Tuesday, January 31, 2017

On A Somewhat Positive Note

A friend recently texted to ask if I was OK because I haven't posted here in the last week.  I am as OK as anyone is who is sad and angry about what is happening in this country right now.  I have not written because all I had to write about were things that I didn't want to write about.  Lol!  More words about discrimination, families being torn apart, innocent people being treated like criminals, power and money prevailing over wisdom and service are not needed.   I have chosen to keep quiet.  I remember learning that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.  I don't always adhere to that teaching, but I have in the last week.

And now I have some more uplifting things to share...

The first month of 2017 in pictures.  Its hard to believe that we are 31 days into the new year already.

And, today's post from Sifted Together.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Looking for Inspiration

I am kind of in a creative slump right now, but I keep on keeping on, trying to work myself out of it. One thing that always helps is seeing this sweet little face...even when this face is up in my face at 3am because it needs to go outside.  No matter what she does, it is impossible to get upset with Piper because she is such a happy and lovable little girl.

Today's Capture Your 365 prompt was open.  You know you are still in the slump when you take a photo of an outhouse as a daily photo.  Lol!  But, as the quote says, you never know where you will find inspiration.

I will also share here the link to my Tuesday in Texas post on Sifted Together.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Nature of Things

There is so much going on in this world right now that is not pretty that for the last few days, I have tried to stay away from the media, searching elsewhere for alternate truths. :-)  It hasn't been easy, but even in the midst of winter, the natural world is still full of beauty; it and my camera provided just the diversion that I needed!

Seeing the movie Lion on Friday evening and the musical 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on Saturday night rounded out the weekend's retreat from reality.

Oh, and a trip to the Lego Store!

Tomorrow it's back to the real world.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

One Down, Fifteen To Go

Week one of the Spring 2017 semester is over.  Let me just say that re-entry was tough!  Though I never really slept late over the holiday break, I was not up any day at 5:30 like I have been every day this week.  This adjustment to my morning alarm would have been much more tolerable if I had made a similar adjustment to my bedtime, if it also had moved three hours earlier.  I missed that step.  The result?  Three hours less sleep every night followed by a full day of work.  This definitely was not a good combination!!!  On the bright side...I have a great group of students.  Except for one...

Why is there always one person in every situation that upsets the chi?  One person who doesn't want to play by the rules.  One person who has to be in the spotlight all of the time.  One person who spends all of their energy trying to figure out how to beat the system rather than how to succeed within it.  Right now, my tolerance for such behavior is bordering on non-existent.  This may be because in almost every circumstance in which I find myself these days, not just at school, "this" person exists.  Perhaps it is all just some cruel learning experience that the universe is foisting upon me.

Dear Universe,  
I am too tired for this lesson right now!  Can we please wait until I am getting more than four or five hours of sleep at night to start this?  I will be a much better student then.  Thank you for your consideration.

In all seriousness,  I really do have a great deal of patience with those who are sincere, genuine, humble, compassionate, humorous,  a hard worker and responsible.  Conversely, I have zero tolerance for insincere, fake, arrogant, hurtful, mean, lazy, and irresponsible people.  Yes, I know we all have moments where we are not our best selves; however, for most of us, such instances are infrequent.  My rant here is directed toward those whose normal modus operandi is to consistently put themselves first, never considering how their actions and attitudes affect those around them.  Sadly, there are more people like this than I wish there were.  And right now, they all seem to be too close for comfort.

The best I can do when my final nerve has been stepped on is to put myself in time-out.  Some alone time with my camera, or a book, or my knitting will usually calm me down and help me to gain perspective and patience.  But not always...

This afternoon, I had camera time and knitting time.  This time to chill out made me fit to spend time in public having dinner with some close friends,  people who are good and thus are capable of restoring my faith in humanity.

A good ending to my day.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Body - 1: Mind - 0

I made healthy food choices today, which my body greatly appreciated, but it is not at all happy  with the "sleep diet" that has been imposed now that I am back in school.  Though my mind would like to tackle a few things on my need/want to-do list tonight, the body said, "NOOOOO!!!!"  For once, I am paying attention.  No mind over matter.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Double Dipping

I am double dipping today...

It is Tuesday In Texas  post day on  Sifted Together, the blog I co-write with my friend Tracey.  We started blogging together two years ago and have just recently reworked and renamed that venture.  We just launched Sifted Together  on January 9th so you've only missed a few posts.  To see what's going on in my world today, as well as what was going on Monday In Michigan from Tracey's perspective,  hop on over to www.siftedtogether.com.  You'll also find some great biscuit recipes in last week's Food Friday post.  

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 8-16: Cleaning, Friends, and Tornado Sirens

Only sixteen days into the new year and so many good things have already happened!  Yes, I have taken a week long hiatus from writing here; though that was not exactly what I had planned, it is a good thing.  Last weekend, while on retreat, I felt compelled to write even though I was not supposed to be.  And this week, I have been at home with access to my computer, but other things were more important.

I returned home from last weekend's retreat tired, but ready to take on some tasks that I had been putting off for way too long.  Our guest room has been a storage unit rather than usable space in our home since I brought things back from my parents house over a year ago.  I have had lots of reasons excuses for not going through all of the boxes, but it was now time.  I needed a "good" reason to get started and get it done.  I finally had it!  My friend, Joni, wanted to come visit from Wisconsin for a few days.  Asking her to sleep either on the couch with the dogs or on an air mattress on the floor did not seem very hospitable; I had the impetus I needed to attack the guest room chaos and get it done!

It is hard work going through several generations of family papers trying to decide what to keep and what to toss.  I had lots of photos of people that I could not identify in places that I could not identify.  I finally had to tell myself that if the photos did not have meaning to me, they weren't going to have meaning to anyone else.  With this realization, I was able to part with a lot of them.

Then there was all of my dad's Navy stuff...his sword, medals, uniforms... It's funny.  I know that my dad was career Navy and I am proud of his service, but that is not how I knew him.  To me, he was not a Navy Captain, he was my dad...the guy who gave me piggy back rides, taught me to garden, talked to me about Carl Sagan books, educated me about investing, tried to convert me from a Coke drinker to a Pepsi drinker,  did not share my political views, called me Peanut, and shared my love of Sudoku puzzles.  And this is how I want to remember him.

I hung his sword on the wall in our library, sorted and packed the medals in a box, and safely stored them in the back of a closet.  This is not a permanent solution, but it is progress.  It is the best I could do right now.

We did the same sorting and thinning of boxes of stuff that Weber had.  Again, we are not done but now have labeled boxes. The most difficult part of this whole process is now done.  Our hands have touched every piece of paper and we know what is in each box.  We also sent items to other family members, various historical societies, and other agencies.  Our goal is to make sure that the things that we have that we are choosing to part with go to people who will appreciate them.  When Weber and I got married and combined our belongings,  our test for whether something stayed or went was, "Is it useful, beautiful, or joyful?"  If the answer was "no," then away it went.  We did have to think a little harder before answering this question during our latest round of purging.

Thanks to our friend Paul, who helped us rearrange some furniture, hang some pictures, and built us shelves in a closet, the house was in the best shape it has been in a long time when our friend Joni arrived.  Perhaps even more importantly,  I felt good emotionally about all that we had accomplished.  I was exactly where I needed to be to fully enjoy our visit.

I keep coming back to the importance of friendship.  I was touched and honored that someone wanted to spend their vacation time with us.  Of all the places to go on a vacation...Dallas...to spend time with us?  My heart knows that when push comes to shove, it is the who that is most important, not the where or the what.  My head, however, has a hard time really embracing that notion, especially when I am the who.

Thankfully, the frigid temperatures from the previous weekend gave way to springlike weather.  We were able to have a meal from the grill and also walk around downtown Dallas and visit the Sixth Floor Museum, the old Texas Book Depository, the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots at JFK.

(Ignore Snorri.  He thought it was still 17 degrees outside.)

Joni and I also spent a lot of time knitting together.  I am doing well with 2017 goals!  More knitting and a clean guest room!

I did have to start my Temperature Blanket over twice; the first time because an animal accidentally pulled my first few rows off of the needles and a second time because apparently my knitting skills are rusty and I made some stupid mistakes.  I am happy to report that now I am caught up on my blanket and I'm planning to roll smoothly through the rest of the year one row at a time!

On Saturday, Joni and I met up at the mall with another one of our pale pals.  We behaved fairly well while we were out unsupervised! :-)

On Sunday (yesterday), Joni got a taste of ugly Texas weather!  We had a terrible thunderstorm with high winds and the threat of tornadoes.  The tornado sirens did go off and we spent a few minutes huddled in the "safe room" with all of the animals.  Isn't that how everyone wants to spend their vacation?

I truly enjoyed my time with Joni.  I did take time out of each day to take my daily picture, but I did not want to lose any more time, so I chose not to write here.  I am happy about that.  The memories that I have of cursing knitting mistakes, making (and eating) cookies, downing a six-pack (of Diet Coke) every night, and getting to know each other a little better are far more meaningful than any words that I would have written here.

For that, I am thankful...

Friends are the siblings God never gave us. Mencius

True story...

Friday evening we went to a production by our local community theater.  Joni and I were in the restroom at intermission.  An older woman asked, "Are you girls twins?"  We both answered, "No."  She then said, "Oh.  Just sisters."  Again we both said, "No."  At which point she headed into a stall a bit confused.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Little Cheating on Retreat

I am on retreat this weekend and am supposed to be "fasting" from technology.  I'm not doing terribly well with that.  I am addicted to posting my daily photos, and I really don't want to lose my blogging momentum.  I don't have the time to write a full post today, so I am sharing a daily devotion that I wrote that was published today.


Today's devotional is written by Kris Baker, Order of St Francis & St Clare, at #cohdallas, a United Church of Christ congregation, based on the following scripture:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
A Word of Hope
Today is the feast of The Epiphany, the day when the three kings from the east, who had traveled afar over field and fountain, moor and mountain following yonder star, made their way to Bethlehem bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the newborn king. The word epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphainen, meaning to shine upon, to reveal, to manifest, or to make known. On this day we celebrate the manifestation and revelation of God in Christ. We celebrate the Christ child who is the light of the world.
Are we not like those three wise men on a pilgrimage to find Christ? Have we not asked, perhaps many times, where we can find him and pay homage to him? As modern day Christians, our call is to keep our eyes and heart on that guiding star, on Jesus, the light of the world, and to let that star be our guide. That is not easy. Stars are sometimes hidden by clouds; clouds of fear, despair, insecurity, and hopelessness obscure the light. And even when we can see the stars, they often appear far beyond our reach. We need to remember that Jesus is never beyond our reach. He is with us in every step of every day. Jesus is the light that shines in our darkness. He is the star that, like the one that lead the wise men to Bethlehem, guides us through our daily lives. The three kings came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for Jesus. In the words of Christina Rosetti, "What can I give Him, poor as I am?...[I can] give my heart." That is enough. The only thing that Jesus desires of us is our hearts. In giving Christ our hearts and following Him, the light of the world, all things are made possible.
What do you see when you look at the stars? Do you see stars of hope, peace, love? Stars of compassion, justice, mercy? Stars of contemplation, prayer, action? In the words of Paul to the Thessalonians, "You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart." (MSG)
Creator of the stars of night, help me to always trust in You and be guided by Your light. I pray that I will be a beacon of that light for others. Amen


In other news, we had snow in Texas today!  There was only a light dusting where I am, but at home, apparently there was quite a bit more, enough to wreak havoc on the roads at rush hour.  I did manage to sneak outside long enough to snap today's picture of the day, "Where I Stand."

Brooke is at home dog sitting.  Today's snow was Piper's first time ever to see the white stuff.  Her "big sister" kindly sent me a video.

 I was sad not to be there. I hate to admit that  I felt like a parent who was missing a significant first in her child's life.

Obviously it it cold here in here in Texas!  Despite that, Weber was excited last night to get to drive the golf cart back to our cabin.  Apparently, I am not a woman who chooses a guy based on the "car" he drives. :-)

I am going to stop here and go repent for my rule breaking sins.  I wish you all a blessed Feast of the Epiphany.

This was a light on the foot path and the pattern that it cast.  Perfect for today!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


So many acts are
Little things matter.

KEB 1/4/17

Today's photo prompt was overlook.  I could probably write pages here about all of the things that I have overlooked lately, but I have no time for that because I definitely have overlooked the fact until now that we will be out of town this weekend staffing a retreat and I had not packed a thing until 11 pm tonight.  So, no time to write.

That said, I will be gone until Sunday evening and Internet access is very limited.  If I fail to post here for the next couple of days, it is not an oversight!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Boxes and More Boxes

Boxes, more boxes
Of papers and photographs.
Flawed memories.

KEB 1/3/17

For a year and a half all of the boxes of "stuff" that I brought home from my dad's house have been sitting in our guest room.  Well sitting may be too kind a word.  Crammed is more appropriate.  It is fair to say that anyone who ventured into that room would have needed a golden clew, like that of Ariadne, to make their way out of the labyrinth of boxes.  I don't think there was a minotaur in the midst of our guest room, but I couldn't be absolutely sure of that!  The primary reason that these boxes have remained untouched for so long is that I wasn't sure where we were going to go with all of their contents.  The other reason is that I despise clutter, particularly paper clutter, which is what a large portion of the boxes' contents.  Photos of family, some of whom I could identify and lots of others that I couldn't, newspaper clippings, my mother's scrapbooks from her childhood through the birth of her grandchildren, marriage licenses, baptismal certificates, and various other records.  Let's just say that there was a forest worth of paper.  The prospect of going through it all was terribly overwhelming to me.  So I ignored for awhile.

Back in the spring Weber and I decided that we would build an addition on to our home to accomodate the few pieces of furniture that I kept, as well as give us much needed storage space, and an extra bathroom for my sloppy Offspring that lives with us.  We worked on bringing this plan to fruition for about six months.  The hold up was finding a concrete company willing to take "the small job" of our little slab.  Both our contractor and Weber made call after call and no one had the time or resources to give to what we needed.  I took that as a sign that perhaps an addition was not the right decision for us. Right before Christmas we gave up on the idea.  That meant that I now had to face the mounds of boxes.  No more procrastination.

The problem with sorting all of the things from Delaware was that I still needed somewhere to go with it all once I unpacked it.  This meant that I needed to clean out virtually every closet in our house in order to free up any and every free inch of usable storage space.  I started this "project" on my birthday.  Though I dreaded it, taking that first step was really a gift to myself, because once I start something, I will not stop until I finish.  So, for a week now, the contents of not only the guest room, but every closet in the house have been pulled out, culled, reboxed, and much of it relocated.  Our contractor kindly came over and added some extra shelves in a bedroom closet and also hung a few of the pieces of art that we brought back.  

This process has been going on for a week.  We are not done, but we have made an amzing amount of progress.  Many things have been given away or thrown away.  Fortunately, I am willing to get rid of things.  I don't need or want every family picture that was ever taken.  I saved a few, but I most certainly tossed more than I kept.  Items that are staying have been organized and neatly stored in bins.  And by some miracle, we found a place for all of those bins, none of which ended up in the attic.  One of my weird little quirks is that I don't believe in putting stuff in the attic.  First of all, in Texas, that is a certain death sentence.  Second of all, I cleared out the attic at my parents house.  Most things that go to an attic are never seen again until the next generation is faced with figuring out what to do with them.  I don't want my girls to have to deal with all of this crap.  I didn't want me to have to deal with it, but I have to and I am happy to say that I have!

We are not completely done, but we are WAY closer to that goal than we were this time last week.  A few more things need to be donated.  Some of Weber's family items need to be mailed to other family members who will appreciate them a little more.  There is still art to be hung,  some that first needs to be reframed, but the to-do list is much shorter and much more bearable than it was a few days ago.

I cleaned out the last closet today, the one that was full of all of my kniting supplies.  I was a bit ruthless, but that's OK; it was all my stuff.  I had more unfinished projects than I care to admit.  I threw them all away with the exception of two or three.  (Forget what I said above about not stopping until I finish something. Apparently that does not apply to knitting!)  In my head, storing a bunch of unfinished projects created a feeling that my organizing and cleaning project was also unfinished.  Discarding the "UFO's" meant that everything was tidy and ready for a fresh start.

While I was sorting my yarn into tubs, Piper decided that she would check out the yarn for her next sweater.  She is the best dressed pup around!

A huge and long enduring burden has been lifted because of the work we have done in the past week. Like I said, there is still more to accomplish, but I now believe that we can do it.

I must also thank a friend who is coming to visit next week for the final nudge that I needed to get this all done.  I really want to see her and for that to happen we have to have a place for her to sleep other than the couch or an air mattress on the floor in the den!

I have had my moments of frustration and despair during all of this, but they have been fleeting.  I think that I can honestly say that 2017 is off to a fantastic start!

Monday, January 2, 2017

One Little Word - Nourish

For body, mind, spirit
Growth, health, and good condition.
In one word, NOURISH.

KEB 1/2/16

For a second year, I am participating in Ali Edwards One Little Word project.  This project invites you to choose one word that you will work with throughout the year.  The word should be one that helps you grow personally and perhaps helps you to reach a goal or goals.  I attempted this project last year.  My word was Order.  Although I did make some progress in gaining order in my life, I did not follow through with the work of the project through the entire year.  I am trying again.  In considering this year's project, the word nourish came to me almost immediately.  Before committing to it however, I spent some serious time reflecting on other possibilities.  I entertained several other words, but I kept coming back to "nourish."  Yesterday, it officially became my One Little Word for 2017.

I did toggle back and forth for a bit between the words "nourish" and "nurture."  In my head these words mean two different things, but I could not make the distinction in a concrete way, so I turned to the dictionary.
Nurture  - Care for and protect (someone or something) while they are growing
Nourish  - Provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition
Both words come from the Latin nutrire, meaning to feed.  (I'm glad there is a good reason for my inability to clearly differentiate the meaning of these two words.)  After reading these two definitions, I still had to spend some time cogitating before I could make an absolute distinction.  It didn't help that some dictionaries consider these nourish and nurture to be synonyms.  The conclusion to which I came is that, though both words are verbs and thus suggest action (and I knew my word had to be one that required action), nurture  implies a more general sense of caring for, while nourish demands figuring out exactly what kind of "food" is necessary to stimulate growth, health, good condition and then taking the next step...actually doing the feeding.  This year I want to find the best ways to nourish my body, mind, and spirit as to facilitate positive growth and health. 

I constantly struggle with nourishing my body in a healthy way.  I know what foods are good for it and which ones aren't, but I don't always make choices that reflect this knowledge.  Interestingly, its not even that I don't like foods that provide the best nourishment for my body; I do.  I am a big fan of fruits and vegetables and healthy grains.  One of the things that I will explore throughout the year is what really drives my choices in how I choose to nourish my body and what I can do to put a better decision maker in the driver's seat.

In nourishing my mind, I often get stuck in a pattern of "eating" the same thing day in and day out because it is convenient.  I get my news from the same sources every day.  I read the same magazines.  I read the same authors.  I do vary things in my teaching from semester to semester.  Perhaps my biggest problem with feeding my mind in that I don't feed it regularly.  I alternate between "binge eating" and starvation.  I suspect that the mind, just like the body, benefits from regular "meals."  I need to figure out both a healthy feeding schedule and menu for my mind.

Unlike my mind that binges and then starves itself, my spirit is constantly grazing, always chewing on something.  But like my body, what my spirit sometimes chooses to gnaw on is not necessarily a healthy choice for me.  And often, it is not even conscious of what it has "eaten."  So here too, I will use this year to figure out how to nourish my spirit with intention.

I do know that to nourish my whole self, I need first to figure out how to balance the care and feeding, nurturing and nourishing, of my body, mind, and spirit individually.  Attaining health and positive growth in all three means figuring out the right ingredients for each that will also combine to create a healthy recipe overall...kind of like a chocolate meringue pie.  With the pie you need a crust, chocolate filling, and the meringue.  If any one of those three parts is lacking, the entire pie will be lacking.  And so it goes with body mind and spirit.

And so in this first month of 2017, I am beginning the process of figuring out how to successfully nourish my whole self in such a way that my body, mind, and spirit receive adequate and healthy sustenance so that I reach the end of the year in "good condition."

Sunday, January 1, 2017

No New Year's Resolutions

I don't make New Year's resolutions.  Instead, I prefer to think that I am setting new goals for myself in the coming year.  What's the difference?  A resolution is "a firm decision to do or not do something."  A goal is "the object of a person's ambition or effort, an aim or desired result."  I think my issue with resolution comes in the word firm.  That makes the idea of keeping to resolution sound so strict, so harsh, so inflexible.  To do or not do something is binary.  It's black and white.  By profession, I am a music theorist.  My nature as a theorist is to live in the gray areas of music.  Actually, I like the gray area of most things.  Its the place where I can look at something from multiple perspectives, see possibilities, make not so obvious connections.  Perhaps the bottom line with my attitudes toward making and keeping a New Year's resolution is that there is no creativity involved in the process.  Again, either you keep the resolution and are "successful."  Or, you don't keep the resolution and you have failed.  There has to be something between failure and success when it comes to New Year's resolutions!

Goals, on the other hand, don't feel so rigid.  It seems to me like in setting a goal, I am tasked with deciding what is important to me and figuring out what I can do to work toward reaching a desired result.  The path to that desired goal may not be obvious at the outset.   Reaching a goal requires constant and creative engagement from me through the entire process of working toward that end.  If I feel like I am not making progress, I have the freedom to re-evaluate both my process and the goal itself.  Flexibility.  Gray area.  Creativity.  That is the difference to me.  I need goals.

I have set a few goals for myself for 2017.

  • To be more intentional with how I spend my time.
  • To write regularly.
  • To knit more than in 2016.
That's all.

I may need to amend or change my goals as the year progresses, but for now, this is where I am.

As part of my goal to knit more, I accepted a challenge from a friend to knit a Temperature Blanket this year.  With this project, temperature ranges are assigned a specific color of yarn.  Each day, you knit one row of the color that corresponds to the daily high temperature in your area.  I definitely did not knit even one row a day in 2016, so, if I persevere with this project, I will meet my goal of knitting more in 2017 than in 2016.

1/365 - Fresh Start

As digits change
The year's colors appear
One day at a time.

KEB 1/1/17