Wednesday, March 30, 2011

out of the mouths of...

Rick Santorum made a trip to New Hampshire recently. In response to a question about Social Security, Rick said that "the system has design flaws, but the reason it is in big trouble is that there aren't enough workers to support retirees. He blamed that on what he called the nation's abortion culture. He says that culture, coupled with policies that do not support families, deny America what it needs -- more people."

And these people get elected. In droves!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

a picture is worth...

Thanks to my friend Pace, who sent an email that included this photo with the caption,
"this is what a helping hand looks like."
This is a visual thank you to those who have offered their helping hand in recent days. Love you all!

Monday, March 28, 2011

monday notebook


Outside my window …
gray skies, and robins in search of goodies.
I am thinking …
about my future.
I am thankful for … 
morning coffee and time to reflect; evening cross-stitch time.
I am hoping … 
to continue to see the glass half full
On my mind … 
making lemonade (if you get my drift)
Noticing that … 
the lampshades in this house need some time with the vacuum hose
A few plans for the week … 
vacuuming and dusting, ruthless purging of the clutter, work my PC business, trying to barter for boarding the dogs on those occasions that we need to be away
From the kitchen … 
starting Dr. Oz's one-day diet (i.e. one day at a time): lots of whole grains and fish!
Around the house … 
dust, dust, and more dust!
One of my favorite things … 
imagining possibilities
A picture I am sharing … 
On Saturday we went to the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival. Alas, the blossoms were past peak, and the vendors--eh.  It was very cold and very gray. 
BUT! 
We also went to the Nashville Farmer's Market, and were warmed by the great finds there. 

AND!
It was the best possible time of year to be there with the fruit trees and red bud in bloom at the Bicentennial Mall next door to the market. The gray skies make a wreck of the photos, but you can still see the glory of the blooms.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

remembering geraldine

I was in the seventh grade when Joe Duffy, a friend of my parents, decided to run for the U.S. Senate. It was, as I read a review of the race that fall, a pivotal year for Connecticut politics that highlighted the role of primary politics. Joe faced off in the primary against Thomas Dodd, father of now retiring senator Chris Dodd, and beat him. Although Dodd entered the race as an independent, he tipped the conservative end of the spectrum and Joe the liberal end, leaving lots of comfortable room in the middle for the likes of republican Lowell Weicker, who won the senate seat in November.  It would be a stretch to say that I cut my political teeth that year, but it was my first taste of campaigning, which my brothers and I did on occasion in the company of our parents. (Maybe just Mom? I can't recall).

Nearly a lifetime later, I found myself in the political fray again, this time mobilized to action by the inclusion of Geraldine Ferraro on the democratic ticket as vice-presidential candidate to Walter Mondale. It was a tough and disappointing race, but a fun time and a good experience. Memories of that campaign are romping through my mind this weekend after hearing the news that Geraldine has left the confines of this world following a battle with blood cancer. I am remembering her commitment and dedication to the campaign and the democratic party, her graciousness with volunteers, her feisty personality on the campaign trail and, years later when she spoke at a gathering in St. Louis, her seasoned perspective and wisdom on the nuances of politics and the role of women within it. She was a woman of courage and conviction, and not a bad role model for women then, and now, who function in an historically male-dominated arena.

Rest in peace, Geraldine. I raise my glass to you and remember you with gratitude and gladness. Women owe you a debt for your part in fracturing the ceiling that holds us down, and for leading the way that others have since followed. It was my pleasure to serve you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

thankful thursday

In spite of my week kicking off with a big ol' gut kick, it's actually not been too bad. Why?

Because love poured forth with support and affirmation that kept my feet far from the edge of anything dark.
Because my daughter-in-law called me out of the blue.
Because today is our fifth anniversary.
Because McKinlee is behaving better.
Because the red bud is in its glory, and the dogwood is on the verge of blooming.
Because my current cross stitch project is coming along very nicely, thank-you-very-much!
Because I have the best Mom in the world, whose birthday is also on today.
Because hope is full of possibility, and possibility is right up my Meyers-Briggs alley.
Because tomorrow is a new day, and I plan to rejoice and be glad in it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

when the going gets tough

The tough eat ice cream! At least that's what a banner that hung for a time in the dining hall of my college proclaimed. I'm not sure I'll follow that counsel at my age and stage of life, but there's some wisdom in the advice.

When the going gets tough...
do something for fun. Eat ice cream, take a walk through delightful scenery, go to a movie, play ping pong, make a play date with a three year-old, shoot hoops, bang on a drum, let a puppy lick your face.
When the going gets tough...
dig in and take cover from the assaults of the enemy, whoever and whatever that enemy might be. I sometimes refer to this as donning foul-weather gear.
When the going gets tough...
breathe, pray, then breathe some more. This will nudge you toward your center.
When the going gets tough...
give and receive love: hugs to everyone you encounter, smiles to strangers, pay it forward, a phone call to someone to say thanks, be treated to lunch, take and squeeze the hand of a friend.
When the going gets tough...
dance! Earth, Wind and Fire are a good place to start.
When the going gets tough...
consider all your options. They may appear huddled in a pack, but one will emerge and take the lead.
When the going gets tough...
Recall your strength, stand up straight, tip your head back to receive the fullness of God's light as it shines upon you.
When the going gets tough...
rest, but don't give up
When the going gets tough...
get a massage
When the going gets tough...
Know that you are loved. Abundantly. Ferociously. Steadfastly.

I feel better already. What do you do when the going gets tough?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

There's some unbloggable stuff going on. Sort of feels like running in quicksand. But there's good news. I know that when times get tough I can reach out to people who care about me, and I have done so. The love and support I have received back has been a Godsend. I feel empowered and held aloft by angels, and it makes all the difference. Today, that is enough.

Monday, March 21, 2011

gifts and shadows

Something I read on another blog recently has me thinking about giving. As in giving of ourselves through what we create. I'm choosing not to direct you to the blog because I don't want my comments here to appear as any kind of indictment of what is written there. The blog post catalyzed my thinking, evoked memories and feelings, and my train of thought since then is my own. But I know what it feels like to have someone refer to a post you've written and gotten feelings hurt unintentionally.

One of the ways I give of myself is to make things for other people. Like the cross stitch I am doing for my grandsons. Like sweaters I have knit, quilts I have made, clothes and Halloween costumes I have sewn, scrapbook albums I have created, and so on. Let there be no mistake, I find joy in the creating, a sort of incarnational expression of love for the recipient. One hopes, of course, that the recipient will be pleased with and appreciate what is created and given, but how something is received is not tied to the desire to create and give. The heart wants to give and share a part of itself, and so we find a way to express what is in our hearts through what we create.

Over the years I have created and given a number and variety of things to the people in my life. If memory serves, such gifts have been acknowledged with gladness and love, and generally, with enthusiasm.

There have been other times when I have invested myself in creating an experience for others that isn't about relationship, but is about offering a part of myself. For example, a number of years ago I picked up some odds and ends for a kind of grab bag at a vestry retreat. No one knew that they would be receiving any sort of gift. The grab bag event took place toward the end of the retreat. It was fun, involved laughter and the kind of kibbitzing that bore witness to the bonding that had taken place during our time together. To a person, no one acknowledged the thought behind it or referred to the grab bag ever again. That was disappointing.

I have done other grab bags, or things like that, and none have received a word of thanks or even recognition. I don't create to give with strings attached. I do claim that it is disappointing not to have the effort acknowledged or appreciated. I ask myself sometimes why I bother, but it never stops me from doing it again. I give of myself because it is what I want to do.

All of us face disappointment when what we give of ourselves goes unnoticed or unacknowledged. Whether it's something we've created, a skill we bring to a project or the workplace, or an expression of compassion, we share who we are. How are you affected by and how do you process such disappointment?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

sunday notebook


(True confessions: I stole this from someone's blog that I visited earlier in the week, but I can't remember who it was. I'll try to work on that to give proper attribution)

Outside my window …Bradford Pears are in bloom across the street, daffodils are preening in the yards of my neighbors, and the grass is greening up everywhere!

I am thinking …that military intervention in Libya is madness. 

I am thankful for … the inspiration I find in the lives and work and creations of people I know in real life, and in cyberland.

I am hoping … to stay awake this afternoon and get on the phone to make some Pampered Chef calls.  And get Christmas boxes up to the attic.

On my mind … the people of Japan, Haiti, Libya, and other places who live in ruins, face danger, and are otherwise oppressed.

Noticing that … my pants fit just a bit better today!

A few plans for the week … getting the aforementioned Christmas boxes put away, continuing to clean in my office, church newsletter, the next cross stitch project.

From the kitchen … soup, of some description.

Around the house … deodorizing the evidence of a certain dog.

One of my favorite things … the blooms of spring. I LOVE this time of year!

A picture I am sharing … facebook friends have already seen this, but here is the pre-framed finished birth record for Cross:
I'll post pictures of both birth records in their frames when this one comes back from the framer. 

My wish for you today... a pleasant surprise that plants a big ole smile on your face. Your visit here puts a smile on my face.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

yesterday's views

While waiting for Ken to complete an appointment at the eye doctor I grabbed my camera and snapped some shots of blooms around town. I LOVE the brilliance of forsythia. Wish we had some in our yard (some day...). And the tulip magnolias are so showy, like a sweet young thing showing off her new spring frock. Doncha think?


Enjoy the views, and have a blooming weekend!

Friday, March 18, 2011

friday five: springing forward

picture taken by my Mom
At RevGals Jan writes: Whether we liked it or not, we all "sprang forward" with the change to daylight savings time in the USA this past Sunday. There is lightness and brightness slipping in as spring approaches, so let us consider what is springing forth in our lives right now.
Name 5 things that are springing forth, possibly including :

1) What I hope for
There are lots of things around our modest homestead that need attention. We need to fence the yard for the dogs; replace the living room and hall carpet (with hardwood); repair the riding mower (ca-ching!); get a second car... None of these things fall under the usual type of discretionary spending, and our budget is stretched thin over bare bones. I have the means to generate the income necessary (over time) to fund the above through Pampered Chef. My problem: procrastination and phone phobia. The good news is that I used to have a Serious Case of phone phobia. Now it's a modest case. What I hope for is to build and sustain the momentum necessary to build my business. I keep saying this, I know. I'm stuck on a sandbar of my own making, and need to float myself free. What I hope for is the epiphany that will free me for good, and not for a season.
2) What I dread
The heat of summer. And the humidity.
3) What I observe
I need to address aspects of my leadership style. I have good skills in leadership, and I am discovering that those skills need to be complemented by other gifts. This is a good thing, and it will require some serious discernment, prayer and practice to bring to fruition.
4) What is concrete
The perpetual challenge to influence attitudes for the good.
5) What is intangible
Hope that attitudes can be changed for the good.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

inching toward understanding

Last night we were very fortunate to attend a presentation by friend and expert on Islam, Ron Messier. He outlined the basics of Islam--including its five pillars--jihad and shariah, and offered some insight and perspective for the roomful of those in attendance who were essentially not very well informed.  I think it's safe to say that we all came away from that time feeling better grounded in a sense of what Islam is about, with any unfounded fears eased, if not erased. You might say Ron talked a few people down off the fear ledge. Becoming informed is essential for Tennesseans these days, as one of our fear-mongering state representatives has introduced a bill in our legislature to criminalize the practice of shariah. Even a sheriff's deputy, on hand in the event of any disturbance (the local tea party is rabidly anti-Muslim), professed gratitude for being there, and he noted how much he learned.

Of particular interest to me is something Ron shared with us that he, in turned, learned from a Muslim student. Islam is cited as sharing with Judaism and Christianity the claim of being an Abrahamic faith. Universally these three are separated as distinctive faiths, and ordered in a sort of hierarchical way according to their historical founding. It is understood by Muslims, however, that Islam is the culmination of one faith, incorporating the wisdom of the Jewish prophets and the teachings of Jesus, then concluding in the revelations to Muhammad as Allah's last prophet. That "take" on Islam helped me understand in a huge way its attractiveness to so many people.

This morning I am appreciating the wideness not only in God's mercy, but the many and varied ways that he/she is made manifest to creation and embodied in the faithfulness of many peoples. At the heart of so many religions is that the glory belongs to God, to Allah, to the Great One. May we each live in ways that reflect that glory in the fullness of our humanity, and as one in heart. To God the glory. Allahu Akbar.

Monday, March 14, 2011

numb

I cannot get my head around the ruin of northeastern Japan. The news, stories and pictures drop my jaw to the floor, kick it sideways, then back the other way until I am numb. My eyes sting with tears of grief for people I don't know, their histories wiped out by a single wave, or gone up in smoke. The slate is wiped, but it is not clean. I cannot get my head around it.

I want to help. I can't go there, have a mere pittance to spare, and it is not enough. I can pray. I do pray. It does not feel like enough. I mourn. How does that help?

One of my parishioners works for a global company that includes offices, plants and workers in Japan. She goes there regularly. She supervises employees there. One of her dearest friends in the world is there. Her heart is torn in two and all I can do is hug her and weep with her. It is not enough.

How is this effecting you? Are you trying to cope with the paralysis of ineffectiveness half a world away? Pray with me and share your story, if you would. I want to be part of something good for the people of Japan.

photo by Jason Kottke

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Busy days. 
Need to take some pictures to post. 
In the meantime, for your amusement: the hazards of stopping to smell the roses.

Have an awesome day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

thankful thursday

Of late I've been quiet here as my mind has been focused on things that don't necessarily warrant a mention, or warrant mention but I've chosen to spare you. Or, I suspect, aren't of much interest to anyone but me (and occasionally even I am not interested!).

But there is plenty of thanks to offer up today:
I had two days of time alone at home while Ken tended to a friend dealing with surgery details. I get so much done when there aren't any interruptions!
Ken is now home (insert smiley face)
Ash Wednesday ended up being a far more spiritually-colored day than I anticipated it would. I appreciate that God continues to surprise me in pleasant ways.
Cross stitch project #2 will probably get finished today. I say that having thought that I would start on it about four hours ago, and haven't yet had a moment to get to it (translation: interruptions!)
A friend was giving away a television, and we were first to say "we'll take it!" Now it's time for us to share the wealth and give away whichever one of ours becomes redundant.
While Ken was gone I was dependent upon others for transportation to and from church for shroving and ashing. Those who provided said transportation did so with genuine gladness.
My office is still pretty clean from last week's purge!
My dogs may sometimes drive me crazy when their waste management systems are all on different schedules, but they light up my life.

The Pampered Chef. I don't do justice to the opportunities they provide to help me succeed. I am the only one standing in the way of that success, and I'm soooo grateful that the PC family never gives up on me in spite of myself.

My parish family. We had a great progressive dinner last Sunday, and it was a wonderful time of mixing and munching for everyone.
And, as always, I am thankful for you and to you for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

today's smudge

It feels blasphemous to me to write a post today that doesn't at least tip the hat to Ash Wednesday. At the same time, today is much like any other day. Which got me to thinking...

Last night at church we put on the obligatory pancake supper. The turnout was not spectacular, and halfway through my first pancake I was lamenting that there was nothing festive about the occasion. No music, no activity, no decoration. Just pancakes, sausage and syrup. In previous years I have found myself essentially alone tending to the burning of the palms from the year before. It seems to me such a significant part of the evening that I wanted to be sure that more people were part of it this year. So instead of giving a window of time during which people could come and go for pancakes, we set a specific hour. As folks were clearing their plates we gathered for Compline, and then a handful of us gathered outside to burn the palms.

With the odor of that burning clinging to my coat through the night and into this morning, every time I take the dogs out since returning home last night I am reminded of the ashes to come. Ashes have permeated my thoughts and my being.

Except for the preparation I will do for tonight, today is much like any other day. Take dogs out. Slog through the bog that our yard has become (squish, squish), work toward finishing cross stitch project two (the end is near!), do laundry, and so on. But those ashes follow me, superimposed upon my forehead before they are actually there.

Martin Luther's theological nugget comes to mind: simultaneously justified and sinful. The redeeming cross of Christ and the mortal ash of our humanity are one inseparable entity. In some respects this day says it all. To focus solely on sin or salvation misses the point that these two realities coexist. In my striving to live a holy life I still miss the mark. God loves me anyway. The brokenness of my life may come through my own choices or the random tic of the universe. God still redeems it. Like a kindly janitor he embraces me and cleans up after me. I am fortunate. We are all fortunate.

At one point I felt that to go about this day as though it were any other was tantamount to sacrilege, but that feeling has been erased. Erased by a smudge of ash down my forehead, and another across it.  Mortal, forgiven, blessed and redeemed. It all makes sense.

Friday, March 04, 2011

laying the groundwork

This is one of my trees. It's in a frame with glass, so I had to take the picture without a flash, which meant natural light=slow shutter speed=some blurriness. The medium is scratchboard, a sort of chalky film-covered paper over which India ink was painted. The ink is then scratched off to reveal the white layer beneath. As you can see, what you get is a reverse/negative image. I need to reframe this one of these days. The mat is aged and yellowed, and the frame itself has taken some hits over the years, damaging it. Not surprising, since I etched this nearly 40 years ago! Anyway, I thought I would show you one of my trees.

I spent a good part of yesterday starting to clean my office/creative space. Space is essential in order to work! I am pleased to report that I got a fair amount done, and even vacuumed and shampooed the carpet! This is quite an accomplishment since there were all sorts of things set on the floor, and navigating around the room, especially for Juliet, had become treacherous (she's a big dog and needs more room to maneuver).

As I anticipated having clear space in which to work, I started to think about what sort of project I might choose to knock the rust off my inner artist. Except for watercolor and icons, I've note done any painting without the materials being provided and project assigned. As in high school. I haven't a clue, with acrylics, if I should use some sort of canvas or heavy paper. ??? Until I can determine that I've decided to start in park, with the engine running, and put pencil to paper. Drawing seems like a good way to warm up.

I actually took a drawing class while I was in seminary, but after nine weeks of sketching masterpieces (drawing with pencil in a small pad), drawing my surroundings, and in class tackling the underwhelming subject matter of still life in the form of boxes and chairs, I bailed. I hadn't learned a dang thing, and the whole point of taking the class was to learn something. I digress.

This is my progress report. There is progress in the preparation department. I think I know where I can find a drawing pad, and I know where my pencils are. Securing an eraser is the next material task, and then?

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

art

art by Show Off's Art, sold by DaySpring

These works? I could make these. I mean, really, I could. I'm not a great artist, but nature-type images, I can do. Trees especially. Maybe I was a druid in a former life, but I'm good at trees.

I've been hankering to do something more than apply the designs other people have created. Cross stitch has been satisfying, and it has relieved stress. It makes me happy to create things for people I love. Being Nana makes me happy. But it's a b**** to see art like this and think, "I could do that."

So why don't I? That's a really good question, and I don't have a really good answer. I don't even have a bad answer. It's one of those questions that I ask myself and then it lingers in the ether until it evaporates. It seems, however, that more and more I need to be creating. I hunger for it. Maybe it's that midlife urge to come into our own that nibbles at me, but the inner artist is getting impatient for the outer person to yield to the truth that creativity r me. (That's not a typo, and yes, it is grammatically incorrect).

So this week I've decided to some very necessary cleaning and clearing in my clutter-dumped office/creative space. The artist needs space to come out and play. It's going to take her awhile, I know. She's intimidated by the Great Works that others do, and she stands, or sits, in awe of the imagination she sees revealed in the works of others but can't quite tap within herself.  She knows that once she gets the materials out she's made a commitment. She runs, screaming, down into the halls and echo chambers of my soul to hide. But enough. It's time we had words. It's time we played. The inner artist needs to be heard. And seen.

Stay tuned. Just don't hold your breath...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

nest

Here in the gentle middle of the Volunteer State, March has come in like a lamb. Just thought I'd share.

In other news, the fact that it's a new month means that there's a new theme at Creative Every Day: nest. I like it. February's word, passion, was so full of energy. Nest is quieter, gentler, more introverted. Like me, you say? Heh.

I like nesting, and being in my nest. I like spending every night tucked into my chair stitching. I like cozy (not cramped) space. Someone once remarked about my father's house that he kept the yard and plantings overgrown as a way of hiding. At the time (I was much younger and considerably less wise) I understood what she meant. There's a vulnerable side to my father that he protects, and though it's possible that his surroundings hide him, I think it's more that he likes his nest, and the coziness of being surrounded by things that bring him pleasure. I am like him in that way.

I've noted before that the four-foot radial sweep from where I sit right now--a place where I spend a great deal of time--reveals a great deal about me. It's a place where I write/express myself; stay in touch with the people who matter to me (including you, gentle readers); on the wall are calendars of dogs and quilts; prints and artwork of sheep and dogs; a bulletin board with photos of times, people and places I hold close in my heart; a strip of tartan silk from our wedding; my icons; PC catalogs and info; dictionary, thesaurus, bible, hymnal, sudoku book; a silkescreened print of celtic birds bought at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye; CD's and tools for crafting. But you already knew those things, or could have offered them up had I asked you to do so. This is my nest. It comforts me and lulls me and supports me. It's also the place I choose to be when I need to confront hard realities, lick wounds, or pray for strength as I suit up for a difficult task. It is home.

But that's just me. What does nest mean to you?
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