Friday, June 29, 2007

Take it Easy...

"Take it easy, take it easy.
Don't let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy.
Lighten up while you still can,
Don't even try to understand,
Just find a place to make your stand
And take it easy..."

~~The Eagles

It's been one of those great days where nothing went the way I wanted and it was perfect. Just perfect! The day had a better plan than I did. Exciting news. Unexpected business cheerfully tackled and concluded. Hiking and riding with the dog and the kids. A surprise picnic sitting in the car while splattering, intoxicating rain soothed us. And much later, solitude with my iPod serving up old songs, gently escorting me to that special place which is timelessly my own.

I took it easy.

And it's Friday. Timing. Perfect timing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Active Life

"If an expert does not have some problem to vex him, he is unhappy!
If a philosopher's teaching is never attacked, he pines away!
If critics have no one on whom to exercise their spite, they are unhappy.
All such men are prisoners in the world of objects.

He who wants followers, seeks political power.
He who wants reputation, holds an office.
The strong man looks for weights to lift.
The brave man looks for an emergency in which he can show bravery.
The swordsman wants a battle in which he can swing his sword.
Men past their prime prefer a dignified retirement, in which they may seem profound.
Men experienced in law seek difficult cases to extend the application of laws.
Liturgists and musicians like festivals in which they parade their ceremonious talents.
The benevolent, the dutiful, are always looking for chances to display virtue.

Where would the gardener be if there were no more weeds?
What would become of business without a market of fools?
Where would the masses be if there were no pretext for getting jammed together and making noise?
What would become of labor if there were no superfluous objects to be made?

Produce! Get results! Make money! Make friends! Make changes!
Or you will die of despair!

Those who are caught in the machinery of power take no joy except in activity and change - the whirring of the machine! Whenever an occasion for action presents itself, they are compelled to act; they cannot help themselves. They are inexorably moved, like the machine of which they are a part. Prisoners in the world of objects, they have no choice but to submit to the demands of matter! They are pressed down and crushed by external forces, fashion, the market, events, public opinion. Never in a whole lifetime do they recover their right mind! The active life! What a pity!"

~~~Chuang Tzu

(Last Sunday I took this photo of one of our silver-leafed maple trees as the sun's last rays of the evening turned some of its silky green leaves golden. Blazing! Gorgeous!)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Standing on Tiptoe

"He whose law is within himself
Walks in hiddenness.
His acts are not influenced
By approval or disapproval.
He whose law is outside himself
Directs his will to what is
Beyond his control
And seeks
To extend his power
Over objects.

He who walks in hiddenness
Has light to guide him
In all his acts.
He who seeks to extend his control
Is nothing but an operator.
While he thinks he is
Surpassing others,
Others see him merely
Straining, stretching
To stand on tiptoe.

When he tries to extend his power
Over objects,
Those objects gain control
Of him.
He who is controlled by objects
Loses possession of his inner self:
If he no longer values himself,
How can he value others?
If he no longer values others,
He is abandoned.
He has nothing left!"

~~Chuang Tzu

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Peaceful Weekend

Few words today. Quiet. Serenity. All four kids. Tom. Work. Play. Rest. Settle Down.

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Oh please, oh please, oh please...!"

My mailbox held this little forwarded photo today. Doggie prayers. What would a doggie pray for with such earnestness as this pup's face and posture show? Perhaps he is such a good friend to the angelic little boy that he's backing up his prayers for a new bike, or a wagon, or a Wii? Pretty cute.

Have a TERRIFIC weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Heightened Awareness

Surfacing, after decades of panicked flailing under the black waters of delusion, finally gasping and gulping mighty lungfuls of freedom and clarity, I find myself not only redefined, but understanding the problem and the remaining consequences of those years spent anesthetizing myself with food. The consequences, for me, are many many pounds of fat, clinging to my frame.

Though my abused 'inner self' battled my dazed 'outer self' - and won, for a time - the inner is healthier now, it's sane. One particularly ugly dominating beast has been removed from my mind and heart.

I'm overjoyed to be above the surface again. I'm delighted to find that the only ramification has been this, a situation which I can reverse. Thank God I didn't turn to drugs, sex, or crime, or permanently harm myself or others. Humble appreciation to God, too, that I now recognize my present self-created physical condition for what it is, simply the result of overeating, not some divine punishment for a life of weakness.

Facts are facts. I put the pounds here, I need to get them off, for my health, so I can be around to see more of this life, God willing, and the lives of those I love and will love. I look at it as a sort of cleansing ritual, a barnacle scrubbing, the removal of unwanted weight which drags and strains. It'll take time and tedious effort, but the relief will be magnificent.

Lately I've noticed my emotionally-trained responses, the ones to which I'd become addicted. Currently, I find myself naturally changing gears when I think about eating something, even meals. "Am I really hungry? What have I eaten today, do I need more? Maybe I'm just thirsty." For the first time there is a mindful process going on, one that is asking questions, that is thinking about the effect my over-consumption has had on my body, both inside and out. It has become reasonable to make choices based on my knowledge of a healthful human diet, rather than on what can be tastily stuffed into that now vanished void, that never satisfied emptiness which caused clenching, confusing anguish, the void that never filled. Only the space under my skin filled, stretching it out and out and out. The void wasn't real. The food was. And the consequential fat remains.

"Heightening our awareness is the most effective tool we can use in dealing with any addiction to injurious habits. For example, if we are interested in giving up overeating, we can heighten our awareness of exactly what it is that we are doing to ourselves at all levels, from social to cellular." ~~ Tom Crum

Somehow I managed to do just that, become aware. It just sorta happened. Grace of God over time.

For the first time ever, I don't feel panic, or crazed determination to lose weight. I feel like I do when I have any job in front of me: prepared, and ready to go to work. I don't hate my body anymore. It has served me well. Four kids, 51 years of pain-free mobility, flexibility, and freedom. It's withstood the abuse rather well, all things considered.

Now that my mind and heart have healed, it's my body's turn.

And what better season than summer to begin a noble task?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sweet Innocence

Adorable, four years old, bursting with pride. She'd spent the entire week attending a Day Children's Craft Camp, bringing home a different sort of paper craft every day. Her mom, also bursting with pride, had covered one wall of her little daughter's pink bedroom with cork board, for displaying such treasures.

Little four-year old's tiny, chubby hand slipped into my larger, chubby hand, gently tugging, urging me to follow along to her domain.

I did. Right into her pretty pink, toy-strewn room.

Pointing to all of her lovely creations neatly affixed to her Craft Wall she stated, beaming face uplifted, "My mommy hanged all my craps on the wall!"

Breathless Haste

Slow the pace, breathe deeply, focus the senses, allow yourself to...






"Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it."

~~ Soren Kierkegaard

Monday, June 18, 2007

'War, Huh, Yeah, What is it Good For?'

I am sick of the wars going on in this world.

Fighting. Killing. Shattered families. Obliterated towns. Soldiers fatigued, away from loved ones for far far too long. Tanks, bombs, bullets meant to maim and destroy - to kill. To kill. To beat an enemy into submission, or to destroy him entirely.

Money, scads of money, much of it earned by peaceful people, minding their own business, raising their own families, gladly living within the rules of a civilization they honor and appreciate, and would fight for. Money taken from them to be poured into a nasty, complicated warring disagreement.

How long will the United States be in Iraq? How many young men and women, some are friends of mine, have to leave their anxious families behind to go fight to patch up a country that repeatedly rips out fresh sutures, continually, passionately tearing itself apart? How many parents have to attend funerals when these brave 'kids' come home in ugly coffins, or are left stiff and dead on the very streets where they should be playing with their children? How much money will we have to give that could be spent improving our children's future, and in benevolence to families around the world? How long will the sensible people in Iraq have to endure the tyranny and bloodshed directed at them by crazed factions, people who are their very neighbors, their countrymen?

All because a nation is at war with itself, over what? Religion? Ideology? Territory? Greed?

I thought I understood why we went to Iraq, I thought we would free those poor people from Sadaam's reign of terror, I thought they would be released from their bonds to begin anew, and we could come home, leaving them to restore their country on their own terms. Who knew they'd go bananas? Lots of people knew. And we went anyway.

It's a noble goal, to encourage democracy and peaceful coexisting around the world. It's a brave people who offer help when others are oppressed. It's mandatory that civilians support their troops at all times, whether they agree with the cause or not. These things I understand.

My grandparents lived through two World Wars. WORLD wars. How does a thing like a WORLD war come to occur? (Rhetorical question, Tom keeps me informed on the 'whys.')

The Vietnam War darkened my cognizance from its beginning. Horrific. Torture. Death. Disaster. Nations torn asunder. After Vietnam left the headlines, it was the ongoing Cold War that dominated my awareness of things dark and scary. Terror. Worry. Hate. Madness. The Middle East is never peaceful, constantly erupting. Iran. Russia. Afghanistan. Bosnia. Africa. Central America. Iraq. I can't name them all, I can't remember them all. They've blurred together into one red-hot cauldron of insanity.

"There has been so much suffering in the twentieth century...We need to use the suffering of the twentieth century as compost, so that together we can create flowers for the twenty-first century." ~~Thich Nhat Hanh

And how do we go about doing that when the peaceful people are at the mercy of those who prefer to fight rather than negotiate, to angrily destroy, rather than listen and respect? To kill? To kill themselves in order to kill you and me?

I just don't understand.

And yet, I do.

This is the world we've created, we human beings, we sinful, broken people.

It will not always be so.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Seven Days

His dad was turning 90, he was turning 60, his son 30, and his grandson 10. Obviously this was an occasion worth celebrating.

Rather than throw one of those mind-numbing, shades of gray birthday parties where the main attraction consists of rubbery, pre-formed hamburger patties and cheap, too-salty hot dogs hidden between smashed white-bread buns, on floppy paper plates, next to potato and macaroni salads hastily purchased from the Salmonelli Deli, and where the after meal hours are spent slurping coffee, burping, and yawning, the sixty year old, a creative, exuberant man decided to rent several cabins at a dude ranch for the entire family, for an entire week!

Celebrating for seven days and nights in the fragrant mountain air, caressed by gentle summer breezes, under a friendly yellow sun by day, and flickering bright stars and a rotund creamy moon by night, this respectful, loving family vacated their normal day-to-day activities to come together. In retreat from lives of utility, the time was taken to look one another full in the face, offer expressions of sincere happiness, rejoice in the blessings that have been known from occupying together this common time on Earth, here, now, past and present, and whatever may be graced to follow.

The days were spent fishing in pristine waters, horseback riding through flower-strewn alpine meadows, hiking within aromatic wooded canyons, swimming in clear lakes, competing together in games of horse-shoes and volleyball. Meals shared on smooth pine benches scooted up to long cowboy tables laden with colorful, fresh-from-the-garden vegetables, local berries, and juicy slow-roasted meats were coupled with boisterous conversation and laughter.

The nights were shared in comfortable cabins, on perfect mattresses covered with soft, white linens, moonlight streaming through large wood-framed windows, the sounds of nocturnal creatures skittering and skulking, hooting, and snuffling. Pensive ponderings uttered in sighing pre-sleep whispers lifted burdens and spoke of faith. Sleep was deep, still, rejuvenating. Mornings were quiet, unbelievably scented with cedar and pine trees, fishy waters, dewy dirt, bacon, and eggs.

Seven days. One. Two.. Three... Four.... Five..... Six...... Seven. Each one more settled, relaxed, and candid than the last.

Seven days of four generations drawn together by cherished devotion to each member, and to the realization that a family done right brings encouragement to the spirit, peace to the heart, and unity to the clan.

More than dusty clothing and crisp memories were packed up and carried home at week's end. Stories and values had been passed down. Youthful enthusiasms handed up. Bodies young and old became invigorated by days of strenuous fun. Unconditional love nurtured tired spirits back to robust health.

Vitality blossomed from days of intimate sharing at the ranch, a kind of full-color, all sensory breathing which naturally followed each family member home, only to waft across the resumption of the day-to-day.

We outsiders, blessed to inhale the nobility of this family, find ourselves filled...with hope.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Life is Not Carved in Stone

In the movie Kundun, which is a masterfully written and directed biography of the Dalai Lama (aka Kundun), there is a scene where the Dalai Lama, as a very young child, is playing a strategic war-type board game with his teacher, a game which has little army figurines of warriors and such. At one point little Kundun stands up and begins pelting the figurines with some tiny objects, laughing gleefully while many toy soldiers and horses are knocked over. Raising his fists up like a strong man he says in as deep a voice as a five year can muster, "Power! I am on a big mountain hitting men!"

His patient, wise teacher says, while scooping up a handful of men, "I am braver."

Defiantly Kundun responds, "I have more men!" and grabs a chubby handful.

Gathering all the remaining pieces from the board and sliding them toward himself, the teacher calmly responds, looking Kundun square in the eye, "I have smarter men. I have ALL the men."

Kundun sits back down, dejection all over his baby-fat cheeks.

The teacher studies Kundun, and reminds him oh so gently, "Today you lose, Kundun. Tomorrow you may win." Snapping his fingers suddenly he adds softly, "Things change, Kundun."
We are never so 'on-top' that we can't be defeated. We are never so low that we can't rise again.

Patient generosity asks that we allow time and space for change within ourselves, within others.

Yes, things change.

Situations change.

Minds change.

Hearts change.

People change.

There have been many times when one of us, here in this little family, have gently snapped our fingers, kindly reminding another, "Things change, Kundun." It always helps.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

'This Old Guitar'

When I was 13 or so my brother brought home a John Denver album called Aerie. It had pictures of John on the front and back, with an eagle perched on a heavy leather glove on John's arm, while a round, orange, setting sun colored the scene sepia.

Birds of prey thrill nature-loving me, the way they seem so confident, powerful, graceful. They don't do all the flapping that a crow will do, and they don't seem unsteady and wobbly in flight the way vultures do. Grandeur and capable efficiency mark their movements. They perch with ease. They sore with speed and insouciance. A thing of awesome beauty it is to watch an eagle or osprey swoop upon a river or lake and with its massive talons pluck a fish right out of the water, then push hard against air with long, wide wings, and fly victoriously to its perch.

Naturally the photos on my brother's album garnered more than just a passing glance. The bait was set. I was hooked. I investigated.

After seeing and hearing that record album which showcased one of my favorite animal species, I made it a point to check out LPs the next time I went to the store. I found Rocky Mountain High. Here was that little, bespectacled, blonde guy again, jumping on rocks across a swift river this time, in hiking clothes. I bought the record. I adored the nature songs. I listened and sang, listened and sang every day after school.

That purchase led to the purchase, eventually, of every record John Denver made, but one. I bought many of the songbooks, too, and my mom bought me a guitar so I could learn to play the songs. Which I did. Not very well, but enough to play along, sing along, and feel a part of the music.

My guitar has been silent for quite a while, though carefully stored right here where I can keep an eye on it. Occasionally, when everyone is out of the house except me, I'll get it out, play a little, and remember. When I had little kids around it was hard to spend the solitary time I desired in playing, and besides, the kids were far more fascinating that my feeble guitar attempts. Gradually the guitar took a back seat to the all important, enjoyable, mommy-things which plopped down in the front seat of my life.

Imagine my delight when Cassie became interested in playing my 6-stringed instrument. I handed her my guitar how-to lesson books, and the guitar, along with my blessing. When she opened the case there was that intoxicating smell, that guitar and case smell which I am at a loss to describe. Starting at the beginning, and working her way through the books have given Cassie the satisfaction of learning and playing. Her excitement at each interval of success makes me smile. A much better player than I am, is she.

My old friend and my young daughter have found one another.

Circle of life.

Update: This is for Liz and her 13 year old son, JD fans through and through! This is Cassie, Caroline, and me, in Juneau, Alaska, 2004. I HAD to have our picture taken by this sign, for JD sake. We ate at the restaurant there and had the best fish ever, delicious fresh homemade bread, and everything else was scrumptious. Our waiter was hilarious, had us laughing the whole time. Good memories!

"It would hold 8 kids and four hound dogs and the piggy we stole from the shed.
Didn't get much sleep, but we had a lot of fun on Grandma's Feather Bed!"

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Synthetic Passions

"Nowhere, except perhaps in the analogous society of pagan Rome, has there ever been such a flowering of cheap and petty and disgusting lusts and vanities...where there is no evil that is not fostered and encouraged for the sake of making money. We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest."~~ Thomas Merton, 1948

1948. Amazing, huh.

What would Merton write today?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Million Different Voices

"It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long ago. People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists, if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can still produce men and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace upon us? Can there be any doubt where wars come from and where peace comes from, when the children of this world, excluding God from their peace conferences, only manage to bring about greater and greater wars the more they talk about peace?...There is not a flower that opens, not a seed that falls into the ground, and not an ear of wheat that nods on the end of its stalk in the wind that does not preach and proclaim the greatness and the mercy of God to the whole world...The quietness and hiddenness and placidity of the truly good people in the world all proclaim the glory of God. All these things, all creatures, every graceful movement, every ordered act of the human will, all are sent to us as prophets from God...We refuse to hear the million different voices through which God speaks to us, and every refusal hardens us more and more against His grace -- and yet He continues to speak to us: and we say He is without mercy!" ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thomas Merton

Friday, June 08, 2007

Son of My Right Hand

"Hello!" he answered the phone with enthusiasm as is his way when his children call.

"Hi, Dad! Happy Birthday!" I responded, eager to describe the birthday gift I was about to give him for this, the 54th anniversary of his birth.

"Dad, I will never be able to give a more fantastic gift than the one I'm giving you today. I just had the baby! You have a new grandson! His name is Benjamin." The words exited quickly, bursting from my excitement.

"Well, that's just great!" Normally full of words, today he was at a loss. He choked up. I choked up.

A very precious moment. My first baby, my first son, was born on my dad's birthday.

Tom and I were in our mid-twenties when we married. We were ready to get on with this family thing, as we'd wandered around in our singleness until it had become a tremendous bore. Years spent being lonely in the midst of dozens of loved ones. We craved the adventure of our own unit, our own home, our own kingdom. We wanted each other and longed for little princes and princesses to fill our castle.
Ben wasted no time in entering the scene. Created in love, born to love, the embodiment of love, no baby was ever adored more. His birth awakened the maternal instincts in me immediately. Immediately! He was early, three weeks so. Purple and requiring great doses of oxygen he was placed into an isolet to aid his breathing.

Hours after his welcomed joining of the bright-light, noisy, outside-the-womb world a brusque nurse stepped harshly into my sterile hospital room and announced to me that it was uncertain whether he would live through the night.

"Oh, he's going to be fine," I assured her nonchalantly, sighing in new-mommy contentment. She looked as if she might call the psych ward as she glared and vigorously shook her head at me. I KNEW Ben was meant for great things. My heart knew he was safe.

And he was.

Stupid nurse.

With joy we brought our little prince home, placed him in the cozy bassinet which had been prepared weeks earlier for his arrival. He slept. I stroked his fuzzy head, placed my hand on his narrow chest to feel the lift and settling of his tiny lungs, and I cried. I cried and cried and cried. Love, in the form of salty tears.
Tom stood next to me and cried, too. Adopted at birth, Tom had never known any of his natural family at this point in his life. Ben was the very first, his arrival having lucidly, artfully played the deepest, most primal heartstring in his awestruck father's soul. A moment on holy ground, the silence that blared out LOVE, our family had begun with this quietly sleeping infant upon whose form our eyes remained fixed.

God was gracious to give us Ben as a first child, to allow us to enter the waters of parenthood gently, slowly, easily, without the icy shock of a 'difficult baby.' He slept well, ate well, and grew well.

Ben has a string of achievements and talents which I could list here, but there is something that touches my tender-motherliness much more than his outstanding abilities. His heart, his sensitive, kind heart, full of awareness and compassion. His is the heart that is learning, the heart believing in itself, the heart listening when confronted, the heart instantly responding when there is sadness or need in others. The adventurous heart, the daring heart, the creative heart, which, though full of large ideas and goals, keeps room for the seemingly small, the still, the quiet, the whispers of life that produce wisdom.

Happy Birthday, Ben! You remain the Son of My Right Hand, the joy of my joy, my first encounter with the powerful emotions and mother mountain-lion protective instincts that are motherhood.

Thanks for who you are!

I love you.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Everything In Its Place....or Not

Saturday was going as planned. The kids were watering the gardens and cleaning the rabbit hutches, Tom was cheerfully sanding the kitchen cupboards, and I'd accomplished the house cleaning plus most of the laundry.

"Whew, it's hot," I muttered as I grabbed a glass of water and sat down at the kitchen table for a hydrating break.

That's when I noticed that the washing machine looked like an alien space pod signaling the Mother Ship. The almost one year old washer has never given us a moment of trouble, but today, all the little green display lights were on at the same time, forming a furiously flashing dotted circle.

"Huh? What the heck.....?" I calmly wondered, setting my glass on the table, rising from my relaxed posture, and walking closer to the washing machine.

Since our day had been perfectly Zippity Doo Da, so far, with Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder, it was in mature, relaxed pragmatism that I formed my response to this oddity, rather than assume the worst and panic.

"I will get the owner's manual, look up troubleshooting, and fix the problem. Yes, for once I won't be impulsive, but will act like a responsible adult."

In rather smug confidence, I told those in listening distance to leave the washer alone, even though it looked excited. "I'm taking care of it."

Feeling quite in control of myself, I headed for the file box in the closet where I'd recently, carefully filed every single owner's manual for every single electronic or otherwise owned-thing which required a manual.

Leaning in and over the box, I pulled out the newest looking booklets, especially the ones still in their plastic sleeves for they looked to be the most promising. A packet for the dryer came up quickly, but not the washer. "Must be close, must be close." I pulled out a few more papers. "Hmmm. Still no washing machine information." I grabbed another bunch and looked through them. I found literature for the lawn-mower, VCR, DVD, microwave, TV, the OTHER TV, two remote-control manuals, and one for the jacuzzi bath-tub.

My grown-upness was wearing thin, but I took a deep breath. "It's in there. Have patience. No regrets." I roughly grabbed as many papers as my hand would hold, which was about all that was left in the file. I sorted through them, finding it increasingly annoying that I encountered at least twenty-three different languages while trying to sort these things out. "A Verizon phone manual, the Zen water-fountain instructions, a Sevylor raft manual (do we even HAVE that anymore?), the refrigerator, the range, the dishwasher."

"Grrrr.....Did it fall behind the box?" Beginning to lose it, right on the edge of the precipice, I grabbed the shoe boxes that were in the way and flung them to the side, hurled a pair of pants over my shoulder, along with a long-lost sandal, and another shoe. "Nope, nothing back here but an old Christmas card."

Barely restrained, I tapped the the foot-high pile of manuals into a neat stack, and one by one looked at each one. "Nope, nope, nope, nope.nope.nope! Aha!" I found two pieces of washing machine literature. One had several drawings and looked to be instructions for installing the machine, the other entitled Usage and Care had instructions on how to wash clothes.

"Okay. Now calm down. Here you go." Flipping through Usage and Care told me how to remove crayon, blood, perspiration, tea, dirt, wine, and grease. Nothing about the alien pod signaling the Mother Ship. The diagnostic paper DID have a small paragraph which stated that in the event that an error code is tripped, all the display lights will blink simultaneously. Should this occur see Troubleshooting, in the Usage and Care manual. "What? Okay, stay calm, you must have missed it, but you are on the right track." No Troubleshooting section was listed in the index, so, beginning with the front cover of Usage and Care, I methodically, snottily, turned each page in slow motion, reading in fast motion, only to reach the back cover and nope, not a word about green error lights, or little green men.

Then, I glanced at the one drawing of the washer in Usage and Care: it was of our old top-loading washer. The new one is a front-loader.

"This isn't even the right book!"

My head fell, chin to chest, shoulders sagged, and I think I whimpered at this point. Twice.

I am a very logical person. I always put things where they go. "WHERE IS IT!"

Meanwhile, Mother Ship is getting closer.

Convinced that the manual was not where it belonged, completely confused, frustrated beyond sanity, no longer a grown-up, I marched to the laundry room, teeth clenched, face red, sweat dripping from my brow, fists swinging at my side.

Poor Tom. He has such bad timing. Just as I got to the washing machine, the very moment my words began vomiting from my mouth, Mr. Innocent Bystander stepped from the peaceful backyard into the doorway of hell.

"I don't know where it IS!!" I shouted, arms flailing around like a psycho-conductor. Tom, eyebrows peaked in wonder and wanting to help, stepped closer, within a couple feet of me. Because I didn't want my anger to infect him, I mercifully warned, "Personal space! Personal space! It's three times as big as normal!" He stepped back. (Bad timing, yes, but no fool.)

In sheer frustration I told him, too loudly, head shaking too much, "I'm not mad at you! I'm venting! You are a wonderful man! But I cannot find the owner's manual for the......."

Just then I remembered something from a year ago. We'd put two manuals, one for the washer, one for the dryer, in the little basket above the washer, "So we can refer to them for help, since these machines are different from any we've ever owned." In this split second, in mid-rant, my hand reached out and grabbed the two manuals sitting like little know-it-all children, halos straight, noses in the air.


We'd had a teeny-tiny power surge from using several electrical appliances and the air compressor at once, which set off the error message. Solution? "Press Stop twice to cancel the cycle. Begin a new cycle. If the problem recurs, call our service department at 1-800-URA-MORON!"

After following the instructions, the machine worked like a charm, though the weird sounds it usually makes sounded more like mocking laughter. The Mother Ship was averted. And I had another chance to practice, practice, practice dealing with my temper.

Calmness returned to the post which it never should have abandoned.

Though ultimately I failed, I failed better.

Try, try again.....

Friday, June 01, 2007

First of June

Outstretched summer arms welcome, caress.

"Come into refreshment!" she softly breathes.

Thirty days of June to savor. Shed the heaviness of dark months, freedom.

Lighter clothes, lighter foods, lighter hearts.

Promise of sowing and reaping in soils physical and spiritual.

"You've come to me again, sweet June. God's grace permits delight. Lingering, I shall"