Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Another Ride on the Hodgepodge Merry-Go-Round

This week's hodgepodge (link in sidebar) has me realizing I am boring...

1. What's one thing that's still the same about you as when you were young?

I'm still very shy and uncomfortable in large groups of people where I don't know anyone.
 2. What's more important-history or science? Why?

History, because it is about people.
 3. Lima, kidney, string, garbanzo, black or pinto-your favorite bean?

Probably pinto.
 4. What's something people come to your town to do?

Attend the annual Art and Wine festival.
 5. When was the last time you were in a meeting? Sum it up for us in five words or less.

Two years ago -- parent rep on anti-bullying team.
 6. What special event would you like a VIP pass to attend?

Can't think of a single event I want to be a VIP at...

 7. What's one piece of advice you'd give a writer?
Be genuine and kind.  Write about people from a place of compassion always and make sure your dialogue is real.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I miss the red hawk that used to hang out in the fields I drive by in the morning.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Right Up My Street...

My little golden Nugget playing with the hose, just because the Brits would say.  We Americans would say "right up my alley..." but I've been watching a lot of Brit TV for the past several years, and I've picked up on some of these expressions.  For instance, I now say "no joy" where I used to say "no luck."  Little things like that.  Anyhoo, I'm loving this week's Ten on Tuesday from Carole at "Carole Knits".  Here we go:

the 10 Books On Your To-Read List:

So. Many. This is just a tiny (wee) scratch at the surface:

1.  Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz.  Love this series of books so much.  They are so funny.  I've been putting off reading this one, because it's the last in the series and I can't bear to say goodbye to the characters.  Great dialogue.

2.  Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evonovich.  Another comedy mystery series with very likeable characters and great dialogue.  I'm a sucker for this kind of book.  Her books always make me laugh out loud at least once.

3.  Tote Bags and Toe Tags by Dorothy Howell.  Another funny mystery with a very screwed up heroine who's heart is in the right place.  Anyone seeing a pattern here?

4.  The Lamb's Supper: the Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn.  And now for something completely different.  Yes, I do sometimes take a break from consuming mindless but amusing fiction to dig into some much better fare.  What can be better than this guy's books?

5.  Prayer for Beginners by Peter Kreeft.  This man has so many good things to say about the faith and a gift for putting them into words in a way I can totally relate to, despite the fact that he is a million times more brilliant than me...  I bought each of my kids this book for their confirmation as a primer, hoping it will lead them to search out all his books.  Amazing insights. 

6.  Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Bought this for my father's birthday some years ago, knowing of his passionate interest in the American Civil War.  He didn't think he would find much of interest that he didn't already know about Lincoln's life, so he was not that thrilled to receive it.  Thought I had wasted my money.  Boy, was he wrong!  He started reading it and apologized to me.  Said it was the most fascinating book he had ever read and one of the best written.  Since then, both my brothers and sister have read it.  I now have it, but don't know where I've put it.  My sister gave it back to me to read after she was through with it, but it was very bad timing, as I had just started my chemo treatments and had no desire to read anything.  Added to that was the fact that Abraham Lincoln is my most admired hero and I am always grief-stricken when I read accounts of his assassination.  I just can't bring myself to read about it, especially when my sister tells me she had to stop reading for a while when she got to that part, because it was just so very sad.  I have no doubt that this will be one of the best  books I ever read when I finally crack it open.  Doris Kearns Goodwin is a remarkably fine writer.

7.  Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.  Being a big fan of the Showtime series, just can't help myself.  I need to find out if the novels are as good as the series, despite my huge disappointment with the final episode of the series, which I watched this afternoon and am still smarting over.

8.  Latin for Dummies by Clifford A. Hull.  I'm a language buff.  Romance languages, primarily, so have a keen interest in the root language that spawned them all.  Plus, I love that Latin is a "dead language" and thus does not change as modern language does.  The pureness of the aesthetic appeals to me.  And, being Roman Catholic, well...

9. Mother Teresa: In My Own Words by Mother Teresa.  A modern day saint persevering in her faith despite a 50 year "dark night of the soul."  I have always been extremely drawn to Mother Teresa. 
A woman truly deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded, unlike a few others I can think of (Obama, anyone?)

10. The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano, Book 1) by Andrea Camilleri.  Love, love, love this Mhz International Mysteries series starring Luca Zingaretti and airing on PBS.  The Sicily depicted is fascinating and beautiful and I want to experience the novels as well, which I hear are really fine.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again...I Think

Wow, it's been ages since I participated in Ten on Tuesday (Carole Knits)...I blame it on the new smart phone.  I finally buckled to pressure and got one, and I'm addicted.  Anyhoo, I've decided to dive in to today's Ten on Tuesday:

10 Things You Miss About Your Own House When You Go Away

1.  My pets --especially our kitty.  We haven't had the puppy long enough to get as emotionally attached, but we've had our dear Lucy for 12 years and she is firmly engrained in our daily routines.  I miss her yacking at me to feed her in the morning, her little love chirps throughout the day and her quiet affection.  She's a very loving, social kitty, and I need my "fix" every day....

2.  My own bed --hotel beds usually leave me aching in the hips and thighs, and the pillows are generally inadequate as well, compared to my own. 

3.  The convenience of my closet

4. Lounging in my bathrobe in the mornings with a cup of coffee before I start my day.  This is especially true of the weekends. 

5.  Having a bathroom to myself - usually when we travel, it is with the whole family, which means waiting in line to use the bathroom before we can go off and do the fun stuff we have planned

6.  My recorded programs - I watch a lot of public TV, especially the international mysteries, Masterpiece Theater, etc.  Hotel TV-- usually not very good.  And if Wi-Fi isn't free, that means no Hulu for me either, so TV viewing usually reverts to whatever sports program the husband cares to watch, and I tune out.

7.  Not having to babysit valuables - I miss the freedom of home, where I can leave my laptop on the bed, my kindle on the table, my smartphone on the dresser, my digital camera wherever I used it last.  I detest that I always have to be hyper aware of my belongings when I travel.  Makes me feel like my possessions own me rather than the other way around.

8.  My privacy - I need a certain amount of "alone time" every day.  This can sometimes be hard to find when I travel with the family.

9.  Puttering around the house

10. The comfort of home...

Okay, I admit it, I'm a creature of habit and a homebody.  As much as I love traveling to exotic locales and relaxing with the family there, I really do enjoy my own home and am always glad to come home to it...How 'bout you?

Monday, September 9, 2013

This Happens a Lot

One of the biggest challenges to my prayer life is finding silence.  I can't tell you how many times this message, "Be still.  Be quiet" has come through to me.  I don't hear it internally or anything like that, but I feel like God is telling me to be quiet by reminding me through other people to do so.  It's like a constant refrain whenever I think about prayer, the command for silence and the elusive search for it.

 So I try to find it, but it eludes me.  I'm not even sure how to find it, or what it is exactly, to be truthful.  There is an interior silence that definitely eludes me, that's for sure.  The little voice in my head is constantly blabbing.  I hold an internal monologue 24/7.  I think sometimes, "Maybe this is what He means.  He wants me to turn off that little voice so He can get a word in." 

So, in my effort to find the Sacred Silence, I spent some time before the Blessed Sacrament this Saturday, praying for peace around the world, as Pope Francis enjoined, and desiring to spend some time in silent adoration.  Just to sit in His presence and know that He is God.  Not asking for anything for a time, but just loving Him and letting the joy of loving Him radiate.  That was the intention.

So what happened?  Let's just say, I missed the boat again.  I never really got a chance to settle in for that silent adoration.  First of all, when I entered the chapel, there were already two people there praying.  That was fine.  They were praying silently and we didn't disturb one another.  So far, so good.

 I told God my intentions of joining my prayers with the other Christians praying around the world for peace and I then I began the rosary.  I got to the 3rd mystery, and then distraction occurred, in the form of a trio of people who entered to pray aloud the Divine Mercy chaplet. 

Now, the Divine Mercy is one of my favorite devotions, right up there with the rosary.  However.  In this instance, and to my chagrin, they made so much noise, pushing chairs around, shuffling back and forth and such to arrange things "just so", intruding on our silent prayer to shove a prayer card in our hand, that it totally disrupted the flow of my prayer.  All I could think was, "please stop." And then they started.

They prayed loudly and the woman who was leading the prayer had a very unfortunate cadence which was DISTRACTING in itself.  I joined them in the chaplet, knowing I couldn't finish the rosary with that going on, anyway.  When it was done, I finished the rosary and said some brief concluding prayers and high-tailed it out of there.  Don't worry, I went straight over to the church for confession....

Don't get me wrong.  I wasn't annoyed with the Divine Mercy trio.  It just served to illustrate for me how difficult this task of finding silence is and will probably continue to be for me.   

If anyone reading this has a method for silencing themselves and the world in order to center on the Creator, I would so love to hear it...please share.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Knitting Update and Call to Prayer

 The mom sweater is coming along nicely.  I have now finished the back, both fronts (except for some button band stitches that are on hold for later) and one sleeve.  The second sleeve is about one third of the way finished.  Dare I hope this project will turn out as planned?  Here she is laid out in her current state:

I know she doesn't look like much now, but soon she will be all "put together", so to speak.  I'm pleased with her so far.  She has been co-operating -- no more purl stitches where there should be knits and such.  The yarn knits up soft and drapey, and it looks like the sweater my mom asked for.  My only worry is that she may be a smidge too small.  I plan to block the hell out of her and hope for the best. 

I'm trying a different finishing technique this time.  I usually use mattress stitch for the sleeves and body, and three-needle bind-off for the shoulders.  This time I plan on slip stitching the seams with a crochet hook.  I think the yarn is thin enough that it won't add too much bulk.  However, if the seams appear bulky when I'm done, my plan is to steam iron them flat.  Hah.

Okay, now for the call to prayer.  If you are a person of faith, please join Christians around the world this Saturday, September 7th for a day of prayer and fasting for Syria, the Middle East, and all over the world.  Pope Francis has issued an invitation to all Catholics and other Christians as well as people of all faiths and people of goodwill to unite our prayers and fasting together on this day.  I plan to offer my prayers and fasting for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in Egypt and Nigeria specifically as well as Syria.  The suffering in those regions is terrible.  I am grateful to God that I live in a place where I am free to practice my faith without suffering physical persecution, and I grieve for those who do not....May God's grace sustain them.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

And the Ash, Ash, Ash, Came Down, Down, Down

When we entered Yosemite National Park on Friday morning, this is the scene that greeted us:
Lovely blue skies and those breathtaking views that we've grown accustomed to seeing over the past several years.  Had a lovely walk down by the river, good conversation with friends who are like family, and felt at peace watching the boys frolic about. 
Twenty four hours later, we drove out of the park and the scene looked like this:
No, that isn't fog.  It is haze from the smoke and ash that blew in and settled in the valley, driving us from our idyll...

In the face of our own disappointment and that of the boys who had been looking forward to this weekend since we broke camp last year, we decided to make an impromptu drive to Disneyland instead of admitting defeat and coming home.  That would have been just too depressing.  On the plus side, on the way out, we were treated to this sight:

Momma and baby bear were just awesome.  Far enough away to pose no danger, close enough to thrill...

Forgive the poor video quality, but all I had was my smart phone and it doesn't zoom...

We had a great, if exhausting, day at the happiest place on earth and then hit the road to get home by the wee hours of Monday morning.  All in all, this was a weekend we will never forget.  It turned out to be quite lovely...