Friday, February 28, 2014

A Post a Day #s 4 and 5, 7 lightning takes, the catch-up version

1. Sorry about missing yesterday! Long day+having gotten back to working out after a week or two off while trying to get the dang pinched nerve in my neck sorted out+another laundromat day=eyelids at half mast by dinnertime.

2. Plus I knew we were going to a funeral the next morning (today), and wanted to sleep off the funk.

3. The funeral. More a memorial service, but very nice. It's been quite a while since I have been at anything other than a Catholic um, anything, and I remember some of the nice things about it. The nuts and bolts preaching, the worship music. I like to see what we have in common. I do see, as well, what is missing. But this was where the parents of my *cousin, who passed away, attend church, so this was the right place for them to hold the service.

*My father was at the younger end of a large family (11, I think), so the cousins are legion in number, and all, in-laws, children, close friends,  are simply called cousin. Sometimes we trace back to which Biehl sibling we are offspring of, just to get our bearings.

 4. Although it is for sad reasons, we all enjoy seeing one another. We always say, "wish it was under better circumstances". But, I find comfort in seeing my extended family. My parents have both been gone for over 30 years, and to see the people that carry their traits, and remember them from before I was born, is something that makes me feel a part of something wonderful.

5. And tonight, I am sitting in my comfy sweats, with one of the last beers until after Easter, with some kids around me, and this is All Right.

6. Another Lenten resolve that really should not take Lent to make happen is that I want to keep in much better contact with these people. I want to get as many of our butts down to North Carolina to see my brother ASAP. Dang it!

7. And so, with only the doings of yesterday evening and today having been chronicled for you, I am off to finish reading CS Lewis' space trilogy, and just to be sure I leave you with something pithy, here is a favorite quote from Perelandra:

We have learned of evil, though not as the Evil One wished us to learn. We have learned better than that, and know it more, for it is waking that understands sleep and not sleep that understands waking. There is an ignorance of evil that comes from being young: there is a darker ignorance that comes from doing it, as men by sleeping lose the knowledge of sleep.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Post a Day #3. Resistance to Change

So, in yesterday's post I mentioned the things I would like to change and improve during Lent. I know full well that when I make up my mind to make a change for the better, in any area, I will encounter resistance. Whether it is from within or without, from the material world or the spiritual, making changes to my body, my mind, or my spirit involves warfare against the comfortable inertia I am currently enjoying.

Which got me to remembering how I agree with Jen Fulweiler's statements about how one experiences resistance in the context of trying to lose weight.

18. If you’re approaching it the right way, trying to lose weight will involve major spiritual warfare — not because holiness has anything to do with a number on a scale, but because you’re attempting to free yourself from attachments that drag you down. We Christians call the force behind this phenomenon evil, Steven Pressfield calls it Resistance. Whatever label you want to use, know that it is real and it is going to try to stop you.

From her entire excellent post,The lazy nerd's guide to weight loss.

 So, if we accept that as a given, what do we do when we're in the thick of it? 

Here is some decidedly unprofessional advice from my own mind and experience. You're welcome.

1. Trust that what I am doing is a good thing. It doesn't have to be Nobel Prize Winning Good, just something that adds to yours or others' lives. Then when you go to do it, you don't have to keep revisiting it's "rightness." I like what Mother Angelica says:

“Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.”

“Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous. When you have God, you don’t have to know everything about it; you just do it.”

“Never put a lid on God. You can give God a thimble and ask for a quart. It won't work. Your plans, your projects, your dreams have to always be bigger than you, so God has room to operate. I want you to get good ideas, crazy ideas, extravagant ideas. Nothing is too much for The Lord to do - accent on 'The Lord'.”

2. Expect the roadblocks, deal with them and keep going.  

I wear the brown scapular. When I was struggling with consistency in my prayer life, I thought perhaps I should stop wearing it until I get back on track. A wise priest told me to just make some small prayer offering to Mary rather than stop wearing the scapular. 
 After all the evil one would like nothing more than to see me give up my devotion to the Blessed Mother, who crushes his head beneath her heel.

Don't give points to the wrong team. Don't give up.

3. Don't be surprised at the weakness of your own flesh. (Boy, this one rings true when I am working out).  But really, we ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God. We ALL are sitting squarely in the
middle of our humanity and have to rely on grace for everything, most especially in our areas of struggle. We supply the willingness, effort and faith, and God grants us results. 
So, when I don't feel like doing my workout, I apply what I know about inertia, and just put my sneakers on, start the video and make the motions. Sometimes I get into it part way, as I get warmed up, and it gets easier. Not every time, but the results, ahh. The benefits help me in so many areas.

4. Don't be surprised at the way your old thought patterns try to drag you down. Especially if you have an inner critic, as I do. In these instances, you have to recognize the lies and tell yourself the truth. Example: I want to say a Rosary on a given day, but have a bunch of stuff I also need to do around the house. The Critic says, "Praying while doing tasks does not show proper reverence." If I listen to the Critic, guess what? I don't pray. So I tell myself the truth, that God would rather I pray. 
Be clear and honest with yourself.

 5.  Do expect grace. In my experience, any time we make a move toward God, whatever resistance we may encounter pales in comparison with the grace we receive. If we stay the course with our eyes on Him, He truly does pave the way and vanquish the foes, even if the foes come from our minds. 

So, I say this to myself and to you, go and be bold, be Catholic, let Him fill, energize and encourage you. 

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Post A Day #2 -- one week until Lent, how do you get ready?

If you are anything like me, you have approximately sixty seven things you want to do or not do, not eat, read, pray, attend, or avoid. The house suddenly looks too dirty and cluttered to be a haven for we Lenten Pilgrims to trudge through make a peaceful journey towards Easter.

Incidentally, most of the books I wanted to read from last year are still in a pile near my bed.

My husband bought all the Tastykakes and cookies, ice cream, whipped cream, we could possibly hold.  I added some mint Oreos, Mom added biscotti and Torrone. And I plan to hit up Federal Donuts, and bake some red velvet cupcakes. All this before next Wednesday. As you may note, we get nervous about saying goodbye to our sweets. And I am voraciously reading all the novels I can find.

We do have a March birthday that almost coincides with St. Patrick's Day, and there is St. Joseph's Day. And Sundays. On those special days we can eat some desserts, or have a bigger meal, so it isn't as dire as it might be, looking through the lens of Ash Wednesday.

Typically our usual thing for Lent is:

1. No sweets
2. No between meal snacks
3. Of course meatless Fridays, and we try to go meatless at least one other night for dinner
4. Frugal meals, with the idea that we donate what we save, but I'm not sure if that actually happens.
5.We do put money in the Rice Bowl. We have sometimes needed to fish some back out.
6. Bob and I try to get to some daily masses. He goes on his lunch hour and I try to go in the mornings.

I like to unplug to some degree, I go off of Facebook and don't watch much TV. (oddly, every year during Lent the Food Network runs good shows which I will watch on Sunday nights).  I wouldn't insist other people stop watching TV, so sometimes I end up watching things others have on. But I can read with the TV on and it doesn't bother me. As I mentioned, I have a lot of material I like to or want to read during Lent.
Here are some:
Introduction to the Devout Life, DeSales
33 days to Morning Glory (A Marian Consecration) Fr. Michael E. Gaitley
He Leadeth Me, Fr. Walter Ciszek
Imitation of Christ and assorted other daily readings

My goal this year is to make gains in the area of personal discipline, especially spiritually, but also physically and practically, such as in scheduling, shopping, planning. I am praying for grace to overcome some of the emotional and mental clutter that holds me back in life. I love that grace seems especially available during Lent.

I really, really want to pray the Rosary every single day, and make that stick for always.

I want to make a difference in the course of my journey with Christ, and gain a more heavenly perspective on my time here.

 I know I go into Lent with a barrage of  ideas, and have accepted that I might not carry it all out perfectly. In fact I know I won't. But it's okay as long as I make some kind of progress.

I am interested to know what other people like to do (or try to do)? What are your lenten goals?

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Post a Day #1. Laundromat Culture

Jen Fulweiler, Friend of Bloggers, is again hosting her Post-a-Day for a week. So you will get the best of my scattershot type posts, of which this may be the scatter-shottiest.

We have been without a dryer now for about a year, so twice a week, I haul fifty pounds of wet laundry to the laundromat, and bring back the same, only greatly reduced in weight. It is cheaper than buying a dryer, at least in dollars. The area we live in has narrow homes with even narrower basement doors, so the only dryer (singular) we can get is one that can be largely assembled once in the basement. Which adds $$$ to the whole deal.

Anyways, I get my exercise.

The laundromat, I find, has it's own culture.  Everyone has their own system of doing things. Some bring in gigantic bags to dump on the floor in front of a washer and then meticulously load in one piece at a time. After they are washed, they put it all in a rolling cart, wheel it over to the dryers, and again, meticulously shake out each piece before tossing it in.

There are single men, who also have their own ways, some seem pretty adept. Except the occasional guy that like to wash and dry his sneakers, which continually kick open the doors of the dryers, spilling everything out. These guys usually have gone to McDonalds or something while this occurs. Some of us will pick up the stuff and restart the dryer, but only until about the third time, in which we will then leave the shoe out, sitting artfully in some prominent place for him to find.

One very busy Sunday, a day which I usually try to avoid, I went there to find a virtual flood from a malfunctioned washer. I had to roll up the bottoms of my pants and dodge the multitudes, trying not to have to scatter my clothes between too many areas so I wouldn't forget where some were*. I finally managed to get most of them loaded in an area near the back corner. I put my baskets on one side of a large double table nearby. I went to get change, and as I returned, a rather formidable looking woman asked if those were my baskets. I confirmed that they were, and she crisply informed me that she used both sides of the table, indicating I was to remove my baskets. Understand, the place was a zoo, but something about the way she commanded me to move made me not want to have any confrontation. So I found a spot and managed, but it did involve trundling my clothes all over the place, through the puddles and around the running, sliding children. I have since renewed my resolve to avoid weekends there if at all possible.

* I once left an entire dryer full of clothes behind. At home, we discovered it one missing item at a time. "Mom, where are my grey jeans?" "Mom, have you seen my purple shirt?"And so on. Until it dawned on me. By the time we got over there to look, there was a moldy mountain in one corner of the laundromat, piled in several carts. Many people had left things in washers that never got dried, and those, mixed with the rest of the left-behinds, became a mildewed, stinky pile that I was not excited to go near, much less touch. I tried sending Malaika over to see if she saw any of our things while I loaded dryers, but she wasn't buying it. So I went over, not too close, and tried to search with my long range x-ray vision, for any of our clothes. Lo and behold, I did see a few things, and gingerly Jenga-d them out, but nobody was game to really dig in, so we decided nothing that was missing was really all that important.

I do count my dryers now.

Most days are not so very busy there, and most people are not hell bent on having everything about their laundry experience tailored exactly to their taste. The noise is usually just a quiet cacophony of the washers, dryers and TVs. It smells of bleach, fabric softener and people's fast food. I really don't mind going there, or being there. I know most of the women that work there, and the repairman.  I don't mind the kids dashing around, it reminds me of the days I used to go with my small children. 

I am told that warm weather may return someday**, and then I will begin hanging everything outside again and the laundromat days will recede until next fall.

**My theory is that the White Witch has returned and needs to be dethroned. 

***Photos are my actual-factual laundromat. Twenty-four hour, baby! ( I would not be caught dead there in the wee hours). 

So what's the point, you may ask? I don't really know, I may answer. Just a slice of my life. A twice a week slice. My observation is that it is not a bad thing to go and do this chore alongside people having their slices of life in this place. I have always found a certain pleasure and comfort in doing tasks like this. It adds a certain rhythm and comfort.

See you tomorrow for more thrills! Hang on to your hats!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

To Be a Pilgrim

Ah, the days of pre-Lent. Septuagesima last week and Sexagesima Sunday today. This is the first year I have experienced this season within the context of the Traditional Latin mass Community. It's been a definite learning experience, as well as a grace experience. It is very cool to feel a part of the Church that reaches back into the Ages.

I have remarked to Bob about the MUSIC at this mass. I am amazed at how many different mass settings there are, and besides Palestrina, the composers go from Mendelssohn to Monteverdi. Last week the Communion piece was by Stravinsky.

Today, the Entrance Hymn was by John Henry Newman, called Praise to the Holiest in the Height. The Recessional Hymn was called He who Would Valiant Be. That one, upon looking around for a version to post for you, turns out to have an interesting history, somehow incorporating John Bunyan? It also was sung at Margaret Thatcher's funeral. (I am not posting that version because there are some horrible comments). But I found it to be a lovely hymn, albeit a little tough to sight read, especially since our music and words are separated, and one has to bounce the eyes back and forth.

This version is somewhat like we had today, and is nice because it includes the words as you go along.

I also thought his was a sweet way to do it. what a nice piece to have in the mind as we gear up for Lent!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Next Big Thing

You may remember, my husband plays the piano, and enters the occasional competition. Most recently, he sent his audio to the Chicago Amateur Competition and was accepted as a contestant!

He made the slide show below to tell family and friends. The only thing bothers me is that the piano he used for the recording was out of tune. And that he plays this piece even better now. But, take a listen; the Chopin is one of the pieces he will play at the competition, in front of an audience as well as the judges.

We will get to stay at Meghann and Jeff's in Kalamazoo on the way and way back, and very hopefully they will join us in Chicago to hear him play. And we will get to see this guy.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Alleluia, Randall Thompson

This was done so beautifully by the schola at Holy Trinity TLM today. This rendering is slightly similar. I think ours had more intensity and dynamic variation.

We heard it at communion, what a beautiful accompaniment. No comparison to songs like Gift of Finest Wheat, or One Bread, One Body.

If you would like to know more about Holy Trinity, check out the link on my sidebar.

Friday, February 7, 2014

7 quick TV, movie and book recommendation takes

1. As I mentioned in last week's 7-some-kind-of-takes post, I recently watched the movie, The Way.
I so recommend it, in fact, I want to watch it again and see if I can get Bob hooked too. I already snagged Corrie into wanting to go and do it. I hope before we are too decrepit. All are welcome!

2. I also watched the movie Lorenzo's Oil. I think Manny suggested it? Manny, the reader of 1000 books a year, or something. The movie is about a real story of a boy who comes down with a rare disease, adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). His parents research and find a treatment that later becomes an accepted treatment for the disease. Of course I went and read up on the real people. Apparently, the father was not overly thrilled with every choice made by the film maker, such as the choice of actor (Nick Nolte) and his affected Italian accent. I thought he was very good, not having a high standard for Italian accents. His wife is played by Susan Sarandon.
 Some situations in the movie, and in the real lives of this family, were not very storybook. If the quote was correct, the father said he would have opted to abort the boy if he had known how much he would suffer. Given his actions during his son's life, I am not sure if that was a reactionary statement or what. Even knowing that, I believe the film has value. The father was given an honorary medical degree for his research, and his treatment is still used for that disease, and other neurological diseases. I thought it was well done, and life affirming.

3. I am currently semi-addicted to three TV shows. In order of addiction:
---Downton Abbey. Yes, yes, it's all the rage now, but I have been watching it with rabid-fan-hunger, great interest since the first season. The last season and this are supposed to be bringing the story line through the roaring twenties and reflecting the changed in thinking for the British aristocracy. I have no idea how accurate it is, but I read that the costumes are quite on point. They are definitely beautiful to behold. I do have a feeling that they are sneaking in some social issues from the present
day, in order to keep the excitement level high, add some sensationalism, and keep the viewers coming back. For some of us, who were perfectly happy with the acting and nicely flowing British banter, the addition of nonstop social issues is not a nice one. I know I went to this show to get away from that sort of thing. I have already read that some die hard fans have quit watching. I am not quite ready to go there, because, as I said. Addiction. Also, I read a few hints and accidentally, one spoiler, that gives me some hope.
 I remember also liking Call The Midwife, but I found the way they portrayed abortion to be a little too painful. I still think it is probably a good show, but I have been trying to watch TV for relaxation and pleasure, and that was a bit too raw. I am still watching news, but that may go too, at least during Lent.You know, going for some kind of stillness.

--Parenthood. This is not one that I would watch with my kids. What I do like about it is the way the Bravermans (little Willie Loman going on there, whatever that is called) battle through all of life's twists and turns together. This setting, unlike Downton Abbey, is the right vehicle for all manner of family and child raising issues. The realism depicted is not one I would really like to have to constantly explain to kids, especially very suggestionable kids. But I do think it is well written and acted. I am not quite as addicted to this show, but I do somehow get around to watching all the episodes On Demand to find out what happened. And all the characters are so darn attractive. The kids are a-dorable, especially Max, who has Asperger's Syndrome.  Interestingly, Ray Romano also stars, and his character is discovering, in adulthood, that he also has Asperger's.

4. On my new Kindle Fire, given to me by my dear husband who clearly didn't know what he was getting himself into, there are many and sundry ways to read books for free. (h/t to Meghann and Marie). The offerings on these sites is kind of hit and miss, and I have this thing that makes me want to finish a book to see how it ends, even if it's bad. That aside, I came upon an author I really like.

 William Landay is a lawyer, and he depicts the legal process with detail, but not tedious detail. (The whole reason I like to watch the last fifteen minutes of Law and Order). Love those courtroom dramas, but only if they have some realism. The way he paints his characters causes the reader to either like, hate, or suspect them, and then in the end, WHAMMO, we were wrong! If you read very many suspense thrillers, you will know that one can usually work out the ending by the end of the first chapter or two. Not this time! He has another book out, but I am currently reading a couple others and haven't gotten around to it yet.

5. Stay with me now, these next couple are not sort of Universally Appealing. But I have my reasons.

The Incredible Dr. Pol. Initially I started watching this because I thought Malaika would like it, as she has expressed a desire to someday become a veterinarian. Then, I saw that he lives and practices in Michigan, which to me is fascinating. Then, I just liked it myself, even when Malaika wasn't around to watch. Warning: not the greatest show for snacking while watching. Some really real reality.
I love his sense of family and community. The people are the opposite of the Parenthood cast; first of all, real, and secondly, not polished or fixed up for the camera. Dr. Pol, who I believe is about 71, goes about shirtless during some of his farm calls. He's a vigorous, healthy guy and gives us hope for being 71, some very long time from now. Of course, most of us don't work like he does, but still. He has another doctor working with him, Dr. Brenda, who is pretty amazing in her own right. Summary:Wholesome of message, slightly gory of image.


The Dog Whisperer. Now understand, I don't even have a dog. That alone says something for the show. Yes, I would like to own a dachshund or two someday, when I have that house and land I go on about, but I am not watching solely to become educated on doggy psychology. It's the people psychology that Mr. Cesar Millan teaches I find so interesting.

Also interesting is that both he and Dr, Pol are immigrants. Dr. Pol, from Sweden, and Mr. Millan, from Mexico. (Obv, I know).

And of course I went and read up on Cesar Millan. Turns out he went through a divorce during the course of filming his many seasons of The Dog Whisperer. If you watch certain episodes, he does talk about it, and to his credit, if he is being truthful, he is not flippant or dismissive about it, and reveals that he went through a period of depression and suicidality. I respect him for his candidness, it doesn't appear that he said those things to be sensational, but just to add his humanity to the person we see on the show.

One definitely gets a Zen feeling from him,  and a bit of New agey-ness. But some of the stuff he says is really profound and solid in a universal way. For instance: if the activity happening around dog he is working with distracts, upsets, or causes the dog to display his problem behavior, Cesar always says, "this is good, it is an opportunity to learn." Exposure therapy, more or less. The owners usually have spent considerable time and effort to shield the dog from all it's triggers, and Mr. Millan shows up and takes them through all of them, sometimes multiple times in a row. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the dog responds. The owners often take a little longer. It really makes you think! He also talks about "calm, assertive energy." That dogs pick up on how we feel and react more to that than what we say or do. I think there is wisdom in that, not in a hocus-pocus sort of way, but more for a call-upon-our-inner-Jesus-resource kind of way, that could be helpful in many more ways than relating to the animals in our lives. In a word, trust. That's how I filter it, anyways.

7. Okay. Last up, and either least or most controversial, depending on your perspective.

Fox News. I don't even need to link to it, because you either watch it all the time or have it blocked.

I do watch, and mostly like the channel. There are some loud detractors, but the number of likers far outnumbers the number of haters. The haters are just more vocal. (News coverage of the six protestors at the March for Life, numbering at a quarter million plus, anyone?) (in the bitter cold and snow?)

 I think we get much more of a scope of news. Things that other networks won't touch. Many of the anchors are lawyers. They are all smart. As for likability, I would say I enjoy listening to 95%. A few just aren't my cup of tea. Megyn Kelly is my favorite, followed by Martha McCallum. The qualities that attract me most are fearlessness, intelligence, wit, and politeness in candor. I love The Five. Bill O'Reilly, we tolerate because he does a good show, but he can be a bit much.

Yes, sure, I have been accused of leaning 'too far' to the right. Whatev. My beliefs and perspective don't come from Fox News, but rather, I hear my beliefs and perspective included there, which I can't say for any other news outlet.

I do get a bit news-overloaded and stressed out from news in general, and as I said before, hope to take a bit of a break.

* I apologize to anyone who read this the same day I posted, (Friday). I think when I added in that clever moving picture of Maggie Smith, My paragraphs got all jumbled. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride

I have a kind of running wish list going. For varying reasons. I think I have this perfected image of myself and the way I would like my life to be. I keep it up on the highest shelf in my brain, and bring it down occasionally to dust it off and tweak it a bit.  All this happens in one flash of mental imagery; not quite so methodical as I made out.

So. Before you think I may need to call someone--

--here is my  current list.


A.The ideal.

A well balanced Catholic life. Full of closeness to God. Discipline in devotional prayer and frequent mass and adoration. Accurate levels of conscience-induced discomfort and well thought out
examination of conscience. Regular confession. Living my Catholic life in an attractive, joyful way, so as to preach the gospel without words. Uncomplaining, unflinching service.

B. The reality.

 Desperate prayers and muttered cries for help. Three Hail Marys in place of a whole Rosary. Plodding through my days looking frazzled and distracted. Grumbly, (at least on the inside), Oh-bother service.
On-the-go prayers. Reading of the Divine office, but skipping ahead to see how long it will be. Vague feeling of guilt. Watching TV in the evenings, or reading a book instead of doing an examination of conscience. Remembering sins after confession.


A. The ideal.

A smoothly run household with planned, healthy, meals, regularly cleaned, and no unidentifiable smells.  No piles. Projects, once begun, completed quickly. No dust. No debt, and shaved down expenses.

B. The reality.

Everything gets done, but not before it absolutely has to. Or should have been, past tense. Meals range from all-homemade, yummy and mostly healthy, to store made, frozen, sandwiches, or pizza. The cycles go pretty much weekly.

A few times a week, I get out of bed to go look for some smell that floats up to my nose like Pepe Le Pew's scent trail. Usually, it's the litter box. But not always. Once is was a gas leak.

We are world class pile-makers. (No, don't go there, you know what I mean. Ew!) When the kids wash dishes, I often refer to the stack in the drainer as the leaning tower of Pisa. Or Dish-Jenga. And paper. I try to have receptacles for different items-- school papers, mail, etc. No dice. Now, we just have overflowing baskets with piles next to them. I follow people around, going, "do you need this?"
Our house accumulates dust in approximately four minutes. So, by the time I finish one room, the last one is dusty. Yes, I only spend four minutes dusting. What's the point?

As for expenses, too many overlapping services that are long on promise and short on delivery.


A. My Dream Home/surroundings.

An older, rustic-y home with large, open rooms. A professional kitchen with an island that doubles as an eating area. Enough bedrooms to double as guest rooms and office/music/whatever rooms. Enough bookcases. Being able to rent this home, so we will never have to replace a roof or a heating system, but still have freedom to paint and interiorly-design at will. And have whatever pets we want.

 Attached to a working farm, or at least have a large enough parcel of land around the house to have a little green, people-less space. Space for gardening. Air that doesn't make you think there may be a toxic spill at the refinery. A little rectangle of space, all our own, that we can come home from a long day, or with a car load of groceries, and just pull into! If I remember correctly, some call it a PARKING SPACE. And if I wanted to get all elaborate in my wishing, then maybe even a GARAGE. whew! I wished so hard for that one I may have pulled something.

B. My actual house/surroundings.

An older, pretty spacious for a row home, row home. Mid-block. Nice size kitchen. One workable counter top area, that also happens to be in a corner, with the most-used dish cabinet above, and the coffee maker/toaster station there because of the outlet. This arrangement calls for ballet-like precision whenever there is more than one person cooking, getting dishes, or making coffee or toast. As a family, we are more along the lines of roller-derby than ballet. I have been talking about adding a small island, but so far, no.

 We have a piano in our bedroom. Digital, but still.

Try as I might, stacks of books appear with no other feasible alternative. The dining room functions as a catch-all area, only getting really cleared out for parties or holiday dinners. Or the time Ben set his drums up in there to play music with friends on his birthday.Hardwood floors. Imagine the sound level. Neighbors, thankfully, did not call the police.  His regular band plays in the basement.

 We have one neurotic cat.

Outside. We live on a bus route. A veritable parade of humanity passes two feet from our door all day and night. In back, there is about a six by twelve slab of cement with a one by twelve raised bed at one end. I do all I can with that area in spring and summer.

Hang laundry, plant whatever I can, try to sit out and read and sun. I say try, because the area is walled off on three sides, the fourth side is a chain link fence and our neighbors. Well. Just can't sit six feet from people in my bathing suit and feel comfortable. That's just me.

And, yes, there actually is a refinery not far away.
And those little rectangles for putting your car full of groceries or bags of bowling balls? Nada. Nope. Fugget it. At least not within shouting distance of the front door.

So, you get the gist. You may think I am complaining here. Not so! I love our house, with all it's idiosyncrasies. And if you want to extrapolate from there, you could include it's inhabitants, ahem. I love that we are close to all the culture, especially our connection to the Academy of Music and the Kimmel Center. And, if we need medicine in the middle of the night, or cookies, they are readily available at a 24-hour store somewhere close. There are lots of conveniences, lots of really good people among the throngs and many, many churches. A rich history, and certainly lots of good food to be found. Some good schools. Good medical care.

I accept what God has given at this time. I accept the season of life. There are some parts that are harder than others, more to do with family living too far away, or family members in a time of suffering. We make our life as it is, as enjoyable as possible. But there is a certain pleasure to be had by dreaming of the scenarios I mentioned, that some part of me longs for. Especially being in the quiet of nature and having a little piece of land to putter around on.

I am a believer that God wants to fulfill at least some of our earthly desires, as long as they fit with His will for us. The whole asking for bread and not getting a stone thing. I don't believe in the gospel of prosperity, but I do believe in the gospel of God being a father who loves us. I thank Him so much every day for all He has given me, in spite of my poor attempts to serve Him. I mean that in the sense that my humanity is only capable of so much spiritual perfection, according to his grace. He loves our "poor" offerings, just as we love the noodle necklaces offered by our own children. Made with love, to the very best of their abilities. 

 I don't really consider this a problem. Just an extension of my inner person. Okay, so if my inner person is a tiny bit neurotic, God loves neurotics, too. If I learned anything at all from my Jesus Retreat experience, it's that it is okay to be on a journey, okay not to have 'arrived,' as long as I am going in the right direction.

Peace, everybody