Sunday, December 13, 2009


Reality is stratified, like the layers of an onion or the pages of a book. Between the pages are the spaces where ideas grow. Just fragile shreds of summer-green lace, these tiny poppy sprouts spread wild across the crumbled chocolate earth. They're not in rows like the seedlings in a vegetable bed, not as formal as furrows or as homely as beans. They wait, dancing radiant and random, weaving in and out of the pages of reality.
You need to be still, still as dust, still as your favorite cat, to feel the pages turn and see the spaces open up. The ideas are already there, little needy things that require the light of your attention, salty moisture from the sweat of your practice, and the fine fertile earth of imagination in which to put down roots. Then they'll grow as they grow. You can't push them, can't force a poppy to be a tree. You open yourself, offer your voice, maybe weed a little or sometimes gently prune. Giving them this quiet care will cultivate thriving ideas that you can transplant easily.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I'm thankful for the floor.
I'm thankful that the cats are usually willing to keep me company.
I'm thankful that the coffee's almost done and that right now my back hurts < 5.
I'm thankful that my mini-Frankenstein didn't also fracture his jaw.
I'm thankful for stick-on heat patches and doctors who respond to email.
I'm thankful I get to be a soccer mom.
I'm thankful for the magical dinners that have appeared at critical moments over the last couple weeks.
I'm thankful that Dear Husband vacuumed the rug yesterday.
I'm thankful for friends and family who are as solid as the floor I'm laying on.
The perspective's a bit different this year, but there's no less emotion attached.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

did nothing today

Let me repeat that. Did nothing today. The kids were out of school because of the holiday, so I slept in till almost 8:30, and when I did get up, I made it just as far as the living room floor, where I made up a nest of blankets and pillows and settled in with my feet up on the ottoman, resting my back. I read a book. I guess that counts for something.

Never once did the kids say, "What are we doing today, Mom?" They needed a day off as badly as I did. Around 11am I felt a little guilty, so I pulled them away from the computer and the Wii and made them get dressed. Told them we were going for a walk. They thought that was fine, as long as it involved a stop at 7-11. Deal. As a bonus there were a couple of near-sun experiences along the way.

The walk was hard because my back hurt, so we didn't make it any farther than 7-11 and back. Bought a lottery ticket. That counts too. After the walk I went back to the living room floor, Dear Daughter picked up some homework, Daughter's Dear Friend started drawing, and Dear Son went back to the computer. The kids made themselves lunch and played outside while I took a nap. Gotta love older kids. The biggest excursion was taking Dear Son to his piano lesson at 4, with a stop a Safeway afterwards. Then I started dinner, letting Loving Husband finish putting it together. I get partial credit for that one.

Tonight I have to work, and I've been here since 7pm, which probably does count as doing something, although it's sort of like a different day stuck onto the end of the one I already had. The one where I didn't do anything. I finished a book and bought a lottery ticket and took a nap and scrambled some hamburger. Not so much, really.

Friday, November 6, 2009

the game

I'll do my best to set the scene. We were down in Georgetown, a neighborhood on the south end of Seattle. It's mostly light industry, but there's a crosshatch of around a dozen blocks of houses between Michigan St and the freeway. The houses are mostly small post-war boxes, with a few old Victorians mixed in. With the incredible rise in housing prices over the last ten years, Georgetown earned the reputation as one of the last affordable neighborhoods, a place you could buy at a semi-reasonable price. You could buy if you were adventurous and didn't mind that there wasn't a neighborhood school or a grocery store. People did buy, and most of the old houses have been fixed up. Now, except for the trucks and the traffic noise, the strip malls and office complexes, it looks ok.

The soccer field has also been fixed up recently. My Mom says that she and a friend once tried to go metal detecting on that field but left soon after starting because it was so filthy. "It's the only time that's happened," she said. "We're pretty hardy, but it was just gross." Now it has an artificial surface, tall lights, a clean bathroom, and two short sections of silver metal bleachers. The Catholics must have a contract for use of the field, because one of the coaches told me it used to be the practice field for the O'Day soccer team.

This was a second round play-off game for the CYO soccer 6th grade girls teams. Our team is made up of girls from St Catherine's and Our Lady of the Lake (OLL). St Catherine's is a small-to-medium-sized school. OLL is a little smaller. The team is about 2/3rds St C's players to 1/3 OLL. The St C's mascot is the tiger and the OLL mascot is the lion. The girls'll stand on the sidelines and yell, "Go Ligers!" during the game. Before the game they'll gather in a cluster, hold hands in the center, and yell, "Lions and tigers and goals, Oh My! Lions and tigers and goals, Oh My!" The dynamic the St C's/OLL team has is really cool.

We were playing the team from Holy Family in West Seattle. When we all got to the field, the Holy Family parents had already staked out the north end bleacher, so we took the south. The Holy Family girls were already on the field warming up. Their warm-ups seemed to involve a whole lot of cheering. They cheered during their drills. They ran around the field in a cluster, cheering the whole way, like a bunch of Marines in ponytails, skinny headbands and red white and blue uniforms. Our girls ran their drills without making nearly as much noise. At first I thought they might be intimidated. They weren't.

When we got to the field, it was raining. Not a normal Seattle drizzle, but a,"hey you might be somewhere tropical except it's 50 degrees" kind of downpour. The girls were completely soaked by about ten minutes into their warm up. My main concern was for the girls who wouldn't be starting the game, that they'd get cold standing on the sidelines. Turns out they were all so jacked up they didn't notice. I'd brought a 10x10' canopy and set it up a little past our bleachers, pulling the girl's backpacks and jackets underneath it to keep them out of the rain. The Holy Family parents set up two canopies, which I tried not to take as some kind of omen. Then, one of our coaches showed up with a second canopy, so I felt like we'd at least equaled their effort. A while later an OLL Dad showed up with another one, so we had three. We were able to cover most of our bleacher and had room to walk around. Point to St C's/OLL.

By the time the game actually started, the rain had let up. Adding to the complexity of the situation, last spring St C's hired as our new principal a woman who'd been principal at Holy Family for the last 20 years. She did the opening coin toss. I'm not sure which school won but I do know our girls got the ball right away and took it down the field. They were aggressive, passing the ball cleanly, moving quick. The first half was a draw, although St C's made three or four solid shots on goal. One went over top of the goal, one bounced off an upright, one was a bit wide. They were close but didn't get one over. In the meantime, our goalie only had to handle the ball once in the first half, and even that wasn't a serious shot. At halftime we were playing well, but the score was tied at zero.

The Holy Family girls didn't cheer for themselves during the half-time break. When the whistle blew, both teams came back onto the field. Play resumed. It felt a little more balanced, with Holy Family getting the ball down on the St C's/OLL end of the field a little more often. Still no score. The tension on the field was nothing compared with the tension on the sideline. It was interesting to watch the parents, most of whom I've known since Dear Daughter was in first grade. Some of the mothers stood in little clumps, heads together and almost holding hands. The men were more likely to stand alone, or maybe in pairs. Some of us walked. I kept telling myself that as long as I was moving and saying the Hail Mary, I wouldn't throw up. I didn't, so it must have worked. I passed the same people again and again as I went back and forth along the sideline. I was the only one mumbling to myself.

In Seattle in November, the sun sets by around 5 o'clock. Since the game started at 3:30, by the time the second half started it was dark enough that we needed the overhead lights. It felt surreal, standing in the cold and damp, the freeway running above us to the east, the long offramp from I5 into Georgetown wrapping along the south end of the field. Georgetown is just north of Boeing Field, which put us right under the flight path. The later it got, the more frequently small planes and jets flew right overhead, their silver bellies looking close enough to touch. A couple of times the planes were low enough that it held up the game, the ref standing on the sideline holding the ball and looking up instead of tossing it to a player for the in-bound play.

St C's/OLL got a couple more shots on goal, then FINALLY punched one through. I think it was actually one of the midfielders who got off a good kick from about a quarter of the way back up the field. The girls went crazy, and so did everyone on the south end of the sidelines. I was afraid the girls would be so excited they'd forget to play defense. They kept their focus, though, and held on. At one point I walked past my Dad, who was really impressed. He said he thought the girls were playing at a much higher level than he'd seen before. It didn't feel like we were watching eleven year olds out there. These girls can rock it.

The St C's/OLL score happened at probably the 10 minute mark of the 30 minute half, which meant we had to play for 20 more minutes without letting them score. That got harder and harder to do. The last three to five minutes, the Holy Family girls found another gear and really ratcheted things up. Out of the maybe six solid shots on goal they had all game, four came in the last two to three minutes. Our goalie made a couple of mind-blowing plays to hold them off. I've known this kid since before Darling Daughter actually started at St C's, because they took swimming lessons together when they were in kindergarten. It was just amazing to see her focus and composure when they were just hammering the ball at her. On one play, the Holy Family player got off a solid, high kick, point blank in front of the goal. Our goalie jumped straight up, arms fully extended, and got her fingertips on the underside of the ball just enough to flick it up and over top of the goal. No score. The sideline went crazy on that one. After another flurry of shots, it looked like they got one in, but apparently the ref had blown the whistle so it didn't count. There was less than a minute left at that point.

Finally, FINALLY, the whistle blew the long blasts that meant the game was over. The girls on our sideline all ran out on the field, and as a group they picked the goalie up and carried her back to the sideline. The parents faced each other in two rows, forming a tunnel with our arms that the girls ran through as they were coming off the field. It had started to rain again, but no one really paid much attention. Girls were laughing and crying and hugging and so were their parents. I've shared a lot with these people in the last 5 years. St C's is a tight community. There have been good times and there have been tough times. For me, this was right up there with the best.

Watching Dear Daughter's face after the game was an absolute joy. She's really having fun with this. She doesn't seem to have any ego about whether she starts or not or how much she plays. She's happy to be there, happy to be part of the team, and happy they're winning. The team is deep. After the coaches send in their starting players, they could field a pretty decent team with the girls left on the sideline. They've done a great job of balancing the playing time so that no one has been unhappy. The St C's players have played together since kindergarten, some of them, or first grade. All the girls in the 6th grade class, except for two, are on the soccer team. They've been a combined team with OLL since third grade. This is turning into a really cohesive group. They're a team. Lions and tigers and goals, Oh My!

They've got one game left. Tomorrow they play Assumption-St Bridgets (ASB) for the championship. ASB had a better regular season record, but the last time we played them we beat them 5 - 0. Ok, so that was in 5th grade. They probably hold a grudge against us because of it. The girls have all worked so hard, and they're having so much fun, that it's too bad someone has to lose tomorrow. Several times this week I've reminded Dear Daughter to enjoy this. Enjoy wearing your team jersey to school on Thursday, with your soccer shorts under your uniform khaki pants. Enjoy getting out of school an hour early to get to the game. Enjoy going back to school on Friday to hear the score of the game as part of the morning announcements, then listen to the cheers from all over the school. This kind of lightening doesn't strike every day. Get out there and rock the soccer field. Have fun.

Update: Despite an amazing effort, the St C's/OLL team lost 0-1 to ASB this afternoon. They can be proud of themselves, though, because they left it all on the field. Everyone gave 100%, but ASB snuck a goal in with less than 30 seconds left in the game. It's been a great season, and now that we know the way, we're going to want to be back in the Championship game next year. Lions and tigers and goals, OH MY!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I worry, you know. It makes me feel tight and twisted, seeing cares like leaves caught in the wind laying down a gold carpet on the shoulders of the road. I can't dance fast enough, searching for light wherever it lays, crystal fever fighting all the shadows. Don't ever want to let go. Prying fingers off, loosening the grip. Whatever it is that you can't give up is the thing you really need to.
Find the balance of caring. The carp in the pond outside the museum might care deeply about the thickly lacquered carvings, pottery with a bottomless finish wrapped up in minute silk stitches, but the carp can't stop the cocky teen who touches where it says, "Do Not". They know enough to let go. They swim, and they dream of their cousins caught in scratchy black ink climbing up the parchment, but it's all the same to them. It should be all the same to me. To love, to care, but not to grip. Sometimes my hands are so tight the white knuckle bones peel through the skin, tendons strung like the wires at the neck of an electric guitar. Loosen the hands. Show the caring by loosening the hands.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

520 Bridge Song

Don't drive right up on my ass, please.
Where are you going to go?
We're on a two-lane bridge
and I'm driving as fast
as the cars around me.
There's nothing to do
but watch the moon,
(full cratered moon -
band of trees and houses
bank of smudgy clouds
giant pearl hanging over Bellevue
in a rusty rose sky)

and KING FM is playing piano
I think it's Bach.
Can't tell if I've heard this piece before
but the spaces in the melody
are whispering his name.

So breath, Mr.
We'll be across in a minute,
lanes will open up,
and you can go chase someone else.

Friday, May 29, 2009

garden shots - spring 09

The other morning I got out early with my camera. There was a light overcast, and I was hoping it would be bright enough to photograph well but not so bright as to make shadows. I don't think I have a very good camera, but I do like how the garden looks. Above is a photo of the front walkway. There's a rockrose in bloom, as well as the wild lilac.

This is another view of the front walkway. The strawberries are in bloom, although a bunch of volunteer _______ have come up in the the midst of them. You can see the rock birdbath, and to the right of it is a three-leaf sumac.

This is from our back porch. This shot would be prettier if I'd cleaned off the table first, but I like the mix of plants and pot colors.

Last weekend we moved the chicken coop to the other side of the yard, because the neighbors complained about the smell. Now it's under the kitchen window, so we can keep a closer eye on them, and it looks cool under the tree there.

This is another back porch shot, showing my pretty Japanese maple with the yellow grass growing around it in the pot.

Also from the back porch. I think this is the only rhododendron color I like. The buds start scarlet then turn yellow as they bloom, sorta like little sunsets. Very pretty.

The enkianthus in bloom. This is the best year yet for this tree. Also, the blossoms show up more with the golden hops growing up behind it.

One of the two raised beds in the front yard. Mostly herbs in this one - sage, chives, oregano, lavender. Also planted garlic in it last fall, and they're looking good. Put some Walla Walla Sweet onions in this spring, and planted corn in the center. It's looking good so far, and that sage on the near end is going to look fabulous in a couple more days when it's all in bloom.

This is one of the three Pacific Coast iris that I have growing along the front walkway. I love the saturated purple color!

This is the other side of the rock birdbath, showing the sumac on the left and some monarda (?) Ruby (Something) in front of it.

This view is looking across the front yard towards the front walkway. It's so peaceful in the front yard. The only thing I want to fix is that it needs a couple little chairs or a bench or something so you can sit and enjoy it. Of course there's always things to fix......all over......

Monday, May 4, 2009

school auction

So last Saturday was the school auction. Overall, it was a success, which was a good thing, because it was a whole ton of work. I was the contact person for catering. I also helped with supplying the bar and to a lesser extent helped with the Head Table. It was fun, but did I mention it was a whole lot of work? We raised about the same amount of money as last year, with the exception of the Fund An Enhancement portion, which did very well to the tune of $85k.
The energy there was really interesting. People had fun. In fact, they seemed determined to have fun. People partied. They were clearly committed to the cause, and they clearly wanted to raise money for the school, but, given the current economy, there was an undercurrent of anxiety about doing it. Not quite dancing on the deck of the Titanic, but heading in that direction. The thing is, though, they weren't desperate. Everyone wanted to get the job done, but it was cutting a little closer to the bone than it had in years' past. I hope that by next year things will have improved enough that we can relax a little as we drink too much and bid too much and eat (very decent) catered food.
In case you were curious, Our Lady of Fabio did go home w/ someone, don't know who, for somewhere in the $75 - $100 range. I hope they like her! And the photo above is of my Dear Son, taken by the father of one of his classmates, that was part of a book of pictures of all the 3rd graders. It was our one big-ticket auction purchase, and I think it'll make a nice memory book, since this is Dear Son's last year in that class.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


So right now I'm waiting. I'm waiting for it to be after 9am so I can call the caterer (again!) and work out another of the endless details that this weekend's auction involves. I'm also waiting for the auction to be over! Can't describe how glad I will be to have it done with. I'm also waiting to pick up the 5th graders at the ferry this afternoon at 2pm. They've been at science camp since last Sunday, and it's the first time Dear Daughter has been away from home like this. I've missed her quite a bit, and will be glad to have her home. I'm also waiting till next Tues when the new Southern Vampire mystery, Dead and Gone is released. Really can't wait to get my hands on it, and neither can a few of my friends who are in line to borrow it when I'm done. Little do they know that I'm going to end up with two copies, to facillitate the borrowing and lending. And there are several books at the library that I'm waiting for. That's what prompted this train of thought this morning. I checked the library website to see if any had come in, and none are in yet, though 3 are in transit. Which made me think about all that I'm waiting for. I should say something clever about the meaning of anticipation in my life, but can't think of anything. Post-call brain, I guess. So I'm just going to sit here and wait, see if I can catch the caterer, get some sleep before picking the kids up, and wait some more.

{Oh, and for those who are interested, the top picture shows a bunch of species tulips growing up from underneath a variegated pieris - that never blooms - in front of our back porch. The bottom picture is the new bed we put in along the back of the house as part of our 'build a pathway and clean up the garbage can situation' project last year. These were the only bulbs I planted last fall, and they sure are pretty. You can kinda see the smoker and the shed that now covers the trashcans. Looks a whole lot better than it did.}

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

she's back....

Just picked up Our Lady of Fabio from the frame shop. They did the nicest job. She looks so pretty. I hope she brings in some $$ from the auction. Speaking of the auction, did I mention I'm the catering coordinator, and the event is less than 2 weeks away. Am starting to get a little bit twirly about it. And I'm sure there are a couple of other things going on. Both kids are on soccer teams and Oh, Yah, I haven't finished planning the music for the quarter that started April 1st. I think I have a start date for the UW, and we're refinancing both our home loan and the condo loan. Still need a tenant for the condo. Anyone want to rent a 1 bedroom in a great location?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

good day sunshine

What a difference a couple days make. Wed April 1 we had snow, and today it was sunny and nearly 70 degrees. Even better, both kids had soccer games this afternoon so I got to sit outside and enjoy it. Yesterday I saw a headline on the PI website that said something like, Survey Finds People More Optimistic, and I thought, "well yah, it's way easier to be optimistic when it's sunny out".

And I do feel more optimistic than I have in a while. We got through our taxman visit without too much fuss. The IRS will actually end up owing us money for a change. We'll take it. And I got Dear Son registered for Lowell, the Public School accelerated program we wanted him in. He ended up qualifying for a couple of their programs, based on our appeal, but the APP was the only one with a guaranteed spot, so that's what we're going with. It's such a relief to have that done, and we're finding that the other St C's parents are surprisingly supportive. I've gotten several emails from people wishing Dear Son well, and people talked to us about it on the soccer field today. It's nice. I (SERIOUSLY) hope he likes it.

Holy Week started last night. I guess you could say we were the kick-off at the BSC Vigil service yesterday. The music was absolutely lovely, if I do say so myself. Sang with a couple other women, who besides having a fabulous blend cracked me up with their breastfeeding horror stories. You probably had to be there, but it was fun. And I've converted one (and possibly both) to the Southern Vampire mysteries. It's all about Sookie, you know. And at the end of Mass a young couple came us and asked us if we'd sing at their wedding in August. Yay, a gig!

So things are looking up. Still don't have the condo rented, and am not sure how I'm going to manufacture the money to get all the bills paid and whathaveyou in the short term, but it'll all work out in the end. I think that should go on my tombstone, "It'll all work out". Right next to, "but she tried hard".

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

nothing's sure but.....

So today we get our taxes done. No way not to be stressed about that. The last couple of years have hit us hard at tax time, but we've made more of an effort to pay quarterly taxes on Dear Husband's business this year, so we should be in better shape. I hope. I'm still kinda sick with it. Pretty much all the money Dear Husband has brought in since the first of the year has gone to paying one kind of tax or another. Will be glad when this phase is over.

On a happier note, the women who came over last night to rehearse for Good Friday sounded absolutely wonderful. It's going to be a really cool service. I was thinking about it yesterday, and it's been something like 15 years that a women's ensemble has sung the Martini (composer) Stabat Mater at Blessed Sacrament Church on Good Friday. I know of one year that was an exception, but other than that, it's been a long-standing tradition. And this year Lovely Mary & I are going to sing the Vivaldi Laudamus Te on Easter Sunday morning, which will be our third year of doing that, and we've been assured that after two years it's a tradition too. Maybe ..... but it'll be fun to sing and pretty, tradition or not.

And, because there's never enough church music, my friend JA is putting together a chant ensemble to sing an Evensong service at St Mark's Cathedral on Wed 4/15. He sent out the music yesterday, and it's pretty cool stuff. Some cool antiphons/psalm verses, and a couple of Medieval hymns. I've sung one (Mors Vite Propitsia - I think) before, but the other is new and it's in Italian, which means I'm going to have to actually look at it beforehand, because I'll have a solo verse and I'll want to to actually SOUND ITALIAN, which for me is easier said than done. I can usually turn good ol' Italian into some kind of highschool French/church Latin hybrid that fools NO ONE. Good luck w/ that, Amy.

Ok, only 2 1/2 hours left until it's time to see the accountant. Maybe I'll take a nap.

Friday, March 27, 2009

keeping on

So I'm still here. Long time, no post. No good reason, except that it's a busy time of life. Today would be a great day to spend in bed. It's damp, cold, rainy, grey and altogether the kind of day that would be best viewed from under a down comforter. Not gonna happen, though. There are errands to run, and maybe a trip to Costco. I'm using the fact that I'm feeling kinda draggy as an excuse to skip my appointment to donate blood. Yay me. At some point I'd like to buy a new blow dryer. Wow, that was random.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of the blackwork Celtic cross that I've been working on. The pattern that I'm working from is fairly large - too big to fit on my scanner, and the bits that I could scan don't translate very well. The pencil isn't dark enough to show up so it doesn't look like much. You'll just have to trust me that it's going to be cool, based on periodically updated photos. Our Lady of Fabio is at the framers, baby Sophia got her crocheted blanket (that by an entirely fabulous coincidence almost exactly matches her 'going home from the hospital' outfit) and my sisters socks are blocked and ready to be mailed. Progress progress progress.

Anywho, I should really get moving. Step away from the computer, Amy. The 3rd Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter book is waiting for me at the library, and I'm using it as incentive to get myself out of the house. Watched Twilight with Dear Daughter last weekend. The next time I'm at Costco I'm going to get her a copy. Maybe today? She's so into it. It's All Vampires, All The Time at our happy household. Ok, now I'm ready to move.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

thinking about.....

1. Writing
So a few days ago I went over to Vincent's apartment to record some background vocals for a CD he's working on. While I'm not sure I did exactly what he wanted, I think in the end he was more-or-less satisfied with what he got. Vincent is a friend from church, and he did the recording for my band's CD last spring. He's great to work with and it was a lot of fun. While I was over there, we got talking about the direction my band is heading in (hmmm....where are we heading exactly?) and he asked if we ever did original tunes. That would be No. But it did get me thinking. So then on Sunday, while the family & I were sitting in the lobby of the Paramount waiting for The Lion King to start, I mentioned to Kent that I was thinking about trying to write a song...or two. He asked what it was that I wanted to say with my song(s). Don't know the answer to that. It seems that before you can write good songs, you need to have something you want to say. Back to the drawing board, I guess.
2. A new job
For the last 5 years or so, Seattle Childrens (my employer) has had a contract to provide NNP services at the UWMC NICU (where I choose to work). For a variety of reasons that contract will not be renewed after June of this year. However, the UW has posted positions and intends to cover the unit with their own NNPs. So basically I get to choose whether I want to change employers and do the kind of work I want to do or stay with Childrens (where I'm approaching the 22nd anniversary of my hiring) and work at either Prov Everett or Overlake. I've worked in both of those hospitals, and it's not bad work, but I like the UW NICU better. The offer they've made me is very close to what I've got w/ Childrens, from a financial standpoint. It's a tough decision. Not sure yet what I want to do.
(Hey, the title of this post is "thinking about...", not, "decisions I've made").
3. Matti's school
The appeal letter w/ copies of various test results was dropped off at the Public School admin office yesterday. We should hear back in the next couple of weeks - supposedly they'll be notifying people in time for them to complete the on-line registration by the 3/31 deadline. We'll see.
4. Music for Lent
The Women's Chant Choir sang last weekend, which was the first Sunday in Lent. There were a couple of new people joining us, and altogether I thought it went very well. I need to pull up the bootstraps and put some serious planning into the Good Friday service.
I've also been thinking about the whole process of Lent. Last week I put an update on Facebook: Amy is thinking about what to give up for Lent (or something like that). And over all, I'm inclined to want to carry over the theme from the Chant retreat and work on making space for contemplation, rather than worrying about giving something up. I've got a book, Radical Amazement, that has very short chapters and exercises for prayer at the end of each, and I'm trying to read one chapter every day or every other day, then use the exercises to frame my thinking for the rest of the day. So far that's working. Miss T helpfully suggested on Facebook that I give up one activity a week, in order to feel less frantic, and while that's good advice, I think I'm going to approach it more from the perspective of trying to be more conscious about how I'm spending my time. I know I take on a lot, but everything I've got going on is meaningful to me, in different ways, so I will work on changing my approach rather than changing my schedule.
5. Daydreaming about my Sekrit (Viking) Boyfriend ;)
Ok, so I'm reading a lot of fiction, which is really not something I've done much of lately. I'm quite addicted to the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, but have moved on from there. In the last week or so I've read one of the Harper Connelly mysteries, also by Charlaine Harris, and have read the first Anita Blake book by Laurel Hamilton. The continuity thread seems to be that all these books have vampires or other occult elements. Last night, the NBC news trailer had Brian Williams (and his tie) saying, "And later this evening, we'll take a look at how Americans are distracting themselves from the grim economic situation". I laughed and said, well, I'm reading about vampires, that's how I'm doing it. Whatever works.
6. Finishing socks and a baby blanket
Finally finished the re-do on the Christmas socks for my Dear Sister. I made her a pair last December, then mailed them to a really old address so she never got them. Still need to stitch the toes closed and block them, but am getting close. And I'm also working on a baby blanket. Am using bamboo yarn, and it's really soft and has a beautiful luster. Am a little less than half done on it. And when the crochet projects are done, I'm going to start the Celtic Blackwork Cross. And also have to run into the frame shop to see how much it's going to cost to get Our Lady of Fabio finished, since the auction donation deadline is this week.
7. Writing some more
This post got a little long. I guess I did have something to say here. Perhaps I should make shorter, more frequent posts. People I respect have told me I write well....ok, they're friends of mine, and have to be nice to me, but still. I'm 46, kind of old to decide to be a songwriter when I grow up, or to start writing short stories or something like that. But I was motivated by something to start this blog, so perhaps I should look at that impulse a little closer and see where it gets me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

it's SOOKIE, not Snookie....

(Yes, Mrs B, that was for you.)
So my newest obsession is the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. How I got here is kind of a funny story. The morning before I left for the Gregorian Chant retreat last month, I stopped by Barnes & Noble to buy something Matti wanted. At the check-out there was a display of all the books in the Southern Vampire series. The main character is Sookie Stackhouse, and the first one is the book that the HBO series True Blood is based on. They looked interesting, and I know from past experience that by the second evening of the retreat I'm usually ready for something that DOESN'T involve serious interior dialogue &/or contemplation, so I bought the first one, Dead Until Dark.
Sure enough, that Sunday evening I needed a break from all things chant, so I pulled up a chunk of big fluffy sofa in front of the gas fireplace in the retreat house great room and started to read. And kept going until I'd finished it about 4 hours later. And then I hit Barnes & Noble after I got back from the retreat the next day and bought the second. Finished that rather quickly too, and started ordering them in pairs from Powells until I'd read all 8. Figured that by ordering them on-line I'd have to pace myself a little bit and it would take a little longer to get through all of them. And it was really fun checking the mail box every day, hoping that the package from Powells was here.
So by now I've read all of them at least 3 times, some of them 4 times. Wasn't kidding about the "newest obsession" part. The books are about vampires and werewolves and other supernatural creatures. It's the first time in (literally) years that I'm not reading something that's either nonfiction or from the Children's Lit section. I think my favorite is Club Dead, because it's such a good story, and you can really see Sookie's good qualities, her loyalty, resilience, bravery and independence. It sets up the rest of the books really well, introducing themes that she's going to have to work through. In all the books, the kaliedescope of details and the humor are just addicting. This is the most fun I've had in a long time - been good for the marraige, even (hehehe). I get the irony of it, though, that I went off to find my spiritual center last January, and found something else entirely (!). Charlaine Harris tells a ripping good story, though, and I hope you all at least check out the first one.
Now on to a couple of completely different topics. Last week I went to Threadneedle Street in Issaquah and bought floss for the Celtic Cross blackwork pattern that I've sketched out. The inspiration was a Thomas Merton drawing that I saw at the retreat last month, and I'm excited that I'm actually working on an idea that I developed at the retreat. I always seem to come home with ideas, but have never actually gotten this far with any of them before.
And in case you're wondering, we're still working on where Matti's going to go to school next fall. The private testing he did went really well and they recommended that we get him into a gifted program. Then we got the notice from the Public Schools that based on their testing he didn't qualify for any accelerated programs. Guess he didn't have a good day when he did their testing. So we're putting together an appeal, and hope to get him into the gifted program after all. If not, we'll stop putting money into our retirement account and get him into one of the (very expensive) private schools that run accelerated programs. It's never simple.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

happy birthday

Dear Daughter turned 11 today. I feel like I should be able to say something profound and meaningful about how blessed we are to have her as part of our family, but I can't seem to come up with anything that doesn't sound trite. Here's a story, maybe. At work tonight I was telling the charge nurse that I'd got up early this afternoon to bake Dear Daughter a giant cookie (think roasting pan-sized) so her class could have a birthday treat. I said something about what a lovely girl she's growing up to be, and the charge nurse said, "I can tell she's your joy. You always smile when you talk about her."

Monday, February 9, 2009

women of a certain age....

So yesterday I worked a 24-hour shift, and one of the first things I heard when I got there was that we were expecting 24-week twins. These twins were notable because the OB team expected them to be extremely small, smaller than normal for babies that premature. So I immediately thought to myself, "O crap, I left my readers at home".
I recently bought myself a pair of 2.25 magnification reading glasses, which are a step (or two) up from the bifocals I've been wearing. My bifocals aren't strong enough, and I'd had a couple of episodes lately where I felt like I was doing procedures on very small babies using the Braille method. Not a good feeling, really. I had my eyes checked by a new ophtho guy, who told me he'd write be a prescription that was basically the same as the glasses I was wearing. I suggested he run his exam again, because I was having a fair amount of trouble, and he grudgingly said he'd write for something stronger, but then I never got them filled because my insurance doesn't cover very much and $15 readers are cheaper than a new pair of prescription bifocals. But then I have to remember to keep them with me.
Once I realized I might have a problem, I called the Dear Husband and asked him to run them over to me. Conveniently, he was going to be heading in my general direction because Dear Son was at a sleepover with his BFF, who lives near the hospital. Then, because I wasn't sure when the babies were coming and whether Dear Husband would get there in time, I went through the unit and asked all the nurses if they had any readers I could borrow. There were around a dozen nurses working in the NICU yesterday morning, all women, and most my age or older. They all got exactly what I was talking about, and most had a pair stashed away "that I use for IVs" or some other procedure where you need to really be able to see. It was actually fairly touching, how willing they were to drop whatever they were doing and help me out by finding me some glasses. I borrowed a pair of 2.5's and got the lines in with no problem, because the babies came before Dear Husband got there. Both of the twins were alive when I left work this morning. And they were very very small.

Friday, February 6, 2009

she is done

I've finished Our Lady of Fabio. Wow. I've also made fairly good progress on sketching out ideas for a blackwork Celtic Cross. Which, given how much time I've spent reading Sookie Stackhouse mysteries lately, is fairly amazing. The house is a mess. And there's really not a whole lot else to say. I'm just going to go back upstairs, pour another glass of wine, and admire my work.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


So my dear Son is very smart. It's not clear how smart, but I guess that's kind of a moving target. I've had at least one professional, family-therapist type label him "gifted". Of course, she got to know him when we brought him in because he was getting into fights on the playground. I don't like to think in terms of labels.
This year and last year we had him tested to get into an accelerated program through the Seattle Public Schools. Last year he qualified for the Spectrum Program, which was cool, but we decided not to send him. First, I really wanted to keep him in a Catholic school, and last year the main motivation for getting the testing was to give St Cs hard data they could use to enrich his program. Also, we decided that really what he needed to do was to learn to get along with other kids, and a Catholic school was a great place to do that. If I could have a do-over, we'd try to put him in the Spectrum Program already, because it's not fair to St C's to make them reinvent the wheel for one kid and the whole "getting along with other kids" thing is a lot harder when you're bored out of your mind.
But we didn't go for the Spectrum Program last year. The other thing about last year's test results is that they were very close to qualifying for the APP (highly gifted) Program. We could have written an appeal, which would have required independent testing by a private tester. Read, very expensive, and also impossible to schedule after the letters from the public school came out last January, because every parent's little darling needed private testing to get into the APP.
So this fall we had him do the public school testing again, and I also made an appointment with a private tester, figuring if he was close again we'd want to write the appeal and we'd already have an appointment on the books. And the test is scheduled for this morning. Unfortunately, between the Accelerated Learning office and the US Post Office, we don't have the letter from the public schools yet. So we don't know how he scored. I've already rescheduled once (for a $60 fee), and when I tried to do that yesterday, I couldn't. Apparently some people already have their letters, and the testing guy got at least 20 calls yesterday from people wanting to schedule things. He's booked into March, which would be too late to write the appeal.
So, our choices are to cancel the test, which, because it's so close to the testing date would cost us like $150. Then we'd have to live with whichever program the fall testing got him in to. Which might not be a problem. Or it might be. Or, we could go through with the test (close to $800) in case we want to write an appeal. And that's what we've decided to do. It's a lot of money, but he's really bored and if it weren't for his BFF, I'm not sure how we'd be keeping him at St Cs. Kent and I sat down and looked at all the information we had (which is tricky, because they don't really let you in to see the school until you're accepted into least for Lowell, where the APP is) and decided that having the independent testing gives us the most flexibility and so we're going ahead with it. The public school system here is in a bit of turmoil, with schools being closed, and it's supposed to be hard to get a kid into the Spectrum programs in the North End (where we live) because there's so much competition. Apparently even if you test in to Spectrum there's no guarentee you'll get a spot.
Bottom line is he needs to try a different school, where he's with more kids who think like he does (well, probably not exactly like he does, but something closer). He needs to be in a place where he's challenged, so that he learns how to stretch himself and he gets the feeling of satisfaction from taking on something hard and doing it well. Right now about the only place he gets that is at the piano (which is another whole post). We want to do what's best for our kids and we are blessed enough to be able to come up with the money to pay for the testing. Good luck this morning, Little Dude.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

sleep deprivation

I'm tired. Much of the time. Like, yesterday I worked a 24-hour shift, cut out for 3 hours in the evening to run up to church for choir practice (thank you SSH for babysitting for me), got back to the unit in time to go to the delivery of a baby who needed immediate transfer to Seattle Childrens and despite that got midnight rounds done generally around midnight, got to bed ~ 1am, got woken up twice, got up for good at 6am, then came home from work, and, instead of trying to get a nap, stayed up and read the 4th Sookie Stackhouse mystery - for the 2nd time. So some of the sleep deprivation might be self-inflicted. And while that big long sentence sounds like a lot, it's not out of character for me. My friends call me the Action Verb. And I do get a lot done, with or without sleep. But my eyes are crusty today, and the Girl Scouts need snacks and I should really go to the grocery store. I feel like I'm a little drunk, or at least that I should watch what I say, although I haven't had anything to drink. Maybe I should watch what I write, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


So over the weekend I was at the Chant Retreat put on by the Center for Sacred Art. It was a beautiful and restful experience and I've spent the last 2 days trying to figure out how that 48 hour period fits in with the rest of my life. The theme for this retreat was the work of Thomas Merton, and we talked a lot about how his disciplined commitment to both contemplation and creativity influenced his faith, as well as the larger faith community that he was a part of. It's kind of funny, every year I seem to leave the retreat with an idea for a needlework project that I then don't really ever get very far with. This year, with Thomas as inspiration, I might.
Sunday afternoon we had a 3 1/2 hour period of silence. I really enjoy that part of the retreat - in years past, thinking about it has been a carrot that got me through the Christmas kerfuffle. This year I wasn't as stressed out by Christmas, so the period of silence didn't seem to be as big a contrast. But it was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. I started out with a hike up into the hills behind the retreat house. St Andrews Retreat House is right off the beach, and at that level it was very foggy and everything was still covered with frost. The higher I got, though, the fog cleared and it was sunny. I could see the tops of the Olympic mountains and got glimpses of the ocean through the trees. There were still patches of frost on the trail, wherever the sun hadn't hit, and I wished I'd had a camera because there were some cool moments between the sun and the frosty bare branches and crunchy grass.
After my hike, I tried to walk the labyrinth. I'm not a good labyrinth walker; I'm too goal-oriented. "When am I going to be done? How much farther? What am I supposed to be thinking about? Am I walking too fast? When's the revelation going to hit?" I thought I must look pretty funny, at least at first, marching along at a pace that wasn't a lot slower than when I was on the hiking trail. I think I slowed down a little, but didn't have an "aha!" moment of any kind before I was done. So I tried it again the next day, trying harder to stay focused on the moment, the right now, the breathing. And maybe my lesson is that slowing down and learning to walk a labyrinth - or engage in any contemplative prayer - is a process. Maybe I have to learn how to get through a labyrinth without needing to feel like I've accomplished something in order to accomplish something, if that makes sense. Maybe even "trying to figure out how that 48 hour period fits in with the rest of my life" is too much of a goal. Maybe I just need to let those ideas be, and they'll fit in wherever they need to.
And in the meantime, there's a blackwork Celtic cross that I might sketch out, and maybe even stitch. Will keep you posted. After all, once Our Lady of Fabio is finished, I'll need another big project. Although I called My Dear Sister yesterday to wish her a happy birthday, and it seems I mailed her Christmas Socks to the wrong address, so will need to try again. Fortunately I've already got a pair started.
[Add On - 2 hours later] Just went for the Modified Maple Leaf Death March walk (2+ miles up and down the hills of my neighborhood). When I was a little over 3/4 of the way through, I passed a man. He walked up to the corner of 94th just as I was passing it, and said, "Ho, Good Morning" when he saw me. He was a little rumpled, looked like a younger, shorter version of Bill Murray with shoulder length hair and better skin. He was carrying a black duffel bag of some kind and possibly a beer bottle (maybe root beer?). Anyway, I said good morning, and he said, "You're an exercise walker. I'm a get here to there walker". I laughed and responded that there was something to be said for both kinds. "No", he said, "only the get here to there kind. Otherwise there's no point". I laughed harder, kept walking, and thought, "Dood, you'd really hate the labyrinth, then."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

our lady of fabio

(photo above taken 1.17.09)

(photo above taken ~ 10.15.08)

So, as you can see from the photos, progress has been made! I worked on it for a while yesterday, and came to the realization that I'm nearly done with the actual cross stitch parts. I have some gold Kreinik braid to fill in, and some outlining to do, but then it's just putting on the beads. Oh, and I have to go over it carefully and fill in all the missed stitches. I'm a little nervous about the beading. I've been working with a 12" hoop, but there's so much beading all over the piece that I'm afraid the hoop won't work. It'll catch the beads it's clamped over and may pull them out of place. I do have a plastic "Q-Snap" frame w/ the clamps, but am not sure it's big enough. So I might need to get stretcher bars to do it right. I've not done a project that has this much beading before, so it'll be a learning experience. On the plus side, though, I should easily have it done and framed in time to donate to the St C's auction. And in case you missed the joke, I've christened the piece "Our Lady of Fabio" because if it was a movie photo for some kind of Christmas movie, you'd need Fabio to play Joseph. I'd done a large Our Lady of Guadelupe cross stitch and really liked how it came out, and always wanted to try one of these Mirabilia pieces, but the more I worked on it, the more I realized it's too romantic for even my taste (which tends towards the romantic). Hopefully one of our St Catherine's parents will appreciate it enough to bid on it.
And now I'm off (or will be later today) for my annual Gregorian Chant retreat, but on by the Center for Sacred Art. It's a chance to chant the hours with a group of other like-minded (off-beat, a little wierd, eccentric at least) souls. This year the theme is Thomas Merton, which should be interesting. I don't know a lot about Thomas Merton, but have checked out a few of his books from the Library, so look forward to a weekend of learning and reading and chanting. I was going to bring Our Lady of Fabio along, to work on tomorrow during the 3-hour silence, but unless I can get ahold of some stretcher bars, I'm afraid I don't have enough work left to do to make it worth the trouble of bringing her and all the necessary supplies. Which leaves me sorta scrambling for a project to bring. Because you know I can't go away for two nights without something to do with my hands!

Monday, January 12, 2009

sock photo

This is the photo of the nearly-completed Christmas socks that I'd meant to include with the previous post. They looked much better when they were blocked (and, in the case of the last pair, when they were finished). I've got the pattern down pretty good, and am looking forward to hearing back about how well they wear.

can't take it all seriously

Watched the Golden Globes last night. I may be the only person in the country who LOVED Drew Barrymore's hair. She looked like she was channeling Marilyn Monroe in a good way, and it was fun and different and cute. And I thought Renee Zellweger was channeling Sharon Stone, and NOT in a good way. And there were way too many white/cream/metallic/NO COLOR dresses. And I LOVED Marisa Tomei - but I've always had a thing for long lacy sleeves. I might have to go buy the Target version of that outfit as soon as it comes out. And when I first saw Sting on the red carpet I thought, "Who's that old fossil?", and about had a heart attack when I saw it was Sting. Wow, Dude, No. You're making the rest of your generation feel REALLY OLD. Other than that, there were a few winners and losers, and then there were the awards. What did you guys think?
In the meantime, I finished crocheting 5 pairs of socks to give as Christmas gifts, and now am working on a pair for myself. And I've started to put some serious time into Our Lady of Fabio, the Mirabilia cross stitch Madonna and Child that I started like 18 months ago. I want to donate it to the St C's school auction, and am hoping to convince one of our local frame shops to give me a break on the framing as an auction donation. Will take a picture soon to show progress. Because I am making progress. Slowly!