Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Week

My husband and I flew East last Monday in order to bring my aunt back to live near us in Idaho, which we did on Thursday.

In between those two seemingly simply events there were four days of tears, persuasive arguments, bewilderment, accusations, laughter, acquiescence, loving memories, and memory loss.

That we succeeded is nothing short of a gift from God.

I'm still emotionally processing all that has occurred.  In some ways, this was far worse than my mother's death.

I'm thankful my aunt is here. And I continue to fervently pray that the transition for her, as it progresses, is an awakening to a life no less full than that which she remembers.

Thank you, all, for your prayers and support this week!

- Catherine

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

Christ is risen!

A happy and blessed Easter to all!

- Catherine

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Good Friday.

The darkness before the dawn of the Resurrection.

Explore the darkness, and have a blessed and holy day.

- Catherine

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Another milestone

One of my mother's two remaining sisters finally passed away yesterday. I say "finally" because Viv had been dying by inches for the last couple of years.

In common with many of her day, she started smoking cigarettes around the age of 13. She continued to smoke heavily until the day she could no longer inhale enough breath to be able to take a drag (well into her 70s). That's a lot of nicotine and tar, folks, and the resulting respiratory problems and the final battle with COPD were awful.

Having to fight for every breath you take is a very frightening way to live. I'm glad she no longer bears that terrible burden.

- Catherine

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

 1. What are your plans for Easter Day/weekend?  Friday night: Good Friday service at church. Saturday: cleaning our former home, which is the final step in getting it ready to sell. Sunday: church in the morning and then probably some batting and catching practice at the local park.

2. Besides Jesus, what one person from The Bible would you most like to meet and why? Simon Peter (a.k.a. Mr. Impulsive). He argued, he doubted, he denied -- and yet ...

3. What is one modern day convenience you didn't have as a child that was easy to live without? An e-reader. I became a weekly visitor to our public library at an early age. I love the feel and the look of books as well as their content. As a child, the books were all that I needed and I wouldn't have wanted any other format. BUT, times change, and the e-reader can't be beat for adult convenience. It's great to tote along with you if you know you're going to have to wait somewhere for something (car service, doctor's office, etc.). Best of all, though, is having it on an airplane. E-readers take up virtually no room in your purse or carry-on and you've got a great selection of reading material at your fingertips!

4. Are you more right brained or left brained? If you don't know what that means there is an interesting little quiz hereI took the quiz and I am left-brained. Hmmmm ....

5. What is something you intended to do today but didn't? Why? I intended to vacuum my floors, but I ran out of time, plain and simple. Generally, I don't do housework after dinner, so if it isn't done by the time we sit down to eat, it isn't going to get done that day.

6. Cadbury Creme Eggs or Reeses peanut butter?  Really, neither. But if I had to choose, it would be the peanut butter.

7. Who was your favorite cartoon character when you were a child? The old Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons were my favorite when I was very small.  I graduated to the humor of Bugs Bunny and crew as I got a little older ("I wanna easta-egg!! I wanna easta-egg!!).

8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, there are random tulips and daffodils springing up around our house in various and sundry (read: random) places. There is also a random patch of tiny purple violets near the back fence. Happy Spring!

Many thanks, Joyce, for another round of questions!

- Catherine

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Contrast

It's Holy Week. Jesus is in Jerusalem, he is getting ready for a final Passover meal with His followers, and He knows that in the space of a few short days He will be arrested for sedition, tortured, killed, and then raised from the dead.

If I have one beef with the modern Protestant church, it is that Holy Week is fast being seen as irrelevant. Holy Thursday isn't even mentioned. Good Friday is up for grabs -- maybe we'll have a service, maybe we won't.

Everyone is busy, we all say.

Too busy to take some extra time to focus on Christ's sacrifice? Too busy to fully explore and celebrate our salvation? We can't set aside a few days on our calendars each year in order to center down and consider the miserable condition we'd be in if the Cross had not happened?


Traditionally, the Church would have a Holy Thursday service and a Good Friday service. Both services were solemn and quiet in tone. Both were focused on the significant events leading up to and including the Crucifixion.

By Sunday, we understood.

We understood where Christ had been on our behalf and exactly where we would be if He hadn't accepted the Cup in the Garden of Gethsemane. We understood and, by Sunday, we were ready for the party that is the Resurrection.

Easter Sunday remains a big, happy celebration in the modern church, but I would argue that Easter Sunday loses impact when the week before has just been another week in the life of the everyday man.  There is a spiritual gain in marking the contrast between the solemnity of Holy Week and the party of Easter Sunday. That opportunity to gain understanding should not be underestimated, not even for the "seasoned" Christian.

If your church doesn't mark Holy Week, then I strongly encourage you to mark it yourself. Spend more time in the Word. Read the Gospels' accounts of the week between Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His triumphant resurrection from death. Enter that darkness and consider your own darkness as well. Spend time in prayer.

By Sunday, you'll understand, and you'll be ready for the Party too.

- Catherine

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Trivia

While shampooing my hair this morning with shampoo (note that the word is both verb and noun), I began to wonder how we got such an odd word.

Sham-poo. Sham as in fake? Poo as in, well, poo?

Well, as you know, that's not it at all.

And since I am sure that you are all agog to know the origin of the word, here it is:

From 1755–65;  earlier "champoto massage < an inflected form of Hindi cāmpnā  literally, to press.
And from Wikipedia: The word shampoo in English is derived from Hindi chāmpo (चाँपो [tʃãːpoː]),[1] and dates to 1762.[2] The Hindi word referred to head massage, usually with some form of hair oil. 
So, there you have it, dear reader!  Trivia to start your weekend.
You're welcome.
- Catherine 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. Would you rather talk to everyone at a crowded party for a short time or have a significant conversation with two people?   I'd rather have a significant conversation with two people. I'm not good at small talk and it's very easy for me to tune out a crowd of people. The exception -- a family party. Then I want to talk to everyone because it's not just small talk.

2. What objects do you remember from your parent's living room?   The green couch with matching chair, the dark knotty pine paneling, the big black rotary phone on the wall, the Wurlitzer piano on one wall, the black and white Zenith TV, the old screens on the window (more like narrow columns of screening material rather than one continuous piece of screen).

3. Do you hog the bed? Steal the covers? Snore? I steal the covers. I leave the snoring and hogging to my hubby.

4. Speaking of Easter dinner....what is your favorite way to cook/eat lamb? Or does just the thought of that make you squeamish? If you're not cooking lamb what will be your entree du jour on Easter Sunday? On Easter Sunday I don't know that there will be any meal at all. Probably we will go out for something after church. I like lamb but haven't found a way that I can cook it to my liking.

5. Let's throw some politics into this week's mix-oooohhh...Do you know the whereabouts of your birth certificate and when was the last time you had to produce it to prove you're you? I do know where my birth certificate is. And the last time I needed it, I THINK, was to get married 10 years ago.

6. As a child, how did people describe you? I spent the better part of last week with my aunt and she describes me as cute, independent, smart and different. "We had to watch you!" was what she said. I guess my penchant for doing research was already manifest when I was a toddler -- I did research in those days by wandering off and exploring my surroundings. I think what pleased me the most, though, is when my aunt told me that Grandpa thought I was something special -- precisely because I was different.

7. What do you complain about the most?  There are not enough hours in the day nor are there enough days in the weekEND (the week is plenty long enough, believe me).

8. Insert your own random thought here.  Randomly speaking, I covet the prayers of all my friends and family, for I have a difficult task ahead of me in the coming weeks.

- Catherine

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I am sore; SORE, I say!!

Good heavens! One afternoon of softball, followed the next day by a session of racquetball, and I can hardly move.

On Sunday I used muscles I didn't know I'd had for the last 35 years.

On Monday I aggravated them with racquetball.

Today they are taking their revenge.

Must. Drink. Water.

And pop ibuprofen.

And do laundry.

And pack for another trip.

And get to work!

Happy Tuesday to all.

- Catherine

Monday, April 11, 2011

Warm Homecoming

I'd been away for over a week when I arrived back home yesterday. The 2+ hour drive from the Salt Lake airport to my home in Idaho was 2+ hours too long this time -- I couldn't wait to get back after the stress of the last week!

I admit it -- I did a little speeding where the Interstate was wide open.

So sue me.

Just south of town, I got a call from hubby, saying that he and Number 7 wanted to go to our church team's softball practice and did I want to meet them there.  The day was sunny and breezy, and sitting out in the sunshine watching my two best guys sounded great and incredibly relaxing to me.

Once at the park, I quickly got roped into actually playing -- well, practicing, since that's all it is at this point. Games start soon, though.

I have not played softball since my Senior year of high school, folks. That's 35 years!

But many of my good friends were there -- plenty of women on the team -- so I jumped in.

And had an absolute blast!

It was NEVER this fun in school!  I had no coordination and no athleticism at all in those days, so I dreaded the annual softball season. Compared to the other girls, I was pretty awful.

But I suspect that the change for the better now is due in part to my recent switch from right handed-ness to left handed-ness. I discovered my natural left handed-ness last year when I started playing racquetball. Seemed only logical that that would carry over to softball, and it certainly does.

I'd have played much better in school if I'd known I was naturally left handed.

It makes me want to call my mother because she is the one who insisted that, as a toddler, I learn to write with my right hand (as parents often did in those days because the right hand was the "correct" hand).

There is a teensy-weensy part of me that wants to say, "See????? You should've left well enough alone when I was little!"

Oh wait -- Mom already knows. Scratch the phone call.

After practice, we went to the local sporting goods store to purchase a glove for a lefty player, plus a couple bats and balls. Once home, hubby, Number 7, both dogs, and I trooped out to the back pasture (still unsullied by horses this season). We played catch, we had batting practice, and we discovered that our pasture is the perfect place to practice fielding grounders.

Charley, forbidden to capture the ball and slobber all over it, nevertheless ran in a constant triangle during the game of catch -- from one person to the next. Hank explored the pasture and occasionally hung out with us.

All in all, I think yesterday afternoon was THE best homecoming ever!

- Catherine

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Sandwich Generation

I never thought I'd be in a situation that makes me cry as this one does.

I thought that grief for my mother was the worst, but now I'm not so sure.

I have a very elderly aunt.

I thought it was garden-variety, old age senility, but now I think it might really be Alzheimers.

She has no kids of her own. All the decisions are mine now.

It makes me ever more grateful that my own mother passed when all her faculties were still working just fine. She would have hated being in a situation like that of her eldest sister.

Please, God -- show me the way.

- Catherine

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. National Read a Road Map Day falls on April 5th. Would people say you have a good sense of direction? Do you rely on a GPS when you drive somewhere new? When was the last time you used a map? 
I inherited my father's very good sense of direction (unlike my mother, whose then-four year old son had to tell her how to get around the town she'd lived in for six years already). I've used my Blackberry's GPS feature exactly once. I was seriously annoyed by the voice talking to me, plus it runs down the phone's battery very quickly. I do, however, frequently use the map feature on both my Blackberry and my Droid, and I love that! It's wonderful to punch in an address and get the written directions plus a map within a few seconds. I haven't used a paper map in years!

2. What's your favorite cookbook? Mine. (My notebook binder of recipes that is.)

3. What painting would you like to "walk into" and experience? Why? Hmmm ... shades of Mary Poppins! I would like to walk into a painting that I picked up at a flea market some 25 years ago. A lovely young woman, dressed in gauzy pale pink, is sitting in the foreground gazing wistfully out over the moonlit water. I'd like to sit where she's sitting for a while -- it looks so incredibly tranquil. I'd also like to own the gauzy pink dress.

4. What annoys you more- misspellings or mispronunciations? Misspellings. I don't know what schools are teaching in the way of spelling these days, but it doesn't seem adequate, based on what I see. I recently found a letter written in 1950 by my great-aunt, Florrie. Florrie had had to leave school at a young age in order to go to work (we're talking the late 19th century here), yet the spelling in this letter was impeccable. Today it seems that too many kids graduate from high school and are still unable to spell.

5. What is something your mother or father considered important? My mother thought it was important to stand up straight, and since I had the round shouldered slump of so many tall teenage girls, I heard about that A Lot.

6. Do you like or dislike schedules?  I both like and dislike them. It depends on the circumstances. Schedules surely have their place in life or we'd all be living in chaos. But the use of schedules (on a personal level) can be carried too far and even abused, impinging on a person's well being.

7. Let's have some fun with National Poetry Month (that would be April)...write your own ending to this poem-

"Roses are Red
Violets are blue..."
I should be sleeping
At quarter to two.

(Written in the wee hours of the night.)

Incidentally if you'd like to read the history behind that little ditty you'll find it here.

8. Insert your own random thought in this space. Randomly speaking, I am not cut out for whirlwind tours. I wake up in the middle of the night and have no idea where I am.

Thanks, Joyce, for another Hodgepodge of great questions!

- Catherine

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Sandwich Generation

They aren't kidding when they call us The Sandwich Generation.

Because at home in Idaho there is a teenager and a husband and two dogs.

And in New Jersey there is an elderly aunt with a cat.

I have decisions to make about and for my aunt (and her cat) -- serious decisions.

I can't be in two places at once and I want to do right by both sides of the sandwich.

I need prayer, folks.

- Catherine

Friday, April 1, 2011

Yoga Variation

I don't do Yoga.

Frankly, I find it boring.

But Number 4 is a devotee, so when a friend of mine sent this video my way, I had to share it with her.

She laughed.

You will too.