Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I'm back. I didn't mean to be gone, but sometimes gone is just where you are.

What happened: the day after I wrote my last entry, my mom had a stroke. Now, before you get all worried and concerned, let me say that she recovered fully within 48 hours. The stroke was of the mild variety. My dad recognized the symptoms (confusion, blurred speech), called 911, and basically saved the day.

But it was a rough 48 hours, as you might imagine. My mom had her stroke on Friday afternoon, and the next day I had to get up early and drive two hours to do a library presentation. I slept maybe three hours, tops, and that's pushing it.

By Sunday morning, my mom had returned to normal, and two days after that she was back home. So you'd think everything would be fine, and things did seem fine for a few days. It snowed--a lot--and the boys had two days off of school, and the Man stayed home from work and we played outside and built fires in the fireplace and watched the Olympics.

But a week or so ago, the post-traumatic stress kicked in. I felt it, my parents felt it, everybody did. My mom had come so far in her fight against lymphoma, and we'd been feeling so good, like the battle was over, and then--a stroke? How could that be? One of my sisters-in-law said she felt worse after hearing about the stroke than the cancer diagnosis, and I knew exactly what she meant. It wasn't just horrifying, it was so, so sad.

But this week we all seem to be better. The sun was out Sunday, and the Man and I worked in the garden. Jack had a big debate tournament, and Will shot baskets until his arms got too tired to shoot anymore. Things are settling back down. But it still makes me nervous whenever the phone rings. What will the news be today?


Okay, something else. Coincidence or fate--or what? I'll try to make this quick. Last November, we started attending the church down the road simply because it was the church down the road. We wanted to try a parish approach to church-going. This church, St. Paul's, is Lutheran, so I like it because it's close to my Episcopalian roots (weekly communion, enough pomp to be satisfying, not so much as to be distracting). The Man likes it because it's low-key and the pastor is funny and the people are nice without being too in your face.

Fast forward a week or so ago. I was watching a YouTube video of one of my favorite writers, Ann Patchett, interviewing another one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott. Ann asked Anne what she'd read recently that she really liked, and Anne mentioned a book called Stations of the Heart. I looked it up on my library's website, and there it was, so I put it on hold.

When I picked up the book last Wednesday, I saw that the author, Richard Lischer, is a professor at Duke Divinity School, which is just down the road from me. He mentions early on that he sometimes preaches at Duke Chapel, where we attended services for many years. Neat, I thought. I've probably seen him preach.

The book is a heartbreaking memoir about the death of Lischer's adult son, Adam, from cancer in 2005. It's about Lischer's faith and his son's faith. Lischer is a Lutheran. Guess where he goes to church? Yep, St. Paul's. Or at least he did at the time of his son's death.

Wait--he still does! Because guess who was sitting behind me at church on Sunday? Richard Lischer. I recognized him from his author photo.

What do you make of that? Coincidence? Or, if not, then what? For what reason? I don't know. but I passed the peace with Richard Lischer and felt sad about his son, whose death I had recently wept over.

What a strange, mysterious world.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Frugality Report #1 + Quilt

Finished Circle of Geese! And I must share with you a close-up of 
the quilting, which I did on my own machine ...
So fun to machine quilt a small quilt. The big ones can be grueling.

So anyway, the frugality report. Last night I sat down and did the numbers. I compared my expenditures from January 2014 to January 2013, and am happy to report that I spent $387 less this January, even though I had a hard time bringing down my grocery bill as much as I wanted.

The trick to this frugality business seems to be simple: don't spend money. Hmmm ... go figure. I think the Big Trick is to remember that you're trying not to spend money. It needs to be a habit, your default position.

So I'm practicing saying no--to the magazine, to the Target trip, to the unnecessary errand that will burn up gas. 

The good news is, I spent a ton last February. I apparently lived at Target all month long. So this February's going to look pretty good in comparison. Can I go another month without a Target run? Stay tuned to find out.


I don't have a lot to report today, but I wanted to post, just to say hi and wonder if your February has been as gloomy as ours has been so far.

Have I mentioned that I spend thirty minutes every morning in front of my S.A.D. lamp and that I would highly recommend this to you if you get the winter blues? I got my lamp last year, and I wish I'd gotten one years ago. It has made a huge difference in how I feel over the winter months.

Having said that, I will also say that yesterday's cold rain was almost more than I could bear.

And having made the heart of this post about frugality, may I also say that I believe very strongly in treats. I think in February it's important to have the following things on hand: good chocolate, good tea, a furry dog or cat, and friends to go out to coffee or lunch with. Also: good books, lots of quilts, and Pandora radio, with a station for the Pogues, one for Van Morrison and another one for Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I will leave you with this fabulous video, which would make any gloomy day better.