Monday, April 28, 2008

Contemplative Exercise

Yesterday a friend gave me some bubbles. I must admit that I have not played with bubbles since the girls were little and I had forgotten how much fun they are. I had nothing pressing to be doing so I took the bubbles and went outside to enjoy the beautiful spring evening. Blowing bubbles into the soft breeze and watching them float through the air reminded me of how awesome the simple things in life are. I spent a great deal of time blowing the bubbles and watching them land, wondering whether they would pop as soon as they hit the ground or would they rest in the arms of the lush green grass? Like most such questions in life, I was not able to predict what would happen, where things would land, what would last, and what would disappear immediately.

The bubbles were given to me with the instruction that perhaps they would serve as a vehicle for a contemplative exercise. They were.

Does each bubble represent words unspoken? Thoughts left unexpressed? People unloved? Places unseen? Jobs undone? Prayers offered to God?

Do the bubbles obscure or intensify the grass? Do the bubbles that we all create around ourselves obscure or intensify our perspective on the world around us?

I'm not sure Harley was convinced of the contemplative nature of bubble blowing, but she did find some entertainment value.

Or, maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps she is as fascinated as I am by the contemplative practice of watching these transitory spheres float through the air.

This is straight out of the camera image of the bubbles against the evening sky. Though I think there are instances where Photoshop is a great tool for editing pictures, sometimes what you get is what you need to see. That is the case here. Editing all the images of our lives strips us of the most important pictures of what our world really looks like.
I love this image. Long after my bottle of bubbles is gone, I will have these pictures to remind me of yesterday, today, and the person who gave them to me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Country Life

For the most part, life in th country is awesome - no traffic noise, just coyotes and cows. No bright lights, just the moon and the stars. And no city code enforcement, so the grass in our front yard can be six feet tall if we so desire. I must admit though that this really is not a good idea because the down side of country life is that there are many critters that share this land with us.

The other night after one of our violent spring thunderstorms, our big dumpster was blown over. When we lifted it to its proper position, several little field mice (rats?) had taken refuge under the upended dumpster. They were not too happy that we had disturbed their tornado shelter. I don't mind these field rodents as long as they maintain their residence in the field. I don't want to meet any of them on the way to the bathroom or at the dinner table. Fortunately (knock on wood) we have not had a problem with them coming inside. Perhaps three indoor cats make our house bad real estate investment for them.

The dogs also do their part to maintain rodent control around here. When Adidas was just a wee puppy, our then thirteen year old Golden Retriever took him out in the front and showed him how to catch a field rat. I'm not sure how she did it because by that point in her life she didn't move very fast. I didn't think Adidas paid much attention to his hunting lesson, but apparently he did. He has brought us several "former" field rodents this spring. Fortunately, he drops them on the back deck before he comes in. Being a good big brother, Adidas taught Harley this skill. She on the other hand, likes to bring her catch of the day inside so that we can all admire it. I wouldn't be surprised if she has one mounted above the mantel any day now.

The dogs have not stopped with rodents on their hunting expeditions. They have found a headless snake. I'm sure it was headless when they found it; they are not responsible for the decapitation. They are also fond of turtles. Actually, they like abandoned turtle shells. These smell a little bad and make a lot of noise as the dogs play hockey with them on the deck, but in the grand scheme of things, it could be a lot worse!

All and all, we have been fortunate in the domestic critter verses wild critter realm. No skunk encounters. No raccoons. No deer. No coyotes or mountain lions. For all of this, I am quite thankful.

I have been waiting for an unfortunate meeting of the animal kind. Every now and then we hear something under the deck outside my bedroom late at night. What we hear is not a growling or hissing like you might expect from a raccoon. It doesn't smell, thank God. It sounds as though something hard is hitting the underside of the deck. I have been convinced that it was an armadillo. Last spring we had one that would play out in the yard in the late afternoon. I think, however, that he lived over in the brush around the stock pond. And, I have not seen any armadillos around here since then. I will admit that I have been a little (no, a lot) reluctant to go stick my head down there and peek under the deck. As many nights as the dogs have gone out and barked and stood watch over the back deck, if it were something terribly dangerous, I think we would have had a problem by now. But, maybe not. So, I have been living by the philosophy what I don't know can't hurt me. Intellectually I know how stupid this is but the prevailing wisdom here is not based in smarts.

Yesterday, while I was doing some chores, the dogs were outside playing. They had been out for what seemed like forever. Usually they want to be inside, especially if they can do something to insure that any given chore takes three times as long as it should. I decided to look out the back door to see what they were up to, perhaps collecting a family of rodents?? When I peeked out the door, there they were - three dogs - Harley, Adidas and J.D. (the neighbor's dog who would rather live at our house. So he does.) And, in the middle of the circle of dogs was a huge turtle. Its shell was probably 14" in diameter. All the critters were enjoying the sunshine and warm spring air, and not bothering each other.

It was quite a sight. No, I do not have pictures because I decided that it was probably better to move the turtle, who was indeed still alive, to the pond. BK carried him over to the water. The last time she made me play the good Samaritan and move a turtle from the middle of the road, it turned out to be a snapping turtle with a REALLY long neck. She owed me this one. As it turned out, this guy was not a snapper, which is probably why all the dogs are still in one piece.

It dawned on me after the turtle was safely returned to the pond that he is probably what we were hearing under the deck. We may now be responsible for breaking up an amphibius family. I guess if he wants to take up permanent residence under the deck, he will find his way back. I would much rather him be our nearest neighbor than some of the other characters that inhabit these here parts.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Read All The Words

It is hard for me to believe that we are two weeks from the end of another semester and that I am writing the final assignments and tests for my classes. Though I like considering questions for tests, I really don't like to "give" the tests. I would much rather just gather around and have a group discussion about the questions at hand. Unfortunately, undergraduate academic life does not work that way. So, I must write questions in such a way that I can draw as much discussion as possible from my students without asking pointed questions that demand a specific answer. As strange as it may sound, clearly written open ended questions are more difficult to write than the typical objective test question. The key to successfully answering one of these questions on my tests is to read all of the words - carefully.


This seems to be a mantra that I find myself saying as a mother and a teacher. It is advice I give to my own children as well as my students. As a general rule, the fewer words that something contains, like a test question, the more important each of those words becomes. I know this to be true and I know that READ ALL THE WORDS is sound advice for us all. Today this conviction was reinforced several times.

This morning I was baking a cake for a birthday celebration tomorrow. The recipe I was using is one that my mom gave me; it was my favorite birthday cake as a kid. I have made it many many times, though not very recently. I have not memorized the recipe though I have made it enough times that it is quite familiar to me. I began, as the recipe directed, by melting some butter and chocolate and then pouring this mixture over the typical dry cake ingredients. I then added eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. All seemed good. As I was pouring the cake into the pan, I had this feeling that something was missing. I went back and read through the ingredients on the recipe card. Nope. I had not forgotten anything. I put the cake in the oven to bake for its specified 40 minutes. About half way through the baking process I glanced into the oven. Something was not right. It then dawned on me that the recipe had not called for baking soda, a basic ingredient of almost any cake. Again I read the list of ingredients on the card. No baking soda.

When the timer buzzed signifying the end of the 40 minute baking period, I removed the cake from the oven. Something was definitely wrong. This was not the cake that I know and love. This was a chocolate sponge-a flat dense layer of chocolate sponge. It might have been good with a couple of scoops of ice cream on it, but it was certainly not deserving of the icing that the recipe called for. Frustrated by the fact that I could not figure out what I had done wrong, I went to the recipe card one more time.

This time, I did indeed read all the words. And, I found the error of my ways. Baking soda was indeed required. It just so happens that it was not listed separately in the recipe's list of ingredients. The card read "1/2 cup of buttermilk with one teaspoon of baking soda stirred in. I read the buttermilk part, several times, but had failed to read all the words that followed it.

The rather pathetic part of this story is that I had read the recipe looking specifically for "baking soda" and still missed it three times. That's a little embarrassing!

I remade the cake using all of the ingredients the second time. It has been iced and I believe it to be acceptable for tomorrow's party. I also somewhat redeemed myself by making chocolate chip banana bread avoiding all culinary disasters (I think).

While I was dealing with my flat cake, BK was having a similar problem with her knitting. She was trying to knit the edging onto a shawl following the instructions in a magazine. After several attempts, she could not get it to work correctly. In a desperate move, she solicited my help. I asked several question and tried my hand at following the given instructions. As it turned out, we were following those particular instructions correctly. The problem was that there was a little piece of very important information concerning this process that was way back at the beginning of the pattern. This detail was easily overlooked at the outset of the project because it was not really necessary at that time. However, at the point we found ourselves today, it was vital information.

Twice in one day I was faced with having to take my own advice.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Text Message

I have reluctantly joined the text messaging generation. I still think that if you need to say something to another person, it is best to dial the phone and speak to them; but, over the past year or so, I have had to admit that there are times when a text message is the best means of communication. Personally, I have about a one message limit. It takes me forever to type a message and that is with no punctuation whatsoever. I know that all of those little dots and squiggles are somewhere on the "1" key, but I don't have the patience to scroll through all of the possibilities just to find a question mark.

My children, on the other hand, can condense what would be a 30 minute conversation into about 4 1/2 minutes by texting. Granted, the topics of conversation most often are not anything with much depth. Messages are usually 'What are you doing?", "What is our homework?", "What time will you be at school?", "I'm mad at so and so." All of this is fairly innocuous communication.

Yesterday on the way home from church, Erin (15) got a text message from a friend that she went to school with in middle school. They have both now gone their separate ways in high school, but occasionally do still send each other a "How ya doing?' message. Yesterday's text was a little different/ It read, "Do you want to see a picture of my baby?" At our house, all of the four legged members of the family are referred to as our babies so Erin assumed a picture of a puppy or a kitten or maybe a horse or a rabbit. After replying "Sure." to her friend's question, Erin's phone beeped almost immediately with a return message. A picture . . .of a newborn baby, a real 10 fingered, 10 toed baby boy. Erin had no idea how to respond . . .Congratulations? . . . Wow! . . .He's yours? . . .How did that happen? (Wait. Never mind.) . . .What the hell were you thinking?

She asked me what she was supposed to say.. Hmmm. I think I jumped right with "bad plan".

In all seriousness, what do you tell a teen aged girl about how she should respond to a seventeen year old friend who has just given birth? For the most part, the girl is a good kid. Though she should only be a high school junior this year, somehow she managed to graduate early. The father of the baby, a senior, is in school and looking for a job. The two seem to still be together. The mother has some long term goals that do involve going to college in the fall. At least on the surface, it appears that Erin's friend is now trying to make the best decisions she can from the difficult place that she now finds herself. All of that said, I still found myself at a loss as to how I should advise Erin. Fortunately, they were communicating via text messaging so tone of voice and awkward silences were not an issue. Thank goodness for texting!

Friday, April 18, 2008

An Automatic World

There is no question that we live in an automatic, electronic, remote controlled world. We have lights that turn on when you clap (or the dog barks, or the cat knocks something off the kitchen counter, or it thunders and the power has not yet gone off), electric toothbrushes because we wouldn't want to burn an extra calories by actually having to move our arms back and worth, and then there is the sacred remote control. At my house a malfunctioning or, worse yet, lost remote control is cause to call the police, or the FBI, and possibly FEMA. Well,, maybe not FEMA; I'm not sure they are capable of much help. Seriously, a lost wallet, or Ipod, or even a diamond ring would garnish less attention. We have become overly dependent on these battery operated hunks of plastic with buttons that control our entire lives. (Dead batteries are also capable of causing intense levels of distress.)

Recently, during one of our terrible spring thunderstorms that knocked out power to thousands of people for nearly 24 hours, a friend was talking about the fact that she almost could not get to work because of the power outage. This inability had nothing to do with not being able to shower, or see to get dressed, or fix a cup of coffee. It was due to the fact that she could not open her garage door because it had an electric opener. Yes, all such garage doors have a release which allows you to open them manually, but she had a small problem. She has not been living at her current address very long. She did find the release, but when she went to manually open the door, she realized that it had no handle - there was nothing to grab on to so that she could indeed open it the good old fashioned way. She later discovered that the lack of a handle was a builder oversight and not a statement about the lack of necessity of a handle.

And we all know someone who has stood in a parking lot either panicked or pissed off because the battery in the key fob that unlocks their car door has died. Because we are so accustomed to our electronic world, they overlook the fact that they are holding in their hand the key that can be inserted in the door lock to open the door. We have gotten ourselves to a rather sad place.

Don't get me wrong. I am a big fan of some these gadgets. I like ATM machines for when I have no cash and feel guilty about charging three dollars for a cup of coffee. (I already feel guilty about paying three dollars; I don't need the added guilt of charging it!) I will also admit to liking the TV remote control on those cold winter nights when I can use it to turn of the TV after watching back to back episodes of House Hunters in bed. I hate to get cold just to turn off the TV and I hate even more to disturb the dogs once they are finally asleep. The control that my dogs have over my life is another sad state that is cause for alarm.

There is one automated device that I will never understand - the automatic paper towel dispensers in public restrooms. These things are crazy making.

Several years ago our priest at church encountered these contraptions in an airport. He was so impressed by them that they became a central theme in a Sunday sermon. To this day, I have no idea what the sermon was really about. I can't think of any Scripture reference that comes close to advocating automatic paper towel dispensers. for the masses Because of his enthusiasm for them, automatic towel dispensers were immediately installed in every restroom on our church campus. They are supposed to release paper towels when you wave your hand in front of a certain spot on the dispenser itself. The problem is that the paper towels come rolling out every time someone walks by these things. We even have them in the toddler classrooms, where they are much closer to the ground. In fact, they are about knee high for an average adult. Needless to say, many more towels than are actually needed are spit from the machine because it is triggered every time someone walks by. Not only is this annoying, but it is wasteful. Why can't we just turn the little crank and unwind paper towels in the amount we need when we need them? It seems so simple.

The theory is that these automatic paper towel machines are more sanitary. Nobody has to put their dirty little paws on the machine itself. Cooties will not be spread. How ridiculous is this? Haven't we all just washed our hands? With antibacterial soap? (Those of you who don't wash your hands are responsible for these purging paper towel holders all over the world!) My point is that by the time we reach for a towel to dry our hands they should have been washed, presumably with soap, thus rendering them clean.

If we really want to help alleviate the spread of germs, why don't we install automated toilet tissue dispensers? We all go into restrooms with the germs of the world on our hands. (You know you don't wash your hands before you enter the stall.) We do our business and reach for the tissue. And what about those people who reach for the tissue twice? You know they have not washed their hands and well, you also know where those hands have been. Once we have taken part in this stall scenario, the germ free paper towels are such a non-issue. We have already shaken hands with a whole world of germs. And then there are those paper seat protectors. You have to use your hands to get those out and to actually put them on the seat. No hand washing there either. I think those things must be used only for their placebo affect.

So, if we really want to stop the spread of germs in public restrooms, we need to advocate for automatic toilet paper dispensers. Petition your employer; write to your senator and congressman; perhaps this could even be a topic of discussion for our presidential candidates. Never underestimate the power of a few dedicated people.

I'm off to clean my bathrooms.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Okay At 46

They say that when we are in our forties we enter a phase where questions about our life accomplishments and what legacy we will leave behind become important. Here I am in the second half of that decade and indeed these questions do creep into my thoughts every now and then. The answers? They don't creep in so much.

Should I be asked to answer these questions on the spot, I would have to say that one of my greatest successes in my 46 years is my kids. I am very lucky that I have raised one to be a legal adult without her dropping out of school, getting arrested, or getting pregnant. If you listen to the statistics released by those who research teen aged behavior, you realize that this is no small accomplishment. Offspring No. 1 is a good kid. She did well in high school and is working hard in college. With any luck, she will graduate with a degree that will help her to become a good wage earning, tax paying citizen. (We can only claim her as a dependent for so long!)

I am equally proud of Offspring No. 2. Though she is still in high school, I trust that in two years, I will be able to say that she too has not dropped out, been arrested or gotten pregnant. (I know that statements like this are what get a mother in trouble. How many times have we all heard "Not my kid!") She is a strong, bright, caring and compassionate kid. I hope that she is able to carry all of this with her into adulthood. Though Offspring No. 2 says that she is in no hurry to leave home, I have no doubt that she will go on to do great things. I suspect that when she reaches her forties, her list of accomplishments will be much clearer and much longer than mine.

Just as I am feeling satisfied that raising good kids is a pretty damn good life's work, I receive the following from Offspring No. 1 and my world is shaken by a whirlwind of doubt.

This is college girls playing rugby. Mine is the one in the maroon jersey on her ass.

About this time last year I was writing about how sad I was that Offspring No. 1 would not be playing soccer anymore. She said that after her last high school season was over, that was it. She had survived many years as a goalkeeper and never been carted off tof he field on a gurney. She wanted to keep it that way.

Here is a case and point on that never say never thing. She is indeed still playing soccer - indoor and outdoor. And in addition, she is also playing rugby. I think she is working to even out that injury statistic.

She sent the following picture with the explanation that rugby is a really social sport. After every game, both teams get together for "refreshments" and sing a few obligatory (rude and crude) songs about the joys of their beloved sport.

Can you find Offspring No. 1 in this one? I am feeling really prod now! Do they have women's rugby in the Olympics? Just a thought.

I am not willing to give in to the notion yet that I am a failure. Offspring No. 2 is still showing great potential. But if she should, by some miracle, let me down, I have figured out what my legacy will be.

I will leave an enormous number of unfinished knitting projects behind - perhaps more than anyone else.

Now I can stop worrying about silly things like why am I here. I am free to move on to more important questions like is it 6 or 8 Oreos that is considered to be a serving.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just Kidding

Bad pun but cute pictures.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

One Small Touch For Mankind

The second Saturday of each month is the regular gathering day for my Franciscan fellowship. Usually we meet in Austin, a trip I look forward to each month. This time, however, we decided to meet on the grounds of a religious community just north of Waco. Since there are those of us who come from the Dallas area and others who come from Austin, this location allowed us to meet in the middle.

When I first discovered the community in Elm Mott, I assumed that they were Mennonite because of their dress and obvious way of life that is grounded in simplicity and respect for the land. I learned today that I had assumed incorrectly; this group defines themselves as "non-denominational". I really don't know anything about them except that which is revealed in their public image. I am afraid that I would not be so enamored if I really knew all that they are about. So, I will live on in ignorance for the present.

I am willing to be less than knowledgeable about the ins and outs of this religious sect because I am so taken with their lifestyle. They farm, growing most of the food that they eat and serve to the public; they grind their own grain; and they practice crafts such as woodworking, soap making, sewing, spinning, weaving. knitting, and pottery.

For some reason I seem to have a fascination with pottery,. I love to look at the one of a kind finished pieces, and I am mesmerized by watching pots as they are thrown. Today, as I observed a young woman making lids for honey pots, I became more aware than ever of the possibilities that our hands hold.

With a big glop of clay that looked like absolutely nothing recognizable and a bit of water, in only a few minutes the woman crafted this slimy wet mess into a perfectly fitting lid for her previously made pots. The most amazing part to me was how gentle her touch on the clay was; in what seemed like an effortless motion, the intricate details of the pot's lid began to emerge and take shape. As I stood watching her work, I was struck with the notion of how powerful our slight touch can be. As with most things, this realization brings with it both the positive and the negative.

The positive - with just a gentle touch big changes are possible. The negative - with just a gentle touch big changes are possible. I often find myself opting out of working for positive change by whining about the fact that I am only one person. What can one person do? As I watched the potter's hands, I heard the message loud and clear that one person, with gentle but deliberate hands, can make a difference. This was a valuable and much needed lesson for me to have learned today. And, the mode of instruction was most enjoyable.

Here are a few pictures.

This first pictures shows the beginning of the process. The clay really is just a blob. The potter must center it, to prevent the final object from being lop-sided, before any detailed shaping can begin.

She is now beginning to pull the work and start the gross shaping of the honey pot lid.

More details are added.
The piece is almost finished and ready to be cut from the clay still on the wheel and set to dry before its finishing touches are added.

Never underestimate the potential impact of a gentle touch.

Friday, April 11, 2008

From Trash To Treasure

At our house, Friday is trash day. Because we live in the country, the trash truck comes only once a week to empty our dumpster. Unlike those of you who live in the city and have to put your garbage on the curb the morning of your pick-up, we can haul our trash bags to the dumpster at any point during the week. If the resident critters want to investigate our discarded goods, they can crawl into the dumpster and have at it. (And I'm sure they do.) However, we do not run the risk of having our weekly garbage strewn across the neighborhood providing our neighbors with the opportunity to wonder if we really did eat three gallons of ice cream and twelve frozen pizzas in the last seven days.

Despite the fact that I can empty all the garbage cans and carry them out at any point during the week, I always seem to wait until Thursday evening. Or, as the case was this week, Friday morning. As it turns out, in this instance my procrastination paid off. During the terrible storms we had Wednesday night and Thursday morning, a strong gust of wind turned over our dumpster, possibly because it was empty? If I had been efficient with the emptying of the trash cans, I would have had to deal with the neighbors and the ice cream and the pizza boxes. It would not have been pretty. So don't you, my fellow procrastinators, ever let anyone tell you that you'll be sorry if you wait until the last minute. Here is proof that that may not be the case.

The upshot of all this is that early this morning I was running around trying to get all the cans emptied and carried out to the dumpster before I left for the day or the trash truck came. Boy we have a lot of trash cans! I made my way through the house muttering to myself that I seem to be the only one in this household that recognizes the fact that every container has a finite limit to what it can hold. The proof here is simple. If the trash ends up on the floor surrounding the trash can, the can has exceeded its limit and you should empty it. Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp? Anyway, after three bathrooms downstairs and a laundry room can full of dryer lint, because I have finally conquered the mound of dirty clothes that was almost eligible to be counted as a permanent resident by the census bureau, I made my way upstairs for one more bathroom can and the kitchen trash. As I rounded the last turn, I was struck by the view off of the deck.

My attention was drawn from my chores to the morning's beautiful sunrise. The early rays of the sun defined the few lines of clouds. These same beams of sunlight made the newly budding leaves on the trees look like they were glowing. Simply stated, it was an awesome image.

I am often guilty of saying "that would be an amazing picture" but not taking the time to go get my camera and actually capture the sight. Perhaps I was remembering my own pontificating in my last post about making time for the things that you really want to do and this morinig I did grab the camera and take this picture.

I will admit that being in the presence of this sight this morning was much more dramatic and much more impressive than this photograph suggests. You'll have to take my word for it. I am also willing to admit that I may have been drawn to the new day's rising sun as a not so gentle reminder that there is always beauty in our midst; we just have to take the time to look at it.

I am happy to report that even though I was sidetracked by today's sunrise and my taking its picture, I still managed to get everything to the dumpster on time. It is OK to stop and smell the roses or in my case, stop and watch the leaves glow.

A belated happy spring to all . . .

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Time For Everything . . .At Least The Important Stuff

Over the past few days I have had a great deal of time to knit. (This is a good thing since it is about time for the next issue of Spirit of Knitting to be published and I was working on designs for the issue.) Much of the time I spent knitting was while sitting at our booth at the DFW Fiberfest. I worked a little and I knit a lot. Also recently we have begun knitting with a group at our local library. The group officially meets once a month but we all know that is not frequent enough for knitters, especially new ones who are still unsure about what they are doing and how to fix their own sure-to-happen mistakes. So, we have been meeting unofficially once a week at a local cafe and bakery. Knitting, coffee, friends, and chocolate croissants-life doesn't get much better than that!

Most weeks, we sit and knit together for two or three hours. I justify this as working in a remote office. I need to be knitting (it is part of my job, right?) and it really doesn't matter where that happens. Never mind the fact that I could do a few loads of laundry between rows or I could eat apples and grapes instead of chocolate croissants if I were at home. The truth is, I am working. Inevitably, every time we meet at the cafe, someone will stop at our table and say something to the effect of that looks like fun. I wish I had the time to just sit around and knit. Obviously they fail to see that this really is work. Okay, I'll admit that it is not well-paying work, but hey, does that really matter?

I began thinking about all those people who wish that they HAD the time to just sit around and knit. Last time I checked, we all have the same 24 hours in our days. Sometimes the days feel much longer and sometimes much shorter, but I do know that they all have 24 hours, no more and no less. (I know there are some extra seconds floating around out there) What do these people who wish they had time to knit do with their days? Shop? Watch TV? Sleep? Party? Read? Obviously they make time to eat since they spoke to us at an eating establishment. Perhaps if they cut one of the above out of their schedule, they could carve out some time to knit, that is if they really want to.

The deal is, we all make time for the things we WANT to do. So, if you really want to knit, you will knit. If you really want to read a book, you will rad a book. If you really want to do your laundry, you will do your laundry. If you really don't want to go commando, you will do your laundry. Though following our bliss is not possible all the time, we all have a desire for self preservation and doing those things that make us happy fall into the realm of self preservation.

I am just as guilty as the folks at the bakery of playing the "no time" card. With me, it comes with watching TV. I have caught myself saying that I wish I had time to just sit down and watch TV. In reality, I really don't wish for that. If it were that important to me, I would just sit down and do it. As it is, I don't. I will admit to being a bit culturally illiterate because of my choice not to do so. I don't even know who is on Dancing With the Stars, let alone who is winning. I have no idea who's married, who's divorced, or who's dead on ER. I am even woefully uninformed about what is happening on American Idol. I have chosen this state of ignorance for myself. I could watch TV instead of knitting, or I could watch TV instead of writing about wishing I could watch TV. But, I'm not.

I will trust that I can find someone who wishes they were knitting but is watching TV instead to tell me what is happening on primetime TV and I will continue to waste time knitting away. I may never know who wins this year's American Idol, but I will have lots of awesome hand-knit socks.

The next time you catch yourself saying, "I wish I had time to . . .", think about what you are saying. Do you really wish for the time to do that thing? If so, why aren't you doing it? If you are sincere in your desire, what can you do to allow yourself the necessary time? What are you doing that really is a waste of your time?

Does anyone know what is happening on Grey's Anatomy?i

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Liesl Forever

For nearly two months we have spent every night at rehearsal for Denton Community Theatre's production of The Sound of Music. It was an outstanding production all the way around. The director was fantastic, the cast was talented, and the crew did a great job as well. And for Erin, who played Liesl Von Trapp, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Because this was Erin's "first big role", we all thought carefully about what to give her as a memorable gift on opening night. Because she is incredibly spoiled, there was no lack of praise or gifts for her as the curtain went up two weeks ago. Liesl's big number in the show is "Sixteen Going on Seventeen." Liz found a beautiful music box of Liesl and Rolf dancing in the gazebo and, yes, it plays "Sixteen Going on Seventeen."

Surfing the Internet one night I found a book titled Forever Liesl. As it turns out it is the story of the making of the movie of The Sound of Music as told by the actress who played Liesl. Many differences exist between the stage and screen versions of this time-honored classic, especially in the character of Liesl. So, I was not sure whether something that focused on the movie would be an appropriate gift. After a little more in depth web surfing, I discovered that this actress, Charmian Carr, is alive and well and that it is possible to contact her. If I could get her to autograph the book for Erin, perhaps that would overshadow the fact that it centered on the making of the movie rather than the stage show. Charmian Carr was kind enough to write a lovely inscription to Erin wishing her as much joy playing Liesl as she herself had had.

BK also gave Erin a beautiful silver charm bracelet with a "16", sixteenth notes, and the comedy and tragedy masks. The hope is that as she does more shows, Erin will add a charm for each.

Needless to say, the memories of this show will linger for quite some time. Thankfully, this is because it was such a positive experience. In addition to all of the gifts, many pictures were taken and also will preserve the memories.

Here are just a few.

"Liesl and Rolf"

"Liesl and Maria"

"The Von Trapp Family Singers at the Kaltsburg festival"

"Von Trapp family portrait"

"Follow every rainbow, til you find your dream."