Friday, October 31, 2008

Gifts in all shapes and sizes

-- I went to the local Ace Hardware Store to find out about glazing windows. "Do I really need to use an oil based primer?" There was a commercial painter at the counter. I almost asked his opinion, but then thought better of it. Thinking of him as a doctor and my asking him to give a look in my ears. So while his paint was mixing I asked the associate for advice. "Yes," was his answer. He then loaded me down with paint and brush. As I was leaving the commercial painter came up to me and said, "You'll want to cut that with paint thinner. All external oil based paints are too thick to paint with." He told me his secrets to success, and I thanked him for the gift of his wisdom.

-- While at WYD I picked up some Mother Theresa medals from her sisters. They were "manning" a wonderful exhibit on Mother Theresa. It was an exhibit I doubt I will forget. When I got home I had these medals and wondered to whom they belonged to. For I knew I was just a carrier. After the parish picnic I gave one to each of my closest worker buddies at church. And today I learned that one friend carried that medal into battle and was victorious.

-- At knitting group today I was reassured that friendship is one of the greatest gifts of all.

Happy Halloween


Remember Pool Rules: Everyone swimming must wear a cap.
(I knew eventually that chlorine would burn my eyes out, but I had no idea it was bad for my teeth.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's a writer to do?

I'm looking for advice here.

Over the past year I wrote several articles for a free local glossy magazine (Metrowest Magazine). It was a lovely run. I enjoyed interviewing people and flexing my writing muscles. I was lucky on one hand, the assignments came in, but on the other -- payment never seemed to follow.

This summer the magazine stopped publication. Both the editor and myself have queried the publisher for my due. He seemingly ignores these emails. So, I went through my records, and resent a list of past due invoices. Giving him 30 days to respond or I would seek alternative means for payment.

But what is a freelance writer to do? Small claims court? Collection agency? This whole situation puts a real damper on writing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Early Mornings and Late Nights

We have band at 8 AM and choir at 6:45 PM. In between is school, food shopping, exercising, housecleaning, laundry and working on the garage -- if the rain holds out. The littlest one is maintaining the Halloween count down.
Nothing else matters but Halloween.
Remain focused on the trick or treating.
Oh to be young again.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I am aghast!!!!

While starting the car today an advertisement came over the radio:

"Remember if she says no, we'll still say yes. Bud Light."

Now granted I came into the middle of this ad, but what else are we suppose to think? We tell our children that when I woman says No she means NO, and not maybe or YES, or Yeah right, she was really looking for it.

I need to hear this ad from start to finish before passing final judgment, BUT based upon what I heard their marketing department should be fired. No Bud products in my house ever again. I'll brew my own, thank you very much.

The Perfect Storm

This weekend was the perfect storm of activities. Everything that could be scheduled was penned in for every hour of every day, starting Friday. There was a football game, family over for dinner and a sleep over, a track meet, a pumpkin fair, a church breakfast set, serving and clean up, a movie night, religious education, alter service, a 5 mile walk, and a spooky Halloween party at a friend's house.

My mind spun with the details. This week I am hoping to slide into Friday night's fun without much to do. I hoping to get the garage finished.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just what are we worth?

Maybe I'm old. Or maybe I'm getting old, but when I see a young lady (any female age 10 to whatever...) wearing her pants riding at her pubic hair line, I wonder only one thing. I want to ask her: Do you really think you are only good for one thing? Do you really believe you are only as good as your vagina?

When I see a young woman I see a real rocket scientist, a doctor, a veterinarian, a president, a CFO, an actor, a mother, a goddess. So when I see these woman overtly selling themselves to the next pair of over fixated eyes, I am truly sad.

Tonight at the local high school football game we had the high school cheerleaders mentoring the younger town cheerleaders. I saw the admiration in those little eyes; a worship so pure it belongs in a church. The high schoolers could have marched their charges into the middle of the field to be trampled by the offensive line. Instead they bowled them over with belly buttons and hip bones. By their rolled down waist bands, did they hurt them more?

Ladies, women, girls, sisters, we are worth more than a rolled waist band. Advertise your smarts, your brains, your talents.


It's coming... ready or not...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Limping towards recovery

Slowly there is progress on the computer front. No printing yet, but I got the scanner, and the card reader hooked up. My desktop still reminds me of birth: head leaned over to one side, cover off, wires splayed for all to see her innards. Messy, messy, messy... I have hope that someday she'll be functional again. In the meantime, Vista and I are making nicer than before. Proving once again you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Look, I'm Grampa!

As I was clearing off the kitchen counter this morning, (in preparation for making the day's lunches), I had to move the treasures I picked up for family and friends at the parish yard sale. Of the many boxes of must haves I scurried home with, only a pair of sailing motif glasses for my dad, and a candy dish and mug for Mr. S. are not in their proper homes. Soon.

Envisioning both parties relaxing on a Saturday afternoon, watching the game, enjoying a drink, or dipping into the candy dish, I smiled, as I reflected on the glee I felt when I discovered these, and other discarded treasures. And then quickly my thoughts moved to my grandfather, who with my grandmother worked their own parish "rummage" sales for many years.

Like ours, theirs was in the fall. So our arrival for Thanksgiving at their house was an event of wonder and surprise. You just never knew what Nana and Grampa were going to find at the sale. Games, clothes, camping gear, silver, jewelry. You name it and I bet we got it at one time or another. Pots, pans, a brand new coat -- with tags. The pair of Italian lamps that still illuminate my living room. Goodness for all.

And I can still see Grampa's face as we literally dove into the boxes that covered his living room floor. His eyes shining an extra bright blue. His lips turned upwards in triumph over a rummage sale well picked over.

Like my grandfather, I suspect we took home more from the yard sale than we dropped off... Like my grandfather, I can't wait to share my findings with those that I love.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yard Sales and Lil' Black Dresses

I have a thing for yard sales and little black dresses. Even though I hardly ever go to yard sales, and I can't remember the last time I wore my tried and true little black dress of ten years. (Maybe it was 5 years ago at a niece's wedding.)

I love finding a bargain. Bringing home treasures for the girls, and rare books for the guy. But yard sale plowing takes time, and I generally don't have a lot of it.

But two years ago I started working the annual church yard sale. An event where neighbors and people from the parish drop off their not so prized possessions and we sell them; funneling the profits into the Youth Ministry. Last year a very small black dress with sparklies sewn into the material made the scene. I needed a dress for the Christmas concert, so I snatched it up for a dollar, if that. The day of the concert, I opted for a less slinky attire. Even so, the dress still hangs in my closet. Waiting for the right moment.

This year a velvet number was delivered. And once again it found its way into my stash. But this year I do have a pending event or two where this number could be put to good use.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Missed IT!!!!

October 14th marked 3 years, count them, 1, 2, 3 years of blogging. For me that is 828 posts and for you, since I started keeping track, 7,569 visits. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Too turn the heat on, or not to turn the heat on...

that is the question.

We push turning the furnace on back as far as we can. One year we managed to wait until the middle of November.This year, I must be getting old or soft or both, because I am already thinking about it. Seeking out blankets, thinking about wearing a hat in the house, all the time, and keeping my painting jacket on... even when I'm not painting.

It's not that I like being cold, but I hate paying that huge bill even more.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I hate VISTA

I was busy writing a cute little piece comparing suburban camouflage garage painting to sudoku, but I am SO disgusted with this horrid operating system called VISTA that I want to throw this inane lap top out the window.

XP was fine thank you. It didn't try to change my file extensions, or make it impossible to list processes. Nor did it require divination to change directories. And what about all those wonderful programs and devices I can no longer use, LIKE MY PRINTER... and scanner... and my DVD software...

My skin is crawling I so despise this operating system. If given the chance I'd brush up my vi and jump windows all together... All together now.

Who in their right mind can finish a book typing via this piece of poo? I will slog through. But it won't be pretty.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another Memory

I'm repainting our garage. At first it was just the trim by the roof line that would get a new coat, and then the shingles, and now I am working on the whole thing at once, trim, body, windows, doors and frames. I never do anything small; a bad habit of mine.

Yesterday, while putting the second coat on most of the trim, while pondering just how high the roof peak is, I noticed the windows need to be reglazed. The word reglazed would have you assume there is glaze there to begin with. Glaze that needs replacing. These windows are so old, their glaze has gone the way of the dinosaur. So while the paint by the roof line was drying, below I scraped one of the window frames and cleaned the glass to glaze it.

It was great being outside. Being active, and breathing in the fresh Fall air. Taking care of the garage was a summer job that has hung over my head, two years. And as I was out there working I remembered when I first learned how to glaze windows. I was in high school, and visiting my grandparents in Pennsylvania. Grampa was working on their garage 12 paner where he not only showed me what to do, but let me try it. It was fun to make the window look new again.

So, now as I scrape, and plan to do the priming and then final painting when the threat of showers passes, I remembered that afternoon with Grampa making what was old look new again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kids are just kids

In a world where children are scheduled, pushed, and expected to do great things, I was slapped in the face with the reminder that they are still kids.

My youngest has a personality that fills the space that she occupies. Confident, always right, a born leader, so much so that sometimes I forget she's my baby. Not so anymore, for this weekend she gave me a double lesson in spades. Twice, while camping, with all her wisdom, she wandered away and got separated from me.

The first was while we searched for lost treasure; a fishing lure. While hiking along the trails by our site she laid down her newly found gold and forgot to retrieve it. Upon returning to the camper she realized her misfortune and wanted to go back into the woods to retrieve it. I asked,"Do you know where you left it?"

"Yes," was her confident response. "On the tree stump..."

I should have figured we were in for a forced march, just how many tree stumps are there in the woods? But thinking she knew what she was doing, I followed her back down to the pond and then along the shore for as long as we walked. No lure was to be seen. But then trouble started as we made our return to the site. For it was then she assured me it was down one of these side paths. I replied, "No, we didn't go that way." She was insistent. I drew a map in the dirt with a stick, showing her that we had already checked those stumps. Still she wanted to walk down this short steep cliff trail to the water's edge. I said, "Okay, but come right back."

She left. I watched her slide down the eroded path and then she was gone. I waited. Nothing. I went half way down the trail. No sign. My heart beat out past my chest wall, as I screamed her name, over and over again. No answer. I slide down the trail to the shore, sprinting up and down the path a short distance, still calling her name, which was now echoing across the water. Finally a response; a whimper, and a cry for mommy, as she came out from behind some bush. A hornet had buzzed by her while she was climbing down the trial so she tried to go back another way. That eroded trail was not longer than 30 feet. She should have been out of my site for a minute max... After recovering from this maternal near death experience, I advised her to yell for me next time she was going to have a change of plan.

Now after that, you would think she would stick close by... But the next day while we (her parents) were walking around the campground she scootered after her older sister, who was riding her bike. Both got away from us. Both I assumed would stick together. But when we got to the entrance to our section, neither child was there. My husband looked at me, and I looked at him... We then split up and walked the loop of our section, getting back to our site with only the oldest present and accounted for.

"Where is your sister?"

"I didn't know I was suppose to watch her." I jumped on my bike, with the thought of sitting her down and explaining to her that you always watch out for you siblings, and took off to find the baby yet again. I circled back, went to the playground, road the main drag in the park, cut through the woods and as I approached the site, migraine blaring, saw she had returned.

She had indeed gotten lost, and ended up crying as she walked the main park road. Her savior was a man who had heard her wimpers. He came out of the woods and asked her what was wrong. When she told him where she needed to go, he pointed her in the correct direction, and set her on her way.

Both her father and I pointed out to her and her sister, this situation could have easily gone a different way. And now for the rest of their lives, when not in school, neither one will be allowed out of my sight.

Parental lesson learned. Kids are just kids.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hit the ground running

Five day weekends should come with disclaimers: "It is a recommendation of the surgeon mother that the partying and merry making only go on for four days, max. For if you party and make merry on the fifth, getting back into the daily schedule is not a pretty picture."

I woke up this morning, and without putting a toe to the floor, I was already behind. Kitchen still a disaster from cupcake baking and camping remnants. Living room floor to ceiling with clean laundry waiting to be folded. And to top it all off today is the first day for drop offs for the parish yard sale. I have been waiting for this day for months, as my mud room slowly transformed into a holding dock for yard sale items donated from friends and a family.

My feet and mind are running a million miles an hour. Just too bad they aren't heading off in the same direction...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Camping and Back Again

We camped. We toasted marshmallows. Chilled into a deep sleep; we slept in. Drank hot cocoa. Fished, and yes, the big one did get away. We cooked over an open fire; played games, and explored. We trick or treated... We celebrated a birthday, complete with candles and presents.

It's so hard to be back. The bins are mostly emptied. The laundry almost done. School is on the horizon.

Memorial Day weekend cannot come fast enough.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Memories Revisted

My first memory is of being pushed in a stroller past a campground bathroom where planted along the outside walls was a bank of wild roses.

Then over twenty years ago, on a road trip through Cape Cod my grandfather turned into Nickerson State Park and I knew I had been there before. Oh I had heard stories of playing at the lake shore beach for hours, but deep inside I knew I had been there and asked, "Is there a bathroom here with wild roses planted next to it?" From somewhere towards the front of the station wagon came the reply, "There might be."

That day, we toured all the old favorite family camp sites and sure enough there was the origin of my first memory. Strange it was a bathroom in a campground. But I suspect as a baby I had been parked there a few too many times by one parent or another while they took my sister or themselves to the facilities.

And now this weekend, we are going back there. I haven't been camping there for over forty years, but I've walked the bike trail almost annually for the past ten or so; every Thanksgiving. I can't wait to revisit the memories of my past.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Save the Dates

St. George Parish Yard Sale October 18, 2008
St. George Parish Pumpkin Fair October 25, 2008
St. George Parish Breakfast October 26, 2008
First practice of St. George Christmas play November 4, 2008
World Youth Day Madrid August 15 - 21, 2011

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Who would bail you out?

I find it unthinkable that the CEO of Lehman Richard Fuld is still enjoying his take while we the American people, when faced with similar financial hardship would not be given the same options. Can you imagine being able to walk up to the Senate and House and asking them to clean up your business mistakes and then being allowed to keep your multi million dollar assets or live in anything bigger than standard subsidized housing for a family of his size -- minus the hired help? I can see it now, " Oh Senator... I've lost my job and my family is now losing their home. Can you help me?"

Right, if we made it into an office, security would be called and we'd be given the pat on the back by an Aide and shown the door. Or less. I know people in this situation. Hard working Americans, who have lost homes, who are buried in debt, who could use a helping hand -- far less than the 700 billion this country has just handed out.

And I ask, what about the man in Southern California, who after facing months of hardship killed himself and his family? Did the Senate do anything to help him out? I'm sure, it's the same answer, "He never asked." Like it would've helped.

I wonder if Mr. Fuld will, like so many facing financial hardship, find himself homeless? Or maybe now we should consider Fuld's housing as subsidized... all his multi million dollars homes with their tennis courts, swimming pools and art collections. If so, where is my thank you? Hey, Mr. Fuld -- I'm paying for your mistakes. Or better yet, save the stamp, and offer several families, who have lost their homes, shelter. From the images on the news, I think 4 or 5 families could share each dwelling and not even know the other families are there.

For the sake of this country (Is that true?) the government thought it was best to save your company. But like anyone else struggling in these hard times, I doubt you will truly know the hardship that faces many Americans everyday. Many of whom (via their taxes) will be forced to work hard so that you and your company are kept in the ways you've become accustomed. Enjoy? I don't think that I could.

Monday, October 06, 2008

No book...

This morning I woke with the feeling of, ut oh... My book, the book I am supposed to be finishing is locked up safely on the hard drive I can't access. I know I made a back up copy onto a CD, but finding that now, on and in a desk that has had a computer surgically dismantled is not a good prospect. SHIT!

I better find that disk...

On a good note, the third Monarch emerged. I took pictures, but the photo software... you got it... is on the belly up computer. The butterfly is a beauty. But notice I said the third Monarch and not the second. That baby is still wrapped up tight, and we fear dead. For it has been metamorphosing a good month now, and its color is a sickening brownish blah. Still I have hope. After all we all grow at our own rate.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Computer Down

What's that movie... Black Hawk Down... which of course has nothing to do with my not having access to my usual desktop work horse computer, with all my secrets, files, and photos. But the tone of the word down in both instances is the same; terminal.

Twice yesterday I went to print a picture or a letter and was met by an open box with cabling splayed and its motherboard ripped out. Sad times. No photo software, no email addresses that aren't committed to memory, no parish letters soliciting goods and services for our Energy Conservation talk on November 9th. I'm treading electronic waters here. Not panicking -- for I know my files are safely tucked away but not accessible.

We haven't really come up with a solution. It was a beautiful build it yourself model, so tech support is strictly in-house. And a quick scan for replacement parts on the net has resulted in one word: Unavailable.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Economic Stimulation

Just how far does 700 billion dollars go towards stimulating the economy?

Seven hundred billion dollars is enough to give every adult in the US, over the age of 18, four hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Now that is some sort of economic stimulus. I would much rather bail out the many over the few.

Knitting and pattern recognition

It seems I always have a sock going. Baby socks work up fast. If I ignore the fact I have a family, laundry to fold, and meals to prepare, I can breeze through a pair in a day. Adult socks seem to be on my needles two months; even more. This past summer I promised my little dancer that I'd knit her a pair. Being not a baby and not quite an adult, I figured a month and I'd be done.

Inspiration hit after reading a book on doing just that, Knitting Socks. It is an unusual book as it is not written as a pattern book, but a book of what you can do when. For example, you can have this ribbing or that, then move into this heel flap or that, followed by an assortment of techniques for turning heels, and finishing off the toes. (I have an obsession with knitting books, but that is a topic for another time.)

So I started her pair with a new type of ribbing.... barely considering stitch count. Knit a basic sock, with a Strong Heel and then finished with a basic foot and toe. It came out lovely... but then the problem hit. I didn't follow a pattern. So I looked at the ribbing, but not closely and figured it was a Knit 2 Purl 2 ribbing for about an inch and a half. I counted the ribs... thought I had 72 stitches. But deep down inside I felt there were only 54 stitches on the needles. And of course the sock was too big... I counted, and counted and looked at the ribbing and couldn't figure out exactly what I had done.

Then yesterday while knitting with friends I turned the finished sock inside out and realized that the ribbing was not Knit 2 Purl 2 but only Knit 2 Purl 1, coming out to 54 stitches. It was then it hit me. Pattern recognition, the studying of ABABAB and AABAABAAB patterns in kindergarten is really important. And not just for knitting socks but for figuring more important things in life; like knitting sweaters.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What's Important Here

When I've watching TV or looking at photographs I find myself asking, "What's important here? What works in this picture or framing? What makes or breaks my attention?" In this image the broken stick is distracting.

What I've discovered from viewing the photographic works of others is, you don't always have to see everything; the whole butterfly, a person's complete face. Using light, shadow and cropping the viewers attention can be focused. Distractions eliminated.

The photo above is an over exaggeration. Cropped tightly and all but the orange/yellow downplayed, my attention is first drawn to the wings then to the body. Do I think this is good? Not especially -- for me it misses the mark. Something is not right... So I played around a bit more, darkening the background.
It still may or may not cut the mustard, but it's fun to be able to play about with the images.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mom, Dad, I know the feeling

Last night, while I was painting the town a little shade of rose, my mom called and left a message about how her delete key on her computer wasn't working anymore. And seeing how I fixed it the last time (I did?) could I give her a hand. When I got the message it was too late to enter into the wrangle of tech support via phone on an operating system I know nothing about. So I went to bed.

This morning I called. I listened... It was Outlook Express rearing its ugly head. An application I don't use layered on an OS I don't know. Bring it on. I called up The first advice seemed almost familiar, but work heavy to related over the phone. So, I improvised and managed to make things worse. THANK GOD the recycle bin allows you to retrieve your mistakes.

The second suggestion seemed more plausible. We deleted the deleted messages file. Outlook now allowed deletions, but is running very slow.

The third suggestion recommended using regedit... I read the directions to my father, who was my eyes and hands on his end of the phone. There was silence. I pictured his mouth hanging, a doorway for anything baseball-sized and smaller. "I'll be over tomorrow. No worries." And so I will.

Two hours after my stint playing online support, I was in my banjo lesson. (I love the banjo.) Despite having the girls home, this was a lesson I didn't want to miss. For over this past week I had taught myself the fret board and can now s---l---o---w---l---y pick out a melody. At last I am no longer tethered to tableture, which is a fine way to play -- but not all music is relayed in tableture. I have been instructed to move on...

Arthur met us at the door. "I have something for you," was all I said as I walked into his studio. All set, I pulled out my Christmas music book and plucked out Blue Christmas. Slowly.

He smiled. And then started in discussing chord construction and minor chords and tuning the banjo a step lower so that minor chords can be more easily reached. He had me set up the Dminor chord... I did it, and then refused to move my hand to anything else -- least I forget while he created music that I could listen to forever. And when he stopped, my mouth was gaping wide enough for a baseball to fit through and I knew exactly how my parents felt earlier in the day when I was trying to fix their computer a la telephone.

Down time, Our time

The girls are home again today; as they were yesterday for the Jewish Holidays. We are taking it easy, knitting, counting cans at the church, (we counted over 800 cans yesterday...), and having lazy days. It's okay. Life on the elementary school track is way too fast. I cooked a turkey this past weekend, so even dinners are lazy sandwiches. I enjoy these times. But I feel the pressure of the schedule pushing in.

For in the back of my head, the voice is saying, "Choir practice 6:45 Wednesday -- don't forget. Girl Scouts on Friday -- get the supplies put together. Dress fitting Saturday -- find the directions to the school. Update the online parish calendar. Laundry, laundry, laundry."

Breath in and breath out. I push it all back behind the comfy couch of our relaxation. We have one more day of just being. Not really on a schedule, but I do have a banjo lesson today and we are heading into the city to hit the Science Museum. And even though I'm driving in -- it's still down time.