Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Here we go!
If you are hitting a "reset" button in any area of your life, consider taking it to prayer, starting today.
I am looking at so many things that need to be reevaluated, revamped, restarted.
I want to do each of these things justice and give them the effort that they are due.

Last night I went to Confession, to start the year absolved and in a good place with God.
The whole family went, and as we all walk down our personal paths this year, we can each step out knowing that we are in a state of Grace. That's the most important step to take over anything else.

I have many plans and only some of them will get past the "outline" phase.
Somme of them will be shelved, but I want to listen closely to God so that the ones that He wants to "Flesh out" become sentences, paragraphs, and then complete essays.

He knows of the plans that He has for us. Plans for a bright future and great Joy!



Saturday, December 31, 2016

On The Cusp of a New Year.

This is truly a blank page.
It's 10:00, on New Year's Eve and there is a whole new brand-spanking-clean year ahead of us.
2016 was a good year, we put a few things behind us, moved forward in others.
There was education on all fronts, new jobs, expanding horizons, and love and laughter with family and friends.
Tomorrow will be another beginning.
The coming year will see a completely new and different Presidential administration. I am hopefully optimistic.
It will be a college year for two of my students. John and Brendan. Paul hopes to start at the college soon himself. Probably not next fall, but soon.
The need to pay college tuition brings me to a new horizon in my career. I still love my work for Sappari, but I am going to need to supplement that income.
There are opportunities on the horizon, and they are definitely answers to prayer. God has been putting people in my life and ideas in my mind, and I can see Him working in all of this.
The key is going to be keeping an open heart and following His lead.

God Bless this year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Breathing Space

A very wise person recently advised me that I may be a little too concerned with what I should do, based on my perception of what other people think. She suggested that I spend the rest of Advent letting go of thoughts about people's expectations and instead spend time in prayer and reflection about the One who gave me life and what He desires for me. The areas that seem to keep me running in circles are:

*Family responsibilities coming from my side of the family which I can really do nothing about, but which, when I think about how to approach and try to deal with them, make my head spin. I know that I am one of the people that needs to do something, but as far as I can see there are no real solutions. I don't see how I can just abandon the situation, but then again, I have no idea what to do about it. 

*A sense that I am not reaching the right people in my work. I love the company that I work for. I have been involved in the organizing industry for years now, and it seems so right for me. I love working with people and helping them solve their problems. I just don't think that the populations that I would be best at working with are aligned with the cost of the service that we are providing in this company. Not that it's wrong to seek a more affluent type of client, but the clients that I really want to serve are families, preferably large homeschooling ones, and the elderly as they transition from the family home to smaller spaces. I really just want to offer services by the job, or the hour, and work directly for the client, to cut costs for them. I am just not sure how to approach this in my current work situation. 

*The need to make money to supplement our income for the boy's education which leads me to needing to make money somehow, and wanting to do what I love! I really don't get any work through the company right now. I need to find the place that I am needed and can be the most effective. 

*Trying to stay in good graces with friends in our circle, as my own views on what is acceptable are changing. I am really not so sure that rigid black and white thinking has been healthy.

My wise friend told me to open these questions up in writing and to try to find some answers. 
This blog will be the space to do that. 
I am going to try not to dwell, but to pose questions to myself.

The first question is....

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Little Pot, A Brave New World

Sometimes revolutions sneak up on you.
You'd think that something as life-changing as a revolution would announce itself, like Donald Trump at the White House, but sometimes these things creep in on little mouse feet.

Take the Instant Pot revolution for instance.

I was only slightly aware of this way of cooking because a friend gave me an electric pressure cooker a while back, and I found out that it was pretty great for rice or potatoes. So I used it a few times, if only just to prove my culinary mettle, and that I had enough courage to stay in the same room with the spitting, puffing devil. My mom had put the fear of all things pressure cooking into us when we were kids.
 "Don't even come into the kitchen! These things can blow up and kill people! It's happened!"
I'm not sure how she knew that it had happened, because it never happened to anyone we knew and the internet was years away. Urban legends had to be handed down personally back then.

Sometime around September, some of my Facebook friends started posting questions about this new wonder; the Instant Pot.
"What is this dark magic?", I wondered.
It was one of those times when I felt like I had come late to the party and everyone there had already met the guest of honor and was on a first-name basis. One of my friends asked a question, and the replies came pouring in, and I had to google to know what was going on. So...the Instant Pot. I was intrigued. Mostly pressure cooker, partly steamer and fry pan, with a few special features that nobody needs. I already have all of those things, so I figured this was an expensive flash-in-the-pan, so to speak, and put it out of my mind. And it was expensive, very, still it kept coming up in conversations all over social media.

October arrived bringing the season of beef stew and soups, and my attention was pulled back to the great idea of something that could allow me to have the attention span of my Golden Retriever, because I never have anything thawed by 4:30, and yet enable me to get a wonderful home cooked meal on the table by 5:30.  I started paying attention. It seems everyone was paying attention. All of a sudden Amazon was putting Instant Pots everywhere I went online. A few people I know already had them, and it seemed like they were very happy. Well, anyway, I couldn't see paying 89.99 for something that was really a want, but not a need. I joined the Instant Pot community on Facebook. It couldn't hurt to watch the videos and read the recipes. It wasn't like I was actually going to become one of THEM.

Then Black Friday happened, and the revolution knocked on my door.
$59.99 on Amazon.
One per customer.
Join us, and live in a brand new Instant Pot world.

 I asked Tim. I began to repeat all the propaganda that I had been reading. I told him about saving money, electricity, saving the environment, cheesecake. I had him at cheesecake. So I clicked. It went into my cart and as I went to checkout I thought about how I could still go back. I could stop now and no one would ever know. I looked at the picture, I read the reviews, again, and I took that final step.
As soon as I did I knew that I had made the right decision.

 I wanted to share this with someone. I thought of Laura and how good this would be for her. All those kids eating wholesome food, cooked in minutes, saving the environment. So I tried to buy another one. One per customer the site said. How could we get around that? Another account? Have someone else buy it? This price wouldn't last and they would all be gone!! I looked around the internet wildly. There, on the Walmart page, I found them, at the same price. I ordered quickly and was able to purchase one for her. Nina had already told me that she didn't want one, but these things happen in families. Often times a family has to deal with the fact that one of their loved ones refuses to embrace the way of the future.

That evening I looked once more at the email from Amazon saying that my order was processing. I went over to the Instant Pot community page, and while it wasn't actually in my possession yet, I was able to announce that I had taken that crucial step and I now belonged.
When it shipped, I counted myself among the lucky ones who had a pot on the way, because several people were informed that their shipments had been delayed. I grieved with them.

When it arrived, there was no question that it was to be given prime real estate in the pantry. Other small appliances have been moved, like Woody to the toybox. I got it out, did the "water test" which everyone says is mandatory, and decided to take my first step up the learning curve with hardboiled eggs, which I was assured would be so much more perfect than anything ever boiled in a pan on the stove. They'd better be. They were pretty awesome. But they certainly aren't cheesecake.

I have now thrown myself wholeheartedly into the movement. I am learning how to use the different features, I know all about high pressure and low pressure and the timing functions. I have made a couple of amazing meals and I am well on the way to being fully integrated.
I think I may be saving electricity, I will be saving money as soon as I purchase that springform pan and a couple of accessories, and the environment is probably fine.
What's important is cheescake.

Join the revolution. You know you want to.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lessons Learned

I guess if you have a blog you kind of have to blog about the things that happen in life that shake you.
We had one of those this past Friday, and I am still trying to process what happened and put it into the proper perspective.

The day started out great. We had been at dress rehearsal late on Thursday night for Paul's play, "Lost In Yonkers" and so Henry spent the night.

It was a beautiful day so the boys walked to co-op and I drove all the stuff down, and then when it was time to go home, the boys had a couple of friends, Will and Frank, and Henry again, that were going to come home with us and attend the play later. Since the weather was still really nice, they all decided to walk home. I took the car and came home ahead of them.

It usually takes about twenty minutes to walk from the Boys and Girls Club, so I started watching for them when I figured they should be showing up. I looked up the road and I saw them walking down the hill and into the driveway, and a small blue car pulled up and stopped at the end of the driveway. A young woman got out, yelling at the boys and came up the driveway. She was really upset, and I couldn't understand what she was saying, so I went outside to see what the problem was.

She was telling them off, and John was trying to explain while also fending off her accusations. She wasn't making any sense, and so I told everyone to just be quiet so that I could try to understand what was happening. She said that they had called her a name and that it was a racial slur. I was shocked because one thing I know about these boys is that none of them has a racist bone in his body.
She said that they had called her Anime.
I was trying to process that and asked John to explain. He said that Paul had been goofing around and had been asking the people in their cars as they drove by "Do you like anime?" I only have ever heard the word anime associated with the Japanese art form that is frequently found in graphic novels. I have never heard of any word even close to that being used as a racial slur, and I told the woman that.  I told her what anime is and that I couldn't understand how it could be offensive. I also said that maybe where she comes from it has a different meaning but how could we know that? John was trying to explain what had happened and she was just getting more and more upset.
I sent the other boys inside and John stayed out in front with me to try to help get to an understanding but it was like we were speaking a different language than she was and she just couldn't calm down.
I told her that I was sorry for her misunderstanding, but that was what it was, a misunderstanding.
She stomped back to her car. We came in the house and locked the door because she had sounded threatening as she left.
I asked John for the rest of the story after we got inside. He said that after Paul had called out to her car she had turned it around and come back up the road and yelled "Who the F*^# is anime?"
John told her what they had actually said,  she went off and started cursing, using extremely foul language and calling them names.
They tried to just keep walking, but she kept her car next to them and just kept spewing her anger.
At one point she got out of the car. John told her to go away and stop harassing them or he was going to call the police.

After we went in the house, John told me the rest of the things that she had said and how threatened they had felt. He went downstairs and immediately started writing up the story, and we had all the boys read it and sign it.
John then called the police and they told him that the woman had called and they were talking to her and would come up to our house after.
When the officer got here, we went out and introduced ourselves and John gave him the written account.
The officer said that she was visibly shaken and that she said that they had also said something about Donald Trump. The boys said nothing of the sort, and I am still stunned by that.
The officer also said that she had to file the report for work, as she was on the job when the incident occurred. I guess she figured that we were going to call the police and that she had better file her report or lose her job.

The whole thing was really unsettling and disturbing and something that I had never expected in our little town. Sure, Paul was being silly and acting like a kid, but he had been saying that to all the cars as they drove by.

John's question to me later was "Why are they so mean?"

The anger and bitterness was the thing that was the most distressing.
So much hatred that she didn't even want an explanation, she just wanted to believe that the boys were a bunch of racists and that she had been the victim.
I don't see the boys as victims, but I do wish that they hadn't had to experience that kind of anger aimed at them just because someone needs a target.

This has been a lesson to all of us. I don't feel sorry for her. I don't feel like the boys owe anyone an apology. We tried to give an explanation, and if she had stopped for a minute, she would have seen that it made sense. What I feel is still being processed. I am praying that this was a one time unfortunate incident, and I am praying that this woman can see that wallowing in bitterness only makes the bitter person unhappier.

Lessos Learned

I guess if you have a blog you kind of have to blog about the things that happen in life that shake you.
We had one of those this past Friday, and I am still trying to process what happened and put it into the proper perspective.

The day started out great. We had been at dress rehearsal late on Thursday night for Paul's play, "Lost In Yonkers" and so Henry spent the night.

It was a beautiful day so the boys walked to co-op and I drove all the stuff down, and then when it was time to go home, the boys had a couple of friends, Will and Frank, and Henry again, that were going to come home with us and attend the play later. Since the weather was still really nice, they all decided to walk home. I took the car and came home ahead of them.

It usually takes about twenty minutes to walk from the Boys and Girls Club, so I started watching for them when I figured they should be showing up. I looked up the road and I saw them walking down the hill and into the driveway, and a small blue car pulled up and stopped at the end of the driveway. A young woman got out, yelling at the boys and came up the driveway. She was really upset, and I couldn't understand what she was saying, so I went outside to see what the problem was.

She was telling them off, and John was trying to explain while also fending off her accusations. She wasn't making any sense, and so I told everyone to just be quiet so that I could try to understand what was happening. She said that they had called her a name and that it was a racial slur. I was shocked because one thing I know about these boys is that none of them has a racist bone in his body.
She said that they had called her Anime.
I was trying to process that and asked John to explain. He said that Paul had been goofing around and had been asking the people in their cars as they drove by "Do you like anime?" I only have ever heard the word anime associated with the Japanese art form that is frequently found in graphic novels. I have never heard of any word even close to that being used as a racial slur, and I told the woman that.  I told her what anime is and that I couldn't understand how it could be offensive. I also said that maybe where she comes from it has a different meaning but how could we know that? John was trying to explain what had happened and she was just getting more and more upset.
I sent the other boys inside and John stayed out in front with me to try to help get to an understanding but it was like we were speaking a different language than she was and she just couldn't calm down.
I told her that I was sorry for her misunderstanding, but that was what it was, a misunderstanding.
She stomped back to her car. We came in the house and locked the door because she had sounded threatening as she left.
I asked John for the rest of the story after we got inside. He said that after Paul had called out to her car she had turned it around and come back up the road and yelled "Who the F*^# is anime?"
John told her what they had actually said,  she went off and started cursing, using extremely foul language and calling them names.
They tried to just keep walking, but she kept her car next to them and just kept spewing her anger.
At one point she got out of the car. John told her to go away and stop harassing them or he was going to call the police.

After we went in the house, John told me the rest of the things that she had said and how threatened they had felt. He went downstairs and immediately started writing up the story, and we had all the boys read it and sign it.
John then called the police and they told him that the woman had called and they were talking to her and would come up to our house after.
When the officer got here, we went out and introduced ourselves and John gave him the written account.
The officer said that she was visibly shaken and that she said that they had also said something about Donald Trump. The boys said nothing of the sort, and I am still stunned by that.
The officer also said that she had to file the report for work, as she was on the job when the incident occurred. I guess she figured that we were going to call the police and that she had better file her report or lose her job.

The whole thing was really unsettling and disturbing and something that I had never expected in our little town. Sure, Paul was being silly and acting like a kid, but he had been saying that to all the cars as they drove by.

John's question to me later was "Why are they so mean?"

The anger and bitterness was the thing that was the most distressing.
So much hatred that she didn't even want an explanation, she just wanted to believe that the boys were a bunch of racists and that she had been the victim.
I don't see the boys as victims, but I do wish that they hadn't had to experience that kind of anger aimed at them just because someone needs a target.

This has been a lesson to all of us. I don't feel sorry for her. I don't feel like the boys owe anyone an apology. We tried to give an explanation, and if she had stopped for a minute, she would have seen that it made sense. What I feel is still being processed. I am praying that this was a one time unfortunate incident, and I am praying that this woman can see that wallowing in bitterness only makes the bitter person unhappier.