For crying out loud in a bucket!

Frances and Bernie Underwood 1923, according to the note on the back of the photo. My mom at five years old with her first brother.

I woke up with a compelling need to find this photo and connect with the power and hope in those two round faces shining out from ninety-five years ago somewhere in Philadelphia.

I also woke up with Mom’s voice in my head: For crying out loud in a bucket! She did not swear, but this phrase fit the bill for her when a little something else was called for.

Sunday’s reading, Isaiah’s voice crying out in the desert, has also come to mind.

I like to think that Mom and Bernie reconnected happily in heaven after years of estrangement. I like to think Mom and I will reconnect some day on a better note. I hope for healing of the many disconnects and distances that have happened in our family, anybody else’s family, and the larger family of the world.

I’m not doing a good job of finding a way to express how this is all impacting me this morning, but I think Isaiah has it covered (40,6-8)

A voice says, “Cry out!”
I answer, “what shall I cry out?”
“All mankind is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
The word of our God stands forever.”

Sharing a Meal

Living alone, it is easy to fall into a habit of grabbing the nearest, quickest food item in the kitchen, maybe eat it over the stove or on the way out to the car. I find myself guilty of this habit more often than I like to admit. I tell myself its just fuel and that is what is important.

But food and meals offer more than fuel, and this morning I took the time to remember that.

A quick browse through a cookbook reminded me of the simplicity of baking an egg in a ramekin. I didn’t have the ingredients in the recipe on the page but checked the fridge for possibilities.

A few single pieces of leftover produce presented themselves, and soon I was slicing off a bit of zucchini, onion, bell pepper, and tomato. A quick sauté in a bit of olive oil and into the ramekin.

breakfast1

The act of chopping vegetables always takes me to warm places in my memory of certain occasions of preparing meals for or with friends or family. The colors on the cutting board mingle and make me smile. The sizzle and aroma in the frying pan build the anticipation of a good meal.

I broke an egg over the prepared veggies, dolloped a spoonful of half-and-half over that and sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top,

It took ten minutes to bake in the oven. In barely more time than it would take to toast a piece of bread and slap some peanut butter on it, I sat down to an inviting feast.

Good morning!

I just ran a marathon through an obstacle course, and I’m still in my pajamas.

Noon will arrive in five minutes, and as I have mentioned in the title, I am still in my pajamas.

I did not plan it this way.

In the first place, I didn’t wake up until eight thirty, which is late for me. I have a list of things I wanted to accomplish today. Still want to. But I was trying to find my way to my blog page to accomplish my first desired task of the day

Instead, I got caught up in a crazed mob of news items, emails, emails about Facebook postings, videos that I tried to pass by but actually caught my interest, Instagrams I actually wanted to see from my out-of-state daughter. I had an email with a grammar test I had to stop and take and then had to get involved with commenting in the ensuing virtual conversation.

In short, I am exhausted before even getting started.

It didn’t help that a thunderstorm was in progress when I awoke, making it difficult for me to extract myself from my pillows and blankets. It has tapered off now, and I have opened the back door to allow some of the fresh air in. Hopefully, this will help me relax and focus.

So now I had to stop in order to take a picture through my back door. I want to share my view of the beckoning day. The stained glass monk hanging on the glass portion of my door is an unplanned but serendipitous expression of the peace I would like to experience at this moment in place of the frustration and exhaustion.

Just taking the photo and getting it where I wanted it was a time-consuming challenge for me. I have to face the fact that some of this is not the fault of the technology I try to manage in my life. There is also the aging factor as well as a lifelong battle with procrastination.

Be that as it may, it is now past one o’clock. Whatever it was that I originally planned to write about has flown from my thoughts. I am going to get dressed now. And take a few deep breaths. And re-start my day.

pink as my rosiest dreams

Opening up the blinds to find even a small and fleeting streak of pink in the sky stops me in my tracks every single time. This morning I stepped out into the chilly autumn morning in my robe and slippers to take a picture–try to hold onto it. I have opened the back door, which is glass on the top pane and screen on the bottom, to let some more of that morning in. Already, the  palette has given way mostly to lavender and periwinkle since I snapped the picture, but the quivering morning stillness is still there.

It speaks to me. Tells me I am not alone. Tells me this is a new beginning, the gift of a morning. The evening sky stops me, too, with a feeling of comfort. Somehow the glow of pastels settling back on top of whatever kind of day I have had offers a –

promise that all will be well

See, the home of God is among mortals. Revelation 21:3b (cited on today’s page of Forward Day by Day)

 

Honestly, a Talking Llama?

Yes, I was confronted by a talking, smart-ass llama when I logged onto my bank this morning. Who are these people in marketing these days?

What demographic survey told those marketers that a photo-shopped llama dressed in a pseudo-suit and made to appear as if it is speaking sarcastic one-liners was just the right representative to sell bank products?

There does seem to be a current trend toward using an annoying,  slightly high-pitched, cloyingly ironic male voice in commercial ads. Did llamas test positive with baby boomers, so therefore mixing a dromedary with that wise-guy was just the right touch?

Llamas did figure in the prediction under my senior picture in our 1965 high school yearbook, now that I think about it.  Something like “At the last minute she abandoned her convent plans and is now happily raising llamas in the Andes.”

Not a bad guess, all things considered. Look at me now, writing about llamas in Arkansas, of all places.

The world gets stranger all the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise and Shine

But look: the valleys shine with promises,

And every burning morning is a prophesy of

Christ

Coming to raise and vindicate

Even our sorry flesh.

—-Thomas Merton

I woke up at 7:30 feeling as if I had risen from the dead, and looked outside to find an astonishing golden morning out there.  I followed an impulse to pick up Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours to read the entry for Friday, Dawn. The above quotation was the opening verse.

So I stopped reading and jumped into the next room for my laptop. I had to plow through a clamoring mob of media images and headlines demanding my attention before I arrived at the blank page to start writing. I have to do something about the entryway to my writing space.

By the time I messed around for 30 minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t get the quotation to single space (without success), my outlook and mood changed somewhat.

It is already after 9:00.

I seem to be hyper-aware of time passing.  The main theme of my writings, back when I was anticipating my approaching retirement, was that I would have my own time. What I have come to learn is that I am just as much, if not more, of a demanding task-master than any previous boss.

The ways in which I have allowed my time to be usurped and frittered over the past seven years are legion, and there is no point in dwelling on the past. This is a new morning.

As was yesterday morning.

In my defense, I had not slept well the night before. I was still awake past 3:30 when I finally got up and had a cup of blueberry tea, but was up at 7:00 anyway. I had told myself I could take a nap later, but I didn’t do it.

I made myself a typically over-loaded to-do list, only wasted about 30 minutes on the Lumosity games, and headed into my day.

The things on my list I did accomplish: Go to library to print submissions for critique group; grocery store; update checkbook & pay bill; work on review; work on critiques; yoga session (gave out after one pose).

Things not accomplished: Blogging; work on story; crochet project; download and start reading book for VP group; publisher search; nap.

I burned out and wanted to go to bed by 5:30, which was too late for a nap and too early for bedtime. So I watched about half the PBS News Hour while I ate dinner, then killed time trying to concentrate on various distractions until the more suitable time of 8:00 arrived and I fell into bed.

But look: the valleys shine with promise.

No long lists this morning. Another cup of coffee, get dressed, and go take a walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Retirement Project Begin (albeit seven years late)

It does seem auspicious that today turns out to be the exact anniversary of my first attempt at starting this blog. Originally, I needed to blow off steam after a series of life changes. I have returned to this medium to give myself a palpable touchstone. I am no longer blowing off steam, but since I quit my so-called retirement job at Goodwill about a month ago, I have been challenged to get myself on the track with my real goals.

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That was this morning, and now it is coming up to eight in the evening, so now it is time for me to reckon with what I have actually accomplished today.

In keeping with my need to stay on track, I spent some of my morning playing Lumosity brain games. One I am particularly obsessed with is called Train of Thought. Engines chug down a maze of tracks, and the object is to get  each colored engine into its matching station. It is necessary to switch the direction of the tracks to direct the engines as they keep coming. Not a lot different from Lucy and Ethel running the conveyor belt at the chocolate factory.

As long as I stopped after one set of games and only a few re-plays of the train game, I get to count this as doing something constructive as opposed to wasting my precious time.

I spent most of the day reading and finished the book I am to review. I can’t share anything about the book here. I intend to submit the review tomorrow. The object is to get established enough to get paid for my efforts. I already submitted one review. They said they liked it, but I didn’t have enough posts on their site to qualify to get paid yet. So I accepted one more non-paying review. I believe I have enough points now.

I just thought I would try out the on-line book review gig to see if a person can actually get paid as they claim. An experiment. I also need some computer time just to get better at navigating the technology.

The world of blogs, Submittable, on-line journals and mags, etc., is staggering to my less-than-supple mind. I need to at least make an effort with the technology.

My other efforts at functioning today included baking some chêbê (a gluten-free Brazilian bread made with tapioca flour and cheese). That was such a treat, I had to stop my typing and warm a slice and eat it right now.

Also did a little housework and attended to some random paperwork in my “Attention” folder.

I didn’t actually get to working on the short story my group critiqued last Saturday. I am fortunately not lined up to submit this week. This particular piece was really more of an idea that I had not fully formed yet. If I didn’t realize that, my truly honest and exacting writer friends certainly did.

I did give some thought to that would-be story today. I think I want to try creating it as a flash fiction piece. I put in some time researching the craft of flash fiction today. I want to see if I am up to the challenge.

So, let’s see where this goes this time.

Trust in the Lord!