Monday, September 29, 2014

Microblog Monday—My New Personal Challenge


Having seen a number of all kinds of challenges on Facebook, from blogging every day to taking a photo every day to doing something or other for a certain number of days—and participating in several with not-always-successful results—I’ve decided to create my own challenge. Since I don’t seem to do well at being accountable to a lot of people in my Facebook/blogging world, I’m going to be accountable to myself alone this time.

So here is my personal challenge:



I am challenging myself to write at least 100 words a day for one hundred days. If I can stick to this, I will have written 10,000 words at the end of the challenge.

I actually began this challenge to myself one week ago and have managed to stay on track, some days writing much more than 100 words.
Now I’m making it public on my blog.

So far I’ve been mostly writing in my novel manuscript, second draft, but I may apply this challenge to other writing as well—sometimes a blog post, maybe working on a short story. The point is just to get the writing done. To pull myself out of my procrastination in as easy a way possible. One hundred words can be written in one paragraph. One paragraph takes only a few minutes.

To make sure I keep myself going, I will check in on my blog periodically to track my progress—maybe on Microblog Mondays.

In the meantime, if anyone else likes this “personal challenge” idea, please do jump in! It’s not quite NaNoWriMo, but it would be nice to have some company!



Monday, September 22, 2014

Microblog Monday: Heavenly Art

I love medieval art. The brilliant tempera colors, the gilt, the intricate carving in ivory, wood, and bone, gold filigree and gemstones, the beauty of illuminated manuscripts, take my breath away. We were able to visit the Walters Museum in Baltimore this weekend, which has one of the best medieval collections I’ve ever seen. Being in the midst of it made me feel like I was walking into Heaven. How craftsmen created these works without sophisticated tools is something I find hard to imagine.
Look at the faces of these tormentors of Jesus! Aren't they so perfectly grotesque?

A diptych of St. George and the Virgin Mary; he was considered to be her special messenger.

An etched gold cross

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gratitude/Happiness List—September 17, 2014
Once again linking up with Laurel Regan’s Alphabet Salad to share some things that I’m grateful for and that have made me happy this week.
—To have reconnected with old friends from high school on Facebook, to have met with two of them over the past month, and find that we still “click” together and have so much to talk about.

—Having a reliable, professional boarding place to leave our dog when we go away—even though I always hate leaving her, they make it a little less wrenching by telling me how sweet she is and how much they enjoy having her. (They may be lying, but it makes me feel better anyway.)

—Anticipating the fall restarting of our church book club with a discussion of what may be my favorite book of the year, “The Goldfinch.”

—Discovering a wonderful new tea, Belgian Mint—slightly chocolately and to die for!

—A cozy rainy Saturday night listening to the radio as the Pawtucket Red Sox won the International League championship.

—Being able to run a 5K and coming in second in my age group, thereby winning a prize!

—Having work coming in again after a nearly two-month pre- and postsurgery layoff.

—Having the date set for the closing on the sale of our other house.








Monday, September 15, 2014

Microblog Monday: Happiness Is Tea and an Old Friend

 I’ve been fortunate through Facebook to have reconnected with some friends from high school—more than forty years ago! Over the past month I’ve had the joy of being able to get together with two of them face to face and talk for hours—just like nothing had changed.

I had a lovely afternoon on Saturday with Sue Munroe at a delightful little tearoom in Warwick called Trinity Confections. Wonderful food—soup, salad, quiche, and delicious pastries and homemade chocolates—and great talk.

So people I didn’t think I’d ever see again have reappeared in my life, and I’m so grateful for that!



Friday, September 12, 2014

Gratitude/Happiness List

Week of September 7

Joining with Laurel Regan’s Gratitude linkup at Alphabet Salad. 

Here are some things I’m grateful for and that have made me happy this week:


My hand and wrist are nearly completely healed. My last therapy visit was today, and my doctor cleared me to go back to work. I can even start crocheting again—slowly and for short times.


Delicious whole-grain bread from our local bakery. 

That we had a last week of hot summer weather before fall starts moving in.

Our upcoming weekend trip to Baltimore.

Having some time to start and work at practicing Zentangle,  which I’m really enjoying.

Community events like Cyclovia, in which about a mile of the street is closed to traffic for the benefit of walkers, bicyclists, inline skaters, etc., and including food trucks, entertainment, health and fitness information, and a dog dress-up contest!

Getting maybe our last chance this year to eat outside at a restaurant with our dog.

Having the Boston Red Sox’ Triple-A team, the Pawtucket Red Sox, playing just a few miles from our home and being in the playoff finals.

That said, I’m grateful that my husband is patient with me when I get cranky because a ballgame goes into extra innings. He loves it; I just want to go home (it’s after 10 o’clock and getting chilly!), and I grumble things like “Why can’t baseball games end within a civilized length of time like other sports?”

Gentle, warm breezes.

The beautiful flowers (even roses!) and flowering bushes that are still around in nearly mid-September.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Microblog Monday, September 8, 2014: What Is Wrong with People?

Melissa Ford at Stirrup Queens has initiated Microblog Mondays. You can read her post for more information here.

I love the idea of writing a tiny post on Mondays. Whenever I sit down to write a blog post, I get so tangled up in more and more words that sometimes I don’t ever finish it. Microblog Mondays lets you post something as short and instantaneous as a Facebook status update, so it’s great for the wordy among us, like me! So here’s my first micropost.

What Is Wrong with People?

I find myself asking (sometimes screaming) this question more and more these days as I read or hear about some of the silly, brainless things people do. The latest case in point: a story in our paper yesterday about new “wedding fads.” One: bridesmaids pulling up the backs of their gowns and exposing their asses for the purpose of photos to be put on the Internet. Two: some brides having plastic surgery done on their ring fingers so their fingers will “look better” in the photos.

So I ask again: What is wrong with people? When did our society become so narcissistic?


Friday, September 5, 2014

Just an Arrangement


Our “other” house is under contract and set to close within a couple of weeks. This will be a relief to us, both financially and psychologically. So why do I feel ambivalent about it?


The two years we lived there were among the most difficult years of my life.

It’s the place where I watched my mother’s mind deteriorate into dementia and her body slip inexorably out of her control.

But it’s also where I saw her every day, made her coffee, laughed with her, enjoyed the sense of humor she still had.

It’s where I came downstairs from our second-floor apartment several times a day to check on her on the first floor, where I might find she’d been incontinent or left the teakettle on to boil dry or was wearing the same clothes she’d had on the last two days or was trying to call my brother, having forgotten he had passed away.

It’s also where I came downstairs one day to find her sitting in an armchair in the foyer with the door open, watching the rain fall, in peace and contentment.

Where I saw her little smile of pleasure each time I reminded her that my husband and I lived right upstairs from her. “Over my head?” she’d ask, pointing to the ceiling. Yes, mom, right over your head. And where I saw her face collapse in grief every time I had to remind her about my brother.

It’s the house where I became her full-time caregiver, taking away the independence she’d had living on her own but giving her safety, security, and care in exchange.

In my office in our apartment I tried to juggle my freelance career with my responsibility for her and didn’t always succeed. Part of my mind was always on her. Was she sleeping safely in her recliner, or had she gotten up and fallen? Had she forgotten where she was and was feeling panicky? Would she open the downstairs door and yell up, “Is anybody here?”

Every night, after spending the evening downstairs with her, I would come back into our apartment and breathe a sigh of relief at having gotten through another day. I’d pray to God to give me strength for the next day, and for the unknown number of days ahead of us. Until the day we were able to get back to our own home in Providence and resume our normal lives.

I thought about that day so often and always felt guilty for wishing for it, because when that day came, I thought, it would mean she was gone.

As it happened, though, that day came before we lost her. It came after her fall and broken hip, when in spite of successful surgery she no longer had the cognitive capacity to do rehab and so was unable to walk again.

When she went into assisted living, we began planning for our move back to our own home. We gave our tenants two months’ notice. Yet, although I had thought I’d be nothing but happy about going back, something else had happened.

Our temporary house had sent roots into our hearts.

It’s where we were living when we got our dog. When I discovered the joy of crocheting. When I first started doing morning runs, into the village a mile away, past the river and cove where the sun sparkled on the water.

It’s the last place where we were together with my mother.

We always knew we’d be returning to Providence. This house was always just an arrangement for my mother’s care. Yet in spite of the difficult circumstances, we’d become attached to it and to the neighborhood.

Even now, almost three years since we moved back, I still occasionally miss that house. I sometimes wonder whether it might not be smart to keep it as an investment. But the market is so uncertain, and we were never cut out to be landlords. Selling is logically the best thing.

And yet.

I used to think my memories of the time we lived there would be painful and hard. But the difficult memories have blended with the good ones. When I look back now I see a complex and intricate tapestry of two years of our lives.

So I do feel a little sad. But I have that tapestry now, and that’s nothing to regret.