Monday, March 31, 2008

How Do I Love Thee My Hp, Let Me Count The Ways

The deep silence here, as you have probably figured out, is due to a relapse of my computer's virus. It has now been symptom free for 48 hours so hopefully it is really cured this time.

I have never thought of myself as being dependent on technology. My cell phone and I are often estranged from one another; at the moment my PDA is MIA; though I love my iPod, we are not joined at the hip, or the ear as the case may be; and, I do not spend hours each day at my computer. But, boy did I miss it these last few weeks! I am amazed at how dependent I really am.

My email was working peripatetically. Receiving messages was not so bad, but sending them was another story. Every time I tried to type something, the screen was overtaken by pop-ups and bogus warning messages. Outlook would randomly shut down, sometimes to music that started playing from a rock band whose primary venue seems to be cyberspace. I was able to communicate just well enough to tell everyone the things I was not able to do because of my ailing computer.

The Dallas Hand Knitters Guild newsletter fell victim to this recent viral outbreak. This is not a great tragedy: there was nothing noteworthy to report anyway.

I was in charge of collecting money and ordering information for the Sound of Music T-shirts. Not a problem. I'll just make a chart on the computer. S@*!, no computer. I had to do it all the old fashioned way by engaging paper, pencil, and a ruler to make the table. It was not so bad. Truth to tell, I probably spent less time drawing this by hand than I would have if I had done it on the computer. I am both amazed and ashamed at the amount of time that can be spent (wasted?) searching for "just the right font". When you do it by hand, the choices are greatly reduced. Only one exists.

My lack of Microsoft Word became problematic when it came to preparing for my classes. Here again, what absolutely had to be included as a handout, I wrote by hand. This may have been a futile effort since my handwriting is terrible. It has not improved since I was traumatized by Mrs. Humphries, who gave me a "D" in handwriting, back in the second grade. She did not like the fact that though I am right handed, but had a left handed slant. At least then it was legible! ANd, if she had let me write with a ball pointpen like everyone else, I'm sure it would have been really legible! (Maybe this explains my obsession with pens!?)

Something else that I discovered about myself over these past two weeks is that I am addicted to daily blog reading. I feel disconnected having been away for so long. I suppose I could go back into the archives and catch up, but I really don't have time to do that. I will have to hope that if the information that I missed is integral to my understanding of later posts, my fellow bloggers will include a link to the pertinent information.

I have also missed writing here. The sad thing for me is that the last few weeks have been a whirlwind because of the DCT production of The Sound of Music, spring breaks, and Easter. All is a blur. If only I had my blog posts to remind me of how I spent the month of March. On the other hand, many of those March days included late night rehearsals. Since I usually write late at night, the fact the I could not post encouraged me to go to bed a little earlier than I might have had my computer not been sick. Perhaps this whole ordeal was a blessing in disguise. Nah . . .

Another favorite late night pastime is a few rounds of my favorite computer games - Zuma and Puzzle Inlay. Again, no computer so off to bed instead of staying up late playing.

Another positive aspect of this long technological hiatus, I have "1-click" free at for three weeks. That may be a personal record, though I did fall off the wagon tonight when I ordered the soundtrack to Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, which Erin hopes to audition for at the end of April.

Had a cooked a single meal at home over the last few weeks, I also would have missed my access to the millions of recipes on the Internet. Since nearly every meal I have eaten has been served out a windo and on paper, there was no need for recipes that involved healthy ingrdients and fancy culinary skills. The only skills necessary for March's dining delicassies were how to eat without dripping grease or ketchup in my lap. (The lack of cooking had to do with the theater profuction, not my computer.)

I must admit that I am glad to be back in the computer business. I have read blogs, ordered on amazon, done a little safe retail therapy (just looking), edted some pictures, and posted here. My day is now complete.

It is 11:59 pm. I am off to bed earlier than I have been with no computer to distract me. Perhaps I will go to bed and read for a little while!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


At the beginning of the year, I made a promise to myself that I would post regularly. My standard for "regular" posts was at least every other day. What I did not factor in to this little deal was my computer being overtaken by a nasty virus. After nearly two weeks of trying to diagnose the problem, I am finally back in business. It seems that computer anti-virus software, of which I was running two at the time my computer was infected, is about as effective as the medical profession at the art of disease prevention and diagnosis. As of this moment, I do believe that we have a clean bill of health. Pray that there is no relapse!

We will now return to regularly scheduled programming . . .see you tomorrow.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I Shouldn't Be Laughing

Like most mailboxes these days, mine is stuffed daily with catalogs offering me everything from English muffins to tractors. Sometimes thumbing through their pages satisfies my desire for retail therapy and at other times it is pure amusement. The latter was the case recently with a catalog that BK brought to show me.

I must first confess that I was looking at this particular catalog early one morning on the way to school after a night of way too little sleep. My ability to be amused is highly enhanced by sleep deprivation. So keep this in mind as you read on. The catalog that I was looking at is one that carries only religious items. I don't think that any one's religious convictions should be the source of fun and ridicule, but when I saw some of the things that are being marketed as symbols of one's faith, I had to laugh. Also, having just led a retreat on simplicity, which focused on freeing our lives from those things that are unnecessary or in the way, I was hard pressed to see how many of the wares in this particular catalog would strengthen my relationship with God.

Here are a few such items:
Saints Trading Cards: I can hear the kids on the playground now.
"I'll trade you my St. Goar (the saint invoked against whirlpools) for your St. Claude (the saint invoked against twitching." Or, "Do you think I need both St. Genesius (patron saint of actors) and St. Alexis (patron saint of beggars? Isn't that a little redundant?" ""I'll give you my St. Rita who is good for tumors and loneliness for your St. Amand, the patron saint of brewers and your Teresa of Avila who is invoked against headaches."

If trading cards aren't your playground entertainment of choice, how about Holy Habits - St. Agnes of the Good Shepherd Paper Dolls. Isn't this kind of a rip off? I thought the point of being a nun and wearing a habit was that you did not have a closet full of clothes. I guess nun paper dolls would answer the question as to what nuns wear under their habits.

Then there is the jewelry section of the catalog . . .
The Miraculous Wrap Rosary Bracelet Is it miraculous because it wraps or because it is a rosary?
How about the Chastity Ring? It is not what you think. Apparently these are rings given to teenagers by their parents (who obviously know what is on the mind of teenagers) as a sign of the teens promise to be chaste until marriage. The idea is that the chastity ring is worn on the ring finger of the left hand until the person gets married at which time it is exchanged for a wedding band. If only the problem could be solved so easily.

How about the ultimate paradox . . .the Memory Rosary Based on the name, you might think that this rosary somehow helps you learn scripture passages or prayers. Nope, this rosary is for people "on the go". Just in case you can't stop long enough to pray the entire rosary, these beads slide and stay put once the prayer on that bead has been said. This rosary keeps you from having to give your undivided attention to your prayers and it keeps you from repeating prayers and wasting precious time that could be spent on other important things like idol worshipping and coveting the goods of thy neighbor. I think this particular rosary is also recommended for those with ADD.

I am always interested in books. Here are a few that made me chuckle.
The ABC's of Choosing a Good Husband and The ABC's of Choosing a Good Wife. (incidentally, there is no discount for buying both.) I don't believe that these manuals come with a satisfaction guaranteed or your money back promise, but if you find yourself married to Mr. or Ms. "ess than Good", you can spend another $13.95 for Annulments and the Catholic Church. Or, perhaps you can find a kid who has a St. Gomer (patron saint of unhappy husbands) or St. Uncumber (patron saint of unhappy wives/

Perhaps all of these things hit me as being funny because we are in the midst of the season of Lent, a time that asks much of us as followers of Christ. And, we are approaching the most holy of weeks. I find myself asking if any of these things mentioned above are truly representative of faith. Also, I have a child who is about to be confirmed and I would like to give her a meaningful gift as a reminder of the commitment she is making. I am not sure what this gift will be, but I have many ideas about what it is not.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Snow Day

The temperatures here today reached 50 degrees and much of yesterday's snowfall is now gone. Here are some pictures taken yesterday. All were taken within steps of my front door. I am blessed to have such beauty so close.

I could not resist a few more dog pictures.

And, my favorite snow day picture . . .

Thursday, March 6, 2008

What's For Dinner?

So, they predicted snow for today. A possibility of snowfall late in the afternoon was the last word I heard before leaving the house this morning. When we left,, we were prepared for a snowy afternoon. What we had not planned for was the snow coming barely after noon. BK and I were about 15 miles away from home meeting with the Knitting Fairy about the next issue of Spirit of Knitting. As we finished lunch, it was raining, then it was sleeting, and then it was raining. We were not too concerned about the impending snow until about 12:45 when Erin called and said that they were closing school immediately because of the weather. Since when do they close the schools for rain? Or, freezing rain? We were not too concerned about our ability to get back to Denton to pick up Erin, but we cut our meeting short and headed for home.

The first six or eight miles were no big deal. Then all of the sudden, the roads were covered with snow. It had been 70 degrees on these very roads yesterday when we traveled them about the same time and now they are completely covered in the white stuff. It was like someone had waved a magic wand and said "Let there be snow, and there was snow." From that point on, the driving got more and more treacherous with the last three miles before we got to the high school the absolute worst. This part took us an hour and forty minutes because of numerous accidents along the way and other vehicles, including a Denton school bus, in the ditches along the side of the road. By the time we got to Erin, most of the half dollar-sized snow flakes had stopped falling.

Needless to say, all evening events around town were cancelled. This included Sound of Music rehearsal. So, the quiet night at home that we had hoped for on Monday was now rescheduled for tonight. All I had to do was feed all the animals and then it was jammies, hot coffee, magazines, and TV for me. I didn't even have to worry about what was for dinner because the stroganoff ingredients from Monday night's failed attempt at home cooking were waiting for me. By the time we got home, life was looking pretty good.

Erin and I put on our boots and headed to the pasture to feed the big animals.

Serena, the llama, was first.
"What's this white stuff on my food? I have always heard when they try to cover up your food with what I think is called gravy, you really don't want to eat it. I don't want gravy on my grass. So, if you can't scrape the gravy off, I am not going to eat it. I want sweet feed. I think you humans call it something like oatmeal. However, I don't want gravy, or milk, or whatever the white stuff is that you people put on your grain either. I just want it plain. Is that too much to ask?"

"Thank you for obliging."

The donkeys were next.
"We have reservations for two. And if possible, can we have our meal served on top of the gravy?"

Did I mention we now have two donkeys? This is another of those planning things that didn't quite work out. I introduced Cory a few posts ago. We got him to keep Serena company. About the time he was ready to leave his mother and come to us, the breeder told us of another baby about the same age who also was in need of a home. The neon SUCKER lights were flashing brightly and now we have two donkeys. Meet Petunia our five month old jennet.

After attending to the culinary needs of all of the pasture animals, Erin and I headed back to the house to feed the dogs, the cats, and ourselves.

"Hey Harley, if you dig down under this white stuff, we might be able to find something really good for supper. I'm sure the bird carcass or the turtle shell or a field rat can be found under here somewhere. Several of those things can be pretty dry but with this gravy stuff on them they are a bit moister. Let's see what we can find"

“Okay Adidas, I give up. I can't find anything good. I am going to enlist the help of the human. She is bigger than I am and is not likely to get buried alive. And, I am fairly certain that I will not have to fight her for the good stuff."

“Maybe Serena is right. If you have to hide it under gravy maybe it's not worth eating. Let's just play snowplow. I heard the humans are having stroganoff for dinner. If you can distract them for just a minute, I can pull the pot of the stove. Voila! A hot dinner with no gravy."

This time Adidas' plans were unsuccessful. He and Harley had turkey and rice kibble. The cat, on the other hand, had a few licks from my bowl while I went to answer the phone. When all was said and done, we had nine inches of gravy, I mean snow, at our house. It was beautiful. More importantly, it was enough for DISD to have already cancelled school for tomorrow. No alarm clock in the morning.

Stay tuned for more pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What's the Plan?

I am a planner. I like to know what is supposed to happen and I like to have at least some idea what my role is in making it happen. Don’t get me wrong, I can adapt if things don’t go as scheduled as long as there was a plan somewhere. I guess it is like that old adage we were taught in school and that I rely on heavily in my capacity as “awesome mom” (as I was called by the girl’s soccer team this morning), you must know the rules before you can break them. So begins the story of my week.

We are in the midst of soccer season and Sound of Music rehearsals around here. Erin is busy flirting with Rolf and I am frantically gathering boson’s whistles, milk pails, various glasses in which to serve liquor, and other adornments found in an Austrian abbey and the home of Captain von Trapp and his family. Most of this is enjoyable, but, needless to say, time consuming. For some reason, rehearsal was cancelled on Monday night. For the week prior, we fantasized about a night at home – at home to stay by 4:30, a home cooked meal of stroganoff (Erin’s favorite) for dinner, jammies on by 6, mindless TV, wading through the stack of unread New Yorker magazines, maybe some laundry, maybe not, coffee and cookies before bed at 10. The plan was made and ready to be executed.

We did get home by 4:30 and I had the makings for dinner. Just as I was about to start cooking, Erin’s cell phone rang. It was a friend of hers reporting that they were at the mall and had found, in one of those questionable mall kiosks, several cell phones that had been stolen from the girls’ soccer locker room a week or so ago. Erin’s phone, which had already been replaced, was one of the stolen phones. The phone call she received was a teammate saying that the police were at the mall waiting for everyone to come identify their phones and file a report. So, no noodles on to cook and no pajamas. We had to pack up, head back to town, and meet the police. We found what we thought was Erin’s phone, but because of an unfortunate set of circumstances, we could not prove it was hers because we did not have her phone’s ID number. The teeth marks on it were a dead give away, however. By the time this whole ordeal was over, it was nearly 8 o’clock and we were starving. We headed to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner. The stroganoff makings are still in the kitchen.

Oh, did I mention that while all of this was going on, Texas was in the midst of a snow storm? It had been close to 70 degrees on Sunday afternoon and 24 hours later a heavy snow was falling. By the time we finally got to bed, at nearly midnight, close to 3 inches of snow blanketed our deck. And though the forecasters swore that it would not stick to the ground because the ground temperatures were too warm, so too was the ground covered in a blanket of white. Fortunately, nothing was sticking or freezing on the roads though they were wet and slippery.

Yesterday was Primary day in Texas. I could have voted early, but because the race is so close, I wanted to experience the polls on the actual day of the primary. We got to our polling location at 10:30. Surprisingly, there was a line, a significant line. Truthfully, I didn’t know there were so many Democrats in Texas! Last week, I had decided that I also wanted to participate in the caucus so we would have to return at 6:30. The rest of the afternoon was given over to cleaning out some kitchen cabinets.

Ay 6:30, I found myself walking up and down the sidewalk holding a Hillary sign and urging other Clinton supporters to stay and vote in the caucus. This part of it was definitely not in the plan. I have strong opinions about politics, but I am not one who normally gets outwardly involved and becomes a cheerleader for the cause. I’m not sure what got into me. Before the night was over, I had been elected (volunteered?) to be a delegate from our precinct to the county convention in a couple of weeks. Neither was this in the plan. In fact, there are two performances of Sound of Music on the day of the county convention. It is time to make a plan that will get everything done on the day.

Right now it seems like the unplanned events in my life have obliterated the planned ones. For example, I was shocked by the fact that it has been over a week since I last posted. here What have I been doing? I was out of town over the weekend on a planned trip. It did go exactly as planned and was a wonderful few days away. The main reason for the trip was to attend the Franciscan Lenten retreat at a convent just outside of San Antonio. I was the facilitator for the retreat. Preparations for this occupied a good bit of my time last week, but not enough to justify me not having made a single post. I still can’t figure this out. What makes this all even funnier is that the topic that I chose for the retreat was “simplicity”. Based on the example of my own life, I seem not to know a damn thing about simplicity.

As part of the retreat discussions, we looked at the many facets of ourselves that coexist daily – the civic self, the social self, the financial self, the professional self, the parental self, the religious self, and the literary self. We were to describe each of these selves as they are manifested in us. As I worked through this process, it became clear to me that right now, the various parts of me are not well integrated. All are functioning, but they are doing so independently of one another. Not accomplishing the daily tasks that I want to do is proof positive of my internal chaotic state.

I realize that I had no control over or responsibility for the plans that did not work out on Monday night, but I do have absolute control over whether or not I write, or knit, or read, or feel good about where I find myself, my whole self, at any given time.

As they say, “timing is everything” and my spring break is next week. I have about ten days of a slightly less rigid schedule to get my priorities straight and get myself back on the track where I want to be. Like I said earlier, I am ready and willing to deal with sudden changes to the plan, but I need to have a plan in place. So as I head into spring, the season of new birth, I will take to heart the message that I shared over the weekend. Get rid of those things that get in the way. Once they are gone, there is room to grow. Hopefully this means more frequent posts here and a little more knitting.

Did I mention that it is supposed to snow again tomorrow?