“Fasting and Feasting 1”

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One of our Friars, Fr. Tom Gallagher O.F.M, has challenged our congregation with a series of seven fasting and feasting suggestions for Lent. None of them involve food, cell phone use or Facebook. Each day for the next week, I will highlight one of these and share my thoughts about how I am responding to the challenge. I especially like that these are all applicable to all people, not just Catholics, since I know that a majority of my followers aren’t Christian.

“Fasting from apathy and feasting on engagement”

I treasure the curiosity I exhibit here as a friend of my grandfather’s introduces me to a baby porcupine he has rescued and is hand feeding. While I am naturally cautious, I am responding to the invitation to approach and engage. There are many prickly issues right now, and I am surrounded by them in the U.S. I certainly recognize my desire to ignore the turmoil. Sometimes I even surrender to the apathetic stance of “what can I do, anyway?”

I am encouraged instead to engage with the cultural dialogue. I can risk offending gun advocates, for instance, by sharing my views on the accessibility of guns here. I can assert that there is such a thing as truth when some tell me everything is relative. I don’t have to do any of this with the motive of changing anyone’s mind. I just need to engage.

May I have the courage I had as a little girl when approaching today’s “porcupines,”

“What’s Up?”

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Lest anyone in New England breathe a sigh of relief and imagine that Spring is around the corner(that would be me!) please read the above. Yes, you got it. We are about to get hit with another round of snow. Well it has been known to snow in April, so this isn’t too unusual. However, it had reached 50 degrees F yesterday, so I had actually switched my heaviest jacket for my second heaviest jacket. And I actually wore shoes instead of boots. Fortunately the snow blower is operating. My windshield wiper which broke in the ice has been replaced. My boots are still in the front of my closet. My heaviest jacket, hat and gloves are still easily retrievable.

If you are enjoying Spring, keep it to yourself!!!

“Dental Checkups and Lent”

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I have a dental checkup every six months. The hygienist cleans my teeth, the dentist examines my teeth and I get back on track with my home dental care. I know I should floss. Who doesn’t know they should floss? But I get forgetful and eventually realize I am about to see the dentist and furiously try to make up for lost time. Which, of course, is impossible. Fortunately, my dental team never shames me, just reminds me of good practice and says they will see me in six months.

Lent is like that for me. I know I should focus on God, pray, help the poor and focus less on me,me,me. I should quit seeing people with opposing political views and my President through hate-filled eyes. I should take time to be quiet and really appreciate my life. I should remember that that woman on the street could be me without the gift of medical care I have received. But I forget. I get preoccupied. I get angry and demonize the opposition.

Fortunately, once a year the Church has 40 days set aside to remember these things. God isn’t interested in shaming me any more than my dentist is. God just wants me to remember good practices. Lent is a yearly opportunity to do just that and I am grateful.

“Scent of Fire”

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At last night’s Ash Wednesday’s vigil Mass, we burned last year’s palm branches in a bonfire outside the church. We were enveloped in a cloud of smoke as they burned. When I sat in the church for the service after the fire, I smelled strongly of smoke.

I was taken back many years to the 1970’s when we and most of our friends heated our homes with wood. In the country,  we burned old pallets that had been discarded by the pallet factory next door. Others used wood from trees on their property. The wood was free, so it was an economical way to heat our homes. I always loved going into the city to work smelling like a wood fire. At the time, many of my students also had a hint of wood smoke about them.

Last night was the first time in years that I had that scent permeating me and my clothing. But it connected me to something deep and warm. A time in my life when most of what we used or ate had come to us for free or for very little. Frugality was necessary since we usually had little money. But we didn’t feel impoverished because we were warm and fed.

The blessing at the service was “Repent and believe the Gospel.” Put in Franciscan friendly terms, “refocus your life and remember the Good News. ” Last night, surrounded by good people and the smell of smoke, I did just that.

 

“Two Awards to Answer”

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I have mentioned before that I only participate in a small way in the awards available for blogging. I like to answer the questions and also thank the people who nominated me. I don’t, however, use the image nor do I keep the cycle going to 5 or 10 others. Since it is often, though not always, newer writers who do this, I do like to support them.

The first nomination comes from aaalyolly.wordpress.com, “Random Writing of a Promdi Girl.” She cited the two questions in the Blogger Recognition award. The first question, “why do you blog?” is easy to answer. It turns out I like an audience for my writing. I am satisfied with one reader, and I don’t need a large audience or hundreds of followers. I do like the chance that someone will comment and that we can establish a connection through writing. I am less fond of journaling since I only interact with my own thoughts in that format. The second question is “what advice would you give for a new blogger?” I would urge her to avoid advertisements cluttering up her posts. That is a personal dislike, and might not bother other readers.

The second nomination for the Mystery Blogger comes from a newer writer Vivien Ayinotu at viviensvoice.com. 1. I enjoy most about blogging the chance to interact with people around the world. 2. I blog most days. 3. I do not have a favorite book beyond the one I am reading at the time. 4. When I am stressed I either work out of play solitaire while listening to music. and 5. If I had the ability to change the world, I would have everyone spend a full day with someone completely different from themselves to have an active experience of empathy. I would start by pairing our president with a low income single mother working two jobs.

Thanks for the chances to write a little more about myself, Yolly and Vivien.

 

“Aging in Place”

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While I don’t intend to write endlessly about aging, I couldn’t resist commenting on a recent trend in advertisements aimed at people my age. This push is called “aging in place.” It sounded strange to me when I first heard it and imagined I was supposed to hold still, as in the game Freeze Tag I played as a kid, until I died. It turns out, though, that “aging in place” seems to be focused on selling you things to make your home easier to live in when you are “aging.” The premise being, I guess, that without buying all these things you will have to move into one of the also widely advertised “assisted living” facilities.

Now I agree that there are difficulties in older two or more level homes when one has lost mobility. My home was certainly not built with any idea that it would need to accommodate a wheelchair. And I acknowledge that if one of us needed one, we would have to move homes. However, these other pitches seemed to be aimed at stair lifts, lower cabinets, higher toilets, self-raising chairs and step in bath tubs. Again, I can understand the need for some of these alterations for some people. However, the general idea seems to be that if you intend to stay in your home and get older(which seems likely!) you better spend a lot of money right away to make that happen.

I remember no conversations like this before my gigantic post-War generation entered their “twilight” years. Suddenly we are as big a market for home remodeling and hearing aids as we once were for rock concerts.(Note the connection.) And we are all living in homes we will soon have to leave unless we “act fast.”

As for me, I continue to work out at the gym, strengthening my core muscles so I can get out of a chair myself. I work on my balance to prevent, if possible, a fall. I have a grab bar in the tub and a rubber mat on the tub floor. Otherwise, we are just “aging in place” without spending any money. If and when we need to, we will see if we need to alter our home. Until then, I would prefer no more advertisements for walk-in tubs.

“Age Related”

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I missed getting to post yesterday since I had very dilated pupils after my eye exam. They delighted my granddaughter who thought I resembled one of those big eyed stuffed toys. However, I  couldn’t focus enough to see the keyboard, so I passed on posting. I also missed catching up on comments and other writers, so I am doing double duty this morning.

If I hear the phrase “age related” again, I may yell in response “just call me old!” The phrase was bandied about at the eye doctor’s yesterday. Apparently my changing vision is due to cataracts developing in both my eyes. They aren’t serious enough yet to need surgery, but they are interfering with my vision. Cataracts are “age related.” Similarly, the little globs that are floating around in my vision are pieces of vitreous gel that have separated out and are actually floating around. Floaters are “age related.”

When I saw my doctor last month, I showed her the wonky way my little finger was now angled. She said it was not serious. It was “age related.” Similarly, she was untroubled by odd skin growths here and there on my body. Melanoma? No. “Age related.” As for my thinning hair, repeat after me “age related.”

I never heard this phrase when I was young. No one ever said my healthy muscles were “age related.” No one praised my vision as “age related.” Apparently this phrase is just hauled out to cushion the blow when medical professionals have to break the news to patients. It is, I guess, a kinder way of saying, “It happens to everyone when they get old. Get used to it!”