Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Traveling Companions

So, part of the baggage I brought with me to Maryland is my hands* – and their persistent propensity to annoy me.  I enjoy some relief, and then live with a flare up – two steps forward and one back.  WebMD and a handy hefty volume of medical symptoms keep me occupied – but cautious. As Mark Twain warned:  

Be careful about reading health books.  You may die of a misprint. 

The bottom line is something in my environment – or in me – is generating an annoying, persistent problem.  (Dr. Barb's current diagnosis)

Yes, I am seeing a dermatologist. During the last visit, I saw three --  my treating physician, and two residents in dermatology who listened and observed my predicament. One asked what I do with my hands. Well, I said, I keep house, and tend a garden; but I also paint, knit, needlepoint, and play in clay.  And I write -- using a computer – whose component, nickel, has been associated with skin problems.
He then asked, could I stop doing these things?

Stop housework? Yes, I could easily stop that, given a gardener, maid and butler; but Stop painting or, using the computer . . .?   

I choked back Are You Nuts, and instead said calmly, I am not sure how I could manage that.  

What raced through my brain was the question:

 How could I live without pursuing simple creative pleasures?

Seriously, I did. I can be that self-absorbed!

Those with disabilities have to answer that very question. How does my friend Barbara Black,  an artist and writer with MS, live? Or, those gifted friends who battle cancer; or those who are recovering from strokes? I bet that’s a question our Wounded Warriors and their families also ask. 
Associated Press/Photo by Jossy Ola
Those fleeing for their very lives in Nigeria, Iraq, Gaza, Israel, the Sudan or Ukraine may not have the luxury to ponder that question.

·      In a declining society we need more men and women to rise above normal Christianity (R. Garrigou-Lagrange, in A Book of Days for Christians by Richardson Wright)

·      We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails. ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reporting on Week #1

Memories of people, places and things continue to spring up on our vacation to Maryland. Annapolis’ changes are even more obvious in the warm weather than they were at Christmas. *

When our son and his family came for a visit, we walked around downtown Annapolis, re-visiting spots where we once strolled, often during the  “children’s hour.”  Around four o’clock, back then, if things got dicey on the home-front, we bundled up and headed out for a quick visit to the State House lawn; we hopped aboard the cannon and rode out the craziness. Or, we walked up and down Main Street, popping into Rookie's for a few groceries to carry home for dinner.

In the 1980’s, when we lived here, Annapolis was still a small town with shops and businesses that served families first, and then tourists who liked architecture, sailing, and quaintness.  Now, sidewalk vendors, bars and outdoor restaurants abound, spilling over onto sidewalks – aimed at tourists, impeding those who want to meander with a small child and while away a few moments, enjoying the views.   

Now, as we jostled our way along West Street – experiencing all the changes that come with upscale retail, I will stipulate the little mom & pop stores never looked as good back then, as they do in my memories.  We pressed on. Wending our way to the left on Church Circle, we discovered the campus at St. John's College was empty of weekend revelers and its students. It has enjoyed a decidedly elegant renovation since our son scampered up and down its brick walks.  Watching him and his wife now stroll with his son, it was a happy flashback to some walks with him and his sister. 

Heading back to our vacation apartment, I could see how formerly modest homes have been renovated, catering to the tastes of those who can afford all the new restaurants, bars and boutiques.  Our old home now hidden among lush foliage overhanging a deep-water pier, looks very high-rent.  

Our Old Home
And what was once a rough row of old houses by a hospital-parking garage had been transformed into a tidy waterfront park for children and parents who might no longer enjoy wandering about downtown Annapolis.

The more things change, the more they change.  :0)

o   Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

o   Don't let yesterday use up too much of today. ~Cherokee Indian Proverb

o   What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now. ~Author Unknown

Friday, July 18, 2014

Remembering to Breathe

We are enjoying unseasonably cool weather in Maryland. The tornado-like storms that preceded our arrival by one-hour cooled and dried the typically muggy conditions that define a July day in Maryland. The wonder is that for as foul as the weather was, our flight was quite smooth – and one hour late. Had we been on time – well, who knows?

Cool dry air is a mood elevator. So, too, is coming in range of Berger cookies, blue crabs, family and friends. Not in that order, of course.
Berger Display at Grauls

Our vacation abode is as haunted in warm weather as it was over the Christmas holidays. Looking out across a lawn sloping to Spa Creek, I see wonderful shadows of lovely memories of the best people in the world! I also see my own insensitivity to how blessed, abounding, and irreplaceable the times were that we shared.

How much brighter this joy and peace seems in light of the news from Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, and our southern borders.  Yet, those enchanting memories happened amidst news I found convenient to ignore.    

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? 
—every, every minute?”
(“Our Town” by Thornton Wilder)

Is it just my age and stage that makes the here and now scarier?

Perhaps I'm old and tired, but 
I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do 
is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied.
~Douglas Adams

What Really Matters

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Guide me safely through the night,
Wake me with the morning light.
If I should live another day,
I pray the Lord to guide my way.


Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
(Lyrics by Amy Grant)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Power of Pictures

"The Problem"* 
An energetic family of five cut in line in front of me last night as I was trying to lift a heavy suitcase onto the airport shuttle bus.  What information would a photograph of that have communicated?

·      Rowdy kids ignore struggling senior? Or,
·      Old lady impedes family from a timely departure?

As they pushed their way ahead of me, they brought to mind a dangerous current event. I thought of others who are bucking the line trying to get into the USA on our southern border. (Immigrants Flood Rio Grande Valley) Perhaps as many as sixty-five thousand people have cut in line in front of others who are patiently waiting for their American citizenship.  We do not understand who these illegal aliens are, or why they have come, or how we can effectively care for, or return them to their own countries.

We have a couple of issues here – people are inviting themselves into our country, and the government is tacitly endorsing it. And the media is not explaining well what is happening.The limited photographs are generating heat, and stoking passions as they record the illegal immigrants’ troubles and those who protest their arrival and dispersion into communities whose budgets are busting. But, real-time information about the crises is missing.

Why is this?

The press, who is good at manipulating public opinion with powerful photographs, is unwilling or unable to describe the issues behind the images. 

Is anyone stopping them from digging out the details?

Come on guys . . . a picture can be a more truthful communicator of what is happening – and possible solutions -- if you describe the context.   


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Those Rascally Rodents Return

We are back to being a one-car family.

With regret, we sold our Subaru back to the dealer after they again repaired the damage wrought by persistent rodents. Apparently, the rodents were not repelled by the home remedies we diligently applied after the last repair of the electrical harness they had so thoroughly gnawed upon. Or, the mechanics missed this site of feasting. Whatever the cause, the results were windshield wipers that would not turn off, and imminent failure of the headlights because some rodents could not be routed.
What in the world is this? 
The picture I took poorly conveys the reality – it astonishes me how the rupture of just a few thin wires can stop so large and powerful a vehicle as a Subaru Forester – these vehicles are supposed to be an invincible combination of comfort and durability!  But, rodents wreaked more havoc than any road condition could cause.

One article described their tenacity saying: Rodents keep coming back into vehicles that are easily accessible to sharpen their teeth.   (More information)  

Frankly, it is a fitting metaphor for what is going on underneath the hood of our great nation. 

·      The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life. ~Theodore Roosevelt

·      America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. ~Abraham Lincoln

·      Only Americans can hurt America. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance. ~ Ruben Blades

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When Six Folks Come to Visit . . .

A Super Sextet 

They sure make a house seem full – of crazy good times.

Rooms are always filled with people, stuff, and voices. So much motion – no time for dust to settle! 
Everything got a workout.  The washing machine and dryer rarely paused – and the dishwasher ran 2 or 3 times a day.  

The old brain got a workout too  – fielding questions, comments, and very funny conversations. And my heart is so stuffed with memories that a photograph never adequately records.
Creature Comforts

A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours. 
~John B. Priestly

First Dinner in Dallas

Art Around the Table
Painting Shirts