Wednesday, March 30, 2011

musical notes

Just sitting here watching American Idol and thinking of all the wonderful songs Elton John has entertained us with, some of which we are hearing tonight. With more than five hundred to his credit, what a prolific and gifted songwriter he is. Another poet-songwriter I really like is Leonard Cohen. I "discovered" him a few years ago when I heard the pretty song "Dance me to the end of love."

Here is Madeleine Peyroux singing this tender song, which must be copied and pasted if interested.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Bargain

Sad to say, so far most of my “art” has been planning and preparation, not the actual doing of it, but that is fun, too. At this point, I ask myself, really who cares? I stopped by the library today to find some CDs that would be good to listen to while I watercolor, music to befriend my creative self. I chose six and also got three books. As I went to check out, for a split second I thought about paying, as if I were in a store. Isn’t the library great? It’s all free!

Friday, March 25, 2011

a down side

The oak and maple pollen count is very high around here and though it is no fun for me right now, it is necessary part of the cycle of tree life. When these same trees purify the air, hold nests for the robins, filter the sun’s light, and shade my home, I think they are wonderful. Without rain, no flowers; without crawling caterpillars, no beautiful butterflies. Without grass to be cut or weeds and wildflowers to be chopped, our soil would wash away. There is always a flip side to everything and so with nature in the spring. We just have to take the good with the bad.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

At Today's Meeting

At the monthly meeting of the Republican Women’s Club, the ten of us around our table were munching on salads and looking forward to hearing Newt Gingrich speak when we saw a small parade of folks - photographers snapping pictures, perhaps security, and then Newt himself - striding down the aisle by our table heading toward the podium in the front. Some of us, including me, were close enough to stick out our hands for him to shake as he walked past. He gave an intelligent, common sense talk, answered some questions, and I scribbled some key words on my Buzz Lightyear notepad. After the meeting adjourned, he went to a room across the hall to sign books, and I joined the long line to wait my turn. (I like books signed by the author.) When I reached the table where he was sitting pleasantly, pen in hand, I crouched by him for a photo op. I felt kind of silly doing this, but nevertheless, that is what I did. I am not a follower of any of us flawed humans, but I believe him to be a statesman who deeply cares about this country. I believe he “gets it” as we say. I think I understood him to say he is ready to take whatever fire may be thrown at him and perhaps run for president.

Monday, March 21, 2011

no shortage of words

After interviewing a male patient this afternoon, I called to give report to our female doctor. I told her I felt that the interview didn't go as well as I would have liked, and when she asked why, I tried to identify a few reasons besides the odd cramped space we were in. "... well he just talked like a man," I finally figured out. "They" i.e. some sources, say that women speak three times as much as a man, that is, we use three times as many words! I notice that I may write three times as many words, also, and many are totally unnecessary. I am such a girl.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

a cake with purpose

Jacob had his seventeenth birthday last week, and he and his family came this beautiful day. To celebrate I made him a traditional layer cake that remarkably turned out nicely, with candles grouped in the center to make for an easier blowing out experience. I love it when they are around, and when, like now, we have come to the end of a busy, fun day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thanks, Hannah

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of faraway places with exotic wide eyed children who dressed in clothes far different from mine, and who spoke a language I couldn't understand. I wondered how they lived, and what they ate, and what their school was like. Twice I had short penpal correspondences with girls in other parts of the world, and getting letters from them that came all the way across the ocean to my front door was so exciting! How the world has shrunk since those days! Throughout the "civilized" world, style is now pretty much the same, we share much of the same knowledge, and definitely have access to the same technology that allows for almost instantaneous communication. I don't get many comments on my blog but was so pleased to see one from Hannah in Ireland, a lovely place I would love to visit someday. It had me humming Galway Bay, picturing shamrocks and green hills, and reminded me of those penpals from long ago.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Needing a hug

Over the phone today, one of my co-workers learned that her much loved father had died. He was old and in poor health, but she was hoping to see him one last time. In grief, she reached out to us, and we held her and hugged her. She needed it. There have been a few times in my life when I was overwhelmed with sadness and also needed any available shoulder to cry on. Once was when my grandmother was nearing death. I started to weep and practically fell onto the little woman employee in the room. I was at least a head taller, but she stood firm and held me in her arms while I blubbered. Though I never saw her before or after, I have always been grateful for that kindness. People need each other.

Monday, March 14, 2011

watercoloring novice

When I decided to try watercolors, I had no idea what to expect. I just knew I liked the pretty colors, soft edges and the ethereal feel of most paintings. For the past few months, I have learned it takes quite a bit of skill to master something that appears so simple. First is the gathering of equipment, and that requires some education. Brushes come in different styles, bristles, and sizes. I must learn how each works. Paper must not come from those bound, blank watercolor books in the craft stores. Oh no. It must be a large sheet sent directly from England to the only art store in town. Now for the paints, or pigments as they are more precisely called. What a selection! The tiniest tubes are the most expensive and of course are the best. No student grade paints will do. And I must have a good range of colors to choose from. The large white palette with the big middle area for mixing was my first purchase, but it sat useless until I learned how to arrange it - like the color wheel naturellement. And there are other accessories such as the right tape and board for placing the paper while working on it, a natural sponge and paper towels for sopping up loose watery paint, and so on. Right now I spend more time thinking and learning and dreaming about all those pretty colors than I do working at it. But I know I will get it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Grace for all

In church today we sang that hymn Amazing Grace. It was written over two hundred years ago, but since it came on the pop music scene in the early seventies, it has become familiar and remained popular. Since I have been a nurse, it has became really special. Music therapy used to be a part of the treatment in psych facilities, and when it ended, I tried to keep it going in some way. Since I couldn’t sing well enough or play a guitar, I often brought in music that the patients could listen to and sing along with if they wanted. My patients have come from all walks of life and have experienced much trauma. Sometimes they have been the perpetrators of trauma to others. Invariably (a word I learned from my grandmother) no matter the people in the group, year after year, toward “closing time,” they always wanted to sing Amazing Grace. When the group started to prayerfully blend their voices, an almost palpable holiness came into the room. I thought of the bad things they had experienced that grace would cover, and I felt honored to be with them.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Our Fragile Lives

In about 2000 I sang in a thrilling oratorio at church that included a solo by a powerful baritone backed by a large chorus. The lyrics included this message: “The kings of the earth and the kingdoms built by man, rise up in their glory and go back to dust again.” I played it over and over not just to learn the choral part, but because I loved all of its masterful words and music.

When the World Trade Center was attacked and crumbled to a pile of rubble in 2001, it was the tape my mind kept playing. I have hummed it when other disasters have struck, when I see the innate vanity of human beings challenged. It helps me to see the big picture, beyond the actual awful events, that in spite of what we work hard to build, everything is temporary and subject to loss, annihilation, and decay. We are not to think too highly of ourselves or our accomplishments. Now there is the disastrous situation in Japan that will forever change the island nation. Tall buildings rocked to destruction; treasured possessions and human lives swept away in moments by great violent arms rising out of the Pacific Ocean.

“The kings of earth who rule with might and power will bend their knees to God when time concludes its final hour,” the song goes on to say. Life is really about Love, not our own might or power, which are in fact part of our frailty. Such a cataclysmic event of biblical proportions should point us in the right direction.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The White Coat

The way we dress does make a difference. Last summer when I went back to work, I bought a new white lab type coat and had my name and title stitched beneath the lapel one the left side under the hospital logo. I thought it would be appropriate for my new non-patient care role, and besides, it is really cold in the office where I spend a lot of time. But I have noticed that it must make me look pretty important by the respect the jacket is given. When I stop at the grocery store on the way home, people defer to me. Cars wait patiently while I cross the street. I don’t know who they think I am, but I am the same regular person who gets no special treatment when I go to the store in my jeans and sweatshirt. What a lab coat can do to get a little respect.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

At the opening of an exhibit

Last summer during my sabbatical/retirement, I joined the Greenville Museum of Art, and I am glad I did. As a result, there have been several fun things I have been able to do, but I especially enjoyed this evening, the reception for the opening of Mary Whyte's exhibit Working South. There were forty or fifty marvelous watercolors of "vanishing blue-collar professions from across ten states in the American South." Making it even more interesting was the presence of several of her subjects. Here is the only photo I took, this sweet woman who was a celebrity tonight as she stood under her picture signing her page in the Working South book.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hard to figure

At my hospital and I suppose it is the same as any hospital, I see discharged patients being picked up in dilapidated old cars that rumble and spurt, and I pray that they will make it home safely. The Bible said the poor will always be with us, and I think that over the last fifty years someone somewhere saw a way to capitalize on them via “healthcare.” They are the ones who know less about most things including how to take care of themselves, and as a result, have more problems that are turned over to doctors and nurses, people like me, the many of us who benefit from the impoverished. Sometimes I see smug faces on the well dressed employees - I imagine I have had many a similar expression myself - that say we know more than they do and are glad not to be on the consuming end of medicine. Of course any of us is susceptible to illness, but it does seem that the unfortunate have more than their share of medical and mental misfortune. The economics of it is over my head, but I think there must be a circuitous pattern that centers around state and federal funding that causes all of us to use each other. It is financially and socially complicated.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What would Mama say?

Sometimes I wonder what my grandmother would think if she were here to see what makes the news now. Fighting and turmoil overseas have always been a constant, but what about the rest? I think she would be surprised to see that smoking has become the banned evil that it is. I think she would be shocked to find that what was once shame is now commonplace, and that a political figure would be criticized for suggesting that a man and woman be married before having a baby. Religion and religions managed to stay out of the news when she was around because - perhaps - people lived by a common, acceptable moral code. Now that morality is deemed unpopular by much of the news sources and the culture. I think Muslims hardly ever made the news back then, but that has changed. She would recognize how many freedoms we have lost by the news that reflects laws that probably were not in place fifty years ago. I think she would be disappointed to learn that we cannot always trust our elected officials and appalled by the whining of the various “special interest” groups as her generation just bucked up and kept going. What I observe is what is reported as news would not have been news fifty years ago.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A little improvement

I blame it on the feng shui. A few weeks ago when I rearranged my little room/studio to accommodate my new interest in watercolors, I moved my computer station to a spot that I thought would be OK but in fact was awkward and uninviting. Yesterday as I was asking myself why I couldn’t find a thing to blog about, I looked around and - aha!

I know nothing but the name of that ancient practice of decorating, but my eyes were opened to the problem. As a result of the disjointed space I had given to my computer, focusing had definitely become difficult, and just maybe the energy wasn’t good in the room. After a trip to Costco today where I got a perfect little table, and then moving and rearranging, I have a happier place to write and do computer stuff. Better feng shui?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A little peeve

I am plagued with quite a few pet peeves. I don't dwell on them but they can be temporarily aggravating. This afternoon I was grinding my teeth over one while at the grocery store. I pushed my loaded cart toward the young cashier and started placing my things on the conveyor belt, which started rolling with item number three. Sometimes I bring bags, today I had not, but I am not one who loves to collect those aggravating, sticky, billowy plastic bags. I said to the bagger standing at the end, ready to stuff whatever came his way into one, that I do not want my large already bagged things in another bag, and I do not want a lot of bags. At Whole Foods they would have gotten it, but not this young fellow at this mainstream place. Of course that sort of thing is hard for this shopper to oversee as I was having to empty a cart and hand over my special "discount" card and prepare to pay. I managed to grab the bag of cat food and put back in my cart for carry-out before he over-wrapped it in a useless bag, and I swiped the big soft container of napkins and did the same. When I got home and unpacked, there were six bananas as sole occupants of one bag, two small containers of hummus in another - bags coming out my ears! When will they listen! When will I ever learn to plan ahead!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Notes on this first day of March

Bradford pears and forsythia are already in bloom, and spikes of green that promise tulips and daffodils are pushing upward in the red clay. We are close to wrapping up this winter.

If I had some nursing students, the sitcom actor (previously a handsome movie star) who has been in the news lately would provide me with a good example of addiction and also mania.

In the book I am reading that is set in the 1880s, the well bred and talented female character from New England travels around the West with her engineer husband. She writes about her experiences, sketches what she sees, and then sends everything home where it is published. What would a fresh eye find sketchworthy and interesting here in my "normal" town?

There was a time when I could find no shoes to fit my big feet, but then things started changing. Now, if I go at the beginning of the season, I will usually find some I love and be a happy girl, like today.

I like this saying I read: "All feedback is good feedback."