Monday, November 29, 2010

Big Church

Yesterday I took the grandchildren to First Pres with me for the eleven o'clock service. I thought they would enjoy the pretty stained glass windows, the big pipe organ and maybe a few other aspects of church. While there I thought of ways a traditional church can benefit children as a part of character development. They learn about following protocol in the order of worship. They learn self discipline as they sit quietly during the sermon and to be respectful of other people. They experience group singing and how to follow stanzas of hymns. Socially, manners can be honed in church as they observe the adults greeting each other and are encouraged to practice polite behaviors themselves. And it feels good to have something to dress nicely for. Sometimes church seems like a lot of work with kids, at least that is how it was for me, but it is worth it in many ways.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving's Grand Finale

I am home from driving the three precious siblings who are my "grands" (as they say) up the mountain to meet their daddy who will carry them the rest of the way to their Tennessee home. My quiet drive back was under a magnificent setting sun that artistically streaked the sky with colors found only from the Master's unlimited collection of paints. It was beautiful, but I find each drive up or down to be beautiful in a different way. The ridges of the foothills may be in muted shades of blues and greens, or deep yellows and oranges in a vibrant fall flurry. The sky may be gray and stark, misty and alive, or a lovely blue background to big fluffy clouds. It is always a wondrous way to celebrate the beginning or end of a happy occasion like spending time with grandchildren. It's wondrous too that they carry a little piece of me with them. Now I shall get some rest!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

On this uniquely American day, the 2nd and 3rd verses of America the Beautiful:

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It really takes more than an hour

I am in high gear preparing for the biggest eating day of the year. My dinner is going to be traditional American fare with a big turkey, not like the new Iron Chef's winning courses that were modeled on the Pilgrim's meal that very first Thanksgiving. I have watched that show so much that I should be inspired to get all my creative dishes done in one hour flat, but I don't think that is going to be the case. There is the planning and the shopping, the thawing and the roasting, the peeling and chopping, the mixing and baking, the table setting and the drinks, and my sous chefs won't turn up until close to buzzer time. But however long it takes, it will get done. And if not? I will still have a wonderful time gathering with many of the ones I love.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Sad Way to Live

In one way or another, at work I often help take care of drug addicts. I used to feel bad for them, but over the years I have developed less and less sympathy for them. Not only do they ruin their own lives, but others as well. An addiction is a terrible thing, but these unfortunate people seem to want other people to find a magic cure to transform their lives or else they want to substitute one substance for another. They do not want to endure the pain of getting clean. Often I ask them if they have seen the movie "Ray," especially the great scene in there in which Ray kicked heroin cold turkey. It can be done, I tell them, if they want to do it.

But what do I really know. I have not walked in their shoes. Even though some addictions began from that one hit or pill when they did not say no to what they hoped would be good time or good feeling, or when they desperately desired to be accepted, others have had terrible lives from the start. They want to numb their awful feelings. Or else the drug lifestyle is all they have ever known and they fear life without it. I have not experienced the depths of their pain. I have to remember not to let my mind pass judgment on them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More than taste

Gluten is one of the new culprits in today's diets. This protein found in many grains has been hard to avoid through most of history. It was in our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and in Mama's biscuits and, except for those rare children who had celiac disease, we innocently grew up on it. As a yeast bread baker, I always preferred to use high gluten flour as it gave bread a better texture. Now however many adults have discovered their bodies do not tolerate it well, and it has become a no-no. Jessica said that in Austin giving your child something with gluten is like the most neglectful thing a mother can do. And today in the church bulletin was notice of a gluten free communion. What's next . . .

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Health Tip

I have finished my shower and am ready to take on the day. I love a shower and getting all nice and clean.

Back in the seventies I learned something that changed the way I shower. I was interested then as now in health and diet and bought a book titled "How to Get well." It had a recipe for a mixture of natural oils for your skin, recommendations to treat various annoying physical problems, and talked about the benefits of teas, herbs, and juice fasting. I tried several things, but the one that I have continued all these years is to finish my shower with cold water, as cold as I can take it, for as long as I can take it. Sometimes I can do cold and sometimes it is just cooler and for just a few seconds. I don't know how beneficial it has been, but so far, so good. I have been a pretty healthy girl.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today's Crafty Thing

Today I went to a class to make a pair of Christmas earrings. The small work made it challenging to my presbyopic eyes, and I had to wear a pair of strong reading glasses to get the beads on the little wire and do the tiny twisting. But it was fun and worth the cute end product.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Survival Lesson

I learned some valuable life lessons after I became a nurse. Prior to that I had spent my time with people who were like me, people I understood. Then I went to work in a large hospital, a very heterogeneous place. Patients were rarely a problem, but co-workers were. That first year I got my feelings hurt many times. I managed never to cry at work but shed many tears on my drive home. I couldn’t tell you when the light bulb went off in my head. I was taking things personally that were not intended to be. It wasn't about me. “They” had learned a different style of being - of interacting and communicating - from what I had learned and believed to be right. I figured if I was going to succeed at work, I would have to adapt and accept the diverse ways of my co-workers. While I am still me, I changed my way of thinking and challenged myself to understand and get along with everyone. I accepted to the point of being quietly entertained at all the different personalities and backgrounds of the people I have worked with. Sometimes I think I have carried not taking things personally a bit too far, but it has helped me survive and thrive in the workplace.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Baby Brings Change

As we go along through life we have many roles - and names and titles. First I was a daughter, a granddaughter, niece and cousin. Then I became a proud sister. Later a wife and mother, aunt, mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Like the rest of us I have been a student, a friend, an employee, and a neighbor. I have been called by my first name and occasionally pet names like Susie Q, and names that describe my role such as Mom and Grandmommy. Today, November 16, 2010, with the birth of my niece's baby boy, I became a great aunt. Congratulations to my little brother as he steps into the brand new role of Grandfather, and of course I wish happiness always to new mommy Kelly and all the rest of the wonderful family as they adapt to their new roles in this ever changing life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Keep Praying for America

This week is the last of Charles Stanley’s 140 days of prayer for our country. When I saw that he, the well respected pastor of a huge church, was initiating this I signed up. I was glad to see a church encouraging prayer for our country. I wanted to be a part of this group of many thousands of praying Americans. Prayer is powerful. The Bible encourages us to pray, to praise and say thank you and to make our requests known to God, but we sometimes use it as our last resort. I have lived long enough to see the downward slide, and I don’t like where it could ultimately end. Prayer is America’s best hope.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Redo Done

When the house was on the market, the biggest complaint about it was the kitchen. Though it was OK with me, I took the hint and had it renovated. Now it is updated, not dated, and I think a potential buyer would love it. (Too bad. It is not available.) There is a big learning curve when you do something for the first time, and this first kitchen redo was a learning experience for me. I could do better if I had to do it again. Though I made some decent choices, I also made some goofs. Like ordering too much of the expensive glass tiles that I used for the backsplash and not knowing how fragile those pricey travertine tiles can be. But it is done, complete, fini, and all my stuff has a place. I hope it looks pretty.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Art and Math

Last year I came to the conclusion that the universe is all based on math. It was my close up photography that did it. The more I looked deeply into a God made object like a flower, the more I saw the geometric - or what I decided must be a mathematical - design. And I saw the design often repeated in other natural objects. Without looking at a flower mathematically, we may just conclude that it is beautiful, a work of art. For art to be visually pleasing, it should be mathematically correct, and that correlates with arcs, ratios, intersections, spirals, patterns, sequences. When we listen to music, we hear math at work. We are limited by our language, but today I have been thinking that whether or not we are aware of it, art is math, or at least it's a part of the spectrum of what we call math.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'll Take It

At one time I felt like an artist. It was not because I created any grand works but it was because of the way I viewed the world around me. Art was everywhere, I saw it in color and shape and design and symmetry. I noticed the way light, dark, and shadows played off each other, for example, and I divided people into those who could see the art and those who couldn't. Though I had this emotional connection with art, in reality it never was a very big part of my life. And as the years rolled along, I settled into feeling mostly like a mother and a nurse, and rarely did anything arty, until this summer when I had some of my photos nicely framed. Since some of them were invited to hang in that frame shop under the heading of my name in bold black letters, the shop considers me one of their "artists" now. I am flattered, but I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "I am really a nurse." Tonight there was a reception, and all of us who have designated spots with our names above our artwork got to mingle and share tips with each other as well as visit with guests who came to meet us. One person wanted a picture with me! (Hilarious, I know.) I am going to have to work on feeling like an artist again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Slow change

Back when I was a new nurse at the tender age of forty, I could get up at 6:15 am and be at work at 6:45, ready to clock in. It took me less than fifteen minutes to get ready, shower and all, and the drive to town consumed the rest of the half hour. Amazing compared to the length of time it takes today. I suppose I moved faster then and had a less challenging paint job for the ol' face. Now, twenty-five years later, I need much more than fifteen minutes before I hit the highway. From doing the hair, to greasing up the dry skin, and often packing a lunch, I can take...well I will just say it takes much longer. Just one of those little changes as we move along life's highway.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

finally . . .

I have not been a committed blogger lately. Today I had too much to opine about and didn't have the time to get around to it. One load off my mind is that I finally decided on the paint color for the kitchen eating area. I hope when I come home from work tomorrow and see all that green on the wall, I won't freak out. Yikes! I wish it had a prettier name than olive. Laura Ashley Olive 3 from Lowe's. Somehow it seemed to be the perfect match for all the other components in the room. As soon as I can, I will post pictures of the finished project.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

a wedding today

Anyone can be a photographer now, including me. It's so much fun to take pictures digitally and see them minutes later on the screen of a computer. Once in a while I accidentally take a picture that I think is actually pretty good, so I put it on my blog or show it to someone. That led to my getting a wedding photographer gig today. After going to an early church service, I arrived about noon at a pretty garden in Greenville's big city park to take pictures of a simple ceremony, a beautiful bride and her groom. It was cold and the sun was shining brightly overhead, not good for great pictures in my opinion but many turned out well. I used my pocket camera for only a few shots. The others I took with the camera that belongs to the mother of the bride. I hope there are a few good ones that they will enjoy forever.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Artists at Work

A pretty cool thing is going on in Greenville this weekend, Open Studios. Over a hundred local artists are letting the public in to see where and how they work. Today I visited four interesting studios. One was in the home of the collage artist I took the class with this summer. I love her whimsical work! One outside studio was so picturesque as it sat in a beautiful garden with two water features and winding brick patios. Another belonged to a young man who did mostly black and white wood block prints. I think how wonderful it would be to have a designated place to play!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This Fall Day

We are four days into November in the year 2010. The sky is overcast after the morning rain, and the air is almost cold. Here in Greenville, leaves of many colors are slowly billowing from trees and will soon leave them bare. I have been keeping busy with my interesting work most days but twice this week have stayed at home while the men were here to finish the kitchen. My lack of decisiveness has delayed the job. No rush to return to those old kitchen habits! Today I have been mulling over the paint color for the walls in the eating area. I am thankful to have these skilled workers to do what I cannot. I have tried to do things myself without much success. I have learned that I need to do what I do well, so I can pay somebody else to do what they do well. It is less messy that way. Such is life . . .

Monday, November 1, 2010


It is always interesting to me to see what is still standing at the end of my gardening season. This year it is basil, and I have discovered its versatility. Not only is it good in a tomato sauce for pasta, but the whole leaves are good on top of pizza. Yesterday I made some ratatouille and added fresh basil when the veggies were done. I've put it in meat loaf and cold pasta salad, and if I cooked more, I would have found more uses for it. I may try to dry some to use for winter.