Saturday, January 31, 2009

Always good for a "chuckle"

I promise- once you have a look at the Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks you will suddenly begin having "sightings" everywhere you go!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

I stumbled upon One Year of Beauty yesterday and it gave the day a whole new perspective. It's Liv's blog, and she says,
"In October 2006, while I was sitting at a stoplight, I looked up and noticed a brilliant rainbow in the sky. Hoping others had seen the rainbow, too, I looked at the cars around me. Sadly, all the other drivers were too preoccupied to notice the rainbow right in front of us. I wondered how many rainbows or other beauty sightings I had missed by being too distracted and disconnected. So, I decided to force myself into the habit of noticing beauty daily, taking a picture and writing some reflections online every day for a year.It’s incredible what happens when you remember to look up; the project was truly transformational for me. The icing on the cake was hearing from people around the world who were inspired to look for beauty in their own lives.
Some days we all wake up and feel the world seems pretty ugly, the future seems pretty bleak. But when you start to pay attention to the good stuff in life, I swear the good stuff multiplies."

And my beauty sighting yesterday was captured in this picture- Willow in yet another crazy sleeping position, balanced precariously on the edge and giving herself totally to the task at hand- taking a nap. I had not stepped foot outside my front door in 48 hours and was growing weary of this house and its occupants, but this sweet sight was good medicine.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

Had a snow day at home today, so I played around the house. Made this little calendar.

Always enjoy seeing these little folks.
I wish the Obama's would pick Bean!!
And speaking of the Obama's, this is a way I hadn't thought of to send a message to the new President and to commemorate the Inauguration.
More little houses that speak to me.

Happy Wednesday!

Lost Generation

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm just sayin'.......

The pre-weather news blitz for our much predicted winter storm has brought to mind a favorite essay of mine by E.B. White written in 1954, entitled, "The Eye of Edna".

"It became evident to me after a few fast rounds with the radio that the broadcasters had opened up on Edna awfully far in advance, before she had come out of her corner, and were spending themselves at a reckless rate. During the morning hours, they were having a tough time keeping Edna going at the velocity demanded of emergency broadcasting. I heard one fellow from, I think, Riverhead, Long Island, interviewing his out-of-doors man, who had been sent abroad in a car to look over conditions on the eastern end of the island.
'How wet would you say the roads were?" asked the tense voice.
'They were wet,' replied the reporter, who seemed to be in a sulk.
'Would you say the spray from the puddles was dashing up around the mudguards?' inquired the desperate radioman.
'Yeah,' replied the reporter.
It was one of those confused moments, emotionally, when the listener could not be quite sure what position radio was taking -- for hurricanes or against them.
A few minutes later, I heard another baffling snatch of dialogue on the air, from another sector -- I think it was Martha's Vineyard.
'Is it raining hard there?' asked an eager voice.
'Yes, it is.'
'Fine!' exclaimed the first voice, well pleased at having got a correct response.....
......It was Taylor Grant, earlier in the evening, who pretty well summed things up for the radio. 'The weather bureau estimates that almost forty-six million persons along the east coast have felt some degree of concern over the movement of the storm,' said Mr. Grant. 'Never before has a hurricane had that large an audience.'"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

So, Friday night the girls and I are having dinner at a new Mexican place in the neighborhood. The place is packed and there is only one waiter/busboy. He is an adorable young man whose English seems to be limited, but whose big smile makes up for it.
It does not go unnoticed by the girls that this young man is really really cute, and they become very chatty and giggly and flirty every time he comes to our table. He blushes a bit, and seems to find reason to come past the table a million times, each time looking busy and important, cutting his eyes and smiling, clearly aware that the girls are watching him.
About halfway through the meal he clears a large table behind us and makes a big show of hoisting a huge tray up to his shoulder stacked high with dishes. He's smiling at the girls and they're smiling at him and everything is "working"....and just when he gets even with our table...... a bowl of salsa at the top of his tray turns over and salsa hits his face, his hair, runs down his neck, covers his shoulder.
The girls and I look away as fast as we can hoping against all hope he thinks we didn't see it. We hear an anguished groan as he disappears into the kitchen and once he returns in a clean shirt, he never looks our way again. The moment is so tender and so painful that the girls and I don't even speak of it. We finish off a great meal, if a little quieter, and leave the restaurant.
As we get ready to pull out we see him pull the curtains up and look out at us. The girls get all giggly and screechy and wave and he sheepishly waves back. And Mexican becomes their favorite food!

Show Me The Curry!

I've become quite a Show Me The Curry Fan! They make everything look so easy to prepare. I was especially interested in trying this Chivda recipe.
One of my very favorite books ever is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. At one point in the book, the young bride who is new to America and homesick for India puts hot sauce on Rice Krispys to remind her of Chivda, and I've been curious ever since.
I have made it several times now, and it's a hit with my family. I have made revisions each time according to what I have on hand. I don't have fresh curry leaves or citric acid, or a mortar and pestle for that matter. I have used some garam masala and some regular curry powder. We also like ours spicy so I make a double batch of the spices for a batch. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Knowing Myself

When I die
I want it to be said that I wasted
hours in feeling absolutely useless
and enjoyed it, sensing my life
more strongly than when I worked at it.Now I know myself from a stone
or a sledgehammer
.~ David Ignatow~
A number of years ago I left my 9 to 5 job and worked for a while doing various odd job/part-time kinds of things. I pieced together a few things at a time, rearranging the pieces periodically, doing a number of very interesting things. I later learned that this is called "portfolio work". In an article by Dr. Tara Fenwick, she defines not only portfolio work but the one dilemma I encountered.
What is Portfolio work?

Portfolio work is a non-traditional, flexible career form. Individuals contract their skills and knowledge to various clients and organisations, in effect creating a ‘portfolio’
of work activity for themselves. Portfolio work is a form of own-account self-employment (a business with no employees besides the owner-operator) where the owner sometimes resembles an employee. Portfolio work has been studied
most often in terms of the personal transitions involved. Particular interest
has centered on how portfolio workers craft a career identity. How individuals
‘construct non-organisationally sustained accounts of their working lives’ is a
focus for Gold and Fraser (2002), who examined portfolio workers’ strategies for
successful transition.

For a while, I had a hard time explaining what I "did" , and without a job title floundered around in search of an identity, a label others could understand. In the middle of it all, I quit worrying about whether anyone understood what I was doing and quit trying to craft a new identity for myself. I just was, and I was pretty happy at it too!
In that sweet uncomplicated time, I, "learned to know myself from a stone or a sledgehammer."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Little Bit of Link Love Today

Like this sweet article ........ sigh

And how lucky is Ursula?

Fun video from the Johnson-McCormick clan celebrating the inauguration.....

Wish I could send them some of these cupcakes......

Maryam is always making me want to go to Marrakash

And finally, your personal moon......

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Praise song for the day

I'm not sure if I was too distracted or if the reading was not to my liking, but I love this poem so much more as I read it myself tonight. It really is a lovely poem for this day.

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other,
catching each others' eyes or not,
about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise.
All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem,
darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky;

A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."
We encounter each other in words,

words spiny or smooth,
whispered or declaimed;
words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."
We need to find a place where we are safe;

We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain, that many have died for this day.

Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce,
built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day.

Praise song for every hand-lettered sign;
The figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Others by "first, do no harm", or, " take no more than you need."
What if the mightiest word is love,

love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,

anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp

-- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Elizabeth Alexander
September 14, 2006
Slugger Field
Dear Kendra, Shameka, and Chiayim-
Do you remember the night Shawn and I drug you off to Slugger Field with us to see Senator Barack Obama? Well, we didn't really have to drag you ,but you were fairly indifferent to it all. I remember saying to you that night, "If ever there were to be a black President, it would be Barack Obama."
What I have realized since then was that I did believe that he was capable to fill the office.
What I could not even imagine was that he could be elected to it.
Against all hope I made you view countless youtube videos, poor Chiayim's email box was always full of articles I wanted him to read (wonder if he really did read any of them?!), I launched and Chiayim executed a detailed plan to see him at the Convention Center.
You endured. I'm not sure if you were totally sold, I'm not sure if you even understood, but you went along for the ride.
You cooked dinner on the nights I worked at the phone bank. You watched debates with me- real and the SNL versions. On Election Night when John McCain gave his concession speech Chiayim called from college, ecstatic and in a room where other students were equally excited. I wouldn't wake you girls up until I saw the Obama's step to the platform. I could not even let myself believe it could be true until I saw that moment.
I know you were shocked when I said that you could stay home from school today. I'm a little surprised myself! But I want you to see this with YOUR eyes, in real time, feel it make your heart swell.
Someday I want you to tell your kids that your crazy mom woke you up at midnight to see Barack Obama address the nation on the night of his election,
that you stood for several hours packed like sardines to hear him speak,
that you watched his inauguration with your mom and grandmother and aunt.
I hope that when you say how absolutely huge it was for a person of color to become President that they will find it hard to understand what the big deal was.
I hope that in the same breath you will tell them that I called all of you at college and in apartments at midnight to tell you to get up- a woman was about to give her acceptance speech!
I want you to say, "I saw it with my own eyes."
Happy Election Day!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others.-- Strength in Love (1963

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.-- "Letter from Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.-- "Letter from Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.-- Quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 13, 1962

If a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live.-- Speech in Detroit, Michigan on June 23, 1963

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.-- "Letter from Birmingham Jail," 16 April 1963

Sunday, January 18, 2009

If You're Out There

Every time I listen to this John Legend song it makes me weepy. I just get this visual of people, one person at a time, standing up to face the future together, knowing we all have to do our part.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I want one of these.....

A Tiny Retreat

I have spent waaaayyyyy more time this week than I would care to admit googling around to find a site that I had had bookmarked on my old computer that died last year. I had found it several years ago quite by accident as I was persuing my interest of tiny houses. I stumbled upon the blog of a woman who had just bought an allotment cottage in Sweden. (If you don't know what an allotment garden is, you can find a bit of a definition here.) This cottage was little more than a glorified shed in size. It had a two burner stove and a table for two and a bed and small sitting room. It didn't look so much like a place one would live all of the time, rather looking like a place you would go to spend an afternoon reading and writing and taking a nap after tending your garden. Something about the pictures of this tiny cottage spoke to me, and I've fallen asleep many a night imagining myself to be napping there.
I have always had a love affair with tiny houses, even before my own house became "tiny" with the addition of so many people and creatures and things. For naps and making art and listening to good music in. A set of keys you could press into the hand of a tired friend who could use a few hours of respite. Lit candles in the windows on a rainy afternoon. A journal ever ready on the table, two bowls and two mugs on the shelf.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


About a year ago Kendra and I took on a little project that was our secret until recently. We got the idea from Jen Lemen. We cut bright pieces of paper and used sparkly water colors to make them beautiful, then added fun messages. Things like, "Don't give up!" "Breathe, Sister, Breathe", "Perfection is tiresome. Be messy", "Treat yourself kindly" and so on. We made it our mission to leave one in the restroom of every place we happened to go. I carried them in my planner and while we were out one of us would give the other the secret wink and off we would go to plant the little note. Every detail of this was fun, from making the little notes to hiding them, but the most fun was having a secret with Kendra.

Kendra made a hard choice this week. She would say that it wasn't a hard choice, but it cost her something she enjoyed very much. I am very proud of her, and would have had a hard time choosing.

And so, tonight I hide the tiniest of notes in my heart, behind her sink, and hang it out there for the universe. "Trust your tender heart"

Monday, January 12, 2009

A time to laugh, a time to weep

Not the loss alone,
But what
If it ended completely
At loss, the rest

But you go on.
And the world also.

~ Gregory Orr

My mother with my cousin Judy taken on Christmas Day.

Looking at this picture makes me happy, and breaks my heart.

I am so proud of my mother who has walked through every new door with little hesitation.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

At first my word was going to be MORE- more peace, more joy, more time with my family, more self-care......but then I thought of how this is a more more more more more society I live in.
I realized that there has to be less of something for everything I want more of.
Less strife, less sadness, less meetings, less avoidance and denial.
Less stuff, more harmony in our house.
Less busyness, more quiet time for my heart to soften and grow.
Less concern about checking things off my to-do list, more living in the moment. Less need to control, more surprises.
Okay- less internet time, more sleep!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Last year, sparked by an idea in an Ali Edwards newsletter I decided to claim the word "Joy" as my word for 2008. I started the year out seeking and finding joy, but as the year wore on joy began to allude me, or maybe I stopped looking for it.
I had forgotten about the whole idea until last week in church when my pastor suggested a similar idea. She put the WORD out to the folks in the church on Monday morning.

"For those of you who weren't with us yesterday, I preached about words yesterday. I shared the meanings of za, qi, and xu, all great Scrabble words (Kevin seemed especially interested at that point), and told about about Welton Gaddy's book, "I Give You My Word," in which famous people share just one word. I also talked, of course, about THE Word made flesh, which is the best word ever. Quick sermon recap. Which leads me to the purpose of this email...

As we begin the New Year together, we are putting together a book of words to guide us through the year. So what we need from each of you is ONE WORD. It can be a word that you want to flesh out in your own life this year, or that you want our community to live into. It can be a word of challenge or a word of comfort. It can be a word that you want to hold on to (or to hang on to) this year. It can be a word that will guide you, pull you, push you, sustain you, whatever. It can be a word that you want to give to our community. It can be a word that you've just got to say. I gave us a little time to think about what our word would be at the end of my sermon, and I've been interested to hear from most of the people I've asked that their word came to them very easily, which I think is just so cool!

So think about what your word is, write it down with your name, and bring it next Sunday. Then the artsy fartsy ones among us will get together and make a book of all of our words."
So, I've been thinking about my word this week. I've almost
settled on mine, but am sitting with it a bit before I commit to it. Stay

What would your word be?
Also, Susan over at Making Books has an idea about a word a day project that looks pretty fun- have a look.

Waiting for Epiphany

the stone water jars show us the potential for miracle and celebration found in the simplest of vessels

Oh so soapy!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I was raised watching Soap Operas. Some of my earliest memories were of my Aunt Elaine coming to our house on her lunch hour to drink a can of Sego while we all watched Search for Tomorrow and The Edge of Night. I took a break during elementary school, although I can't think of a family dinner when someone didn't mention "the stories". By the time I hit high school we had a color tv and my summers were spent with Phillip and Tara. As a young adult with my first vcr, I would tape several hours of soaps each day and every evening fast forward through all but my favorite story lines. At some point I stopped watching, but glimpses of soap magazines in the grocery store line kept me up to snuff on story lines. A couple of months ago a girl at work commented on her facebook that she was about to watch her soap at 11 at night. I was curious as to how she did it, did a little internet surfing, found a site and watched a show......and I am totally hooked all over again! So many of the same characters played by the same actors were still there- my old friends! At first I was very closeted, watching As The World Turns after everyone else in my house had gone to bed. Then came the day that I could not wait to see what had happened and Kendra caught me. Busted. To the credit of ATWT I must say that they have done what GLBT activists have been trying to do for years. All over the country there are elderly aunts and grandmothers and sisters and friends all hoping that Luke and Noah can patch things up and get back together! So, I could say that I'm watching ATWT because they are breaking new ground.......

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Day

I've been poking around in need of a little hope the past few days, and this sweet poem was just what I was looking for.

Sometimes -- Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you

~ Sheenagh Pugh ~
(In Good Poems, ed. by Garrison Keillor,contributed by Holly Thomas)