Saturday, June 30, 2007

Images Of Endicott

Last night when I came to the library to write, I forgot the power cord to my computer (I had enough battery to do last night's short entry) and I forgot the card reader. SO here are yesterday's pictures and a few from this morning. I keep hoping for some sunrise pictures over the ocean but sunrise happens really early on the east coast! We have Morning Prayer at 6:30 am and the sun is already alive, awake, alert, and enthusiastic (as Erin says). Needless to say, I am doing well to alive and dressed decently when I meet my group for prayer. I ll have one last chance for sunrise pictures tomorrow.

Here is my spot in the cyber cafe that is in the basement of the library. I am becoming fond of this spot. There has never been anyone else here with me. Each table has good light and space as well as outlets for power and phone cord if you don't have a wireless connection. The only thing missing is the coffee. During the school year, a coffee bar is open in this space.

Alissa, Patrice, and BK, a piece of each of you made a trip to the beach last night. Though it had been 95 degrees on Thursday, yesterday dropped to the 70's; by last evening it was chilly down by the water, so much so that I had to wear long sleeves and socks for the first time since arriving in Beverly. The only pair of real socks I brought are my Seeing Stars (I hope that is the right name) designed by Alissa and knit by BK from yarn dyed by Patrice. Thanks guys!
Just in case you are wondering, I did do a little work on these here rocks last night. I knit the first side of the Peace Box for the next issue of Spirit of Knitting.

Here are some more Images of Endicott.

The beach as the sun is going down.

The same spot the next morning.

A rocky path to a sandy beach.

The smooth sands.

The Endicott fountain in daylight.

The Ghost of Final Exams Past.

A view from central campus.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bring Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Breast

There are not many things in my life that I have undertaken with absolute certainty. I am not a risk taker, but not many choices we make in life are risk free or absolute certainties. We go to college intending to be one thing; we do our best to accomplish that goal, though often we find ourselves down the road doing something completely different. We make commitments to partners hoping it will be for a lifetime , but that is not for certain. And so on . . .

The only decision that I have made in my life that I can say, with absolute certainty, I was 100% sure of, was my decision to lead my life as a Franciscan. The example that Brother Francis gives me is everything that I need in this life. Francis was a real person who had real human emotions and made real human mistakes. But ultimately, his love for all of creation and his commitment to God set him apart. I see glimpses of myself in almost every story from Francis' life - from the rebellious teenager singing and partying in the streets of Assisi to the naked man who lay dying on the dirt floor of a cave. His was a life marked by love, humility, and joy It is a life, that through the grace of God, I am striving to follow.

The brothers who were speaking on the Franciscan source documents concluded their presentation this morning. They gave an insightful discussion about how to read the Franciscan Rule of 1223 in 2007. Their suggestions are really applicable to reading almost any historical document (like the Bible) whose words are to be followed in modern times. For example, the original Franciscan rule says that no friar shall ride a horse. Why are horses forbidden?, you ask. Does that mean that none of us can ride a horse? Absolutely not. One must ask oneself why horses were off limits in 1223. The answer is because they were a sign of violence and wealth. So horses themselves are not a problem, but to Francis, violence and wealth were. For us reading, interpreting, and attempting to follow the spirit of this rule, it is necessary to ask ourselves, "What in our society represents violence and wealth?" However you answer this question determines what you insert in place of "horse" in this section of the rule. We all decided that Hummers take this place of horses in 2007. But, you should answer the question for yourselves.

The other part of today's discussion centered on the miracles of St. Francis. Recording and verification of miracles are necessary for a saint to be canonized. I must admit, that I have not done much reading on the miracles that Francis performed. I discovered today that this is probably a good thing. Had I known about the miracle I am about to tell you about, I might have had to reconsider my belief that my decision to take vows in TSSF was without any feeling of uncertainty.

There was an 80 year old woman. She had the mind of an 80 year old, the body of an 80 year old, and the family of an 80 year old. As the story goes, this woman's doughier gave birth to a son. The infant refused to nurse. Over a period of several days, the baby grew weaker and weaker. Being pained by the demise of her grandson, the elderly woman took over the care of the baby. She prayed to Francis that health be restored to the ailing child. The grandmother then placed the baby at her own breast. Almost instantly, her breasts were filled with milk and the child began to nurse. According to the story, some men were mocking the old lady; she turned and aimed her milk-filled breast at them and soaked them all. The infant returned to health.

I am not sure I want Francis in my life if there is any way in the world that I could be lactating at age 80! I did not even breast feed my own children. What a story. I have never considered a milk-filled breast as a weapon, (maybe breasts should be used in place of horses above) but it seems to have worked for grandma.

I suppose that if God called me to feed the hungry and this were the way to do it, I would do so. Do you think God provides those pads that go in your bra? Do you think that those old lady boobs perked up? I should not worry about these things; I have 35 years before this scenario is a possibility. (The 80 years old is the important part, right?)

I come to you humbly Brother Francis asking that you please, please, please, find another way for me.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Friends And Friars

This is the Endicott College library where I find myself tonight. It is a rather strange experience. There are no students on campus, only conference attendees, but the library is open until midnight. They have a very nice cyber cafe in the basement. So, here I sit, the only one in the building I think. None of our group is here because we are supposed to be saying Compline but I am skipping.

Convocation is going well. The friars speaking on the revised collection of early Franciscans source documents are entertaining and quite knowledgeable. Tonight I just needed a break. I opted for a walk along the waterfront instead of tonight's session. I have also played keyboard for every Office since I have been here (four each day) and I am tired. I had hoped to tale more pictures than I have but time has not allowed it. I could not miss this afternoon's discussion on "Safe Communities" as all fellowship conveners are required to complete this course. You would think that people could get it through their heads that we keep our hands to ourselves. The ONLY positive thing to come out of this session was that I have now fulfilled my requirement. Yeah!

After dinner, a few of us headed to the water. This is the view directly across the street from campus.

Our fellowship co-convener, Francesca, Our suite mate Lynn from North Carolina and Peter Benjamin, the son of another of our fellowship members walked together to the water front.

This is me and Francesca with our first order brother Clarke, who too felt called to go missing from this evening's session.

Graffiti Massachusetts style.

The weather today was nice, but the sunset was nothing spectacular. The last photo I took tonight was of a fountain in the center of campus. I must admit that all of the pictures that I will post while away are straight out of the camera because Photoshop on my laptop is not working properly. So, please forgive the unedited photos.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In Boston Against All Odds

It seems like a minor miracle, but I made it to Boston, actually Beverly, Massachusetts yesterday for the Provincial Convocation of Third Order Franciscans. Though the trip has been planned for quite a while getting ready on Monday was a series of "unfortunate events."

I had to teach in the middle of the day. This was not a big deal except that my student got hung up at work and did not make it for his lesson. He did try to call me early in the day to let me know he was going to be absent, but I had left my cell phone at home. Except for the fact that I needed some yarn from the yarn shop to bring with me on this trip, it would have been an unnecessary trip to Dallas.

On the way home from school I stopped at the bank to get cash for myself and to leave with BK and the girls. I placed my withdrawal slip in the tube expecting the miracle of money to return. Instead, the teller said, "I am sorry. We cannot process any transactions because our computers just went down." Hmm. I wonder how far I can get on $20? Rather than make a trip to the bank later, we decided to stop on the way to the airport Tuesday morning. This was not a big deal: it just meant we had to leave a few minutes early.

We went to the grocery store on the way home figuring that a home-cooked meal would be nice since there have been so few of those lately because of everyone being involved in the production of The Nerd. We had just finished eating dinner and loading the dishwasher when the daily thunderstorm hit. In a flash of lightening, our power was gone. There was still daylight so seeing to pack was not a huge issue, but the wet load of laundry in the dryer was. I did as much as I could before it got too dark to see. Just as the last hint of daylight faded, the power returned. It was off for about two hours. Once the lights were on, I scrambled to finish packing because the heavens were still rumbling and I feared another round of outage.

All went well with the packing and I got to bed at a reasonable hour only to rise at 5:45, an unreasonable hour by my summer standards. I finished the last few items of packing, which included a batch of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that Brooke made. Bk picked me up at 7:15; we headed to the bank and then the airport. Fortunately the bank was back in business. I was supposed to meet two friends from Austin at the airport and then we were to travel to Boston together. As I approached the airport, I received a call from them saying that they were going going to be late departing from Austin so they would not make the connection to Boston. So, I ended up travelling alone. Once at the airport, my trip went forward with no problems. I was even able to get dinner once arriving at Endicotvt College even though I did not get here until after the posted serving hours.

Things did not work out so well for the group from Austin. They were re booked on a 1:40 flight. I received a text message, while my phone was off during the flight, saying that they had boarded. For a brief moment, I thought all was well. Then I got a call saying that they had indeed boarded, but had been sitting on the runway for two hours and had no idea when, or if, they would leave Dallas. As more storms approached, it looked less and less likely that they would depart. Then another miracle - they were rerouted and took off, almost five hours late, in a slight window of clear weather.

I went to bed in the 90 degree airless room listening to my Ipod. (I considered listening to Christmas carols in an effort to convince myself that it was not miserably hot here.) You would think that being literally across the street, it would not be so hot. Wrong! Anyway, the Austin gang stumbled in about midnight having had no lunch or dinner and been travelling for 18 hours. We had a brief chat and settled in for the night knowing that we had to rise in time for morning prayer at 6:30.

On to Day 2 in Beverly, Mass.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy New Year!

Okay, Okay. I know it is not January 1st, so it can't be a real new year, but according to my calendar, it is a new year. My life works best around an academic calendar and academic calendars run from July through June. Because the first of July is next Sunday, my new calendar started today. I finally bought "next year's calendar" a few weeks ago. You would not think it that big a deal to go buy a calendar, but a calendar is a personal thing. It has to be just right. Simple, right? Not really.

Over the years, I have had every size and every style of calendar - daily, weekly, monthly, compact, junior, full-sized. Like with most things, they all have positives and drawbacks. I should have bought this year's calendar long before I did but I could not decide what I wanted.

Last year I had a weekly compact calendar. It did the trick but it was the same size (and color) as my checkbook. Every time I reached for it, I grabbed the checkbook instead. It was also hard sometimes to see the big picture because it did not show the whole month except in a little tiny block at the top of the page. It also had no extra pages for notes. Because I waited so long to buy the new one, I have engagements for July and beyond scribbled in less than intuitive places throughout.

I have tried all the fancy organizer systems that are supposed to make your life run smoothly. I like them, but I find that I don't use or need all of their "features". I just need a place to write down where I am supposed to be and when. The writing down part creates its own set of problems. If the calendar is too small, then there is not enough room to write all of the necessary information. Then there are the calendars that have the times already preprinted. What if my appointment is at 10:15? The printed times are 10:00 and 10:30. Some of them have quarter hours printed. The lines are even smaller on these. What about 10:35 or 10:47? My point here is that I do not want any times preprinted. I can write the time myself. And, if I actually write the numbers, I am more likely to remember the information.

I like weekly calendars. I do not have so many obligations most days that I need a calendar with a page for every day. Plus, this makes them much thicker and heavier. I don't want that either. I would love it if the weekly version also had a full page view of the month.

What size do I want? I think I want a bigger calendar than I had last year. I don't really want a full sized page though because it is too big to fit in my bag so I never have it when I need it. Maybe I should go back to the junior (half-sized) pages. Decisions. Decisions.

The first few times I went looking to buy my calendar, nothing seemed to fit the bill. I kept putting it off. Finally came the point of no return. I had to make a decision. I figured I would "just settle" for something. I know. all of you are saying what is the big deal about buying a calendar. This is one of those places where my perfectionism plays hard. I want the perfect calendar.

I think that the Office Supply Store gods heard my plight and responded. I ran in to Staples one Sunday afternoon for something completely unrelated. There, right in the center aisle was the perfect calendar for me. It is a weekly/monthly/calendar, has a movable bookmark to indicate the current week, has phone and address pages, expanded notes section, and a pocket in the back cover. There are no times marked on the days. It is slightly smaller than full page. It has a cheerful striped cover and at the top of every week is a readable monthly calendar for the previous, current and next month. And, best of all, it was only $14.95. What more could a girl want? Okay, what more could a girl want IN A CALENDAR!

I really am thrilled by the simple things in life. So, now I will go relocate all of those stray dates to their permanent home. For another year, I will be organized. The only problem with using an academic calendar is that you can't take advantage of the 50% off sales on calendars that take place in January. Oh well, I don't know what I would do with a new calendar in January. I have enough trouble remembering to change the year when I write checks. Please don't confuse me further by giving me a new calendar too!

Again I say, Happy New Year!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Where Is My Blankie?: Part II

My dog definitely needs her blankie to sleep. Friday night, as we were all getting ready for bed, I told her to go get her blankie. To her crate she ran and returned to the side of my bed with her tail wagging and her blankie in her mouth. I lifted them both up on the bed and thus began a good night's sleep! We ALL slept in on Saturday morning. Once we were all coherent, BK and I set out to make the dog another blanket (or two). Because she is so small, we were able to make her two blankets out of the same amount of fabric that it takes to make one for Adidas.

Out comes the sewing machine, the scissors, and a ruler. In relatively little time, the blankets were made. Then the fun began.

"If that mutt thinks that she is getting this blanket, she has another thing coming to her. Doesn't she know that possession is 9/10's of the law?"

"I knew I could get that fur ball off of my blanket if I pitched my bark just right."

"I don't want the blanket nearly as much as I want to annoy the canine."

"It's mine, it's mine, it's mine!"

"Okay you two, I am sick of your bickering. I am going to settle this once and for all. It's mine and I am bigger than both of you!"

"Fine. You're the baby; you always get your way. I didn't really want a flowery blanket anyway. What kind of pansy do you think I am?"

And to all a good night.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Where Is My Blankie?

I am long past the days of having the toddler who won't go to bed without "the" stuffed animal or blanket. Really, neither of my kids were so attached to such a thing that they could not function without it. Er in did have a blanket that she was fond of but not obsessive about. It was a blanket that I knitted out of rose colored Sugar and Cream cotton. It was intended to be a shower gift for my college roommate's third child. When I got it off the needles, Erin, about six months old at the time, grabbed it and rolled yourself up in it. I must confess, it did not make it to the intended baby. I think I sent a book or something.

Erin was happy with this blanket for quite a while. When she was six, we were taking a trip to Europe. I was leaving a week before Mike and the girls. So, I packed the girls' things before I left. No telling what would have emerged from the suitcase in France if I had left the packing to Daddy! I said to Erin, "Do you want me to pack your blanket now or will you remember to pack it before you leave?" She decided that she did not want to take it at all because she might "Leave it in a strange hotel somewhere." Not bad logic for a six year old. The consolation was that BK said that she would knit her a new blanket during the week before she got there. That is a whole other story. The deal is, the blanket was a popular item. I think that she still has "the Europe blanket." However, we do not have to be certain of its whereabouts each night at bedtime. It probably resides under her bed with . . .never mind, I think I won't go there.

So, the past two nights I have gotten little to no sleep because Harley (the dog) has not wanted to sleep. When she is on the bed she wants down and when she is on the floor she wants up. I have spent two nights lifting her up and down like a 13 pound dumbbell. I am not sure what her deal is.

I did notice that each morning when I got up, she had dragged her blankie from her crate (which she only spends time in when we are gone) to the side of the bed. This morning, at 6:30, when I realized it was there, I picked her and it up and put them both in bed. She slept until the alarm went off an hour or so later.

Harley has had this blanket since the day we got her and it has always been in her crate or on the couch when she watches TV with the girls. I did send it to the vet with her when she was boarded a few weeks ago, but this fascination with it has just started. Tonight when I go to bed, I will start with the blanket in bed. I hope this makes for a better night's sleep!

I also decided that if she was going to be a blanket baby, she needed to have more than one so that it can occasionally make its way to the wash. "The Blankie" is a fringed polar fleece blanket. Today, while at Joann Fabrics looking at knitting books that were 40% off, I noticed that the fleece was also on sale. I bought a yard each of two colors to make her another blanket. I am not sure when I will get this done. Hopefully I will have an hour or so this weekend to make it.

In the line at Joann's, I was behind a woman who was buying a whole bunch of fabric to make receiving blankets for the babies at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. We make knitted blankets and layettes for these babies, 85% of whom are born into families living at or below the poverty level. When it came my turn to have my fabric cut, the salesperson asked me if I too was making blankets for Parkland. "Ah, no. I am making a blanket for . . my . . .dog." 'What king of dog is it?!", she said expecting some fancy breed or famous name or something other than what I said - 'Brown." 'Brown?", she questioned. "Yeah she is a little brown mutt that we rescued." 'Well, I guess she is a lucky . . .brown . . .dog.", was the best response the woman could muster.

I did feel a little silly after hearing that the woman in front of me was doing good work for babies in need. Well, I was doing something for someone in need as well. It may be a little (or a lot) selfish, but I am a person in need . . .in need of a good night's sleep. If this can be accomplished by making the dog a blankie, I am game. I hope it works.

Does anyone know how long it takes a dog to grow out of the blankie stage?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Do What I Do

I love to watch the twists and turns that life takes - especially the funny ones. Before I share my latest observation with you though, it is necessary to begin with a short prelude.

I am not a person who likes to "toot my own horn". No pun intended considering I am a musician. I have a hard time writing resumes, telling about myself in those "group bonding" situations, writing bios for theatre programs - anything that involves trying to make myself look good, or interesting, or qualified. I love to respond to the statement, "Tell me about yourself." by saying, "I am what I am and I do what I do." This puts the burden of someone getting to know me on them rather than on me. Passing the buck; I love it.

Back to this week's twists and turns. On Sunday evening a local photographer who donates his time and expertise was to come and take head shots for the lobby display for The Nerd. He failed to show up. I was asked to do the pictures. I have done many of the action shots for DCT productions, but never the head shots. To be honest, I do not ;like to take this kind of picture. I much prefer candid photography. Nonetheless, the pictures were needed so I took them. They were not bad considering I have no real experience or affinity for photographing heads. The production staff was pleased with the results. I guess that is what is important. They were, however, upset that the original photographer had been given a credit, as well as free advertising, in the playbill. This made me laugh because now he is being credited with the work of an amateur. That will teach him to blow off a gig!

Tonight, three days after the original picture taking session, the director decided that she wanted a group shot of the crew after all. She asked if I would take it; I gladly said yes. The irony of this is that I have one of the bigger crew jobs for this show, prop mistress, and I am not in the crew shot because I was taking it. I know; I could have used the delay feature on my camera but that was too much trouble tonight. The deal is that the only reason this picture was even necessary is because there was an empty space in the lobby display. It had nothing to do with wanting to have a picture of the crew.

So, I have done all of the photography for which someone else is credited. And, I have been a big part of the crew but am not part of the picture. I have melded into the background. Believe it or not, this is the way I like it. I don't feel slighted in any way. In fact, as I said earlier, it makes me laugh and laughing is good.

So as we move toward opening night on Friday, I will continue to lurk backstage in my all black, setting props, making food, covering actors in cottage cheese (you have to see the shoe), cleaning up messes, and remaining happily in the shadows.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Contentment Or Apathy

When Erin was in second grade, we taught a unit on folktales to her class. This project culminated in reading Katherine Patterson's The King's Equal. After reading the book, we turned the story into a dramatic presentation. The wisdom of this story knows no boundaries.

Here is a brief synopsis:
"A selfish, conceited prince is tormented by the dying words of his wise father, the benevolent king: "You will not wear my crown until the day you marry a woman who is your equal in beauty, intelligence and wealth." Raphael's vanity prevents him from finding such a bride until an unknown maiden appears at the palace. Sent by a mysterious talking wolf, Rosamund dazzles Raphael with her beauty, her intelligence (she is the first who recognizes his loneliness) and her wealth ("There is nothing I desire that I do not already possess"). However, she refuses his proposal of marriage, pointing out that, by his own admission, she is more than equal to him; his task is to earn her love."

Lately I have been haunted by Rosamund's description of wealth. I think that it is beneficial to have a heart to heart with yourself every now and then and ask the question, "What do I want right now that I do not have?" Interestingly, I don't think that this is a context where the word need can be substituted for want. I suspect that at any given point in life there is always something we need (a root canal, an oil change, to lose a few pounds, a new hair style), but are these things we want? More often than not, an intense want is much more damaging to our soul than an equal need. I recognize that maybe my perspective here is biased by the fact that I believe that God will provide for all of our needs. Wants, at best, are open to negotiation.

My point here is that if you find yourself wanting nothing, is that a sign of apathy or great wealth? My entire life has been a series of setting and meeting, and setting more and achieving more goals. This, for sure, is a means to keeping oneself on the move, but at what cost? When you are constantly reaching for something more, are you ever really aware of what you already have? And, if having "it" is not enough, why did you want it in the first place?

Life is a journey. None of us is stationary. We are constantly moving, constantly changing. Do we need to be constantly acquiring? There is a cliche that says, "he who dies with the most toys wins." Wins what? Maybe he who dies with the one toy that he has truly enjoyed wins. One who understands simplicity, in my book, is the winner. Think about it for a minute (or more if necessary), if you could only have one "toy", what would it be?

I would have to answer this question with "my camera". Pictures can tell the story of our lives. They can also tell the story of the lives we wish we had. They allow us to preserve, assuming we are watching in the first place, all the wonderful moments in this life. From these pictures, thoughts and words flow. When all of these things converge, the story of our self emerges. To reveal our true self and to allow this self to live the life it is destined to live should be our primary goal.

Another reason that i have chosen to answer the above question with "my camera" is that this is a place where my rampant perfectionism does not reveal its ugly head as often as in other places. I want to take good pictures, but good is relative. In many instances, the picture I thought I was taking was not the picture I took. This is God revealing to me what I should be looking for in the world. Maybe the camera lens is a tangible eye of God.

I would love it if those of you who lurk out there would share your "toy" with us by commenting.

I have strayed from the point I thought I was making here. Back to the question of apathy verses contentment. Right now I am at a point where there is nothing I really want. This creates a great sense of peace in me. I think it is peace. I don't think that I am apathetic, but because the question has surfaced, I guess I need to consider it. And so I will, I'll let you know what I figure out.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Toys R Not Us

I remeber the first time I stepped foot into a Toys "R" Us store. It was not when I was a child but when I was pregnant with offspring No. 1. Once I had passed the point in the pregnancy where all I did for weeks was sleep and puke, it became obvious that the kid was definetly staying with us and that we had better do something like buy a crib and a few of the other things that a baby requires. (They do not need all the crap that the stores make you think that they do!) We took a trip to Toys "R" Us.

The store was filled with small children screaming because their mommy would not buy them the 10,000 piece Lego set, the kid negotiating for the remote control car for which he was $50.00 short (assuring dad that he would mow the lawn all summer long, "I promise"), and all the pregnant women who looked like they needed to make a quick dash to either the restroom or the hospital. As I stood staring at cribs, strollers, and high chairs, I remeber looking forward to the time when I would be able to shop for real toys.

I was surprised by how little time cildren actually spend playing with toys that come from the toy store. There was the Christmas that Brooke wanted a Tonka fire truck and a Lite Brite, the one where Erin wanted the Little Tykes kitchen, and the year they both wanted pogo sticks. Then there was the summer that Brooke was fascinated with toy horses. She had the stable and a pasture full of horses but no one to ride them. On a summer afternoon we headed to Toys "R" Us to look for an appropriate rider for the horses. We looked with the horse stuff - there were dolls that were too big and dolls that were too small. Unlike with Goldilocks, there was none that was "just right". With a frustrated five year old at my side, I suggested something that I never thought would come out of my mouth, "What about a Barbie? (This still makes me cringe.) At the top of her lungs Brooke screamed, "Barbie won't work; she won't spread her legs!" Shhh. Don't tell Ken. Oh wait, he was more interested in G.I. Joe. Anyway, let's just say that the horses in Brooke's pasture remained free of a rider. I'm not sure we went to this store more than once or twice after this - not because we were banned, but because the girls quickly outgrew these types of toys. They moved on to books, and books, and more books. They also liked (and still do) any type of puzzles, art supplies, and the dreaded video games. The point to all of this is that I have not been to Toys "R" Us in eight or ten years.

One of the props that I am still missing for the show is Cornish game hens. For some reason, Hobby Lobby does not have plastic ones in their section of fake food with which to decorate. Go figure. On the way home from church this morning, I had the bright idea to stop at the dreaded toy store. Surely with all of the play kitchens and dishes they must have a realistic looking plastic game hen. Imagine my surprise when I failed at this mission. I did, however, make some observations while shopping the fake food aisle.
  • Green plastic must be rare. In an entire row of plastic food, the only vegetable was an ear of corn.
  • Not only does that fast food industry control children's eating habits, it has also infiltrated their playing habits. You can now buy boxes of plastic food to make a Pizza Hut pizza, the complete McDonald's menu right down to the chocolate shake, and a Subway sandwich. (I stand corrected on the green plastic. The Subway box did contain a piece of iceberg lettuce. Whew! I am relieved.)
  • The shelves did not have many pots and pans, rolling pins, wooden spoons, cooking utensils, but they did have a toy microwave to reheat your leftover (Pizza Hut) pizza. I guess this is preparing those toddlers for college.
  • French fries come with everything.
  • Chickens are all legs. I thought for sure they would have a miniature plastic turkey that would read from the audience as a game hen. I guess Fisher Price does not want to traumatize our children by giving them headless birds to play with. It is much more comforting to give them only the ripped off limbs.

I hope that I do not have to venture into these parts again soon. Who really enjoys subjecting themselves to the craziness of Toys "R" us? My actions today were the result of a desperate woman!

Thank goodness for Internet shopping. Should I ever have the need to buy toys again, it will be for me. And just so you know, my Google search for "plastic game hens" resulted in "No matches found." I'm sure I would have better luck with Lego or Lincoln Logs.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Thoughts About Food

I am working props for another show, The Nerd. Unlike The Laramie Project, this show is prop intensive, requiring a huge amount of food. Some of the food is actually eaten by the actors so we will prepare the real thing each night. In other cases, it is only the illusion of the real thing that is necessary. That is where the fun comes in.

It is a challenge to figure out ways to create "food" that looks real and will sustain for the run of the show. First, spaghetti with a family heirloom sauce.

20 yards natural colored yarn (Red Heart works best) cut into 12" pieces (spaghetti length.)
8 yards sauce colored yarn cut into 12" pieces.
spray adhesive

Mound a third of the cut pieces of natural colored yarn on a plate that has been sprayed with adhesive. Spray generously. Add another third and again spray adhesive generously. Place the last of the natural yarn and again spray. Carefully place the sauce colored yarn on the mound of "spaghetti" being careful not to have stray ends. (You don't want to have runny sauce.) Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Spray the entire meal with more adhesive. There should be no chance that the spaghetti will find its way to the actor's lap.

Macaroni salad, a lot of it, is central to this show. Here is the secret recipe.

64 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
"Mayonnaise" - 8 oz. school glue (the cheaper the better; it is best if it dries white.)
"Pimento, carrot, and celery finely chopped" - 1 sheet each red, green and orange construction paper
"Lettuce" for garnish - 1 package spring green tissue paper

Cut lettuce leaves from tissue paper. Crumple them so that they resemble real lettuce leaves. Spray large platter with adhesive. Form lettuce garnish around outer edge of platter. Mix 4 pounds of uncooked macaroni with 8 ounces of school glue until all pieces are covered. Mound in center of platter. Using a single hole punch, make pimento by punching around all four side of a 9X12 piece of construction paper with holes three deep. With orange and green construction paper, chop celery and carrot using a comb binding machine. Make four cuts in each sheet. Mix all vegetables. If necessary, spray mound of macaroni with adhesive. Carefully add vegetables making sure that they are distributed evenly. Serve any time in the next decade.

I have to admit I had fun figuring out what to do for these props.

We do need real apples and deviled eggs each night because the actors have to really eat these things. Another piece of food that actually gets eaten is garbanzo beans. The problem with this one is that the actor who must eat them does not like garbanzo beans. So, I must come up with a visually convincing substitute that he will eat. My first thought was some kind of peanut butter ball. That is kind of cruel. Have you ever tried to deliver clear, crisp lines with a mouth full of peanut butter? Plan B was balls of cut and bake sugar cookie dough. They would taste good, but there is the refrigeration issue. I finally settled on KIX cereal. This works great on stage. The only problem here is that the cast and crew keep snacking on the cereal backstage. If they eat the whole box of cereal we will be back to real garbanzo beans!

Every show I work on I learn more about what goes on in the theatre. I also learn what things I really enjoy doing. Someone said to me tonight at rehearsal that maybe my niche is fake food. Erin was quick to agree. I wonder if the subtext there was the fake stuff she makes is better than the real stuff! Surely not.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Blow Dryers And Butter Knives

Appliance repairmen are notorious for never showing up when they say they will. "I'll be there between 12 and six." They show up at 7 and charge you extra because it is after hours. I am fortunate to have a reliable repairman who is here when he say he'll be here. This morning it was 8 am sharp.

He had been here a few weeks ago and had to make a return visit after ordering a part to fix the automatic water dispenser that was not working on the refrigerator. The only problem, to install the part, the fridge had to be completely emptied so it could be tilted forward. So I set my alarm early to empty the refrigerator's contents. Even more impressive than that, BK set her alarm and came down to help me. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my friends? This forced emptying was a much needed opportunity to remove all of the science experiments that had made their way to the back. It was fun trying to figure out exactly which vegetables turn blue and which ones turn green. And, how long can you keep tofu before it is unrecognizable? Actually, it was not so bad. The experiments were not good enough to earn me a Nobel Prize.

As we dug deeper, it suddenly dawned on me that nothing that we were taking out was actually refrigerated. The shredded cheese resembled queso . . .liquid. Definitely not a good sign. When I opened the freezer, it looked like a replica of Glacier National Park. All the way down the back and pooled in the bottom was ice, solid ice. This too was not a good sign.

Thinking he was just replacing some worn tubing, Mr. Repairman, Darryl, had to deal with the ice in the freezer and the heat in the refrigerator. It is now 8:10. This day is off to a great start! He made all the necessary mechanical repairs. He then said, "That is about five gallons of water frozen in there. It is not going to work properly until all that is melted. I suggest that you get a bunch of towels and a hair dryer. I hope you don't have any plans this morning."

So, armed with a hair dryer, every clean towel I own (which is quite a few since for once I am caught up on laundry), and a butter knife that was masquerading as a chisel, BK did battle with my freezer. She spent an hour holding the dryer and breaking off chunks of ice with the butter knife while I sopped up the dripping water. Darryl gets paid $75 an hour; our time, priceless.

Now I have about fifty pounds of soaking wet towels and a working refrigerator with dispensing water as well as a glacier free freezer. I will forgive Darryl for being here at 8.

Good friends will often show up to help you blow dry your hair for a special occasion, but it is a great friend who will show up in your kitchen early in the morning to blow dry your freezer! I love you BK!.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Our Daily Bread

The line in the Lord's Prayer says, "Give us this day our daily bread . . ." This is most often understood to be a prayer for physical nourishment. What if we think about it literally - literally bread made fresh daily.

Early yesterday morning I made a quick trip to the grocery store to stock up since we had been out of town. This kind of trip usually involves buying soy milk, fruit, and bread. As I was heading for the bread aisle, I decided that I was not going to buy bread; I was going to make it. I have no real schedule to keep right now so I can indulge myself and everyone else around here with homemade bread for toast and sandwiches.

This afternoon I reached for my Tassajara Bread Book and thumbed through it for a bread that fit the bill - basic but tasty. I settled on oatmeal bread. It has been some time since I have made bread, and I have never made this recipe. Usually I dive into a recipe and feel my way as I go. For some reason, I chose to read all of the front material before starting. Because this book is written by a Zen Master, every detail of every step in the process is treated as sacred. I enjoyed reading about how all the ingredients interact with one another, what is important in the kneading process, why each detail, no matter how small it seems, is important in the overall process. By the time I started making the bread, I felt that I was doing so much more than just baking bread.

This particular bread starts with a sponge made with water, yeast, sweetener (your choice of honey, molasses, or brown sugar) and flour. The sponge proofs for 40 minutes. At the end of 40 minutes, I was thrilled to see that the sponge had overtaken the entire bowl. In that moment, I realized that all was right - the yeast was fresh and the water temperature was not too hot or too cold. At this point the rest of the ingredients, salt oats and oil, are added. (The salt is added after the sponge is proofed because salt inhibits the function of the yeast.) Now the bread must rise for 50 minutes or until it doubles in size. Again, I was amazed when the bowl was full of batter after this rising. Punch it down and let it rise again. Now form it into two loaves, place it into oiled loaf pans, and let it rise again for 25 minutes. Make slits in the top to allow steam to escape and finally it is time to put it in the oven and bake it for an hour.

This was not a quick process, but it was satisfying. Most of us do not get to witness the creation of something from start to finish on any regular basis. I was consumed by this process that took all afternoon. From start to finish, this bread took five hours. This was not a time to want immediate gratification. I realized during this time that I truly enjoyed participating in each step. The attention to detail from stirring 100 strokes to kneading for 10 minutes, to allowing the bread to rise long enough to double in size are all important to the outcome of the bread.

I could have bought bread at the grocery store yesterday and all would have been done. We could have had a sandwich immediately. But, it was a great gift to be able to make the bread. While I was thinking about this, I began to wonder if I would feel this way if I had to make bread every day. Would it then become just another chore? The same is true of knitting. It is something that I enjoy doing. How would I feel about it if the only socks my family had to put on their feet were the ones I made. There would be a great deal of pressure to knit quickly so that everyone would be warm - especially the kid who is going to spend the next four winters in Chicago!

Everyday tasks are the bulk of most of our lives. Moments of ecstasy are few are far between. I believe that this is intended to teach us to savor every moment of every day. The sacred is present in all things and in all places; we must be open to seeing it. Whether it be folding laundry or baking bread, it is important to realize that each step, each detail of the process is as important as the next. It is in acknowledging the interplay between all things that we begin to understand our own place in the world.

In some things that we do, we may be like the yeast, an integral ingredient that is only seen in the early stages of creation, or we may be the loaf of bread that feeds the hungry. Whichever the case may be, we are a sacred being. The loaf of bread is not possible without the yeast and the yeast has no purpose unless it is united with the other ingredients in the creation of the bread.

Right now I am blessed to be the one eating the bread!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Winners And Losers

I just finished watching this year's Tony Awards. I must say that having just returned from a week on Broadway, I was more engaged this year than I have ever been before. Spring Awakening, a show that I did not see, was clearly the winner tonight. There were several nominations from shows that we saw, but if I remember correctly, none came out on top. As I considered what we had seen and what won, I began to think about the process of determining "the best", not just the best in theater, but the best in anything.

The message that prevails in this world is that if you are not the best at whatever it is you choose to do, then you are not "good enough"- whatever that means The reality is that only one (or possibly a small few) can be at the top of any venture. Does that render the rest of us meaningless? If so, we have a whole world of pointless people. How absurd is this?

We watch championship ball games and talk about winners and losers. My family watched as the Dallas Mavericks experienced a terrible upset in the first round of the NBA play-offs. I can say that we were disappointed as I am sure the Mavericks players were. And yes, they did lose the series. But should we really call them losers? What did it take to even get to the play-offs? A great number of successes. Each of these players along with thousands of other young boys dreamed of being a professional basketball player. A handful of them realized this dream. The fact that these players were even in a position to "lose" makes them winners.

We see the same type of quantification as we watch Olympic events. "So and so had to settle for a silver medal." Settle? Why not be proud of that accomplishment? Second in the world; what a failure! What message are we sending to our children here?

No one can always be "the best". But, we can all strive for and be "our best". If we live to be the best we can be at whatever our gift is in life, the world will be a much happier place because we will be free of the anxiety that comes with discontent. Living up to our individual potential is the greatest accomplishment for any of us. Always needing to be the best, the expert, the all-powerful, is the quickest way to unhappiness, not to mention madness. In a nutshell, we need to learn to be happy with who we are and what we are. If we are truly happy in our own skin, we are our best. We can attain nothing greater than unqualified contentment in life. When we are happy, we have the capacity to set higher goals for ourselves and have a real chance of achieving them.

To those who received awards tonight, Congratulation. To those who received nominations, Congratulations. To those who dream of one day singing on Broadway, Congratulations. To those who are happy singing in the shower, Congratulations. And to those who are happy just listening, Congratulations.

To steal a phrase, be all that you can be . . .and you too will be a winner.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Observations From NYC: The Sequel

Here are the last of the pictures from New York. There is nothing spectacular here, just the everyday images of the city.

This horse just had "a look".

I am still fascinated by the tranquility that is found in Central Park.

The first time the girls were in New York, about nine years ago, they called this the troll bridge.

I couldn't resist this one.

Yesterday we went to Chinatown for the infamous "Coach purses." Erin did get one but she was not thrilled about the process - make sure no cops are around, shove four people into the "secret closet" behind the vendor stall, "that will be $30, Okay, $25, how about $22?" She was much happier buying this hat on a corner of Fifth Avenue.

Here is Offspring #2 and our adopted third child for the week. Lainey spent much of her free time and had many after show dinners with us. We promised her mom that we would take care of her on the trip. She is a great kid and we'll take her anytime. She and Erin share an interest in drama and she and Brooke talked comic books-especially Batman.

Offspring No.1 with Bailey. Bailey and Erin are stage buddies. They have done several shows together. At the beginning of this trip, Bailey told Brooke she was scary because she had blue hair and big feet. After five days, they are best buds. They spent a couple of hours playing together in the airport while we waited for a slightly late plane to depart.

I don't know exactly where this sculpture was. Since it looks like the image from stamps a few years ago, I might venture a guess that it was in front of a post office but I am not sure. I just liked it. This is definitely a point and shoot picture!

The last show we saw was Legally Blonde. I did not have high hopes for this one but I was pleasantly surprised. It was energetic, well done, and had some great one-liners. We have all been humming "Oh my God, Oh my God you guys" all day. I am looking forward to watching the Tony Awards tomorrow night. Having seen so many shows, I have half a hope of knowing what they are talking about!

Though we had a fun time, we are all glad to be home. Brooke missed "her" kitchen and TV time. Erin missed her social life. We all missed the dogs. Liz picked them up from the vet this afternoon so they were here when we got home. Yeah! They seemed glad to see us. We will all be happy to sleep in our own beds tonight. I am sure that the vet did not provide a king-sized bed with extra pillows for these spoiled mutts.

Speaking of bed, I am still on east coast time where it is an hour later. I should go to bed.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Dichotomy In Central Park

I finally made it to Central Park today to take some pictures. I had no real agenda as to what I wanted pictures of, I just wanted to take pictures. Brooke and I took the subway to Fifth Avenue where we got off and just started walking.

One of the first sights we came upon was a group of musicians playing in the park. They seemed to be having fun with the music as they enjoyed the beautiful, though a little warm, day. Their music was mixed with the songs of the birds, the hum of people talking, and the aleatoric street sounds that surround the park. Somehow all the sounds formed a symphony whose title was "Today".

As we continued to walk, I was struck repeatedly by how things that are opposites or extremes shared common space in a harmonic way. The park is surrounded by vendors selling hot dogs, ice cream ad pretzels. Afternoon snacks were shared by brothers an sisters, mothers and children, and husbands and wives. People were no the only creatures sharing bites. The horses that draw the tour carriages were also sharing their afternoon snacks. The pigeons love to gather around the feed buckets hoping for some bits of dropped oats.

While in the midst of the lush greenery of Central Park, it is easy to forget that just above you, on all four sides, is the hustle and bustle of a busy city. The packed streets and people-saturated sidewalks seem so far away. Though the skyscrapers are visible through clearings every now and then, they too seem a world away.
Central Park is home to the Central Park Zoo. We did not walk through the zoo today, but we did walk around it. The zoo inhabitants were not visible from the path we were on, but there were many critters that were encountered on our walk who wee not zoo residents. Here goose and turtles enjoy the sun-soaked rock together. We stood watching for ten or fifteen minutes. The goose turned his head a few times but his feet never moved. The turtles too were like an extension of the rock on which they were perched. Perhaps they were watching al of the humans who were basking in the warm afternoon sun.
New York taxis deserve every bit of the reputation they have. It is amazing to me that there is not an accident at every intersection in every hour! these cabbys'are crazy drivers, yet, somehow, they manage to share the streets not only with other cars but with humans and animals as well.
Central Park offers a beautiful place for people in the city to take a break and enjoy plants, animals, each other and a respite from the hectic world that surrounds it and us. How nice it would be to spend a little piece of every day watching the ducks, talking a horse and buggy ride, or sharing some ice cream with someone you love. As I get ready to head home, I left wondering where the Central Park in my neighborhood is.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Not Enough Knitting or Pictures!

It was a brisk morning in NYC. Brooke and I had a nice breakfast at a deli around the corner from our hotel and then Erin and I did some shopping. We found M&M World. I had planned to spend the afternoon taking pictures in Central Park and knitting. As with most things in my life, the day did not work out as I had planned. While the girls and I were enjoying the tastes and sights of the city, Mike went and put our names in the lottery for tickets to the taping of tonight's David Letterman Show. I was hoping that we would not be picked, but we were. This meant that we had to pick up our tickets at2 and be back for the show at 3:30 for the 4:30 taping. This screwed up the whole afternoon. No pictures! I am hoping for another opportunity tomorrow.

Seeing the taping of The Late Show was one of those that things that I can now say that I have done. The one interesting thing was that the Late Show tapes both Monday's and Friday's show on Monday. (The others are taped on the days they air.) Apparently at the Monday taping for this Friday's show, Dave got a great deal of mileage out of the fact that Paris Hilton was in jail. Unfortunately for him, she was released today so the monologue intended for tomorrow lost its punch. After taping today's show, they retaped a new monologue for tomorrow. Other than that, everything looked exactly like it does when we see it on TV.

We saw The Color Purple tonight. For those of you who watch American Idol, the lead (played by Whoopie Goldberg in the movie) was played by Fantasia, the 2004 Idol winner. All and all it was a good show. We were all wondering how they would deal with all of the violence in this story on stage. It was done tastefully and effectively. This is an emotionally tough show to pull off on stage night after night. The cast gave the show, and the audience, their all.

I made it to this morning before succumbing to the urge to call the vet and check on the dogs. The tech said that they were fine as long as they were together. Neither of them likes it when one goes for a walk without the other. I told them that when I dropped the dogs off but I don't think they were convinced. They are now.

Searching the Internet, we could not find a yarn shop to which we are willing to make an "on speculation" visit. That gives me another opportunity for photography in the park, and perhaps a hot dog and pretzel too! I am also behind on my knitting. I am still working towards finishing a pair of socks but it is looking right not like I might have to admit defeat. We'll see how much knitting time tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Observations From NYC

In no specific order, here are my observations from NYC today:

  1. There is more than one meaning to "bounce in your step". - We started this morning bright and early with a musical theater workshop at a local studio. Musical theater is the triple threat (singing, acting, and dancing). I had hoped for a little of each. As it turned out, the person leading the workshop was primarily a dancer so we danced the entire time! The session began with warm ups and stretching. I was grateful for my somewhat tenuous relationship with yoga. I was surprised at the flexibility I had. We are of to a good start. Next, the meat of the morning - we are going tom learn the choreography to the opening of Hairspray. Here is where the bounce comes in. I did okay with the dance steps but there was a little more bounce in my steps (and other places) than in the perky, skinny dancers on the live. Nonetheless, it was fun and my metabolism got a jump start this morning. Feeling good about that, I had a Belgian waffle with non-fat frozen yogurt for lunch. Yum!
  2. Bigger is better. I have often heard that people in big cities are rude. I have found just the opposite here. The sidewalks are jam packed with people yet no one pushes and shoves like they do in Dallas, particularly in the malls. Each person has relatively little persona space but what little there is is respected by those around you. We also stood in a long line at TKTS for matinee tickets. Everyone was patient and friendly as we each waited our turn. People in Dallas are less courteous while standing in the grocery lines at Kroger to buy 10 for $10 bottles of soft drinks.
  3. There is a Starbucks in every block. And, there are no seats in any of them.
  4. Seeing two shows in a single day is awesome! We got matinee tickets for Mamma Mia!. I had hoped to see Avenue Q but it is dark all day on Wednesday. Oh well, that means another trip to New York or one to Las Vegas. I did not know much about Mamma Mia so I had no expectations. it was hilarious. I did not realize how many ABBA songs I actually know. I had joked with BK on the plane that I was considering a belly button piercing as a souvenir from the trip. After seeing this show, it is a toss-up between that and my own sequins studded Lycra jumpsuit (a la the Jetsons) like the older woman wore in this show. The only problem with this is that the shoes make the outfit, and they were six inch (at least) platforms. This Birkenstock wearin' girl is not sure she can handle these. As of now, I'm still souvenir shopping . . . We saw Wicked tonight. It was well done, but overall the production we saw last summer in Chicago was better. This one was very good though.

All in all, today was a day full of good food and great entertainment. I am looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ground Zero

We arrived in New York after an uneventful flight from Dallas. After checking into the hotel and a few minutes to get our bearings, it was down to the subway for a trip to Ground Zero. Many images from September 11, 2001 are still vivid in my mind. All of them are of the immediate aftermath of the loss of the World Trade Center. I really had no idea what I would see today.

The streets that had been dark tombs in the early days after 9/11 look normal now. It is not until you get right up to the spot (or as close as you are allowed to get) that the devastation is still evident. Wire fences separate the spacebetween what is and what was.

As I peered through the square mesh, I was struck by how odd it is to see that much sky from any street in the city. There is definitely a void that left me with an eerie feeling. It is not the present state of the area that is responsible for this feeling, but the experience of what was. To be honest, all that surrounds this spot now is represented by a feeling of great hope. Progress is happening though nothing has been forgotten. Huge images of the aftermath hang on the barriers - amazing photography of horrifying times.
St. Paul's chapel, which served as a place of physical and spiritual respite for those working, stands behind the previous image. It is a working parish in that Mass is celebrated here,but the more important work is the shrine to all those who have been touched by the events of 9/11. Its walls are lined with pictures, gifts and tokens left by loved ones of those lost. It is a capsule of the love that does exist in this world.
This is the empty skyline taken from the churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel.

Here are pictures of the cots that were used for a few minutes of rest by the volunteers. Notice the hand knit afghan (though it is on wrong side out).

One has to be a much better writer than me to fully articulate the emotions that flowed while visiting these places. It is really one of those "you had to be there" moments.
On a happier note, we went to see Mary Poppins this evening. I was not terribly excited about seeing this shoe; I was not a fan of the movie and have never read the book. Technically it was an awesome show. This is not to say that the performance was not good - it was, but the set and technical elements were amazing. There was much flying about. I think the casting of Mary Poppins had more to do with finding someone who did not have a fear of heights rather than someone who can act or sing. In this case, she had it all.
Though the flow of the show was a little disjointed, the message was clear. Simply stated, it was that we should all believe in dreams; believe that anything is possible. The juxtaposition of this message with the emotions of the afternoon left me with much whirling around in my head. It is all still spinning around. Perhaps I should have waited to write this, but I didn't. I now have a few days to let everything settle.
It is late and I am having problems with my computer so I will quit now. Hopefully I will write before 1:30 am tomorrow and there will then be a hope of more coherent thoughts. Thanks for sticking with me.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Empty Nest

No, it has not finally hit me that I am sending a kid off to college, it is this vacation thing. Vacation time for us is usually spent in the mountains of New Mexico and ALL of us go; that includes the dogs. The dogs can't go to New York. So, this afternoon I had to take them to the vet where they will be boarded while we are away.

BK has spent the evening making fun of me because I am more upset about leaving the dogs than I get about leaving anyone else behind. I have to admit, that is true. The reason for this is because when I leave the kids or friends, they are usually only a phone call away. I can hear their voices, listen to how the day went, still feel like I am there even if only in spirit. I can't talk to the dogs. I don't know what is going on with them. Oh, the vet did say feel free to call and check on them but I doubt they are going to say that your dog is miserable. I am sure that I will call (Note to self: remember to take the number with you) a few times while we are gone. And I am sure that the reception will say, "Oh, they are doing just fine." 95% of me will believe that but there will always be a little piece of me that is not sure.

Don't get me wrong, I love our vet and I trust the entire staff. They have been wonderful to us and all of our animals many times. It is just that I have not boarded the dogs before. I have always been lucky enough to have someone who would stay with them. I did not try to find anyone this time because it really is easier to board them. At the last possible moment this afternoon, I dropped them off with their blankets. Though they were hesitant to do so, the vet promised me that they would put them in the same run. They were afraid that Adidas would get excited and step on Harley. He will be much calmer if they are together.

So, I sit here writing with no dogs at my feet. It really does not feel right. I had a doughnut earlier and had to eat the whole thing myself because there were no begging eyes staring at me and urging me to share. I folded the last of the laundry without having to refold it a time or two because of canine wrestling on the bed. It feels really empty around here. Even the cats are wondering what is going on though I don't think they are really missing the dogs. They will get first dibs on the pillows tonight.

Just to make sure that I didn't miss them too much, Adidas left me a de-stuffed toy under the kitchen table - more pol-fil for Harley's bin and Harley left me a "puppy pile" in the laundry room. How they love me!

There was one good thing about them being gone this evening. I remembered way late that I still needed to change the cat box. Normally I must carry the old litter to the dumpster outside immediately else the canines will rip it open and have a feast. Gross, I know, but unfortunately true. I did not look forward to traipsing outside in my pajamas. It then dawned on me, there is no one here to tear the bags open. You can carry them out in the morning when you leave. There is a positive in nearly every situation.

Once we are away from home I'm sure that I will feel better. It is me being here and them not that feels so strange. I am very lucky that BK's daughter is going to pick the dogs up and bring them home on Saturday morning so they will be here when we return on Saturday afternoon. The vet closes at noon on Saturday so if she could not pick them up, they would have to stay until Monday. I don't think I could stand that!

I will stop whining now. I am looking forward to this trip and I promise not to stop and talk to every dog that we pass on the streets of New York.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Important Stuff

I am in the midst of doing laundry so the we can pack for a vacation. This is an honest to goodness vacation, not a tag-a-log on someone's business trip (the usual "vacation" around here). We are going to NYC with the drama department from the high school. Aside from no work happening (supposedly) on this trip, someone else made all of the arrangements - hotel reservations, show tickets, transportation - all taken care of. I am not used to this kind of treatment! All I have to do is pack and get to the airport on time (6 am, but I am not bitter).

Packing clothing is the easy part. I am not a fashion diva. I live by the philosophy that you can go almost everywhere in jeans or khakis and T-shirts during the day and a button down at night. If I am wrong, don't tell me now. So, I have the jeans and the shirts in a pile ready to put in the backpack. Oh, I don't like suitcases either. They are kind of a stuffy way to travel.

The more important packing is the "other" stuff. These are the things that separate an OK trip from a great trip. The other consideration is to travel as lightly as possible. I am lazy and don't want to carry or keep up with a bunch of extraneous stuff. So, where to begin.
  1. The camera - it always goes. Unfortunately, it is like traveling with a baby. The paraphernalia (lenses, flash, portable drive to download pictures) takes up more room than the camera itself.
  2. Computer - This may count as camera paraphernalia. But also, I want to be able to blog while I am gone. You guys do want to see pictures of the Big Apple, right?
  3. Knitting - I am definitely taking the yarn that the Accidental Knitter brought me a few weeks ago. It will be a pair of socks when I return. I will probably take another skein of sock yarn, which one is yet to be determined. Knitting socks requires few tools so they are great traveling projects. If I run out of yarn, I guess I will have to find a yarn shop. That sucks, but hey, the sacrifices we make for our art.
  4. A book - I have a shelf full of stuff that I bought during the school year and have not had the opportunity to read. I will probably choose something that falls into the category of brain candy since reading is likely to happen in short bits here and there.
  5. A Crossword puzzle book - If I going to read brain candy, I need to take something that will keep the brain agile. Oh, we are going to New York. I bet I can find the New York Times crossword puzzle in the paper. Scratch puzzle book.
  6. My Ipod - I am as bad as the teenagers. I can't leave home without it. Besides, if the plane crashes, I want to leave someone with a great sociological study about the screwed up person who has everything from Bowling for Soup to Brahms and Jack Kornfield on their Ipod.

Does that sound like too much? If so, I am willing to leave some of the clothes, but this stuff has to go. I could borrow Brooke's T-shirt that says "same shirt different day". I am not proud. This sounds like a lot of amenities; the truth is I could be happy for a very long time with these things.

I am looking forward to knitting in Central Park, taking pictures of Ground Zero and the surrounding area, listening to show tunes in and out of the theatre, and having a little down time.

Wow! A real vacation. Stay tuned for the travelogue beginning Tuesday.

Friday, June 1, 2007

On The Soft Side

Last week I got a Phone call from a member of the men's fellowship at church. He was soliciting donations for the silent auction that is to take place during the annual parish fish fry this weekend. Two years ago, I made a knitted teddy bear that raised $75 for Habitat for Humanity. He was hoping that I would make another one for this year's auction. In a moment of weakness, I agreed.

Tonight I was sitting at the kitchen table trying to finish the last of the bear. I like this particular pattern because it is all done in one piece. The only tricky part about it is that you have to stuff the body of the bear before you knit on the arms. Off to the craft closet I went to find the bin of poly-fil.

The eveining was rather the calm. The cat was asleep on the table and the dogs were playing quietly underneath. I was feeling pretty good about the progress I was making. I had no doubt that I would finish the knitting of the bear tonight, leaving only the application of the ears and facial features for tomorrow.

I was in the knitting zone. Suddenly I caught something out of the corner of my eye.

"Wow! I did not realize that Mom saves all of the stuffing that Adidas and I rip out of our toys. I always thought that we made her mad when we dissected things under the kitchen table. How sentimental of her."

"I wonder what else she has saved. Do you think that she saves all the underwear that we chew? The socks? Maybe she saved all those cell phones that Adidas chomped when he was a puppy."

"This is cool stuff, Mom. How many toys do you think this took?"

"How come she gets away with this? She is you favorite! If I had climbed into the bin you would have yelled at me. You would have taken my frisbee away. I would be on cookie and TV restriction too. How come the baby gets to do things that I can't?"

"Whine, Whine, Whine. If it is that big a deal, I will get out and we can go fight over a rawhide bone or something."

In case you are wondering, I did not finish the bear. Tomorrow, I promise!