for my own sake of balance I have been trying to think of ways to incorporate a ritual of seeking and reflecting light.

At a bookstore the other day there was a small volume about ways to "give away" at Christmas. It was just the kind of companion I was looking for to help me make my intentions more concrete, and help my focus on seeking/reflecting stay on track. The book offers simple suggestions, like giving hugs and smiling at strangers. There are the fun things like paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line at Starbucks. Then there are the more strategic ideas, like leaving five and ten dollar bills in places where people without much money are likely to encounter them: dumpsters near areas where homeless populations linger, or shopping carts at dollar and discount grocery stores (and I don't mean Sam's or Costco). There was, as well, the notion of starting a "giving" account, which would accumulate funds to be given away. This year I think our various jars of loose change is a place to go to do a little something.

You get the idea. It doesn't take much to make the world a brighter place for someone, even if only for a moment. So I invite you to join me in the practing of reflecting light. My hope is that in doing so, at least for me, my own heart will shine more brightly, and that the intentional ritual of giving/sharing/reflecting/loving will become part of the fiber of my everyday being. I'm tired of being a person whose intentions outnumber her actions, and as we approach a season infused with charity, compassion, love and generosity, there is no better time to get busy sharing the light.

I'll start by thanking you for honoring me with your visit to this blog. Your presence matters.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'd like to introduce...

I have some amazing friends, one of whom is Nancy Rue. Nancy was a parishioner several years ago, and despite the boundary issues that challenge clergy relationships, we became close friends. When a series of events a few years back left me homeless for several weeks, Nancy and her husband took me in and gave me refuge. They nursed my spirit, provided comfort, and as ever in their presence we laughed and enjoyed the close camaraderie of friendship. Nancy and Jim rank up there at the top of my list of favorite people.

Life circumstances and directions have resulted in not seeing much of each other since my return to the Cedar City, but one of the comforts of friendship is knowing that the friend is there when you need them. The other day when I was feeling particularly blue and alone, Nancy was the friend I turned to. Yesterday we spent a delicious chunk of time together over tea laced with conversation. I was able to pour out my heart, and she listened faithfully and attentively, offering exactly what I needed. I was able to cry, to laugh, to speculate, throw up my hands at the bewildering mysteries and challenges of life, and have my heart soothed and comforted. That time together was a precious gift to me, and I am abundantly thankful for the honor of her friendship.

I mention her here today, however, not to extol the virtue of her friendship, but to brag on her! Nancy is a writer whose published work began with young adult books and expanded in recent years to include adult fiction. She teaches at writing conferences and participates in workshops that serve the needs of home-schooling families, among a variety of other groups. Her focus is grounded in her Christian faith and through her work she invites others to engage and practice their faith through the daily toils and traumas (and celebrations) that are common, especially, to growing up female. Nancy is one of the best-kept secrets of the Christian publishing world, and I share this today to do my small part to expose those who are a part of my world to the joys of her work. It's not mentioned on her web site, but her novel Healing Waters was selected as the 2009 "Women of Faith" novel of the year!

One of the things that makes Nancy so popular among her readers is that she isn't preachy, and she writes to reach people where they live and run into the foibles of life. She is particularly gifted working with 'tweens, and she engages with them directly through a blog on her web site, as well at conferences and workshops. If you're looking for reading material for a young or approaching adolescence girl, Nancy is a great choice. She's also a rare "moderate" voice in the Zondervan publishing world, who won't compromise her views to please the publisher.

You go, girl!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

nuggets

Nuggets of wisdom can be found everywhere: plaques, posters, greeting cards, tote bags, even tea bags!

Among my favorites:
  • The battle of the sexes will never be won, there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.
  • Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first, and the lesson afterward.
  • The hand that holds the car keys rules the family.
One such tote bag caught my eye recently, and I wrote down the quote and propped it by the phone on my desk. It claims a place of such prominence not because it trumps all other wisdom, but because I thought I would do something with it soon. Like put it on a greeting card!

I have been engaging in a pretty thorough course of self-examination over the last several days, and this morning one of the lines of this “nugget” stood out: “Choose with no regret,” it reads, followed by “Continue to learn.”

That first one gave me lots to think about. In the world of drama we are often shown a character looking at his or her life and coming to terms with its potential end right around the corner. The phrase “I have no regrets,” is uttered, the implication being that coming to the end of one’s life without regrets is a kind of finish line to cross. Perhaps it is. Maybe the substance of regret is the grist we are given for the mill of our being, to grind through and come to terms with the consequences of our choices, accept them and let them go. I can buy into that. But I also know that some unfortunate consequences have a long life span, and their impact on our lives can reverberate a very long time.

I have plenty of regrets about choices I have made. To the best of my ability I strive to make good choices with the information I have at the time. I think that is a fair standard for any of us when it comes to making choices. Held up to the light of scrutiny when all the information is gathered and evaluated is when we are able to recognize the flaws in what we chose. “If I’d known then what I know now…” But we don’t know. If we’re lucky, and perhaps intentional, we’ll learn from the experience when our choices head down the path to regret (see teabag wisdom about experience, above).

What I think “Choose with no regret” is really getting at, however, is the freedom to choose without second-guessing ourselves. It might be something as mundane as picking a color from one of L.L. Bean’s plethora of options when purchasing a turtleneck (or a t-shirt for my friends in the tropics). When a high school senior chooses a college, a more critical choice, the wisdom must hold, as well.

I think choosing without regret means not uttering the phrase that begins with “I wish I had (or hadn’t)…” The reality at such times is that we didn’t do, say, or act as we had the opportunity to do. Regretting our choices at such a time does help us learn to pay attention to the things we have before us to consider at any point in time. I have learned, for instance, not to buy an article of clothing that I absolutely love when no viable opportunity to wear it is likely (or when it is just snug enough that I think that I really will lose the weight to be able to wear it!). But more importantly I am learning that the regret of not doing weighs more heavily on me than regretting doing something. I am working on understanding what part of my being interferes with action, and trying to determine how I can rehabilitate the character flaw that keeps me from getting to my feet, putting pen to paper, or getting out the mixing bowls.

I suppose that what it boils down to is that regret is opportunity. What we do with, whether or not we learn from it, is what shapes the choices we make in the future.

What do you think?
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Monday, November 16, 2009

i detect a theme...


It's no secret that I am a dog lover, but this post isn't so much about dogs as it is about the inclination of the human heart to respond to the needs of others.

I happened upon a program on the Weather Channel yesterday that relates the story behind the famous Iditarod. I didn't know that the race commemorates what is known as the "Nome serum run." In January 1925, teams of mushers and their dogs worked in round-the-clock relays to get critical medicine to the town of Nome, Alaska when it experienced an outbreak of diphtheria. It is a wonderful and moving story about the dedication and determination of these mushers to risk their lives and the lives of their dogs to cover nearly 700 miles of ground (and frozen waterways) to deliver the serum to Nome and save its children from an inevitable epidemic. Just imagine Alaska in the dead of winter and you'll get a sense of the challenge of this operation.

The program included photographs of the people and places involved in the original story, reenactment segments, interviews with mushers, historians and biographers, and footage from a recent Iditarod race. Far better than most documentaries, it is a "feel good" story with something for everyone as story-telling goes. I highly recommend it as something worth watching on television.

It is also inspiring me, once again, to explore opportunities in my own community to become involved and make a difference in the lives of people in need. I really need to do something about that.

Note to self: mush!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

it's a dog day sunday

While catching up with Project Runway I was thrilled to learn that the NY fabric store, Mood, has a shop dog named Swatch. Is that perfect, or what?

Swatch in his supporting role at Mood.

and

I've been quite spoiled by the professionals on "Dancing with the Stars," but no matter what, this dog takes the prize!

Thanks to my friend Yolande for sending me the link.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

cool beans!

My friend Jules and I have a running joke (although I think it's funnier than she does!). Whenever I visit her in Florida she takes me to a nearby body of water to see the Manatees (I've always been there in the winter when the Manatees come "in" from the cold). After five visits to Jules and as many attempts to see the manatees, they have yet to be spotted. I have begun to refer to them as the "alleged" manatees.

On my last, recent visit with Jules, we made yet another trip to the water to see the manatees. After a sighting of movement below the surface I was ready to yield to the reality that manatees truly do exist. But then...

Look carefully at the DOLPHIN making its way around the bayou rounding up fish. There were at least two of them, and they circled the perimeter of the bayou beside the concrete wall alongside which we walked. We could see them coming by the wake they created ahead of them as they swam. I watched one swim past me just below the surface directly below where I stood (see second photo, just after he passed me) . Totally cool.

On our many trips to the water I have learned about Manatee footprints, and I consider myself fairly adept at recognizing those by now. But still, no manatee sightings.

Still alleged in my book. (Kidding. Sort of!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

friday mullings

Ordinarily I'd be playing "Friday Five" today with my colleagues, but the day has not begun well, and I am moving at a snail's pace with too much to address in the next few hours. Bugger all. Two-liners, anyone?
  • I'm shortly off to the doctor to determine what, exactly, has happened to my tail bone, upon which I fell nearly two weeks ago. Hurts like a sonofabitch to sit.
  • McKinlee has pulled apart the zipper on one of the couch pillows and is redecorating the living room with the contrasting stuffing. It's a different look, but I don't think we'll keep it.
  • A certain husband is in a funk. I am in sympathy with most of what is contributing to it, but I also have my limits.
  • I think I single-handedly and quite unintentionally ruined a friendship. My insides are still turned out on that one.
  • The marigolds still look nice.
  • I'm sorry Gordana got "auf wiedersehened" from Project Runway. I liked her stuff.
  • I need to find a camera card reader to upload pictures to my computer. Guess a trip to Wal-Mart is on my agenda today.
  • I'll work on perking up my spirits before tomorrow so that I have something cheerier to offer for your reading.
Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your Friday the 13th, which I do not find to be problematic.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

one-liners

You may think that since I've just returned from vacation that I am just ripe with material for the blog. Ha! Even with material, some days just don't lend themselves to reflection or storytelling. Today is one of them.

Instead I'm stealing the idea of one-liners from Bug's Eye View. Just 'cuz (thanks, Bug!). We'll see what happens...
  • It's gorgeous outside, and there are still some leaves of color holding fast to the Bradford Pears.
  • I had several really good cries yesterday.
  • Why is it that within fifteen minutes of shampooing the carpet, the dog decides she must add her scent to its freshness?
  • I'm glad that Taylor Swift won the Entertainer of the Year award at this year's Country Music Association celebration. (You rock, Taylor!)
  • Hot flashes suck.
  • Ken and I spent a luxurious chunk of time yesterday at a local bookstore and I was reminded that there are waaaaay too many books on my "gotta read" list to which I will probably never get. Sigh.
  • I think that at the least I have a hairline fracture on my tailbone.
  • We still have marigolds blooming in our yard. Love those babies. Sturdy little buggers!
  • I had a flash of inspiration this morning about something we might be able to do for Christmas presents in a "gift of the magi" kind of year. (I'm hoping that flash will return.)
  • I love catalogs that come at Christmas time. Why don't they send a few of them at other times of year? (and yes, that was two lines--indulge me).
  • Today is Trisha's birthday. Happy Birthday sweetie!
  • I'm proud of my veterans, Ken and Junior.
  • I picked up a few new rubber stamps on vacation and can't wait to use them.
  • I would really love some homemade peanut butter cookies right about now.
Happy Day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

honey...!

I'm home!

I confess that I'm not fond of reentry. I would love to be in Florida still, enjoying the beautiful days of late fall and the pleasure of the company of friends. I like to laugh and leave the cares of my own world behind for a while. But likewise I love being home. It was luxurious this morning to sleep in with McKinlee at my feet, to get up to the pot of coffee that Ken had brewed for me, and to look out the window at the leaves that still cling tenaciously to trees, preening with one final, bold showing their glorious color. Reentry is bittersweet this way, caught between the pleasures and realities of worlds that do not coexist. To shift from one to the other will be helped by the act of unpacking, running loads of laundry, and turning my attention to the pressing schedules and tasks of the day ahead. To ease the transition I have pictures, and the sharing of new, "in" jokes through blogs, emails and chats with friends with whose company I have recently parted.

With the busyness of the week between my return from Melrose and Clare's subsequent arrival and our departure to Florida, I failed to share this particular gem from my visit with Mom. She made the acquaintance earlier in her stay of a woman named Bea, who had returned from a trip somewhere and brought with her the gift of this jar of honeycomb for Mom. Bea quickly became known as the Bee Lady!

In a time in our culture when we seek locally grown provisions, there comes with that change in our habits an appreciation for the natural state of things. Like honey. I simply could not help but feel elation just looking at this jar filled with honey, never mind the delight of enjoying it on my food.

Transitions are aided by things that bring comfort, so today I am sharing my comforting honey with you all as I pick back up the rituals and routines of home. It IS good to be home, and I savor the day with the joys of life on this side of the journey.
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Saturday, November 07, 2009

the fun just keeps on coming!

We had a fabulous day at Epcot yesterday. Bypassing all the "main" attractions we headed straight for the international pavilions and the food and wine expo. But first, we stopped to visit our friends in fur. Lovely, always, to meet Walt's early creations, I was especially eager to see Pluto again. When I was five and we visited Disneyland, where Dad captured on super 8 film some interaction between the fuzzy dog and myself. He was as lovable as ever.

At the France food and wine booth we enjoyed some frozen drinks: that's the grand marnier orange something-or-other in my hand, and it was divine! Another drink we sampled featured potato vodka and raspberries (in a blender, with ice) which also tickled our taste buds. (the picture mysteriously disappeared somewhere along the line as I was editing this post.) The Norway pavilion offered a ride and a gift shop complete with viking helmets and braids: Jules is modeling this year's incarnation for us. And at Italy's territory the architecture excelled. Clare captured the wonderful image below.

In addition to touring the world as we circled Epcot's lake, we enjoyed enticing aromas of the various booths we passed, as well as the distinctive architecture, artifacts and goods for sale. It was an amazingly glorious day of weather--mild temperatures, a breeze, and clear blue skies. We couldn't have asked for a better day to be out and about.

For dinner we enjoyed Germany's Biergarten with a show of guitars, drums, accordion, trumpet and those long "ricola" horns that I always associate with Switzerland (but which Jules reminds me is indigenous to the alps). Our table was next to a dance floor in front of the stage and we enjoyed the antics of the kids who flooded it and unselfconsciously made attempts to polka, waltz, or simply wiggle to the beat. The food was good and the atmosphere seemingly authentic (I can't vouch for that, having never been to Germany). All in all a fun, fun day.

This morning we are packing up to head to Tarpon Springs and a few days with Jules and Gene. The surroundings may change, but the laughter will continue and the beverages will flow. Worry not, we are drinking responsibly.

Until next time...!

Friday, November 06, 2009

if it's friday it must be epcot

Just a few pictures to share to let you know that laughter is alive and well here in sunny Orlando! We've been on rides, watched 3D movies, oohed and aahed at the techniques of stuntmen and marveled at the complexity of special effects. Clare met her idol, Minnie, and we've all enjoyed the organizational magnificence of the world that is Disney.

We've visited the Magic Kingdom (and yes, we are having magical days) and Hollywood Studios thus far, and today will venture to Epcot. Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day with pleasant temps and a cooling breeze. We wrapped up early enough with our adventures at HS to sample the variety of transportation options here at the Kingdom: monorail, bus and shuttle boat. We visited two other hotels to get a sense of their flavor, and wrapped up the day with dinner at our own digs, Wilderness Lodge. The dining establishment at which we ate has a reputation for their compliance with the wishes of the clientele, as evidenced by the collection of ketchup bottles after Clare put in a request for some to complement her dinner!

Who knows what adventure awaits us today, but we seem more than capable of creating our own, wherever we are.

Waving wildly from a magical world!

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Monday, November 02, 2009

on holiday. ahhhhhhhhh.......

Here we are, the gobsmacked goddesses launching our week of fun and hilarity. I believe I mentioned earlier that our activities would include drinking, eating, retail therapy, and hanging out, among other odds and ends. The evidence can be found here.
But first, some of the highlights. Well, it's all highlight, frankly! On a goregous, clear fall day Clare and I flew south to Tampa where we were met by Jules at the airport, along with a mystery greeter, Gail (who lives in Vermont, but is in FL visiting family). That was such fun! From the airport we meandered further south to Anna Maria Island to Janet's lovely home on the beach. We arrived just as the sun was setting, so we headed quickly to the balcony to soak up the view and enjoy a beautiful evening. Janet prepared a feast of Thanksgiving proportions, with a roast chicken and all the fixings.

This morning we set off to St. Armand's Circle in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. We browsed through a few shops before settling in at the fabulous Columbia Restaurant, where we enjoyed a refreshing pitcher of Sangria and delicious food. See above photos! We continued on with some shopping, among which was a spice shop that coaxed us in with the aroma of an amazing collection of spices, salts, and other assorted yummies. Thank goodness I can continue the love affair with this store with online shopping!

And on and on. In the end we had a healthy collection of bags to show for our shopping efforts!
Another wonderful dinner back at the ranch, another sunset, and the pleasure of each other's company is rounding out the day.

Tomorrow we head to Orlando and then three days of Disney, my first visit to a Disney establishment since 1969! The fun will continue, and my spirits are wonderfully buoyed by the joy and love of these friendships. I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to blog next, but as with these past two days, there is so much more enjoyment than can be conveyed in this space. Stay tuned nonetheless!
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