Sunday, May 31, 2009

Martha needs...

I saw this on a friend's post in Facebook and admit that I'm a sucker
for this sort of nonsense. I don't know how long it has been around.

You go to Google and in the search box type in your name plus the
word "needs" - and start the search. My name resulted in the
following responses:

Martha needs your vote...
Martha needs help...
Martha needs to get pierced...
Martha needs a friend...

Ain't it the truth? well, maybe except for the piercing!

Of course I stripped off the extraneous info and picked the first few
that made some sort of sentence, but still it is amusing.

Try it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


A friend recently introduced me to drawing labyrinths. It is a very meditative, engrossing, enjoyable activity and lends itself to all sorts of mediums - from beach sand, to canned food (for contributions to a community food bank), to my personal favorite: needle felting. I've made classical three and seven circuit designs and a three seed design so far. There is a five seed under construction. Concentrating on the lines helps focus my wandering thoughts.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just keep typing...

I've mentioned before how my emotional self seems to ride on one of
those traveling carnival roller coasters. Basically I go around in
cycles of ups and downs and usually in modified fashion suitable for
riding by the cowardly not-up-for-big-thrills kind gal I am. Every
once in a while however, the universe decides I can handle the big
kids ride. It happens that I look up in astonishment as the car
crests the top of a hill, one that didn't seem all that precipitous,
and swoops down steep tracks that plunge into a tunnel. In that
tunnel there is no sense of movement. All that exists is the darkness
that is both inside and out.

Time and age have taught me to stay seated, to count and wait.
Eventually there will be a light and the darkness will lift. It
always has. The Sufis say, "This too shall pass," and they are right.
My habit has been to retreat within myself and to cherish to black,
to nurture and savor it, letting it take center stage in my day. I'd
be immobile. In my teen years I'd spend hours soaking in the bathtub,
depression leading to wrinkle-skinned cleanliness. In this house we
have only a shower so my water therapy is more stand-up.

I try to resist the retreat-in-silence routine. As a way of asking
the world to notice and provide reassurance it tended to fail. Family
and friends, busy with their own lives, became a source of painful
proof that I was invisible and worthless. Talk about self-fulfilling!
My treatment now that I'm older and perhaps wiser, is to keep moving
in whatever way I can. My daughter quotes John Irving's "Keep passing
the open windows." Take the next step. Make a phone call. Wash a
dish. Water a plant. Write a blog entry. Do the next thing that needs
to be done. Eventually the car rounds the bend and the tunnel is
behind me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The weekend

Memorial Day weekend, and once again my husband and I will be
stationed in front of the television watching the Indy 500. We are
not sports fans. I consider myself extremely fortunate that my spouse
is not a maniacal football addict or diehard baseball, basketball or
hockey junkie. I'm the more likely of us to turn on a game though he
is the one who might perhaps know what team belongs to what sport and
which city, and neither of us would last a single round in a sports
trivia fest.

So why is it that we watch the Indy from start to finish and also
plan in advance to see each year's Superbowl? I'm puzzled by it even
as I tune in the pre-game and sit with my soda and chips listening to
droning male voices vamping for hours as mostly sweaty men rip up the
turk or zoom around in circles. Maybe it is our concession to the
American Way or a feint at a tradition. More likely it is just
something we've gotten used to doing instead of leaping on the
highway to recreate ourselves into a lather.

And now to go listen and watch as the commentators try to create
enough drama to keep us seat-edged for a couple of hours of
commercials for beer, gasoline, and men's aftershave.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Il Bel Far Niente

The Beauty of Doing Nothing

How lovely of the Italians to have a term for this. Now that a bit
of warmer weather has paid a visit I engage in il bel far niente from
a chair on the deck. No gardening, no reading, no conversation. My
time is spent absorbing the world around me, noticing the richness of
this little place. I listen to the birds, watch a swallowtail
butterfly, observe a cloud change shape. It is pleasant to simply
sit. Yet perhaps even this is a job that needs doing: Appreciating
the life I have been given and the space in which it is lived?

I wish such a peace on everyone.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Where did all the energy and accomplishment of youth go? Twenty years ago if my time was as occupied as now the list of deeds done would have been prodigious. Lately my wheels spin and my engine revs but the old jalopy barely gets out of the driveway and never seems to make the trip to town.

Cross-country treks are no longer on the chart for this vehicle. My maps have been folded and tucked in the glove box. There never was a great amount of wanderlust in my heart so off-road jaunts didn't tempt me much. This conveyance was neither sports model nor 4-wheel drive jungle buggy. I was around-town station wagon in nature. Now my tires are tread-bare and my paint is peeling, my windshield is cracked, and the upholstery? Thank goodness for tinted glass! The maintenance record shows an alarming case of neglect. What, you have to put oil and transmission fluid in this thing?

The car still runs but somewhere along the highway the engine lost compression. It rumbles and chugs but doesn't seem to add any miles to the odometer. Leaving the metaphor behind, what this means is that I keep busy but don't seem to get much done. I read, write, relp, do my chores, etc... but everything seems to take more time than it once did. I wander from one project to another without ever catching up. What is worse, I care less and less about completing things. Goal oriented, focussed, and organized once described me and remains my expectation of myself. Now I contemplate turning off the key and letting the junker rust in the yard.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Jane Austen Day

Our local reading group chose Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility as the book to read this past month. Well, actually I did and this has been my second Austen choice for the group. We read Mansfield Park in December of '05. Yes, I'm a fan of Jane's writing. It takes a bit of work from a modern reader but is certainly worth the effort to enjoy her dry wit and the elegant penknife she slips to the foibles of her contemporaries. No one else is as good at tongue-in-cheek descriptions and hilarious word pictures of people.

As I wandered off into the internet to peruse possible discussion questions for this afternoon's meeting I found a "Which Jane Austen heroine are you?" quiz. Unhappily there was no hero quiz for the guys. Getting men to read Austen is a bit of a problem... though the guys in the movie The Jane Austen Book Club found it a useful pursuit.

I am Anne Elliot!

Take the Quiz here!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Tidbit of Nearly Useless Information

Danny De Vito, Sylveter Stallone, and Whoopi Goldberg all have worked
as hairdressers.

This nugget was received ala The Actor's Studio TV show. I'm still
entertaining myself with thoughts of being perched in a salon chair
and having any one of the three give me a shampoo. Letting one
approach me with scissors in hand is a daunting image as well. It
doesn't help that I recently saw the Johnny Depp version of Sweeney

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Those two beautiful children are my grandkids (two of three) and, as most grandmothers know, are the secondary reward of being a Mom. The first joy was and will always be their mother, the person who allowed me to be her Mom. I am eternally grateful and blessed to have shared being with with her, and now with them.

In my paean to motherhood must come mention of some incredible mothers who have touched my life:

My birth mother, who I adores, then rebelled against, and never properly appreciated while I had her.

My mother-in-law, who became a good friend and had the tough job of parenting my husband.

My women friends (you know who you are!) who continue the job of teaching me the tricky business of becoming a decent human. Mothers Day is for you too. We mother each other in our nurturing, playing in each other's lives, and critiquing when needed.

Thank you to all the moms.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Apothegm? Epigram? Aphorism? Quote?

Any way you put it I'm a lover of pithy sayings and comments. I have a small compilation that particularly please me and this morning I was looking through my collection, sorting and admiring them like a philatelist does her stamps. Here are a few for your delectation:

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is
writing a book. -Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer (106-43 BCE)

The road to wisdom? Well it's plain and simple to express: Err and err and
err again, but less and less and less. -Piet Hein, poet and scientist (1905-1996)

There are three truths: my truth, your truth, and the truth. -Chinese proverb

You can out-distance that which is running after you, but not what is
running inside you. -Rwandan Proverb

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward. -Spanish proverb

True religion is the life we lead, not the creed we profess. -Louis Nizer, lawyer (1902-1994)

We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are. - Anais Nin

This is just a selection that popped out for me today. The list is always growing. I admire how some folks find just the right word to say things with which I agree.

(And add to the list just about anything said by Oscar Wilde)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I'm watching a Teaching Company course on History of World Literature taught by Professor Grant Voth (great course, consider this a recommendation!) and it has me twitching. While I may be fairly literate my reading has been less extensive than it might have been and less than halfway through the course the material covered is beckoning. "So many books, so little time" is so true!

After each lecture I dash to my computer to check the catalogue of our local library system. From there it is on to Amazon where my wish list bulges. I want to read the Jakata. I want to spend time with The Tale of Genji and read more of The Canterbury Tales. Sign me up for Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei. And how long will it take to finish One Thousand and One Nights?

Each of Dr. Voth's lectures sends me off wanting more of the subject he covers. That is the gift of a good teacher, isn't it, encouraging the student to discover more on her own? I had a similar experience with the music courses taught by Professor Robert Greenberg. My husband and I were given a course on classical music and another on music theory taught by him and we enjoyed them both. Now we have shorter courses on Beethoven, Liszt, and Mozart yet to tackle and we are eager for the experience.

My thoughts have wandered on this post, I know. It is part WOW! for the learning, hooray for the teachers, with a soup├žon of self-mockery for my bubbling enthusiasm, and topped off with a flourish of gratitude to the friend who has gifted us with the DVDs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

A post on a friend's blog reminded me that today is Cinco de Mayo. After living in California for a major portion of my life this is a holiday I recognize. I'll serve burritos for dinner - minus the Dos Equis or Margaritas (can't do alcohol thanks to youthful indiscretions) and listen to a favorite CD of mariachi music to celebrate. Since I'm German by descent what am I celebrating? Being 100% American, of course!

Being several generations away from such roots as my family had in Europe: Germany from Dad's side and all over the place (England, Ireland, Holland, Denmark, etc.) from Mom's side, I celebrate the wonderful diversity of the USA. I cook corned beef and potatoes for St. Patrick's Day. We have sauerkraut and bratwurst at Oktoberfest. And all year round my home cooking includes Americanized versions of spaghetti, tacos, curry, fried rice, and swedish meatballs. Throw is some southern friend chicken, the occasional turkey and corn on the cob plus a few more adventurous forays into middle eastern and asian cuisine and it gets, as they say, as American as apple pie. I have a neighbor who makes great borscht and dark rye. I eat bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. And who can resist some great barbecue?

Our cuisine, like our language, shows the way we have grown, and incorporated the world into this nation. We squabble. We fuss about the newest kid on the block. But ultimately our beauty and our strength is in how so many of us manage to not only coexist, but bond with one another and cherish the differences along with the sameness. Happy Cinco de Mayo ya'll!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wangari Maathai

"It's the little things citizens do. That's what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees."
...Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmental and political activist and winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

This is not a woman who has done just little things. She has done little things that became huge things. I saw the film Taking Root on PBS recently. It documents the story of Wangari Maathai and her Green Belt Movement and the changes they have helped to make happen in Kenya. I wish the film could play every day on every channel to remind and inspire us all.

If you don't know about her you can read the article on Wikipedia that describes her life and work. Or go to the organization site at: